Out-of-key chords

Guitar Tricks Forum > Music Theory > Out-of-key chords

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Joined: 01/31/01

Posts: 36

out-ok-key chords

Hi all .... I was trying to figure out the chords of Bobby Vinton's song "Mr. Lonely". It's - I think - in B Mixolydian (5th mode of E major). The confusing part was (sorry if the lyrics are not perfect):

E
Now I'm a soldier,
C#m
a lonely soldier
A
away from home,
Am
through no wish of my own

Am does not belong to E major key, but it sounds very good. Is there a 'rule' for using out-of-key chords?

Thanks a lot......

[Edited by sherif_shaaban on 04-01-2001 at 06:19 AM]
Sherif Shaaban (Dr_Frankenstein)

#1

out-ok-key chords

Hi all .... I was trying to figure out the chords of Bobby Vinton's song "Mr. Lonely". It's - I think - in B Mixolydian (5th mode of E major). The confusing part was (sorry if the lyrics are not perfect):

E
Now I'm a soldier,
C#m
a lonely soldier
A
away from home,
Am
through no wish of my own

Am does not belong to E major key, but it sounds very good. Is there a 'rule' for using out-of-key chords?

Thanks a lot......

[Edited by sherif_shaaban on 04-01-2001 at 06:19 AM]
Sherif Shaaban (Dr_Frankenstein)

Senior Member

Joined: 06/22/00

Posts: 207

No, there are no "rules" for using chords that aren't in the key. In a case like that, the writer just did it because he liked the sound. Is that the whole progression?
Anyway, here are some general ideas about chords outside the key. Sometimes, a dominant chord outside of the key will be used to lead into another chord. An example would be the beginning of Cherokee in the key of Bb: Bbmaj Fm Bb7 Ebmaj. The Bb7 would be called a secondary dominant; it's a dominant chord, but its not the V of the key, in this case it's the I.
That would be an example in jazz. In rock, sometimes a chord progression will be entirely in major chords, whether or not they are in key. How many of you have seen a half diminished chord in rock? Look at punk songs especially for using entirely major chords.
In modal jazz, chords aren't really in progressions. You will often see one chord for 16 or more bars, so when the next chord comes, it need not relate to the first one and is often in an entirely different key. An example would be "So What" which has 2 chords, Dm and Ebm, that are clearly not in the same key.
As for your example, hey, if it sounds good, do it.

#2

No, there are no "rules" for using chords that aren't in the key. In a case like that, the writer just did it because he liked the sound. Is that the whole progression?
Anyway, here are some general ideas about chords outside the key. Sometimes, a dominant chord outside of the key will be used to lead into another chord. An example would be the beginning of Cherokee in the key of Bb: Bbmaj Fm Bb7 Ebmaj. The Bb7 would be called a secondary dominant; it's a dominant chord, but its not the V of the key, in this case it's the I.
That would be an example in jazz. In rock, sometimes a chord progression will be entirely in major chords, whether or not they are in key. How many of you have seen a half diminished chord in rock? Look at punk songs especially for using entirely major chords.
In modal jazz, chords aren't really in progressions. You will often see one chord for 16 or more bars, so when the next chord comes, it need not relate to the first one and is often in an entirely different key. An example would be "So What" which has 2 chords, Dm and Ebm, that are clearly not in the same key.
As for your example, hey, if it sounds good, do it.

Moderator

Joined: 02/04/01

Posts: 731

Changing the IV from a major to a minor in a progression is actually quite common in pop tunes, I believe the Beatles used it sometimes though I cannot think of an example. I find it is a nice change of feel that can work really well. You should listen to Bob Dylan's Idiot wind, it too is in E major, though the verse starts on an Am chord.
The progreesion goes like this.
Am, B, E, Am, B, E
C#min, G#min, F#min, E
C#min, G#min, F#min, E, G#min, A.
Thus, the verse ends on an A before and starts again on Amin, because there are two verses to each chorus. This is a very nasty technique, as the verse goes on, it feels as if the pain builds up, which is cut by bitterness again by the Amin. It's a pretty nasty song, though very good.
"Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year, it's just not that widely reported".

#3

Changing the IV from a major to a minor in a progression is actually quite common in pop tunes, I believe the Beatles used it sometimes though I cannot think of an example. I find it is a nice change of feel that can work really well. You should listen to Bob Dylan's Idiot wind, it too is in E major, though the verse starts on an Am chord.
The progreesion goes like this.
Am, B, E, Am, B, E
C#min, G#min, F#min, E
C#min, G#min, F#min, E, G#min, A.
Thus, the verse ends on an A before and starts again on Amin, because there are two verses to each chorus. This is a very nasty technique, as the verse goes on, it feels as if the pain builds up, which is cut by bitterness again by the Amin. It's a pretty nasty song, though very good.
"Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year, it's just not that widely reported".

Senior Member

Joined: 04/21/01

Posts: 86

YEah
JAMES HETFIELD IS JESUS

#4

YEah
JAMES HETFIELD IS JESUS

craigey0

Registered User

Joined: 03/21/11

Posts: 1

Both on the IV

Its interesting that both these examples add in the minor of the fourth(IV) of the scale - also in close conjunction (immediately after) the 'in-key' IV chord. The reason I picked up on this was I was trying to understand part of Eagles Desparado which goes (something like): G G7 C Cm G Em7 A D7 ( I I(dom7) IV iv I vi(7) II V(dom7) ) - I understood the major second as it's the V of the V (D) which it resolves to. But I couldn't understand the Cm. But like the two examples given it is also the minor on the fourth and follows the major fourth. I wonder if there is anything particularly interesting about this out-of-key chord the minor fourth - as it gets used so much. I understand a bit about extra out-of-key major chords which can sometimes be because they are the V of the V etc but don't understand at all any reasons why minors might be used - except of course they sound good and you can put anything in if it appeals to you. Any thoughts?

