Listening to Bach's Sonata No.4 for violin and harpsichord in C Minor made me wonder; does the key music is written and played in, have specific relevance to the compositions mood?

  • Well, heck. I was in the middle of writing an answer for this. I'll go post it on the other post. – BobRodes Jan 16 '18 at 23:04

For Bach, absolutely. Instruments were tuned differently back then, so the difference between keys and moods was quite significant. Equal Temperament neuters many individual characteristics for the sake of uniformity.

| improve this answer | |
  • I thought equal temperament (ET) neutered many keys' individual characteristics for the sake of tolerability. Older tuning systems like Pythagorean tuning and just intonation typically create at least one dissonant "wolf fifth" in the chromatic scale. This makes switching to distant keys within one tuning system sound ugly. Bach wrote music in 24 keys for "Well-Tempered" keyboards, and well temperament is close to but not quite ET. ...Ah, when I look up well temperament, there are several such tuning systems, so it does seem that the musical world agreed on ET for consistency's sake. – Dekkadeci Jan 16 '18 at 21:24
  • @Dekkadeci - yes, well you’re not altogether wrong either. At some point everyone got together and decided that all the keys would be a lot more tolerable if they were uniformly out of tune. – jjmusicnotes Jan 17 '18 at 2:37

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