HomeForumsComplete Guitar Course 2017"Practice in all 12 keys", doesn't this waste time?

This topic contains 15 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Igglepud 7 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #21254

    superblonde
    Keymaster

    There’s typical advice given at the conclusion of lessons from “some other guys”. They say, Okay now that you’ve learned this, great job, now practice this in all 12 keys “and you’ll be totally golden”. Dexterity wise, the point is probably good, the fingers need a workout in all different positions. Musically though it seems to me, to waste time. Why not recommend practicing in the 6 most common keys and completely ignore the two or three very rarely used keys because they are red headed step-childs.

    So after listening to this advice again from “some other guys” I decided to quickly look it up and it seems there is a legit point to basically ignore some keys. I could save a lot of time by practicing the 25 licks in just four popular-on-guitar positions, not a total of twelve positions or focusing on a few that I choose out of a hat or based on my ad hoc misconceptions of musicality. Do I really want to spend a month practicing licks in the F# position? I don’t know?

    The limitation with the graph below is that it is biased by ‘popular’ and really it would be best to know ‘rock centric’ (cool minor!) rather than ‘popular’. The flip side to this is that if I wanted to purposely be unpopular (and what metal head doesn’t secretly crave to be as un-popular as possible!) then maybe I would purposely practice the absolute most least used key ever, to make the music even more esoteric and more metal. 😀

    spotify-song-key-analysis

    The Spotify Blog

    Why is G Major the top key on all of Spotify? And why is C Major number two?

    Much like electricity going through a circuit, songwriters often take the path of least resistance. On a keyboard or a guitar — both incredibly popular instruments for composing western music — that path is through G Major.

    We saw a similar phenomenon with minor keys. A minor, the relative minor of C major, is the easiest minor to play on a keyboard. It’s the also the most popular minor key, with 4.8 percent of all the music on Spotify.

    Kenny Ning explains:

    “E is convenient for guitar, but not piano.

    C is convenient for piano, but not guitar.

    G is convenient for both guitar and piano.

    So, why is G major the most popular key signature in Spotify’s catalog? It’s likely because most popular Western contemporary music instruments are biased towards certain keys.

    When people talk about the ‘key signature’ or ‘key’ of a song, they are referring to the tonal center of the song. The key signature will also determine what notes and chords your song should use if you want it to sound consonant/pleasant.

    The guitar and the piano are probably the two most popular instruments in modern Western music history. So I would assume a lot of composition today begins on one of those two instruments. And for those who have ever studied guitar or piano, they quickly learn that certain keys are easier to play than others.

    Black keys on a piano are thin and somewhat hard to strike accurately, and the player/composer has to remember where they are. Thus pianists will stick to key signatures that are largely composed of white keys, such as C major, G major, or F major.

    For guitar, there are certain chords that are naturally easy to play given the standard tuning of the strings. There’s a reason the first chords you learn in guitar are E major, G major, A major, and D major.

    Combine these two sets of ‘easy to play’ keys together, and you’ll see that G is the common denominator between guitar and piano. So it’s no surprise that songwriters would write their chords in these keys so they could focus their energy on more important things… melody and lyrics.” https://insights.spotify.com/us/2015/05/06/most-popular-keys-on-spotify/

    I'm an intermediate student of Metal Method. I play seitannic heavy metal. All Kale Seitan! The glutens will be eaten with relish!
    And on the Seventh Day, Mustaine said: ∇ ⨯ E = - ∂B / ∂t ; and there was Thrash; and it had a ♭3; and it was good.

    Attachments:
    1. spotify-song-key-analysis.jpg

  • #21261

    safetyblitz
    Participant

    And the relative minor of G major is… wait for it… E minor.

    I think the advice to guitarists to practice things in different keys is more about working out your ear than your fingers.

    But if you’re learning to read music, the role of doing things in different keys takes an a whole new significance. The oldschool Mel Bay books force you to start sight reading from day one, and they start out by introducing etudes and repertoire in one key, but as the course progresses they add more keys.

    For a casual rock player, I think it’s safe to do everything in E minor, and if you’re feeling adventurous, try it in A minor. The major drawback of this is that working in only one or two keys will cause you to tend to think of chord tones and “lick locations” in terms of absolute fretboard locations rather than locations within the chromatically shiftable “diatonic fretboard layout shape”. But for typical rock/blues jam situations, 99% of the time you’ll be in E minor or A minor anyway.

