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#2199718 - 12/18/13 01:08 PM Question about minor keys
Punchslap Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 57
I'm yet to dive into seriously practicing or studying the piano so I guess there an easy answer to this(I do know basic music theory though).

I've noticed that there seems to be much focus, on the minor key. Why is this? Why aren't we only visualizing the minor key as any other mode or scale starting from another degree?

Does it have something to do with fingering(which fingers go on which piano key when playing a scale), are the fingerings different even if the scales happen to be their relative minor or major key?

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#2199729 - 12/18/13 01:38 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
Goof Offline
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Registered: 05/05/12
Posts: 352
Loc: UK
Could be an interesting topic BUT what exactly do you mean by "much focus on the minor key".
As the key signature is the same as the relative major, other than playing and listening, I battle to deceide which "scale" to park into my memory!

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#2199776 - 12/18/13 03:42 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
KarelG Offline
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Registered: 11/18/11
Posts: 145
Loc: Czech Republic
I've not noticed that much focus here on minor keys, but perhaps the thing is that you do have 3 minor keys relative to one major key and two of them are probably a little bit more difficult to play than the relative major. May it be the reason? If not, then sorry, just practising g# melodic minor got me blind on that... :-)
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#2199799 - 12/18/13 04:30 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
piano_primo_1 Offline
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Registered: 06/25/09
Posts: 290
Loc: Pittsburgh,PA
This is from “LenMus” or “Phonescus” which is a free software, music theory study program (the older version also has a score writer)

Music in minor keys
a major key sounds bright and cheerful, a minor key is described as sounding more solemn sad, ominous.
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#2199811 - 12/18/13 05:27 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
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Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1160
I'm not sure what you're asking, but I think if you are simply asking if fingerings change or why they do, well, yes, they do. They have to.

I suppose you could play A minor in the natural mode and use fingering from c major. It would be weird, and also kind of throws off the natural phrasing assistance of always having your tonic landing under fingers used to handling them. The hand naturally likes to stop playing when it has run out of fingers, and it would be odd to start a minor on your third finger.

But then what are you going to do about the other two modes in a minor: harmonic and melodic?

I suppose you could play harmonic minor differently than the natural minor mode in the same key. But and what do you do with melodic minor, which switches to natural on the way down? Now you're introducing fingering for the natural minor that is one way when you're playing natural minor, and another way for the way down on melodic minor mode. Now you've got to have a fourth fingering for "natural mode down when up is melodic."

Doesn't make a lot of sense.

But maybe you're asking why is there focus in general on the minor? I haven't noticed it being over emphasized OTHER than the fact that it's not as intuitive as major mode and what's called "minor" is really a grouping of three modes, and one of which (melodic) that introduces a different way down as up. Fun when playing that two hands, contrary motion!

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#2199815 - 12/18/13 05:41 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: KarelG]
Goof Offline
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Registered: 05/05/12
Posts: 352
Loc: UK
I would say that once you get used to playing black notes as well as white notes, THEN! and yes it is a big THEN you must work out the smoothest fingering to use: be it for a piece or a scale.
For a new piece I write in the fingering in pencil, bar by bar. Then its learn one hand and then the other and then together. Perhaps whilest doing the first page have a look further on as well- just for interest.
As far as scales go think/work out the patern in tones and half-tones. E.g. major is: tone, tone, half-tone, tone , tone ,tone, half-tone. And that is the same for every major scale, no matter the key.
Gee I wish my teachers had told me this sixty years ago!

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#2199946 - 12/19/13 12:48 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
Punchslap Offline
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Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 57
I am talking about the minor key that contains only the diatonic notes, as the major scale.
Learning the Circle of Fifths in the major keys, is obvious. But it's apparently popular to learn all the minor keys too I've come to understand; but that makes sense now as there apparently are different fingerings for them.
But what about the other modes? Like mixolydian or Phrygian(these are scales, just like the minor one I mean), we haven't created separate fingering for those have we(I've barely seen them mentioned at all, that's what I meant with that we "focus" more on the minor scale, relative to the other mode scales)? I think I'm trying to figure out of there is something special with the particular minor scale that is 3 semitones down from its relative major.

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#2199973 - 12/19/13 03:15 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
piano_primo_1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/25/09
Posts: 290
Loc: Pittsburgh,PA
Originally Posted By: Punchslap
- Yesterday at 01:08 PM Question about minor keys
Punchslap
Full Member


Originally Posted By: Punchslap
#Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 43 I'm yet to dive into seriously practicing or studying the piano so I guess there an easy answer to this(I do know basic music theory though)

I don’t know ,because there are about 5 questions.

1.
Originally Posted By: Punchslap
#I've noticed that there seems to be much focus, on the minor key.

Which minor key?

2.
Originally Posted By: Punchslap
#Why is this?

I thin k it is to create different kinds of music.

3.
Originally Posted By: Punchslap
#Why aren't we only visualizing the minor key as any other mode or scale starting from another degree?

That’s what I do, what do you do?

4.
Originally Posted By: Punchslap
#Does it have something to do with fingering (which fingers go on which piano key when playing a scale),

Sure,
5.
Originally Posted By: Punchslap
#Are the fingerings different even if the scales happen to be their relative minor or major key?

Of course because of the patterns - One Pattern is the same for major scales One Pattern is the same for minor scales
Not all fingering is the same. but the major and minor PATTERNS stay the same.
You have to know if it is Natural, Melodic, or Harmonic.
I have texts that define the patterns differently than popular books do (the minor ones)
Ex: Minor Harmonic is
1t > 2s> 3t> 4t > 5s> 63s> 7s> 8 and
Originally Posted By: Punchslap

I'm trying to figure out of there is something special with the particular minor scale that is 3 semitones down from its relative major.

ALL RELATIVE minor scales are 3 semitones downs from it’s major Not just one particular one.The reason you should know if it is Major or Minor is because of the sound that it evokes in a listener.

Major scale patterns are generally melodic and rhythmic.
Minors are more emotive and sad.
Modes system id’s were generally used for chants.
I see on the internet, guitarists are using the mode system to identify the sound of their playing

All modes appear to be relative to the Ionian C MAJOR scale pattern, but begin on a different note (tone).
You still can transpose them from from the original base tone to a different tone and result in that mode
EX: all music in the key of C and its scale patterns are in Ionian mode. Major or minor relative.
The example I remember from a book was that “Scarborough Fair” by “Simon and Garfunkel” it is written in Dorian mode beginning on the base note “D” on an ending on the tone ”D”. (with the Dorian scale pattern starting on the 2nd tone. “D”.
I guess it could be thought of as the scale of C major with the Final Bass Note being the mode note you are playing

Ex” the scale of C Maj with DFA being the tonic chord if the mode is Dorain
Or use E as the final base note and EGB as the tonic but use the Dorain scale pattern not Phrygian and still have Dorain mode


I remember modes by the mnemonic
I
don’t
follow
lonely
men
and
laugh

Ionian I T-T-s-T-T-T-s C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C
Dorian II T-s-T-T-T-s-T D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D
Phrygian III s-T-T-T-s-T-T E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E
Lydian IV T-T-T-s-T-T-s F-G-A-B-C-D-E-F
Mixolydian V T-T-s-T-T-s-T G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G
Aeolian VI T-s-T-T-s-T-T A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A
Locrian VII s-T-T-s-T-T-T B-C-D-E-F-G-A-B


Take a look here: Cause I don’t quite fully understand modes .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_mode

to correct something I texted on another of your posts :
The key signature with one flat is F major not F flat major.

