• The “What Key Am I In” Game 8

    in "What Key" Game,Theory

    After reviewing older posts on the blog, I’ve decided to bring back the “What Key Am I In” lessons.

    If you understand major scales, the number system, and which chords fall on each tone of the scale (aka – “diatonic chords”), you have what it takes to crack the “What Key Am I In” code (at least analytically in these blog posts… for details on how to do it solely by ear, click here).

    But just in case, let’s review.

    1) Take all your major scales and number each tone from 1 to 7.

    2) Next, simply apply these chords to the appropriate tones:

    1st tone = major
    2nd tone = minor
    3rd tone = minor
    4th tone = major
    5th tone = major
    6th tone = minor
    7th tone = diminished

    Let’s try one:

    Bb major scale = Bb C D Eb F G A Bb

    Number the scale from 1 to 7:

    Bb is 1, C is 2, D is 3, Eb is 4, F is 5, G is 6, A is 7

    Now apply the chords to each tone:

    1 – Bb major
    2 – C minor
    3 – D minor
    4 – Eb major
    5 – F major
    6 – G minor
    7 – A diminished

    That’s basically the name of the game.

    The only difference below is that I’m giving you a few chords and you’re trying to figure out which major key contains those chords.

    Every key is unique. For example, if you see the chords D minor, C minor, and G minor together, there’s only ONE key that has this unique combination – Bb.

    There are no other keys that will have this unique combination of diatonic chords.

    Eb major comes close because it has C minor as its 6th tone and G minor as its 3rd tone.

    F also comes close with D minor as its 6th tone and G minor as its 2nd tone.

    But only Bb major has C minor, D minor, and G minor… all in one key.

    So that’s what you’re looking for below.


    What Major Key Am I In If I Have These Chords?

    B minor
    C# minor
    E major



    “A major”


    Look at the diatonic chords of A major:

    1 – A major
    2 – B minor
    3 – C# minor

    4 – D major
    5 – E major
    6 – F# minor
    7 – G# diminished

    They match up.

    You’ll be hard-pressed to find another key that has all 3 chords. Maybe 2 of the 3 but only A major has all 3 diatonic chords in its key.

    (Of course that doesn’t mean other keys can’t substitute and use chords outside of the key. This happens all the time. Of course you can use chords from anywhere you want or else music would sound boring with only 7 “diatonic” chords to choose from in every key. All we’re doing with this game is finding the chords that NATURALLY occur in each key. The foundation. What happens before any alterations, substitutions, or additions. The chords naturally created by only using tones of the scale.)

    I hope this helps.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

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


    { 6 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Jesse M.

    Hey Jermaine!

    Thanks for all the incredible information you post on this blog! I love these quizzes (I just went through all the earlier ones) because they are good for my theory which is quite weak. I’m actually away from my keyboard right now and am REALLY missing it and I also can’t try out the other ideas that you post right now.



    2 gabrielle carter

    i do not understand this can anybody show how to learn your notes.


    3 egbobestman

    I want to lean pianno


    4 sheetmetal stamping process

    Greeting from over the world. informative blog I shall return for more.


    5 Pastor Vic Brown

    Dear Bro. Jermaine,

    I noticed that under the example above you said diminished for the 7th scale degree in a major scale. Isn’t that supposed to be half-diminished. Example was G# diminished.

    Pastor Vic


    6 Jermaine Griggs

    Great question Pastor!

    This depends on whether the chords are triads or sevenths.

    If using triads (3 fingered chords), you get:

    Bb D F = Bb major

    C Eb G = C minor

    D F A = D minor

    Eb G Bb = Eb major

    F A C = F major

    G Bb D = G minor

    A C Eb = A diminished

    The minute you add a fourth note to these chords (making them each some type of 7th chord … major7th, minor7th or half dim 7th), the only ones that change are the 5th and 7th.

    1st = Bb major 7

    2nd = C minor 7

    3rd = D minor 7

    4th = Eb major 7

    5th = F7 (F A C Eb)… with 3 notes, it’s F major (F A C). But that added “Eb” changes everything.

    6th = G minor 7

    7th = A half diminished 7 (A C Eb G)… that G changes everything, making it half diminished. But the beginning of half diminished 7th chords are diminished (A C Eb … by itself).

    Hope that makes sense.


    Leave a Comment

    Previous post:

    Next post: