Theory Question: Why is a D Chord OK in this Song

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Garrison Reed, Oct 13, 2021.

  1. Garrison Reed

    Garrison Reed TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    15
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2006
    Location:
    Colorado
    Music question because I don't understand.
    The Judas Priest song Livin' After Midnight is in the key of E major. I checked the solo, all the notes fit in the E major scale. So, maybe you can explain why this song's progression is as follows:

    Song starts off in E on the 7th and 9th frets. Goes to D on the 5th and 7th. Then to A on the 2nd Fret and then to B on the 2nd and 4th Frets. Looking at the notes in the key of E, D isn't one of them.

    Theory: Why can there be a D in this song?

    Link to Song Chords:
     
    drewg likes this.
  2. LesQuire

    LesQuire Tele-Meister

    Age:
    31
    Posts:
    138
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2020
    Location:
    Göteborg
    I wouldn't say the song is clearly in E major, the vocal melody leans heavily on the minor third if I remember correctly. If you look at it more like E mixolydian/blues thrown in the D chord fits better. Haven't listened to it in a while though
     
  3. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Age:
    69
    Posts:
    16,363
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2017
    Location:
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    Strictly speaking, any note can be in a chord progression as an "accidental".....doesn't HAVE to be in the scale.
    But in this case, (and I went to youtube for a quick listen) the "D" functions as a passing tone to reach the "A", which is the IV chord of "E", then on to the "B" (V). It's VERY common in rock music to use the flat VII chord everywhere. Listen to You Really Got Me by the Kinks.....it's built on a "I, VII, I) pattern for the whole song. ;)
    And respectfully, @LesQuire.....after listening I think it's clearly in E Major. (vocal does lean heavily on "blue notes" in the melody)
     
  4. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,307
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2011
    Location:
    europe endless
    it could be modal interchange, borrowing the bVII7 from E minor. common enough in rock, like sympathy for the devil.

    but it could also just be "e mixolydian" or "e blues" and not e major.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borrowed_chord

     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
  5. Bongoslade

    Bongoslade Tele-Meister

    Age:
    101
    Posts:
    262
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2021
    Location:
    Delaware
    Judas Priest and music theory - huhuhuhu !
    just funny
    hey - i love um though
     
  6. Garrison Reed

    Garrison Reed TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    15
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2006
    Location:
    Colorado
    TY you guys very much!
     
  7. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,633
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2017
    Location:
    Suburban PDX, OR
    +1 :lol:
     
  8. Seasicksailor

    Seasicksailor Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,107
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2012
    Location:
    Keynsham UK
    This feels very familiar... it took me ages to figure out there are more exceptions than rules in music theory. Then, it took me even longer to realise there are no rules, and that theory does its best to explain what's going on with the sounds rather than prescribe.

    Gosh! This feels very pretentious, but hopefully you all know where I'm coming from.
     
  9. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    9,594
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    It is in the key of E but not really E major. It's E7 or E mixolydian or even E dorian. If you listen to the vocal melody you can hear Halford hit a lot of D naturals. Typical thing in Jazz, Blues, Rock, Pop, R&B, etc.
    I know that if you're taking a general music theory class at the local Comm Col there's only major and minor keys but in contemporary music a key can absolutely be 'modal'. In this case, Mixolydian (or Dorian).
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
  10. LesQuire

    LesQuire Tele-Meister

    Age:
    31
    Posts:
    138
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2020
    Location:
    Göteborg
    Well I had the verse melody in mind which is minor, but I guess we're talking about the chorus, which is more major. Still not ok with saying the song is clearly i E major though.
     
  11. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    59,693
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2009
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC, Canuckistan
    Of course, the B major chord isn't in E Mixolydian (no real scale has four major chords in it) so it's E mess-o-lydian. ​
     
    loopfinding, AAT65 and nojazzhere like this.
  12. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,030
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2021
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    If it sounds good it is good.
    Essentially theory can support crafting music as well as the reverse, music can be validated with theory. I don’t see any specific concern.

    I’m more concerned with the chaps.
     
    Greg70 likes this.
  13. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    9,594
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    I don't really hear the 3rd (D#) of that B chord when they use it. Power chord mostly.
    How about we just call it E "rock" (or blues). I designate keys like that all the time. Musicians know what you're talking about.
     
    loopfinding, Blue Bill, AAT65 and 2 others like this.
  14. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    59,693
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2009
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC, Canuckistan
    In that case the chord diagrams given in the original link stink. So it's the key of "E Rock"!
     
  15. Cheap Trills

    Cheap Trills Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,054
    Joined:
    May 11, 2016
    Location:
    NJ
    I'm not familiar with the song, but A.
     
  16. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    9,594
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    It's Judas Priest.
    Not a lot of 3rds going on ;).
     
    Ed Driscoll and W.L.Weller like this.
  17. teletail

    teletail Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    71
    Posts:
    2,687
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2019
    Location:
    West By God Virginia
    +1

    Music theory tells you what you did, not what you have to do.
     
    Greg70, NBS2005, OmegaWoods and 7 others like this.
  18. mr natural

    mr natural Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    55
    Posts:
    2,240
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2004
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA. Neither Albany nor Oak Park
    The song that I can’t figure out why it works is Motion Pictures by Neil Young:
    C (walk down to the major 7th and the Minor 7th) F (the IV chord) and then D major to D7???
     
  19. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,797
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2011
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    Firstly, it's closest to being in E mixolydian or dorian, not E major...and it's not there strictly. Chordally, it's largely in E dorian, with some of the main "should be" minor chords replaced with majors or fifth chords that are implied majors (implied by melody). Melodically, more in E mixoydian. It has plenty of accidentals in it, and plays with momentary crossovers between the mixolydian, minor, and major keys of E.

    This is standard stuff in R&B, rock, and pop music – probably more common than straight major or straight minor keys. You'll have a song that's basically mixolydian...but it will have iii chords in it, and/or the V is a major chord. Or a song that's basically dorian, but the I chord and the V chord are major. Or you'll have a song that's basically minor, but the V chord is major. So, what do we say? "It's in E." Don't even mention major, minor, mixolydian, dorian, etc.

    The percentage of pop or rock songs – or hell, any genre, all the way back – that stay strictly within key at all times, is very low. Try finding a piece of real-world sheet music (i.e. not "Happy Birthday" or "Hot Cross Buns") without accidentals in it, and you'll be searching for a while.

    Besides, "can" is the wrong way to look at this. Theory is only a way to describe what is happening, not a set of restrictions. Your thinking on this matter is very uptight. You are looking at theory the wrong way. Again, it is simply a way to speak about what is going on. Not a "checklist" to hold music up against to see if it is behaving properly.

    Most commercial sheet music would put the song in an E major (or maybe E minor) key, and use lots of accidentals. But that's because most commercial sheet music is dumbed down, and only uses major or minor key signatures, as opposed to the proper modal key signatures that a majority of R&B, pop, and rock music actually has.

    FYI, the modes in question, expressed in terms of the intervals in a standard major scale:

    E major: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8
    E minor: 1-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7-8
    E dorian: 1-2-b3-4-5-6-b7-8
    E mixolydian: 1-2-3-4-5-6-b7-1
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021
    LesQuire, tfarny, loopfinding and 2 others like this.
  20. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    29,846
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Location:
    Maine
    Ornettian reality rears its ugly head again!
     
    klasaine likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.