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Author Topic: Keys and Modes  (Read 687 times)

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Tone Dumb Greg

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Keys and Modes
« on: March 14, 2018, 09:40:26 AM »

This is an interesting take on keys/modes. I never realised...
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Lester

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2018, 09:52:23 AM »

Confused as too why both G Major and G Minor are "Serious and Magnificent" where as all the other Minor keys are on the sad end of the spectrum??

Also Gay and Warlike seems an odd pairing "light-hearted and carefree" and warlike??
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2018, 10:06:08 AM »

There was a series of short Radio 4 programmes a couple of years back discussing the keys and their effect.
It was interesting stuff and illustrated by known classical pieces. The effect of various keys was clear to hear.
Can't remember the programme exactly, but it made driving home in the late afternoons quite interesting!
I wonder if there was ever some programme notes and their availability?
If anyone can remember the series there might be information available about this topic...........
Q
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James Fitton

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2018, 10:06:29 AM »

The original French word translated here as "warlike" is "guerrier"  - I'd suggest a better translation might be "martial" - think military marching music and suchlike. More generally, this does come across a bit like horoscopes to me, with wild generalisations as to the character of each key. I do sometimes wonder if people who can really hear this sort of difference - and maybe Charpentier was one such, I've no idea - have some form of musical synaesthesia? If you can really hear pitches this differently, it must make the experience of listening to music a very different one!
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2018, 10:07:59 AM »

Ah.... as Lester will remind me, 'google is my friend!'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tw55v

cheers
Q

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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Theo

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2018, 10:25:06 AM »

I remember listening to a BBC R4 series about keys. Some of it was enlightening but some of it struck me as complete twaddle.  There was one example I recall of a pianist who claimed that keys with sharps in the key sugnature soundef different from those with flatsand proceeded to demonstrate by playing the same piece in Gsharp major and A flatmajor. They  sounded absolutely identical to me.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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lachenal74693

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2018, 10:49:14 AM »

I remember listening to a BBC R4 series about keys. Some of it was enlightening but some of it struck me as complete
twaddle.  There was one example I recall of a pianist who claimed that keys with sharps in the key sugnature soundef
different from those with flatsand proceeded to demonstrate by playing the same piece in Gsharp major and A flatmajor.
They  sounded absolutely identical to me.

Our lead melodeon player told me recently that in the music museum at the University of Edinburgh, there is an antique
piano on which there are two black keys where one would normally expect to find only one. G# and Ab would be adjacent
to one another and would be tuned to slightly different pitches. Presumably you would hear something different if the example
were played on such a piano?

Speaking as a complete musical numptie, I wonder if, sometimes, trained musicians get the mode thing wrong(ish). There
was a thread on concertina.net last year:

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=19425&hl=%2Bclassic+%2Bfm#entry182565

relating to a similar(?) programme on Classic FM, in which the presenter apparently got it wrong(ish).

There are programme notes:

http://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/latest/guide-to-musical-modes/

Roger
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 11:14:08 AM by lachenal74693 »
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Theo

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2018, 10:51:01 AM »

Yes you certainly would in that case.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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Jesse Smith

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2018, 11:54:52 AM »

I remember listening to a BBC R4 series about keys. Some of it was enlightening but some of it struck me as complete twaddle.  There was one example I recall of a pianist who claimed that keys with sharps in the key sugnature soundef different from those with flatsand proceeded to demonstrate by playing the same piece in Gsharp major and A flatmajor. They  sounded absolutely identical to me.
I could believe that they "sound different" to the pianist, since it is wrapped up in the mental process of thinking about the key as sharpened or flattened from a different starting point. Sort of like those optical illusions where they put the same shade of grey on a white and black background and it radically changes the perceived shade even though it's really the same. But certainly it would not sound anyy different to the listener! Unless you gave it context by first playing it in G or A.
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Rob Lands

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2018, 12:38:02 PM »

Whilst the descriptions are interesting that C17 date says that a modern day comparison may not be relevant.  I am sure I have read discussions on equal temperament and on pitch on this board.  Does it relate to equal temperament, what was the pitch? The answer is probably we do not know.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2018, 01:06:24 PM »

I only listened to a couple of prog's, I must have missed the ones that were twaddle  ::)
I'm sure the early instruments that weren't in equal temperament would have given a different sound so must have had a bearing on the overall effect of differing keys.
As I understand it, before 'equal temperament' something like G# would not have been the same as Ab or D# not the same as Eb etc. and it was only as piano manufacture became more common that equal temperament evolved.
Apparently early English concertinas were the same, not being made in equal temperament.
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Jesse Smith

