Popular Songs in C, G & D Major

“Music Theory: Songs & Emotions

in C, G & D Major”

 

  • Songs in C major
  1. What is the definition of a scale
  2. C major scale
  3. Popular songs in the key of C major
  4. Emotions of songs in C major
  • Songs in G major
  1. G major scale
  2. Emotions of songs in G major
  3. Popular songs in the key of G major
  • Songs in D major
  1. D major scale
  2. Popular songs in the key of D major
  3. Emotions of songs in D major
  4. Homework

 

The Band Aerosmith

In conjunction with my last post transposition & key change, I will now discuss what “Keys” & “Scales” are and how they work in songs:

 

 

Songs in C major

“What is the definition of a scale”

A scale is a pattern of notes going up and down. Usually the notes of a scale will belong to one key, this in turn will make it easy to show the melody and/or harmony of a part or the entire song or composition.

Scales are measured in pitches, this gives us an idea of how large or small distances are. Scales are separated, using intervals to measure the notes they include, into groups like major, minor and others which are then described as  C-major scale, D-minor scale, etc.

When reading this it probably looks quite complicated, however everything can be simplified and broken down into categories. Let’s start how scales look on the piano and their attached notes on the treble staff.

“C major scale”

Example 1: C Major Scale doesn’t have any sharps or flats

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see above each scale consists of whole (1) or half steps (1/2). This determines the sound quality. A major scale has not the same order of whole and half steps as a minor scale.

However all the 12 major scales, since there are 12 tones on the piano, will have the same order of steps. For example the D major scale, which you’ll see below, will have same order of steps as the F# major scale, although the note names wouldn’t be same.

“Popular songs in the key of C major”

Now that we know the scale we can determine in what key the song is in. In this case it’s in the key of C major since we’re using the C major scale (in a later post I’ll explain the difference between major and minor scales and keys).

Often the first chord of a song, whether it’s in the intro, verse or chorus,  is the same as the key it’s in. Please listen and watch the song “I’m Your Angel” by R.Kelly and Celine Dion“:

Other songs which are in the key of C major are:

As Long As You Love Me – Backstreet Boys

Because Of You – 98 degrees

One – U2 & Mary J Blige

Something – The Beatles

Kokomo – The Beach Boys

“Emotions of songs in C major”

What kind of emotions did you experience when watching this song? I think the feelings I got were of faith, innocence and positive strength. So usually songs in C major carry emotions of pureness, innocence, faith and simplicity.

 

Songs in G major

“G major scale”

The key of G major has  one sharp: “F#” and that means that all the F’s become F sharps. In order to carry this out we need to add a “Key Signature” at the beginning of the staff (after the clef sign). This shows us how many sharps and flats each key has. It also tells us how many notes in the scale get sharps or flats. And lastly it tells us what key the song is in.

We can easily find this out by looking at the last sharp in the key signature and move up a half step. In this case, since there’s only one sharp, we move up a half step from F# and arrive at G.  G will thus be the key of the piece.  Furthermore you can see that the order of the whole (1) and half (1/2) steps remain the same except the notes themselves change.

Example 2: G Major Scale has 1 sharp (F#)


 

 

 

 

If you are interested in learning to recognize and sing melodies in this and other keys you should check out this post.

 

“Emotions of songs in G major”

What are some characteristic emotions of songs in the key of G major? Usually everything is of a traditional, beautiful and lyrical quality. Often there’s a tender thankfulness for genuine friendship and true love.

When we summarize this we can say that gentle and peaceful emotions are expressed by the person’s heart. A good example of this is “From This Moment On” by Shania Twain:

“Popular songs in the key of G major”

Always There – Marti Webb

Always – Atlantic Starr

He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother – The Hollies

All You Need Is Love – The Beatles

 

Songs in D major

“D major scale”

The key of D major has two sharps: F# and C# and will result in all the F’s and C’s becoming F#’s and C#’s. Remember the rule of how to find the key of a song? For sharp keys you should look at the last sharp in the key signature and from there move up a half step.

