B5 - 04 Music Theory- What is a 'Key'?

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Pop songs are always in a ‘key’. This means they use certain chords that go together well, which are derived from corresponding the major scale. Music teachers always explain the key of C first as it has no nasty ‘sharps’ of ‘flats’.

Chords in Key of C

These chords can be seen like colours that go together well- meaning any of these are a safe choice and a song in the key of C would mainly use these chords and few others, if any. As well as the chords, we can play notes from the C major scale (next page) over the top of these for the melody

Chords + melody = song

Example chord sequences in the ‘Key Of C’

Key of C guitar chord progression 2

Key of C guitar chord progression 1

N.B. The info on cadences above differs somewhat to their dictionary definitions. This was chosen to communicate the heading of the key of a song to beginners, while being helpful at understanding keys. More to come on cadences in the future! 

For further reading on this topic, you can learn about the key of G in this video here.