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#993912 - 06/15/05 12:01 PM Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
Ancient Upright Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 384
I can play pretty well just reading sheet music...for a beginner, I mean. \:D

But I just don't get what it means when they say a tune is in, say C minor, for instance.

Does it really matter if I understand it?
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#993913 - 06/15/05 12:07 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
C Minor -

There are three flats in the key signature: Bb, Eb, Ab
There may be B naturals or A naturals thrown in there
The mood will probably be sad or sombre
The mood will likely be dark
The piece will possibly contain scales and arpeggios beginning (and/or ending) on C with a Bb, Eb, and Ab.

I don't know a lot of theory. But knowing that the piece is in C Minor will also likely tell you what other keys (and hence, what moods, what sharps and flats to watch out for, etc) may pop up throughout the piece.

Yeah, it does make a difference if you understand it. A beginner or amateur might just play all of the notes on the page without really understanding any of them. But a really good pianist understands how the piece is constructed and what certain patterns mean - understanding all of this, among other concepts, will especially help with phrasing and interpretation.
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#993914 - 06/15/05 12:10 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
I suggest getting a book about basic theory. I have "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory" and it's pretty good. I've seen others recommended on this thread, but I can't remember their names. They would provide enough information for you to decide on the answers for this and other questions.

I'm not trying to be cryptic, but I think, in the long run, it might be easier to flip through a book and get a basic understanding of theory. Then pursue things you don't understand.

My short answer to your question is the key will matter eventually and also depends on what you're trying to do (play scales, improvise?). You don't need to identify the key if you're reading straight from sheet music, but knowing the key signature, and where it comes from, could help you figure out the most efficient fingering.

There are undoubtedly other considerations, but this is why I think you should investigate it more thoroughly for yourself.
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#993915 - 06/15/05 12:16 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
Ancient Upright Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 384
Thanks, Pianojerome, but let's see if I understood.

Ok, so the key it's in basically indicates which black keys you're supposed to use? So when you only sharp the F, it's the key of...what?

I know it sounds stupid, but this is the adult BEGINNERS forum.
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#993916 - 06/15/05 12:23 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
usually, in music, we sing those notes (plus some semi-tone ones in between):

do re mi fa so la ti do

so, if a piece ends in 'do'(tonic) or major chord of 'do', we call such a piece 'major' related to the key signature. if a piece ends in 'la' or minor chord associated with 'la', then we call it in minor key. so, major or minor is not only depending on key signature, but also the sequence of scale note it's associated to.

if you check scale section of any music theory book, it will tell you just that.

btw, as an example, if your sheet music signature indicates no sharp/flat, then it could either be C major or A minor. so, you check the last bar of the piece and see what's the chord or the last note ended at to tell whether it's C major or A minor.

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#993917 - 06/15/05 12:48 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by Ancient Upright:
So when you only sharp the F, it's the key of...what?
[/b]
If you're in a major key, this will be G. (Usually the beginning or ending notes or chords will be G.) Or, you could be in G's relative minor (E, I think), if the beginning or ending notes are E, or the chord is E minor.

Try this using the C major scale. Start at middle C, and play just the white keys up to the next C. Now, do the same thing starting at A and playing just the white keys up to the next A. There are no sharps or flats in either scale, but they sound different because the pattern of intervals (the steps between one key and the next) are different.
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#993918 - 06/15/05 01:26 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
The key signature comes at the very beginning of the piece, and it tells you what black keys to play on for the whole piece of music (unless specifically the composer says "this particular measure I want you to use a white key.")

The key determines the key signature. For example, in the key of G major, you will have one sharp (F#) in the key signature. So you will always play that black key. If you're in the key of D major, you will always have two black keys, F# and C#.

Here's all the keys that you'll possibly encounter:

C major - no sharps, no flats

G major - 1 sharp (F#)
D major - 2 sharps (F#, C#)
A major - 3 sharps (F#, C#, G#)
E major - 4 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#)
B major - 5 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#)
F# major - 6 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#)
C# major - 7 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#)

F major - 1 flat (Bb)
Bb major - 2 flats (Bb, Eb)
Eb major - 3 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab)
Ab major - 4 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db)
Db major - 5 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb)
Gb major - 6 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb)
Cb major - 7 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb)

A minor - no sharps, no flats

E minor - 1 sharp (F#)
B minor - 2 sharps (F#, C#)
F# minor - 3 sharps (F#, C#, G#)
C# minor - 4 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#)
G# minor - 5 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#)
D# minor - 6 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#)
A# minor - 7 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#)

D minor - 1 flat (Bb)
G minor - 2 flats (Bb, Eb)
C minor - 3 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab)
F minor - 4 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db)
Bb minor - 5 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb)
Eb minor - 6 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb)
Ab minor - 7 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, G, Cb, Fb)

*sigh*

I think that's all. ;\)

Just remember this - major keys tend to be happy, minor keys tend to be sad.
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#993919 - 06/15/05 02:01 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
Eins Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 748
Loc: Utah
AU, reality appears to be that at the beginning, it seems easy to play new pieces. It is because those pieces are easy.