I think it takes quite some time to figure this all out.
I really get confused with timing sigs and tempos now, like mapping out a beat on scores
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#2200000 - 12/19/13 05:04 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
piano_primo_1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/25/09
Posts: 290
Loc: Pittsburgh,PA
One other thing if you took Cmajor and put in in the Dorain mode all b's and e;s would be flat But it would be have to be noted as “Dorain mode” somewhere on the score because it would be following the dorian scale pattern which is the C major pattern starting on d
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#2200183 - 12/19/13 01:31 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: piano_primo_1]
lautreamont Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 16
I think the question is, "Why is the minor mode used so often and the other modes are neglected?"

For some of them, it's to do with the structure of the scale.
For example, BCDEFGAB has no perfect fifth for the tonic note, which doesn't lend itself to an easy sense of tonality.

For other scales, like GABCDEFG, it might be due to the fifth tone's basic chord. The character of DFA is a departure from GBD, and while it can be used for good effect, often the fifth and its chords are used as a way of reinforcing the tonic. So when the fifth's chord is used in this mode, the mood is different than that of the tonic, not exactly a shining reinforcement, which, when structuring a piece that you want to be consistent, might be problematic.

Compare to C major, with its major chord for its fifth tone, and A minor, with a minor chord for its fifth. Subtleties like this allow for eccentricities when composing in the lesser used scales, and accidentals or other scale degrees to take on more structural purpose than in the major or minor modes.

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#2200222 - 12/19/13 02:41 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: lautreamont]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3548
Loc: Northern England.
Minor keys. Something to do with depression I think. . . or nostalgia, which everybody knows isn`t what it used to be . . .
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#2200251 - 12/19/13 03:17 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: peterws]
Goof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/12
Posts: 352
Loc: UK
If you really wish to get serious read the book "The Math Behind the Music" by Leon Harkleroad!!

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#2200358 - 12/19/13 06:50 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
Michael Martinez Offline
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Registered: 11/22/12
Posts: 399
Loc: California
It seems you're only asking about fingering? Or you also want to know about theory?
I can't really tell you about the fingering, I just really play whatever fingers seems to suit at the moment.

But about theory, well.. the relative minor is what it is, right? It's a similar tonality to the key itself, except when you focus on the key's vi and iii tones, you have a minor sound instead of major. But many of the chord progressions that are used to established the major tonality (IV V I, IIm V I) can also be used to establish the tonality of the relative minor.

But that's only one minor scale. There's four other popular ones: the so-called Dorian and Phrygian, which are both diatonic, and the melodic minor and harmonic minor, which are not.
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#2200389 - 12/19/13 07:39 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11657
Loc: Canada
Punchslap, you are probably studying along a certain book or course of studies which goes in a certain direction. But other people reading this didn't necessarily study the same things, so it's hard to tell what you are referring to. Some guesses just from what you have been writing:

One thing to get a handle on early are key signatures. Music is written in major and minor keys, and they share key signatures. For example, one sharp can be for the key of G major or E minor. A key signature of one flat can be for the key of F major or D minor. You will see that E is a minor 3 down from G (or a major 6 up from it); D is a minor 3 down from F. There are known as the relative major and relative minor of each other. If you are wondering "why the scale which is a third down, and none other?" this is why.

One way of explaining it is to begin with the diatonic minor: in other words C major, and A natural minor (the Ionic mode). The key of C major and A minor share the same key signature. One way of looking at it is that if you know C major, you can get A natural minor because you're playing the same notes but starting 3 down or 6 up.

In actual fact, minor keys more often have the harmonic or melodic minor because of considerations of harmony. So your A minor probably has a G# much of the time, shown by an accidental in the key of A minor. Theory books often introduce the melodic and harmonic minor by starting with the natural, and adding the accidentals as add-ons.

Music often modulates from the relative minor to the relative major (from A minor to C major), and also along fifths (from C major to G major). So the order in which things are taught often tries to mirror what happens in music.

Another way of looking at major and minor scales is along the same tonic: C major and C minor, for example. Often a composer changes moods by shuttling. In this case you can look at a scale differently. You can see that to change a major scale into a minor scale you can do the following:

C major: lower the 3rd degree. You get C melodic minor
C major: lower 3rd degree & 6th degree. C harmonic minor.
C major: lower 3, 6 & 7. You get C natural minor.

That is a different angle.

I don't think that in the beginning we think much in modes: (Dorian, etc.) because we're trying to get at the most common things in music which would be major and minor keys.

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#2200401 - 12/19/13 08:01 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: keystring]
malkin Offline
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Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2520
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Funny that modes should pop up-- we had a great laugh a few nights ago, joking about modes that aren't, but could have been

Dorian and Ionian are, but Corinthian, Galatian, and Ephesian are not.
Phrygian is but Boilian is not.
Lydian is as is Mixolydian, but neither Shakolydian and Stirolydian are.
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#2200404 - 12/19/13 08:06 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7573
Loc: New York City
Locrian is, but I have yet to hear of Kyrian.
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#2200412 - 12/19/13 08:21 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Polyphonist]
malkin Offline
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Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2520
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Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Locrian is, but I have yet to hear of Kyrian.


That's what I'm talkin' about!
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#2200415 - 12/19/13 08:25 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
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Loc: New York City
There is Dorian though. grin
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#2200419 - 12/19/13 08:32 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Polyphonist]
malkin Offline
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Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2520
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
There is Dorian though. grin


Yes, but not Windownian.
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#2200425 - 12/19/13 08:44 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7573
Loc: New York City
Speaking of which, recently I've been having a hard time financially. The stalks are down and they've cut my celery.
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#2200526 - 12/20/13 03:18 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
Punchslap Offline
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Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 57
Some of you managed to elaborate on my actual question. But I think I'll have to clarify:

I know how the natural minor scale relates to it's relative major and vice versa. You can make up so called modal scales based on other degrees on the diatonic scale; three of these contain a minor third as one of their intervals between the root note and the third note.

All of these examples refer to the Aeolian mode, the natural minor scale.
- In the book Scales, intervals, keys, triads, rhythm and meter by John Clough, he illustrates the series(same as the circle, but not a circle; but a line) of fifths in the "minor" keys after the major one.
- A lot of members are talking on here how they are learning the circle of fifths for the minor keys.
- On the wikipedia page showcasing the Well Tempered Clavier by Bach, it says "He gave the title to a book of preludes and fugues in all 24 major and minor keys", note the mention of "minor keys".

^point of this is simply showcasing the focus on the natural minor scale by some people, instead of simply mentioning it's major relative.

I am not talking about the harmonic or melodic minor scales.

Considering that we use the natural major scale(Ionian mode) as our "base" scale or whatever, I find it weird that anyone would mention a key signature by it's natural minor relative.

I know that the quality of the sound of each scale differs, but so does all the modal scales. Why is it that the natural minor scale that is 3 semitones down from the major scale gets so much attention relative to the other modes?

I'd understand it's would be good to learn the circle of fifths(for the sake of piano playing) if there are different fingerings(even though they are the same key and contain the same tones) starting on either scale. But then why aren't we learning the circle of fifths for all the other scales you can create from the diatonic scale?

