Chords and Scales

Does the root note of the first chord you play determine the scale of the piece?

Maria's answer:

No. A piece can start with any chord. But a tonal piece (that is a piece in either major or minor) will usually end with a chord that has as a root the root of the scale the piece is said to be in the "key" of.

To determine the key of a piece, you have to do two things:

  • First look at the key signature in the beginning of the staff,

  • An then see in what key the piece ends with.

For each key signature there are two options; it can be either one major or one relative minor key.

For example, let's say there are three sharps in the key signature- this means the piece could be in either A major or F# minor.

To find out which one, you need to look at the last note or the root of the last chord, this should be the "Tonic" in most music. If it is F#, the piece is in F# minor, and if it finishes with an A major chord, the piece is in A major.

You can read more about key signatures here:

Learn about Key Signatures.


I hope this helped!
Happy playing!

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