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#1
In modern western music, we have currently have the equal temperament system for tuning. Because of the nature of this system, I have read that each key that is within major or minor sounds very alike to each other, unlike the meantone temperament system where each key really lends a new feel. It is the intervalic quality of the work that gives you the feel for the music. If you want to get into the lower registers of the guitar, you must tune down, so that makes sense why a key in e-flat minor is chosen instead of e minor - not because you like the mood of e-flat minor as opposed to e minor, but you are gaining access to new notes in the lower registers of the instrument. So is it correct to say a major/minor key is chosen mainly because they all sound alike and it is easiest to play on that instrument, rather than hey, this song would be better in g-flat minor and I am too lazy to experiment outside of e minor, like how some rock musicians get "criticized". I also know that most rock guitarist aren't really even thinking about the key, but what sounds good. Just wondering if there would be a new dimension to the music if a work conceived in one key was transposed to another key with the same access to the octaves the notes were written in.
#2
Quote by sweetdude3000
So is it correct to say a major/minor key is chosen mainly because they all sound alike and it is easiest to play on that instrument, rather than hey, this song would be better in g-flat minor and I am too lazy to experiment outside of e minor, like how some rock musicians get "criticized".

Yes.

Quote by sweetdude3000
Just wondering if there would be a new dimension to the music if a work conceived in one key was transposed to another key with the same access to the octaves the notes were written in.

No.

Do keep in mind different keys will have slightly different timbres on any instrument, however.
Last edited by TheHydra at Mar 26, 2013,
#3
Yes and no, but mostly no. You're right in thinking that different keys don't have different moods or any garbage like that. However there is some element to choosing keys based on timbral or practical characteristics of instruments, which you pointed out with your Eb minor vs E minor example.
#4
Only exception I have noticed is that if you transposed some from a major key to a something within that key that is flat, I "think" you get a warmer sound but I am not sure. Like transposing g, e, a major, which sound particularly bright to g-flat, e-flat, or a-flat, which sound more mellow.
#5
Quote by sweetdude3000
Only exception I have noticed is that if you transposed some from a major key to a something within that key that is flat, I "think" you get a warmer sound but I am not sure. Like transposing g, e, a major, which sound particularly bright to g-flat, e-flat, or a-flat, which sound more mellow.

It's in your head.
#6
I always find that some major keys just sound 'happier' than others... not sure why. Certain ones have different effects for me. Of course this is for your rock/punk/alternative songs, if you're playing thrash metal it's not as important.

Quote by FryingNemo
I saw Satan one day
He looked kinda gay
The bible hates gays
So Satan I shall slay
Amen.
#7
Nigel says that Dminor is the saddest of all keys really. Just listen to the song "Lick my Love Pump".
#8
by playing in some E minor ish key on the guitar you are playing frequencies which will resonate well with the majority of the strings most of the time, whereas playing in something like Eb minor (with your guitar in standard tuning) would sound a lot less 'rich', as it were.
hence why a heck of a lot of solo violin pieces are in G, D, or A minor, and very rarely in something like G# minor (although the difficulty may have some influence, i doubt that it takes priority over the sound of the music in the eyes of many good composers)
#9
Don't forget vocal range and horns. Bb is a great key for trumpets because there are no sharps or flats. For guitar, the keys of A and E tend to be popular because there are a number of "open" chords which are easier to finger than if they were up the neck. Hence why songs with brass tend to be in certain keys, and likewise for guitar. Also, what notes the singer is able to reach can be a deciding factor for the key of a song. This promotes the idea that different key signatures are used for practical reasons.
Last edited by FenderGuy909 at Mar 26, 2013,
#10
Thanks for clearing up the confusion. Makes perfect sense. Seems so obvious to me right now it hurts. It's pretty bad I got that misguided concept from a college piano teacher. I never really put much thought into until now.
#13
Quote by :-D
the key of Db major is the best one in existence

that's the only thing we know for sure


And a true tragedy that it must be played using a capo....
#14
I don't understand anymore than the surface level, but my analysis professor mentioned that back in the day before equal temperament was invented keys actually sounded different. he also mentioned that it was for this very reason that modes started to gain popularity. For example, D minor would sound bad due to tuning issues but D dorian might sound better.

I could be wrong though.
#15
Quote by Captaincranky
And a true tragedy that it must be played using a capo....

Pfffttt...capos. Just use barre chords.
#16
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Pfffttt...capos. Just use barre chords.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but for a couple of 6 string open chords, you'll need six fingers.
#17
I have asked myself this question many times!

And i have come up with the same answer

If you were form another world, not used to our customs or any one elses. It wouldn't be any different ( other then the key ).

We hear certain styles of songs in certain keys and modes, which makes us correlate them with certain feelings and familiarization.

PS : just thought i should say rythem plays a important part in making someones own songs.
Last edited by IbanezMan989 at Mar 27, 2013,
#18
Prior to the equal temperament system, there were a variety of temperaments. I think that at one point there was some distinct flavoring in keys because of the intervallic quality due to the nature of the well-temperament system for the keyboard. That probably why Bach wrote WTC in all different keys. Or maybe he just did it because he could. I'll have to see if my digital is capable of playing in a different tuning to check this out, but I probably doubt it is.
#20
For dubstep and drum n bass music, it's very popular to write in F, F# or G, because placing the root at around 45hz is about as low as most common sound systems go. If you write your tune in D or E, there's a big risk the sub bass will disappear completely.

