Are you trying to struggling to consistently find your pitch or tone? Do you often find yourself asking, “What key am I in?” Don’t worry, we’re here to help!
Many musicians struggle with this part of music theory in the beginning. However, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly if you’re willing to practice and put in some work.
Maybe you just have a piece of music in standard notation. Or perhaps you’re a singer, and you want to figure out your vocal range. Whatever the situation, there’s a way to figure out the key you’re in or want to reach.
Let’s look at how to find your key now.
Why is the Key Important?
The key is important because it tells you which notes to prioritize. Separate instruments and voices have different capabilities, so you need to know which are most important.
It will increase your versatility as a musician because you can accompany any singer. Also, as a singer, you can adapt your voice to a range of songs.
Major vs. Minor Key
The first thing to do is to try and understand the major and minor keys. If you want to be able to produce original music, you’ll need to be comfortable with this.
Major keys have a much brighter sound than despondent minor keys. Play the two slowly so that you can absorb their sounds. Go through the entire scale and try to internalize them.
This will help your brain to realize which scale is being used and also the key.
Check to see if your sheet music gives you the key.
It may seem obvious, but this is the first step to take. On a decent music chart, you’ll find the key signature between the clef and time signature.
Of course, it’s not always that easy so let’s look at more advanced ways of discovering the right key.
Map the Chords to A Given Key
Often, the chord on which the song ends is the key. But sometimes, this isn’t the case. If so, you’ll need to chart the chords to see which key they fit.
This is where you’ll probably need a key chart. These are available online, or you can buy a hard copy from a music store. However, you can also just memorize them, but that will take some commitment. If you’re able to do this, well done!
There are also great resources available to help you find the key. Guitar Key Guide is an excellent ebook that will help you find all major and minor keys. If you want to understand the basics, then you should check this reference out.
What Chord Does The Song End?
Often, the final chord of the song is also the key. Chart the chords to see which key they fit because this isn’t always the case.
Train Your Ear
This is where it’s important to understand the difference between major and minor keys. If you’re able to train your ear, you may be able to discern the key by listening.
Concentrate on the tonal center and see whether it has a happier or sadder sound.
Sharps and Flats
Remember the key signature?
It is usually found at the start of the line. Sharps and flats are also located here and are never mixed. Figure out the key by counting the number of sharps and flats in the key signature.
However, if there are five sharps or flats, it’s trickier because there are three possible keys. The difference between these keys is the notes that are neither sharp nor flat.
Memorize these notes so that you can figure out the difference.
Finding the Key from A Chord Progression
When you want to write a chord progression, the first thing you’ll do is choose a key to write in.
As a result, you can also find the key from a chord progression. There are a few steps that you will need to take. Remember that you’ll need to know the difference between major and minor chords.
First, write down all of the chords.
Then write down the minor and major scales associated with each chord. There’s no need to write down any modes.
Analyze the scale and check if the chords’ root notes are within that scale. If they are, then this is the key you’re in.
What Key Am I Singing in?
Singers must take a different approach to find the key.
Maybe you want to sing a song, but you’re not used to performing like the original singer. In this case, you should record yourself and compare your voice to theirs. Try to identify the sound of your voice with specific notes.
Don’t worry if you sound out of key and find it too difficult to replicate the original artist. Singing allows for more flexibility than playing a musical instrument. They may have altered the key to suit their voice when they first practiced the same song.
What you should try to do is work on transferring it to a different key that suits your vocal range better. Another point to consider is the emotion that you are trying to convey with the song because this will also affect the key.
Practice singing the same song in three different keys or high and low keys. This will challenge you and help you uncover your comfort zone.
Like everything in life, it’s easy to find your key when you know what you’re doing. Learning how to determine the key of a song will become easier over time. Keep practicing and don’t give up!
It’s also very important because you want your music output to sound good. It will also enhance your ability to play and sing in different situations. These days there are even apps to help you find what you’re in.
If you want to improve as a musician, it’s something to prioritize. Music theory isn’t easy for beginners because it’s literally like a foreign language. But this is one element that will definitely bring you to the next level.