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#2058632 - 04/03/13 10:17 AM figuring out what key
magenta Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/22/12
Posts: 1
hello,

i am self taught and love learning more about theory. i came across a great song created by Gymnopedie No.1 - Erik Satie. just for learning, i was wondering what key this song is in? usually i just stick to certain key when writing a song on the piano. however, does this song move to a different key. if so, how do you figure out generally what other key to move to.

thank you in advance for your help.

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#2058667 - 04/03/13 11:31 AM Re: figuring out what key [Re: magenta]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 815
Satie is probably doing something tricky, so maybe someone with real theory chops and/or a good ear will weigh in.

The key signature has F# and C#. In the usual major/minor scales, this means that the key is either D major or its relative minor, B minor. The bass clef starts by alternating the root notes G and D, and that's quite consistent with being in D major, but the tonalities are complex and I don't know if that's because the song is modal (but then why would the bass be hovering around D?) or simply because the chords are very colorful--the first measure is D, F#, G, B, which is something like a DM 11 13.

The last measure also hints strongly at being in D. Okay, it clubs you over the head as being in D, but with the whole last page using a natural C and natural F, this isn't a major tonality. So I think the piece lands on a D minor chord and a lot of that final section is zipping around in A minor. (The last two measures appear to do a standard V-I cadence from Am to Dm.) Measure 60 appears to be the changeover in the overall piece.


Edited by Whizbang (04/03/13 11:32 AM)
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#2058673 - 04/03/13 11:43 AM Re: figuring out what key [Re: magenta]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
The initial chords, alternated, are Gmaj7 and Dmaj7. The piece is ostensibly in D major, although it ends in a minor tonality of D minor. It ends with chords Am Dm, a.k.a. Vm Im (or v i if you prefer using lower-case letters for minor chords).
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#2058820 - 04/03/13 04:57 PM Re: figuring out what key [Re: magenta]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3605
Quick analysis of the first part by ear

Start is in Dmaj, repeating IV7 followed by I7

I think the modulation might be in m.17 already but In m22 it is definitely modulated to Dminor (using f instead of f# can't be in Dmaj). I'm thinking Dminor and not Aminor because he is so persistent with the D and downward runs (upward runs would require c#).

In m31 I hear another modulation and a f# reappears, I think we go to Bminor.

In m38 we get c instead of c#, seems another modulation but in my ears it's some VII like chord for the Dmajor chord in 39 so this might be something like (VII)->VI still in Bminor.

Im m40 we're back in the start
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#2058831 - 04/03/13 05:10 PM Re: figuring out what key [Re: wouter79]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: wouter79
Start is in Dmaj, repeating IV7 followed by I7

The starting chords are major 7 chords, not dominant 7 chords. That is, IVM7 and IM7, using F# and C# respectively for the seventh. IV7 would use F natural and I7 would use C natural.
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#2058855 - 04/03/13 06:09 PM Re: figuring out what key [Re: magenta]
beechcraft409 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/29/11
Posts: 192
As an absolute last resort for the future, there is a program called VirtualDJ. While its intended purpose lies elsewhere, it has a function where you can load an MP3 into it and it will give you the key signature for it. There is a free version of it.
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#2058880 - 04/03/13 07:18 PM Re: figuring out what key [Re: magenta]
Derulux Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5353
Loc: Philadelphia
It looks like you've got some great answers already. At the risk of chiming in a little too basic, in case you haven't see this before:

The order of flats:
BEADGCF

If it's got flats in the key signature, go "back one" to get the key. So, BEA, it's in E-flat.

The order of sharps (opposite of flats):
FCGDAEB

If it's got sharps, go "forward two" to get the key. So, FCG, it's in A.

This is of course, for major keys, and is a very basic guide. Hope it helps.
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#2059007 - 04/04/13 02:56 AM Re: figuring out what key [Re: PianoStudent88]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3605
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Originally Posted By: wouter79
Start is in Dmaj, repeating IV7 followed by I7

The starting chords are major 7 chords, not dominant 7 chords. That is, IVM7 and IM7, using F# and C# respectively for the seventh. IV7 would use F natural and I7 would use C natural.


First chord is gbdf# which is IV7 in Dmajor. IV7 is not a dominant chord either. So I have no idea what you're trying to say here.
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#2059032 - 04/04/13 04:23 AM Re: figuring out what key [Re: magenta]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: magenta
hello,

...[I] love learning more about theory.


Me too! Feel free to visit this big, long list of great, free internet resources I've gathered on music theory here: http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1948785.html

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#2059201 - 04/04/13 10:34 AM Re: figuring out what key [Re: wouter79]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: wouter79
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Originally Posted By: wouter79
Start is in Dmaj, repeating IV7 followed by I7

The starting chords are major 7 chords, not dominant 7 chords. That is, IVM7 and IM7, using F# and C# respectively for the seventh. IV7 would use F natural and I7 would use C natural.


First chord is gbdf# which is IV7 in Dmajor. IV7 is not a dominant chord either. So I have no idea what you're trying to say here.

I guess the confusion arises because of different conventions about how to name seventh chords.

I'm guessing that you use 7 to mean the diatonic seventh added. So in D major I7 would be DF#AC# and IV7 would be GBDF#, both using a major seventh. Whereas V7 would be AC#EG, using the minor seventh. In all three cases, "7" in your usage appears to mean "add the seventh, major or minor, using a note from the D major scale." Am I correct in this inference for how you use the notation?

I use 7 all by itself to mean "add a minor seventh to a major triad, whether or not it's diatonic." So in the key of D major, I7 would be DF#AC and IV7 would be GBDF, using the minor sevenths C and F, even though they're not notes in the D major scale. If I need to be specific about the type of seventh chord, I call "major triad with a minor seventh" a dominant seventh, even though they're not built on the dominant (A) of the key of D major. For me, "dominant seventh" describes a chord quality, not which note of a scale it's built on.

