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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Most Popular Song Keys

Most Popular Song Keys image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog

I was rereading some of my old posts from a few years ago when I came across this one. It's from a most fascinating study of 1300 popular songs on the Hooktheory site, and it attempts to determine the most popular song keys and chords. This is what they found:
  • The most popular keys, in order, are C, G, Eb (that's a surprise), F, D, A, E, Db, Bb, Ab, B, F# and their relative minors.
  • Next came the most popular chords. First, all the songs were transposed to the key of C for a common reference point. They then found that the most popular chords were G, F, C, Am, Dm, Em, E, D, Bb, and A.
  • Finally, they looked to see what chord should come next after an Em. Surprisingly, the most popular chord was F , followed by Am, and Dm.
One of the things that most songwriters inherently or experientially know is what chords work with others, so I'm not sure if the survey brought much new information. I guess I might've been more surprised if C wan't the most used key, although I bet in the days of the guitar bands it was probably E or A.

That said, you can't beat a surprise in a song to keep your interest. Let's hope that these results change soon.

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