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  1. #1

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    I'm wondering , considering all the theory regarding intervals , cords etc applies to all the keys , would you compose anything in , say , E (4#'s) which adds a degree of complexity to the piece vs simply using C (all naturals)?

    Is this a carry over from the old days when the great instructors tended to make beginning students learn very complex pieces to try and show they were more advanced than other instructors , or is there a more practical reason for it?

    Just pondering...

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Keys have a sound and emotions attached to them. Also instruments sound better in some keys like guitar its said playing in Bb minor sounds better that Ami. So there is more to a key than making it easy to read or play there is timbre and feel attached to keys.

  4. #3

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    Also vocal range, compatibility with other instruments, how it sits on the fretboard...

    and note that melodies with lots of accidentals aren't necessarily easier to play in C.

    Danny W.

  5. #4

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    Unlike the guitar for the most part, different keys make a big difference on some other instruments.

    On the piano, the different keys utilize different patterns of black and white keys, which lends a distinct real feel to the way the notes are played under the fingers. A favorite key for the piano is Eb because of this. Playing in C on the piano may feel sort of "blind" for the fingers.

    Instruments like sax, clarinet, flute, etc. have distinct preferred fingerings for the different keys as many notes have alternate fingerings in order that scales and diatonic phrases can be played smoothly - some of the altissimo notes on the sax have two dozen fingerings. In general, this makes some keys easier than others Likewise, trumpet family instruments have easy and more difficult keys because of the fingerings.

    The composer that is writing for these instruments will take all this into account, as well as the fact that many of these are transposing instruments - those where the notated pitch is not the same as the pitch they make with respect to concert pitch.

  6. #5

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    Just remember D minor is the saddest of all keys, really

  7. #6

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    I see .. so apart from writing for other instruments (ie B flat tenor sax) , the choice of keys is arbitrary and primarily esthetic..correct?

    So , since I'm a total n00b at composing and arranging , it would be perfectly acceptable (and probably wiser) to learn the basics using a simple C Maj/A Min key.

    Does that seem logical?

  8. #7

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    I always start from melody, so the key is sometimes a surprise...but i usually keep things where I first hear them.

  9. #8

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    Each song presents itself to me in its own key. I listen. Some songs have no particular key. Others are in very awkward keys. Some very simple. It's best to know enough to give the song justice when it comes knocking.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by BeerHunter
    I see .. so apart from writing for other instruments (ie B flat tenor sax) , the choice of keys is arbitrary and primarily esthetic..correct?

    So , since I'm a total n00b at composing and arranging , it would be perfectly acceptable (and probably wiser) to learn the basics using a simple C Maj/A Min key.

    Does that seem logical?
    I'd say once you write and example then start playing it in different keys and registers and hear/feel for yourself the differences.

  11. #10

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    each note has its own tone just because the waves it produces .. middle c is middle c .... I create for the tone and pitch maybe middle c is just a haft tone to high so I want to use b. maybe when playing I think the B will sound better as 5th so I have the bass start playing E. I create the music. what key it is in has to do with making it easy to read. recently created a peace revolving around a huge exotic chord making it work with a 9 tone scale that is the way it is played. but written in F MAJ In the key sig because it has fewer accidentals that way. easer to read. I could write it in A minor then people would have a lot of accidentals to read.. get it? OR how about C MAJ? ROFL
    Last edited by EOE; 02-16-2015 at 04:18 PM.

  12. #11

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    If you know your scales well, it's usually not much more difficult to play in other keys. That's the beauty of guitar -- it's the easiest instrument to transpose on, we just move the pattern up or down. It may only be more difficult for someone to read or write in different key signatures. That's why we have plenty of compositions and etudes written in easy keys and tailored for beginners. If composers limited themselves to only the key of C all the time, music would get really boring to listen to. Also, modulation is a very important part of music. Very rarely does a composition stay in one key the entire time. You need the modulation for contrast between sections. Since modulation is so critical to good compositions, it's used all the time, and therefore if your going to have to modulate anyways, what difference does it make what key you start in?

