I am writing something and am unsure of how I can work out exactly what key it is in, not that it really matters but I'm interested.

I think I have narrowed it down to C or G minor, as the notes in use are C, D, D♯/E♭, E, F, G, A, A♯/B♭, B. I'm leaning towards the former as I resolve on a C major triad more than once. However, the A♯/B♭ is more dominant in the melody, and I haven't got there yet but I know the left hand will move up through the D♯/E♭.

Any direction of how to work something like this out would be appreciated!

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    With the accidentals it's not in one key. But as passing tones you could choose either. It looks like you have a minor third and a flat 7th in C, great for a blues feel, If you are choosing to resolve to C, then you made the key C. – ggcg Dec 21 '18 at 12:11
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    With Bb and Eb, it could be in Bb maj. The best clue is to play a chord at a cadence point, and if it feels like it could be a final chord, maj. or min., then that's probably it. – Tim Dec 21 '18 at 12:15
  • Yes it definitely has a bluesy feel to it. The minor third and flat 7th make a great sound played over C scale chords so that makes sense. Cheers! – Alex Dec 21 '18 at 12:16
  • @ggcg Accidentals don't force a change of key. – Laurence Payne Dec 21 '18 at 12:52
  • @LaurencePayne, I did say that or mean to imply that, – ggcg Dec 21 '18 at 13:00

Accidentals don't necessarily take us into a new key. For the second time today I quote a standard textbook, 'Notes outside the scale do not necessarily affect the tonality'. Walter Piston, Harmony.

My immediate response is that you're in C major, with a 'blues' tinge. But I'd have to see the whole piece to give an informed opinion. And, even then, there may be no 'right answer'.

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    I completely agree, we need to see the composition. A list of pitches isn't enough. – Michael Curtis Dec 21 '18 at 15:17
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    Honestly, that quote applies to so many quotes on this site. – user45266 Dec 21 '18 at 17:52

There are two little clusters in your 'scale'. Notes a semitone apart. The D/Eb/E could be part of A minor blues. The A/Bb/B could be part of E minor blues. It could be in C (minor blues), using b3 and b7. The best check is to find a cadence point, and play a chord. The one that makes it feel like it could end on that will usually be the key chord of the piece. Or, play a chord before you start, and if the piece goes smoothly from it, there's another clue.

And you're probably looking for the key of your piece. You already know the scale - it's the list of notes you gave. Scale and key are related, but not interchangeable.

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    And real-life songs have an annoying habit of not sticking to ANY set of notes. Except (usually) the 'All of them' set. – Laurence Payne Dec 21 '18 at 15:45
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    @LaurencePayne - not cognisant of the 'All of them' set... – Tim Dec 21 '18 at 15:52
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    @LaurencePayne - ah, you mean every note in existence! – Tim Dec 21 '18 at 16:18
  • If you like rhymes, it's the "12-TET set" :) @LaurencePayne – user45266 Dec 21 '18 at 17:53

Given that a piece can easily use all 12 notes in the chromatic scale, the key(s) of that piece would be best determined by which notes are emphasized (the most).

Since you say you resolve on C major triads more than once, I would hazard to guess that your piece may be in C major...

...but if you use C minor chords instead for the rest of the piece, I'll probably say your piece is actually in C minor instead, with Tierce de Picardie chords in the cadences.

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