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38

First, a key is only really a basis. You can have an F# in a piece written in C Major without having the piece "switch" keys. Second, keys are defined arbitrarily. Sure there is theory about what sounds good and that sort of thing, but at the end of the day it's just a group of notes that's just as valid as any other group of notes. This is made clear by ...


38

The keys are only identical on equal-tempered instruments, but that's most modern western instruments like pianos. Wind instruments other than the trombone are built to be (mostly) equal tempered [EDIT: I might be simplifying too much here, see David's comment below], but the players can bend pitches somewhat. The trombone, all non-fretted string ...


33

'Dorian mode on C' does not mean "the Dorian scale that you can find among the notes that are available in the major key of C"! 'Dorian mode on C' refers to the Dorian scale, or set of note intervals, that start on the note C, i.e. C is its root or tonic. This set of notes happens to be the same as the ones found in the Bb major key, thus two flats. This is ...


29

A drum solo is a song without a key.


27

It is common to use notes that are not in the scale to add color. It's called chromaticism, from the ancient Greek word for color. Think how composers use a G# instead of a G in A minor, for example as a part of an E chord. A semitone creates more tension and the tendency of G# to resolve to (go to) A is more powerful. This is called a chromatic approach ...


25

The sharps and flats are always "added" in a particular order. So, if you know how many there should be for a key, you can work out what they are. The mnemonics you refer to can help you to remember the order sharps and flats are added in. To be honest, though, I tell music pupils of mine, that learning key-signatures by using mnemonics is only partially ...


24

The short (and oversimplified) answer is: Because Ab Major has fewer flats than G# Major has sharps, and thus it's easier for musicians to read. This becomes especially apparent with keys such as D# Major, which has a double-sharp in it---the seventh note of the D# Major scale is not D, but Cx (that's "C double-sharp"). The longer and more accurate answer ...


20

The convention generally follows that which we see for minor key signatures. There is not a 1 to 1 relationship of key signature to root, rather, the key signature is there to tell us what notes exist in the scale. Then, we use the music itself to figure out where the root is. If you were writing in D phrygian, for example, would you have two sharps in the ...


20

I'm not sure why you'd have any reason to question why it's real ... it's not really related to G Major though, no more than C# major is related to C Major. It's enharmonically equivalent to A♭ major, just like C# Major = D♭ Major or F# Major = G♭ Major. As for pieces involving it, Wikipedia mentions some. In general, keys with ...


19

As I'm sure you're aware, you can transpose any tune to whatever key you like. One reason to choose a certain key, is simply that it sounds good. It might be that you feel that notes of a certain pitch inherently sound pleasant on your chosen instrument. I happen to like the tone of my guitar with a capo on the 7th string, for example. Or it might be ...


18

It's the key signature. It means the music you're reading is in G Major. Even if there are no F notes, it's important to know what key you're in. You don't need to modify anything if there are no F's and that's the only alteration in the key signature.


18

Yes. The key signature of Db has a Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, and a Gb. Those notes are flat unless otherwise noted no matter the octave. For any key signature on any staff, you will only ever see the accidentals written once in a typical pattern. The octave the accidentals are in are entirely based on the clef used, but apply to all octaves. You can think of the ...


17

Obviously the answer depends on your point of view, and there probably isn't one "right" answer. There are 12 unique named tones in Western music; all pitches are one of these 12 tones. Thus, from a purely sonic perspective, there are only twelve starting notes for a key, and with major and minor scale qualities, there are 24 tonally unique keys. For my ...


16

The ♭III is a borrowed chord from the parallel minor. A bit more info: The bIII is commonly followed by the IV, giving it something of a subdominant function relative to the IV. The ii here is acting as a IV (it's the relative minor of IV) in a plagal cadence, so functionally what we have is more similar to I bIII IV, a common rock progression. Also, the ...


15

As someone who writes music, I have this to add: I usually come up with ideas for songs by improvising on a piano until I come up with a phrase that I really like. Way back when I started improvising, I came up with some ideas in certain keys (mostly based on what was easy for me to play at the time), and over time, the emotions in those songs became ...


