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#1997779 - 12/11/12 08:28 AM Ranking of most frequently used key signatures?
BWV 846 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/04/12
Posts: 103
Loc: Silver Spring, Maryland
Does anyone know of a ranking/statistical analysis of the most frequently used key signatures in the standard/student piano repertoire?

Of course, I realize that C major will be number 1, major will probably be more common than minor, and key signatures with lots of sharps and flats are used less frequently. But it would be nice if there were something more precise.

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#1997820 - 12/11/12 10:47 AM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18137
Loc: Victoria, BC
This seems to be a rather bizarre question.

Surely there is a difference, too, between "standard" piano repertoire - covering everything by both major and lesser composers - and "student" piano repertoire written for those still developing technique and artistry, depending upon how far the student repertoire extends into the standard repertoire. Establishing that definition will certainly show that keys with fewer sharps and flats are much more common. Even a look at piano syllabi will show that early grades have pieces with fewer sharps and flats.

In the standard repertoire, it's a given that the more remote keys - those with four or more sharps and flats - are more frequently used starting with the Romantic period as "well-tempering" became the more universal form of tuning, but I still don't see any practical use for making a statistical analysis of such information.

Perhaps you can enlighten me as to why you think "it would be nice."

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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Estonia 190

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#1997821 - 12/11/12 10:47 AM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3815
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: BWV 846
Of course, I realize that C major will be number 1, major will probably be more common than minor, and key signatures with lots of sharps and flats are used less frequently.

I doubt the C major part of your statement.

Also... why on earth do you want an answer to this question? smile

Among the Beethoven sonatas at least, here's the answer:

G: 12.5%
Eb: 12.5%
c: 9.375%
A: 6.25%
C: 6.25%
Ab: 6.25%
E: 6.25%
D: 6.25%
F: 6.25%
f: 6.25%
Bb: 6.25%
c#: 3.125%
d: 3.125%
F#: 3.125%
g: 3.125%
e: 3.125%
_________________________
Schubert: Bb Impromptu D.935/3; Mozart: D minor concerto; Chopin: first Ballade

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#1997822 - 12/11/12 10:48 AM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5306
Loc: Europe
Jason, did you do that on your own?!?! Yikes...
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1997832 - 12/11/12 11:12 AM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5277
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: BWV 846
Does anyone know of a ranking/statistical analysis of the most frequently used key signatures in the standard/student piano repertoire?

Of course, I realize that C major will be number 1, major will probably be more common than minor, and key signatures with lots of sharps and flats are used less frequently. But it would be nice if there were something more precise.


What exactly will you do with this information?
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#1997855 - 12/11/12 12:02 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19800
Loc: New York
Let's face it folks -- the only composer that matters is Chopin, right? grin

Off the top of my head, here's the "ranking" for Chopin (and BTW I'm pretty sure none of these are right): ha

Ab major
C# minor
C minor
Db major
Eb major
F minor
A minor
F# minor
Ab major.....oh wait a minute, did I already say that one? grin

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#1997857 - 12/11/12 12:06 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BruceD]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19800
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: BruceD
....Perhaps you can enlighten me as to why you think "it would be nice."

Actually I would be a little interested to know what's the most common key for Chopin's works. I wouldn't be interested in anything else about the question, including because.....who knows how to do it, including because of the factors you mentioned.

And in fact, even if we did it for just a single composer like Chopin, it wouldn't be simple. Should we count a mazurka equally to a sonata? What do we do with the different keys of the different movements of a sonata? (Jason take note -- you'd need to re-do the Beethoven!) grin

P.S. to Jason: Nice job!!

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#1997858 - 12/11/12 12:09 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
BDB Online   content
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Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21673
Loc: Oakland
How about the most common key signatures of Chopin's 24 Preludes? Or any number of other composer's sets of 24?
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#1997862 - 12/11/12 12:14 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BDB]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3815
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Jason, did you do that on your own?!?! Yikes...

Well, I program, so it was just a question of typing in the following data (the 32 key signatures in order): "['f','A','C','Eb','c','F','D','c','E','G','Bb','Ab','Eb','c#','D','G','d','Eb','g','G','C','F','f','F#','G','Eb','e','A','Bb','E','Ab','c']"... and then doing a little manipulation. Go Python.

