Ranking of most frequently used key signatures?

Posted by: BWV 846

Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 08:28 AM

Does anyone know of a ranking/statistical analysis of the most frequently used key signatures in the standard/student piano repertoire?

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

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 10:47 AM

This seems to be a rather bizarre question.

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

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

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

Regards,
Posted by: beet31425

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 10:47 AM

Originally Posted By: BWV 846
Of course, I realize that C major will be number 1, major will probably be more common than minor, and key signatures with lots of sharps and flats are used less frequently.

I doubt the C major part of your statement.

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

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

G: 12.5%
Eb: 12.5%
c: 9.375%
A: 6.25%
C: 6.25%
Ab: 6.25%
E: 6.25%
D: 6.25%
F: 6.25%
f: 6.25%
Bb: 6.25%
c#: 3.125%
d: 3.125%
F#: 3.125%
g: 3.125%
e: 3.125%
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 10:48 AM

Jason, did you do that on your own?!?! Yikes...
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 11:12 AM

Originally Posted By: BWV 846
Does anyone know of a ranking/statistical analysis of the most frequently used key signatures in the standard/student piano repertoire?

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


What exactly will you do with this information?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 12:02 PM

Let's face it folks -- the only composer that matters is Chopin, right? grin

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

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

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 12:06 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
....Perhaps you can enlighten me as to why you think "it would be nice."

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

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

P.S. to Jason: Nice job!!
Posted by: BDB

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 12:09 PM

How about the most common key signatures of Chopin's 24 Preludes? Or any number of other composer's sets of 24?
Posted by: beet31425

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 12:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Jason, did you do that on your own?!?! Yikes...

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

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

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

-J
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 12:14 PM

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

Yes -- like, what are the rankings for the Well Tempered Clavier? grin
Posted by: Verbum mirabilis

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 12:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: BruceD
....Perhaps you can enlighten me as to why you think "it would be nice."

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


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

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-flat_major
Posted by: wouter79

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 12:36 PM

Posted by: Vid

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 02:36 PM

Love what Chopin does in Ab Major!

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

Edit: I see someone already beat me with this joke.
Posted by: BWV 846

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 02:53 PM

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

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

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 03:03 PM

BWV846 :

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

Regards,
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 03:14 PM

The more knowledgeable you are as a musician the better equiped
you are to play music. Any knowledge or skill be it in sports or music, is to your benefit to know.

But to be fair to you, if you only want to play music contained in any piano book 1 in learning to play the piano, it is not likely you will ever need to know more than a couple of key signatures. But for the rest of the piano world, they would be anxious to learn them all, given the time and opportunity to explore them.
Posted by: wouter79

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 03:41 PM

I'm not so anxious to learn all scales, I prefer to focus on real compositions laugh
Posted by: BWV 846

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 04:06 PM

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

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

Even if knowing the answer made no difference in what I study or how I practice, I would still like to know. I am a curious guy.
Posted by: boo1234

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 05:18 PM

I think it is an interesting question too. There doesn't have to be a reason for answering other than sheer curiosity.
Posted by: beet31425

Re: Ranking of most frequently used key signatures? - 12/11/12 05:21 PM

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

-J