Edit: I appreciate all of your efforts to help me though grin


Edited by Punchslap (12/20/13 03:23 AM)

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#2200529 - 12/20/13 03:23 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11657
Loc: Canada
The only keys we have are major and minor keys. They are not major and minor scales, they are major and minor keys. Scales and keys are not the same thing. Unless I misunderstood.

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#2200534 - 12/20/13 03:34 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: keystring]
Punchslap Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 57
Originally Posted By: keystring
Punchslap, you are probably studying along a certain book or course of studies which goes in a certain direction. But other people reading this didn't necessarily study the same things, so it's hard to tell what you are referring to. Some guesses just from what you have been writing:

One thing to get a handle on early are key signatures. Music is written in major and minor keys, and they share key signatures. For example, one sharp can be for the key of G major or E minor. A key signature of one flat can be for the key of F major or D minor. You will see that E is a minor 3 down from G (or a major 6 up from it); D is a minor 3 down from F. There are known as the relative major and relative minor of each other. If you are wondering "why the scale which is a third down, and none other?" this is why.

One way of explaining it is to begin with the diatonic minor: in other words C major, and A natural minor (the Ionic mode). The key of C major and A minor share the same key signature. One way of looking at it is that if you know C major, you can get A natural minor because you're playing the same notes but starting 3 down or 6 up.

In actual fact, minor keys more often have the harmonic or melodic minor because of considerations of harmony. So your A minor probably has a G# much of the time, shown by an accidental in the key of A minor. Theory books often introduce the melodic and harmonic minor by starting with the natural, and adding the accidentals as add-ons.

Music often modulates from the relative minor to the relative major (from A minor to C major), and also along fifths (from C major to G major). So the order in which things are taught often tries to mirror what happens in music.

Another way of looking at major and minor scales is along the same tonic: C major and C minor, for example. Often a composer changes moods by shuttling. In this case you can look at a scale differently. You can see that to change a major scale into a minor scale you can do the following:

C major: lower the 3rd degree. You get C melodic minor
C major: lower 3rd degree & 6th degree. C harmonic minor.
C major: lower 3, 6 & 7. You get C natural minor.

That is a different angle.

I don't think that in the beginning we think much in modes: (Dorian, etc.) because we're trying to get at the most common things in music which would be major and minor keys.



Good explanation. It makes sense with the modulation thing, but then why are we leaving out all other modal scales(as they also contain "different sounds"?

To me it would make more sense by only utilizing the "base" scale that we already have, the major scale or Ionic mode. And then you would simply visualize the minor scale along with all the other modes whilst still referring the major scale.

As for the melodic and harmonic minor scales though; wouldn't it make more sense to still refer to the major scale and write the accidentals where they are supposed to be without referring to the natural minor?

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#2200535 - 12/20/13 03:37 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: keystring]
Punchslap Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 57
Originally Posted By: keystring
The only keys we have are major and minor keys. They are not major and minor scales, they are major and minor keys. Scales and keys are not the same thing. Unless I misunderstood.


I guess my question could come down to: why do we have minor keys when we could just refer to the major key with the same notes?
You gave an explanation about modulation in one of your other posts, but then why the natural minor scale instead of say, the Phrygian mode/scale?

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#2200546 - 12/20/13 04:47 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
piano_primo_1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/25/09
Posts: 290
Loc: Pittsburgh,PA
I would think the reason is this:

The major scale pattern is different from the minor scale pattern; and in addition has a different feel and sound to it.
Originally Posted By: Punchslap

I know that the quality of the sound of each scale differs, but so does all the modal scales. Why is it that the natural minor scale that is 3 semitones down from the major scale gets so much attention relative to the other modes?


Function- , I think the modes are more aural and “ancient” and hard to learn without knowledge of notation and of the “base scale”.
Music creation and composition, at least I’ve read, was pretty well limited, previous to the learning of notes and scales (not modes) .
Originally Posted By: Punchslap

Considering that we use the natural major scale(Ionian mode) as our "base" scale or whatever, I find it weird that anyone would mention a key signature by it's natural minor relative.

It’s not , because to recreate the composition, you would need to know if was a relative minor to use the correct final base note . Otherwise you would have to figure it out by “ear”.
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#2200572 - 12/20/13 08:53 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: keystring]
SoundThumb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/28/10
Posts: 339
Loc: San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: keystring
The only keys we have are major and minor keys. They are not major and minor scales, they are major and minor keys. Scales and keys are not the same thing. Unless I misunderstood.


Keystring, I think this might be the exact answer to the OPs question. However, when you say the only "keys" we have, do you mean the only key signatures? So for example, the key signature with no sharps or flats is either C major or A natural minor. All the other un-natural minors and modes require accidentals on top of the these two key signatures. (Please note, this is really a question, not an answer because I share the OPs confusion.)

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#2200622 - 12/20/13 11:13 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11657
Loc: Canada
We have two types of KEYS: major keys and minor keys (example: C major, A minor, both having the same key signature).

We have many kinds of SCALES. Typically we learn to play harmonic minor, melodic minor, and natural minor scales. We tend to learn them around the same time that we play music in minor keys, so I think the two concepts get mixed up. There is no such thing as a "melodic minor" key, for example.

I'm thinking that they way it's presented also creates a confusion. Typically it starts with the idea of C major scale, the A natural minor scale being like C major a third below, and then key signatures are explained via scales. I think this creates a false association, where we mix up scales and keys. frown (Never thought of it before).

So (thinking about it).
Western music is an interlocking structure, somewhat like we have hearts and lungs, and the circulatory and respiratory systems work together while being separate: they intermesh. The Western music has tonality, structures of harmony (chords that move somewhere). It took a many hundreds of years to develop.

In our system we tend to have music that is based on a major key, where the tonic also starts off a major scale of you play from degree 1 to degree 7 diatonically - or minor. We have the typical diatonic notes of that key. The SIGNATURE for the KEY then ensures that we play those diatonic notes, so that we don't have to use accidentals all over the place. Within the music itself we can and do digress to non-diatonic notes that aren't part of the signature. Music in a minor key will have more accidentals, because of the melodic minor and harmonic minor, which are standard in minor keys, but the signature doesn't allow for it.

The system we have is cobbled together by history. We went from modal music with no concept of chords or harmony, and not the idea of tonality (as a loose expression) that exists now, to what we have now. (And music has moved on from there as well). One thing grew from the other.

(wrote too much (sigh) ) frown

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#2200719 - 12/20/13 09:26 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
hreichgott Offline
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It's set up this way to help musicians make sense of actual music. Try playing Greensleeves (aka What Child Is This) and you will quickly discover that often, but not always, you need to raise the sixth and seventh degrees of the scale. Starting on A, you'll need a fair number of F#s and G#s, and also quite a few G naturals. And C won't sound like the home note, A will. So it's useful to think about an A minor key distinct from C major, and it's convenient to learn a couple different scale patterns to get used to navigating the shifting sharps at the top of the scale.

Sure, you could learn Greensleeves pretending it is in C major but you'd have to deal with the presence of frequent sharps, not to mention E major chords, which don't normally go with C major.

