Finding the key your working in

Now I know theres lots of theory stuff on this site which im working my way through (slow going) but wondered if anyone could possibly answer this in the mean time.

When I go about making a track ill have a basic drum loop going and then will work on a rift or bassline to begin with. Now, I have read in a number of places about pitching drums and percussion to the key of your track but find this very difficult as in my mind the key to your track could be a number of things.

For example heres the notes to the the house anthem 'Done let me go by david guetta.

F1, F1, F2, F1, F1, C#1, G#1, G#2, G#1, G#1, A#1

Could anyone tell me what the key to this track is and how they came to that conclusion because to me it could be either:





Is there any easy way to work this out or is it back to the books for me? :slight_smile:

I must admit I think I sometimes look too much into the theory side.

Focus on feel rather than logic. If it feels right, I wouldnt worry about it. I never really pitch my drums or snares and you dont see that either in the tutorials.

Yeah I agree, like I say I probably spend too much time looking into stuff like this.

Just something iv always wanted to know that’s all.

to be honest i started worrying about stuff like this and then never ended up finishing anything, music making if you allow it to can make you become very anal, this in turn ends up making music very boring. if you feel that something needs pitching up then do it by ear, you’ll either hit the right key or at least create something very interesting. so long as it don’t sound bad your onto a win win situation.

just my opinion


I kind of agree with howie and jon but would add that a good working knowledge of theory will save you many hours of scratching your head in the long run.

If you are serious about making music and intend to make it your lifes work and love it seems crazy not to invest some time into theory.

Nothing anal about it.

So with that in mind checkout this thread and download the raven spiral guide and nutchords.


To quickly answer your question and get you started.

Here’s a basic example of one way you could approach your question.

Usually the first note signifies the start of the key (not always) buts lets assume.

Fire up nutchords and select mode (upper left toolbar menu)

Now cycle through the different scales until you find one or more that contain the notes you list. Start with F

You should quickly see that a likely candidate could be Fminor.

Fminor contains the notes.


Without a full list of scale notes we can only assume at this point but its a good start and the logic behind it will become clear if you work your way through the raven spiral guide.

BTW the keys you mention can be simplified and grouped.

Bb minor is the relative minor of Dbmajor both use exactly the same notes

D#minor is the relative minor of F#major

Again using the same notes.

The theory goes along the lines that every major scale has a relative minor and that minor scale starts on the 6th note of the major scale. i.e Cmajor …count up six notes. c,d,e,f,g,a <<<< Aminor

So Aminor is the relative key of C major both use exactly the same notes but the start note differs and as such the step pattern is different giving a completely different feel and sound.

I could go on for hours really but your best bet is take a look at the linked guide.

Anything you learn is going to be a bonus and will prolly give your music the inside track.

And remember once you know the rules you can bend and break them.

Sorry if the above is a bit abstract but I’ve only just woke up.

Good luck man.

Cheers for that Krome, completely missed the Aflatmajor and Fminor scales there, too many scales in front of me! :slight_smile:

I saw your post previously and have downloaded that ravinsguide. Its really good but my printer ran out of ink. Ill print the rest out tomorrow and continue. I understand what you are saying so think I am on the right track.

I agree with the others in that I should go with my ears but really would like to learn this as iv wondered about it for a long time. Back to the reading then.

Thanks for the guidance krome

mussi81 cheers.

hhaha…thats why everybody goes to minimal these days…

if you dont have music knowledge - like me - getting even the simpliest

book/tutorial about music theory can be like taking the most difficult maths course…

in every page you have 2000 questions!!

any time i start digging with books i am getting uninspired and feel looser:D:D

anyway… maybe i am bit hard learner :w00t:


well… it could be number of scales, pick another 2-3 notes which sounds pleasant to you (in context with another ones you picked ofcourse) and stick with them…

lot of great responses here, so i just add link:

i am using it all the time, breat for finding chords / scales

about drums pitching:well lot of drum hits are just noise and/or with pitch envelope, so they dont have particular pitch (except some percussion like bongas)

most of the time… you dont need to spend hours on this… find sample which sounds good, try to move the pitch if its any better, and continue working on another parts of the track…

i really recomend you that tech-trance tutorial here, those drums sound badass… 3kick layering, eq, compression, all there, no need for pitching, just picking those frequencies you like