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Not an easy way, but generally, it's the chord that everything comes back to as a resolution. And a lot of times, but not always, (so don't rely on it all the time) the first chord will tell you what key as well....

For instance, (and I'm using this only because every guitar player in the world knows it) Stairway to Heaven starts off in Amin, and it is also the key of Amin. It's harder to tell if the song is a long riff, but it will still have the arppegio of the chord in it for instance, VH, Ain't Talkin' Bout Love.... it's in Amin as well..... (other than Eddy is tuned down 1/2 step) But the first chord you play is an Amin. You Really Got Me, is in Amaj, but the first note you play is a G. With a little practice, it becomes easier to tell, but that's where I usually start. Good luck.

J
 

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yup...that's usually correct...the first chord indicates the key...as in "highway to hell" that starts off with the pounding triple "a" chord...the solo starts in "a"...but then slides down three frets to the relative scale...lot's of lynyrd skynyrd tunes and gun's and roses version of "knocking on heaven's door" starts on the "g" chord...yet the solo is in "e" at the 12th fret position instead of at the 15th fret where it "should" be...the use of these "relative" scales are very prevalent in country songs...the best thing to do is to record the chord progression...then find a target note on the low "e" string that sounds "right"...that will usually be the lowest root note to the "proper" key...however...if an alternate tuning was used...that's a whole new ball game...good luck finding the proper key...experiment... :icon_thum
 

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Da Blooze Guy
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lot's of lynyrd skynyrd tunes and gun's and roses version of "knocking on heaven's door" starts on the "g" chord...yet the solo is in "e" at the 12th fret position instead of at the 15th fret where it "should" be...the use of these "relative" scales are very prevalent in country songs...[/QUOTE said:
That would be the major pentatonic for (E for the key of G for example) the key. You're right in that you get a country sound, I've always thought of it as a happier sound as opposed to the minor pentatonic. And it sounds really cool to mix minor and major ala Clapton and Vaughn, just to name a couple. You can always find the major pentatonic down a minor third from the song's key
 
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