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Electric Guitar Manual

Musical Key: How to Find the Key of a Song

Musical Key: How to Know the Tonality of a Song or Musical Theme, something Fundamental to Knowing its Scale and Corresponding Chords.

How to Find the Key of a Song

Something basic to find out the key of a song is to have the guitar tuned in Concert Pitch, or Standard Pitch. This tone is what any electronic tuner would pick up.

This way we would have the instrument ready to search for the tonality or note that is in clear consonance with the theme.

If we don’t have an electronic tuner, or a tuning fork that gives me an A note in concert pitch, we would tune the guitar randomly. The guitar would sound fine playing by ourselves, but we couldn’t play over the playback of an piece of music, because the overall tone of the instrument is deviated.

Musical Key Tuner

To find out the key of a song, we will have to look for the note that is clearly in line with the theme. Especially at the beginning of the song, at the beginning of the chorus, or at the end of the piece. You can use the C Major scale to search through its notes.

Once found that note, will most likely be the Tonic or the note that gives the key.

Musical Key: Major and Minor

Once we know the tonic, we will try the major or minor chord of that note to find out if the key is in major or minor. For example at the beginning of the piece or the chorus, and at the end of the song.

If we know the first chord of the song, it is most likely that that is its key. Especially if the song is in a minor key. Or knowing the last chord of the song, very effective especially for songs in a Major key.

For example, “Angie” by The Rolling Stones begins with a resounding A minor chord, and its key is A minor.

“Like A Rolling Stone” begins and ends with a C Major, and its key is C Major. The chorus also begins in C major.

Other times the song may not begin on the tonic note. So it is most likely the first chord of the chorus of the song, very effective in Major keys.

Nota: hay tantas canciones en tono mayor, como en tono menor, siendo quizá las de tono menor las más interesantes para un guitarrista. Así que todo esto que parece un rollo en un principio, una vez asimilado nos será de gran utilidad. Quitándonos irónicamente, muchos quebraderos de cabeza en el futuro.

Note: there are as many songs in a major key as in a minor key, with those in a minor key perhaps being the most interesting for a guitarist. So all this that seems like a hassle at first, once assimilated will be very useful to us. Ironically, eliminating many headaches in the future.

Musical Theory