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Jammin with CD's how do you find the Key

visionari1

Senior Member
Messages
1,606
Location
Out in the Countryside of Nelson NZ
:sax:I've been Jamming with a drummer for a few weeks now and approached this via playalongs, selecting ballads like "When Sonny Gets Blue" and "The Nearness of You"
The study of the chord changes and playing with them proved to make the music dry and laboured.

We both thought this ain't much fun, so we simply put some CD's on and played along with them...... all of a sudden it was fun and off we went, so this was a great development......however....now I gets to the question......How do I figure out what key the tune is in?
I know when I'm playing wrong notes, but that doesn't seem to help me find the Key?

My ear seem to be able to pick up and match phrases and to be able to copy, ok, its when there's no melody instrument playing that I have no idea what key to play or how to develop improvising with the CD?

Any suggestions
Cheers & Caio
Jimu::mrcool
 

losaavedra

Member
Messages
392
Location
Rojales, Spain
If I need to find the key to something I hear then I do it by first trying to fix a straightforward major or minor scale to the main melody of the piece. If you haven't got a melody then you need to imagine it playing along with whatever accompaniment you have available. Once I find a scale that 'fits' (I do that bit 'in my head') I then get the name of the key from the first note of the scale which means I need to match that first note to a sound on an instrument on which I know what the notes from various fingerings are called. In my case its usually a piano or guitar that provides the 'key name' as I'm less good at naming on the fly the notes that come out of my alto. Once the key name is known then I do a sort of check that chords that often go with the chord of the main key are (or could reasonably be) in the same tune somewhere. Leaving aside progressions (which I see as really just a way of getting from one 'important' chord to another!) most tunes, regardless of genre, don't have more than three or four chords in them.
Another approach, which I hardly ever use, is supposed to be to establish the name of the note the piece ends on and arrive at the key that way. Strikes me as a long time to wait but may be worth a try if all else fails!
Hope helps ... I'm sure there will be better answers from others here!
 
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visionari1

visionari1

Senior Member
Messages
1,606
Location
Out in the Countryside of Nelson NZ
If I need to find the key to something I hear then I do it by first trying to fix a straightforward major or minor scale to the main melody of the piece.......

Once I find a scale that 'fits' (I do that bit 'in my head') I then get the name of the key from the first note of the scale which means I need to match that first note to a sound on an instrument on which I know what the notes from various fingerings are called. In my case its usually a piano or guitar that provides the 'key name' as I'm less good at naming on the fly the notes that come out of my alto. Once the key name is known then I do a sort of check that chords that often go with the chord of the main key are (or could reasonably be) in the same tune somewhere. Leaving aside progressions (which I see as really just a way of getting from one 'important' chord to another!) most tunes, regardless of genre, don't have more than three or four chords in them.
Another approach, which I hardly ever use, is supposed to be to establish the name of the note the piece ends on and arrive at the key that way. Strikes me as a long time to wait but may be worth a try if all else fails!
Hope helps ... I'm sure there will be better answers from others here!

Thanks for your reply Mike

I only play Alto (at the moment) and therefore have no other instruments to refer back to, and chords and there structure are not yet in my automatic defaults (sax wise) yet.

I like the idea of the final note being, how to arrive at the key, as I can put the whole tune in Transcribe and play the last few bars and get a Scale to fit that. maybe I should start to analyse riffs and passages within the tune, which will also give me notes that work and will be part of the chord of that bar, although won't have reference to the actual key.

Am I being to naive to think that playing and improvising around only with the key of the tune will be enough to sound ok and build on?

Then I can add blues or pentatonic scales and hopefully be away laughing

Cheers to Spain
Had several great times in Espana, As a lad we used to go on Camping holidays, and at the World Cup (Soccer) in 82. Last time was busking in Barcelona 2000.:sax::

I'll be back there someday for more!

Do any busking your self?

Cheers, Ola & Ciao

Jimu:cheers:
 

Linky Lee

Member
Messages
182
Location
Salisbury, UK
This is quite an interesting topic. I tend to shuffle my jazz backing track playlist and just play along, so I'm sure you can imagine this is essentially the main obstacle.

When I first started doing this I found it very hard and quite a slow process. I just started playing notes till I found one which harmonized and started playing arpeggios using that note till I found what fitted best and away I went.

More recently I can play through some notes to find one which harmonizes and just go from there (being able to hear if it's a major or minor 3rd or a 5th etc).

Hopefully by continuing to do this I'll get to the point where I can just pick up the sax and play to a record (essentially having developed perfect pitch).

When I first started learning how to play an instrument I learnt a lot of theory etc. And never had a teacher that tried to get me to do anything by ear at all. The further I progress with my playing the more I'm leaving the theory behind and developing my ear for music.
It's very frustrating because it's like starting all over again but being able to play it already.
 

Phil Edwards

Senior Member
Messages
1,335
Location
East Sussex
This is quite an interesting topic.

When I first started learning how to play an instrument I learnt a lot of theory etc. And never had a teacher that tried to get me to do anything by ear at all. The further I progress with my playing the more I'm leaving the theory behind and developing my ear for music.
It's very frustrating because it's like starting all over again but being able to play it already.
So true, I'm in that position too; it's really satisfying when you to start to make sense of it though.

Good to have you back on the forum Lee, you've been away too long. Hope all is well.

Phil
 
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kiwi simon

New Member
Messages
26
Location
chch, nz
Basslines Jimu! Lock in on the bass player and figure out the beat 1 and 3 notes.
(Short answer mate - hows Nelson? Gettin cold I bet)

Kia kaha bro,
Simon
 
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