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mrStones
08-29-2016, 09:52 PM
Good morning everybody,

As I am progressing on my uke study, I started (or better re-started) to study music and harmony theory.

I got the circle of fifth, scale progression, pentatonic, blue scales and so on.

But I have a doubt on finding the key of a song.
I'll try to explain it : usually I find the key of a song really quickly seeing the chords in the song.

Bearing in mind that chords progression is
1st major 2nd minor 3rd minor 4th major 5th major 6th minor
it's quite simple to find the key.

But some songs made me stumble.

For example "dream a little dream of me". Lot of chord sites say "Key of C"

the chords are (in random order) : C B7 Ab G A F Fm
and in chorus : A F#m Bm E7

Chord progression in Key of C should be
C Dm Em F G Am.
No Fm, no Ab, no F#m, no E7 or E major.
Am I missing something ?

Strumdaddy
08-29-2016, 10:47 PM
Many, many songs do stay entirely within the same key - but quite a lot change their "key centre" temporarily within the song. It usually allows the melody to wander into another little world, then - joy of joys - come back home. So the "key" of the song is the one that the melody wants to come back to after a little detour or two.
"Dream a Little Dream of Me" is one such song.. It goes into that kick-your-legs-like-a-chorus-girl middle bit ("Stars fading....." etc) then comes back home to say goodnight.
Check out this page - it gets a bit technical, but gives a good overview...

http://www.howmusicworks.org/907/Writing-Songs/Modulating-Between-Keys

mrStones
08-29-2016, 10:59 PM
Hi Strumdaddy,
technical = good for me.
It's really interesting, thanks a lot !

Rllink
08-30-2016, 03:11 AM
I've been down this same road. As soon as you find some big treatise or some chart that explains it all, you find songs that just don't want to follow the rules. It seems like song writers go out of their way to frustrate us. My nemesis was Sitting on The Dock of The Bay. I asked a member here who is very knowledgeable about music theory, chord progressions, and everything else musical, to help me understand it. In the end, it was, "look how clever he was right there, where he just went out there into no man's land, and it adds so much flavor. Who would have thought?" Anyway, I continue to try to understand it all myself, and I'll read how music works in the hopes that I will, but honestly, it is all math and math often doesn't work in the real world. Good luck, and if you ever get it all figured out, please PM me and explain it. Until then, I'm with you brother.

Croaky Keith
08-30-2016, 04:33 AM
I think, when tunes change key mid song, they have to use certain notes/chords that are shared by both key signatures, & then later, they should return to the original key. :)

PeteyHoudini
08-30-2016, 05:40 AM
I think, when tunes change key mid song, they have to use certain notes/chords that are shared by both key signatures, & then later, they should return to the original key. :)

You use the dominant 7th chord of the destination key to modulate.

ubulele
08-30-2016, 10:35 AM
I'll assume you're not playing the full song, but just the chorus, the way it's been recorded by countless folks.

My first observation is that, with many lead sheets you find on the net, the arrangers get chords flat wrong—or maybe they just like different chords better. In any case, often they're pounding square pegs in round holes. This appears to be a case like that.

Most glaringly, the bridge of "Dream" is in a key a major third lower than that of the main body of the song. So if you're playing in C, at the bridge it should modulate to the key of Ab. Your source appears to modulate instead to the key of A, and leading into the bridge there's probably an E7. Following the original, you'd instead have: (lead-in Eb7) Ab Fm (Db6) Eb7 … Ab G7. Note that Db6 has the same pitches as Bbm7; in the key of A, these would correlate to D6 and Bm7, hence your arranger's Bm.

In the main body of the chorus, you're seeing a phenomenon called "modal interchange" or "borrowed chords." Basically, this means that when playing in major mode, chords from the minor mode built on the same tonal base are borrowed. So in the key of C, you may see chords borrowed from C minor. In the present case, that accounts for Fm and Ab. In effect, you have temporarily changed mode.