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2018, 01:32:25 PM »

As I understand it, before 'equal temperament' something like G# would not have been the same as Ab or D# not the same as Eb etc. and it was only as piano manufacture became more common that equal temperament evolved.
It's not even just that G# is different from Ab, but even that the G# in the key of E, for example, is different from the G# in the key of B. Just tunings are optimized for a particular scale and exact frequency of differently named notes will differ based on the key. This is different from equal temperament where each named note is assigned an actual tuning frequency that doesn't change.
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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2018, 01:40:45 PM »

In the context of this topic, and just to throw a spanner in the works:

It all depends (or does it?) on what pitch these notes are tuned to:  A=440Hz? A=444Hz? or . . . .  A=430.54 Hz (which equates to the magic C=256Hz)

Does it matter? Is it relevant?

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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2018, 02:33:35 PM »

blimey Jesse and Barlow.... now I've really got to go and lie down in a darkened room.
Therefore, classical music written before equal temperament must have sounded really different, further implying that music in different keys would sound very different. Perhaps allowing  the composer more room for creating 'musical moods'?
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

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C K LIGHT

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2018, 02:57:48 PM »

I may be oversimplifying things greatly but as far as playing the same tune in a different keys goes; surely it is just a case of moving the tune up and down the scale.

If so, I don't see why the tune should really create any atmosphere particular to that key - the tune will just be lower/higher than if it were in another key?
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tirpous

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2018, 03:14:52 PM »

Quote
I may be oversimplifying things greatly but as far as playing the same tune in a different keys goes; surely it is just a case of moving the tune up and down the scale.

If so, I don't see why the tune should really create any atmosphere particular to that key - the tune will just be lower/higher than if it were in another key?

On many musical instruments, the notes do not all have the same sound (think high vs low octave on a flute, wound vs unwound string on a guitar, etc..).  There are other quirks like sympathetic resonances from open strings, slightly out of tune notes.
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JohnAndy

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2018, 03:38:39 PM »

Quote
I may be oversimplifying things greatly but as far as playing the same tune in a different keys goes; surely it is just a case of moving the tune up and down the scale.

If so, I don't see why the tune should really create any atmosphere particular to that key - the tune will just be lower/higher than if it were in another key?

What you say is true in the case of an instrument tuned in "equal temperament". "Equal temperament" means that every semitone in the scale is tuned to exactly the same interval (that interval is defined by the ratio of frequencies Twelfth-root-of-two : 1, which means that twelve semitones equate to a frequency ratio of 2:1, which is an octave).

However, a scale in equal temperament tuning, and more importantly, the chords built up using notes of that scale, do not sound quite in tune - though they're only really very marginally out. Every scale will be "slightly out of tune" to an equal extent.

So traditionally, keyboard instruments have not been tuned in "equal temperament". Instead, compromises are made in the tuning so that the "home keys" of C, G, F and related keys are closer to sounding nicely in tune than they would be in equal temperament, whilst keys round the far side of the "cycle of fifths", such as F-sharp and D-flat, are less well in tune than they would be in equal temperament.

When such a tuning scheme is used, each scale will have its own slightly different sound, as the exact set of interval ratios as you go along each scale are not the same in each case.

However, the differences are pretty subtle, and when you bring string and wind instruments into the equation, typically the inaccuracies of their playing is going to far outweigh the discrepancies due to the compromises made in the keyboard tuning - at least it does in the circles I move in!
 
« Last Edit: March 14, 2018, 03:42:01 PM by JohnAndy »
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C K LIGHT

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2018, 03:49:14 PM »

Brilliant insight folks! Yes that begins to make a lot of sense to me now thank you.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2018, 06:37:38 PM »

I'm thinking of two tunes I know:
The TipTop polka, which is used by the Bacup Coconut Dancers and played by a brass band when they perform.
Origin of the World, a Dave Shepherd tune originally set I think in Gm, a composition beautifully played by Andy Cutting.

I play both on my DG melodeon, but both tunes sound infinitely better on my BbEb box.
They take on a different feel. It is a genuine feeling, the tunes somehow sit easier on the ear and it is beyond the simple thing that it is 4 semi tones lower.
'Tis a strange thing!
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boxer

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Re: Keys and Modes
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2018, 06:56:00 PM »

It's interesting that the list which is the subject of this discussion doesn't include the major or minor keys of C#, F# or Ab.  Maybe they're indescribable?
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