Bending the Rules
Once you have the Key Structure firmly embedded in your musical consciousness you can explore different ways of using the structure with a bit of rule breaking - like most musical 'rules' the key structure is there to help navigate your way about - it is not set in stone
Soul - Jazz - Blues :- Majoring the Minors
An excellent example of this songwriting technique can be found in the Otis Redding classic 'Sitting on the Dock of a Bay'
This song is in the key of G Major
[ Key of G = 3 Majors ~ G - C - D + 3 Minors ~ Em - Am - Bm ]
All these chords are used to make up the tune except that all the Minor chords have been 'Majored'
i.e. E minor becomes E Major etc.
The melody uses the scale of G Major - If you don't know this tune try to get hold of a copy and learn to sing ( or play ) the melody. Then try out the first four bars of the tune over these chords : -
| G / / / | Bm7 / / / | C / / / | Am / / / |
All these chords are strictly in the Key Structure of G Major and the melody sounds, technically, fine over them.
Now try the same melody over the actual chords from the song :-
| G / / / | B7 / / / | C / / / | A / / / |
With the minor chords 'Majored' you get a harder edged soulful effect making the same melody sound more dynamic.
In the chorus an E sus 2 chord is used as a substitute for an E minor.
At the end of the chorus an E Major chord is used in place of an E minor.
So we get a song which uses none of the minor chords in the key but still manages to fit into the notion of the Key Structure of G Major.
Not all the minors would have to be Majored as they are in this particular song - quite often just one of them might be - Try ( this time in the Key of C Major ) :
| C / / / | F / / / | A7 / / / | Dm / / / |
Or : -
| C / / / | E7 / / / | Am / / / | F / / / |
Rulebend 2 - Minoring a Major
This device was commonly used by the Beatles [ you'll find it in Oasis songs as well ]
In the Key of C Major - 3 chord trick = C - F - G ; The only chord that can be Minored is the second chord of the 3 chord trick - i.e. F in the key of C.
Try the following sequence : -
| C / / / | F / / / | Fm / / / | C / / / |
It is quite often used like this with the minor following on from the Major [ It would be used sparingly - maybe just once in a song ]
Or try this - maybe as an ending : -
| C / / / | G / / / | Fm / / / | Cmaj7 / / / |
Other chords that are not in the Key Structure could be added to an otherwise structured piece.
As long as they're used sparingly they could be treated as an ' accidental ' [ the term usually used for melody notes that aren't in the scale ] and you would have to take note of the fact that the music has gone out of the Key Structure for , say , one bar.
This is not the same as a ' modulation ' which involves moving through changes to a new Key or a ' key change ' which is going directly to a new Key.
In this sequence in the key of C Major the 'accidental' is the Ab in the 2nd bar : -
| C / / / | Ab / / / | F / / / | G / / / |
Other chords may come into songs as part of a different Structure - see the following lessons.
You can change 'Structures' within a song without changing Key - for instance a C major Structure section followed by a C minor Structure section - both rooted on C .
Learn a load of old pop songs - you don't have to like them just observe how
the chords are put together