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View Full Version : How do I find the key signature of a song?



iloveyou5
07-28-2010, 03:53 PM
If I know the chords, is there any way to figure out the key signature? Like if the chords were C E7 and F.

jfokeytarhero
07-28-2010, 04:28 PM
This is just the theory of music. The key signature is just the sharps/flats in the key of the song you are naming.

seeso
07-28-2010, 04:36 PM
If the chords are C, E7, and F, you are most likely in the key of C. The E7 is a bit rarer to find in the key of E, but it shows up.

The note that the song seems to resolve on is usually the key. Also, the last chord in the song is a big hint.

You need to delve a bit into music theory to really get a handle on it. Theory ain't that hard. One of our old mods, NukeDOC, put up a thread about it (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?11264-ukulele-theory-for-noobs) over in the beginner's section.

Howlin' Hobbit has a great document about it (http://www.howlinhobbit.com/docs/cheater_theory_v2.pdf), too.

Hubes
07-28-2010, 05:07 PM
If you dont want to learn the theory, http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/chords/chordchart.htm

the52blues
07-28-2010, 05:21 PM
Are you sure about the E7 chord? If it were a G7 you would be in the key of C major which has no sharps or flats in the key signature.

GrumpyCoyote
07-28-2010, 07:28 PM
Yep, E is the III chord in C major. Specifically iii, or Em - but subbing the major or major 7 is not unheard of... Could also be F major, with the E sitting in the vii spot for Edim.

http://i254.photobucket.com/albums/hh103/grumpycoyote/Key/CUke.jpg

YogaJen
07-28-2010, 07:54 PM
Yes, like they said :)
The Key Signature, or Key Sign, is a sign of the Key of the piece of music, and the Key holds the key to the Note about which the music revolves.
If you have the written music in front of you, the Key Sign is expressed at the start of the music after the treble/bass Clef, and before the Time Sign, and is indicated by the number of #' or b's in the music. Eg. music in the Key of G Major requires its F note to be # so the sharp will occur on the F line of the stave. Music in the Key of F major requires that its B note is b, so the b will appear on the B line of the stave.
Without the music in front of you, and going by ear, or by the song notes or the chords present, you need to get a sense of what note/chord holds pride of place in the song. Extremely often, a song ends on its most important or Tonic note, and that is called the Key Note. Eg. if a song ends on G, there's a good chance the piece is in the Key of G. You then need to ask the question - major or minor?
And so it goes.
It is worth learning the names of the 3 Primary Chords in each key. They are a family that hang around together A LOT. The chords are those related to the 1st, 4th & 5th notes of the scale of the key you are in.
Eg. In the key of C major ... Cmajor Fmajor Gmajor
In the key of F major ... Fmajor Bbmajor C major
In the key of G major ... Gmajor Cmajor Dmajor
Good luck in coming to understand more of the beautiful story that is Music :)

mailman
07-28-2010, 08:53 PM
Yep, E is the III chord in C major. Specifically iii, or Em - but subbing the major or major 7 is not unheard of...

http://i254.photobucket.com/albums/hh103/grumpycoyote/Key/CUke.jpg

Grumpy, I love this graphic....chart....diagram....whatever you call it! Where might I fing them for all the keys, for reference purposes?

GrumpyCoyote
07-28-2010, 10:30 PM
Grumpy, I love this graphic....chart....diagram....whatever you call it! Where might I fing them for all the keys, for reference purposes?

The thread with all of my charts is here... (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?30996-Grumpy-Coyote-s-Key-Chord-n-Jam-Songwriting-Cheat-Sheets...)

The most relevant for this discussion is the key chart at the top. What chord "goes with" what key is there. There is more to it of course, but these are a good starting point.
http://i254.photobucket.com/albums/hh103/grumpycoyote/Key/KeyCheatSheet-1.jpg

lindydanny
07-29-2010, 05:07 AM
I'd be interested in two more pieces of information before I settled on what key you are in. The first would be what notes are sung/played in the melody line. Second, I'd like to know how the chord progression fits around that. Once you know that information, it get's pretty easy to figure out. However, you do need some amount of theory background to do so.

~DB

Swampy Steve
07-29-2010, 05:19 AM
Thank You Coyote!! That chart helps me. My theory is sadly lacking.
Steve

farmerboy
07-29-2010, 06:14 AM
this is all true - you ARE in C major. The most comon majors to appear in chord sequences other than chords I, IV and V are chord III and chord VI - they're not terribly common, but they crop up from time to time. This is good, however...

The best way I find to get the key (despite being fully harmony functional through training) has always been to find a note that sounds good all the way through. Find out what note it is and that's your key. The rest of it is all theory.

mailman
07-29-2010, 07:52 AM
The thread with all of my charts is here... (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?30996-Grumpy-Coyote-s-Key-Chord-n-Jam-Songwriting-Cheat-Sheets...)

The most relevant for this discussion is the key chart at the top. What chord "goes with" what key is there. There is more to it of course, but these are a good starting point.
http://i254.photobucket.com/albums/hh103/grumpycoyote/Key/KeyCheatSheet-1.jpg

You're the best, Grumpy! I particularly like these with the associated chord diagrams....and not just for C tuning, but for D tuning and baritone, too! These will find a permanent place in my uke notebook....