Keys

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Disclaimer: I realize there are more keys than minor and major, but those are the ones I've come to relate the rest to due to my upbringing.

I have a philosophy: if you make something and you're not sure if it's great or horrible... it has the potential to be great! In other words, if you are sure about something, it's probably not risky enough to be anything substantial. In my experience, risks seem to make anything creative intriguing. At the end you just need the skills to be able to pull it off.

That's a lot of preface. When I was younger (not even that much younger) I had a tendency to write everything in minor keys. To a metal youngster, it felt safe and anything I did sounded... more or less cool. Recently, I've forced myself to do more things in the major keys and instead of being happy with my music, I've started to love it. I don't know why, but it seems like this simple transition to an uncharted territory (for me at least) opened something up. Using the major keys always felt really tacky and corny. It was like I was writing children's songs. But when I got through that barrier, something just clicked. I felt energized by whatever I did in major. Is it just that major feel or is there something else to it?

I guess this post doesn't really have a point to it. I'm just wondering if other people have noticed patterns in the keys they use when they write songs.

Interesting thoughts, here @Ianuarius. There are distinctive 'feelings' to the various keys, modes, and scales, for sure. Some of that is cultural, some of it (pentatonic stuff) seems to be hard-wired into the human brain.

As for myself, and this is nothing earth-shattering, I tend to write in the keys of C or D because they fit my voice well. I do, however, often wander out of the dominant key into other keys or grab chords from outside the key during the song as well. The I ii IV V or I IV V vi chords only go so far...

I certainly write more songs major keys than minor, and more songs in the neighborhood of A major (G thru C) which is at or near my vocal range least weak spot. That said I think I have written in all of the major keys. Why I pick certain keys is sometimes random or experimental. Sometimes as @metalfoot says to set a mood. Even when I write chromatic songs the vocal melody is usually in a key.

I think I balance between major and minor fairly well. Key for me depends on the instruments I"m using, I like to use flatted chords on the piano, on the guitar, I usually write in G - because I can play G, C, and D on the guitar without tears most of the time. Also, if I"m singing it, it has to be in one of the very few keys in my vocal range.

I have a slight preference for minor, so I write more in that, but not by too much. Sometimes I'll even try to go modal. Last year I think I tried something in locrian. It didn't go so well. I think part of what you are experiencing is just the process of discovery. You discovered something new that, as it turn out, you're very good at! Keep doing that. Take a risk. You might not like what you get, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I generally lose mine down the back of the sofa. Sad

My sofa and love seat are both the reclining type so I can easily open them up to find keys. But our old sofa had a *mysterious slit along the side of the under cloth which facilitated keys and remote retrieval.

*mysterious to my wife, not so much to me as I put it there to retrieve such items.

**And probably not to her, either, as she knows me fairly well.

I thought I was entering a post for recovering keyboard players who needed a meeting. :-O
BUT, since I'm here I will say that keys for me are like foods. Just depends on what I feel or have the hankering for. Gotta keep in mind too
who is gonna sing it, because of the range thing. I came up playing in both minor and major, but now it doesn't matter, it's all about voicing, and
finding new and unusual instruments. Yeah, i am recovering from that disorder too.

Finding the lost key is not unlike the time
those Moody Blues found the lost chord
Fortunately, they were playing it all along
when all the listeners got Bored

Oops: I accidentally wrote a song when I wasn't looking

I've very much stuck to the minor key (typically related to the lowest note I'll be playing because of my metalcore roots), however with my recent listening to more pop-punk, poppy music, I've felt much more comfortable writing in a major key.
Guitar lessons have also helped with my writing immensely, as I'll base songs off of modal patterns - something I probably otherwise wouldn't do~

I love the humorous responses here! I'm a pretty funny guy - at least my wife and our daughter think so - but I have a hard time coming up with anything clever for forums.
I will add that, as I dropped off my car for new tires today, I thought about here it is 2017 and this is the first car I've ever had with a key that remote locks and unlocks it.
As for musical keys, I would guess I've written more major than minor key songs over the years, partly because for about 5 years I wrote mainly kids music. A lot of my yoga songs are minor key for thematic reasons.
I just wrote a folk-type song for the Skirmish group - it's in G, but I knew I wanted some sadness in it so I tossed in an A minor.