Originally Posted By: BDB
How about the most common key signatures of Chopin's 24 Preludes? Or any number of other composer's sets of 24?

Nice... I was thinking of making the exact same joke! smile

-J
_________________________
Schubert: Bb Impromptu D.935/3; Mozart: D minor concerto; Chopin: first Ballade

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#1997863 - 12/11/12 12:14 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BDB]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19800
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: BDB
How about the most common key signatures of Chopin's 24 Preludes? Or any number of other composer's sets of 24?

Yes -- like, what are the rankings for the Well Tempered Clavier? grin

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#1997870 - 12/11/12 12:34 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: Mark_C]
Verbum mirabilis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/15/11
Posts: 208
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: BruceD
....Perhaps you can enlighten me as to why you think "it would be nice."

Actually I would be a little interested to know what's the most common key for Chopin's works. I wouldn't be interested in anything else about the question, including because.....who knows how to do it, including because of the factors you mentioned.


Actually, you got it right on your first try, at least if wikipedia can be trusted:

"twenty-four of Frédéric Chopin's piano pieces are in A-flat major, more than any other key."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-flat_major
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Working on
Beethoven: sonata op. 14 no. 2
Chopin: op. 25 no. 2, op. 10 no. 3, op. 47
Bach: P&F in D minor, book 2

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#1997871 - 12/11/12 12:36 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3555
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#1997920 - 12/11/12 02:36 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
Vid Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 851
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Love what Chopin does in Ab Major!

Bach's WTC Bk 1 & 2:
C: 1/48
c: 1/48
Db: 1/48
db: 1/48
B: 1/48
...
etc.
wink

Edit: I see someone already beat me with this joke.


Edited by Vid (12/11/12 02:38 PM)
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Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D

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#1997933 - 12/11/12 02:53 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
BWV 846 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/04/12
Posts: 103
Loc: Silver Spring, Maryland
To answer the “What exactly will you do with this information?” and “why on earth do you want an answer to this question?” questions, in learning scales, it seemed like an obvious question to me (but I tend to be above average in curiosity level). I don't really plan on doing anything with it, but I would like to know.

It's a bit like learning vocabulary of a foreign language and wondering how frequently the words you're learning are used (fortunately, there are frequency dictionaries to help with that, for example: http://www.amazon.com/Frequency-Dictionary-French-Vocabulary-Dictionaries/dp/0415775310).

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#1997940 - 12/11/12 03:03 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18137
Loc: Victoria, BC
BWV846 :

If you know all your key signatures and scales well, the frequency of individual keys in standard/student repertoire shouldn't matter at all, should it?

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#1997944 - 12/11/12 03:14 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
The more knowledgeable you are as a musician the better equiped
you are to play music. Any knowledge or skill be it in sports or music, is to your benefit to know.

But to be fair to you, if you only want to play music contained in any piano book 1 in learning to play the piano, it is not likely you will ever need to know more than a couple of key signatures. But for the rest of the piano world, they would be anxious to learn them all, given the time and opportunity to explore them.

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#1997955 - 12/11/12 03:41 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3555
I'm not so anxious to learn all scales, I prefer to focus on real compositions laugh
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#1997965 - 12/11/12 04:06 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
BWV 846 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/04/12
Posts: 103
Loc: Silver Spring, Maryland
The responses to my question remind me of a comment my dad (who lives in the "heartland") has made on many occasions about the difference between New Yorkers and others -- if you ask someone from anywhere else in the US what time it is, they will tell you the time, but if you ask a New Yorker, he/she will say, "What are you asking me for?"

I in no way endorse this stereotypical view of New Yorkers, but the responses did remind me of that.

Even if knowing the answer made no difference in what I study or how I practice, I would still like to know. I am a curious guy.

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#1997994 - 12/11/12 05:18 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
boo1234 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/09
Posts: 512
I think it is an interesting question too. There doesn't have to be a reason for answering other than sheer curiosity.

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#1997996 - 12/11/12 05:21 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3815
Loc: Bay Area, CA
A more interesting version of the question for me is something like: Calculate the variation (e.g. variance) among key signatures as a function of composer. What patterns do we see? We probably see more variation the more modern the composer, but not necessarily: Haydn would have a much greater variation-score than Beethoven.

-J
_________________________
Schubert: Bb Impromptu D.935/3; Mozart: D minor concerto; Chopin: first Ballade

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