Obviously, the physics of a guitar neck, strings, amp, speaker, and the fingering of chords all play a big role in changing the sound when you play in different keys, so yes, I'd say there is a giant difference in mood, feel, sound, etc when changing keys on guitar. If you play the same stuff on a synth, probably no difference.
#21
@Captaincranky
What were those dudes smokin' when they were describing those various keys and chords. I found those definitions slightly mesmerizing in a way :p
But I think one of the past posters is right, when we hear a piece of music in a key of another song we are familiar with, or have some sort of emotional attachment to, in a way we would feel much like how we would feel when listening to that other piece of music.
#22
I once participated in a mood study that was developed around this very idea. The idea that different keys in music translate to different feelings and emotions. And, in my opinion, if you take something written in say D major, and transpose it to say D# minor, it makes all the difference in the world to the overall "feeling" of the song. The idea that major keys vs. minor keys or vice versa have no bearing on the "feel" of a song is absurd. In most cases, songs written in major keys are brighter then those written in minor keys. I am sure there are exceptions to this, and I am sure someone is going to blast me for saying that. However, for the most part, if you are trying to relay a sadness, or darkness, you are not going to write something in a major key...except perhaps Ab major. The same is true for writing something up beat and happy, it is not going to be in a minor key.
Last edited by GypsyJen at Mar 27, 2013,
#24
Quote by Captaincranky
This may be the final word on the subject! (But frankly, I doubt it)..

http://www.biteyourownelbow.com/keychar.htm

C Minor: 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.

I thought I was the only one!
We're all alright!
#25
Let's say a particular key is claimed to impart a particular mood. If you can find a piece of music in that key that doesn't have that mood you have refuted the assertion.
#26
Point settled! The whole = key mood is b/s. The piece speaks for itself. Pre-equal temperament music each key did have a certain "flavor" or "feel" or whatever you like to call it. That is only because the intervallic quality is not as pure for thirds, fifths in some keys so the more sharps/flats you have, the more 'out of tune' you get. The C# major preludes in the WTC were written in a faster tempo probably because dwelling on the notes too long highlighted the out of tuneness too much. The C major preludes are slower in tempo and really highlight the rich harmonies Bach wanted to bring out.

Music speaks for itself. Words are very imperfect in describing music. This is why some composers, particularly Chopin, but not all, hated labels for their works.
#27
Quote by sweetdude3000
Point settled! The whole = key mood is b/s. The piece speaks for itself. Pre-equal temperament music each key did have a certain "flavor" or "feel" or whatever you like to call it. That is only because the intervallic quality is not as pure for thirds, fifths in some keys so the more sharps/flats you have, the more 'out of tune' you get. The C# major preludes in the WTC were written in a faster tempo probably because dwelling on the notes too long highlighted the out of tuneness too much. The C major preludes are slower in tempo and really highlight the rich harmonies Bach wanted to bring out.

Music speaks for itself. Words are very imperfect in describing music. This is why some composers, particularly Chopin, but not all, hated labels for their works.

ok, so I obviously have an opposite ( and very strong) opinion than the majority here... so here are a couple of links to a well known song the first is the mainstream version of the song, the second is a transposed verion in a MINOR key. If you can honestly say that after listening to both of these that they dont make you feel something very different then I would say you need a hearing aid. The first is in the key of F, the second is in the key of F minor ( i believe)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfTrthOpKCA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dcfpH8oJoM
Last edited by GypsyJen at Mar 27, 2013,
#28
So what? This example is a rehash of the major happy / minor sad dogma.

The distilled point of the thread is an argument basically about whether modern equal temperament tuning has taken any individual character from any individual key.

I'll relink this page about "key characteristics" for you: http://www.biteyourownelbow.com/keychar.htm

Is there any "truth" to it. Dunno! But prima facia, it sounds like musicians of the past, were every bit as full of themselves as they are today....

Quote by Mathedes
I thought I was the only one!
I though I saw something similar posted recently. I didn't know if it was in this thread. I did a search and came up with that link. So, if I hijacked you in any way, it was unintended and I apologize.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Mar 27, 2013,
#29
Quote by GypsyJen
ok, so I obviously have an opposite ( and very strong) opinion than the majority here... so here are a couple of links to a well known song the first is the mainstream version of the song, the second is a transposed verion in a MINOR key. If you can honestly say that after listening to both of these that they dont make you feel something very different then I would say you need a hearing aid. The first is in the key of F, the second is in the key of F minor ( i believe)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfTrthOpKCA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dcfpH8oJoM


No you are correct. Sorry the title post is ambiguous. What I was talking about is transposing a song from a major-major or minor->minor key.
A song or melody transposed to a major->minor or minor->major will sound different because the intervallic quality is different in both the major in the minor keys.
#30
Quote by Captaincranky
So what? This example is a rehash of the major happy / minor sad dogma.