14

The larger question is why any composer would use a certain key signature rather than its enharmonic equivalent. For instance the choral music composer John Rutter is known for notating songs in C♭ major (with seven flats) rather than in B major (with five sharps). In the equal-tempered system, C♭ major and B major are the same key. Despite the fact that ...


14

No, it is still a B♭. The flat is just reminding you that the B is flat. This is typically done if the previous measure uses a B that was different then the one in the key signature or if there was a different quality of B used in the measure it is used to cancel out the other quality. In the key D minor, if you were ascending from A to D, a typical melody ...


13

Without the key signature is looks confusing and wrong to musicians who are used to reading music in context, instead of just treating sheet music as a "play by numbers" game. It looks like C major, but the notes are mostly confined to the GABCD range, and the theme ends on G. Indeed, an F note will indeed occur in harmonizations of the theme. For instance ...


12

To add to the other answers, there is also dodecaphony, or twelve-tone technique, a method to compose music explicitly without a key by trying to give equal weight to all 12 notes of the western scale. (Look ma, no key) Another example: YouTube: Arnold Schönberg: Suite op. 25 / Musette Surely sounds interesting, but this kind of music is definitely more ...


12

"Key" implies "tonality." The name of a key corresponds to a pitch class that is considered the "focus" of a key or section. Is it possible to compose a melody without a key? Of course. That was the whole point of the Second Viennese School. Of course, it is possible not to be tonal (which implies a specific framework of relationships surrounding one ...


12

The easiest way for me to figure this out (until you start memorizing them or gaining more aural awareness of tonality) was to remember the orders of sharps and flats (which are opposites of each other), and two simple rules for translating from key signature to major keys. Sharps: Order: FCGDAEB = Fat Cats Go Down After Eating Breakfast From the last ...


11

As Chochos and Kaz said, it lets you know that the key is G. Kaz described some things that knowing the key will let you do. Here are some more: Since the song is in the key of G, the note G will sound more consonant than any other note, followed by a D (the fifth of the scale). These notes will sound more peaceful than any other note, and most phrases ...


10

All instruments have technique considerations related to pitch class except for the human voice and perhaps the theremin. These specific considerations then go on to inform other aspects of play. For example, the piano has white keys and black keys. The white keys are bigger, evenly spaced, and all on the same physical level. Playing in keys other than C ...


10

This depends on the circumstances, but I would suggest it is more common to write no key signature (or the best closest match like "F" if all B tends to be Bb.) especially in the case of changes that last only a few measures. Here are my reasons: 1) It's not normal for jazz music to include alot of key changes written as new key signatures. This will happen ...


9

Possible, yes. Recommended, probably not. As other answers have stated, it is certainly possible to write a song that does not conform to defined tonal "scales" like the Ionian mode (major scale) and related modes, pentatonic scales, and variations like harmonic and melodic minor (which differ from "natural minor", the Aeolian mode, in a couple subtle ways ...


9

If it starts on C and ends on C, it's probably in C. And vice versa. If it has lots of A minor and E minor chords, it's probably in Am (E is the dominant). Likewise, lots of Cs and Gs implies C Major. There are a few other indicators, but largely speaking it doesn't matter. They're two names for the same thing. Often people say that minor keys sound ...


9

If you examine the circle of fifths, this will help visualize why the orders of sharps and flats occur in their respective sequences. For sharps, we begin with C. The next item in the circle is the key of G, with one sharp in the key signature: F. The next key is D, with two sharps, F and C. Next comes the key of A, with F, C, and G in the key signature. ...


9

Accidentals override key signatures and previous accidentals. The circled chord has two G# and and one C# note. Having "additive" accidentals would make it very hard to read music. In this excerpt, the next octave chords in the top staff would then be B-flat, then B-doubleflat, and then either G natural (if adding to the previous accidental) or or G double ...


8

I've played a lot of Eastern European music and often the minor keys will show the mode in the key signature e.g G minor has F sharp and B flat in the key signature so no accidentals needed all over the place. Another is a mode based on E that only has a G sharp in the key signature. It may not be a familiar to a newer musician, but I find once people know ...


8

An accidental is not the note as you describe it. That word does refer to the sign itself, not the note. The question remains whether it is correct to use it in the context of a key signature as well. Personally, I don't have any problem with the phrase "accidentals in the key signature," but would typically just say "sharps or flats," since you're never ...



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