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Irish Uke Tom
08-15-2015, 02:06 AM
Hi folks,

I'm new to ukulele playing but I love it. I've learnt a few songs and a few major scales. I was wondering if some kind soul could explain keys to me. As in how do I change key? How do I play in a different Key? I'm a bit of a music noob.
I apologise if this is a stupid question - my entire ukulele experience has been a series of eye-opening episodes.

Thanks for your time,

Tom :cool:

k0k0peli
08-15-2015, 03:48 AM
No dumb questions, just dumb answers. In music theory, a 'key' is the tonal (note/chord) center of a piece. A song may be centered around C major, E minor, whatever. Each key has certain chords associated with it and certain common progressions (sequences) of chords. Common progressions in C major are C-F-G7 (basic); and C-Am-F-G7 (turnaround); and C-E-A-D-G (Salty Dog). To change keys, we transpose (move) those chords to the new key.

Suppose a basic song in C is too low for your voice, so you transpose up a whole step to D. Now instead of a C-F-G7 progression, you play D-G-A7. Maybe that key doesn't suit you either. So shift to the key of G major and play G-C-D7. If that doesn't fit, shift to A major and play A-D-E7. THAT is how you change keys!

All these sequences have technical labels based on the intervals, the distances between them. The steps between C (the root note, given Roman numeral I) and F are C-D-E-F so the interval is called a 4th, or IV. Going from C to G are C-D-E-F-G so the interval is a 5th, or V. That basic sequence is 1-4-5 or (technically) I-IV-V. All other keys have the same steps and intervals. In G major the I-IV-V sequence is G-C-D; in D it's D-G-A. Et cetera.

Hope this helps!

Rllink
08-15-2015, 04:23 AM
No dumb questions, just dumb answers. In music theory, a 'key' is the tonal (note/chord) center of a piece. A song may be centered around C major, E minor, whatever. Each key has certain chords associated with it and certain common progressions (sequences) of chords. Common progressions in C major are C-F-G7 (basic); and C-Am-F-G7 (turnaround); and C-E-A-D-G (Salty Dog). To change keys, we transpose (move) those chords to the new key.

Suppose a basic song in C is too low for your voice, so you transpose up a whole step to D. Now instead of a C-F-G7 progression, you play D-G-A7. Maybe that key doesn't suit you either. So shift to the key of G major and play G-C-D7. If that doesn't fit, shift to A major and play A-D-E7. THAT is how you change keys!

All these sequences have technical labels based on the intervals, the distances between them. The steps between C (the root note, given Roman numeral I) and F are C-D-E-F so the interval is called a 4th, or IV. Going from C to G are C-D-E-F-G so the interval is a 5th, or V. That basic sequence is 1-4-5 or (technically) I-IV-V. All other keys have the same steps and intervals. In G major the I-IV-V sequence is G-C-D; in D it's D-G-A. Et cetera.

Hope this helps!
I've been working on understanding the different keys all summer, and I think you did a good job explaining the basics, without throwing in a lot of confusion in there, which is nice, especially for a beginner. One thing, you use the term "Salty Dog" for one of the progressions. Could you expound a little on that? I've never heard that term before. Thanks.

k0k0peli
08-15-2015, 05:07 AM
"Salty Dog" the fiddle tune exemplifies the circle-of-fifths progression. In G major (easy on guitar) it's G-E-A-D-G. In C major it's C-A-D-G-C. Those chords in between the roots are often played as 7ths; the middle chord might be a minor. So in G major I'll play Salty Dog as G-E7-A7-D7-C and I'll play Take Your Fingers Off It as G5-E7-Am-D7-G. (G5 means a 'power chord' without the 3rd.)

Damn, I'm thinking as a guitarist. I'll move that to 'uke. Salty Dog in C major is chorded C-A-D-G-C. The tab sequence would be: 0003 (C), 0100 (A7), 2020 (D7), 0212 (G7), 0033 (C5). Take Your Fingers Off It would be 0033 (C5), 2100 (A), 2210 (Dm), 0212 (G7), 0003 (C). Those progressions are fun to jam with.

VegasGeorge
08-15-2015, 07:13 AM
Start off simple. Take the Key of C for example. C is the root chord, G the dominant, and F the subdominant. The numerical representation of those chords would be I for C, V for G, and IV for F. Those numbers are derived by their intervals, or the number of notes up the scale from the root note. C is in the I (1) place, G is in the V (5) place, and F is in the IV (4) place. A basic harmonic progression is I, IV, V, I. So if you were in the Key of F for instance, F would be the I, C would be the V, and Bb would be the IV. You get that by simply counting up the F scale. Once you understand that, you can figure out your basic chord progressions in any Key.

Purdy Bear
08-15-2015, 07:33 AM
Just to add a little simple side note to the above. The key is a set of notes that you play the music in. If you check right by the squiggling line at the far left, the clef, there will be hash marks # or b's this shows which notes you play sharp, normal or flat. Each key will have different notes you play in sharp, normal or flat. So say it's B flat major, which is written Bb, then all the Bs played in the piece will be flat. If there is a # on that line for the note, it means it's played sharp, if it has a b on that line it's played flat and if neither are there then it's just a normal note. Each of the keys have a set amount of the notes that will always be flats, sharps or played normal. The sharp keys make things sound happy while the flat keys make them sound depressing.

In brief

b = flats
# = sharps
none of the above just play the normal note
Keys = groups of notes always all played sharp or always all flat or neither.

k0k0peli
08-15-2015, 01:13 PM
If the question is, "How do I transpose chord intervals from one key to another?" use a transposition table (https://www.google.com/search?q=music+transposition+table).

Irish Uke Tom
08-15-2015, 02:38 PM
Hi Guys.

Thanks so much for your help. Really I just wanted to hear some experienced players explain this to me. You've been great. Thanks especially to Rllink and k0k0peli (i don't know how to 'tag' people), your explanations make a lot of sense to me. I'm going to have a good read tomorrow because it's late in Ireland. I'll probably have some follow up questions then :)

Thanks again.

Tom :cool:

k0k0peli
08-15-2015, 03:31 PM
Thanks especially to Rllink and k0k0peli (i don't know how to 'tag' people), your explanations make a lot of sense to me. Yeah, no THANKS or LIKE buttons here. Just send money. Or 'ukes. Or, since you're in Ireland, a Low Flute would be nice. No, my wife will bring me one of those in a few weeks. Let's see, maybe some aged Jameson. ;)

PS: You're welcome!

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-17-2015, 11:53 AM
If I may be permitted to throw in a couple of pennies, please click on the link in my signature re: my Ukulele Boot Camp.
don't worry, it's all FREE :)

I have the same chord progressions mapped out in 5 keys (C, F, G, A and D).

I also have a SET-UP (Self-Examination Test for Ukulele Proficiency) and you'll see some of the turnaround chords (7th at the end) that lead you to the next key.

I hope you find it helpful and interesting :)

keep uke'in',

Nickie
08-17-2015, 12:51 PM
Thanks Uncle Rod, I'm gonna check this out!