Rather than try to reconstruct what your arranger wrote, let me give an NNS (Nashville Number System) version of the uke chords from the first part of the chorus, up to the bridge, from the original sheet music (which was notated in G major, with uke chords in D tuning, looking to me like the key of F, so you can see why I've translated to a relative, key-independent notation):
| 1 | b67 57 | 1 | 67 (5m_67) |
| 2m7 | 2° | 1 27 | 57 |
| 1 | b67 57 | 1 | 67 (5m_67) |
| 2m7 | 2° | 1 4m7_57 | 1 (_2m 1_b37) |

In C, this translates to
| C | Ab7 G7 | C | A7 (Gm_A7) |
| Dm7 | Dm7b5 | C D7 | 57 |
| C | Ab7 G7 | C | A7 (Gm_A7) |
| Dm7 | Dm7b5 | C Fm7_G7 | C (_Dm C_Eb7) |

As mentioned above, Ab7 is a borrowing from C minor, substituting for the more expected Dm7.

Starting at A7, we temporarily modulate into D minor. From the perspective of that key, the chords are | 57 (4m 57) | 1m7 1° | with the disorienting and ambiguous half-diminished chord transitioning back into C major. This whole thing repeats until the last bar, which ends with an abrupt transition to the key of Ab major, introduced by the Eb7. As Petey said, this chord equates to the dominant 7th of the new key, though the jump to it is effectively out of the blue—it's not a "pivot chord" transition, where the transition chord belongs to both keys. But using the dominant 7th effectively announces where you're probably going next, and makes the key transition a little smoother. You saw a similar dom7 modulation with the A7: it doesn't really belong to C major, though you will often find the vii chord as a major chord, particularly when acting as a "secondary dominant" leading to a ii, II or IV chord. Secondary dominants by nature imply a brief change of tonality.

As you can see, B doesn't occur in the original chords, and I could only guess where your arranger used it. The return uses some slightly different chords, noticeably in the first measure and the next to last, but I doubt the B occurs in these spots.

Strumdaddy
08-30-2016, 01:49 PM
A good example of how a key modulation makes a song more interesting is "Blue Moon".
In C the chords are a cycle of C Am Dm (or F) G7. You can keep that going for the whole song, but when you get to the Bridge:

Dm7 G7 C C7
And then there suddenly appeared before me

Dm G7 C
The only one my heart could ever hold;

Fm7 Bb7 Eb
I heard somebody whisper, "Please adore me."

G D7 G7
And when I looked, the moon had turned to gold.

... a trip into Eb breaks the relentlessness of the cycle with a little diversion, and gives you the joy of coming back again.

AndieZ
08-30-2016, 02:17 PM
Is there a reason you have shared the chords in no particular order? I have been learning this song and i'm happy with the chords i'm using. Do you need the right chords?

And if you want to understand the issue you might find the answers in the free online course i'm currently doing through Coursera. It's called Fundamentals of Music Theory run through Edinburgh University. Just last night i came upon two notions which could be in play here. One is accidentals - when a note is pushed out of the key scale and brought into the melody. The other notion is about form and how songs have different parts. Different parts of the song can be in different keys, have different time signatures and no doubt have various other changes which all add up to something more interesting than when everything is done according to the rules. The thing is enough of the rules are followed to enable the song to work but at the same time, enough of the rules are broken to perhaps make the music more than ordinary and perhaps even innovative. This is how i understand it and i think it could be what you are dealing with.

Strumdaddy
08-30-2016, 03:08 PM
Yeah... I cut and pasted from a Word document - but the formatting didn't survive.
Just strum through it and it should be easy to find where the chords change.

zztush
08-30-2016, 07:39 PM
Hi again, mrStones! I like your threads. :)



Chord progression in Key of C should be
C Dm Em F G Am.
You are talking about diatonic chords in key of C.



No Fm, no Ab, no F#m, no E7 or E major.
Am I missing something ?

There are many songs which use non diatonic chords. Actually you can make any chord progressions with or without them.

