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How Do You Know Keys?


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over the years i thought in terms of do-re-mi-etc the key degrees inside any key. even if i'm not in Cmajor but rather in E major for example, in my mind the root was always "do". the fifth of the scale/key was always a "sol" (when in reality i hit B) and it was orange in my mind. i attributed all of them a particular color. ("re" - the second degree of the key is yellow, etc)

 

the problem is, me trying to play the guitar, i can get lost if i don't play in C major, because sometimes i loose track of the shape (that guides me to the root of the key), and when i'm a bit lost i pay attention at what note i'm at, and i see a B flat for example.. which tells me nothing (in respect to what key it belongs, and what degree of that key this B flat is)

 

so.. i kind of never really learned keys.

 

but when doing a solo, especially in a more fast one, i doubt one could think in terms of "i need to hit an F sharp right now because the Dmajor chord is coming", i suspect guitarists think in terms of "i need to hit the major third because the root of the key is coming" - this would be universal to all keys and there shouldn't be weird situation like being a master guitarist when playing in Cmajor but a complete beginer if the song is in Dmajor.

 

i'm confused.. how do you guys think inside a key?

 

1.do you think in terms of key degrees ("i should hit the major third now") and if so how exactly do you "name" the note in your mind,  3? or mi? (like i did) and if so how do you relate these degrees to the actual note that plays (B flat for example)?

 

2.or do you actually learned keys, and play with the actual note names in your mind. but how do you know the Bflat minor chord sounds plain sad if you don't know that it's the sixth degree of the key (without this degree the simple note of Bflat means nothing - if its not in a context)?

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You practice. Literally. You practice until it becomes second nature regardless of instrument or use of the skill. 

the thing is ..it took me a long way to arive at this note-thinking which i now think is wrong.

well.. it worked exceptionally great ..except for adventurous guitar playing (a horizontal way of playing, rather than playing "inside a box" -which is the easiest).

i'm thinking of switching my "do-mi-sol"(the root harmony) to "1-maj3-5". normally i should think in terms of "1-3-5" but in the (near) future  i want to get rid of thinking in major keys: for example if i play the B flat major chord in a Cmajor key, i don't want to think i modulated into F major key, but rather "i just wanted a minor seventh for my root". but this could also be a wrong way of seing things..

 

i understand by your comment that you see the notes by their actual name but also know their relationship (to the root, to what notes it further needs to form a chord inside your key, etc).

i'll work on it more practically. on the piano keyboard its fairly easy, but at the guitar it's a complete nighmare. whenever i'm playing - seeing an aeolian shape - i think the root of my shape is "la" (-> practically "a")

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C - this colour (bright yellow)

C# - this colour (red gold)

Db - this colour (light blue)

D - this colour (dark blue)

D# - this colour (pale green)

Eb - this colour (violet)

E - this colour (forest green)

F - this colour (stormy sea grey)

F# - this colour (bright green)

Gb - this colour (burgundy)

G - this colour (orange)

G# - this colour (mauve-ish)

Ab - this colour (magenta)

A - this colour (red)

A# - this colour (pale blue)

Bb - this colour (actual gold)

B - this colour (brown)

 

Inasmuch as can be approximated by hex codes.

 

I don't have any specific synaesthetic response for E# and Cb—they're the same as F and B. Don't know why.

 

Absolute pitch helps, but since there is no actual difference between C# and Db on a piano or guitar, there's more than just that at work. I think a lot of it has to do with positioning in the circle of fifths:

 

... -> Fb -> Cb -> Gb -> Db -> Ab -> Eb -> Bb -> F -> C -> G -> D -> A -> E -> B -> F# -> C# -> G# -> ...

 

If this post made no sense to you, you probably won't be able to learn keys the same way I did.

Edited by Shadowwolf3689
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i see the same colors for e,f,g,a, :P for accidentals i didn't gave it a lot of thought. i exclude anything to do with absolute pitch, because even if C has a happy color, it cannot be happy if it's the major sixth on top of an e flat minor chord/key for example. or over a G flat harmony. it cannot possibly give a happy light. (although i read that some keys are more happy than others, but it would be very complex to view things in such a way - i can't do it, i'm sticking to relative pitch ..for now).

i could see links with the circle of fifths but the thing that's sticking in my eye is the overtone series, they give most of the meaning.

 

btw here's a guitar chart i made a couple years ago to stare at, ..and it seemed the plan  worked perfectly. now i just have to make a new different one. yeah..maybe incorporating nondiatonic steps as well if i want to be more mature..

 

i'll think about ..things..

post-15458-0-90050900-1393683695_thumb.j

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  • 2 weeks later...

the thing is ..it took me a long way to arive at this note-thinking which i now think is wrong.

 

You're not eating funny mushrooms are you? Seriously, colors? Try learning the piano. Everyone should, after all, and it will change the way you think about the shape of your hand and the notes it plays and why. You can play the same note on a guitar in many different frets and on different strings. On a piano, there is only one key per pitch. And there is no difference in color or mood from one key to the next. So you must use your ears, not your eyes, or even your brain, to listen to a melody and determine where each note lies relative to the chord that surrounds it.

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the thing is ..it took me a long way to arive at this note-thinking which i now think is wrong.

 

You're not eating funny mushrooms are you? Seriously, colors? Try learning the piano. Everyone should, after all, and it will change the way you think about the shape of your hand and the notes it plays and why. You can play the same note on a guitar in many different frets and on different strings. On a piano, there is only one key per pitch. And there is no difference in color or mood from one key to the next. So you must use your ears, not your eyes, or even your brain, to listen to a melody and determine where each note lies relative to the chord that surrounds it.

i play, or i am used to the piano. i also know the notes on the guitar very well.

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You're not eating funny mushrooms are you? Seriously, colors? Try learning the piano. Everyone should, after all, and it will change the way you think about the shape of your hand and the notes it plays and why. You can play the same note on a guitar in many different frets and on different strings. On a piano, there is only one key per pitch. And there is no difference in color or mood from one key to the next. So you must use your ears, not your eyes, or even your brain, to listen to a melody and determine where each note lies relative to the chord that surrounds it.

 

Synesthesia...y'all should look that up. But to answer OP's question, brush up on music theory, listen to music while looking at the score, and as Tokke suggested, practice!

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  • 2 months later...

 

but when doing a solo, especially in a more fast one, i doubt one could think in terms of "i need to hit an F sharp right now because the Dmajor chord is coming", i suspect guitarists think in terms of "i need to hit the major third because the root of the key is coming" - this would be universal to all keys and there shouldn't be weird situation like being a master guitarist when playing in Cmajor but a complete beginer if the song is in Dmajor.

 

 

Ideally you would not think either of those things, you would know the chord/scale relations to the point where you no longer have to do the arithmetical operations in your head and just intuitively play in a musical way. When it comes to improvisation you need to have all that stuff known on a sub-conscious level. Keep practicing and if you are diligent you will be able to be able to internalize a lot more than hitting basic chord tones. Force yourself to play in unfamiliar keys until they become memorized.

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