In the Key Of..

LPS24

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Hello!
so i was wondering..when people say in the Key of A for example, does that mean my 1st note of each scale should start at an A fret??

and how do you know what notes blend in nicely with other notes? like how do you know that A goes good with D?? :thumb:
 

El_Greco

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It means (and correct em if I'm wrong here) that your root note is A.
The root note is not always the first note of your scale.
That depends on the position of the scale you are using.

For example, if you use the Am pentatonic scale, the A will only be the first
note on your 6th string in the first position of the scale (aka 5fret low E string).

Check the following picture, the RED dots are your root note, and that note is what gives the scale it's name.

minor-pentatonic-scale.jpg
 

huw

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When we say something is in the "key of A" what we mean is that the notes we are using, both melodically (in the tune) and harmonically (in the chords) create an overall feeling that the note A is "home" (AKA the root) and all of the notes of the key have some relationship to the root that reinforces that feeling.

That's all it is. There is no implication about what order notes have to be played, although there are some conventions, particularly harmonically, that listeners may expect.
 

ozone

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All keys have some kind of minor, major and diminished chords.
For example the key of A basic chords are: A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m G#dim.
These chords belong to the key of A. Other Keys might share some of these chords. Those are the relative keys.
So if some one tells me to play something in the key of A, more than likely I'll play these groups of chords.
Keys are built on the scales. Basic understanding on how scales relate to keys is important to be able to jam or write with other musicians better.
 

Agave_Blue

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...
For example the key of A basic chords are: A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m G#dim.
These chords belong to the key of A. Other Keys might share some of these chords. Those are the relative keys.

....

Why are those the basic chords in "A"? I know part of the answer is "because they sound good with 'A'".

I also know that part of the answer is the in the Major Scale, the I, IV and V chords sound good together (A = I, D = IV, E = V).

What is the relationship between A and: E & D? And between A and: Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m? Are they half or whole steps from each other or is there some other tonal relatoinship?
 

jimmyb21

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Key of A basically means, the song will be based off the A major scale and its derivatives...minor, etc. So if someone says key of A they just mean the changes will be derived from the major scale starting with A as a root. This doesn't mean you HAVE to play A, at all even. Learn about intervals...note names themsevles are meaningless when it comes to guitar. Note names are for Piano players. Guitar is an interval instrument. Say the changes are the same old I IV V. Now I could write this out in every key(A D E; E A B; C F G) OR I can say we're playing I IV V in the key of A, E or C. When you hear some one say, "Autumn Leaves in Bb" they are saying ok we're playing the changes of Autumn Leaves with I being Bb, and arrange the other intervals...so IV is Eb and V is F.

Now different keys have different qualities, because they contain a set number of sharps and flats, which kind of drag or pull the key and as such not only do people choose different keys for composition and ease of performance, but also this 'qualities.' Some say Eb, sounds 'triumphant' so you see it in a lot of Wagner pieces...C of course sounds balanced so its used in a lot of nursery rhymes because it can sound a bit 'boring' to trained ears, as it has no sharps and flats.

I don't want to encourage you to learn the 'Key of A', if you were my student, I'd say learn the Major scale. Now start it at A. Those notes comprise the key of A. If you're playing in the key of A, playing those notes in that relationship will keep the listener wanting to return to A for rest or as the I chord. If you stray from those notes the listener will begin to shift to a new a key(sometimes this is wanted, with modulation).

Key can be a few things. I really, personally don't feel 'key' is all that important to playing guitar, especially as you train your ear and get experience. (Rock music is usually in very 'open' keys- A, E, G, B-to a lesser extent; Jazzers lover Bb, Eb, because of horns). But if you imprint the major scale in your minds ear, you'll concern yourself less with key, per se. I use it more of a shorthand. Ok lets play a Blues in B. That tells me all I need to know to play the tune. I know the major scale, I know how it falls with B as the starting note, and I know the progression of a Blues.

PS....Generally in the key of A, D will be a note to avoid over the A chord. The 4th scale degree generally doesn't go well with the I chord (D over A C# E) it's pretty clear to see why...it's a half step up from the third which is very dissonant. The D chord will sound good in the key of A, because it is the IV chord built off of the fourth degree. In the key of D, A would be the fifth scale degree and the V chord.

I would recommend Walter Piston's book 'Harmony' if you really are interested in this topic.
 

jimmyb21

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Why are those the basic chords in "A"? I know part of the answer is "because they sound good with 'A'".

I also know that part of the answer is the in the Major Scale, the I, IV and V chords sound good together (A = I, D = IV, E = V).

What is the relationship between A and: E & D? And between A and: Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m? Are they half or whole steps from each other or is there some other tonal relatoinship?

You just answered your own question....they sound good, they sound good because they are derived from the major scale...and if you want to know WHY the major scale is the major scale, you'll have to invent the time machine and go ask the guy who put it together. It's the ten commandments, you weren't there when they got made, you just follow them.

