This is taken from the "E.T. The extra-terrestrial" score:

enter image description here

There is an analysis of here:

and this screenshot is from 00:40

I do not understand the annotation:

The first bar is written as "B minor", but is there a reason to say it is B minor and not a D major for example? (the same applies for the other bars).

1 Answer 1


Analysis is always an interpretive act, meaning there's not always a definitive answer, but rather an answer that, based on the evidence, is the best fit.

As I hear the piece and watch the analysis, there's one main feature that suggests it begins in B minor and not D major: because B minor returns several times elsewhere in the piece. See 2:20, 3:10 (in B major), 4:08, 6:13, etc. In fact, almost the entire second half is based in B minor.

Throughout much of music history, tonal composers have had a preference for monotonality, which basically means beginning and ending in the same key. Since m. 8 here is the beginning of this section, the analyst is probably choosing B minor instead of D major to show that monotonal relationship. And since B minor is present for over half of the piece, it's pretty clear that B minor is the overall tonality.

  • Even just jumping into that bar, I think it sounds like B minor rather than D major; the B on the fourth beat seems to be a hint and I suspect there's something in the timbre that suggests minor. Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 1:45
  • Thanks for clarifying, since B minor is common through the piece, if really makes sense, but this makes me wonder about the next bar: F minor is not present much through that piece, so is the author deciding bar 2 is in F solely on the bass note and minor because of the presence of Ab?
    – Thomas
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 3:19
  • @Thomas It seems so. The analyst is taking what's called a pitch inventory and labeling the most sensible chord. The A minor label is a bit of a stretch, but honestly the labels aren't that important: more important is the claim of shifting tonal centers.
    – Richard
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 3:22

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