Category Archives: songs

2+2=5 — Radiohead

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tldr: 2+2=5 is primarily in F minor but changes to its relative major key, Ab major, for the last part. The F minor parts draw from the harmonic minor scale and even a bit from the melodic minor. A borrowed major I chord in the first part suggests a possible key change to F major, […]

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Paranoid Android – Radiohead

tldr: Paranoid Android has three parts plus a coda based on the second part. Each part explores two keys/tonal centers and contains some ambiguity by design. Part I has a repeating progression that seems to start in C minor, dorian mode, but then either changes to G minor or reveals that the key was G […]

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Eyes of the World – Grateful Dead

tldr: Primarily in E major. Intro is a I – IV progression of Emaj7 – A – Emaj7, but often with F#m7 or A6 or something else substituting for the A chord. The lead improvisation follows the E major scale. The verses are largely diatonic, but with a few alterations incorporating the flat 7 note, […]

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Ramble on Rose – Grateful Dead

tldr: Largely D major, with a short key change to G major in the bridge. Mostly diatonic chords, with the exception of a major II chord, E, that is used both as a borrowed Lydian chord and a secondary dominant V/V chord. Full analysis Ramble on Rose is in D major. The intro is based […]

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He’s Gone – Grateful Dead

tldr: He’s Gone is in E major. It starts with a vamp on an E chord, mixing in E major pentatonic notes, an F#m (ii) chord, and a B (V) chord. The chorus adds in a mixolydian bVII chord, D. The bridge then changes key to A major (with a caveat, below), transitioning by way […]

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Deal – Grateful Dead

tldr: Deal is in A major and opens with a pentatonic blues-style riff on the open A chord. The song is built out of I, IV, and vi chords connected by chromatic steps in between. These steps are provided by a C#7 secondary dominant V/vi chord; an Ao7 common-tone diminished seventh chord; an F# secondary […]

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Candyman — Grateful Dead

tldr: The song is primarily in C major, mixolydian mode, but briefly changes keys to G major, mixolydian mode, in the middle of the verses. There is a G major V chord between the intro and verse that, although not native to mixolydian, acts like a secondary dominant to help establish the C chord as […]

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Life’s Been Good – Joe Walsh

tldr: The song opens in A major using blues harmony, with the A major pentatonic plus blues notes played between the A and D chords. (Technically, this is in the mixolydian mode). There is a key change to C major for the main verses of the song, and that it is done via a cool […]

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Althea – Grateful Dead

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tldr: Straightforward chords, but with some ambiguity as to the tonic. I characterize this song as primarily E mixolydian, but the Bm chord that opens the main progression gives a flavor of B minor (dorian). The chorus could be characterized in the same key, but I think there is a subtle shift to A major. […]

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In Memory of Elizabeth Reed – Allman Brothers

tldr: key of A minor, largely in the dorian mode. Main chords throughout the song are Am9, Am7, and D6, along with an E7#9 to end most sections. The second part has a brief modulation up to C minor before returning to A minor. In addition to the dorian mode, there is some A harmonic […]

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