To name a chord which is a major triad with a major seventh, I use maj7 or M7. So DF#AC# would be Imaj7 or IM7 and GBDF# would be IVmaj7 or IVM7.

Basically, I'm taking the chord decorations from letter name chords (where DF#AC is D7 and DF#AC# is Dmaj7) and applying them to chords named with Roman numerals.
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#2059328 - 04/04/13 01:54 PM Re: figuring out what key [Re: PianoStudent88]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3605
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88

I guess the confusion arises because of different conventions about how to name seventh chords.

I'm guessing that you use 7 to mean the diatonic seventh added. So in D major I7 would be DF#AC# and IV7 would be GBDF#, both using a major seventh. Whereas V7 would be AC#EG, using the minor seventh. In all three cases, "7" in your usage appears to mean "add the seventh, major or minor, using a note from the D major scale." Am I correct in this inference for how you use the notation?


Yes that's how I use them and that's probably the source of confusion. As you say, in my notation the 7 refers to the 7th note, always according to the current key. I don't use any "m" or "M" additions to the chords. It is not needed anyway since it follows from the key we're in.
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#2059339 - 04/04/13 02:09 PM Re: figuring out what key [Re: magenta]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
How do you notate chords that aren't diatonic to the current key? For example, a secondary dominant? Say, E7 (EG#BD) leading to A7 leading to Dmaj in the key of D major.

When I'm using Roman numerals as I traditionally learned them, I would use slash notation for that: V7/V to V7 to I. But I've adopted this new way of borrowing the letter decorations for my Roman numeral chords because it allows me to easily notate a wider variety of chords in cases where the temporary key for the slash notation is not so easily identified, or where the harmony is not behaving functionally in the way the slash notation is designed to reveal.
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#2059565 - 04/05/13 03:01 AM Re: figuring out what key [Re: magenta]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3605
>How do you notate chords that aren't diatonic to the current key? For example, a secondary dominant? Say, E7 (EG#BD) leading to A7 leading to Dmaj in the key of D major.

Usually a modulation has happened then.

Secondary dominant has special notation, eg for (V7)->V7 I for your example.

There are a few other special chords, eg Neapolitan 6th chord, I rarely encounter them but Neapolian 6th I write as N6 smile
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#2059593 - 04/05/13 04:33 AM Re: figuring out what key [Re: magenta]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
You guys are running into RN limitations.

When only numbers are used, I7 has to mean Imaj7, II7 or ii7 has to mean IIm7, and so on.

For people who use one system or the other some kind of translation is necessary.

I think what has been missed is that in the Satie piece mentioned there is no traditional feeling of a standard key. Two sharps in tonal music would clearly indicate either D major or B minor, and a V7 chord would tell the tale. So we expect a D7 to support a feeling of G major, but it is simply not there.

For D major, which we might think Satie has in mind, we would expect an A7 chord to clearly support that key.

However, if among other things Satie was thinking modally - think only of G A B C$ D E F# G - then we would be hearing "G Lydian". That would explain the tonal center that I hear in the beginning (G) but the key signature (reflecting a mode).
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#2059672 - 04/05/13 08:43 AM Re: figuring out what key [Re: magenta]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
Gary, thank you for the observation about G Lydian. It is interesting because I think on the evidence of the closing chords that the piece ends in D natural minor. I say "natural" because of using Am rather than A. However as usual I am hampered by not being able to hear key or tonal center in any conscious way, so I can't hear whether or when the piece has a tonal center of G vs. D, and what mode (including major and minor as possible modes) it might be in. Not doubting what you say, this is just my usual lament about a whole realm of conscious aural understanding of music which is a closed book to me.
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#2059673 - 04/05/13 08:43 AM Re: figuring out what key [Re: magenta]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3605
RN (whatever that is?) limitations? I don't see any problems with the classic analysis as I tried above. In fact it went much smoother than I anticipated.

I don't agree that we want A7 chord. Why would one always need a dominant chord?

I'm not well into Lydian. Why would that fit better than D major? Are you just picking it because it then gives you a I-V (dominant chord) instead of IV-I ?

I think the structure of the phrases here is more suggesting IV-I, the tension IMHO is on the first measure and the release on the second measure. His phrasing marks also seem to indicate that. But it's satie, probably you can play it the other way round convincingly smile
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#2059683 - 04/05/13 08:54 AM Re: figuring out what key [Re: magenta]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3605
Regarding the end, yes it's natural D minor. It more confirms D as tonal center than a G
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#2060057 - 04/05/13 09:45 PM Re: figuring out what key [Re: wouter79]
tone_depth Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/19/12
Posts: 18
Loc: Az, USA
The context is Roman Numeral (RN) limitations.

Originally Posted By: wouter79
RN (whatever that is?) limitations? I don't see any problems with the classic analysis as I tried above. In fact it went much smoother than I anticipated.

I don't agree that we want A7 chord. Why would one always need a dominant chord?

I'm not well into Lydian. Why would that fit better than D major? Are you just picking it because it then gives you a I-V (dominant chord) instead of IV-I ?

I think the structure of the phrases here is more suggesting IV-I, the tension IMHO is on the first measure and the release on the second measure. His phrasing marks also seem to indicate that. But it's satie, probably you can play it the other way round convincingly smile


Edited by tone_depth (04/05/13 09:46 PM)

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#2060496 - 04/06/13 07:27 PM Re: figuring out what key [Re: magenta]
findingnemo2010 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/17/09
Posts: 1511
D; I believe.
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i call it the paino because its where i put all my pain

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