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#1
hey, I was watching a vid of this dude playing in different keys, and he played the same song in keys of c and b. This got me wondering do different keys have like their own personality?

For example, this is just made up but what if it were like this:

Em: Dark
Am: Sad
F: Angry

or whatever.

Has anyone else noticed that or is it just me? Then again would this theory even work, i mean if you played a song in a different key its still the song right?

Cheers,
Jimmi.

P.S. I placed this in 2 Songwriting and MUsicians corner cos I wasn't sure where it would be best to put it.
#6
i dont think so althught the guitar has alot of intonation oddities cant ever be in perfect pitch
and your might just be off
also the way you play and the positions your used to playing could attribute to that
#7
Quote by Eminored
It's all opinion and generally people would agree with you. Because each instrument has its own timbre and tone at a specific pitch, it's not going to sound exactly the same but just in a different key.

The different timbre's of different instruments =/= keys having personalities.
#8
I meant that different frequencies are heard when you play one note versus another. Changing the key changes the frequencies heard. Although the melodies are the same, different sounds are heard. Therefore different keys present different frequencies with each instrument and within one instrument.
#9
No. But to elaborate on Diminished Fifth's response, the distance or interval between the two keys would evoke the moods that you feel from them. For example something might come off as really sad but uplifting if you modulated from F Major to Ab Major. This would be due to the minor third distance between the two keys (Sad) but uplifting because of the Major keys. That's how I see it and I have tried it before which you can decide for yourself if you listen to my first composition I posted here in the intro. Modulating a semitone upwards would probably create tension etcetera, you get the idea. So modulating can create a new mood/atmosphere but the keys don't have individual moods. That is dependant on the scale/mode/chords/harmonies. Hope that helps.
#10
alright, lemme list out the scale modes of your typical major scale to you....and I'll add some interesting things at the end.

Ionian (Major) = Light and Happy
Dorian = sad'(ish)
Phrygian = Darkish
Lydian = Naive, Curious
Mixolydian = Light but odd
Aeolean (Minor) = Somber
Locrian = Dark and Scary

Interesting things...
If you play a major progression with a phrygian melody then it sounds spanish.
If you play a minor progression with a major melody then it sounds Sincere (Kids by MGMT is a fantastic example)

Dont know what modes are?
Think of your major scale as "do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do" Thats Ionian...now start that sequence at different points "re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do-re" now thats dorian. "me-fa-so-la-ti-do-re-me" is phrygian. CwutIdidthar??


Its not the root note of the scale that determines the tone of the peice, its whether its "major or minor " or any of the modes. If you change from D minor to A minor... you're essentially transposing, and once your ears adjust to the transposition then you will think it sounds Identical. If you change from Major to Minor or from any of the other modes, then your piece will sound greatly different.

Once you know your theory better...you will understand why changing from E minor and going to G# major flows very very well.
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#11
Quote by arrthor
hey, I was watching a vid of this dude playing in different keys, and he played the same song in keys of c and b. This got me wondering do different keys have like their own personality?

For example, this is just made up but what if it were like this:

Em: Dark
Am: Sad
F: Angry

or whatever.

Has anyone else noticed that or is it just me? Then again would this theory even work, i mean if you played a song in a different key its still the song right?

Cheers,
Jimmi.

P.S. I placed this in 2 Songwriting and MUsicians corner cos I wasn't sure where it would be best to put it.


If you are in A minor or G minor or C minor it all has the same mood ( Aeolian Mode). Many people regard the mood of minor as sad. So regardless of the Key ( Key meaning that tone where the song feels at rest and resolves to) the mood of the song (minor) will be the same. Only difference is that if you played in C minor rather than A minor the song would sound higher pitched.

What would change the mood of the song is changing the MODE not the key. Like if you went to C major ( Ionian mode) you will have a different mood.
#12
No they don't.

And all the mode stuff above is wrong.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#13
Quote by AlanHB
No they don't.

And all the mode stuff above is wrong.



Well whipping it out in the open. I didnt mean for it to be 100% spot on. Jus passing a point with some structure.
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#14
Yeah, D minor is the saddest of all keys.

In all seriousness, no.

Quote by xFinnellx
Well whipping it out in the open. I didnt mean for it to be 100% spot on. Jus passing a point with some structure.


