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PART ONE: Working with KEYS. Where do I start? There are two ways most songwriters begin a song: Begin with a riff, bass line or melody Begin with a chord.

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Presentation on theme: "PART ONE: Working with KEYS. Where do I start? There are two ways most songwriters begin a song: Begin with a riff, bass line or melody Begin with a chord."— Presentation transcript:

1 PART ONE: Working with KEYS

2 Where do I start? There are two ways most songwriters begin a song: Begin with a riff, bass line or melody Begin with a chord progression In either case, your next step is to find out what KEY you are working in, so you can open up your musical toolbox.

3 Finding the KEY The first step to finding the key in which you are playing is to find the KEY NOTE. This is the note that feels the most relaxed in the song, and is often the note on which you begin and/or end. For example: If you are playing mostly notes from the D major scale, then you are playing in the KEY of D. What does this mean?? Let’s find out...

4 What IS a key? A KEY is the name of a group of notes that all fit well together. Notes within a key are based around a SCALE or MODE. The notes of your melody, bass line, riffs, and chords will all come from the SCALE or MODE on which the key is based. The Key gets its name from the scale or mode.

5 Scales and Keys For example, if you are playing in the key of D major, then you are using notes from the D major scale to create your melody, bass line and chords. Here are the notes in a D major scale. The notes are: D E F# G A B C# D:

6 The Key of D major The notes in the D major scale are: D E F# G A B C# D Chords using these notes: D Em F#m G A Bm C# o (D) I ii iii IV V vi vii (I) Notice that the chords all come directly from the notes in the D major scale. This means they will sound good when played together with the notes in that scale. The chord numbers correspond with the note number.

7 Building Chords Here’s our D major scale again: D E F# G A B C# D On top of each of these notes, we can build a CHORD. To build a chord, we will add two notes above the scale note. The trick is to find the right notes. First, let's learn about THIRDs.

8 THIRDS Thirds are INTERVALS – a distance between two notes. Every other note in a scale is a third apart. The distance from note 1 to note 3 is a THIRD. The distance from note 2 to note 4 is also a THIRD. What is the distance from note 3 to note 5? Yes, it is also a THIRD. Chords are created by playing THIRDS together.

9 Understanding chords Understanding chords Let’s review the D major scale and the chords built on them. Notice that the notes in each chord are a third apart, and that all notes come from the D major scale: Top note: A B C# D E F# G A Middle note: F# G A B C# D E F# Bottom note: D E F# G A B C# D Chord number: I ii iii IV V vi vii I (Capital numbers = major chord; lowercase = minor chord) The bottom note in a chord gives the chord its name. For example: G B D played together = a G chord.

10 Chord qualities Chords have different colours or qualities. Some examples include: MAJOR (sounds “happy” and pleasant) MINOR (sounds “sad”) DIMINISHED (sounds mysterious and clashing) AUGMENTED (sounds tense and unusual) SEVENTH (a combination of happy and tense) There are many more. These are the basic types.

11 More chord qualities To add colour to a bland song, try changing the colour of your chords. Change a major chord to a major 7 th or an add9 chord. Change a minor to a minor 7 th. Add suspensions, 11ths, 13 th s and other colour notes. Invent chords – use alternate tunings or just play around with LH finger combinations Add or take away notes from the chord

12 PRIMARY CHORDS The three most important chords within a key are the PRIMARY CHORDS. These are: I, IV and V (all major chords) In D major, these chords are: D G and A You can write a song using only the primary chords. In fact, about 60% of all songs written (especially early rock songs and blues songs) are written using only these three chords.

13 SECONDARY CHORDS The secondary chords are used to give some extra flavour to a song. These chords are all minor chords: ii, iii and vi In D major, these chords are: Em F#m and Am The vii chord is diminished, and is hardly ever used. In D major this is the C# o chord.

14 CHORD FUNCTIONS CHORD FUNCTIONS Each chord within a key has a certain FUNCTION. Some examples of chord functions: The home chord, or tonic chord (I) is used to give stability, peace or resolution. The V chord is used to lead directly to the home chord. The iv and ii chords lead directly to the V chord. There are many other examples...

15 CHORDS IN DIFFERENT KEYS The chords in the most common “guitar” keys are:

16 LIST OF SCALES AND MODES There are MANY, MANY different scales and modes on which a song can be based. SOME of these (but not all!!) include: SCALES: Major Minor Pentatonic (major and minor) Blues Whole tone World scales... Too many to list! MODES: Ionian (major scale) Dorian (minor/bluesy) Phrygian (Spanish sounding) Lydian Mixolydian (bluesy) Aeolian (minor scale) Locrian (rarely used)

17 Summary When writing a song, start with a riff, bass line, melody or chords Find the missing parts by determining the KEY in which you are playing Use chords and notes from that key – they will sound good when played together! ULTIMATELY, USE YOUR EARS to tell you whether the song sounds good.

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