• The “What Key Am I In” Game 9

    in "What Key" Game

    what key am i in image

    It’s time for another game of “What Key Am I In?”

    If you need a refresher, click here to view game 8. I included some great tips in the intro section.

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

    G minor
    G minor G Bb D

    Eb major
    Eb major Eb G Bb

    Bb major
    Bb major Bb D F

    F major
    F major F A C

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    ANSWER
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    “Bb major”

    Why?

    Look at the diatonic chords of Bb major:

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

    They match up.

    Except, instead of starting on Bb like most songs do, we started on the 6th degree (G minor), went to the 4 (Eb major), then to the 1 (Bb major, the key we’re in), and finally to the 5 (F major).

    If you were tempted to say F major, consider the notes of the F major scale:

    F major scale F G A Bb C D E F
    F G A Bb C D E F

    Yes, G minor is in this scale (2nd degree).
    Yes, Bb major is in this scale (4th degree).
    Yes, F major is obviously in this scale (1st degree).

    But Eb isn’t in this scale. And while Eb can certainly show up in F major (as the flat 7th degree), it wouldn’t operate quite like it did in this progression. And you surely wouldn’t choose F major’s “3 out of 4” diatonic chords over Bb major’s “4 out of 4” perfect match.

    Why not Eb major?

    Let’s look at its scale:
    Eb major scale Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb
    Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb

    Yes, G minor is in this scale (3rd degree).
    Yes, Eb major is obviously in this scale (1st degree).
    Yes, Bb major is in this scale (5th degree).

    But just like F major, we’re missing a chord. F major isn’t in Eb major. While F is present in the scale, it’s not naturally a major chord in this key. It’s a minor chord:

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

    That’s not to say it cannot be temporarily switched to a major chord, but again, it wouldn’t operate quite like it did in this progression if we were in the key of Eb major (see “secondary dominants“).

    How keys are related

    circleoffiths1

    The “Circle of Fifths” (also known as “Circle of Fourths” or “Cycle of Fifths [or] Fourths”), plots the keys on a circle by relationship. The closer the keys are to each other, the more notes and chords they’ll share in common.

    In fact, the only difference between C major and F major is one note (B –> Bb).

    The only difference between F major and Bb major is one note (E –> Eb).

    The only difference between Bb major and Eb major is one note (A –> Ab).

    That’s why there were so many commonalities between the potential answers above — because they’re all neighbors on the circle and thus highly related. It also explains why certain keys have an affinity to others (e.g. – C major to F major). They’re related! They share dna but have just enough of their own to make their key unique (the one-note difference).

    There are plenty more blog posts on the “circular” nature of music. Click here to check out one.

    Hope you enjoyed and until next time.

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    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.




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    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 tyson

    Guys thank you for the good work.

    Reply

    2 Jermaine Griggs

    You’re welcome!

    Reply

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