Once you get past that level and want to conquer new challenges, it gets harder and harder. Sooner or later it will make things quite a lot easier to know all the theory background on which all is based. Otherwise, you'll have to reinvent the wheel every single bar. Okay, maybe not bar, but piece for sure.

That's my take on it after a few weeks of college level training. I suggest you find a teacher or, at least, take piano at a community college.
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#993920 - 06/15/05 02:30 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
princessclara2005 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/05
Posts: 429
Loc: Dallas, Texas
There are major piece, minor piece, specific tonics, it is a harmonic language that composer use to express certain mood. The tonality, color that they use in certain keys enhence their intention, it's a combination of creativity and imagination with sound.

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#993921 - 06/15/05 02:40 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
There are lots of good self-teaching theory books out there - Edley's Music Theory for Practical People is one I like. It has everything from super beginner stuff to advanced in it. It's worth investing in a couple of good books. The advantage of being an adult is you can teach yourself a lot. Also if you are interested in a good DVD series Mark Almond's Pianoforlife.com is excellent IMO.
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#993922 - 06/15/05 02:42 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by teachum:
There are lots of good self-teaching theory books out there - Edley's Music Theory for Practical People is one I like. [/b]
*That's* the one I couldn't remember. I might get it myself.
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#993923 - 06/15/05 04:07 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
It's a good one, MarkB. Adagiolady recommended it to me a long time ago. He presents theory in a very fun, practical manner.
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

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#993924 - 06/15/05 04:20 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
Rob Mullins Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/10/04
Posts: 318
Loc: LA CA
Hi,
Great book recommendations by all. Of course, the faster ancient upright gets with a good teacher, the faster they will get the hang of everything.
_________________________
Rob Mullins
www.planetmullins.com
28th album on sale now.

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#993925 - 06/15/05 05:55 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Very briefly, there are basically two kinds
of melodies: major and minor. Major melodies
sound more "normal" and minor melodies sound more
"oriental." So, if a composer starts with
some melodic line as the basis for a composition,
if it is a major melody he picks a major
key to compose it in, and the reverse for
a minor melody.

As for which key he picks, this is more for
the convenience of notation that anything else,
that is, he'll pick the key that will enable
him to write the composition with the fewest
number of accidentals--added sharps and flats.
For example, any major composition could
be composed in c major (no sharps or flats in
the key signature), but if the nature of the
composition is such that he would have to
add numerous sharps or flats throughout the
score, the finished score would look cluttered,
so he'd probably pick the key that would
allow the least number of added sharps or flats.

But for the amateur pianist who's just going
to play from the music, all of this is really
not necessary to know. And in any case,
even the most elementary pieces quicky modulate
out of the orignal key in all kinds of
ways. So even if you know a lot of theory
it's still going to be hard to make sense
out of what's going on in the music.

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#993926 - 06/15/05 06:06 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
beandoc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 52
Loc: Victoria, BC
One other comment from an adult re-beginner (lessons as a kid and re-discovering piano as an adult).....

Knowing which key your playing in can help you know where to put your hands on the keyboard. If you're playing in the key of C, you will most likely be playing chords, arpeggios, notes that are common to that key (C,Dm7,F,G7,Am). You will not likely be playing Db, F# chords, for example.

As you play songs in different key signatures, your hands will eventually find their way to the notes/chords quite naturally, because that's just where they go in that key!

This is clearly an oversimplification, but for much of what we beginners and re-beginners play, it works out.

J
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"Remember, wherever you go, there you are" -- Buckaroo Bonzai

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#993927 - 06/16/05 02:00 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
Ancient Upright Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 384
Thanks, everyone. I'm truly humbled. :rolleyes:

You know, I never took piano lessons. I practiced some when I was a kid, but I've been fiddling around with piano self-help books and an electric keyboard for six months. I got up to John Thomson's fourth grade on that.

Last month I bought a piano, and that's when I decided to take it a little more serious. So I started at the beginning and was doing well, better than I had been with the electric keyboard. But when I started learning about key signatures, I just didn't get it.

Thankfully, this morning I was practicing, and I started looking at the differant pieces I had learned, and I realized what Pianojerome meant in his first post. \:D

I started seeing patterns in what I was playing.

Yeah, you guys are right, I don't want to be reinventing the wheel, which is what I was doing before I got my piano last month.

And, yes, I should take piano lessons, but I just can't fit it in right now. If I have a spare credit hour, I might be able to try a piano class. \:\(

Hey, Eins, do you have to audition to get into a community college piano class? I heard that from my sister, don't know if it's true.

