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#1
Ok, so. Here's a simple question - though I guess it's a little vauge. If I know what notes are being played, how can I determine whether a piece of music is in a major key or its relative minor?
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#3
Well, I'm just asking in a general sense. Also, I'm not sure exactly what you mean by resolution, is that just basically the last chord played in the progression?

Edit: Um, let's say it's a simple 12-bar blues progression - E A B7. Just for an example.
Gibson LP Studio
Epiphone SoCal 50
Last edited by darkload at Jan 29, 2009,
#4
Did you read the theory sticky? Or the Crusades articles? If you didn't, read them now. If you did, state specifically what it is you didn't understand unstead of simply stating "I don't understand".
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#5
Listen to the music?! You can instantly tell whether something is major/minor, regardless of whether you know the theory or not.
#6
Quote by Ikonoklast
Listen to the music?! You can instantly tell whether something is major/minor, regardless of whether you know the theory or not.


No, you can't. That's completely ridiculous.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#7
Quote by Archeo Avis
No, you can't. That's completely ridiculous.


You can't tell whether something sounds major or minor?!

Your ears are ridiculous then.

EDIT: If your statement is true then you have to look at theory to tell whether a scale or chord progression is major or minor?
Last edited by Ikonoklast at Jan 29, 2009,
#8
Quote by Ikonoklast
You can't tell whether something sounds major or minor?!

Your ears are ridiculous then.


You give the impression that you believe major and minor have inherent moods. This is not so. Something is not minor merely because it sounds "sad", nor are major keys inherently happy.

If your statement is true then you have to look at theory to tell whether a scale or chord progression is major or minor?


Yes.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#9
Quote by Archeo Avis
You give the impression that you believe major and minor have inherent moods. This is not so. Something is not minor merely because it sounds "sad", nor are major keys inherently happy.


Yes.


You're an idiot then. You mean to tell me that you can't tell the difference between C Major and A Minor? If the overall piece of music sounds minor then it most probably is.
#10
Your root chord might not be the last chord, but it will always make it sound finished if tacked onto the end. With your 12-bar blues example, the progression is intended to be repeated; the last chord purposely leaves you waiting for a resolution in order to lead back to the start (a turnaround).

Play the last four bars: B A E B7

It doesn't sound finished.

Play instead: B A E B7 E

That sounds finished.

Try these chords: Dm C Bb A7

Unfinished.

But this: Dm C Bb A7 Dm

Finished.
#11
Quote by Ikonoklast
You're an idiot then. You mean to tell me that you can't tell the difference between C Major and A Minor? If the overall piece of music sounds minor then it most probably is.


My theory teacher played a progression earlier and one of the major chords sounded really sad. I didn't even notice it wasn't minor until she arpeggiated it.

Edit: forgot to say, the context a chord is used in is more important.
#12
Quote by Ikonoklast
Listen to the music?! You can instantly tell whether something is major/minor, regardless of whether you know the theory or not.

...

other than learning your circle of fiths, i used to identify the key by figuring out which chord sounds best to end the progression on
Last edited by Peaceful Rocker at Jan 29, 2009,
#13
We're talking major and minor, not happy and sad. A minor key doesn't have to be sad (click), and a major one doesn't have to be happy (click), but a major key can't sound minor

In the end, you can get everything from listening. Theory is based on the sound, not the other way round.
#14
Quote by Peaceful Rocker
...
possibly the worst advise of 2009?

other than learning your circle of fiths, i used to identify the key by figuring out which chord sounds best to end the progression on


So he's got a choice between a major key or it's relative minor, and you people cannot tell the difference in actual sound? Whatever it says on paper your ears should guide you. If the whole piece sounds minor it probably is. If it sounds happy it's probably major. Not definitely, but most likely. And your advice is to go and learn the entire circle of fifths to identify which key one piece of music is in? Theory are the why's, your ears are the whats.
#15
Quote by anotherbluesguy
We're talking major and minor, not happy and sad. A minor key doesn't have to be sad (click), and a major one doesn't have to be happy (click), but a major key can't sound minor

In the end, you can get everything from listening. Theory is based on the sound, not the other way round.


Yes but he's asking which would it be if he had the notes already. To suggest it's almost impossible to tell would be to suggest that the modes sound the same.
#16
I was more aiming at being able to figure out the key of a piece of music in general, i guarantee you theres music you aren't able to tell the key of just by listening to it.
#17
Quote by Peaceful Rocker
I was more aiming at being able to figure out the key of a piece of music in general, i guarantee you theres music you aren't able to tell the key of just by listening to it.


I agree with that, but his actual question was if he had the notes already, how would he tell if it was in the Major scale or it's Aeolian Mode.
#18
Quote by Ikonoklast
Yes but he's asking which would it be if he had the notes already. To suggest it's almost impossible to tell would be to suggest that the modes sound the same.


