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#1666754 - 04/26/11 09:14 AM KEY E MINOR AND G MAJOR
SOGNO Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/12/09
Posts: 3
Hi all,
If this sounds like a stupid question please excuse me as I am really only an amateur pianist.
I became interested in doing Chopin's E minor Op.72/1 nocturne after hearing it. This is the first time that I will try and do a piece of music in the key of E minor. When I downloaded the sheet music for this piece I noticed for the first time that a piece in E minor will have the same accidentals as that of G major meaning the all too common F sharp.
I find this a bit difficult to understand. Can someone please explain this to me? Although I can very clearly hear the difference of the E minor key to that of the G major I still have not been able to tell "WHAT IT IS THAT REALLY MAKES THE DIFFERENCE". I really would like to know. Please help.
WENDELL help

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#1666758 - 04/26/11 09:22 AM Re: KEY E MINOR AND G MAJOR [Re: SOGNO]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 22281
Loc: Oakland
You should ask this in the Pianists Corner.
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#1666762 - 04/26/11 09:27 AM Re: KEY E MINOR AND G MAJOR [Re: SOGNO]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10460
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Wendell,

You should ask this on the Teachers Forum. The Piano Forum is about pianos themselves, not the music.

But to answer your question (somewhat), every key signature does double duty as a major and a minor. The difference between major and minor involves the relationship between the notes of the scale. The first and third tones of G major (G and B) form a major third. The first and third of E minor (E and G) form a minor third. The key signature of the minor is the same as the major key that starts on the third tone of the minor scale. For E minor, the third tone is G, which has one sharp.
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#1666819 - 04/26/11 11:15 AM Re: KEY E MINOR AND G MAJOR [Re: SOGNO]
the nosy ape Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/10/08
Posts: 729
Loc: Westford, MA
I assume that you are asking why E miinor and G major sound different even though they have the same key signature. It has to do with which notes you start and stop on, or the tonal center. As an example let us look at no sharps or flats. If you start on C and play each succeeding ascending white key until the next C you will play a C major scale. If you start on A it would be an A natural minor scale, and would have a very different character from C major. If you were to start on D you would get a scale that starts out sounding minor, since the third scale degree is a minor third, but would then sound different towards the end. Starting on a different note is termed a "mode". Each of the modes has a name. I know all the names but I forget which ones are which. Western European music traditionally operated mostly in the major and minor modes, so when people talk about modal music they are referring to using a scale mode other than major or minor. I hope this helps.

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#1667032 - 04/26/11 05:15 PM Re: KEY E MINOR AND G MAJOR [Re: SOGNO]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5291
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
As long as this thread is here, I'll add my two cents.

SOGNO, do a Google search and consider buying a college music theory text book. You don't need to read the entire book, just spend your time learning the first three or four chapters. Once you know that information forwards and backwards you'll have much more enjoyment in the music you play.
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#1667037 - 04/26/11 05:21 PM Re: KEY E MINOR AND G MAJOR [Re: SOGNO]
David-G Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1266
Loc: London
Wendell,

The major and minor keys come in pairs with the same key signature. But as nosy ape has explained, C major is not paired with C minor, but with A minor. And the same with G major and E minor. The pairs are three semitones apart.

By the way, welcome to the forums! Don't worry overmuch about which forum is the "correct one". You will soon get the feel of this.

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#1667085 - 04/26/11 06:16 PM Re: KEY E MINOR AND G MAJOR [Re: SOGNO]
calis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/01/11
Posts: 34
Since I haven't seen anyone mention this terminology...

SOGNO... EVERY Major Key has a RELATIVE Minor Key which begins on the 6th degree of the major scale. C Major's relative minor is A Minor. D Major's relative minor is B Minor. Et cetera. Et cetera.

E Minor is the relative minor of G Major. Identical notes. Different starting point.

As mentioned, if you are interested in this sort of musical knowledge, I would recommend picking up an introductory music theory book as a good starting point.

Hope that helps!

Sincerely,

Justin

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