  13. #12

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    I don't believe it, but it makes for humorous reading: Characteristics of Musical Keys

    What does your favourite key say about you?

  14. #13

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    That site of key characteristics seems to be missing a few things.

    1- Concert pitch has been all over the place historically ranging almost an octave, only standardized as A=440Hz early in the 20th century. That means the names of the frequencies have not been consistent, so anything suggesting that a particular letter named note or key has some intrinsic attributes is misguided. All the notes, scales, and keys have historically been all up and down the frequency range for the last few hundreds of years. What we call the note middle C, and the key of C major is not the same frequencies as what they used to call it...

    2- Before equal temperament, different keys did have individual sounds because of the way various slightly unequal sized semi-tones comprised the various scales. There have been over two dozen temperaments in past use, about four or five in common past use; those made different keys sound different from one another. Since the standardization to equal temperament, all semi-tones are the same size and scales in all keys are uniform in structure... no distinctive characteristics among them any more.

    3- The only real remaining difference between the sound of the keys is how some instruments' tone and intonation vary when playing in the different keys because of the mechanical peculiarities of these instruments... but which keys this is the case varies among the different instruments, so different keys may sound different for a specific type of instrument, but there is no general sense that a certain key itself has a certain sound from the others...

    That said, the variance of instruments suggests that it might be interesting to determine which single modern equal temperament key sounds best for the most instruments, and I guess which one sounds the worst...

  15. #14

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    Do you hear what you want to write before you write it? That may lead you to a key.

    a lot of (non jazz) guitar music, especially easy music, is in C, A minor, G, E minor, D, D minor, F. Not so many flat keys if not dealing with jazz (talking guitar music only here).

    and even if you only want to write in C, do you only want to write in major? If you want to keep the easy C thing going, you'll need A minor for super easy minor stuff.
    Last edited by fumblefingers; 02-18-2015 at 06:17 PM.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by BeerHunter
    I'm wondering , considering all the theory regarding intervals , cords etc applies to all the keys , would you compose anything in , say , E (4#'s) which adds a degree of complexity to the piece vs simply using C (all naturals)?

    Is this a carry over from the old days when the great instructors tended to make beginning students learn very complex pieces to try and show they were more advanced than other instructors , or is there a more practical reason for it?

    Just pondering...
    can you expand on these "old days" that you mention? Are you referring to jazz, classical, guitar music? I'm not clear on the historical reference...

  17. #16

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    the most common keys I find in jazz standards are the b key signatures, F, Bb, Eb, Ab and Db as well as C but there's no limit or rule. whatever key you start in is usually the key unless you start arranging, that's when you might have to change the key.

  18. #17

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    I once transcribed 9 TV show melodies. They were all F major. WTF kinda Da Vinci code sht is that???

  19. #18

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    Actually, if i was writing something i wanted all instruments to be able to pull off pretty quickly and easily, F's a great choice.

  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    .3- The only real remaining difference between the sound of the keys is how some instruments' tone and intonation vary when playing in the different keys because of the mechanical peculiarities of these instruments... but which keys this is the case varies among the different instruments, so different keys may sound different for a specific type of instrument, but there is no general sense that a certain key itself has a certain sound from the others...
    Beyond equal temperament or instrument distinctions etc., different keys DO have their own color or character. This may be less evident to those of us WITHOUT perfect pitch, but we get hints of it as well.

    My son is very put off by my singing something in a different key.

    "What's the difference?"

    "It's just not right..."

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    Beyond equal temperament or instrument distinctions etc., different keys DO have their own color or character. This may be less evident to those of us WITHOUT perfect pitch, but we get hints of it as well.

    My son is very put off by my singing something in a different key.

    "What's the difference?"

    "It's just not right..."
    Actually if you thing about it... If perfect pitch exist, and it DOES, that mean that there IS differences between every single pitch.

    So just the recurrence of certain pitches whiten a tonality will assure a different colour.

    This is fact.

    And we are not even talking about pitches being actually a collection on overtones. Or characteristic of indifferent instruments.