As for the Phrygian mode etc., it makes sense to think that way if you're playing music structured in that way. People do write in the other modes (Bartok) but not as often as major and minor.
_________________________
Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com
Sounding the depths of small pieces: Beethoven Op. 33
Daily attempts at 16th notes: Chopin Op. 10 no. 4, Pischna
Totally loving Fauré/Barcarolles and Ravel/Tombeau de Couperin
I love Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and new music

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#2201000 - 12/21/13 02:22 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
Punchslap Offline
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Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 57
Originally Posted By: pianonewbie1
I would think the reason is this:

The major scale pattern is different from the minor scale pattern; and in addition has a different feel and sound to it.
Originally Posted By: Punchslap

I know that the quality of the sound of each scale differs, but so does all the modal scales. Why is it that the natural minor scale that is 3 semitones down from the major scale gets so much attention relative to the other modes?


Function- , I think the modes are more aural and “ancient” and hard to learn without knowledge of notation and of the “base scale”.
Music creation and composition, at least I’ve read, was pretty well limited, previous to the learning of notes and scales (not modes) .
Originally Posted By: Punchslap

Considering that we use the natural major scale(Ionian mode) as our "base" scale or whatever, I find it weird that anyone would mention a key signature by it's natural minor relative.

It’s not , because to recreate the composition, you would need to know if was a relative minor to use the correct final base note . Otherwise you would have to figure it out by “ear”.


Any scale degree could be the center of tonality, can't they(I guess that what the teachings of modal scales insinuate)?

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#2201002 - 12/21/13 02:28 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: keystring]
Punchslap Offline
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Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 57
Originally Posted By: keystring
We have two types of KEYS: major keys and minor keys (example: C major, A minor, both having the same key signature).

We have many kinds of SCALES. Typically we learn to play harmonic minor, melodic minor, and natural minor scales. We tend to learn them around the same time that we play music in minor keys, so I think the two concepts get mixed up. There is no such thing as a "melodic minor" key, for example.

I'm thinking that they way it's presented also creates a confusion. Typically it starts with the idea of C major scale, the A natural minor scale being like C major a third below, and then key signatures are explained via scales. I think this creates a false association, where we mix up scales and keys. frown (Never thought of it before).

So (thinking about it).
Western music is an interlocking structure, somewhat like we have hearts and lungs, and the circulatory and respiratory systems work together while being separate: they intermesh. The Western music has tonality, structures of harmony (chords that move somewhere). It took a many hundreds of years to develop.

In our system we tend to have music that is based on a major key, where the tonic also starts off a major scale of you play from degree 1 to degree 7 diatonically - or minor. We have the typical diatonic notes of that key. The SIGNATURE for the KEY then ensures that we play those diatonic notes, so that we don't have to use accidentals all over the place. Within the music itself we can and do digress to non-diatonic notes that aren't part of the signature. Music in a minor key will have more accidentals, because of the melodic minor and harmonic minor, which are standard in minor keys, but the signature doesn't allow for it.

The system we have is cobbled together by history. We went from modal music with no concept of chords or harmony, and not the idea of tonality (as a loose expression) that exists now, to what we have now. (And music has moved on from there as well). One thing grew from the other.

(wrote too much (sigh) ) frown


There's no such thing as writing too much.


Yes, I can see if it somehow implies that there is more frequent use of the accidentals that characterize the other minor scales then I can see the point.

But still, I personally would prefer to only have to bother with major signatures. From what I've read, it seems like more of a tradition thing.


Edited by Punchslap (12/21/13 03:06 PM)

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#2201091 - 12/21/13 06:03 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
keystring Offline
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Originally Posted By: Punchslap

But still, I personally would prefer to only have to bother with major signatures.

Why?
Quote:

From what I've read, it seems like more of a tradition thing.

1. No.
2. Don't go by what you read. Go by what you hear and what you play. Understanding comes from experience. Otherwise all you have is intellectual knowledge from reading things, and that is not how music works.

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#2201189 - 12/21/13 09:26 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: keystring]
hreichgott Offline
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Originally Posted By: Punchslap

But still, I personally would prefer to only have to bother with major signatures.

You can limit yourself to playing music in major keys if you want to. There's plenty available. Seems a silly restriction to place on oneself though.
_________________________
Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com
Sounding the depths of small pieces: Beethoven Op. 33
Daily attempts at 16th notes: Chopin Op. 10 no. 4, Pischna
Totally loving Fauré/Barcarolles and Ravel/Tombeau de Couperin
I love Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and new music

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#2201215 - 12/21/13 10:39 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: hreichgott]
Polyphonist Offline
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Originally Posted By: hreichgott
Originally Posted By: Punchslap

But still, I personally would prefer to only have to bother with major signatures.

You can limit yourself to playing music in major keys if you want to. There's plenty available. Seems a silly restriction to place on oneself though.

Silly, and also severely limiting. Much and even most of the greatest piano repertoire is written in minor keys.
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#2201285 - 12/22/13 05:20 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Polyphonist]
Punchslap Offline
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Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 57
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: Punchslap

But still, I personally would prefer to only have to bother with major signatures.

Why?
Quote:

From what I've read, it seems like more of a tradition thing.

1. No.
2. Don't go by what you read. Go by what you hear and what you play. Understanding comes from experience. Otherwise all you have is intellectual knowledge from reading things, and that is not how music works.


Considering you can express any diatonic collection of notes(key) with a major signature, I fail to see the importance of expressing them in another way.

I'm not experienced, so maybe understanding will come in time grin

Originally Posted By: hreichgott
Originally Posted By: Punchslap

But still, I personally would prefer to only have to bother with major signatures.

You can limit yourself to playing music in major keys if you want to. There's plenty available. Seems a silly restriction to place on oneself though.


My point wasn't to restrict myself to play pieces that which have been written on paper with a minor key signature. I meant that I'll simply think of the given key as C major instead of A minor. Maybe I expressed myself weird....


Edited by Punchslap (12/22/13 05:55 AM)

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#2201308 - 12/22/13 07:41 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
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Originally Posted By: Punchslap
Considering you can express any diatonic collection of notes(key) with a major signature, I fail to see the importance of expressing them in another way.
A "major" signature?

There are only 15 possible key signatures from seven flats to seven sharps, less than the number of letters in the alphabet, and each signifies just one major key or one minor key. A brief perusal of the score will show up any sharpened seventh suggesting the minor key and the harmonies should make it pretty clear which is being used.

If you're playing in three flats and the first few B's are naturals then you're probably in C minor, if the first accidentals are A naturals you've probably just moved from E flat major to the dominant B flat. If the first slew of accidentals chop and change from bar to bar it's probably just chromaticism.

And when you've lighted upon the key, at least until your theory has caught up, what difference does it make what key you're thinking of? Our notation system accommodates but seven letter names and it's a very practical thing to know which of those seven notes will default to the black keys and which will be white. Whether the piece is in major or minor has little immediate consequence.
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#2201313 - 12/22/13 07:58 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
keystring Offline
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I already figured out that you did not intend to restrict yourself to music in major keys, but rather relate to major key signatures in some ways. So in other words, if a piece is in A major, you will think of it as being in C major.

Music is sound within context, which gives it meaning. Right now you have intellectual facts gleaned from a lot of reading and study. On the basis of the facts that you learned, what you write makes sense. You've gone at it backwards, and you have to get at the other side of it. smile (Trying to bridge the gap in the next paragraph)

About major and minor keys: I don't know where your hearing is at presently. This is something that evolves. When you hear a piece of music, can you hear that it is major or minor? Ditto for when you play it (assuming you are at a playing stage). Does your ear get a sense of the Tonic - meaning the "home base note" that the music wants to settle on? These are essential things that give the music meaning and direction for the listener. As you become an experienced player, these are your orientation, and will also guide how you express the music.

