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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: 134
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: 19918
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,
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#1997821 - 12/11/12 10:47 AM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
beet31425 Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 4169
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%
_________________________
Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann

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#1997822 - 12/11/12 10:48 AM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
Nikolas Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 6436
Loc: UK
Jason, did you do that on your own?!?! Yikes...
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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: 5639
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 Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 21045
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 Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 21045
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: 24324
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
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 4169
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
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#1997863 - 12/11/12 12:14 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BDB]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 21045
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: 213
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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Chopin: op. 47, op. 10 no. 3
Mozart: KV 457


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#1997871 - 12/11/12 12:36 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
wouter79 Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 4695
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#1997920 - 12/11/12 02:36 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
Vid Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 1376
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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#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: 134
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: 19918
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,
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BruceD
closing in on 20,000!
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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
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 4695
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: 134
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: 574
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
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 4169
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
_________________________
Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann

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#2592364 - 12/05/16 12:32 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
Angus McCulloch Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/07/16
Posts: 1
Loc: Madison NJ, USA
This seems like a very rational question. If I wanted to get the most bang for my buck, wouldn't it make sense to lear te Scales for the 10 keys that 80% of the music is written in. This doesn't mean that one ignores the others ... I would just think that you could apply your knowledge a little sooner on the actual pieces if you were able to focus your technical training on the most frequent chords.
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#2592371 - 12/05/16 01:17 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
BruceD Offline

Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 19918
Loc: Victoria, BC
AMcC:

As a new member, welcome. Be aware of the dates of threads or of the most recent post in a thread; for better or not, you have just revived a four year old thread.

Regards,
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BruceD
closing in on 20,000!
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#2592428 - 12/05/16 05:55 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
prout Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 2395
Loc: Southwestern Ontario
I have often wondered, is there an 'etiquette' regarding the revival of old threads?

I ask because, on the Audacity help forums, the same few questions are asked by new users every day. "Why is there no audio being recorded? - Choose the correct input; The recording is too quiet. - Speak louder; Why is there hum in my recordings? - Stop humming; How can I filter out dog barks? - You can't."

Searching old threads would seem to be a way of answering simple questions. Instead, the moderators at Audacity patiently answer the same questions over and over every day. I applaud their dedication, or their stupidity - I'm not sure which.

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#2592590 - 12/06/16 11:53 AM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: prout]
BruceD Offline

Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 19918
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By prout
I have often wondered, is there an 'etiquette' regarding the revival of old threads?
[...]


I am not aware that there is an etiquette about reviving old threads on PW.

I am perhaps one of the "offenders" by pointing out old thread revivals, often just to advise new members who may not be aware that
1) the subject of the thread may already have been exhausted (on occasion the issue raised by the new poster has already been answered in the thread (did you read it all?)),
2) that many of the respondents, depending on the age of the thread, may no longer be active, and
3) that the OP to whom the response is being specifically directed is no longer contributing to the forum.

There are occasions when reviving an old thread may contribute to the information contained therein, but (again, depending upon the age and the length of the thread) it may be easier to follow the argument if a new thread is started.

It seems to be a compulsion on my part that I can't resist; perhaps I should exercise more self-control. After all, by pointing out the revival, am I not just adding another (pointless?) post to the old thread? frown

Regards,
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BruceD
closing in on 20,000!
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#2592591 - 12/06/16 11:58 AM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
prout Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 2395
Loc: Southwestern Ontario
I don't think there is any problem pointing out that a thread is old.

I find it disturbing upon occasion to come across an old thread where some of the contributors are no longer among the living. I value their contributions - just sad they aren't around.

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#2592621 - 12/06/16 02:25 PM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: BWV 846]
jeffreyjones Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2601
Loc: San Jose, CA
Old threads are still good threads!

Every instrument has keys that are friendly and others not so much. Experienced pianists love keys with lots of sharps or flats and don't like it when there are only a few. Strings love sharps. Wind instruments love flats.

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#2592730 - 12/07/16 03:09 AM Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? [Re: jeffreyjones]
Tubbie0075 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 1006
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By jeffreyjones
Old threads are still good threads!

Every instrument has keys that are friendly and others not so much. Experienced pianists love keys with lots of sharps or flats and don't like it when there are only a few. Strings love sharps. Wind instruments love flats.


I play the violin and I don't "love" sharps! But you're partly right in that if I have to choose, I prefer sharps than flats on the violin.

My favourite keys to play on the violin are G minor, G major, D minor, D major, A minor, F major, C major, E minor, B flat major... Basically key signatures with up to 2 sharps or flats. I hate E flat major, A flat major, E major etc. A major is not too bad.

Keys with more open string notes (G, D, A, E) are better even if you don't play those notes on open strings. The sound rings/resonates better. I suppose that's one of the reasons many popular violin concertos were written in these keys.
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