Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ remixed in a major key shows the importance of tonality
20 May 2022, 15:21
Knowing your music theory is important – as illustrated in this example from a tonality-obsessed music geek.
Here’s the proof that tonality can make or break any song. Or at least, can change it quite a lot.
With a bit of digital audio wizardry, music geeks are able to take recorded tracks, and with alternation to particular notes, essentially swap keys from major to minor – or in this case the reverse.
The early 1990s saw a proliferation of dusky, moody rock anthems – and there is perhaps no any more iconic among the long-fringed grunge brigade than Nirvana’s anthem Smells Like Teen Spirit.
The original is in the key of F minor. But just take a listen to it in a cheery F major.
You’ll still hear the Fm-B♭m–A♭–D♭ chord progression, but those major chords remove all the angst and change it completely...
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana Re-Mixed in a Major Key
“The song makes me feel weirdly like everything’s gonna be okay,” says one YouTube user. That’s the power of a major key.
It even sounds like it could be the uplifting theme to a 90s teen heartthrob movie.
The power of music theory.