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#1
So i've finally learned the basics of scales and keys and some other stuff, and i was just wondering if playing a song/riff in a different key gives a different feel to the song.

So for example would a song give a different feeling if i played it in b rather than E? I know that they probably wouldnt because the spaces between all the notes would be the same, but i just thought it might for some reason.

Sorry if this is a stupid question Im probably just very bored and am making stuff up.
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#3
Quote by hd7373
yes different keys add different flavors

Well, not realy. Its the same intervals, hence same sound.
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#4
different MODES and SCALES will add different a different flavor, or mood, to the piece. taking a scale in one key, and playing it in another, is simply transposing.
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#5
Different keys don't give a different "feeling" to a song, they just use other notes. Handy when a song's in E but your singer's voice can't reach high enough, you just drop the scale to D or C or whatever, this should make it easier..

"Modes" of a scale are forms of the scale that use different intervals, that give a different "feeling" to the song. For example, you have "C major", a happy sounding scale in C (called the "Ionian mode"), and "C minor", a more depressed sounding scale in C (called "Aeolian")..
But these are not the only ones, you have other "modes" like Lydian and Mixolydian (two other "major" modes), and Dorian and Phrygian (two other "minor" modes) and Locrian, a diminished mode.. This is complicated and extensive music theory, you should check out the lessons section..

Cheers!
ZeG
#6
yes they definitely can make a song sound different. for example, F#m tonal almost always has a really dark sound.
just make sure oyu don't get keys and modes mixed up.
Last edited by That-Funny-Guy at Oct 6, 2008,
#7
Don't confuse "keys" with "modes"!
Taking a song that is in C, and playing it in E, is simply transposing.. Because the intervals between the notes don't change.
Playing a different "mode" of a key, means you change the intervals of that key, meaning you give it a different "feeling"! It's not the same!
And "modulation" means that, in the middle of a song, you shift from the key of C to F, for example.. This is not related to "modes" (although the word modulation seems a bit misleading). When you modulate, you use a "pivot chord", meaning a chord in the progression of the song that matches with both the key you are playing in, and the key you are going to. For example, say you are playing a chord progression in C going like this:
C G Dm F (just something random, a 1-5-2-4 progression)
.. you could use the 4th chord, F, to shift to the key of F like this, for example:
C G Dm F C Gm Bb F
The chords in bold are a progression in F instead of C, landing back on the F, which allows you to go back to C if you want.. the possibilities are endless.
hd7373 and That-Funny-Guy are quite wrong about this.

Cheers!
ZeG
Last edited by ZeGuitarist at Oct 6, 2008,
#8
Well I don't care what people say.

Intervals maybe won't change if you transpose. I do experience a somewhat different feel if I use different notes. It's not always as clear, but I INDEED experience a different feel when using different notes and yet the exact chain of intervals (notice how I am not talking about single intervals).
#9
Thanks to equal temperament, the differences between keys have been reduced. Still, if we're talking literally, a song will not sound the same if you play it in two different keys.

However, the differences between intervals are still (relatively) the same. There is the question, though; do different keys have slightly (or not so slightly) different moods?

My theory teachers have contended that the differences between the moods of keys are very significant, and that composers had certain views about the uses of each key. There is one Schumann or Schubert piece (I get them confused ) that was written in Gb, but a publisher transposed the piece to G so it would be easier to play. To which, my teacher exclaimed that "This is not at ALL a G piece!" The general view of such people seems to be that keys with sharps are a little brighter, and keys with flats mellower or darker.

I really can't say, one way or the other; I don't think I've listened to enough music thoughtfully to determine whether I think there are different moods between keys. But it's something to keep in mind.
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#10
Quote by psychodelia
Thanks to equal temperament, the differences between keys have been reduced. Still, if we're talking literally, a song will not sound the same if you play it in two different keys.

However, the differences between intervals are still (relatively) the same. There is the question, though; do different keys have slightly (or not so slightly) different moods?

My theory teachers have contended that the differences between the moods of keys are very significant, and that composers had certain views about the uses of each key. There is one Schumann or Schubert piece (I get them confused ) that was written in Gb, but a publisher transposed the piece to G so it would be easier to play. To which, my teacher exclaimed that "This is not at ALL a G piece!" The general view of such people seems to be that keys with sharps are a little brighter, and keys with flats mellower or darker.