I am agreeing with you; you can certainly tell major and minor keys from listening with enough practice. You can't put it down to a simple happy and sad though.
#19
Quote by Ikonoklast
Yes but he's asking which would it be if he had the notes already. To suggest it's almost impossible to tell would be to suggest that the modes sound the same.

and the answer is the chord the progression revolves around, not "use your ears". He obviously needs more help than just telling him to listen to the song

you have no point here, quit being an idiot
#20
Quote by anotherbluesguy
We're talking major and minor, not happy and sad. A minor key doesn't have to be sad (click), and a major one doesn't have to be happy (click), but a major key can't sound minor

In the end, you can get everything from listening. Theory is based on the sound, not the other way round.



Granted, but if you use your ears then its the simplest thing in the world to be able to tell whether most tonal music is based around a major or minor key.
#21
Quote by shoolocomous
Granted, but if you use your ears then its the simplest thing in the world to be able to tell whether most tonal music is based around a major or minor key.


I could have also said one is 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 and one is 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8 but that woulda been worthless to him. The reason the chord progression makes it one or the other is because it SOUNDS different. Jesus.
#22
Quote by Ikonoklast
You're an idiot then. You mean to tell me that you can't tell the difference between C Major and A Minor? If the overall piece of music sounds minor then it most probably is.


'Most probably' is not 'definitely'.
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#23
Quote by duncang
'Most probably' is not 'definitely'.


If you've got a 50/50 shot at getting it right then it doesn't matter.
#24
Quote by Ikonoklast
If you've got a 50/50 shot at getting it right then it doesn't matter.


Yes it does.

I, unlike you, care when I'm wrong.
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im more of a social godzilla than chameleon

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Alright, I'll give them a try, Japanese Black Speed rarely disappoints.

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#25
Quote by duncang
Yes it does.

I, unlike you, care when I'm wrong.


Whatever

At the end of the day, if you' ve got all the notes and are listening to the song, you probably know which chords are being used, if you still can't tell whether it's major or relative minor then you should be nowhere near a guitar or music. Maybe i should think about the gang-up factor the next time i question a regular. Click Click.
#26
you should just think before you post in general, what good comes out of your advise.. "use your ears", you were asking to be flamed posting that, and it wasen't the answer he was looking for.

The threadstarter is clearly new to playing music, just because he is new doesn't make him less worthy of playing a guitar than yourself
#27
Quote by Ikonoklast
At the end of the day, if you' ve got all the notes and are listening to the song, you probably know which chords are being used, if you still can't tell whether it's major or relative minor then you should be nowhere near a guitar or music.


OR

You need to train your ear. During your first day as a musician you couldn't have listened to a song, looked at the notes being played and told me what the tonal centre was.
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Alright, I'll give them a try, Japanese Black Speed rarely disappoints.

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Hmm judging from your pic you'd fit in more with a fat busted tribute.
#28
Quote by Ikonoklast
If the whole piece sounds minor it probably is. If it sounds happy it's probably major.


What does minor sound like? What does major sound like? Describe them.

Theory are the why's, your ears are the whats.


Keys are theoretical concepts.

So he's got a choice between a major key or it's relative minor, and you people cannot tell the difference in actual sound?


That's not what you said. You said that someone should be able to instantly deduce whether a piece is in a major or minor key purely by "listening". Further, you stated that anyone who can't is an idiot. You don't get to redefine your terms in the middle of the debate.

Granted, but if you use your ears then its the simplest thing in the world to be able to tell whether most tonal music is based around a major or minor key.


Listening to the following works and identify which one's are in a major key and which one's are in a minor key. In addition, explain which aspect of the sound you used to derive your answer.

Spirit Carries On
Rubina
Love Thing
Juice
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#31
Quote by anotherbluesguy
We're talking major and minor, not happy and sad. A minor key doesn't have to be sad (click), and a major one doesn't have to be happy (click), but a major key can't sound minor

In the end, you can get everything from listening. Theory is based on the sound, not the other way round.


Tbh, and I don't wanna start an argument, but you could easily tell those were respective minor or major if you have developed ears.

If you just develop ur ears, you don't get so easy "manipulated" by major interval leaps and "Cheery" rhythm misleading you in think it's the other key.

Just develop ur ear it isn't that hard to hear the minor tonality even if the mood sways major.

Moods are not tonality

Split the harmony from the melody and rhythm in ur head (you can train this by transcribing music every day).

How minor keys often are made "happy" sounding or w/e, is because they usually involve major interval leaps in the melody over a minor chord progression. For Major keys that sound minor the other way around.

This is exactly what I learned with modes.

Example; Phrygian sounds often "eastern" but is just based of a major key.