See this is back to why I'm saying learn INTERVALS not note names. Learn the major scale from the standpoint of intervals so no matter what note you start on you know the pattern. W= whole step H=half step. WWHWWWH - so start at A go a whole step B go a whole step C# go a half step D go a whole step E go a whole step F# go a whole step G# go a half step A an octave up. Then each note has a degree in the scale A is the root in this scale, the home note the note of rest...the notes become tenser and tenser up to the fifth degree(E in this cae)..then kind of smooth out up the Octave. You can think of it like the Root....the notes in between are a bridge to the the Fifth, and the notes in between are a bridge back to the root.

EDIT: I suppose more correctly, to what I'm saying, instead of WWHWWWH it should be M2M2m2M2M2M2m2. M2= Major second m2= minor second.

Chords are designed by stacking thirds(not exclusively but why get complicated now?) So lay out the major scale....A B C# D E F# G # A stack thirds...A C# E..... B D F#.... C# E G# , etc. this is why those chords sound good in the key of A. Say you played a B major instead of a Bminor as derived from stacking thirds....you'd play a B D# F#, there is no D# in A major and this chord would sound 'out side' of the key....whether it would be 'good or bad' is up to context. But it wouldn't 'flow' and it would definitely sound outside.

EDIT: Here's a little tutorial with visuals..http://www.jazzguitar.be/jazz_guitar_chord_theory.html
 

ozone

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Lets look at the A scale.
Every major scale is contructed by whole steps and half steps.
(rootnote)whole step-whole step-half step-whole step-whole step-whole step-half step.
So by using this formula you can start any major scale any any note. Lets take the key of A
A-whole step-B-wholestep-C#-half step-D-whole step-E-wholestep-F#-Wholestep-G#halfstep-A
So now you have all the notes in this key.
You know that basic chords are based on 3rd's (basically every other note).
So build the chords using the notes you have
A C# E = Amajor
B D F# = Bminor
C# E G# = C#minor
D F# A = Dmajor
E G# B = Emajor
F# A C# =F#minor
G# B D = G#dim
That why the these chords sound good when they're played together. Because they all have a basic tonality in the key of A.
So if I played a chord progression like this A, C#minor, A, Bminor, E and A you can play all the notes in the key of A and it'll sound 'right'. It might sound boring after awhile but you'll be playing in the key of A.
 

ozone

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JimmyB beat me to the punch. Good job, man
 

jimmyb21

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Another quick thing to help(this is my method) All you need is a guitar, a chromatic tuner(very important that its CHROMATIC) and your voice. Pick a note on your guitar play it...and then hum it...play it check the intonation on the tuner, hum it check the intonation...match it up, let your ear get the pitch centered(you should actually be able to feel this in your inner ear). Once you sing that note and get your ear on pitch, put down the guitar. Then throughout the day come back to your tuner and sing that pitch. Do this over and over and over until you can reliablely come to the tuner and sign the note on pitch.

Once you can reliably sing the note on pitch, to the point where the tuner becomes unneccesary(et voila, you've trained your ear on that pitch). Then pick up the guitar..and do the same thing with ever interval in the major scale, until you can sing the major scale reliablely without the tuner.

Then you can, if you want, repeat this for every key. But really only one is necessary(because guitar is an interval instrument). Once you do this, say you want to do it C. You can start at G(that's the base note I'm learning)sing a perfect 4th interval(to me this sounds like the first two notes in Beyond the Sea)...and that brings me to C as a pitch BUT as a Perfect Fourth. So you then sing C as Do. So now C is do and I can sing the same interval again and I'm at the pitch F.

A friend suggested doing this with the chromatic scale...but its just one interval repeated over and over...had he taken an interval based training, he'd have saved himself beaucoup time.
 

fatb0t

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Another quick thing to help(this is my method) All you need is a guitar, a chromatic tuner(very important that its CHROMATIC) and your voice. Pick a note on your guitar play it...and then hum it...play it check the intonation on the tuner, hum it check the intonation...match it up, let your ear get the pitch centered(you should actually be able to feel this in your inner ear). Once you sing that note and get your ear on pitch, put down the guitar. Then throughout the day come back to your tuner and sing that pitch. Do this over and over and over until you can reliablely come to the tuner and sign the note on pitch.

Once you can reliably sing the note on pitch, to the point where the tuner becomes unneccesary(et voila, you've trained your ear on that pitch). Then pick up the guitar..and do the same thing with ever interval in the major scale, until you can sing the major scale reliablely without the tuner.

Then you can, if you want, repeat this for every key. But really only one is necessary(because guitar is an interval instrument). Once you do this, say you want to do it C. You can start at G(that's the base note I'm learning)sing a perfect 4th interval(to me this sounds like the first two notes in Beyond the Sea)...and that brings me to C as a pitch BUT as a Perfect Fourth. So you then sing C as Do. So now C is do and I can sing the same interval again and I'm at the pitch F.

A friend suggested doing this with the chromatic scale...but its just one interval repeated over and over...had he taken an interval based training, he'd have saved himself beaucoup time.