Strumdaddy
08-30-2016, 08:47 PM
" I have been learning this song and i'm happy with the chords i'm using. Do you need the right chords? " - AndieZ

One could certainly play the whole of "Blue Moon" entirely in the key of C and it would sound fine - but try a little detour into Eb and back and see how it sounds.
It certainly tickles me when I play it that way


And then there [Dm7]suddenly a[G7]ppeared be[C]fore me[C7]

The [Dm]only one my [G7]heart could ever [C]hold;

I [Fm7]heard somebody [Bb7] whisper, "Please [Eb]adore me."

And when I [G]looked, the moon had[D7] turned to [G7]gold.

Blue [C] moon......

mrStones
08-31-2016, 12:01 PM
Until then, I'm with you brother.

Thank you :) It's nice to have some emotional support.

mrStones
08-31-2016, 12:03 PM
Hi again, mrStones! I like your threads. :)

You are talking about diatonic chords in key of C.

There are many songs which use non diatonic chords. Actually you can make any chord progressions with or without them.

Thank you zztush :) diatonic chords... I always heard about "chord progression". More definitions to study ! hurray

mrStones
08-31-2016, 12:04 PM
You use the dominant 7th chord of the destination key to modulate.

Thanks a lot Petey. Gave me some inspiration. By the way, congratulation for your YT channel. I like it.

mrStones
08-31-2016, 12:08 PM
I'll assume you're not playing the full song, but just the chorus, the way it's been recorded by countless folks.


Full Mama Cass version. Is it "full" or her cover was just a part ? I would be surprise...

Thanks ubulele ! I need to read and reread your post to fully assimilate all the stuff.
Thanks again !

mrStones
08-31-2016, 12:11 PM
A good example of how a key modulation makes a song more interesting is "Blue Moon".
In C the chords are a cycle of C Am Dm (or F) G7. You can keep that going for the whole song, but when you get to the Bridge:

Dm7 G7 C C7
And then there suddenly appeared before me

Dm G7 C
The only one my heart could ever hold;

Fm7 Bb7 Eb
I heard somebody whisper, "Please adore me."

G D7 G7
And when I looked, the moon had turned to gold.

... a trip into Eb breaks the relentlessness of the cycle with a little diversion, and gives you the joy of coming back again.

Yeah another one was Blue moon :)
Thanks for the explanation.

My mind always try to tag everything in patterns and laws and behaviours and cause/effect, but music is creativity so she can break some rules and when she do it, it is pleasant.

PeteyHoudini
08-31-2016, 01:21 PM
Thanks a lot Petey. Gave me some inspiration. By the way, congratulation for your YT channel. I like it.
Not a problem. I try to mix a bit of comedy with my uke vids. As for modulation, I used to do a lot of it on the piano though it doesn't sound good everytime. You have to experiment and it's an art to make your way to the dominant 7th destination key. You just find the dominant 7th key and especially focus on that dominant seventh note. For example:

1) You want a starting song in the key of C to modulate to the key of Eb (Buddy Holly's That'll Be the Day is in Eb hehe).
2) What is the dominant 7th chord of Eb? Bb7
3) What is the actual 7th note in Bb7? Ab
4) Play the chord progression C, F, G7 (two times) then G, Ab, Bb, B7, Eb

0003 2010 0212 | 0003 2010 0212 | 0232 x343 3211 1211 0331

Playing the B7 and then adding the 7th note pushes the cadence to the new key. Adding the Ab chord helped push to the Bb. One can try a lot of things but you want to get to the dominant 7th chord or the IV.

Petey

ubulele
08-31-2016, 01:40 PM
Full Mama Cass version. Is it "full" or her cover was just a part ? I would be surprise...

Just a part. There are two verses that are usually skipped. For many, many older songs, singers only sing the chorus sections; consequently, most fake books only include the choruses for those songs, not the verses. In this rendition (from 1931) you can hear the band playing the tune for the verses starting around 1:20; the singer, Smith Ballew, only sings the chorus:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pz_40b16Q88
This version starts with the chorus in G (bridge in Eb), then modulates to A before the verse section (there is no modulation in the original). The verse tune starts on the fourth note of the scale (D).

