3

In this video at 6:21, the instructor says that

In measure 62 of Liszt Les Preludes (image below), the intonation is difficult if you think of as a "G sharp major."

Instead, it will be easier if you think of it as "A flat major."

Questions:

  1. Why would one even think the measure 62 as a "G sharp major?"

For example, this article says Why is there no G# major key? .

  1. Why would it be difficult if thinking of as a "G sharp major." Why will it be easier if thinking of it as "A flat major?"

enter image description here

"G sharp major": https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gis-dur.PNG

enter image description here

2
  • There is no key called G sharp Major.
    – Neil Meyer
    Sep 4, 2022 at 7:07
  • 1
    @1: Why wouldn’t one do so? It is the most obvious choice with the notes given. And yes, there totally is a key we can call G# major. Of course one can enharmonically identify this key with Ab major assuming a 12 pitch chromatic tonal base. @2: People are more used to play stuff with little accidentals, so they will feel more comfortable if they think C than if they think B#.
    – Lazy
    Sep 4, 2022 at 7:28

1 Answer 1

3

One would think of this measure as G♯ major because the notes literally spell the root, third, and fifth of a G♯-major chord: G♯, B♯, and D♯.

Furthermore, this is ultimately what the music has done. Les preludes begins in C, then it moves up a major third to E major. Then, this music in E major moves up another major third to G♯ major, albeit briefly.

The article you cite is a bit poorly titled. There definitely is a key of G♯ major, but seeing the key signature of G♯ major is relatively rare. So rare, in fact, that we don't even agree on how these "theoretical" key signatures should look; see Where do the double accidentals go in "theoretical" key signatures? But the logic of these keys existing is very real.

As for it being easier to think of as A♭ major, that's just a practical issue: it's easier to think in a key that only has four accidentals than one that has eight sharps spread out across only seven notes. Pitches like B♯ (the third of G♯) are pretty rare compared to something like C (the third of A♭), a pitch that string players have played thousands upon thousands of times in their lives.

3
  • Nit-picking, I know, but those 4 flats aren't accidentals. Sharps or flats in the key signature ought to have a special name, but I guess they're just - the key signature!
    – Tim
    Sep 4, 2022 at 6:52
  • @Tim Yes, and I've always loved that question of yours here! But what else should I say? "A-flat has four ??? compared to G-sharp's eight."
    – Richard
    Sep 4, 2022 at 19:01
  • I suppose, in the absence of a better term - 'Ab has a key sig. of 4b'. But I'm sure we agree they're certainly not accidentals! Love to find/make a better term, wouldn't you?
    – Tim
    Sep 4, 2022 at 19:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.