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PD: Multi-key songs22 Oct 2002 21:05

Browsing through the Queen song analysis articles I got the impression that Queen were quite fond of changing the key. A list:

Teo Torriate: d-minor, D-major, A mixolydian major
The March Of The Black Queen: e-minor, G-major, a-minor, C-major, F-major, c-minor/Eb-major, E-major
Hammer To Fall: A-major, C-major
Action This Day: E-major, D Major, F major  modal
Bicycle Race: Ab-Major, bb-minor, (Bb-major), F-major, C-major, D-major, (B-major)
Bohemian Rhapsody: Bb-major, Eb-major, A-major, F-major
Crazy Little Thing Called Love: D-major modal
Death On Two Legs: b-minor, g-minor, D-major
Drowse: D-major, E-major, (e-minor)
Fat Bottomed Girls: D Major
Keep Yourself Alive: A Mixolydian major, F Mixolydian major, (C#-major), D-major,F-major, (E Mixolydian major), B-major,
Killer Queen: Eb-major, F-major, d-minor, c-minor
Leaving Home Ain't Easy: A-major, D-major, f#-minor
Mustapha: f-minor, g#-minor, c#-minor, c-minor/g-minor, bb-minor
Procession: (g-minor), F-major, (d-minor), C-major, G-major, (D-major)
The Phrophet's Song: d-minor, a-minor, D-major, (g-minor), Bb-major, F-major, (C-major)
Scandal: G Major, (e-minor), F-major
Tenement Funster: e-minor, B-major with dorian inflection
White Queen: G-major (D-major), a-minor, d-minor, C-major
You're My Best Friend: C-major, (a-minor)
Need Your Loving: E-major
Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll: modal E-major, and G-major
Love Of My Life: F-major, (Bb-major), C-major
Spread Your Wings: D-major (b-minor)
I'm In Love With My Car: e-minor, (D-major)
Mad The Swine: Db-major, Eb-minor
Play The Game: C-major, F-major
Sleeping OnThe Sidewalk: B-major modal
Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy: Eb-major, (B-major)
Friends Will Be Friends: G-major
Brighton Rock: B-major, E-major, numerous key-centres during the Live-solo.
My Fairy King: f minor, G major, e minor, a minor, D major, C Major, d minor, F major, (a phrygian)
Teo Torriate: D Major, d minor
Loser In The End: A Major (inf), D Major
In Only Seven Days: D Major
Is This The World We Created: D Major, b minor

Some others:
Don't Stop Me Now: F major
I Want To Break Free: E major
We Are The Champions: c# minor / Eb major, F major, f minor,
(more to come)

Some Queen songs seem to use 4-7 different keys (including some enharmonic ones) This is more than what I expect to be on any early Led Zeppelin album. If anyone can tell examples of non-Queen songs with three or more keys, drop here a line. I'm interested in more genres: pop, rock, prog, classical. I'm interested whether a sum of 5-7 keys can be considered to be the world record in the pop-rock genre.

1.Patrick Borer 28 Oct 2002 15:15
I looked around a little bit and found that Steve Vai is also very used to change the key. Sometimes he also uses some strange keys. A list:

Erotic Nightmares: D-major, A-major, C-major
The Animal: C-major, D-major, F-major, G-major
Answers: A-major, C-major, B-major
The Riddle: E-lydian, E-mixolydian, e-harmonic minor, E-major
The Audience Is Listening: A-dorian, F#-phrygian, D-lydian, C-Lydian
Sex And Religion: Db-major, B-major
Dirty Black Hole: G-major, A-major
Touching Tongues: B-major, D-major
Pig: has to my knowledge no definite key!
Down Deep Into The Pain: E-lydian, A-major, a-minor, E-major, Xavian
Rescue Me Or Bury Me: C-major, B-major, D-major, G-lydian
Die To Live: F-major, a-minor, Eb-major, G-minor, C# altered dominant, C-major, D# altered      dominant, E-mixolydian
Tender Surrender: A-dorian, C-major, c melodic minor, E-dorian
There's A Fire In The House: C-major, C-dorian, Db-major, E-major, G-major, A-major
The Crying Machine: G-major, E-major
Hand On Heart: B-major, Gb-major
Bangkok: A-phrygian, Db-major
Fire Garden Suite: A-phrygian, G-lydian, E-major, C-major, A-major, Db-major
Damn You: C-major, D-major, F-major, F#-major
The Blood And Tears: A-major, B-major, F#-dorian
The Ultra Zone: A-mixolydian, E-lydian, A-dorian
OOOO: C#-dorian, Eb-major, E-major, Ab-major, Db-lydian, E-lydian, F-mixolydian
Frank: C-mixolydian, C-major, Bb-major, Eb-major, G-major, A-major, D-major
The Silent Within: Ab-major, C-lydian
Lucky Charms: C-major, G-dorian

2 key need probably some explanation: the altered dominant key and the xavian one. C# altered dominant for example is C#-D-E-F-G-A-B
The Xavian key is an invention Mr. Vai: he divided the octave through 16 equal parts instead of 12!
It is also strange to me to use no definite key in one song. This results to very strange chords such as F#m7#7 (F#-A-C#-E-E#), F#b9b13 (F#-A-C#-D-G), Amaj7#5 (A-C#-E#-G#), A7#11 (A-C#-E-D#) or Gmaj7#5#11 (G-B-D#-F#-C#).

I think that Queen do hold the world record for the song with the most keys, but they have to share it!
2.PD 29 Oct 2002 06:37
Thanks PB, nice list.

> I think that Queen do hold the world record for the song with the most keys, but they
> have to share it!

In fact I don't think Queen (and Vai) are holding the world record holder in the entire rock business, including the progressive rock. Bicycle Race is mainly a three minute pop-song, and in this category, I'm more "pessimistic" to find a contest for it. As for more progressive genres with more formal freedom (where I suppose Vai too belongs to) the use of 5+ keys is not exceptional (at least I suppose so). The section-repeating songs have to solve the problem of returning to the same key time to time (verses, choruses), while an acyiclic song can modulate further and further from the initial key. The live version of Brighton Rock is a perfect example: beside the B and E major the solo part goes through a number of tonal centres, which I'm not sure I can treat as proper modulation, as usually there is no chords backing them moreover the used scales often use "incomplete" modes.

As I see Vai made extended use of various modes. About Xavian: I suppose it needs a special fretted guitar, doesn't it? Does it sound good?

> It is also strange to me to use no definite key in one song.
Does it apply symmetric scales?
Time to time I find myself unable to find the tonal centre (it's maybe my fault). Like the intro-chorus of Bicycle Race. Without the other parts of the song I would not be able to locate the key.

Here is a multi-key Mozart piece:
There are lots of more (and also less) advanced stuffs in the Classical genre.

A multi-key Yes song:
(check out the section-scheme in the middle)

Dream Theater is another band I expect to write songs with many key changes.

Beatles' record was four key in Here There And Everywhere (2x2 relative keys, like in Killer Queen)

Back to progressive music: a number of progressive bands were not very keen on using modulation at all, or not even using special chords (in terms of functional harmony).

Led Zeppelin too was a band with songs with hardly any modulation, at least that was my impression after checking out their IV album.
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