So when you see the 2 sharps below in example 3, the last one of these should be C sharp. Go up a half step from here and it will tell you that the song is in the key of D major.

Example 3: D Major Scale has 2 sharps (F# and C#)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interested in training yourself to hear and recognize the most common chord progressions in popular music, click the link below:

Popular Progressions

 

“Popular songs in the key of D major”

A powerful song in the key of D major is “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith. If you have a piano or keyboard at hand press any key and listen which one will fit best with this song, especially in the verses and choruses.

Other songs in the key of D major:

Where Do Broken Hearts Go? – Whitney Houston

Alone – Bee Gees

Canon In D Major – Baby B Strings

With Or Without You – U2

Like to play along with these songs at a slower tempo?

Go check out this post ……..

“Emotions of songs in D major”

These are often feelings of triumph, war-cries, victory and glory. Songs in this key are usually suitable for symphonies and big vocal choruses because they convey a feeling of perseverance with an outcome of victory.

May be the songs above aren’t of this caliber but each of them conveys some emotion of perseverance whether the outcome does or doesn’t reflect a feeling of victory.

 

“Homework”

Listen to “Stop” by the Spice Girls. What key is the song in? What emotions do you get when listening?

 

A recap of today’s post:

  • What are scales and how to use them
  • How to find the key of songs in C, G & D major
  • What emotions do these keys have

 

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In the next post we will look at songs in the keys of A, E and B major and their emotions.

 

About the Author:

Hans Hansen is the author and founder of “The Music Arrangers Page” and is always happy to share his passion for music arranging. In addition, he is a well experienced piano & bass guitar teacher, specializing in classical, rock and jazz. Any questions you have about music arranging; he is the person to ask. He also likes to invite you to download his Special Free Gift and connect with him on Facebook & Twitter or leave a comment on his blog.

11 Comments

  • By mda, November 14, 2013 @ 5:40 am

    Many of these are not major, for example Hard Day’s Night is Mixolydian… Hence the f rather than f# in G.

  • By Hans, November 14, 2013 @ 7:56 am

    Hi Darkandspiky,

    Yes, you’re right. I forgot to look at the b7 further on in the song.
    So if we see this in a modal way, mixolydian is the 5th mode and count
    down 5 steps, we would be in the key of C major.
    My mistake for not looking carefully enough, thanks for the correction!
    I will replace this song with another one which is really in the key
    of G major. Cheers, Hans

  • By smokeless cigarettes brands, March 1, 2014 @ 5:53 am

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  • By Hans, March 1, 2014 @ 2:12 pm

    Hi,

    Yes, I use WordPress. You can choose from many free templates.
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    Success and with friendly greetings,
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  • By tim hodgkins, July 27, 2014 @ 4:21 pm

    In reality, half, at the most, of songs start on the key chord, and if one includes anacruces, less than that.Emotions felt in certain keys are too subjective. The instrumentation/arrangement of a piece will sully that feeling, so it becomes an invalid point.

  • By Hans, July 27, 2014 @ 8:27 pm

    Hi Tim,

    Yes you’re partially right but to say its an invalid point goes a bit too far. The emotions of keys stated in my posts are a general description of what is conveyed over the years. Of course there are hundred thousand deviations possible and exceptions, and yes it depends on the arrangement too but most of it does match. But yes now and then I encounter a part of the description of a certain key which really doesn’t match. In that case yes it depends on the type of composition/arrangement.
    I appreciate your comment, greetings, Hans

Other Links to this Post

  1. Song Form - Transposition & Key Change | The Music Arrangers Page — June 26, 2012 @ 10:36 am

  2. Music Theory – Keys & Scales in Songs Part 2 | The Music Arrangers Page — June 26, 2012 @ 10:36 am

  3. Music Theory - Keys & Scales in Songs Part 3 | The Music Arrangers Page — July 16, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

  4. Music Theory - Songs in A, E & B major | The Music Arrangers Page — July 28, 2012 @ 8:13 am

  5. Music Theory - Songs in F, B flat & E flat major | The Music Arrangers Page — August 18, 2012 @ 10:37 am

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