#5

Both on the IV

Its interesting that both these examples add in the minor of the fourth(IV) of the scale - also in close conjunction (immediately after) the 'in-key' IV chord. The reason I picked up on this was I was trying to understand part of Eagles Desparado which goes (something like): G G7 C Cm G Em7 A D7 ( I I(dom7) IV iv I vi(7) II V(dom7) ) - I understood the major second as it's the V of the V (D) which it resolves to. But I couldn't understand the Cm. But like the two examples given it is also the minor on the fourth and follows the major fourth. I wonder if there is anything particularly interesting about this out-of-key chord the minor fourth - as it gets used so much. I understand a bit about extra out-of-key major chords which can sometimes be because they are the V of the V etc but don't understand at all any reasons why minors might be used - except of course they sound good and you can put anything in if it appeals to you. Any thoughts?

darkfrett

Full Access

Joined: 09/15/09

Posts: 66

Out of Key Chords

Originally Posted by: craigey0
Its interesting that both these examples add in the minor of the fourth(IV) of the scale - also in close conjunction (immediately after) the 'in-key' IV chord. The reason I picked up on this was I was trying to understand part of Eagles Desparado which goes (something like): G G7 C Cm G Em7 A D7 ( I I(dom7) IV iv I vi(7) II V(dom7) ) - I understood the major second as it's the V of the V (D) which it resolves to. But I couldn't understand the Cm. But like the two examples given it is also the minor on the fourth and follows the major fourth. I wonder if there is anything particularly interesting about this out-of-key chord the minor fourth - as it gets used so much. I understand a bit about extra out-of-key major chords which can sometimes be because they are the V of the V etc but don't understand at all any reasons why minors might be used - except of course they sound good and you can put anything in if it appeals to you. Any thoughts?


If it sounds good... it is good.

#6

Out of Key Chords

Originally Posted by: craigey0
Its interesting that both these examples add in the minor of the fourth(IV) of the scale - also in close conjunction (immediately after) the 'in-key' IV chord. The reason I picked up on this was I was trying to understand part of Eagles Desparado which goes (something like): G G7 C Cm G Em7 A D7 ( I I(dom7) IV iv I vi(7) II V(dom7) ) - I understood the major second as it's the V of the V (D) which it resolves to. But I couldn't understand the Cm. But like the two examples given it is also the minor on the fourth and follows the major fourth. I wonder if there is anything particularly interesting about this out-of-key chord the minor fourth - as it gets used so much. I understand a bit about extra out-of-key major chords which can sometimes be because they are the V of the V etc but don't understand at all any reasons why minors might be used - except of course they sound good and you can put anything in if it appeals to you. Any thoughts?


If it sounds good... it is good.

Ben Lindholm

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 02/02/02

Posts: 980

Originally Posted by: darkfrett
If it sounds good... it is good.


That is true!

Nice to see a thread like this come to life again after 10 years!!!

I just finished a new tutorial called Tasty Chord Moves, where I talk about both the "Beatles IV minor" move and secondary dominants.

Check em out:

The Beatles IV Minor Move
Minor IV Example

Secondary Dominants
Secondary Reggae
My newest tutorials:
Pentatonic Speedster
Funk Lick Library A2
Bat Country
Funk Lick Library A1
Tapping: Level 4
Tapping: Level 3
Alternate Picking: Level 2

Find all of my lessons here:
Complete Lesson Catalog

#7

Originally Posted by: darkfrett
If it sounds good... it is good.


That is true!

Nice to see a thread like this come to life again after 10 years!!!

I just finished a new tutorial called Tasty Chord Moves, where I talk about both the "Beatles IV minor" move and secondary dominants.

Check em out:

The Beatles IV Minor Move
Minor IV Example

Secondary Dominants
Secondary Reggae
My newest tutorials:
Pentatonic Speedster
Funk Lick Library A2
Bat Country
Funk Lick Library A1
Tapping: Level 4
Tapping: Level 3
Alternate Picking: Level 2

Find all of my lessons here:
Complete Lesson Catalog

gdengelbrecht

Registered User

Joined: 07/07/09

Posts: 34

Originally Posted by: sherif_shaaban
Hi all .... I was trying to figure out the chords of Bobby Vinton's song "Mr. Lonely". It's - I think - in B Mixolydian (5th mode of E major). The confusing part was (sorry if the lyrics are not perfect):

E
Now I'm a soldier,
C#m
a lonely soldier
A
away from home,
Am
through no wish of my own

Am does not belong to E major key, but it sounds very good. Is there a 'rule' for using out-of-key chords?

Thanks a lot......

[Edited by sherif_shaaban on 04-01-2001 at 06:19 AM]

It would be great to know what is the chord after the Am.
http://www.georgeshredking.com/

http://guitarlessonsinvredenburg.com/

#8

Originally Posted by: sherif_shaaban
Hi all .... I was trying to figure out the chords of Bobby Vinton's song "Mr. Lonely". It's - I think - in B Mixolydian (5th mode of E major). The confusing part was (sorry if the lyrics are not perfect):

E
Now I'm a soldier,
C#m
a lonely soldier
A
away from home,
Am
through no wish of my own

Am does not belong to E major key, but it sounds very good. Is there a 'rule' for using out-of-key chords?

Thanks a lot......

[Edited by sherif_shaaban on 04-01-2001 at 06:19 AM]

It would be great to know what is the chord after the Am.
http://www.georgeshredking.com/

http://guitarlessonsinvredenburg.com/