I suggest people really learn about modes to distinguish the different tonal centres within a major key, since minor is essentially also a mode or tonal centre within a major key.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Jan 29, 2009,
#32
A scale cannot be defined by sound. Sound is an opinion. I can think something is happy when someone else thinks it's sad. Tonality is established by an analysis of the notes and determining where it resolves. That is dependent on opinion as well, but it establishes more consistency.
#33
Example; Phrygian sounds often "eastern" but is just based of a major key.

I suggest people really learn about modes to distinguish the different tonal centres within a major key, since minor is essentially also a mode or tonal centre within a major key.


This is not only wrong, but fractally wrong (just because I want an excuse to use this image)

Western tonality recognizes a minor key as distinct from its relative major. It is not "in a major key", nor is phrygian "in a major key". They are not even remotely similar. You are just plain wrong.

How minor keys often are made "happy" sounding or w/e, is because they usually involve major interval leaps in the melody over a minor chord progression. For Major keys that sound minor the other way around.


No. That is absurdly simplistic and completely ignores the other (far more influential) aspects of the music, such as timbre and tempo.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
Last edited by Archeo Avis at Jan 29, 2009,
#34
Fractals are freaking cool, thus making that one of the best demotivational pictures I've ever seen.

Anyway, I think I forgot to correct this earlier, but Phrygian isn't based on a major key. Yes, it's the third mode of the major scale, but it's more related to parallel minor scales than relative modes.
#35
This thread is cancer. I should lay off the chan sites.

Where does the main melody resolve. Does it sound resolved on the first note of the major scale used or does it sound resolve on the sixth note? It's best if you analyze the last phrase of the movement (verse, chorus, bridge whatever).

What's the chord progression doing? If there are more Am and E7 chords in a progression than C and G chords, you're probably in Am. Keeping in mind most progressions follow an i/I-V movement (with chords added in or with modulation), if you see a chord being used as a functioning dominant chord you can easily find the tonal center.

Is there a leading tone being used? Most minor based songs will raise the seventh note of the minor scale. So if the key signature says Cmaj/Am, but you see G# used as an accidental alot, chances are you're in minor. This rule only really applies to when a phrase is resolving a movement.


How NOT to tell if a song is in minor.
Expecting a mood. Minor songs do NOT sound inherently sadder, eviler, darker or "spanish." The only difference sound wise is that minor based songs are a mite bit unstable compared to major based songs. The need to use a raised seventh makes minor based songs sound unstable in nooby composers works. If you listen to a bach peice or a rachmaninoff peice, you'll hear minor based songs sounding as upbeat and as stable as major based songs.

Which note/chord the song starts on. This might have worked 400 years ago, back when music writing conventions only worked when the song both started and finished on the tonal center, but nowadays it's not the case. You should still begin on a consonance, but you're not restricted to the tonal center.


And no, modes have nothing to do with tonal music. Tonal music uses leading tones and chords. Modal music is archaic and comes from a time when chords weren't completely theorised. Do not talk about modes in my presence unless they actually apply (the occasional folk song or pre-baroque songs) or if you're a crazy jazz guy. Otherwise, I will eat you alive.

And no, there is no such thing as aeolian in real modal music. Aeolian exists as one of the jazz modes used in improvised jazz (which, once again, isn't really modal). Spanish folk music has been called "aeolian," but I'd rather call it "minor without a leading tone."

And yes, Arch is the voice of truth.
And no, he is not helpfull to the T/S.
        ,
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[U]        |/     .-.              [/U]
[U]       /|_     `-’       |      [/U]
[U]      //| \      |       |      [/U]
[U]     | \|_ |     |     .-|      [/U]
      *-|-*    (_)     `-’
        |
        L.
#36
Quote by Archeo Avis
Did you read the theory sticky? Or the Crusades articles? If you didn't, read them now. If you did, state specifically what it is you didn't understand unstead of simply stating "I don't understand".


Where can we fine these crusades articles, archeo davis?
#37
Quote by dmirtygorachyov
Where can we fine these crusades articles, archeo davis?


Linky
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#38
"And yes, Arch is the voice of truth.
And no, he is not helpfull to the T/S."


Anyway back to the main point, is there a really good article or book which explains alot on formal writing and analysing a piece in every way possible? I think i understand enough theory to be able to quite simply tell what key the song is in, why these notes are used and such, but i dont actually understand what else is there to "analysing" a piece, which just because i dont know how to, and i like music, makes me interested.

Anyone? i understand these kinda things take time, thats why i want to start now, rather than later, because the more time i lay to waste, the less time i have in general.
#39
Quote by Archeo Avis


Thanks, by the way, why do you recommend this explanation of theory aside from all the infinity billion other stuff on theory in the infinity billion bits of the interwebs?

O arche?
#40
"What does minor sound like? What does major sound like? Describe them."

How do you answer a question like this? I know its abit of a trick question seeing as it cant be the obvious Sad and happy.
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