Which key or scale? Dm, Gmaj, Cmaj, (maybe with B-flat-maj)

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In summary, the conversation primarily discusses the use of chords and scales in creating music. The main question revolves around the key or scale that relies on the chords Dminor, Gmaj, Cmaj, and B flat majr. The conversation also touches on the concept of tonal center and the role of notes and chords that are not part of the main key in creating tension and variation in music. There is a mention of the song "Gold Dust Woman" by Nicks & Buckingham as an example of using a variation of the backdoor ii-V-I progression in the key of D Dorian. However, there is some disagreement and ambiguity about the exact key and mode of the song. The conversation also mentions the use of Roman numerals to
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I have tried a web search and poked through some scales and chord set using an instrument, but I cannot make formal sense of a song which uses Dminor, Gmaj, Cmaj, and seems to but not sure also includes B flat majr. My musical knowledge is limited. What key or scale relies on this set of chords? Or, which key or scale gives and supports these chords?
 
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Do you have some sheet music with these notations....guitar chords?

I did not take music theory, but I have read up on it some. I play string bass, but mostly for classical music.
 
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  • #3
In music there are no rules. You can do whatever you like. This stuff about key largely comes from musical notation, so it's the tail wagging the dog.

Almost all human music has a tonal center. There isn't any rule that there must be any such thing. The music of birds does not have it. But it fundamental to human music. Everything revolves around a tonal center. Every note has meaning only relative to this.

In many musical traditions the tonal center does not move. Europe seems to have come up with movement of the tonal center. Such movements range from mild to drastic.

That being said, today almost all popular music has an obvious key and does not stray from a basic scale. Simpler than in the 1950s.
 
  • #4
symbolipoint said:
What key or scale relies on this set of chords? Or, which key or scale gives and supports these chords?
Well the notes of the Dm triad are D, F, A; Gmaj G, B, D and Cmaj C, E, G. What key has all the notes D, E, F, G, A, B and C in?

If there's a Bbmaj in there as well then I think D, F, A are not Dm but ...?
 
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  • #5
You can have notes or chords which are not members of the main 'key'. This can be for a transition or perhaps to create moments of tension or suspense.
 
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symbolipoint said:
I have tried a web search and poked through some scales and chord set using an instrument, but I cannot make formal sense of a song which uses Dminor, Gmaj, Cmaj, and seems to but not sure also includes B flat majr. My musical knowledge is limited. What key or scale relies on this set of chords? Or, which key or scale gives and supports these chords?
Its super common - Dm G and C are all within C major and Bb is the IV chord in the subdominant key of F major. Common practice western pop, jazz and classical does not typically stay in one key or scale for an entire song / piece
 
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BWV said:
Its super common - Dm G and C are all within C major and Bb is the IV chord in the subdominant key of F major. Common practice western pop, jazz and classical does not typically stay in one key or scale for an entire song / piece
I suspect that the quoted piece above is the best or correct answer, although I do not understand it well. In my attempts up to now to try to understand my original question, the B-flat note or B-flat major chord was throwing me off.
 
  • #8
What's the song ? or something you've made up that sounds good.
 
  • #9
hmmm27 said:
What's the song ? or something you've made up that sounds good.
Gold Dust Woman - Nicks & Buckingham
 
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  • #10
Dm G C is a ii-V-I in C, but in Gold Dust Woman specifically, Stevie Nicks is clearly singing in D Dorian (melody is F E D B D B over a Dsus2, etc). The progression is therefore i-IV-bVII, which is a variation on what is sometimes referred to as a backdoor ii-V-I, but is really common in rock music because of the ubiquity of the Dorian mode there. The Bb acts as kind of a passing tone as Lindsey Buckingham vamps between Dmin (actually a Dsus2) and Bb/D.

Edit: might as well analyze the chorus as well. It’s Bb-G-C-Dmin, or VI-IV-VII-i. The only “weird” chord—that is, not in the key of D minor—is the major IV, which represents a mode mixture of minor and Dorian.
 
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symbolipoint said:
Gold Dust Woman - Nicks & Buckingham
So throw out everything I said above. Its in an ambiguous Dm with some modal alterations with the double drop tuning
 
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  • #12
BWV said:
So throw out everything I said above. Its in an ambiguous Dm with some modal alterations with the double drop tuning
Too soon to make a judgement on that. If I could understand what @TeethWhitener says in post #10, then we would know. Too soon to discount your own knowledge. (time to explore a scale or two...)
 
