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What key is Sweet Home Alabama in?

  • key of D

    Votes: 6 40.0%
  • key of G

    Votes: 9 60.0%
  • key of C

    Votes: 0 0.0%
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Discussion Starter #1
Sweet Home Alabama. Most of you know it and have played it to death several times over. How many of you know what key it is in? The chords are D, C, G. So is it in the key of D or the key of G?

It seems music theorists debate this point. Usually you can tell what key a song is in by identifying the chord that seems to resolve it. To my ear, D seems to be the resolution chord in the verses, but a funny thing happens during the guitar bits between verses and during the solos, and G seems to be the resolving chord. If you end the song after the chorus, D sounds right, but if you end the song after the guitar motif, its gotta be G for me.

This probably has something to do with "tendency tones" in the vocal melody and guitar lines that steer the brain in different directions.

What key do you think its in?
 

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I thought it was in D Minor:

Nigel Tufnel: It's part of a trilogy, a musical trilogy I'm working on in D minor which is the saddest of all keys, I find. People weep instantly when they hear it, and I don't know why.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I honestly didn't expect anyone to pick C. Its the wrong answer, but the other two are apparently both contenders. If its G, it would be V(D),IV(C), I(G). If its D, it would be I(D), flatVII(C), V(G). I've always considered it to be in G but found the premise that it was in D a valid argument. I'm sure there are other songs that are examples of this. They tend to want to go in circles.

Try this: Sing the melody over only a D chord. Then try it over only a G. The melody fits much better over a single D. On the other hand the guitar parts are all clearly rooted in the G major scale.
 

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I'd say the guitars are more of a Dmaj scale ... with ocassional blend of the Gmaj scale in the low end. But I have to say key of dmaj for the overall.

Just thinking about it you have the same scenario with "Can't You See" D to C to G the makings of the key of G but.....
 

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hoser said:
the key of "should not be played again".
I like that assessment.

However, listen to the melody..it uses elements of a melody in D.

exactly Like "Can't you see", you'll see.

Same changes, more or less, I, dVII, IV.
 

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Lester B. Flat said:
I'm sure there are other songs that are examples of this. They tend to want to go in circles.
Like a lot of skynard songs. I've had this same debate with some friends before and it went nowhere so I'm not going even go there again. But there are a few skynard songs like this.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
mandocaster said:
I like that assessment.

However, listen to the melody..it uses elements of a melody in D.

exactly Like "Can't you see", you'll see.

Same changes, more or less, I, dVII, IV.
Yes, the intervals in the progression are the same, but Can't You See returns to the D chord at the end of the cycle. It's in whatever key the I chord is. Sweet Home, on the other hand, hangs on the G for twice the duration of the D or C chord. The cycle ends on G. That extra weight on the G seems to make a difference.

Its interesting how people can hear with different perspectives. If you play, out of context of a key, an F followed by a C, some people will hear a subdominant(IV) moving to the tonic(I), and others will hear the tonic(I) moving to the dominant(V).
 
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