Analyzing key "Red Right Hand"

I am going through random songs to try and determine the key for practice. I am at Theory grade 4 module 4,2 so far.

I looked at song Red Right Hand in the app which has 4 minor chords ADEF. I am unable to assign a key with the knowledge I have up to this point. Key of C makes A, D and E minors but F would be major. That’s the closest I can come for the max number of minors.

Which future lesson might help determine which key this is?

Thanks in advance for your help.


There is clearly a borrowed chord being used. Additional info might be useful in figuring out the key. What other chords are used in the song? Also, what is the final chord?

Btw, an excellent post on by @Richard_close2u on borrowed chords is here:

At your stage in the theory course you have not yet encountered minor keys.

Here is a simple version.

You’re along with the right lines with key of C and a question mark over Fm.

Key of C
C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim

The relative minor key is A minor.
Start at Am and use the exact same chords but reordered.

Am, Bdim, C, Dm, Em, F, G

You have hopefully encountered the idea of a 12-bar progression.
In the key of A that would be the chords A, D and E which are hte I, IV and V respectively.

In the key of A minor, the equivalent would be using the chords Am, Dm and Em.
I write those chords using lower case Roman numerals i, iv and v.

Red RIght Hand is a blues-based song in the key of A minor using the i, iv and v (1, 4 and 5) chords.

It also introduces an out-of-key chord. This is a borrowed chord. You can explore theory to explain and understand it. but you can also simply accept it is there because it sounds good. And it only happens for a brief moment to give an element of surprise.

Hi Atila,
You have good taste in music. Nick Cave is pretty much the gold standard, by which I measure most music :sunglasses:
@Richard_close2u gave you a good explatation, except that the song is in B minor (the relative minor key to D major). You can play along to the original with your chords if you put the capo on the second fret :smiley:

1 Like

Ah …

The app must present the song using mostly beginner chords so has changed the key down two semitones.

As Brian says, capo fret 2 for the original key.


Hey Ian, you’ve been playing on and off for a long time and probably know this intuitively, but it might be useful for others.
I’m a visual guy and often find diagrams helpful.
If you want to understand which chords are in a particular key, one way is to look at the Circle of Fifths.
All the ‘surrounding’ chords are in that key
In the above example (C major) they are all those within the red circle.
All those chords are the same for A minor.
If you want to say what ‘degree’ a particular chord is, just count in roman numerals from the key, using uppercase for major and lowercase for minor chords.


You rang! :slight_smile:

1 Like

Yeah, but yours is a thousand words! :rofl:


From reading the responses, I realize I was getting ahead of myself so will revisit after I do lesson on minor keys. This theory is a lot to swallow so trying to take little bites. Thank you all for taking the time.

One more question so I can try to further solidify my understanding of chords in key.

If you take the song Don’t Get Me wrong you see the chords as follows

C Am Dm G

Am I correct in writing:

Key of C

I VI II V chord progression

Thank you in advance.

Almost :smiley:
Minor chords are written in lower case roman numerals, so it is
I vi ii V

Hi Attila @kestrel,
Brian is correct:

I think Justin always uses upper case Roman numerals, even for minor chords. So don’t feel confused. This is, I think, the one situation where Justin is in the minority. :wink: