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Wat key is Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground in?

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Postby Nimyz » July 27th, 2012, 3:11 am

Hi,

I'm trying to figure out what key Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground from The White Stripes is in.
The starting and ending chord is Amajor but that isn't a guarantee that that is the key ofcourse. The chords used are:
A,G,C,D,F (some of them are power chords, other just major chords)
This does not match the key of A. It could be Cmajor or Fmajor, but the C or F chord do not sound like the tonic, it does not sound like "coming home".

Anyone who can help me?
Thanks in advance!

Simon
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Postby Alan Green » July 27th, 2012, 3:33 am

My score is in 3 sharps - A Major. What I notice is there's no cadence in A, which is why you don't have the "coming to rest" feeling.

There are lots of accidentals in the music, as you've discovered through the G, C and F chords, and although no scales are used as such you'll find the A natural minor and A minor pentatonic with an added F# used as a passing note are fairly close to what Jack White's doing. The A, G, C, D, A progression in the pre-verse section could easily be V-IV in D, then the G, C, D bit could easily be I-IV-V in G and then D - A is an Amen cadence in A but it kicks off the next section, so who knows. The overall feel of the song is very restless.

Using dissonances like this, with minor scales against major chord progressions (which is what we use in blues), and increasing the chromatic interest with out-of-key chords is routine in rock music. Don't get too bound up in looking for normal chord families in a song.
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Postby Nimyz » July 27th, 2012, 4:05 am

Thanks for the answer. I did not understand what you meant in the beginning though with "My score is in 3 sharps - A Major" though. A major has 3 sharps, but I did not get what you really meant.

And also, if the scale would be A natural minor, then only the F#-chord he uses is an accidental, no?
But the overall answer is that there really isn't a clear-cut answer?
Makes me a bit sad because I'm trying to study a bit of music theory on my own, but often then there are no real answers as to why some (chords in) songs sound good and others do not.
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Postby Alan Green » July 27th, 2012, 4:51 am

Nimyz wrote:I did not understand what you meant in the beginning though with "My score is in 3 sharps - A Major" though. .


I'm working from written down music - little black dots rather than internet tabs. The Key Signature on my music is 3 sharps, which means either A Major or F# minor. There is no E# in the music (leading note to F#) and my first chord is A, so I reckon I'm on fairly good ground saying it's in A.

Nimyz wrote:And also, if the scale would be A natural minor, then only the F#-chord he uses is an accidental, no?


You're in the ballpark, but do not confuse scales and chords. There is an F# in the A melodic minor scale, and there is a chord of F#m in A Major.

Nimyz wrote:... often then there are no real answers as to why some (chords in) songs sound good and others do not.


This can be down to luck, but the classic example is Hendrix's Hey Joe. the chord sequence is C, G, D, A, E.

No obvious connection? Wrong. It all proceeds in 5ths.

G is V of C
D is V of G
A is V of D
E is V of A

Keep up the theory studies. It pays dividends.
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Postby hbriem » July 30th, 2012, 4:47 am

This is a classic case of "key of A Rock".

It's an ambiguous mixture of A major and A minor like a million other rock songs. It's related to A Mixolydian (but it's not really). It's closer to A minor with a major I chord.

One chord substition I Am -> I A does not really make a new key.
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