Continuing with the thought: A piece in C major will settle on C as the Tonic, while a piece in A minor will settle on A - each revolves around the Tonic and your ear will sense it as home base. This alone is a good reason for not thinking of all music that has a key signature of no sharps or flats as being C major - with A minor merely being a modal deviation. Your orientation will suffer (home base).

Continuing again: The scales themselves are not what make a piece be in a major or minor key. Even the fact of the last note in the melody settling on the tonic - that alone does not give us this "A minor feel to the ear" or "C major feel". What DOES do so are chord progressions. The primary thing is the progression of I (IV) V I and even more strongly I (IV) V7 I. Other chords can and do dance around and come in between, but this is the heart of the matter. Music is movement; it moves toward the tonic. Our ear has an expectation to "land on the tonic" because of the way these chords interact. It's almost a chemistry: drop vinegar into milk and it curdles. Milk and vinegar themselves are just two separate things. The non-musician will get the effects of this movement. He won't know why he feels this "settling toward the Tonic" feeling - he just knows that "this is the last note and the music has ended" because it "feels right".

Continuing with the above thought: In C major, your I IV V7 I chords will be C major, F major, G7, C major. In A minor those chords will be A minor, D minor, E7 (the G in the signature is raised to G# which you will see in the music as an accidental), A minor. Note that V7-I which "brings you home to the tonic" in C major are G7-C; while the same thing in A minor are A7-Am. You lose all that if you try to think of the music modally, as you are trying to do, by "considering everything to only be major".

Previously I coined a crude metaphor about the circulatory system and the respiratory system intertwining to make our bodies work, since our hearts pump the oxygen when is fetched by the lungs. Music has intertwining systems that work together to have its effect, and the chord progression along with melody is one of these. If you think of everything as being in major, you lose the chord-part of it. That's just one aspect.

--- In your two hour commute, do you have any way of listening to things, and listening for things? When you are home again, try to include some exploration of what you hear as you practice piano.

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#2201316 - 12/22/13 08:05 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
keystring Offline
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Previously I mentioned a kind of core chord progression which moves music to its destination. This funny act brings the point home. Listen for the chords that the comedian plays over and over again while he rambles in the beginning. These are the same chords that he later names for the Canon in D. All of the songs that he whizzes through after that all have the same progression. It is at the heart of a great deal of music we hear.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdxkVQy7QLM

This one is even better, because we have a cello that really brings out the bass notes of that same progression. The musicians digress to all kinds of other pieces in a more classical style, while that ubiquitous bass line drones on. It makes the point that this is what underlines so much music.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4er9XjsrBtw

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#2201320 - 12/22/13 08:23 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: keystring]
Punchslap Offline
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Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 57
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Originally Posted By: Punchslap
Considering you can express any diatonic collection of notes(key) with a major signature, I fail to see the importance of expressing them in another way.
A "major" signature?

There are only 15 possible key signatures from seven flats to seven sharps, less than the number of letters in the alphabet, and each signifies just one major key or one minor key. A brief perusal of the score will show up any sharpened seventh suggesting the minor key and the harmonies should make it pretty clear which is being used.

If you're playing in three flats and the first few B's are naturals then you're probably in C minor, if the first accidentals are A naturals you've probably just moved from E flat major to the dominant B flat. If the first slew of accidentals chop and change from bar to bar it's probably just chromaticism.

And when you've lighted upon the key, at least until your theory has caught up, what difference does it make what key you're thinking of? Our notation system accommodates but seven letter names and it's a very practical thing to know which of those seven notes will default to the black keys and which will be white. Whether the piece is in major or minor has little immediate consequence.



I didn't think about it when I wrote, but you're right. It doesn't really make much of a difference.

Originally Posted By: keystring
I already figured out that you did not intend to restrict yourself to music in major keys, but rather relate to major key signatures in some ways. So in other words, if a piece is in A major, you will think of it as being in C major.

Music is sound within context, which gives it meaning. Right now you have intellectual facts gleaned from a lot of reading and study. On the basis of the facts that you learned, what you write makes sense. You've gone at it backwards, and you have to get at the other side of it. smile (Trying to bridge the gap in the next paragraph)

About major and minor keys: I don't know where your hearing is at presently. This is something that evolves. When you hear a piece of music, can you hear that it is major or minor? Ditto for when you play it (assuming you are at a playing stage). Does your ear get a sense of the Tonic - meaning the "home base note" that the music wants to settle on? These are essential things that give the music meaning and direction for the listener. As you become an experienced player, these are your orientation, and will also guide how you express the music.

Continuing with the thought: A piece in C major will settle on C as the Tonic, while a piece in A minor will settle on A - each revolves around the Tonic and your ear will sense it as home base. This alone is a good reason for not thinking of all music that has a key signature of no sharps or flats as being C major - with A minor merely being a modal deviation. Your orientation will suffer (home base).

Continuing again: The scales themselves are not what make a piece be in a major or minor key. Even the fact of the last note in the melody settling on the tonic - that alone does not give us this "A minor feel to the ear" or "C major feel". What DOES do so are chord progressions. The primary thing is the progression of I (IV) V I and even more strongly I (IV) V7 I. Other chords can and do dance around and come in between, but this is the heart of the matter. Music is movement; it moves toward the tonic. Our ear has an expectation to "land on the tonic" because of the way these chords interact. It's almost a chemistry: drop vinegar into milk and it curdles. Milk and vinegar themselves are just two separate things. The non-musician will get the effects of this movement. He won't know why he feels this "settling toward the Tonic" feeling - he just knows that "this is the last note and the music has ended" because it "feels right".

Continuing with the above thought: In C major, your I IV V7 I chords will be C major, F major, G7, C major. In A minor those chords will be A minor, D minor, E7 (the G in the signature is raised to G# which you will see in the music as an accidental), A minor. Note that V7-I which "brings you home to the tonic" in C major are G7-C; while the same thing in A minor are A7-Am. You lose all that if you try to think of the music modally, as you are trying to do, by "considering everything to only be major".

Previously I coined a crude metaphor about the circulatory system and the respiratory system intertwining to make our bodies work, since our hearts pump the oxygen when is fetched by the lungs. Music has intertwining systems that work together to have its effect, and the chord progression along with melody is one of these. If you think of everything as being in major, you lose the chord-part of it. That's just one aspect.

--- In your two hour commute, do you have any way of listening to things, and listening for things? When you are home again, try to include some exploration of what you hear as you practice piano.


Yes, I am aware of that the tonic is considered "home" and I am aware of the concept of chord progressions and harmony(I haven't really studied it though).

It really makes more sense when we involve the roman numeral analysis method, I didn't think about that. But what if we choose another degree of the C major/A minor key as the "home", like the D tone(dorian)? Has that ever been done or can it be done at all?

Here is the same question formulated in another manner:
In this collection of notes: C D E F G A B, both the 1st and the 6th note can be considered as "home" depending on the tonality.
If I present the tones in another order, like here: A B C D E F G, the 1st and the 3rd note can be considered home, again, depending on tonality. From what I know, most pieces have either a major(Ionic) or minor(Aeolian) tonality(which obviously are expressed in the key signature), what happens if we assign the tonality in this collection of notes to D (which would be Dorian)? Why is this not as common(or is it)? Why haven't any classical pieces been written in D dorian?

