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#1788197 - 11/13/11 03:11 PM Keys, (to The City), in pop music?
6070sMusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/11
Posts: 51
Loc: Iowa (US)
Dear all,

1) A book that I have states that 7 keys, are perhaps the most often used, (in pop music). C, D, F, G, Ab, Bb, Eb. Would you say that's true, from your own experience?

2) Three chords, that show up quite often according to the same book, are Bb, C, F. True?

3) If playing with others, would someone tell you the next song "is in the key of" (such & such), or would you hear something like, "3 flats" or "2 sharps" being called out to the band?

Am seeking general information, based on your real-world experiences, playing thus far.

Your opinions appreciated, as always.
Thanks, --Pat

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#1788443 - 11/13/11 09:40 PM Re: Keys, (to The City), in pop music? [Re: 6070sMusic]
Hidden son of Teddy Wilson Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/09
Posts: 110
Originally Posted By: 6070sMusic

1) A book that I have states that 7 keys, are perhaps the most often used, (in pop music). C, D, F, G, Ab, Bb, Eb. Would you say that's true, from your own experience?


Depends what you call "pop music". In a "jazz standards" setting, that's mostly correct, except that Db is used quite a lot as well. If you're really playing "pop music", which for me means stuff like the Beatles, the Stones, or Amy W. , Adele, or Queen, or Cat Stevens, or whatever, anything that comes after say the 60s well then you have lots of stuff in A, E, B.... (guitar keys)

You should learn to play in all keys anyway. If you're playing Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, say in Eb (a "usual" key), the bridge goes to B, so if you can't play in B you're hosed.



Originally Posted By: 6070sMusic

2) Three chords, that show up quite often according to the same book, are Bb, C, F. True?


Well I hope that book didn't cost too much !! That statement is true, but many other chords show up quite often.

It sounds to me you're trying to avoid learning some keys or chords that "aren't used often".

Well I have bad news for you: you have to learn every chord, period. There aren't that many. (60, according to John Mehegan who likes to count things a lot).

And, learn to play in every key. That's a bit difficult but well worth the effort.

Originally Posted By: 6070sMusic

3) If playing with others, would someone tell you the next song "is in the key of" (such & such), or would you hear something like, "3 flats" or "2 sharps" being called out to the band?


I've heard both. I would say that "in the key of" is more frequent, but x flats or y sharps gets called too. Either way, you have to know how many sharps or flats are in your key so I don't see how it makes any difference.

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#1788486 - 11/13/11 11:32 PM Re: Keys, (to The City), in pop music? [Re: 6070sMusic]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5450
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I play a lot of D, G, and A for Irish and Americana music (fiddles, mandolins, banjos), a lot of F and Bb for Scottish - who knows why? - and, all of the associated minors. And modes - mostly Dorian and Myxolydian.

And then I play old big band and 20's-30's music, where the Bb, Eb, etc come in - horn parts.

But the real deal is - the key signature in no way confines the chords. I play San Antonio Rose in C - so what's that D major doing there?!? and Tennessee Waltz in F - with an A7 in it. And It Had to Be You, which I tell a fiddler is in G, and maybe the melody is laugh , but the chords are all over the map. And more sophisticated stuff, to me, - What Are You Doing New Year's Eve has a key signature with one flat - and E majors and D majors and F#m's and Bm7's and lord know what else.

I hear most often "D", "D dorian", or "D mixolydian" or a variant thereof with a different tonic.

So my most recent explorations are to do a scale of a piece I'm working on, then inversions up and down the keyboard of the I-IV-V7 chords because it's likely those will be used, then cadences with those chords, and then I go to the tune itself. I find the secondary dominants, I practice the 3-6-2-5-1 cadence, etc. Occasionally I work through the circle of fifths, because then I can see the relationships between the secondary dominants, and the IV chords from key to key, etc. It seems to me that's the exercise that shows you what chords show up often smile

And sometimes I just transpose a chord progression into an equivalent in D, because I'm most familiar with that key, just to see what's going on, and the light will come on so I can go back to whatever the original key was and see that relationship.

It's an ongoing learning experience for me. I suspect whatever framework the book is giving you will be helpful in organizing your understanding. But it's a simple framework, and will be expanded more and more the more you play.

That's the way it's been for me, anyway.

