enter image description hereI'm transcribing a Cappella melody from audio. It's. Starts on Bb, but I had something that I don't understand. The melody uses G natural, C flat, and D natural. And I don't know now what kind of key the melody is. If someone can identify the key for me. I'm going to add the sequence of the opening for more clearness. The piece starts by a downward eights Bb, Ab, G natural going backup to Ab, Bb, Cb, D natural Eb, whole note F this is the opening of the melody. I added a print screen of the first stanza if this could be of help to better understand my question.

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    Transcribing from original music - what's the key sig? Transcribing from a recording - why is it Cb and not B? What does it finish on? – Tim May 25 '18 at 6:34
  • I'm transcribing from audio. I didn't finish yet the piece it was so intriguing. It's quite a long piece it has seven stanzas. – Nachmen May 25 '18 at 6:41
  • Assuming it doesn't modulate, and you may well hear when it does, the last harmony is likely the key. If it does modulate, the one before the mod. is likely the key to the first part. Still not sure why it's going to be Cb rather than B. Most keys will have one note of each letter name, so I can understand if you have Bb, the next one up wouldn't be B. And that Bb probably wouldn't be A#. – Tim May 25 '18 at 6:46
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    Give us a snippet for the music if you can. There just isn't enough info. Could it be a melodic or harmonic minor melody? Passing tones, etc? Seeing the structure of the melody would help. – ggcg May 25 '18 at 18:07
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    Could be Eb minor with a raised seventh degree which would make D natural instead of flat. – Todd Wilcox May 25 '18 at 18:42

Is this perhaps a melody from middle-Eastern (Arabic/Turkish/Greek/Balkan) music? There are several modes that could fit what you're describing:

  • Bb hicaz (pronounced "hi-'jaz") in its most basic form is Bb Cb D Eb F G/Gb Ab Bb ~ the G is technically a microtone between Gb & G but has "attraction" upwards for ascending phrases, and downwards for descending phrases, so for equal-tempered instruments G/Gb are often used. The tonic would be Bb, and there would be melodic emphasis also on Eb.

  • Bb uzzal is like hicaz, but melodic emphasis on F rather than Eb.

  • Eb suzinak has the same notes, but from Eb ~ Eb F Gd* Ab Bb Cb D Eb. *Gd is that same microtone between Gb/G. Tonic is Eb & there would be also melodic emphasis on Bb.

  • F karciğar ("`kar-jar") again has the same notes, with tonic on F & emphasis on Bb.

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  • I researched a little this key is call Bb phrygian with a major third that makes the D natural. – Nachmen May 31 '18 at 9:24

The key cannot be determined simply by giving the list of notes that exist in the melody. The placement and timing of the notes within the phrasing and chordal structure of the piece is much more important.
Transitional notes falling between chord changes can be just about anything without actually changing the overall key. Sometimes, labeling what key a given piece is in is a judgement call or creative decision rather than an exact science. The same notes can for example be labeled as being in the key of C major or A minor.

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Indeed we can't know for sure just based on a list of notes, but considering all these notes are part of the same scale (and not decorative transitional notes), they fit perfectly in the E♭ harmonic major scale.

Now you must find out:

  • If this scale is used in the rest of the melody, or if just some notes were borrowed from it in the opening;
  • If E♭ is the tonal center of the melody, or if another mode of the scale is used. (If the tonal center is F for example, the scale is Dorian ♭5)

UPDATE: I played the intro on the weekend and felt like Bb was he tonal center, so perhaps I would go with peter jaques's answer. But looking at the sheet you added, seems like it is Ab, so it could be maybe a sort of gypsy minor scale with #6.

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  • The G natural does not fit Eb harmonic minor. That would be a major 3rd in a minor key! That would be understandable if the note was borrowed from the major, but we cannot know that from the given information. – Heather S. May 25 '18 at 20:13
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    Yes, indeed, but I was talking about harmonic major, not minor. – coconochao May 25 '18 at 21:31
  • I must have misread what you wrote. I removed the negative vote. Well, I tried but I can't. – Heather S. May 26 '18 at 9:40
  • @coconchao the bottom line what key do I write in the score? The melody comes from eastern Europe in the 50'. – Nachmen May 29 '18 at 12:35
  • Since this is a minor scale with raised 7th, 4th and in this case 6th, I think you could use Ab minor, with G, D and F natural. There will more flats in the key signature, and more natural signs along the score, but I think will be clearer. For curiosity, is there any chance the F is actually a microtone between E and F? – coconochao May 29 '18 at 12:55

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