Correct me if I'm wrong in this, but there is no such thing as the "Ionian mode" today. Functionally it is the exact same thing as the major scale and therefore the term is obsolete. It's comparable to calling Istanbul Constantinople, Ho Chi Minh City Saigon and the Balkan countries Yugoslavia (or Russia the USSR). At one point these all existed but events throughout history caused them to fall/dissolve.
Last edited by Sóknardalr at Jul 9, 2011,
#16
no. yeah it will sound slightly different a semitone down. think of this, if you play something, and then play it an octave up or down, it sounds different, but it's still in the same key. keys don't have any meaning attached to them.

normally, if you hear someone play a song in E minor and then a week later you hear him play it tuned down half a step, did you ever think, wow that first time it sounded uplifting but now it feels sincere? BS. pure BS. and how does a key sound sincere anyway?

a lot of people have been talking about modulating from different keys to other keys that this can give moods, yes it can, but only in relation to the notes played. it doesn't sound happy then intriguing because you used the happy key of C major and then the intriguing key of F# minor. it's because you modulated a certain distance. you could play it a semi tone up or down and it will sound the same to you, not them notorious and then impassive because you used the notorious key of B major and then the impassive key of F minor.

most people don't have perfect pitch. without it you won't be able to tell if someone plays something in B or Bb, so the idea of it having attached meaning is silly.

most importantly: it's not the key you pick, it's how you use it. it depends on the harmonies etc that you use, this is infinitely more important to creating a sound scape than what key you pick.
#17
This idea originates from when equal temperament wasn't the standard. It doesn't really apply now that intervals are standardised. It may possibly apply to string music, I've heard good string players tend to adjust their notes slightly to bring them more in tune. Of course this isn't possible if for example, the 3rd degree is being played on the open string.

I'm no authority on the subject though, so feel free to correct me.
#18
Quote by Jesse Clarkson
This idea originates from when equal temperament wasn't the standard. It doesn't really apply now that intervals are standardised. It may possibly apply to string music, I've heard good string players tend to adjust their notes slightly to bring them more in tune. Of course this isn't possible if for example, the 3rd degree is being played on the open string.

I'm no authority on the subject though, so feel free to correct me.


yes this is true, in old operas and stuff we looked at in college, composers would pick say C major for something happy and nice and A minor for something that's kinda sad, however, if they really wanted to express anguish or something, they'd use something like C# minor, because it would literally be out of tune and more dissonant to our ears than A minor. as you said though, this has no place in equal temperament.
#19
Everything regarding scales/modes is subjective and the context it is used in is so specific its impossible to give a 'correct' answer.
Technically, there is no 'wrong' note to play. Ever.
Always waiting for that bit of inspiration.
#20
Quote by gavk
no. yeah it will sound slightly different a semitone down. think of this, if you play something, and then play it an octave up or down, it sounds different, but it's still in the same key. keys don't have any meaning attached to them.

normally, if you hear someone play a song in E minor and then a week later you hear him play it tuned down half a step, did you ever think, wow that first time it sounded uplifting but now it feels sincere? BS. pure BS. and how does a key sound sincere anyway?

a lot of people have been talking about modulating from different keys to other keys that this can give moods, yes it can, but only in relation to the notes played. it doesn't sound happy then intriguing because you used the happy key of C major and then the intriguing key of F# minor. it's because you modulated a certain distance. you could play it a semi tone up or down and it will sound the same to you, not them notorious and then impassive because you used the notorious key of B major and then the impassive key of F minor.

most people don't have perfect pitch. without it you won't be able to tell if someone plays something in B or Bb, so the idea of it having attached meaning is silly.

most importantly: it's not the key you pick, it's how you use it. it depends on the harmonies etc that you use, this is infinitely more important to creating a sound scape than what key you pick.


Most people WILL be able to tell if something is in B or Bb subtly. When people are asked to sing popular songs they will generally sing it in the correct key. If I listened to a piece every day for a week then listened to it transposed down a half step I guarantee I'd be able to tell the difference. Now if I heard it once and didn't listen to it for a week then, yes, I probably wouldn't tell the difference. But I also most likely wouldn't be able to tell if the melody or chord structure were severely changed if it was a piece I only heard once.

I do believe keys have a subtle affect on mood, not anywhere near as much as you're suggesting people think nor anywhere near as much as the difference between major and minor.
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#21
Quote by W4T3V3R
Everything regarding scales/modes is subjective and the context it is used in is so specific its impossible to give a 'correct' answer.
Technically, there is no 'wrong' note to play. Ever.


When a song is in a mode, playing outside it drags the song back to major/minor key tonality. So that is an instance where there are incorrect notes.

