Question About Major/Minor Keys and Scales
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Old 24-04-2013, 10:36 AM   #1
BR138
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Icon7 Question About Major/Minor Keys and Scales

Hey all, just a few quick questions regarding the Key in which I should be practicing my music productions in!
Minor Keys - From what I've been reading they're big in Trance, House, etc.. forgive me for asking such a basic question - but is this referring to the Minor SCALE? Or is it referring to Minor keys in a Major scale (example Eb, Ab, Db, Gb). Any clarification on this would be greatly appreciated.

I've also read that many Producers will use Minor keys in the "verse" part of the track and then flip to Major keys for the Chorus (for a tension/release type effect). Anybody here practice this kind of thing regularly? As asked in my first question, are they flipping from Minor to Major Scales or just favoring more Major keys in the chorus? Also, in your opinion, would it be favorable to change the key as well during any point in a song?
I guess that's all I've got for now. Any help with answering these would be EXTREMELY helpful and so much appreciated. THANK YOU!!!

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Old 24-04-2013, 11:03 AM   #2
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Re: Question About Major/Minor Keys and Scales

1 The minor keys in the major scale are the same in whole set of keys in a minor scale. But what you read is refering to the minor scales.

2 Major sounds happy, minor sound sad. That's the main difference You use whatever fits better to what you want to accomplish. You can use a minor key in the verse and a major in the chorus, it releases more tension.

3 Key changes in any point of the song are interesting if done right.

The track below, which is cheesy but a good example, is Em but changes to Gm at the end for a great result. It is also notoriously minor in the verse and major in the chorus.

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Old 24-04-2013, 11:25 AM   #3
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Re: Question About Major/Minor Keys and Scales

Thank you hotwatermusic!! This is exactly what I was looking for!

If you don't mind, could you elaborate on "when done right". Maybe some basics so I can get a lead on how to study this further?

Thank you again for taking the time!
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Old 24-04-2013, 12:44 PM   #4
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Re: Question About Major/Minor Keys and Scales

I don't think you should try to theorise on when to use Major/Minor keychanges.
Main thing to remember is what hotwatermusic said that minor sounds sad and major is happy.

'Interesting' by defenition is a matter of taste. There are numerous songs out there with little to none key changes. You just have to listen as it's impossible to have a kind of blueprint as to when to use minor/major keys.

In a way it's like asking "When is it cool to use the colour purple in a painting?"...
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Old 24-04-2013, 05:24 PM   #5
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Re: Question About Major/Minor Keys and Scales

Quote:
Originally Posted by BR138 View Post
Thank you hotwatermusic!! This is exactly what I was looking for!

If you don't mind, could you elaborate on "when done right". Maybe some basics so I can get a lead on how to study this further?

Thank you again for taking the time!
Having a reason to do that, and making it sound good.

That Bon Jovi track is E Minor in the verse, G Major in the chorus and G Minor at the end that is pretty much the chorus again.

Minor to major key change creates a big tension/release as you can hear in the track. The key change at the end increases the drama making an epic ending. Probably those were his reasons for the key changes.

Like Spiritos said i also think you should not try to theorize things, the composer probably did that at random until it sounded good or as concepted in his mind.

But if you want a theorical reason for those key changes sounding good and smooth in transition it is simple in this case.

G Major is the relative major key of E Minor, and G minor is paralel to G Major.

I have to say that key changes in electronic music are rare, but can make the track more interesting and rich. Try recreating the Bon Jovi track all in E Minor, it will suck hard in comparision to the original.
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Old 26-04-2013, 01:49 AM   #6
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Re: Question About Major/Minor Keys and Scales

Quote:
Originally Posted by BR138 View Post
Thank you hotwatermusic!! This is exactly what I was looking for!

If you don't mind, could you elaborate on "when done right". Maybe some basics so I can get a lead on how to study this further?

Thank you again for taking the time!
Pivot chords. It's when a chord in your original key is shared in another key that you want to switch to. You switch on the pivot chord. If the V chord of your key is the same as the I of another key, you know you can almost always switch on that V chord and it will sound good, because they are shared in both keys, plus it's the tonic of the new key.

When and where to do it is up to you, though. Another term for this is Modulation.
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Old 26-04-2013, 12:25 PM   #7
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Re: Question About Major/Minor Keys and Scales

I would say that key changes are very rare in edm. In fact, they are not that common in pop music either. The Bon Jovi song is not a great example, Em and G are parallel keys and use the same scales so I really don't think that qualifies as a key change.
The final chorus though (raised 3 semitones to Gm/A#) is a good example and the most common way to use key changes in pop music. Raise the last chorus 1 or 3 semitones.

That said, having the verse and chorus in different keys can be a neat trick to use.

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Old 26-04-2013, 02:28 PM   #8
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Re: Question About Major/Minor Keys and Scales

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Originally Posted by makari View Post
I would say that key changes are very rare in edm. In fact, they are not that common in pop music either. The Bon Jovi song is not a great example, Em and G are parallel keys and use the same scales so I really don't think that qualifies as a key change.
Sorry to disagree.

Key changes are very commom in general pop music, which includes rock and so on. It may go 0 to 3 key changes. Most tracks will have 1 key change only. In the case of that Bon Jovi track we have two.

Em and G are not parallel, but relative. The scale is the "same", but the key is completely different.

Gm is parallel and it means that it is kind of Em upside down.

In the first key change, it is being used a pivot chord as suggested by mattzart.

Last edited by hotwatermusic; 26-04-2013 at 03:32 PM..
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Old 26-04-2013, 11:12 PM   #9
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Re: Question About Major/Minor Keys and Scales

Key changes/modulation are indeed very common in just about all music. Without it, you're stuck with nothing but elevator music.

If you can't quite get the hang of key changes just yet, you can work with accidentals to create some more excitement in your songs. Also, simply changing up the chord progression can add quite a bit to a song.
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Old 27-04-2013, 01:55 AM   #10
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Re: Question About Major/Minor Keys and Scales

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Originally Posted by hotwatermusic View Post
Major sounds happy, minor sound sad.
This.


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Old 30-04-2013, 05:21 PM   #11
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Re: Question About Major/Minor Keys and Scales

I suggest going balls deep with keys for a few tracks. Push yourself hard to do some crazy, wild, interesting key related shenanigans.

This way, you get a better understand of what sucks.

Afterwards, you'll have a better understanding and as a result, it'll simply be one more tool in your tool bucket.

Quick note: Key changes can simply be a single chord in a progression. They don't have to be whole sections. If you listen to my track Microfracture, the 4th chord in the verse progression is A Major (from A Minor).

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Old 30-04-2013, 06:46 PM   #12
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Re: Question About Major/Minor Keys and Scales

The reason most EDM is in a minor key is because Amin is hella easy to compose in.
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Old 06-05-2013, 02:48 AM   #13
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Re: Question About Major/Minor Keys and Scales

Zenchamusic: that's not a key change, that's just borrowing chords.

Modulations can be kind of tricky to understand, especially if you haven't studied any chromatic theory, then your options are a bit limited and have been covered here. The V->I chord progression is really what defines what key you are in, so when you change key you want to use that right away to define the new key. Sometimes music does change key without a definable modulation, it may sound abrupt, but in EDM we have a lot of tricks to make an abrupt transition sound cool and powerful.

One easy modulation is the pivot note, its where you use a long note that is common to both keys to connect between the two of them. Might be useful....

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