• DNA Test: The Star-Spangled Banner (National Anthem Of The United States Of America)

    in "What Key" Game,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Theory

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    In this lesson, we’ll be taking a section of the melody of The Star-Spangled Banner to the lab for a DNA test.

    I know that sounds real crazy but by the end of this lesson, you’ll learn what the DNA of a major key is, and how the major scale and key-signatures can be used to determine where a melody is derived from.

    Let’s get started by understanding what the DNA of a major key is.

    “What Is The DNA Of A Major Key?”

    The DNA is a hereditary material (found in living things) that contains genetic information and instruction.

    Attention: I only know a little about biology and genetics. So, don’t laugh at me just because my knowledge is not as up-to-date as yours.

    A lot of things have been ascertained by modern science using the knowledge of the DNA and that includes paternity. Also, the DNA has been used for crime investigation and civil litigation. However, that’s not our focus in this lesson.

    “So, What Has The DNA Got To Do With The Major Key?”

    There are twelve major keys in music.

    Apart from C major:

    …each of these major keys have a particular number sharps or flats they’re made up of and that’s what music theorists call key-signature.

    For example, the key of G major:

    …has one sharp (and that’s F#):

    So, once we talk about the key that has one sharp note, that’s the key-signature of G major, and with that we can know without a doubt that the key is G major.

    The key-signature of G major is its genetic information and instruction and you can rely on it to know the keys that are related to it, when a piece of music has modulated to G major, etc.

    “Let’s Do A Quick DNA Test!”

    This is the key of C major:

    …the melody of the second line of the The Star-Spangled Banner goes:







    …has an F#:

    …which is foreign to the key of C major:

    I’m very sure you know that there’s no F# note in the key of C major.

    If we do a DNA test for that melody to ascertain where it’s coming from, you’ll be amazed to know that it’s taken from, or derived, from the key of G major:

    …and this is because the genetic information we have about G major:

    …and that of C major:

    …makes it very clear where this melody is taken from.

    It is only in the key of G major that you have just one sharp and that’s F#:

    …and although there are tons of other keys where you have F#:

    …those other keys don’t have some of the notes we have in the Star Spangled Banner melody.

    For example, D major:

    …has an F# note:

    …but there’s also C#:

    …and we don’t have a C# note in that particular section of the melody.

    So, despite the fact that D major has the F# note (we’re looking out for), it also has a C# note and that genetic information does not correspond with what we’re looking for.

    We also have other keys like A major:

    …E major:

    …B major:

    …and F# major:

    …that have that F# melody note. However, these keys don’t have some or all of the melody notes in the second line of The Star-Spangled Banner melody like E:




    …and G:

    So, going with the melody and the DNA information we have, the second line of The Star-Spangled Banner is derived from the key of G major:

    …and that’s the DNA result. The melody of the second line of The Star-Spangled Banner are derived from the G major scale and I would want you to see the notes in the key of G major:


    …the sixth tone of the scale.


    …the fifth tone of the scale.


    …the fourth tone of the scale.


    …the sixth tone of the scale.


    …the seventh tone of the scale.


    …the first tone of the scale.

    Using the DNA result we’ve gotten and the sufficient information, I’ll leave you to harmonize this particular section of the melody using chords from the key of G major and I guarantee you that you’ll NEVER go wrong.

    As long as we’ve been able to determine that the melody was derived from the key of G major and we’ve also cross-checked ans confirmed it to be true, you’re good to go.

    Final Words

    Special thanks to my mentor and role-model, Jermaine Griggs, for the rare privilege of sharing this information with you.

    In a subsequent lesson, we’re going to do a DNA test for Hymns and other song types to know where their melodies are derived from.

    Until then, keep improving!

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku (aka - "Dr. Pokey") is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.



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