Otherwise anybody who has played in a covers band can attest that there is no major effect, nor anyone giving a toss if you shift the key of a song up or down.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#22
while I think certain songs sound better in certain keys, no.

but my band tried to play sir duke in Bb and C to make it easier. didn't sound right.
#DTWD
#23
Interesting. I transposed a piece of mine down half a step once, and it sounded awful. I couldn't explain it at all. Maybe I had become too attached to the original key.
#24
ah, but if you had written it in the original key, would you think it sounded awful a step up?!
#25
Quote by Jesse Clarkson
Interesting. I transposed a piece of mine down half a step once, and it sounded awful. I couldn't explain it at all. Maybe I had become too attached to the original key.

I've noticed about a whole step is where things start sounding bad for me. I think it's cause of the loss of "high-end" and it all just starts sounding muddy and midrangey with no top at all. That, and we're accustomed to the climaxes sounding a certain way and if it doesn't climax on the right note, to us it doesn't sound... complete.

I have written a song in E and just dropped it to D cause it sounded better to me.
#26
no they dont because it would depend on the tuning and the instrument. em may sound dark to you but if you played in Eminor with a capo at the 5th or 7th, you might find it doesnt sound as dark. maybe the voicings you are using sound dark.

that being said, some people find different keys have different feelings, but it might have to do with the voicings i just mentioned or maybe they really feel that. personally, i dont find a difference in feeling for keys. i change keys of songs to suit my voice or to suit playing better. sometimes i change keys because i like the sound of it in a different key, but i dont feel it has a different feeling or personality. its different for each song.
#27
Why would you bring modes into this?
Quote by kaptkegan
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#28
voicings don't have anything to do with a certain key having a feeling, nor does the climax being on a certain note. more than anything i think it's probably more to do with the harmonic series than anything else.

as someone said, low notes need room to breath (because of the harmonic series) so it might have to do with a combination of this and the voicings of a song that lead people to think they're different.
#29
keys are actually quite similar to each other.

because they are based on intervals if you have a lic and just simply change the key of said lic the overall feel doesn't change to much TBH.

like from C to G or something of the likes
song stuck in my head today


#31
Quote by arrthor
hey, I was watching a vid of this dude playing in different keys, and he played the same song in keys of c and b. This got me wondering do different keys have like their own personality?

For example, this is just made up but what if it were like this:

Em: Dark
Am: Sad
F: Angry

or whatever.

Has anyone else noticed that or is it just me? Then again would this theory even work, i mean if you played a song in a different key its still the song right?

Cheers,
Jimmi.

P.S. I placed this in 2 Songwriting and MUsicians corner cos I wasn't sure where it would be best to put it.


Well, It'll sound different, but you cross the fine line between obvious and stupid when you attempt to connect them to specific emotions.
shred is gaudy music
#32
For most modern music keys do not have a different feeling. The interval between every note in the chromatic scale is 100 cents. So no matter where you start its all the same, just a different starting not.

However if you go back to Well Temperments and Meantone instead of Equal Temperment(the modern standard) then the intervals are not even, causing every key to be different in structure by just a little bit; creating these feelings most people talk about.
#33
It always sounds different and in varying ways but people do associate the different keys with different kinds of moods so I guess that the keys may have different personalities unintentionally.
#35
haha yeah and chopin had his black key etude but i don't think he meant the key colour......
#36
D Minor is the saddest key. Cookie for reference anyone?
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#37
Quote by Joshthedamaja
D Minor is the saddest key. Cookie for reference anyone?


Sorry I already made it earlier in this thread. But you get a cookie anyway.
#39
How silly. Of course they don't. Any difference in emotion evoked between keys is completely different for everyone. There is no secret to evoking an emotion via a certain key, anyone who tells you otherwise is lying, and pretty dumb.
#40
Take any song, and transpose it into another key. It may sound strange because it's higher or lower than you're used to hearing, but the personality of the piece, the overall sound hasn't changed, only it's pitch.

Play a few songs in Standard, then tune to Eb and then D. The only reasons why they should sound different is because the overall pitch is lower, and notes no longer "Peak" Where you feel they're supposed to.

Keys do have 'personalities.' They're called affects. Here's a nice list of affective characteristics.
http://www.wmich.edu/mus-theo/courses/keys.html


So If I take a piece in C Minor, transpose it down two notes into Bb Minor, the original feel of the piece, which is...

Declaration of love and at the same time the lament of unhappy love. All languishing, longing, sighing of the love-sick soul lies in this key.


Now becomes...

A quaint creature, often dressed in the garment of night. It is somewhat surly and very seldom takes on a pleasant countenance. Mocking God and the world; discontented with itself and with everything; preparation for suicide sounds in this key.






Also, I guarantee you that I could write an extremely bright sounding song completely in Bb Minor.
Last edited by Life Is Brutal at Jul 10, 2011,
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