I love Major, minor, pentatonic, blues and discovered last year double harmonic Smile

Keys? I tend to mostly use white ones and black ones - Quite like those wheelie things at the left of the keyboard, too Smile

fun thread. For those who saw one of those recent tv specials on 'sgt pepper's' 50th anniversary, there was a wonderful discussion about both lucy in the sky with diamonds and penny lane having great , non-standard key changes that still sound totally natural but are non-obvious. penny lane the verses are in B major while the choruses are in A major. LSD starts in A, then B flat, then the chorus in G.

All this talk of keys conjured up a random memory. Most Fridays, I do a program at the library (where I work) called Baby Rhyme Time. When I first started it a few years back, I figured my "thing" could be that when we sing songs, I'd use my acoustic guitar. People love it, so it's really about the ONLY "thing" I got! Anyway, luckily for me, about two years prior to this, I'd gotten HEAVILY into the fingerstyle folk blues of Mississippi John Hurt et al, so I had a pretty seamless transition to playing children's music and old folk tunes, because MJH's style lends itself well to kids stuff. In fact, some of the songs I include in Baby Rhyme Time, like "You are my sunshine", "Goodnight Irene", etc, MJH himself recorded! Yay! Fun! Anyhow, initially, I played all the songs in different keys - basically, whatever suited MY singing voice. However, after a while, it became apparent that certain songs resonated better with the crowd (mostly moms) in attendance, i.e., everyone sang like it was a Pete Seeger-led hootenanny on some songs, but were extremely quiet or hesitant on others. Finally, one day, I sat down and looked at my BRT outline and realized that the songs that went over well all shared one characteristic: they were all in the key of C. Hallelujah! Since that realization, I just play (almost) every single song in C (that is, with a C root or starting chord, at least). Maybe that key works better for the average female singer?? I dunno. I know zilch about music theory. Anyway, the bulk of the songs don't suit my voice anymore (I usually have to sing in a much lower register than I'd prefer), but who cares?! Nobody comes to hear me sing, anyway. Hehe. Every Fridays a hootenanny now!

Sorry, I get chatty when I have a few beers .... Smile

Love dropping down for the open E string, but keys of E, F, F# and G all suit my (baritone) voice well. To get away from writing in only those keys, I've been experimenting more lately with alternate tunings to keep that ringing low octave possibility with different keys (Eb, Open D, for example).

Interesting thread. I tend to write in G and A major because that seems to suit my vocal range. I usually write the entire song using the I V and IV. Then I play around and substitute the relative minor in at various points. Then I go back and substitute one or two relative minors for the its major at a few points. Does this make any sense at all?

You can modulate anywhere you want; therefore I don't think much of which key center you start in. It's about the journey, y'know?

I don't think of major or minor I just hit things and songs happen. I certainly stick to major though as minor doesn't fit my vibe.

I don't think of keys or music theory stuff, makes me yawn. I like to change when it's fitting and try to go with many different ones on an album, but it's mostly A and D.

On more than one occasion, I have, when not knowing what key to write in, resorted to our old friend @RC 's advice. Write it in E.

I have found that my concert uke resonates nicely in the key of D major

Great thread, and agree with the opening of if not sure about it, it may be great --yes, indeed.

I am so glad to read that there are others who don't think of keys. Mee too Smile

I had so much "theory" and application and analysis (for me that is...), it for me simply became obvious it was a way for others to explain "your" work, within a common language (not how they could do their own, generally speaking). So, while important (in a very well qualified context, to long for here)... at some point, you just gotta --do it, well, how I work presently.

I don't think of keys, I think of modulations and tension that fits or not. I like to see if mixing major and minor chords that are not "usually" done can work --they can/do, imo. And, the tension is not tremendous, --context is everything.

Also, I am very interested in being ahead/behind the beat and how to mix that up, into it for again, tension then release --what music is... tension to release, etc.

-- Glad to see so many folks "think" like this about their work... very interesting, great post.