I've listened to the Mama Cass version and, as in your lead sheet, for the bridge she drops the key only a minor third (from D to B). To make up for it, at the end of the bridge, in addition to the half-step progression from B to A#(7), she has to drop the melody an additional half-step (accompaniment dropping to A7) in order to lead back to D.

Compare to how Ella and Satchmo handle the bridge, dropping a major third from the key of D to the key of Bb. The transition from the bridge to the return is then more natural.
Ella & Louis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxrws7omOHQ
Doris Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7j8wa9sWOE (also in D/Bb)

In the Smith Ballew version, he sings the chorus in A, the same key as the preceding verse section, then drops to F for the bridge, another major third drop. Michael BublÚ does the same, but in G/Eb.

AndieZ
08-31-2016, 01:49 PM
" I have been learning this song and i'm happy with the chords i'm using. Do you need the right chords? " - AndieZ

One could certainly play the whole of "Blue Moon" entirely in the key of C and it would sound fine - but try a little detour into Eb and back and see how it sounds.
It certainly tickles me when I play it that way


And then there [Dm7]suddenly a[G7]ppeared be[C]fore me[C7]

The [Dm]only one my [G7]heart could ever [C]hold;

I [Fm7]heard somebody [Bb7] whisper, "Please [Eb]adore me."

And when I [G]looked, the moon had[D7] turned to [G7]gold.

Blue [C] moon......

I'm not talking about Blue Moon. I'm talking about the song that Mr Stones mentioned in teh beginning. Dream a Little Dream of Me.

keod
08-31-2016, 05:49 PM
.

http://www.howmusicworks.org/907/Writing-Songs/Modulating-Between-Keys

Thanks for posting. There is a lot of good stuff at this site - and many things explained in a slightly different way that, for whatever reason, have made more sense to me that what I have previously read.

mrStones
08-31-2016, 06:53 PM
I'm not talking about Blue Moon. I'm talking about the song that Mr Stones mentioned in teh beginning. Dream a Little Dream of Me.

Oh, now I see .

No, thank you I have all the chords, just put in random order 'cause I was going without the sheet in front of me and tried to remember.
Writing down the chords of the song in precise order wasn't the point of my question, just to see that a lot of chords aren't in the key of the song if you look at the cirle of fifth and chords progression.

AndieZ
08-31-2016, 07:57 PM
Actually i realised later that i had misunderstood your question.

mrStones
08-31-2016, 08:41 PM
Not a problem. I try to mix a bit of comedy with my uke vids. As for modulation, I used to do a lot of it on the piano though it doesn't sound good everytime. You have to experiment and it's an art to make your way to the dominant 7th destination key. You just find the dominant 7th key and especially focus on that dominant seventh note. For example:

1) You want a starting song in the key of C to modulate to the key of Eb (Buddy Holly's That'll Be the Day is in Eb hehe).
2) What is the dominant 7th chord of Eb? Bb7
3) What is the actual 7th note in Bb7? Ab
4) Play the chord progression C, F, G7 (two times) then G, Ab, Bb, B7, Eb

0003 2010 0212 | 0003 2010 0212 | 0232 x343 3211 1211 0331

Playing the B7 and then adding the 7th note pushes the cadence to the new key. Adding the Ab chord helped push to the Bb. One can try a lot of things but you want to get to the dominant 7th chord or the IV.

Petey

Yeah your videos are both interesting and funny. By the way, you helped me a lot with E chords and D chords when I started some months ago. So Thank you for that too !
Thanks for the example. It is really clear. But there is something I did not understand : you say "what is the dominant 7th of Eb ? Bb7"
Well, I'd say Bb is the 7th dominant of C, not Eb.
Or I am mistaken ?

mrStones
08-31-2016, 08:57 PM
Just a part. There are two verses that are usually skipped.

Oh, now I see ! The original is really lovely and your explanation is great.
Thank you ubulele.

mrStones
08-31-2016, 09:08 PM
So : to recap.

