All music is made up of a collection of notes played together to form What is Called Harmony.
When these notes are all played together, (or when plucked individually in order, called an arpeggio) thats what makes up the chord.
A Key is a bunch of chords whose root notes form the major scale and sound great when played together (in a chord progression). For every key there is a scale, this scale consists or contains 7 notes. For every scale you have 7 chords which only contain the notes of that particular scale. Lost yet? Lets try and clear it up!
Just Enough To Be a Lot
What are Keys? A key is a group of notes based on a particular note and comprising a scale. In layman’s terms, it kinda like a rule book by which one can determine which notes to use.
There are two kinds of keys, major keys (ones that make happy sounds) and minor keys (ones that come across sounding more sad in nature ).
Most emotion conveyed in any piece of music comes from the composition and not the choice of key alone.
When your listening to a some what simple song whether its sad, happy or otherwise, usually the musicians are all playing within the same key signature.
Unless of coarse you have horn players, then they most of the time do not play in the same key signature.
Five common keys used by most any guitarist today are C major, A major, G major, E major and D major, aka the ‘CAGED’ keys. To help with this, a good guitar teacher is recommended.
Internal Workings Of a Key
Looking at the key of G. We have within it the G scale which is: G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G (7 notes, adding the 8th note G that being the octave). The chords in the key of G are (G-B-D), Am (A-C-E), Bm (B-D-F#) etc. As a side note most sheet music will tell you what key the piece is played in.
If you look at just the chords in the key of G, first thing you’ll notice is that key signature only contains the notes that are found in the G scale. So if you was playing in the key of G and decided to play an E chord (E-G#-B), it will most likely be sounding out of place since the G# doesn’t belong to the key of G.
Your listeners along with everyone else will be able to tell that something is out of place and not sounding right. This is not to say chords that are not in the same key aren’t used at all, although most simple songs generally stay in the same key.
Music Theory – Ear Training
Sounds Like Rocket Science But Its Not!
If you are a newbie and finding these chords frightening, then all this talking about scales and keys can be some what intimidating too. But the more you train your ears while working on music theory and practice (like learning anything else), the easier it becomes for you. Then soon you’ll find yourself doing chord construction and strumming songs like a pro.
That being said, if one wants to learn how music really works, it is vital that they learn how to read what is known as a “key chart” – a chart with keys and chords that shows the relationship of chords in all the keys.
These are extremely helpful because they tell you what chords belong to which key.
So if you know what chords are played together, then you will have at least some knowledge on how to create chord progressions.
Some Final Thoughts
When you know what chords work together well, you can then easily change the key signature of the song.
Writing your own song is then as simple as picking a key from the Music Keys Chart for guitar, and playing the chords in that key in any sequence you like.
This as with all music you could probably learn with some trial and error. But for a better understanding on theory, I always recommend you Get a Professional Guitar Teacher to help you.
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What do you think Guitar Theory can’t do for you?