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So I have a piece written in C, with very few accidentals. However the bass resides mainly on A. Am I correct in assuming that most probably it means the piece is actually in A minor?

Later on I use a Ab and Eb to modulate the bass to G, am I again correct in assuming that section is probably in G minor, since G major doesn't feature B flat and E flat, but G minor does?

Of course a more extensive analysis would be necessary to know for sure, but I'm just trying to verify whether my hunch reasoning is correct.

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    Yeah, I agree. But having some sense of where you are keywise is useful I think – Creynders Oct 18 '17 at 21:15
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    Hehe well, I can't even tell that ... – Creynders Oct 19 '17 at 5:09
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    @Stinkfoot - have to disagree to a great extent with importance of keys. Playing a lot with and without dots/charts (which I do) means several things. Without means that knowing which key a piece is in helps me to navigate. I know a start point, and probably an end point. I know which harmonies to expect, and when a mod. appears, it's usually no surprise, and I have clues as to where we're going. With dots/charts, the first thing I see is a key sig. Relevant in that it again gives me a clue as to what to expect. Not having the key is somewhat like having a map but no compass... – Tim Oct 19 '17 at 7:06
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    ...or vice versa. It gives a good start point, and clues to directions taken after. Take a simple example of a written piece , ostensibly in C/Am, but with loads of 'accidentals' throughout. No real clues. Would you, at some point, be thinking, well, all those # could have been put at the beginning, showing it's in B major, and saved a lot of unnecessary fuss? Locking into a key is most likely a simple way for most players to get into a piece, and certainly is good for any listener, who will probably feel a 'key' during the piece being played. – Tim Oct 19 '17 at 7:12
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    @Stinkfoot - we're probably agreeing from different angles. A piece such as you describe, I would compartmentalise it into 4/8 bar key changes, and tackle each part as being in that particular 'key'. Bearing in mind that a lot of mods/changes are to related 'keys', you seem to be doing the same thing, but from a slightly different standpoint. And, yes, the relationships between chords is often key based. But thinking G>C is I>IV in one key, but V>I in another doesn't really help me in my playing, as a simple example. it's not so much pedantics as knowing where I am, and where I need to go. – Tim Oct 19 '17 at 7:37
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In the first part, if it is in A minor, there could be some G# notes - the leading note in A minor. Another good guide is to stop where a phrase sounds it will stop naturally, and play a C major, then repeat with A minor. Which sounds better? If that G# is present just before that point, it'll most likely be Am.

On the Bb/Gm part, again, leading note of F# may appear, hinting at Gm.

Having said that, the minor keys don't always have the 'sharpened leading note', so there doesn't have to be G# in Am, or F# in Gm.

  • In the first part, the only accidentals I have are D#/Eb, G#/Ab. And in the second part D#/Eb. No F# at all. (Ah, just realised I have a typo in my question: Bb should be Ab) – Creynders Oct 18 '17 at 7:36
  • So, follow-up question, would it then be best to use G# (instead of Ab) in the first part? What about D#/Eb? – Creynders Oct 18 '17 at 7:38
  • In the first part, you probably have some A notes already, so Ab isn't the best to call it, as maybe you have no G notes, only G#? – Tim Oct 18 '17 at 8:06
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    @Stinkfoot - which is one of the things the OP is trying to establish... – Tim Oct 18 '17 at 22:12
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    @Stinkfoot - slight glitch ! Getting mixed up with 'All Blues'. Haven't played Blue Bossa for a couple of years. Will regurgitate it and come back. Just off to play now! – Tim Oct 19 '17 at 17:07

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