I'm analyzing this song and I have some doubts:

I think the song is in the key of C, but he never plays a C. The chords are:

Dmin7-Bmin7b5-E7-Emin7-Amin7-C#dim = II-VII-?-III-VI-?

and later is the same but playing a A#maj7 instead of E7

I don't understand why E7 and A#maj7 works in this progression if they are not in that key. Can you always change the minor III for a dominant III?


Edit: I'm thinking that the song could also be in the key of A minor, which is the relative minor to C, so the question remains the same :)


The song is in A minor although it starts on the 4 as it drops in to a pretty standard II-V-I (in A minor). Use of the minor 7b5 chord is a tip off that you are in the minor key or going there.

E7 works as it's the V7 of Ami and dominant chords are generally used for tension to resolve to the I in minor keys. The Ab major 7 will be heard as an altered E7 chord (E7#5#9) although there is no root or 7th (your ear will hear the notes that are left out). Tim is correct that the C#dim serves as an A7 (A7b9) and would be the V7 of IV in Ami.

The key "center" is more important than the chords fitting exactly in the key and the key center we hear in this song is A minor. Also there are no rules that say you can't change keys in the middle of a song although they don't here.

Hope that helps.


Several questions have asked about similar chord sequences, and the reason is that sometimes chords from the parallel key get used. Let's assume it is in C, then Cm has the Bb chord in it. The E7 would be a dominant of Am. Not sure about the C#o, sounds more like A7, leading to Dm. This going up in 4ths is so very common.

That's the theory behind the 'odd' chords, but bear in mind any chord which someone wants to fit into part of a song will be acceptable if it sounds o.k. So basically, as the song says, anything goes.

  • Thanks for the answer, I'll research more about parallel key usage. But I still have a doubt, E7 is the dominant of the parallel key of Am, and the Bb chord is in the parallel key of C. So... are we adding chords from both, the parallel key of the actual key, and the parallel key of the relative key? Thanks again! – PToppi Jan 22 '17 at 16:16
  • It certainly looks that way! Like I implied, there are no absolute rules. There are songs in C that have F# in them. Try justifying that, except - it works! – Tim Jan 22 '17 at 16:42
  • You can use 'outside' chords. If you choose to be in denial of this simple fact, you can concoct parallels and relatives to 'borrow' just about any chord from, if it makes you happy! F#7 is a simple tritone substitution for C7 of course. Now try me on a hard one :-) – Laurence Payne Feb 5 '17 at 19:51
  • @LaurencePayne - that took a fortnight. How long for a hard one... – Tim Feb 5 '17 at 20:16

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