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Flat And Sharp Keys


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#1 Guest: elmo_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 21:16

Why is it when you write something in a flat key, it sounds sadder than something in a shapr key, when it's just enharmonically the same as the other?

Someone at badn said she didn't agree with that theory, but I've heard it somewhere before, and agree, but I can't explain why there's a difference in sound.
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#2 Guest: frederik_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 21:28

I don't believe that there is a difference to be heard between say G sharp major and A flat major.

This said, there is a well known issue of emotions and keys that have the same internal formal order but only start on a different note, say C major versus E major, that has already caused many debates.
Some say it's just rubbish, and nonsensical because the relation between notes remains the same when a piece is transposed, but I for one really notice a difference in character!
Now I have to say that I have absolute hearing, so I dunno if i'm exemplary (or just for say 1/10000 of the population)...
This said, even between people who hear differences in key character there are "debates" about the nature/emotion of a key - to give an example: me and my sister (asolute hearing too) don't agree on that one wink.gif

I'm interested what others think about this,

bye,

fred
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#3 Guest: chocolatedog_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 21:46

I tend to agree - different keys somehow seem to have slightly different tonal qualities. I find Db major really rich, Eb similar, whereas E major or D major seem brighter somehow. Sometimes you find examples of composers associating keys with general moods in their compositions too.
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#4 Guest: Oddball_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 21:52

QUOTE(chocolatedog @ Aug 12 2005, 09:46 PM)
I tend to agree - different keys somehow seem to have slightly different tonal qualities. I find Db major really rich, Eb similar, whereas E major or D major seem brighter somehow. Sometimes you find examples of composers associating keys with general moods in their compositions too.

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I agree with this. I can also hear slight differences between keys, but then I think...well they're just say F minor being transposed up a tone to G minor, so they're the same key, so in theory, if you didn't have perfect pitch, you wouldn't be able to tell.

Then I slap myself and keep playing.
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#5 Guest: frederik_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 22:02

just a question: do you have absolute hearing, Chocolatedog?
If not, this is really interesting. Because, what then causes these differences in qualities?
Then again, I don't know if it in my case is the absolute hearing that causes those...
So it all remains intrigating and vague wacko.gif

About the composers: Didn't Beethoven have something with the heroic E-flat major? For example the third symphony (Eroica), the fifth piano concerto (Emperor, but that name didn't come from Beethoven, I guess)...

And, in general, wasn't d minor some sort of lamentation or mourning key for lots of composers? But maybe that's more out of tradition (originating from church modes?) than personal feeling/hearing...

bye,

fred
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#6 Guest: maggiemay_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 22:27

QUOTE(chocolatedog @ Aug 12 2005, 09:46 PM)
I tend to agree - different keys somehow seem to have slightly different tonal qualities. I find Db major really rich, Eb similar, whereas E major or D major seem brighter somehow.

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yes I think so too.

There have been a few threads in the past on similar topics. It's a fascinating area. I find the keys with lots of flats rich, dark, soft. Do keys have colours for you?

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#7 Guest: sarah-flute_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 22:30

QUOTE(frederik @ Aug 12 2005, 09:28 PM)
I don't believe that there is a difference to be heard between say G sharp major and A flat major.

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They are the same played in equal temperament, they wouldn't be played in just temperament... I think! huh.gif
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#8 Guest: Oddball_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 22:30

I find lots of Joplin's rags have a strange quality, like they are in flat major keys (such as Ab major), but they have something odd about them, something I can't quite describe. Anyone else agree, or am I being the weirdo again??
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#9 Guest: sbhoa_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 22:34

QUOTE(sarah-flute @ Aug 12 2005, 10:30 PM)
QUOTE(frederik @ Aug 12 2005, 09:28 PM)
I don't believe that there is a difference to be heard between say G sharp major and A flat major.

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They are the same played in equal temperament, they wouldn't be played in just temperament... I think! huh.gif

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But even on the piano they have a different quality.
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#10 Guest: frederik_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 22:36

Colours... never thought about this, so I guess they don't have for me..

Thinking further: to what extent do these keys differ in mood to you people? Do they really have a distinctive character of their own? Or is it more "tendencies" compared to one another?

Because, if they have a truly disctinctive character, you could tell whether a piece is played in say D major or Eb major... without knowing it or having a reference key...
But then you would have some strange kind of indirect absolute hearing... at least for keys...

fascinating indeed...

fred

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#11 Guest: chocolatedog_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 22:39

I used to be able to tell exactly what key a piece was in but I'm not sure whether it was due to perfect pitch or due to memory or colours/tonal qualities.
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#12 Guest: frederik_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 22:42

@ Oddball,
I know the maple leaf rag is in Ab major...
but with piano music some key decisions could come from playing possibillities too (and thinking about this, on other instruments maybe even more wink.gif ). The maple leaf rag gets harder to play if you transpose it a semitone down, I think.

fred
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#13 Guest: frederik_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 22:48

chocolatedog... you used to be able - do you mean you can't anymore?
that would be strange (and probably indicating you didn't judge on perfect pitch, 'cause this possibillity doesn't fade away, as far as I know)

fred
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#14 Guest: frederik_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 22:55

Hi Sarah-flute...

I don't think a key of G# major or A flat major is possible at all in just temperament (taken C as the start of the just temperament)... or am I mistaken this time?

bye,

fred
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#15 Guest: YetAnotherPianist_*

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 23:04

QUOTE(frederik @ Aug 12 2005, 11:55 PM)
Hi Sarah-flute...

I don't think a key of G# major or A flat major is possible at all in just temperament (taken C as the start of the just temperament)... or am I mistaken this time?

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Well I'm not Sarah but I'll reply anyway biggrin.gif

One doesn't have to take C to be the start of the temperament - G# will do nicely. There are many other systems of temperament, too, where the different keys do have different harmonic patterns; some people play pieces by Mozart, for example, with Valotti temperament, claiming it gives the pieces the feel their key intended.
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