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Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #61678  by 3stepbend
 Tue Jun 02, 2009 9:18 am
You guys know what the key is for this song? Is it A, or Am - or something else. I must be missing something with the chord progression...
 #61682  by strumminsix
 Tue Jun 02, 2009 9:30 am
Am with exceptions

I'm sure there are gonna be other valid POV's but with most of the jamming over Am no other scales sound right.
 #61685  by Pete B.
 Tue Jun 02, 2009 9:48 am
DenverEd wrote:Correct me if I am wrong. Am is not a key - it is a scale. I always thought the key of a song had to be one of the twelve notes?!?!?
Starting on the 2nd degree of G Major...
I would call it Am Dorian, but I lift the Am Pentatonics out of the Am Dorian and use the rest as grace notes.
I like to include a Diminished run over the B7>E7 transition, which I like to play as B7>F7>E7 (I think the Dead do B7>E7).
 #61689  by strumminsix
 Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:06 am
DenverEd wrote:Correct me if I am wrong. Am is not a key - it is a scale. I always thought the key of a song had to be one of the twelve notes?!?!?
I think in the ultra proper musical theory pro phd world of music theory you are correct.

However in application, I hear Am type references it all the time from dudes who are lightyears ahead of me with theory and application, etc.
 #61691  by Rusty the Scoob
 Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:46 am
You're thinking of the tonic note, just the root note itself. A key can be major or minor, especially in the ultra proper musical theory world. If you were to write out the sheet music you'd use no flats or sharps for A minor, whereas you'd use three sharps for A major.

(that's my handy trick for recognizing keys - add three flats or subtract 3 sharps to go from major to minor... i.e. G major is one sharp, but G minor is two flats - a net gain of three flatted notes. It works for any tonic note - E major has four sharps, E minor has one sharp - Bb major has two flats, Bb minor has five flats, etc)


Of course if you really get into the advanced theory world you can write anything you want - key of G locrian? Go for it. 4 flats, same as Ab Major and not by coincidence. No key at all? It's not easy to do, but go ahead. In our world of rock & roll though, keys are usually limited to major, mixolydian-ish, minor or dorian-ish, with fairly basic and not very thoroughly set-up modulations.
 #61692  by Rusty the Scoob
 Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:46 am
You're thinking of the tonic note, just the root note itself. A key can be major or minor, especially in the ultra proper musical theory world. If you were to write out the sheet music you'd use no flats or sharps for A minor, whereas you'd use three sharps for A major.

(that's my handy trick for recognizing keys - add three flats or subtract 3 sharps to go from major to minor... i.e. G major is one sharp, but G minor is two flats - a net gain of three flatted notes. It works for any tonic note - E major has four sharps, E minor has one sharp - Bb major has two flats, Bb minor has five flats, etc)


Of course if you really get into the advanced theory world you can write anything you want - key of G locrian? Go for it. 4 flats, same as Ab Major and not by coincidence. No key at all? It's not easy to do, but go ahead. In our world of rock & roll though, keys are usually limited to major, mixolydian-ish, minor or dorian-ish, with fairly basic and not very thoroughly set-up modulations.
 #61693  by Pete B.
 Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:59 am
Or as Frank Zappa would say...
"Ahh Yes... The secret 'Carlos Santana' guitar solo scale".
:wink:
 #61698  by 3stepbend
 Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:49 am
ok...so can someone explain something...if this is indeed Am (which seems right, based on the scales being used), how can the B7, E7#9, and D be explained. The chords for Am would be:

Am
Bdim
C
Dm
Em
F
G

I could understand possibly using the B7 as a substitue for Bdim, just not sure how the others fit or why
 #61700  by Rusty the Scoob
 Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:54 am
DenverEd wrote:I grew up playing the piano. Anytime I didn't see any sharps or flats in the key signature, I was taught that this was the key of C. I suppose it could also be the key of Am - but no one every learned me that.......
They learned you wrong. But if you really want to oversimplify reading sheet music it's the same thing - either way you are playing all white keys. They were teaching you the mechanics of playing but not the musicality - a common problem among piano teachers IMHO.
 #61701  by Rusty the Scoob
 Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:04 pm
3stepbend wrote:ok...so can someone explain something...if this is indeed Am (which seems right, based on the scales being used), how can the B7, E7#9, and D be explained. The chords for Am would be:

Am
Bdim
C
Dm
Em
F
G

I could understand possibly using the B7 as a substitue for Bdim, just not sure how the others fit or why
The B7 is what's known as a Secondary Dominant. It's a common technique where you change a diatonically non-dominant chord (meaning one that follows the proper key signature of the song, like you outlined above) into one with a dominant structure, in order for it to resolve to a different chord than the tonic. II7 is the most common example, resolving to V. Dominant-structured chords always resolve down a 5th, following the circle of 5ths. Or for our string-based thinking, same fret, one higher-pitched string. G7 resolves to C, A7 resolves to D, etc, whether the G7 or A7 belong in the key or not.

#9s are just fun to add to things, especially dominant chords. You can add just about any note to a dominant chord and still have it function as a dominant. Dominant chords are all about creating a tension that then releases to the tonic, so the more weird things you add to it, the more tension you create and the more thoroughly it functions as a dominant. Also the #9 of E7 is F## aka G, which is in either the A minor or A Dorian scale.

The D major is an example of the song being really closer to A Dorian than A Minor, a fairly common thing in both jazz and rock. If you're soloing along and get past the pentatonic, you'll find that F# fits a little better than F. That same F# works harmonically to create a logical D major.
 #61805  by 3stepbend
 Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:34 am
Thanks for the detailed reply. I'll admit, some of it makes sense and some of it doesn't (to me that is). I need to study it a bit. Hard to do without my guitar, and while at work 8^)
 #61806  by Tennessee Jedi
 Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:38 am
3stepbend wrote:Thanks for the detailed reply. I'll admit, some of it makes sense and some of it doesn't (to me that is). I need to study it a bit. Hard to do without my guitar, and while at work 8^)
Forget the sharps and flats
play the changes
chord tones
solo from chord shapes ....
find vid of Jerry and copy steal learn from the master.
.02 $