  • #21273

    PaulWolfe
    Participant

    When Randy Rhoads started writing songs with Ozzy, he pointed out that most bands played in just a couple of keys and they decided to not do that and to not have two songs in a row in the same key…

    As for F#, Crazy Train is in F# minor which is the relative minor to A Major.

    I practiced my minor pentatonics in every key so that I was comfortable with the shapes in every position… it helped cement the shapes in my brain, I believe. I do not, however practice licks in every key and I think that has been a hindrance. I struggle with adding licks to leads and as fills because I think of licks based on the key I am familiar with them in. If I practiced them in all keys I’d be comfortable with them all over like I am with pentatonics.

    Another thing I need to do more of is practicing licks in multiple octaves… if I learn a lick above the 12 fret, I rarely try it below the 12th and vice versa…

    Thanks for the inspiration, I’m gong to go practice.

  • #21275

    vinay
    Participant

    My girlfriend recently opened an account for Spotify. I was surprised with how limited their offering is. Most modern acts are probably on there but for instance from an old popular (I think) act like Mungo Jerry they only had very few different songs. Also, loads of tunes I have (on cd or lp) go through a couple of keys. And I think this even goes for very popular music (where they repeat the same chorus several times, transpose it up a few steps and then repeat it again a few times (Mungo Jerry included). Now of course your source (the researcher) is Spotify so that clarifies why it is so limited.

    I suppose the best way to go about it is to just make your own list. What music are you interested in, what key is it in? Then set your own priorities.

    • #21276

      superblonde
      Keymaster

      I’m not sure thats fair to say – to look at tunes and make a list. I’m still not able to determine key a lot of the time. Its a different topic and something I’m still working on. Still, I will post a list later, from the songs I can currently play. The other side to that is, music fans starting out can either have no definite taste or specific direction in music at all (like me when I first got guitar lessons in junior h/s, other than “i like blues”) or have really esoteric interests like hardcore punk bands which no one has ever heard of (maybe all those bands use a single key and ignore the wider world of music).

      Instrument compatibility is also an important part of this.. metal with a trumpet section? Well, djent ska perhaps needs to be made someday by somebody 😀

      I'm an intermediate student of Metal Method. I play seitannic heavy metal. All Kale Seitan! The glutens will be eaten with relish!
      And on the Seventh Day, Mustaine said: ∇ ⨯ E = - ∂B / ∂t ; and there was Thrash; and it had a ♭3; and it was good.

    • #21299

      vinay
      Participant

      Transcribing the music you like is part of the practice routine, so eventually you’ll find out what key the music you like to play is in. It also taught me that early 90’s tunes by Carcass and Bolt Thrower were in Bm so I’d either have to downtune or get a 7 string. Whose life by Megadeth seemed to be in Bm too, but one octave higher. So transcribing teaches you a lot of things (like what gear you need) and obviously also what key the music is in.

      I once saw Ozomatli live. That was definitely metal elements incorporated in trumpet music. I like it when it gets mixed up.

  • #21293

    JL8112
    Participant

    I would say it depends on your goals. If you want to be the best than go for it. I believe you should practice according to what you want to acheive.

  • #21305

    rorygfan
    Participant

    The first guitar instruction book the name I dont recall but it wasnt Mel Bay, but a Hendrix devotee as I recall… I bought it in the 70’s suggested that concept, of learning the 2 guitar keys- not that the book was anything genius but I never bought into that 12 keys thing either for basic songs and playing. For example learning anything in Eb is not practical in standard tuning right?  I recall Petrucci playing an awesome instrumental cover of vocals on guitar of purple rain detuned to Eb.  I thought that was cool as for him to do that so as to be able to play open string licks. Eb on guitar just sucks if you think about it in standard tuning. The author stated that most everything in popular music was in E minor pentatonic or A minor pentatonic, whose major scale difference is one note, the F or F#.  Or the pentatonic scales were B and C, one note difference. And if you think about it those 2 keys cover most common open chords:  G Am Bm C D Em Dm Em F.  Bm and F being the exception of using open string but both barre forms.. Then forget the diminished. Most popular songs use those popular chords and you can barre the rest.  The other thing about all this key changing is that look at using a Capo, Keith Richards got many miles out of using one, and the blues guys and Bonamassa uses it quite effectively.  So the point is well taken and I agree. C# major anybody? Great guitar solo key…lol.  Somebody should post an example of a song written in C# major or Eb major (standard tuning) that has a great guitar solo that was done in those funky keys with few or non open strings and all was done without changing from standard tuning or using a capo.  That would be interesting to see one exists.  Ive tried to transcribe Elton John songs written on piano in standard tuning in piano friendly keys, and the fingerings suck.  Mozart as well, tough to play those arppegios and scales on guitar.