And how hard are those college piano classes? \:\(

Thanks all, I think I am improving. ;\)
_________________________
Remember, I'm pullin for you, we're all in this together
-From a TV Show

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#993928 - 06/16/05 02:08 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
some of those piano classes in community colleges are designed for beginners, and usually they'd say what the class is for so that you know. for getting into such a class, you don't need anything beside paying the class cost. for a beginner knowing little or none music/piano, it's a good place to get started.

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#993929 - 06/16/05 02:16 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
Jamie D. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 102
Loc: Louisville, Ky
Hi AU,
The college piano class- if it is what I am thinking of- is probably a group class primarily for non-piano music majors. It is not hard- you will probably be fine playing in it, although the people in the class will most likely have theory behind them, and the instructor may make several references to terms you may not know. One of the above mentioned theory books would be a good idea to invest in. See which one "speaks" to you.
I don't know about auditioning- in a class such as that, it sounds like you might want to contact the head of the music department of the college and tell them what your interests are, they may want to hear you.
Hope this helps.

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#993930 - 06/17/05 07:56 AM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
hgiles Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/05
Posts: 736
Loc: Charlottesville Virginia
 Quote:
Originally posted by signa:

do re mi fa so la ti do

so, if a piece ends in 'do'(tonic) or major chord of 'do', we call such a piece 'major' related to the key signature. if a piece ends in 'la' or minor chord associated with 'la', then we call it in minor key. so, major or minor is not only depending on key signature, but also the sequence of scale note it's associated to.

if you check scale section of any music theory book, it will tell you just that.[/b]

[/b]
Really? My studies tell me that a minor key also has DO as the tonic.

The main differences being the third and sixth.ME (may) instead of MI and LE instead of LA.

The seventh, in minor, is oftentimes still TI. Although this note is not diatonic to the natural minor scale, it is generally used much more often as the leading tone to DO in a dominant (V or vii) chord.

If you ever see the diatonic 7th (flatted) used in minor music you can bet the key center is modulating.

Does theory matter? You bet it does. You will find people with natural ability and blinding technique, but the ones that make it to the highest levels have always studied the theory to boot.
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#993931 - 06/17/05 08:45 AM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
I you want to know your keys and what they mean memorize the cycle of fifths. Learn it, Love it, Know it by memory and your life will be a lot easier.



Somebody more literate in musical theory than me can clue you in hear but if there is one thing to learn in all of music theory it's that the V-I or dominant to tonic relationship is one of the strongest and most repeated in all forms of music. Just think about a choral work or hymn that ends in "A-men" . Notice how that tension resolves from the "Ahhh" to the "Men"? That's the dominant to tonic "pull". The doiminant chord wants to "pull" towards the tonic. Tonal music is kind of like a story, it start out in one place that I'll call "HOME" (the tonic key) and then it goes off on some subplots (diatonic chords) and then eventually sets up a climatic ending (the dominant) to be resolved by that final return home (the tonic again). That's why you can usually tell if a piece is in a minor/major key by looking at the first and last chords. Of these two the last chord is probably the more reliable one because some pieces start on other chords (like the IV or subdomninant) just to throw in some variety.

Also keys that are close on the keyboard are not necessarily "closely" related. In actuality a closely related key will have approximately the same number of accidental notes in common. Now look at the circle of fifths, it prescribes a distinct way to traverse through all the keys without skipping any or repeating them. It also happens to be the least dissosant way to traverse through the keys by nature of the fact that each subsequent key has all but one of its notes in common with the previous one.

The easiest way to find a "related minor" of a major key is to go down a minor 3rd (3 Half-Steps). To find a "related major" from the minor key go up a minor 3rd (3 Half-Steps). For Example:

CMajor --> -3HS (minor 3rd) = AMinor
E minor --> +3HS (minor 3rd) = G Major

I remember two phrases:

F[/b]atherC[/b]harlesG[/b]oesD[/b]ownA[/b]ndE[/b]ndsB[/b]attles
B[/b]attleE[/b]ndsA[/b]ndD[/b]ownG[/b]oesC[/b]harles'F[/b]ather

The first one is the order that #'s are added going clockwise around the circle.

The second one is the order that b's are added going counter-clockwise around the circle.

This is also the order that you add accidentals when you draw in key sigs.

As for the keys themselves just memorize C F & G.
C has no flats or sharps, F has one flat (Bb) and G has one sharp (F#).

The rest follow easily:

The #s: G,D,A,E,B,F#,C#
THe bs: Bb,Eb,Ab,Db,Gb,Cb

Notice a pattern? These follow the mnemonic phrases I gave earlier. The only extra bit to remember is that F and C are sharped in the sharps and that all the flat major keys have a flat in their name. Print out the circle and put it on your music journal or something, after a while you will just memorize everything.

