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41 votes

Why does G# sound right when my melody is in C major?

I would argue that your melody may not be in C major at all. C major and A natural minor share the same pitches, and your melody is constructed precisely in such a way that it can exist both in C ...
Richard's user avatar
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32 votes
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Which key are these notes and how to transpose it to the key of D?

(It's going to be tough to explain all of this in a single answer. If you're interested in this, I strongly recommend finding a music theory text, either online or in hard copy. But I'll do my best to ...
Richard's user avatar
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30 votes
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Why use accidentals instead of a key signature?

There's a blog series on film scoring that I can't seem to find again right now, but in it the blogger (who composes and conducts orchestras for film scores) mentions that key signatures are never ...
Todd Wilcox's user avatar
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28 votes
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Why do instruments have a key?

There are two concepts and ideas that happen in music which, when combined, explain why this happens. The first is that the way certain instruments are constructed affects what sounds they can ...
Dom's user avatar
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28 votes

Why is automatic key detection hard?

There's a few factors at play here: Let's assume that we have a magical piece of software, which can listen to audio and tell us exactly what notes are being played. Even given this software, ...
endorph's user avatar
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28 votes
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In a folk jam session, when asked which key my non-transposing chromatic instrument (like a violin) is in, what do I answer?

If someone is asking about the key of the instrument, I would answer "I play in concert pitch." If when jamming, someone asks "what key are you in?" I would say, "I am playing in (name a key) concert ...
Heather S.'s user avatar
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26 votes
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Is there any way to find a key of song somehow mathematically/algorithmically?

There's no such thing as a 100% sure identification of what 'the key' of a song is if you aren't taking notation as your reference - sometimes different people hear the same song as being in different ...
Нет войне's user avatar
26 votes
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Melody using a different scale than the bassline - what is it called?

Suppose I'm playing the piano, using my left hand to repeatedly hit the note C as a very simple bass line to give the key of my song (C major). Then I use my right hand to ... [play] the melody using ...
Нет войне's user avatar
25 votes

What is this note?

This is just D doublesharp, which is enharmonic to E. The trick is that key signatures are not additive. In other words, any accidental added to a pitch is considered to be its own construct, not ...
Richard's user avatar
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24 votes
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Can a song be in the chromatic scale?

Colloquially, we don't say pieces are "in the chromatic scale," no. We can say that a piece is in C major, or even just in C (not specifying major or minor), but not that something is in the chromatic ...
Richard's user avatar
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24 votes

Why does G# sound right when my melody is in C major?

You started in key C major, and you've modulated into key Am, its relative minor. True, there's no G♯ note in key C major, but key A minor has three slightly different incarnations, when written in ...
Tim's user avatar
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Does the starting note for a song have to be the starting note of its scale?

Does a scale always have to start off with the note it is named after? A scale is a collection of notes with one of those notes designated as the 'home note'. When you're playing that scale in a ...
Нет войне's user avatar
22 votes
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Why are both D and D# fitting into my E minor key?

Your confusion is understandable because you have the choice of using one, or a combination, of three minor scales: the natural minor, the harmonic minor or the melodic minor. In using a D# you have ...
Areel Xocha's user avatar
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21 votes

Why are different keys necessary / important?

The tonal system is an historical inheritance, but we could not do without it today in the realms of most classical, popular and main stream music, even if we wanted to (and why would we want it?, ...
José David's user avatar
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21 votes

Do all songs have to be in a major or minor scale? Can a song have random notes that don't belong to any major or minor scale?

No, not all songs have to be in a major or minor scale. All that it takes to prove this is to find one example that goes against the rule: This melody, which has both C♯ and C♮, cannot belong to a ...
Richard's user avatar
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21 votes

Do we have any particular tonal center in mind when we are NOT listening music?

Remember that music isn't the only thing that has pitch. Most sounds in the natural world have a pitch as well, and a random sound outside could temporarily get stuck in our ears as a possible tonic. ...
Richard's user avatar
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21 votes

Confused about shared notes between keys

They share a note by name and another note by enharmonic equivalent. In your example, both C and F# have the note B. C has the note F, and F# has the note E#, which enharmonically equivalent to F. Of ...
Todd Wilcox's user avatar
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20 votes

What's the point of composing music for the violin in D flat?

The example you gave, Shostakovich's Gadfly suite, gives you quite a lot of the answer: music is often written for several instruments at once, only one of which is a violin. The Bb clarinet is no ...
Dekkadeci's user avatar
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20 votes

Accurately recalling the key - can everyone do it?

Most people can't do it. Absolute pitch reference [perfect pitch] is quite rare - just as rare as people who 'couldn't carry a tune in a bucket'. Pitch reference, the same as most skills, is on a ...
Tetsujin's user avatar
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20 votes

What indicates this passage as B flat minor and not D flat major?

The giveaway is the presence of A naturals; the further giveaway is those always being directly followed by B flats, as if the A naturals are leading tones and the B flats are the tonic.
Dekkadeci's user avatar
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20 votes

Perfect Pitch: Are tones recognizable by themselves or only in comparison with another tone?

I don't have perfect pitch, but I've had several friends over the years who did. Are the frequencies C4 260hz and A4 440hz actually noticeably different to someone with “perfect pitch”. Yes. I ask ...
phoog's user avatar
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19 votes
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Can any song in a major key be performed in C major?

A keyboard with only white keys. How do you know which is actually C? But to the answer. Yes, if a song is purely diatonic (using only the notes from its scale, with no extra # or b. It can be played ...
Tim's user avatar
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19 votes
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Chopin Polonaise in Ab major, op 53 change in key

You're exactly right! It's technically a motion to ♭VI, which would be F♭ major. But in order to make it easier to read, he spells it in E major (♯V). F♭ isn't in A♭ major, but it is in A♭ minor; ...
Richard's user avatar
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19 votes

Which key are these notes and how to transpose it to the key of D?

how do I determine which key they are in? A) Recognise that those notes are the start of the overture to Mozart's The Marriage Of Figaro, but two semitones higher. B) Note that that piece is in D ...
gidds's user avatar
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19 votes

Shifting between bemols (flats) and diesis (sharps)in the key signature

I'm not aware of a name for this phenomenon, it's just a quick way to transpose music based on how the tonal system works out. In short, when you're in a key, look at the key signature. Take the ...
Richard's user avatar
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19 votes
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Rules for key changes

WARNING: This got a bit out of control. Please don't be intimidated by the diagrams and the wall of text. Also please note that in the following (and in the music, generally) the word "modulation&...
Ramillies's user avatar
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19 votes

Why are the accidentals here written in a rather complex way, when there exists simpler notation?

Notating this in a flat minor requires fewer accidentals, but those that it requires are more obscure. A player might well prefer well-known notes to less well-known notes. Remember that woodwind ...
Kilian Foth's user avatar
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18 votes

Is there any way to find a key of song somehow mathematically/algorithmically?

Seeing the spectrum analysis and frequency of notes alone typically are not enough to figure out the key. You could sometimes get it right for simpler songs, but any type of blues or chromaticism will ...
Dom's user avatar
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18 votes

How to figure out key from key signature?

Last sharp in the key signature is the leading note (7th) of the major key. Last flat is the 4th. Or last but one is the tonic. So three sharps - F, C and G - is A major. G♯ is the 7th note ...
Laurence's user avatar
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18 votes
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Why is the scale of Hotel California B-min but not F#-phrygian?

As @Tim commented, "Scale and key aren't necessarily the same things." I can imagine why you feel that F# Phrygian is the "scale" since when analyzing the melody, it studiously ...
GratefulDisciple's user avatar

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