Edit: A third way to state the question,
One version for this collection of notes is:
(Major tonality)
C D E F G A B
I II III IV V VI VII

Another is
(Minor tonality)
C D E F G A B
III IV V VI VII I II

So why not:
(using another tone in the diatonic collection of notes as a center of tonality)
C D E F G A B
V VI VII I II III IV

Edit again:Removed irrelevant text.


Edited by Punchslap (12/22/13 05:59 PM)

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#2201324 - 12/22/13 08:36 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
jotur Offline
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I see Dorian and Mixylodian modes used a lot in traditional western music - British Isles music mostly for me, and it's transportation to the U.S. I haven't seen one particular way to notate the "key" signature, and in fact, have seen different ways within the same collection of music.

The Fiddler's Fakebook lists the mode in words up above the top staff.

If, for instance, one is in G Mix (like G major, but with an F natural instead of an F sharp) I've seen it notated with one sharp, and then naturals on all the F's, or without a sharp, and one is left to figure out from one's ear that the tonal center is G and not C or A.

I've seen G mixolydian notated with a natural sign inclosed in parenthesis on the F at the top of the treble clef as the "key signature".

There are similar things going on with Dorian.

There's always a trade-off between a tonal center being recognized fairly quickly from the key signature, because we're used to music like that, or one that gets figured out from the way the tune sounds, or one that has lots of accidentals. Well, sometimes lots of accidentals. It happens fairly often that a tune in, say, D Dorian, simply has no "B" notes, flatted or otherwise.

I'm not sure how classical music handles it, tho I know there is some classical music that is "modal" (which is what many musicians who play traditional music say when they want to distinguish a piece as not being major or minor).

It is also true that many traditional tunes don't strictly fit *any* one mode. But if you play it a lot you get used to it smile



Edited by jotur (12/22/13 08:38 AM)
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#2201409 - 12/22/13 02:03 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
lautreamont Offline
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Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 16
Any of the notes CDEFGABC, or any other collection of notes, can be a "home" or tonic. It depends on what the piece does harmonically. It's just that the major and minor keys are fairly easy to establish a tonal feeling in, harmonically speaking, which is more difficult in, say, EFGABCDE, where the E can easily sound like a leading tone to F, or BCDEFGAB, where there is no perfect fifth. Other natural modes are sometimes used, as well as modes far more exotic.

So, for the collection of notes, CDEFGABC, you can have seven different modes without having to bring in additional tones. It's what you do with the notes that brings about the sense of "key" or "tonality"--whether A minor, C major, or any other mode. Most modes aren't studied by adult beginners since so much of what has been composed has been in major or minor, but feel free to do it--when I practice scales, I tend to do it on every degree.

And feel free to experiment--you can have hundreds of different modes, each with its own particular character. There are symmetrical scales like CDEFGAbBbC or CDEbFGABbC, scales with 8 or more tones. Major and minor are the most common but by no means the only scales you can or should use.


Edited by lautreamont (12/22/13 02:04 PM)

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#2201423 - 12/22/13 02:37 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
keystring Offline
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I agree that music can use many modes. I tend to complain about oversimplification - maybe I was guilty of it myself this time round. I was trying to put myself in the shoes of someone who is starting out, for it not to be too overwhelming. One thing for sure though - the answer to why the books are pushing major and minor, is that they are trying to introduce the essential idea of key signatures. At least that is my guess.

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#2201538 - 12/22/13 06:11 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: lautreamont]
Punchslap Offline
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Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 57
Originally Posted By: lautreamont
Any of the notes CDEFGABC, or any other collection of notes, can be a "home" or tonic. It depends on what the piece does harmonically. It's just that the major and minor keys are fairly easy to establish a tonal feeling in, harmonically speaking, which is more difficult in, say, EFGABCDE, where the E can easily sound like a leading tone to F, or BCDEFGAB, where there is no perfect fifth. Other natural modes are sometimes used, as well as modes far more exotic.

So, for the collection of notes, CDEFGABC, you can have seven different modes without having to bring in additional tones. It's what you do with the notes that brings about the sense of "key" or "tonality"--whether A minor, C major, or any other mode. Most modes aren't studied by adult beginners since so much of what has been composed has been in major or minor, but feel free to do it--when I practice scales, I tend to do it on every degree.

And feel free to experiment--you can have hundreds of different modes, each with its own particular character. There are symmetrical scales like CDEFGAbBbC or CDEbFGABbC, scales with 8 or more tones. Major and minor are the most common but by no means the only scales you can or should use.


Thinking of this made me a bit confused why there was such focus on, aside from the major key signature, the minor one. Considering(as you stated) you can establish the tonality on any of the degrees.

Originally Posted By: keystring
I agree that music can use many modes. I tend to complain about oversimplification - maybe I was guilty of it myself this time round. I was trying to put myself in the shoes of someone who is starting out, for it not to be too overwhelming. One thing for sure though - the answer to why the books are pushing major and minor, is that they are trying to introduce the essential idea of key signatures. At least that is my guess.


Yes, for the sake of introducing the concept it makes sense.

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#2201541 - 12/22/13 06:15 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
keystring Offline
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Punchslap, some of the answers you are looking for are probably in music history. It's not practical for learning how to play but it may give you some idea in the larger scheme of things.

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#2201545 - 12/22/13 06:30 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
lautreamont Offline
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Minor keys were and often are considered the polar opposite of major keys. A yin-yang sort of thing.

They have their own signatures because A. they're used very often, and B. the use of accidentals, since minor keys almost always use, in the course of a composition, a raised seventh degree, and very frequently used a raised sixth as well--writing a key signature differently than the relative major seems counterintuitive, but, in many cases, it actually makes the notation easier and less messy.

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#2201615 - 12/22/13 10:51 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: lautreamont]
Polyphonist Offline
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Originally Posted By: lautreamont
Minor keys were and often are considered the polar opposite of major keys.

I'm not so sure about that. If we're talking about polar opposites in keys, a better candidate would be the pairs of keys with tonics separated by a tritone - C and F#, Db and G, D and Ab, Eb and A, etc. There are several reasons for this: for example, these pairs of keys have the unique feature of sharing the fewest tones mathematically possible (2 tones out of 12, with a 7-note scale).
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#2201974 - 12/23/13 05:01 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: keystring]
Punchslap Offline
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Posts: 57
Originally Posted By: keystring
Punchslap, some of the answers you are looking for are probably in music history. It's not practical for learning how to play but it may give you some idea in the larger scheme of things.


Yeah, I guess.

Also, I noticed I've written my thoughts in a quote incorrect manner, I must have mixed up the concepts of key signatures and scales, as mentioned before. What I meant was why we assign the tonality in a certain key signature to minor, instead of major, which seem to be the standard. But I see why now when applying the roman numeral analysis method. But I found it quite odd that the tonality is practically never assigned to another mode. Anyway, we discussed this already(I'm just clarifying what I meant in case someone is confused by my writing).

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#2201976 - 12/23/13 05:10 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Perhaps you'd like to experiment by creating diatonic chords, and see what kinds of progressions you get, and how satisfactory they are to your ear.