    Regarding Spotify playing Mungo Jerry? That surprises me. In the summertime, dee dee dee deedee…

     

  • #21313

    superblonde
    Keymaster

    And then the front woman joins rehearsal and says, “I only sing in A sharp.” Haha!

    I'm an intermediate student of Metal Method. I play seitannic heavy metal. All Kale Seitan! The glutens will be eaten with relish!
    And on the Seventh Day, Mustaine said: ∇ ⨯ E = - ∂B / ∂t ; and there was Thrash; and it had a ♭3; and it was good.

  • #21337

    superblonde
    Keymaster

    I received a response from the berklee staff of the music course I’m taking, on this topic too, (the staff have music resumes 10′ long), which recommends practicing “in all keys up to 4 sharps & flats” which seems like an interesting way to focus the study too.. progress in the key signature order..

    The most common, or easy, keys for guitar are C major, D major, E major, F major, G major and A major. However, I would also add Bb Major, Eb major, and Ab Major. At the initial stage of your practice, learning the keys of up to 4 sharps and flats is more than enough to cover most of the popular repertoire, including rock and blues.

    As mentioned by safetyblitz.. maybe converting to relative minor would be the other way to look at this.. (ahh, bummer about these music trained people always talking in major when rock is so minor)

    I always cheat when I need to look up key signatures, I use GP6 which has a nice menu for them, in order.

    I'm an intermediate student of Metal Method. I play seitannic heavy metal. All Kale Seitan! The glutens will be eaten with relish!
    And on the Seventh Day, Mustaine said: ∇ ⨯ E = - ∂B / ∂t ; and there was Thrash; and it had a ♭3; and it was good.

  • #21340

    rorygfan
    Participant

    I read your initial comment about that rinse and repeat all 12 keys, and can relate to that advice, I never bought into it and perhaps is why I got stuck, along with living life and time dedication. while experts might recommend it- I still think there are way more important things to master such as those in technique and playing songs in basic keys with normal open chords, and leads in their most basic forms.  Or something like increasing improvisation skills with fretboard note recognition speed or in case you break a string… lots of stuff more important than all flat scales. My 2 cents.  You can also look at the fretboard and figure out the key sharps and flats with playing the major scale 7 notes pattern and calling out each note.  Tonal centers are spoken about by all the great players versus key signatures. If you start studying blues, it is fascinating the amount of rule breaking that occurs and sounds great too. Grace notes, slides, bends of the non diatonic notes.

  • #21343

    safetyblitz
    Participant

    As mentioned by safetyblitz.. maybe converting to relative minor would be the other way to look at this.. (ahh, bummer about these music trained people always talking in major when rock is so minor) I always cheat when I need to look up key signatures, I use GP6 which has a nice menu for them, in order.

    Note that on the blues front, things get more confused by the fact that major blues is more common than minor blues, though you use the pentatonic minor scale to play leads in both…

    • #21344

      superblonde
      Keymaster

      It’s totally confusing. And I cant figure out what key something like this is in either way (because, I guess, it’s too ambiguous or I just dont know the rules to apply)

      song

      I'm an intermediate student of Metal Method. I play seitannic heavy metal. All Kale Seitan! The glutens will be eaten with relish!
      And on the Seventh Day, Mustaine said: ∇ ⨯ E = - ∂B / ∂t ; and there was Thrash; and it had a ♭3; and it was good.

      Attachments:
      1. song.jpg

  • #21347

    safetyblitz
    Participant

    It’s totally confusing. And I cant figure out what key something like this is in either way (because, I guess, it’s too ambiguous or I just dont know the rules to apply) song

    I’m probably not the best person to try to elucidate this topic, but in general, I start out just trying to find the root, and then work out a single voice melody around the root. What key and mode does that melody fit into? In the famous example above, reducing it to a single voice points you toward the G blues scale, or maybe G minor with an accidental flat 5th added for flavor.

  • #21386

    Doug Marks
    Keymaster

    If you have time to practice several hours a day this is probably good advice. I think there are more beneficial ways to spend time. You might take a half dozen of the most popular keys and run through a couple a day on a rotating basis.  Even better, learn songs in a few different keys and run through them on a rotating basis.

    Metal Method Guitar Instructor

  • #21396

    Igglepud
    Participant

    I only play in one key: minor pentatonic.

    MY ROCK IS FIERCE!!!

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