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What Key or Keys is this song in?

Posted by Theron Dehart 
What Key or Keys is this song in?
October 21, 2018 02:02PM
Hi,

This is my first post here. I'm doing this for fun mostly - after getting sidetracked for a day attempting to determine the key of a song that I'm learning on the guitar I decided to post my question here on eMusicTheory. The name of the song and artist is:

Feels Like The First Time - Foreigner

The Verse is G F C G then D A E B
The chorus is just G F C G
Then, for a bit, we go to Em D C B
From here back to verse/chorus and end of the song

I did make (many) attempts at answering my own question(s). I've never had any music theory training, classes or otherwise - so, full disclosure, I don't know what I'm doing! LOL

My attempts:

The beginning of the chorus was easy for me. I’d say this:
G F C G
is in the key of C - with a backward progression. So, turnaround blues progression.
V IV I V

But, I never really found a way to make sense of the D A E B part.

Interestingly if I stuck with the C major chords then I’d get this:

G F C G then Dm Am Em Bm

or

V IV I V then ii vi iii iiv


I related the Dm, Am, Em and Bm to their chord family
ii is close to subdominant
vi and iii are close to the tonic
iiv is close to the dominant

So, this:

V IV I V then ii vi iii iiv

Is kind of like this:

V IV I V then IV I I V

That made some sense. But, of course these are minor chords not major - as in the original piece.

From here I tried to pay attention to the function of the chords - and possible substitutes - trying to answer questions such as: Would a secondary dominant work? Is there a parallel chord substitution? But, my two hour education in music theory really isn’t enough for me to see the patterns easily.

One last thought on the D A E B - they ascend up to a 5th from D to A is a 5th, from A to E is a 5th, and from E to B is yet another 5th. Also, I hear this a lot.

Surprisingly, when I ‘cheated’ by looking up the sheet music (musicnotes.com) - I noticed that they notated this song in the key of G major. That would make the Em chord the relative minor of G - which made sense for the entire piece.

As for the Em D C B part - again it wasn’t trivial to simply fit these chords to a minor, harmonic minor or melodic minor scale. With the exception of the D chord this fits harmonic minor since that would produce Em Dm C B. (side note: The feeling of Em Dm C is VERY different from Em D C.)

Substituting the Dm from the harmonic minor progression using D from the natural minor progression you could get this (which is the chord progression used in the song)
i VII VI V
Em D C B


Yeah, anyway, so those are my attempts in the question - what key is this in? Aside from thinking about it - it feels like G major (despite the F chord not exactly making sense to me) with a brief interlude to Em.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this.

-TD
Re: What Key or Keys is this song in?
November 04, 2018 11:10PM
G mixolydian

in my opinion, whoevver notated that score is not quite right either because i think NO KEY SIGNATURES should be used for G mixolydian

the scale: G , A , B , C , D , E , F♮( NOT F♯)
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