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#2202373 - 12/24/13 12:56 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: PunchSlap
To me it would make more sense by only utilizing the "base" scale that we already have, the major scale or Ionic mode. And then you would simply visualize the minor scale along with all the other modes whilst still referring the major scale.

As for the melodic and harmonic minor scales though; wouldn't it make more sense to still refer to the major scale and write the accidentals where they are supposed to be without referring to the natural minor?


Wouldn't it make more sense?...

It does already...

Look at any written piece of music. What do you see for the Key Signature? Symbols right? #'s or b's symbols at the beginning to tell us the key signature. Just the symbols and "nothing more". So if you see two sharps: "##" symbols at the beginning it's telling you the key signature is DMaj or Bm but it doesn't tell you which.

Why doesn't written music tell you which? BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MATTER!

And..... that would include any piece of music structured IN any mode. The key signature will still remain the same. Why would it not?

That's your sense of it.
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#2202385 - 12/24/13 01:33 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
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Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: PunchSlap
As for the melodic and harmonic minor scales though; wouldn't it make more sense to still refer to the major scale and write the accidentals where they are supposed to be without referring to the natural minor?


I would say: Absolutely!

Look at the Melodic Minor scale: What's the difference between that and the Major Scale? ONE SINGLE NOTE! Yes.. the 3rd dropped down 1/2 step to the minor 3rd. The rest of the scale is the same as the major scale as is. Almost seems silly. It is the major scale accept for that one single note difference. Hardly something to make a fuss about.

Harmonic: Is just a 2 note difference and...
Natural: Is just a 3 note difference.

Can you see it that way?

You can also look at it from the relative natural minor scale as well but don't confuse who is relative to who: For instance:

The C minor natural scale is relative to "Eb Major", not C Major yet the above example would have you look and the minor scales from C Major for the difference.
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#2202548 - 12/24/13 08:44 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
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Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: PunchSlap
As for the melodic and harmonic minor scales though; wouldn't it make more sense to still refer to the major scale and write the accidentals where they are supposed to be without referring to the natural minor?


To answer this question directly: You could, but... referring to the natural minor scale poses no difference because in notation the key signature and scale notes are all the same as with the relative major. No matter which way you look at it the accidentals will be the same.

My only purpose for using the major scale is to keep me straight about what notes and in what pattern the relative natural minor scale is to be. For example:

The Cm Nat scale: To be sure, figure up the Eb Major scale. The only difference is a shifting of your start point. Cm Nat begins on Cm of course and Eb Major begins on Eb of course but when you reach the end of the Eb major, you are starting the relative Cm scale.

The pattern of "whole note / half note" is different but only because of the shifting starting point for relative minor. The pattern is actually identical, but merely out of phase by 3 semi-tones or half steps. See the picture?

So, when figuring the Melodic scale of Cm, you should know that the 6 and 7 notes are raised, basically heading back toward C major accept for the minor 3rd.

It make more sense and is easier to see the difference of Cm melodic to that of natural. Begin with the Cm natural scale. You do not want to begin with the C MAJOR scale, why? Because C Major belongs to a different KEY. Cm Melodic, Harmonic and Natural belong to Cm and Eb Major. Eb is the relative major scale, not C Major.
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Russ
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#2203496 - 12/27/13 10:05 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
Punchslap Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 57
Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE
Originally Posted By: PunchSlap
To me it would make more sense by only utilizing the "base" scale that we already have, the major scale or Ionic mode. And then you would simply visualize the minor scale along with all the other modes whilst still referring the major scale.

As for the melodic and harmonic minor scales though; wouldn't it make more sense to still refer to the major scale and write the accidentals where they are supposed to be without referring to the natural minor?


Wouldn't it make more sense?...

It does already...

Look at any written piece of music. What do you see for the Key Signature? Symbols right? #'s or b's symbols at the beginning to tell us the key signature. Just the symbols and "nothing more". So if you see two sharps: "##" symbols at the beginning it's telling you the key signature is DMaj or Bm but it doesn't tell you which.

Why doesn't written music tell you which? BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MATTER!

And..... that would include any piece of music structured IN any mode. The key signature will still remain the same. Why would it not?

That's your sense of it.


Interesting to read all of what you wrote, considering we seem to have the about the same thought. I'm not sure what I should respond though; so that's all I have to say grin

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#2203681 - 12/27/13 05:34 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
LarryShone Offline
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Registered: 10/01/10
Posts: 793
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I've always been drawn to the minor key. Its the sound, the feeling it conveys to me.
I guess thats why I prefer sad blues to uptempo blues.
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#2203742 - 12/27/13 08:25 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: LarryShone]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7573
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: LarryShone
I've always been drawn to the minor key. Its the sound, the feeling it conveys to me.
I guess thats why I prefer sad blues to uptempo blues.

The major key can be sadder than the minor.
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Polyphonist

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#2203770 - 12/27/13 10:53 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Polyphonist]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: LarryShone
I've always been drawn to the minor key. Its the sound, the feeling it conveys to me.
I guess thats why I prefer sad blues to uptempo blues.

The major key can be sadder than the minor.


What makes a minor chord to have sounded so beautifully is when it's in contrast with a major chord. Countless songs are structured this way for both major and minor keyed pieces. Minor whatever would not have the quality it deserves without the major component in combination with it. Think about that.
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#2203777 - 12/27/13 11:32 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7573
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: LarryShone
I've always been drawn to the minor key. Its the sound, the feeling it conveys to me.
I guess thats why I prefer sad blues to uptempo blues.

The major key can be sadder than the minor.


What makes a minor chord to have sounded so beautifully is when it's in contrast with a major chord. Countless songs are structured this way for both major and minor keyed pieces. Minor whatever would not have the quality it deserves without the major component in combination with it. Think about that.

What makes you think I didn't understand this?
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Polyphonist

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#2203783 - 12/27/13 11:37 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
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Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
PunchSlap,

The simplest example and way to see for natural, harmonic and melodic scales is to use the Am nat scale which of course, will be just the white keys as with C Major. Am of course is the relative minor for C major.

Am Nautural will be all the white keys. (same as relative C Major)
Am Harmonic will be the same accept the 7th note (G) is raised to G#.
Am Melodic will be the same accept this time the 6th-(F) and the 7th-(G) note will both be raised: F# G#.

The melodic Am scale almost feels like A Major, doesn't it! Of course the minor 3rd.

When practicing the melodic scale, you go up using the melodic and come down using the natural. Go figure that one. I've already beat my head against the wall to understand why that is. You're using two named scales for the one. Why didn't they just give it a separate name? Sometimes you just have to accept what is.

BTW: I know how to play an Am chord on the Guitar. The 3rd and 4th string is held by your middle and ring finger on the second fret raising each of the open string notes one whole step. The 5th string is held by your index finger raising that note up one half step. Your open string notes are as follows:

1 2 3 4 5 6
E A D G B E
E A E A C E - These are the notes with strings held as described above for an Am chord but you know that.

The open string notes on the guitar span two octaves on the piano.

So when you strum an Am chord on the Guitar you probably omit the first string (E) so that it doesn't become the low note. That's my guess, anyway...

Here I'm just trying to show how you can relate the guitar with the keys on the piano since you're familiar with the guitar. I also played chords on the guitar myself before I came over to the piano.
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#2203788 - 12/27/13 11:45 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
What makes you think I didn't understand this?