I really can't say, one way or the other; I don't think I've listened to enough music thoughtfully to determine whether I think there are different moods between keys. But it's something to keep in mind.


This is interesting too though, although it slightly contradicts what I just posted, I must admit that in the back of my head I felt this way too sometimes..
Take a look at my post a few posts above ^^^ that is the "theoretical" approach I think.. psychodelia's post is the more "emotional" approach. Both are important I think. Try and develop your own opinion about each key, by playing one song in every key and noticing the difference.

Cheers!
ZeG
#11
Quote by psychodelia
Thanks to equal temperament, the differences between keys have been reduced. Still, if we're talking literally, a song will not sound the same if you play it in two different keys.

However, the differences between intervals are still (relatively) the same. There is the question, though; do different keys have slightly (or not so slightly) different moods?

My theory teachers have contended that the differences between the moods of keys are very significant, and that composers had certain views about the uses of each key. There is one Schumann or Schubert piece (I get them confused ) that was written in Gb, but a publisher transposed the piece to G so it would be easier to play. To which, my teacher exclaimed that "This is not at ALL a G piece!" The general view of such people seems to be that keys with sharps are a little brighter, and keys with flats mellower or darker.

I really can't say, one way or the other; I don't think I've listened to enough music thoughtfully to determine whether I think there are different moods between keys. But it's something to keep in mind.


Yeh this is basicly what i was thinking. I know a song simply transposed to a different key should sound the same, but they maybe give a different mood. Or on the other hand it may just be all relative.
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#12
Some people with perfect pitch have reported that certain songs don't sound the same when transposed due to each note having its own sort of "color."
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#13
Well, here's the thing... if you don't have perfect pitch, but good relative pitch, (as I do), where do you draw the line? I can strum a guitar and tell if you tuned it 1/2 step down, so why did Jimi and Stevie (and countless others) do it? Was it just because it facilitated bending? Was it because it made the tone of the guitar darker? Was it because they felt more comfortable singing lower? Or was it all of things things in tandem that led them to conclude that the key of Eb is superior to E?

Forget the guitar - let's talk about a piano. Say you're taking singing classes, and your instructor is playing without you being able to see him/her. You're used to singing a song in, say, A. would you notice if he/she played it in G? Honestly, if you have a substantial range and don't have perfect pitch, probably not. If it was rubbing against the bottom of your range, you probably would.

What about if it was two whole steps down? three whole steps down? There's a certain point that you would say, "hey, whoa, you're playing it way lower than you usually do". What is the line you draw?

Look at "Here Comes the Sun", usually payed with a capo on the 7th fret. Play it open? it sounds pretty seriously different. Even someone with a bum ear can tell if something is played a fifth, or an octave away from the original.

So there's no doubt, if you accept these premises, that every key has a different sound. It really depends on a combination of the the vocalist, the instrumentation, and the songwriter to find the correct key for a given song.
Last edited by Philbigtime at Oct 6, 2008,
#14
Yes

No

Different keys have different "timbres" just because of where the notes are as far as their frequencies. Equal temperment comes into play, also what the key of the last song you heard was...The list goes on, the point is, yes. They are different.
#15
Joe Satriani talks about finding the "register" of the song, which is the right key due to the highs and lows of the song. Obviously if you go too high you're limiting yourself.

Quote by Philbigtime
why did Jimi and Stevie (and countless others) do it?


Stevie did it because Jimi did it. Jimi probably just liked the sound.

Malcolm Young, of AC/DC has said that what gives their songs their "ballsy" quality is the mass of open chords. Keys with more open chords will sound fuller.

EDIT: Of course natural harmonics come into play somehow, as do open strings.
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#16
Quote by Philbigtime
Well, here's the thing... if you don't have perfect pitch, but good relative pitch, (as I do), where do you draw the line?
I have the same "condition" and I call it "imperfect pitch." I can recognize certain keys and altered tunings without a reference because I've been immersed in those sounds for the last five years; I've just heard them so many times I know what they sound like.

I can't say what note a bird is singing or a lawnmower makes like people with true perfect pitch, though.