Interesting idea, I may give that a shot. thanks
 

jimmyb21

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Interesting idea, I may give that a shot. thanks

Hey no problem man. Lately, I just happened across a lot of information on the web about how poorly ear training is being done. What convinced me to make it a dedicated part of my practice was Wynton Marsailis was doing a clinic and he asked these kids over and over again to play back to him what he was playing and they just couldn't do it. AND this was at the Duke Ellington School...lol makes me wish I had tried out for more things like this when I was younger. I also found that most people start jazz studies in college with poor ear training...very few freshman jazz students, supposedly, can play by ear. AND there is a distinction between 'winging it' aka what most of us call playing by ear...and actually playing by ear.

I came across a bunch of junk on the web, but I think that method is more direct and applied to guitar...I guess I could wrap it in shrinkwrap and sell it for 19.95.

Hear :naughty: are some good sites too! This guy who maintains this site, forget a beer, if I'm ever in Atlanta I will buy this guy a case of his favorite liquor.

Ear Training Song Randomizer

IWasDoingAllRight - Free online ear training tool
 

LPS24

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Thank you everyone for the help, i do have some speed, i know few chords i just need to put it all together and make something out of it..once a while i would feel stuck and i feel like my skills are going no where. but this helps alot :)
 

jimmyb21

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Thank you everyone for the help, i do have some speed, i know few chords i just need to put it all together and make something out of it..once a while i would feel stuck and i feel like my skills are going no where. but this helps alot :)

No problem man, we've all been there glad to help! Putting it all together, is what makes it a journey :) I know just when I think I got something down, I don't. For me guitar is like evolution, contrary to popular belief its not a long slow steady progressive path. For me, atleast, its long flat plateaus punctuated by monsterous leaps in ability. It's hard, I'm the same way, I want to KNOW. But the more you play the more you'll know.

Another thing that I like to stress, and I know this may be blasphemy. But put the guitar down sometimes. Take a few days off, maybe even a whole week! Rest is what makes muscles stronger. Give your ear, mind, fingers, worried soul a rest every now and then. Let ideas store up, just listen to music, you'll see that can help you improve a lot as well. I find every coupld of months if I stop playing for a week or so, I come back fresh, with new ideas and that feeling of when you first played and stayed up til 3 am every night until you could get that F chord!

Don't ever let it become a task!
 

LPS24

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i do treat my guitar playing as a work out, 5 days of playing and take 2 days off to rest my mind, fingers and soul.
but before i do learn all the stuff you guys have listed should i already know every single fret on the fret board? as in where every E is located, and so on?
 

huw

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Nope.

There is no "right order". Soak it all up like a sponge. It's like a jigsaw - the important bit to to get all the pieces in the right place, the order is unimportant.

Of course, you have to walk before you can run, etc, but I'd never put off learning something new just because I hadn't mastered the last thing.

I'd still be on the first thing...
 

jimmyb21

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i do treat my guitar playing as a work out, 5 days of playing and take 2 days off to rest my mind, fingers and soul.
but before i do learn all the stuff you guys have listed should i already know every single fret on the fret board? as in where every E is located, and so on?

Eh, I don't know while I wouldn't discourage you from learning all you can. I'm saying don't let 'finding out new shit' become a distracting force from actuallying learning to play. Like for instance, I know people who know about modes, can tell you about modes, actually applying it...forget it. Walk before you run. If you can't play the major scale in every key up and down the fret board, why are you learning modes? Why are you learning advanced concepts? I always ask people do you want to know guitar and music trivia or do you want to be a musician?

Don't make it rote memorization. Don't simply know the fret every E is on...learn to hear how an E sounds in context of scales(starting with major). Again Don't think of note names, you're not a piano player. Learn the intervals. Learn how 'E' functions in different keys. What role is it playing melodically and harmonically? If your ear doesn't know it it doesnt matter what your mind knows.

Don't be an academic guitar player.

EDIT: You shouldn't 'learn' any of the stuff we talked about. We were simply giving you the theoretical explanation for why chords sound good in keys. That's just music theory. If you want to learn theory take it slow and make it background. In the book I mentioned above, the author makes a point in the introduction that knowledge of theory should run PARALLEL and INDEPENDENT of your exploration of your instrument. music theory isn't necessary, ear training is.

I'll give you an example. the 3rd and 7th scale degree to a lesser extend the root and even lesser the 5th are the notes in the scale that really lock you into the harmony of a piece. I didn't know this until I read it on the internet or in a book. And I could have ran off and spent months learning the 3rd and 7th in every position in every key. But I just played one day and analyzed and I was naturally tending towards those notes, not because of theory but because my ear. Theory made me aware of WHY I was tending towards those notes and I will admit helped me avoid errant notes. But this process was already happening quite naturally. Let it come natural then get the theory to understand it.
 

LPS24

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Lets say i play a random backing track and jam to it, i would be doing so good just improvising, then i would hit the "wrong note" and it throws the whole solo off..
I am learning new scales all the time, and same goes for chords, i wana understand WHY the scale is that way? i have learned so much from My LesPaul.
THANKS:applause:
 

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