What I thought was just the contrary! I was actually trying to make a supporting addition to your statement about Major. I like that statement! It's true...


Edited by RUSS SHETTLE (12/27/13 11:45 PM)
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#2203807 - 12/28/13 12:40 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7573
Loc: New York City
I must have misinterpreted your post. Sorry about that.

And yes, there is a certain nostalgia and longing that can only be portrayed with a major key.
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Polyphonist

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#2203812 - 12/28/13 01:06 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE


BTW: I know how to play an Am chord on the Guitar. The 3rd and 4th string is held by your middle and ring finger on the second fret raising each of the open string notes one whole step. The 5th string is held by your index finger raising that note up one half step. Your open string notes are as follows:

1 2 3 4 5 6
E A D G B E
E A E A C E - These are the notes with strings held as described above for an Am chord but you know that.



You may want to edit the string numbers to make this information correct.
_________________________
Rob

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#2203814 - 12/28/13 01:13 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: R0B]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: R0B
Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE


BTW: I know how to play an Am chord on the Guitar. The 3rd and 4th string is held by your middle and ring finger on the second fret raising each of the open string notes one whole step. The 5th string is held by your index finger raising that note up one half step. Your open string notes are as follows:

1 2 3 4 5 6
E A D G B E
E A E A C E - These are the notes with strings held as described above for an Am chord but you know that.



You may want to edit the string numbers to make this information correct.


Rob, you'll have to help me out here if I'm wrong about something.
_________________________
Russ
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#2203816 - 12/28/13 01:20 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
By convention, guitar strings are numbered:

1, e (thinnest string)
2, B
3, G
4, D
5, A
6, E
_________________________
Rob

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#2203847 - 12/28/13 04:45 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
frenchflip Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/13
Posts: 107
Loc: New York, NY
If you play the I-IV-V7-I of Db major vs. Bb minor, is there is not a HUGE difference? Further (staying with the same example), Bb harmonic minor is very jarring/"dissonant" compared with Db major, as one example. Minor keys are just an alternate way of perceiving a key signature. But the difference is immense, is it not?

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#2203904 - 12/28/13 08:38 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Punchslap]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2339
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: RUSS SHETTLE
When practicing the melodic scale, you go up using the melodic and come down using the natural. Go figure that one. I've already beat my head against the wall to understand why that is. You're using two named scales for the one. Why didn't they just give it a separate name? Sometimes you just have to accept what is.
Melodies in Western music progress to tonic.

In the natural minor the resolution from 7 to 8 isn't strong enough so the seventh is sharpened to provide that resolution (as in the harmonic minor, where the seventh is sharpened to effect a stronger V-I resolution) but the tone and a half between 6 and 7 is awkward so the sixth is raised too.

6 or 7 don't interfere with the tonic resolution when the melody is descending so they can revert to the natural minor.
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#2203915 - 12/28/13 08:53 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Polyphonist]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11657
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist

And yes, there is a certain nostalgia and longing that can only be portrayed with a major key.

Interesting though. In other words, the major key contains the "happiness" connotation, but you'll have something else that is sad - made tempo and rhythm. But I'm thinking you can also produce that in minor, by having the minor key giving the sadness connotation, but the rhythm and tempo a jaunty quickstep, that is strangely at odds.

Am I right that this is mostly in a major key? What if it were sung/played at a much faster tempo, and without the pauses?

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#2203956 - 12/28/13 10:03 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Polyphonist]
LarryShone Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/10
Posts: 793
Loc: Darlington, UK
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: LarryShone
I've always been drawn to the minor key. Its the sound, the feeling it conveys to me.
I guess thats why I prefer sad blues to uptempo blues.

The major key can be sadder than the minor.

I often find the major key lifts a song out of the shadows. It is happier music.
When playing chords on a guitar I prefer Em to EM!
I just prefer the darker, melancholy tone. And yet whenever I improvise on a keyboard or come up with a new tune its invariably in CM! Probably because I'm lazy and find CM easier than Cm. Im not totally familiar with all the scales on the keyboard. In fact I only know CM by heart. Lack of practice time and lack of piano!
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#2203988 - 12/28/13 11:31 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: R0B]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: R0B
By convention, guitar strings are numbered:

1, e (thinnest string)
2, B
3, G
4, D
5, A
6, E


Thanks Rob, I did not know that order. My personal logic led me the assume otherwise but then again, it's been a long time since I last fooled with guitar or having to replace a string.

Russ
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Russ
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#2203997 - 12/28/13 11:48 AM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: keystring]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist

And yes, there is a certain nostalgia and longing that can only be portrayed with a major key.

Interesting though. In other words, the major key contains the "happiness" connotation, but you'll have something else that is sad - made tempo and rhythm. But I'm thinking you can also produce that in minor, by having the minor key giving the sadness connotation, but the rhythm and tempo a jaunty quickstep, that is strangely at odds.

Am I right that this is mostly in a major key? What if it were sung/played at a much faster tempo, and without the pauses?


I think I see you point.

In the end, as I think you once pointed to, it's more about structure than feeling, though feeling may often more than not give away that difference.

Am to C is just a mode and like any other mode, structure is going to mostly define that. Perhaps that is oversimplification but do you not basically agree?

I'm familiar with that song and it seems to be sad. Without taking the time to analyze and figure up the chords; I'm assuming a structure coinciding with a major key regardless of how sad it may sound.

I just figure quickly the beginning. The first chord and sound is Db Major, melody begins with that major scale. Then moves to IV or Gb so right off the bat we have an I IV movement. It is a major key, I have no doubt and it's a sad song.

Structure is the determining factor over major vs minor keys. There should be nothing unclear about that.
_________________________
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#2204509 - 12/29/13 01:18 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: Polyphonist]
lautreamont Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/07/13
Posts: 16
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: lautreamont
Minor keys were and often are considered the polar opposite of major keys.

I'm not so sure about that. If we're talking about polar opposites in keys, a better candidate would be the pairs of keys with tonics separated by a tritone - C and F#, Db and G, D and Ab, Eb and A, etc. There are several reasons for this: for example, these pairs of keys have the unique feature of sharing the fewest tones mathematically possible (2 tones out of 12, with a 7-note scale).


I was speaking in general, not that a specific minor key is the opposite of any specific major key. Conventional wisdom paints a dichotomy between the two keys ("major is happy", "minor is sad", etc.), and that has been a convenient, although not absolutely accurate, narrative.

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#2204546 - 12/29/13 02:44 PM Re: Question about minor keys [Re: lautreamont]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7573
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: lautreamont
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: lautreamont
Minor keys were and often are considered the polar opposite of major keys.

I'm not so sure about that. If we're talking about polar opposites in keys, a better candidate would be the pairs of keys with tonics separated by a tritone - C and F#, Db and G, D and Ab, Eb and A, etc. There are several reasons for this: for example, these pairs of keys have the unique feature of sharing the fewest tones mathematically possible (2 tones out of 12, with a 7-note scale).


I was speaking in general, not that a specific minor key is the opposite of any specific major key. Conventional wisdom paints a dichotomy between the two keys ("major is happy", "minor is sad", etc.), and that has been a convenient, although not absolutely accurate, narrative.

Quite inaccurate, in fact, and in my opinion unsuitable.
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