So yes, different keys sound different. I don't recall whether or not I could tell the difference before I started playing, though the catch 22 is that I probably would not have even thought about it until I started playing, so the difference may or may not be noticed by laymen, but definately by musicians who have played a long time.
#17
Beethoven said that different keys had different flavours, he thought that D minor had a sort of sexual flavour to it....

Go to your guitar, and play a riff in E minor. Now play the same riff in F# minor. It is quite clear that you changed the key. Perhaps the sound of F#m suits the song better? Or maybe it was better in Em. Different keys do make a difference, even though they have the same interval pattern.
#18
Quote by Myung-trucci
Beethoven said that different keys had different flavours, he thought that D minor had a sort of sexual flavour to it....
Ohhh, I like that. I often associate D minor with Santana (don't know why) and I've always thought there was a sexy quality to his music. I'm glad to hear that someone with considerable clout agrees with me.
#19
Yeah, I've heard that D minor 'is the saddest of all keys' but really, whenever I hear D minor it sounds like one of the 'brighter' minor keys. C minor, however, is depressing.
#20
Quote by Myung-trucci
Yeah, I've heard that D minor 'is the saddest of all keys' but really, whenever I hear D minor it sounds like one of the 'brighter' minor keys.


Spinal Tap, dude. It's not actually serious when people say that.
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Quote by steven seagull
Big deal, I bought a hamster once and they put that in a box...doesn't make it a scale.
#21
Quote by yM.Samurai
Spinal Tap, dude. It's not actually serious when people say that.


please forgive him, dude... the first person to rely to my stupid comment probably got my "Aluminum Wrapped Cucumber" user info reference and did some good arithmetic.
#22
Actually, Spinal Tap didn't pull that out of their ass. Hundreds of scholars have come up with theories about that, relating to the aural perception people gifted with perfect pitch have. Spinal Tap just picked that up for a laugh.
#23
Quote by yM.Samurai
Spinal Tap, dude. It's not actually serious when people say that.
The guy who wrote the screenplay wrote that line because, in general, D minor is the saddest key.

In all honesty, all of the minor keys can sound really sad and depressing or nasty depending on how you play.
#24
Most if not all great composers do not choose their keys arbitrarily. Beethoven for example, when writing in Cminor, is ALWAYS dramatic.

For example...

Sonata no 8
Sonata no 32
Symphony no 5
String quartet no 4
Piano Concerto no 3
etc. etc.

Likewise, Mozart chose to write in D minor for his Requiem Mass because of the key's solemn and reverent quality, or so I have been told. Scriabin wrote all music with coloring in mind, and although his claim to synthesisa is often contested (the colors his attributes to the circle of fifths is based off of Newton's optics) he still composed very much with specific coloring in mind.
#26
Most if not all great composers do not choose their keys arbitrarily.


Very possibly because certain instruments are better suited for specific keys, and not all instruments in the orchestra play in 12-TET. When your playing in equal temperament, the key doesn't make a difference beyond the ease of playing and the timbre. They do not have "moods".
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#27
Quote by Archeo Avis
They do not have "moods".
Yeah, they do. The mood is completely subjective, but to someone with a decent ear, they will have different moods.
#28
Quote by bangoodcharlote
Yeah, they do. The mood is completely subjective, but to someone with a decent ear, they will have different moods.


In which case the mood will be something that listener associates with it for some arbitrary reason, the same way they associate it with a smell, or a particular living room arrangement.
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.
#29
They do not have "moods".


Taken from wikipedia article on Alexander Scriabin

In his autobiographical Recollections, Sergei Rachmaninoff recorded a conversation he had had with Scriabin and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov about Scriabin's association of colour and music. Rachmaninoff was surprised to find that Rimsky-Korsakov agreed with Scriabin on associations of musical keys with colors; himself skeptical, Rachmaninoff made the obvious objection that the two composers did not always agree on the colours involved. Both maintained that the key of D major was golden-brown; but Scriabin linked E-flat major with red-purple, while Rimsky-Korsakov favored blue. However, Rimsky-Korsakov protested that a passage in Rachmaninoff's opera The Miserly Knight supported their view: the scene in which the Old Baron opens treasure chests to reveal gold and jewels glittering in torchlight is written in D major. Scriabin told Rachmaninoff that "your intuition has unconsciously followed the laws whose very existence you have tried to deny."