Cathy
_________________________

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#1788517 - 11/14/11 01:08 AM Re: Keys, (to The City), in pop music? [Re: 6070sMusic]
6070sMusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/11
Posts: 51
Loc: Iowa (US)
Thanks, folks; good points, all, and articulated well. Yes, I'm trying to get a sense of "what one needs to know." In my case, my love is 60s/70s music and perhaps a smidge of 50s and even the 80s. That is, of course, only my view re choice of music but "I know what I like" and "that's the name of that tune." LOL!

The more that I read and learn, the "slower" I feel at times; but as each of you point out in your own way - ain't any shortcuts. In my case, the old guy is in a rush to get back to making noise with the boys in the garage, play for fun if nothing else. (I listen to classical music, but won't be playing any Dead Boys Club selections; as stated before, I do admire time and talent put in to playing it - but it's not my cup of tea).

Again, thanks for your comments.
--Pat

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#1788529 - 11/14/11 01:24 AM Re: Keys, (to The City), in pop music? [Re: 6070sMusic]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5450
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Well, sigh, as for slow - I've been a returning piano player, after a couple of years of lessons in my early teens and 30+ years off - for 15 + years now, and I've still got a lot of exploring to do laugh I spent 5 or so years just playing, quite literally, oom-pah to the fiddles' melodies in 5 or 6 keys, and modes that I didn't understand at all laugh , before things started to make sense. I played some solo then, too, but I read music and didn't necessarily understand the theory - I just played it so it was danceable. And then a couple of years ago I decided to play solo gigs for seniors, and my repertoire had to expand, and I like big band stuff, so now there's a ton more stuff to learn. Great fun, but it's a good thing I like learning, and not just knowing!

Cathy
_________________________

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#1788556 - 11/14/11 03:25 AM Re: Keys, (to The City), in pop music? [Re: 6070sMusic]
6070sMusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/11
Posts: 51
Loc: Iowa (US)
Cathy,

Yeah, I played guitar and drums in the past. "Didn't need no stinkin' theory" stuff. Each time that I played somewhere, it was as a drummer; I could keep time and people danced and no one threw bottles (tho' a lady dancing knocked over a cymbal stand one night, when I wasn't looking). LOL! In the days of our youth, innocence, wonder and delight no one spoke about The Others across town - The Intervals family...

Many moons passed, I no longer wear "a younger man's clothes." One thing gave way to another, as these things often do; a lady at work who sings and used to play keys gave me one (of her 3 boards). She kept the Rhodes, but said that she'd sell it to me for $1,500.00 with odds and ends tossed in. How selfish can one get, eh? ;-)

But, I pondered: what should a well-intentioned lad & his board do together, that first night alone, a cabin in the woods, moonlight dancing across the waves as we sit on the dock and listen to the crickets?

I bought books, I read; I thrash about, nose barely above the water.

I tend to see the keyboard as a sideways guitar - just one with more buttons and sounds AND I hear one can use laptop and software for still more magic. Whoa, this is too cool, for school. But, I now have to live with it as it were, figure out what the black and white things are for and hence, you get the variations of Question 67 and 68 peppered across the forums here as I look for form and shapes of things to come.

ButButBut I should in fact be doing my "homework," rather than being here, I suppose.

> This sorry & sordid tale < all began for me, listening to YouTube video of the old gem, "Wildfire" by Michael Murphy. I listened to the pianist. Wow, is all I could think of, in response. Over time, buying one's memories (as it were) via iTunes or Amazon, hearing the gems from "back in the day," the twitch started again, neurons and axons and synapses sparked. Couldn't sit still, anymore. Any of that sound familiar, to those here? ;-) Each, in his/her own way, perhaps arrive here ultimately. Final Destination, and Beginnings, all in one place.

Regards,
--Pat

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#1788561 - 11/14/11 03:36 AM Re: Keys, (to The City), in pop music? [Re: 6070sMusic]
Swarth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 366
Loc: SF Bay Area Ca.
When I played around with the guitar a very little bit I was told, learn 3 chords (I,IV,V)and you can play 80% of every pop/rock song written. It wasn't far from the truth. These many years later thats about all I remember, 3 chords. I imagine the reason is that the music was written, performed and published in the keys that the general public could relate to (and a lot of pop/rock stars). The average guitar player wants nothing to do with an Ebmaj7 chord. For the most part, I'm not sure if the general public really cares if you play one either.