    PS: Also for those old AFM members, how many of you could hold a pitchfork in balance on your finger...

  22. #21

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    Actually if you thing about it... If perfect pitch exist, and it DOES, that mean that there IS differences between every single pitch.
    it may exist only as a part of physical concept of reality where 'objective' point is possible, not artistic though...

    musical hearing involves personality, music exists when it is percieved, and it is always more of a hearing a concept/languge/culture...

    Take this vid (no policics please!!! just music)...
    I am sure they have normal tunings, most probably they just do not hear the difference... it is not bad ear, it is concept where there is no difference in meaning between the sounds, and when they do not hear the difference on level of meaning they jsut do not distinguish it...

    the same thing with keys, equal temperation became more or less standard, so people stop hearing differences...


  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    Okay that's actually pretty fascinating. On first listen, I thought it was just some amateur local group performing or something, but this is apparently a for real "interpretation" by the Egyptian Army band?

    Traditional Egyptian music is 24 tone? The flat thirds are peculiar. I don't mean a halfstep flat either. Not only do they not sharp them slightly the way that we do in the West, they actually seem to take them down a quarter tone or something. Then, at the end there's some kind of quarter tone shift sounds like. The more I listened to it the more I was kind of mesmerized by it. It's certainly "different".

    "12 tones? Meh! Let's show them how it's really done".

    Now, you jazzers say you like your dissonance and outside sounds . This is the real thing. :-)

  24. #23

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    I still think they really believe they play it as it should be... just do not hear the difference.

    Besides when you play horns it is quite easy to correct the tunining instinctively - your embouchure just does mechanically.

    their horns seem to be quite regular, I do not think they have special tunings

    I had Korean student for theory... she played piano very skillfully but could not distinguish 2nd from 5th by ear...

    I think I also do not hear semantic difference between sounds in Chinese music... if they ask me to imitate it I will just clash some cymbals here and there - no difference for me -- but for Chinese it might be ridiculous set of sounds...
    Last edited by Jonah; 02-20-2015 at 01:13 PM.

  25. #24

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    I used to compose in B#. People were impressed but it was a mess in performance. Now I write in C. Everyone thinks I'm a simpleton.

    David

  26. #25

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    different keys do have different characters, moods, colors associated with them.

    the whole "D minor is the saddest key" has more or less made it a joke among musicians, but i really do think it's true. pieces have slightly different feels to them when they're moved to different keys.

    my recommendation would be to to try working a tune through all 12 keys and see what (if any) differences you hear with certain keys. maybe you don't, which is fine, but you may be surprised

  27. #26

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    different keys do have different characters, moods, colors associated with them.
    the whole "D minor is the saddest key" has more or less made it a joke among musicians, but i really do think it's true. pieces have slightly different feels to them when they're moved to different keys.
    It is not about being true... it is relations within certain musical (or rather cultural) language, we live in it, grow up in this audial enviroment..

    In calssical tradition b-minor had sorrowness of Chist's passion, the profoundest sorrow... mostly in baroque music (originally from renaissance)
    c-minor had often a touch monumental grief, combination of sorrow and power, greatness, especially in later calssical period (Beethoven's 5th, Schubert's 4th, Chopin's c-minor prelude, lots of examples)
    d-minor had more of an intimate touch of sorrow, mostly after Mozart estableshed the key like this with his Requiem... in baroque it did not have that meaning.

    These meanings originaly come from mid-ages modality when modes had certain caracters and audience could identify it... then they were modified with time.

    there are also hubdreds of reasons why we chose this that key, why it sounds different - instrumental reason is not least... blues in E, blues in D, blues in Bb will sound very different on guitar

    now I think the problem is that we are too much into equal temperance now, and the other point is that in pop/jazz music is often key-closed, key realstions do not matter much. So I think in general (yes in general... meaning thath on personal level there is always exceptions and details) as a part common language in comparison to classical period meaning of key is mostly lost.
    Last edited by Jonah; 02-24-2015 at 10:54 AM.