It is not true that to find the key of a song you just need to see the chords in the song. Or at least, it is true for the 90% of the songs, but if the song modulate on another key you can't just see the chords.

ubulele
09-01-2016, 07:37 AM
That's right: a song "in" a key may actually temporarily migrate through several keys; it may also contain alterations to chords which make them vary from the expected diatonic chords, and it may borrow chords from other modes. It may also have sections which are in different keys from the main one (and which themselves may shift tonality within their scope). It's also common for performers to change the key of a song on the fly (as in the Smith Ballew example), but you seldom encounter that sort of change in common lead sheets.

There's also a lot of overlap in chords: a song with C, G and F looks like the key of C, but could be in G, using only the I, IV and bVII chords. (bVII is a common borrowing from minor or Mixolydian mode). That said, you can usually look at progression patterns and frequency of chord usage to determine the key, even without looking at how the melody goes. And in the overwhelming majority of songs, you need only look at the final chord to identify the main key.

PeteyHoudini
09-01-2016, 03:17 PM
Yeah your videos are both interesting and funny. By the way, you helped me a lot with E chords and D chords when I started some months ago. So Thank you for that too !
Thanks for the example. It is really clear. But there is something I did not understand : you say "what is the dominant 7th of Eb ? Bb7"
Well, I'd say Bb is the 7th dominant of C, not Eb.
Or I am mistaken ?

I should have written that the dominant 7th "chord" of the key of Eb is Bb7. Dominant 7th chord means the fifth chord (V) of the given scale with an added 7th note. So, the scale of Eb major is: Eb (I) F (II) G (III) Ab (IV) Bb (V7) C (VI) D (VII) Eb (VIII).

Petey

Choirguy
09-01-2016, 03:50 PM
Chord progression in Key of C should be C Dm Em F G Am

Chords in any key should move by classification. IV and ii, V(7) and vii░ are in the same classification.

So...

Em->Am->F or Dm->G or b░->C

In theory, you can progress to the right, move up or down the same classification, or jump backwards. But sings eventually want to make it home (think "Happy Gilmore") to tonic (in this case, C)

When you see other chords, the song has either temporarily modulated, or the composer chose other chords from a similar sequence that lead to the "correct" note in the original sequence. This is called secondary functions.

In other words, if you are moving from G7 to C, you can get to the G7 from the F or Dm, or you can use the progression of chords that lead from thr Key of G:

Bm->Em->C or Dm->D or F#░->G

Sometimes it is difficult in theory to know whether a song has modulated or is just borrowing chords from another key for a while.

mrStones
09-02-2016, 03:48 AM
Thanks Ubulele, Petey and Choirguy. You cleared my mind alot on the subject.
Obviously, answers always brings more questions.
No more "how Can i find the key" (problem solved), but another little doubt.

House of the Rising sun is in the key of Am.
So the chord progression would be
(I) Am (II) Bdim (III) C (IV) Dm (V7) Em (VI) F (VII) G

The intro (well, to be fair all the song quite repeat the same pattern)
Am C D F Am E (or E7) Am E (or E7)

So D and E (in key are Dm and Em) are just borrowed chords or the song modulates on another key after C or you can just shift between minor and major?

ubulele
09-02-2016, 10:28 AM
Yes, you can just shift between minor and major, but something a little different is going on here. Minor harmony differs from major harmony in that the 6th and 7th degrees are fluid in both melodic and harmonic treatment. The melody can follow one of three different patterns: natural minor, harmonic minor (with a major 7th) and (ascending) melodic minor (with a major 6th and major 7th). The most notable effect on harmony of raising the 7th is that the V chord becomes major and its 7th chord becomes a dominant 7th. Raising the 7th degree also affects the III and VII chords (though the natural minor variants are usually still preferred), and raising the 6th similarly affects the II, IV and VI chords. So you'll see a lot more harmonic diversity in minor keys even without borrowed chords, key changes, secondary dominants and the like.

"House" is interesting in a couple other ways: melodically, it uses a gapped scale—the 6th degree is never sung as part of the basic melody, so it can be even more flexibly treated as either a minor interval (as in natural minor mode) or as a major interval (as in ascending melodic mode and also Dorian mode)—Dorian mode and natural minor (Aeolian mode) differ only in the 6th degree. The D chord, with its F#, implies a Dorian interpretation, while the following F chord implies natural minor, showing the modal ambiguity and fluidity.