As for learning all the chords, well that is an ongoing endeavor depending on your definition. Each key has 25 "most used" types, and then you add inversions, that gives you around 100 times 12 or 1200, then theres the substituions, rootless voicings etc, but perhaps those fall under a sub category of "voicings". Still, to understand all these you can then begin to open doors to your playing. Don't sweat it though, learn a few at a time, practice songs using them, then experiment with voicings. It just takes time and a bit of effort.
_________________________
Quid est veritas?

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#1788567 - 11/14/11 04:18 AM Re: Keys, (to The City), in pop music? [Re: 6070sMusic]
6070sMusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/11
Posts: 51
Loc: Iowa (US)
Swarth,

Funny thing, that; lady who gave me the keyboard told me to learn 4 chords, and I could play most of what I loved from the old music. She also said, "don't make it harder, than it has to be." That, I thought (in error), gave me license for a fast cheat playing with the keys. May not work that well, in the end, and I find this the more I (slowly) learn about keyboard.

What I recall from the old stuff, was in fact, the 1 4 5 progression but back in the day, I didn't know there were questions to be asked on how and why such a form arose. (Maybe we all learned a part, practiced, and with luck and pluck the noise later maybe sounded like music).

But, all told and as you wisely say - takes time and effort. I have to keep telling myself to not get the cart ahead of the horse.

* I started in part, to slow the spigot of my stupid gene, regarding what I didn't know about music. Which is, in fact, most everything. I commented elsewhere in forums about the day I found the 1 4 5 origin within scales; I felt like the smartest guy in the world, that day. I had a fact, and it was mine, and no one can take that away from me. I began to wonder, what else it can tell me, if I slow down and take the time to study and learn as well I should. But, we get excited, get in a rush - and if defeats one. But, that too is a lesson learned, I guess.

One person in the forums has been kindly helping me, and often smacks me on the nose with a rolled up newspaper (so to speak) as well he should, as I jump around with the kid in the candy store syndrome. It's new, exciting and I want to play music - but, gotta' learn stuff, first. Whoa, unto me. "Take time, to smell the Intervals" along the way, is the message of the day. ;-)

Regards,
--Pat

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#1788698 - 11/14/11 10:23 AM Re: Keys, (to The City), in pop music? [Re: 6070sMusic]
Hidden son of Teddy Wilson Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/09
Posts: 110
If you're going to do professional work, you'll have to play tunes in different keys, there's no getting around that. Because you'll inevitably encounter vocalists who all have their favorite key. Since many tunes (especially jazz standards, like Smoke Gets which I mentioned before) modulate to different keys, basically you have to learn to play in every key.

Obviously you won't achieve that by tomorrow morning, or even next week.
So how to get there ? Take it slow, pick a couple of simple tunes and learn each of them in at least 3 different keys. Just work slowly, make sure you get it exactly right, don't try to cut corners. Then as you move forward you'll add more tunes and keys. Once you start getting the hang of it goes surprisingly fast.

Playing tunes in different keys is essential because it gives you a global view of what goes on in the music.

Any book or person who tells you you can get away with 3 chords in 2 keys is just plain wrong. I guess 3 chords is ok if all you ever want to play is the blues, but you want to play other stuff also, don't you?

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#1788769 - 11/14/11 12:39 PM Re: Keys, (to The City), in pop music? [Re: 6070sMusic]
6070sMusic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/11
Posts: 51
Loc: Iowa (US)
Jazz, on tap? No, but oddly, some of what I would consider jazz does have an appeal. Perhaps, the chord voicings, if I use that term in the correct sense of the word.

But - as to the rest, well put, as usual. Different keys it is then; seems there will be enough to keep me occupied for a spell, then. ;-)

In fact, as I recall, one of the books that I mentioned did in fact have one play a simple ditty in numerous keys; you and the author seem attuned in that respect. Seems that I had best start applying, those "simple" methods in order to move on to Page Two, so to speak. More practice, less "thinking about it" here, is the order of the day. Just so.

Thanks, all help appreciated.
--Pat


Edited by 6070sMusic (11/14/11 12:45 PM)

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