I hope this helps.


~pianocliff

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#993932 - 06/17/05 12:44 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
Mali Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/05
Posts: 91
Loc: Bothell, WA
Wow, very awesome like information in this thread.

Look at what I found!!

http://www.looknohands.com/chordhouse/piano/
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Beginner -
1. Find the tool. Sitting in the living room covered.
2. Take Lessons. No longer taking lessons.
3. Practice 30 mins. - Failed \:\(

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#993933 - 06/18/05 09:43 AM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
Ancient Upright Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 384
Thanks for that circle of fifths thing, Pianocliff!

My thing is that I never really tried to memorize the labels to each key. Do I need to memorize what they're called, or just what they mean.

And another question: Are, for example, F major and D minor the same? Like, what's the differance between a major and it's minor?

Thanks all.
_________________________
Remember, I'm pullin for you, we're all in this together
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#993934 - 06/18/05 08:18 PM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Do you know what whole-steps (WS) and half-steps (HS) are?

Here's how you come up with a major scale:

WS-WS-HS-WS-WS-WS-HS

These are the steps between each note of the scale.

To understand what this means, apply it to F major. Start on an F, and go up by whole steps and half steps according to the above pattern:

F G A Bb C D E F

For minors, the pattern goes:

WS-HS-WS-WS-HS-WS-WS

So apply it to D minor:

D E F G A Bb C D

So both F major and D minor have only one flat. We say that D minor is the 'relative minor' of F major, and F major is the 'relative major' of D minor.

But they aren't really the same. As I said, minors tend to be darker and majors brighter.

Plus, minors are a bit more complicated then that.

There are actually three kinds of minor scales (only one kind of major): natural, harmonic, melodic.

Natural minors are just normal minors. They follow that pattern I showed you above. A natural D minor scale goes like this: D E F G A Bb C D

Harmonic minors have a small twist: the 7th note of the scale is raised a half-step. A harmonic D minor scale goes like this: D E F G A Bb C# D.

Melodic minors are even trickier. On the way up, both the 6th and the 7th notes are raised a half-step, but on the way down you just play a regular natural minor scale. So a melodic d minor scale, going up and then coming back down, would look like this: D E F G A B C# D | D C Bb A G F E D

When you're talking about key signatures - it gets even trickier with minor keys. They will always show you the natural minor in the key signature - that is, for D minor, they will only show you one flat in the key signature. But you never know if, during the piece, the composer will use natural, harmonic, or melodic scales, or maybe even all three. So even though you only have Bb in the key signature, you may indeed find some C# and B naturals scattered throughout the piece.
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Sam

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#993935 - 06/20/05 07:10 AM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
Ancient Upright Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 384
Ok, so basically the differance between a major and minor is where you are on the keyboard. No?
_________________________
Remember, I'm pullin for you, we're all in this together
-From a TV Show

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#993936 - 06/20/05 07:41 AM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
It depends, what minor (harmonic, melodic, natural) are you speaking of. You should consult one of the reference books mentioned above for more details. Getting a teacher is also a *VERY* good idea.

~cliff

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#993937 - 06/20/05 07:47 AM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
Ancient Upright Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 384
You're right, Cliff, I'll stop wasting you guys time. \:\(
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Remember, I'm pullin for you, we're all in this together
-From a TV Show

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#993938 - 06/20/05 07:51 AM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by Ancient Upright:
Ok, so basically the differance between a major and minor is where you are on the keyboard. No? [/b]
Not quite. ;\)

The most obvious difference between a major and minor is how they sound. Majors sound happy, and minors sound sad.

(Why do they sound differently? That has to do with all of the theory and grammar and all of that stuff that I started to explain before.)

The key points that you should really know are just how they differ in mood (happy vs. sad), and if you understand the different kinds of minor scales and all of the key signatures, then you'll know what black keys you might have to use during the piece.
_________________________
Sam

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#993939 - 06/20/05 07:53 AM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
You're not wasting our time!

Cliff is right, though - a good teacher will help you a lot. It's easier to explain majors and minors, for example, when I can play examples for you and actually show you on the piano what I mean! I obviously can't do that for you, but a good teacher will really help you with these sorts of things.
_________________________
Sam

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#993940 - 06/20/05 07:55 AM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
Ancient Upright Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 384
So, if I recognize the key signatures at the beginning of the piece, and know what they mean, will I be okay for now?
_________________________
Remember, I'm pullin for you, we're all in this together
-From a TV Show

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#993941 - 06/20/05 07:56 AM Re: Minors, Majors, C, E, G, does it really matter?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by Ancient Upright:
So, if I recognize the key signatures at the beginning of the piece, and know what they mean, will I be okay for now? [/b]
Yes.
_________________________
Sam

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