A number of those pesky Russians seem to disagree.

BTW if you don't mind me saying so, there is no place for empiricism in artistry. Naturalist-empiricism pervades science because it is useful, and because the business is not so abstract. These same naturalist-empirical standards offer little to art, and nothing to music for the business is entirely abstract; and those very standards offer little in analytical worth, and therefore prove only to dim and vague an already hazy and indefinite affair. In short; in art and by those standards, there is nothing.
#30
Taken from wikipedia article on Alexander Scriabin


Are you arguing that keys have inherent colors? If you are, the passage you quoted does not support your claim, as it details only the (differing) subjective views of two musicians. If you aren't, than the article is irrelevant.

I would also mention that many composers hesitate to compose a 9th symphony. Are you now going to argue that Symphony #9 is actually killing people?

Dealing with the guitar (and piano), because I highly doubt the TS is dealing with instruments that play in just intonation; 12-TET has ensured that, far and away, the biggest considerations when selecting a key are ease of playing/reading and timbre. Any associations with "moods" are far more likely due to past listening experiences and musical "folk tales". Selecting a particular key in the hopes of better communicating a particular mood is absurd, since each listener's subjective view of the key will be completely different.

BTW if you don't mind me saying so, there is no place for empiricism in artistry. Naturalist-empiricism pervades science because it is useful, and because the business is not so abstract. These same naturalist-empirical standards offer little to art, and nothing to music for the business is entirely abstract; and those very standards offer little in analytical worth, and therefore prove only to dim and vague an already hazy and indefinite affair. In short; in art and by those standards, there is nothing.


That's ridiculous. You aren't claiming that listeners can experience different keys in their own subjective way, you're arguing that there is an objective difference. Dismissing empiricism is a cop out, and is intellectually lazy/dishonest. You have to demonstrate that, in 12-TET, each key is intervalically unique in a way that lends itself to a particular mood. If you can't, you claim is baseless.
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 Oct 6, 2008,
#31
It depends on the person. In equal temperament, someone with perfect pitch might associate each key with something, since to them the pitches are absolute rather than relative. Also, in just intonation, the instrument is tuned to be perfect for one key, which would make playing other keys on it slightly out of tune in different ways to give them unique sounds.
#32
I know people with perfect pitch/loads of listening experience/composers say different keys have different flavours, and without perfect pitch I can't argue that. But I've always heard, mostly from guitar 'noobs', that Dm is the saddest key. I always thought that was kind of BS coming from most of them, because everyone I've run across assume based on the open D minor chord shape, which seems sadder than other open minor chords because of the voicing. Just one of my thoughts.. not saying it isn't the 'saddest' key, I just think lots of players strum an open D minor chord and think it's the 'saddest'.
#33
Quote by ripple07
Well, not realy. Its the same intervals, hence same sound.



exactly.. different keys dont really sound that different...

play twinkle twinkle in all the different keys... just seems like pitch changes?

play it in minor.

... modes and scales are where the "feelings"/"sounds" really come from (aside from personal style and the such)
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#34
This is so ignorant.

Play a G note, 3rd fret E string. Now play an A note, 5th fret E string.

Now tell me, WERE THESE NOTES THE SAME? NO, THEY WERE NOT! This is because they are different pitches!
#37
Quote by Myung-trucci
This is so ignorant.

Play a G note, 3rd fret E string. Now play an A note, 5th fret E string.

Now tell me, WERE THESE NOTES THE SAME? NO, THEY WERE NOT! This is because they are different pitches!



Uh...yeah. What does this have to do with the subject of the thread?
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
Quote by Myung-trucci
This is so ignorant.

Play a G note, 3rd fret E string. Now play an A note, 5th fret E string.

Now tell me, WERE THESE NOTES THE SAME? NO, THEY WERE NOT! This is because they are different pitches!

You don't seem to understand.
Quote by Gabel
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#39
^????
Saying that all major scales sound the same is like saying that G and A sound the same-they dont. Scales even of the same type (major, minor) do have different flavours.
#40
Explain why. D minor is no sadder or anything than any other minor scale in equal temperament for someone without perfect pitch.
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