What Key Should My Song Be In?

FromThe Essential Secrets of Songwritingwebsite:

The key you choose for your song depends on several factors. Of course, the most important consideration is the range of your voice; that’s obvious. But beyond that, there are other factors to keep in mind.

Singers use the term tessitura to refer to the basic range of a song. Songs that require the singer to be in their upper register are described as having a high tessitura. This is an important consideration because the higher the tessitura, the more energy the listener will perceive.

If your song is energetic, or full of emotion, you will want to place the song higher in your voice. Here’s what to do in that case: sing through your song, find your highest note, and adjust the key until that note is pretty much the top of your range.

Experiment with the range, and observe the effect moving the key up or down has on  the feel of the song. Another factor that may affect key: the accompanying instruments. If you find that you like the key of E major, keep in mind that if you’re using an alto sax, that intrument will be playing in C# major – 7 sharps (ouch!)

If you’re compiling a CD or a playlist for your upcoming gig, your listeners will fatigue if all your songs are in the same key. Be sure to mix the keys to prevent this from happening.

-Gary Ewer

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One Comment

  1. Excellent & helpful post! Simple and covers the most important points in key selection. 🙂 Thanks!

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