AndieZ
09-02-2016, 04:07 PM
That's right: a song "in" a key may actually temporarily migrate through several keys; it may also contain alterations to chords which make them vary from the expected diatonic chords, and it may borrow chords from other modes. It may also have sections which are in different keys from the main one (and which themselves may shift tonality within their scope). It's also common for performers to change the key of a song on the fly (as in the Smith Ballew example), but you seldom encounter that sort of change in common lead sheets.

There's also a lot of overlap in chords: a song with C, G and F looks like the key of C, but could be in G, using only the I, IV and bVII chords. (bVII is a common borrowing from minor or Mixolydian mode). That said, you can usually look at progression patterns and frequency of chord usage to determine the key, even without looking at how the melody goes. And in the overwhelming majority of songs, you need only look at the final chord to identify the main key.

When you put it like that it looks like Art is busting down the walls of music theory. That said, i suppose that its helpful to know where to come back to or where to start from in order to know and understand why and when a wall has been breached, not to mention how to make your own breach. Is this fair to say Ubulele?

zztush
09-02-2016, 08:34 PM
Hi, mrstones!



House of the Rising sun is in the key of Am.
So the chord progression would be
(I) Am (II) Bdim (III) C (IV) Dm (V7) Em (VI) F (VII) G

This is wrong. You just shows diatonic chords.

If I only know three chords. I might write as below.

House of the Rising sun is in the key of Am.
So the chord progression would be
Am, Dm and Em

What do you answer? I think you will mention about diatonic chords.

Just imagine keyboard. Three chords correspond to three keys. diatonic chords correspond to white keys, and non diatonic chords correspond to black keys. You are expecting that they only use white keys. And you are asking the reason why they take black keys. Black keys give us more rich and fun music.

AndieZ
09-03-2016, 02:02 AM
Here is an excellent thread about House of the Rising Sun and what key it is in. It says essentially what Ubulele says. https://justinguitarcommunity.com/index.php?topic=30549.0 Skip straight to the post from Close2U for the clincher. Bear in mind that these are guitar chords being discussed. But it should nevertheless, answer the question.


House of The Rising Sun will teach you how to switch between a natural minor key and a melodic minor one where the IV & V chord become major instead of a iv & v chord minor.


The chords used are Am, C, D, F & E - commencing on Am thus suggesting the song is in the key of Am, it progresses to C which is fine as C major is also in the key of Am.

Then we go to D which is not in the key of Am (natural minor) - it should be a Dm which is the IV chord of the progression - notice in the natural minor the 6th note is flattened (compared to the major scale) and that is the 3rd note of the D chord thus making the D a minor to get a D major you need to sharpen the 6th (of the natural minor). The only minor scale type that fits is the melodic version of A minor i.e. 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, 7

F switches back to the natural minor as the 6th flattens again (compared to the major scale).

Then comes the E which has the same hiccup D has in that it should be minor (in the natural minor). The cure - sharpen the 7th (of the natural minor) which technically could make it either the harmonic minor 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, 7 or the melodic minor (but as we play the D major as well, I think it is more correct to say melodic minor).

So the song cycles from natural minor to melodic minor through its entire chord progression.

I was always confused by this songs chord progression till I watched and read Justin's excellent lesson on Demystify the Minor Scales http://www.justinguitar.com/en/SC-013-DemystifyMinors.php and the penny finally dropped for me.

zztush
09-03-2016, 11:25 AM
Here is an excellent thread about House of the Rising Sun and what key it is in.

This thread speculates key from chord arrangement. He speculates scale without melody.

mrStones
09-05-2016, 06:03 AM
Thanks everybody. Putting together all the pieces you gave me it helped me a lot.
Lot to study :D

dkp
09-05-2016, 10:40 PM
Dream a little dream as played by the Randy Battle Bluz Band: http://northokanogan.com/music/ukulele/music/DreamALittleDream/DreamALittleDream.html