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Old 09-18-2009, 10:52 AM
Hankak Hankak is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 154

I've not seen retro89 the OP respond but I had similar lack of understanding a few years ago, and struggled with the concept of Key. I had a hard time getting an answer that I could understand,feel comfortable with and explain. Here's my understanding and explanation. Very basically the Key determines the range of notes in a scale that a person can sing. (remember that singing came first) A song can be in any Key. So a low Key like G is good for most men. The easiest way to raise the Key on a guitar is to capo up or you an transpose. I have read that the human mind in remembering a song does not store the Key. So if you sing a song you know, it'll come out in whatever is easiest or follow someone elses key who is singing or playing an instrument, provided the follower has the range. Another observation is the Key tells you how many sharps or flats to have. Some songs change keys which is called modulation.
Another helper is to look at and perhaps try the 10 hole diatonic harmonica, they come in Keys, C being the most common. To get all keys you need to buy 12 harmonicas or one chromatic.
If you look up Key in the indexes of books you find all kind of mumbo jumbo but no simple explanation that helps. A solo piano, violin, guitar etc doesn't care what key the song is in but whoever has to sing it sure does. But when more than one instrument is playing they generally should be playing in the same key.
That's my understanding in a nutshell. Hope that helps. I'm sure others can clarify and hopefully without getting text-book-like. What I have summarized took lots of reading as I could not find an answer understandable to me. My dad always use to say "If you can't explain it to me so I can understand it, I understand that you don't understand it."
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