  • #13
symbolipoint said:
Too soon to make a judgement on that. If I could understand what @TeethWhitener says in post #10, then we would know. Too soon to discount your own knowledge. (time to explore a scale or two...)
So ignore the Roman numerals in his post, they are irrelevant - the point is this tune is in D and leans heavily, but not exclusively, on the Dorian mode and does not follow the typical conventions for major or minor harmony. If the song did follow these conventions then Roman numerals, which denote ‘harmonic function’ - a concept developed in the 19th century to describe 18th and 19th century classical music like Bach or Mozart (although neither one ever saw or used a Roman numeral) - would perhaps be useful. The Dorian mode gives the song its folkish flavor - like Scarborough Faire or Drunken Sailor - two old folk songs in the Dorian mode
 
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  • #15
symbolipoint said:
I have tried a web search and poked through some scales and chord set using an instrument, but I cannot make formal sense of a song which uses Dminor, Gmaj, Cmaj, and seems to but not sure also includes B flat majr. My musical knowledge is limited. What key or scale relies on this set of chords? Or, which key or scale gives and supports these chords?
https://www.pianoscales.org/minor.html - see various scalesYes - Parallels
https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/yes/parallels-chords-2362399



Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Karn Evil 9 1st Impression, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2

https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/ta...n-evil-9-1st-impression-part-2-chords-4230166

Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - I like how Doug Helvering analyzes tunes/songs


For the old timers - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly (1968) - I really liked the organ by Doug Ingle

https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/iron-butterfly/in-a-gadda-da-vida-chords-647757

 
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  • #16
symbolipoint said:
I have tried a web search and poked through some scales and chord set using an instrument, but I cannot make formal sense of a song which uses Dminor, Gmaj, Cmaj, and seems to but not sure also includes B flat majr. My musical knowledge is limited. What key or scale relies on this set of chords? Or, which key or scale gives and supports these chords?
Another Brick in the Wall goes from Dm to G

Then (F) All in all (C) ...brick in the wall (back to Dm)
 
  • #17
Astronuc said:
https://www.pianoscales.org/minor.html - see various scalesYes - Parallels
https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/yes/parallels-chords-2362399



Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Karn Evil 9 1st Impression, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2

https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/ta...n-evil-9-1st-impression-part-2-chords-4230166

Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - I like how Doug Helvering analyzes tunes/songs


For the old timers - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly (1968) - I really liked the organ by Doug Ingle

https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/iron-butterfly/in-a-gadda-da-vida-chords-647757


Parallels (great song off my favourite Yes album) starts in C on that full ranks

C ......F G A
 
  • #18
symbolipoint said:
Too soon to make a judgement on that. If I could understand what @TeethWhitener says in post #10, then we would know. Too soon to discount your own knowledge. (time to explore a scale or two...)
Dorian is pretty common in rock music, mainly because it is pretty common in blues and jazz.
 
  • #19
symbolipoint said:
Gold Dust Woman - Nicks & Buckingham
Great track.

Intro

D open top E (Dsus2) then move the A up to Bb on the G string - no third in either

So Dsus2 Dsus2#5
 
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So far for most practical purpose, the statement of chords 1, 2, & 5 from the C major scale is the one easiest (for me) to handle.
 
  • #21
symbolipoint said:
So far for most practical purpose, the statement of chords 1, 2, & 5 from the C major scale is the one easiest (for me) to handle.
What do you play?
 
  • #22
symbolipoint said:
So far for most practical purpose, the statement of chords 1, 2, & 5 from the C major scale is the one easiest (for me) to handle.
In terms of the structure?I think duck and water will happen!
 
  • #23
symbolipoint said:
Gold Dust Woman - Nicks & Buckingham
I would score that song in D minor (ie 1 flat), and IMHO @BWV, @TeethWhitener and @pinball1970 have all more or less nailed it, however they are all missing the essential hook: you never hear the chord of D minor. Specifically, the minor third note (F) is only ever played as the fifth in a Bb major chord, the only Ds you hear are D5 (i.e. just D and A) and a little bit of Dsus2.
 
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  • #24
pbuk said:
you never hear the chord of D minor.
That might be the case if you only look at the guitar part, but the very first note of the melody is an F over the Dsus chord. It’s a D minor.
 
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  • #25
TeethWhitener said:
That might be the case if you only look at the guitar part, but the very first note of the melody is an F over the Dsus chord. It’s a D minor.
That is why I, if not other listeners, think they/we hear a D minor. Stevie at least supplies this in the singing.
 
  • #26
TeethWhitener said:
That might be the case if you only look at the guitar part, but the very first note of the melody is an F over the Dsus chord. It’s a D minor.
I was also looking at the melody, but you are right: the vocal enters on an F with the band still on a D5 (the Dsus2 comes a little earlier).

symbolipoint said:
That is why I, if not other listeners, think they/we hear a D minor. Stevie at least supplies this in the singing.
Yes, in particular there is the repeated F-E-D (did she ma-ke you cry, make you break down) over the ascending chromatic Bb-G/B-C backing, your mind is resolving into D minor, but the music is just the D and A perfect fifth!

This clearly evolved in the studio - there's a demo on You Tube which has more audible minor thirds (and also a weird bridge into an outro which really doesn't fit).
 
  • #27
pbuk said:
This clearly evolved in the studio - there's a demo on You Tube which has more audible minor thirds (and also a weird bridge into an outro which really doesn't fit).
I believe I never found that one. (the "demo" you describe)
 
  • #28
I was thinking hey that drone chord could outright be Dmaj without messing anything up, and sho'nuff.
 
  • #29
hmmm27 said:
I was thinking hey that drone chord could outright be Dmaj without messing anything up, and sho'nuff.
Upon listening to that one, I believe you're right!
 

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