Friday 31 January 2014

Ticket 28: Use At Least One Out Of Key Chord

The vast majority of Beatles songs have at least one chord that is outside the overall key. Common methods are to use 7th chords not built on the fifth (V) of the scale, chords borrowed from the parallel minor scale or chords derived from chromatic counter melodies within the progression. Examples run the whole gamut from spicing a song up with one or two outside chords (Help) to almost atonal/multi-key compositions like I Am The Walrus.

A Day In The Life
I Am The Walrus
I Me Mine
I'm So Tired
Strawberry Fields Forever
The Long And Winding Road


A House Is Not A Home (Dionne Warwick)
Alfie (Cilla Black)
Alone Again (Naturally) (Gilbert O'Sullivan)
Alone Again Or (Love)
Bicycle Race (Queen)
Blue Flower/Blue Flame (Destroyer)
Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel)
Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen)
Far Far Away (King's X)
For Once In My Life (Stevie Wonder)
God Give Me Strength (Burt Bacharach/Elvis Costello)
God Only Knows (Beach Boys)
Golden Lady (Stevie Wonder)
Grace (Jeff Buckley)
I Do It For Your Love (Paul Simon)
Just (Radiohead)
Kashmir (Led Zeppelin)
Keep Yourself Alive (Queen)
Life On Mars (David Bowie)
Light My Fire (The Doors)
Lithium (Nirvana)
Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Mother's Little Helper (Rolling Stones)
Paranoid Android (Radiohead)
Rain Song (Led Zeppelin)
Say A Little Prayer (Dionne Warwick)
Shipbuilding (Elvis Costello)
Sir Duke (Stevie Wonder)
Space Oddity (David Bowie)
The Prophet's Song (Queen)
The Riddle (Nik Kershaw)
Up All Night (Take That)
We Are The Champions (Queen)
Wuthering Heights (Kate Bush)

For a fuller discussion see The Band Who Lived Outside

See also

Ticket 1: The Flat 6 Chord
Ticket 8: The Minor 4
Ticket 16: The Picardy Third
Ticket 17: Chromatic Descent Starting From The Root
Ticket 31: Chromatic Descent Starting From The b7
Ticket 32: Chromatic Ascent Starting From The 5th
Ticket 43: Use The Fourths Luke!
Ticket 44: Minor 5
Ticket 46: False Picardy
Ticket 60: Drop to the 7th Chord


Ticket 14: Write An In-Key Melody Over Out-Of-Key Chords
Ticket 22: Bluesify Your Melody

Thanks to Nancy Rost, Martin Quibell, Mark JW Graham, Rod Downburst Johnson, Danny Thomas Michael Lisinski & Tony Hubert for suggesting examples 

See the full list of songwriting tips here - Tickets To Write

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  1. A great example of this (in addition to the many you have here) is Jeff Buckley's 'Grace'. As soon as I heard it I felt like I *had* to figure out what the guitar was doing to make the sound so ambiguous and hard to pin down.

    1. Thanks for that Michael - good call - I'll add it too the list. Both my older kids had to study that song at secondary school...

  2. In music this is called an "accidental". The chords that you were referring to not built on the V are called "secondary dominants"