I am just starting to produce music and, for music, I learn better by doing and then learning about what I've done.

Let's say that I have two measures in 4/4 time with each of the following eighth notes.

A4 B4 A4 G4 A4 G4 E4 A4 | A4 B4 A4 G4 E4 F4 G4 A4

How can I determine the key (as shown on web sites as such as beatport) and root note (unless that is what is shown on sites like beatport).

Edited for the full 4 measures:

A4 B4 A4 G4 A4 G4 E4 A4 | A4 B4 A4 G4 E4 F4 G4 A4 | A4 B4 F4 G4 A4 B4 A4 G4 | G4 A4 G4 A4 B4 C5 B4 A4


I'm pretty sure the key is the same thing as the root note. Anyway, I think that the key of that riff is A. A is the first note of the riff, it occurs a lot in the riff, and the notes are all on the A Minor scale. I'm going a little bit based on intuition, but that's my thought process.

  • 2
    The key is the root note plus a quality like major, minor, dorian, etc. I'd definitely call this A minor or A aeolian, since we don't actually hear the 3rd of the scale. – NReilingh Oct 6 '12 at 14:03
  • @NReilingh I've added the final 2 measures (for this loop). Also, how could you tell this in A minor? – Spechal Oct 7 '12 at 0:13
  • Well all of the notes seem to be heading towards an A. Notice how prevelant the A is in the phrases. Basically I just played the riff in my head, and it sounded like A. Theoretically this could also be C major, but that seems less likely. – tesselode Oct 7 '12 at 0:16
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    @Spechal - Because I went to music school and studied aural skills for four years. :-) Long answer: because it starts and ends on A, and because the notes in between move in a pattern that tonicizes A. Note that if you are missing accidentals (like if the notes are actually A4, G#4, F#4, E4) this answer will change significantly. – NReilingh Oct 7 '12 at 3:03

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