Incornsyucopia wrote:Not at all a stupid question. "High Time" is quite tricky as to what keys it uses. It starts in A major or its relative major F# minor since they're the only keys that have D major and C# minor in them. However, then it drops down to Ab/G# major and then to Gb/F# major, which would suggest C#/Db major as the key. From there, moving up a minor third to A major, then down a fourth to E major and then a major second to D major places really securely in A major. But then the movement to B major turns that into a dominant of E modulating the song to E major. The following D major then moves things back to A major. The G major between E major and A major between the verses is borrowed from the parallel key of E minor.
In other words, it's not wholly in E major and it's not wholly in A major although those are the two keys that are most obvious. It's actually a highly interesting use of ambiguous tonal function. See Walter Everett's essay "'High Time' and Ambiguous Harmonic Function" in the edited volume Perspectives on the Grateful Dead.
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