Explaining Keys, How do you do it?
Andrew Cockburn
Jun 21 2007, 09:43 PM
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Do any of you smart musical guys have a good way of explaing how to identify a key from a song that actually makes sense? I always run ito problems when I try to explain this, and settle for vague analogies such as a feeling of being on home ground when you get to the tonic, or a feeling of resolution.

Perhaps one of you has figured out a good way of explaining this?

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Kristofer Dahl
Jun 22 2007, 11:19 AM
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Yes I'd be interested too - I have never found a way of explaining that...!

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Pavel
Jun 22 2007, 12:23 PM
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Well Andrew if you can't explain it than noone can biggrin.gif

I know how to determine it for myself but i don't know how to explain it!

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Andrew Cockburn
Jun 22 2007, 02:59 PM
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QUOTE (Pavel @ Jun 22 2007, 07:23 AM) *
Well Andrew if you can't explain it than noone can biggrin.gif

I know how to determine it for myself but i don't know how to explain it!


Yes, that's exactly my problem - how to explain something that is so obvious you don't even need to think about it ...

I will be my life's work unless anyone else has an answer for me smile.gif

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Gabriel Leopardi
Jun 25 2007, 01:54 PM
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It's very difficult to explain in this way (on internet). Maybe with some song samples you could help the students. You could upload one song and let them some time to discover the key and finally you tell them the resolution.

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Ben Howell
Jun 25 2007, 03:35 PM
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I dont know if this helps but i try explaining it this way.

1>)Get the student to write out the chords to the song.

2>) See which key most of the chords come from (if there are some non-diatonic chords)

3>) See what the relation the non-diatonic chords are to the 'main' key i.e. in this progression:

Dmin7-G7-Bbmaj7-Cmaj7

You could explain it as being a ii-V7-bVII-I in C major.

4>) See where the main tonality is i.e. where the 'tonic' home sound lies.

I hope this is of some use!

-Ben

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This post has been edited by benhowell: Jun 25 2007, 03:35 PM


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Andrew Cockburn
Jun 25 2007, 04:17 PM
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QUOTE (benhowell @ Jun 25 2007, 10:35 AM) *
I dont know if this helps but i try explaining it this way.

1>)Get the student to write out the chords to the song.

2>) See which key most of the chords come from (if there are some non-diatonic chords)

3>) See what the relation the non-diatonic chords are to the 'main' key i.e. in this progression:

Dmin7-G7-Bbmaj7-Cmaj7

You could explain it as being a ii-V7-bVII-I in C major.

4>) See where the main tonality is i.e. where the 'tonic' home sound lies.

I hope this is of some use!

-Ben


Hi Ben,

That's a good start to a methodology for explaining this. I think the crux of it is in step 4 though - how do you explain the concept of "the main tonality" in words? This is the part I am really struggling with. The rest you can do by numbers, but that final step is down to experience and ear training alone, unless there is some magic way to describe it. This is my dilema!

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Kristofer Dahl
Jun 25 2007, 11:51 PM
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QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ Jun 25 2007, 02:54 PM) *
It's very difficult to explain in this way (on internet). Maybe with some song samples you could help the students. You could upload one song and let them some time to discover the key and finally you tell them the resolution.


Yes I agree that this is the easisest way - basically finding the tonic note by ear. Perhaps just playing chromatic notes up and down on the e-string until it sounds good! smile.gif

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Andrew Cockburn
Jun 27 2007, 03:38 PM
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Thanks guys - I think I see a way forward, which is kind of a combination of the various comments.

Its impossible to explain in words, but I can use examples of various famous songs to show obvious keys, then move to ones that are less obvious and need more thought. I'll write a lesson based around this some time soon.

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David OToole
Jul 23 2007, 09:58 PM
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I mention to students Andrew that if they come across two major chords one after the other in a song, it's the IV and V chords of the key. Well in diatonic progression of course but most of them are using this.

I make them learn the basic chord families first, and then it's an easy enough matter to get the tonic/home chord once you have the IV + V. After I have DRILLED the 1 IV V's into them smile.gif.

But yeh, hope this helps it's not an easy one.

D

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Andrew Cockburn
Jul 23 2007, 10:22 PM
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QUOTE (DavidO @ Jul 23 2007, 04:58 PM) *
I mention to students Andrew that if they come across two major chords one after the other in a song, it's the IV and V chords of the key. Well in diatonic progression of course but most of them are using this.

I make them learn the basic chord families first, and then it's an easy enough matter to get the tonic/home chord once you have the IV + V. After I have DRILLED the 1 IV V's into them smile.gif.

But yeh, hope this helps it's not an easy one.

D


Yes, thats a different take on it, thanks!

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