The distilled point of the thread is an argument basically about whether modern equal temperament tuning has taken any individual character from any individual key.

I'll relink this page about "key characteristics" for you: http://www.biteyourownelbow.com/keychar.htm

Is there any "truth" to it. Dunno! But prima facia, it sounds like musicians of the past, were every bit as full of themselves as they are today....

I though I saw something similar posted recently. I didn't know if it was in this thread. I did a search and came up with that link. So, if I hijacked you in any way, it was unintended and I apologize.


She didn't say one sounds more sad than another but rather they have a different feel, which is correct. You are right though: we shouldn't associate major = happy & minor = sad, that is blatantly false.

Simple google search quote:
Our emotional reactions to keys are informed by our cultural preconceptions. The Western musical canon has always attached sentiment and gravity to minor keys, so we are preconditioned to indulge those notes with more emotion and sensibility. Interestingly, Asian and African music is generally opposed to this. The traditional Nigerian keys for martial anthems are always minor, wheras most Japanese couples are married to a traditional air named 'Fo Rki Ngraoul' which would have any westerners in tears to what they would interpret as a warning of imminent tragedy.

Gerard Mclachlan, Edinburgh Scotland
#31
Quote by sweetdude3000
No you are correct. Sorry the title post is ambiguous. What I was talking about is transposing a song from a major-major or minor->minor key.
A song or melody transposed to a major->minor or minor->major will sound different because the intervallic quality is different in both the major in the minor keys.



So then, the even temperament vs. traditional tuning debate is the tangent?

Because the interval of a major scale is: 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1

And the interval of a (natural) minor scale is: 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, [2, 1, 2, 2, 1, 2, 2], 2, 1

So, assuming you're using the same octave for the melody, how could the intervals be anything else but different.

Not exactly an epiphany here....

Quote by sweetdude3000
She didn't say one sounds more sad than another but rather they have a different feel, which is correct. You are right though: we shouldn't associate major = happy & minor = sad, that is blatantly false.
I answered this just above.

And just for the record, if you take a simple major progression such as E, A, B, E and flip it into something like Em, Bm, Am, Em, trust me, you'll get sad, and lots of it.

Look up Emerson, Lake & Palmer's, "Battlefield"!
Last edited by Captaincranky at Mar 27, 2013,
#32
firstly

F minor is said to be the key of death...and the key of F major is incredibly hard to stay in tune with for a cappella singing...

Secondly

Minor and major are modal differences...they both share the tonic of F
#33
If you have good or perfect pitch you might notice a difference in timbre, but it's not like a song in A is going to sound fundamentally different if you put it in G. The mood won't change, it'll just sound a little weird.
#34
Quote by cdgraves
If you have good or perfect pitch you might notice a difference in timbre, but it's not like a song in A is going to sound fundamentally different if you put it in G. The mood won't change, it'll just sound a little weird.
Especially if you either tune down or capo up, and maintain the same chord voicings
#35
Quote by Captaincranky
I though I saw something similar posted recently. I didn't know if it was in this thread. I did a search and came up with that link. So, if I hijacked you in any way, it was unintended and I apologize.

Nah, I always thought C minor was a romantic key.

You douche.
We're all alright!
#36
Quote by jrenkert
firstly

F minor is said to be the key of death...and the key of F major is incredibly hard to stay in tune with for a cappella singing...

Secondly

Minor and major are modal differences...they both share the tonic of F


Trollin', trollin', trollin' on a ree-ver. If you come down to the forum, betcha gonna find some people who say........ (ad lib de sempre al coda).

Should we sing this parody of "Proud Mary" in the recorded key, D major? Or perhaps the more sensitive and moody "modal interchange" of D minor?

And just for the record, Eb minor sounds way more dead than F minor.....
#37
^ you caught me...I was gonna try and start another mode fight...still might pull it off
#38
I had my guitar tuned down to C standard for awhile and i played a lot of things written for E std on it, the songs sounded the same, more low end but the same feel. It's not the key, it's the progression of the chords and melody that creates the feeling.
#39
Quote by TheAscendant
@Captaincranky
What were those dudes smokin' when they were describing those various keys and chords. I found those definitions slightly mesmerizing in a way :p
Have you ever heard the colloquial expression, "you must be having a pipe dream"? And now you should be able to guess what they were smoking ..... >>>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papaver_somniferum
Last edited by Captaincranky at Mar 27, 2013,
#40
Quote by GypsyJen
ok, so I obviously have an opposite ( and very strong) opinion than the majority here... so here are a couple of links to a well known song the first is the mainstream version of the song, the second is a transposed verion in a MINOR key. If you can honestly say that after listening to both of these that they dont make you feel something very different then I would say you need a hearing aid. The first is in the key of F, the second is in the key of F minor ( i believe)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfTrthOpKCA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dcfpH8oJoM


This isn't what the thread is about. It's about wether there's a noticeable difference when transposing to a different key. For instance, raising a song from G Major to G# Major. Minor and major keys have different sounds, no one's debating that.
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