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Thread: Song analysis--Incubus "Dig"

  1. #1
    Registered User urucoug's Avatar
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    Song analysis--Incubus "Dig"

    Guys,

    I hope you're not tired of these kind of posts for me, but they really help me learn a lot.

    I like a song by Incubus called "Dig".
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMsZ6wkZWhA

    I think it sounds really cool, and I'm trying to understand why. I've studied it a little bit, and it baffles me. First of all, I can't even figure out what key it's in.

    The chord progression, to me, sounds like:
    E
    F# > C#m > E

    and chorus:
    E > B > F# > C#m
    E > B > B > F#

    So, if I did my analysis right, the keys that fit those chords are either Emaj or C#min. The final note sung is an F#. And the final chord played (not 100%) sounds to me like an F#.

    However, I don't think it's in the key of F#maj, because none of the other chords fit that.

    It could be in one of the other two keys, but the 4th scale tone of Emaj in this song is consistently sharp, or if it's the key of C#maj, the 6th scale tone is consistently sharp.

    Ie:
    E maj: 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7
    C# min: 1 2 3 4 5 #6 7

    Does anyone know what the key really is/have a good explanation for why these scale tones are such?

    I wrote out every single note sung vocally in terms of scale degrees for both the key of E and C#min; if anyone cares to see, just ask, and I'll post it.

  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    On the face of it, it's B major - that is, everything is diatonic to the B major scale. That's the key you forgot about!

    The only apparent oddity is that the sequence neither begins nor ends on a B chord.

    The verse, therefore, seems more like an E lydian or C# dorian tonality - except, having listened to it, I wouldn't say either, as the chords keep moving too much for a clear tonal centre to emerge. (Although the E is the main chord, it doesn't quite sound resolved to me.)

    In the chorus, I definitely get a sense of the B major key centre, even though the B chord has no more weight than the others.

    Here's the chord sequence in full (as best as I can get it - there's some pretty dense harmonies in there):

    VERSE
    |Emaj7 - - - |F#13 - C#m(add4) - | x 8

    CHORUS
    |Emaj7#11 - Bmaj7 - |F#6 - Emaj7#11 - |
    |Emaj7#11 - Bmaj7 - |F#9 - - - |
    |Emaj7#11 - Bmaj7 - |E(add9) - F#13 - |

    To me, there's a definite feeling of "coming home" on that B chord, even tho the sequence keeps returning to that dense E lydian chord.

    The Emaj7#11 never feels like a tonal centre, to my ears. (It's possible they had the notion of going for a lydian progression - if so, it doesn't quite work like that for me. However, I notice the final chord of the song is B, so maybe not: that's like a final admission that B major is the key.)

    The more diatonic extensions you pour on to the chords, the more each chord starts to resemble all the others, with only the bass note making much difference. That's kind of what's happening here. (On first listen, I was hearing the chorus starting with an F# chord of some kind.)
    Last edited by JonR; 11-11-2010 at 11:37 AM.

  3. #3
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    incubus is a great band.,!! and Dig is one of their best songs..
    check this: violin lessons for children
    Last edited by kurtdaniel; 11-23-2010 at 05:05 AM.

  4. #4
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    Why so much confusion?

    I admit I don't know as much as about music as it sounds like you two do, but I found the key by simply seeing the chords and comparing it to the circle of fifths and I reassured myself that it was indeed in the key of B because of all the sharps and I figured it out in less than a minute just looking at the tabs on guitar pro. Just saying.

  5. #5
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamoalvarez415 View Post
    I admit I don't know as much as about music as it sounds like you two do, but I found the key by simply seeing the chords and comparing it to the circle of fifths and I reassured myself that it was indeed in the key of B because of all the sharps and I figured it out in less than a minute just looking at the tabs on guitar pro. Just saying.
    Bearing in mind this thread is a year old... ... "key" isn't about looking at the chords or the number of sharps. It's connected with that of course, but those are simply expressions of the key, which is a sound.
    The key is the "note that sounds like home" - the tonal centre, or gravitational centre, of the piece. You can determine this to some extent by looking at the final chord (assuming the ending isn't a fade). The opening chord is also likely to be the key chord, but not always. (If opening and final chord are the same, the evidence builds up...*)
    A song with 5 sharps might be B major. Or it might be G# minor (not a lot less common). Or - less likely - it might be one of the rarer modes, like F# mixolydian, or C# dorian.
    The chords (starting, finishing, most frequent) are certainly a guide. But only listening to it can really confirm all these guesses. Without listening to it, your guess of B major is just that: a guess. Based on available evidence, of course. Let's say hypothesis, if "guess" is too vague a word .

    Then again, if the reason why we want to know the key is so that we can find a scale to improvise with - then looking at the material is enough. The material (notes and chords) is all there, after all (assuming we check out the melody as well as the chords). We don't actually need to identify a key at all; that's just a label. We have all we need to work with.

    * I know just one song which starts and ends on the same chord, but it's not the key chord: the Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset". It opens and fades on the dominant. There are probably others.

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