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Larry Graham Alexander

Your music's key is important.

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Your music's key is important.

I wrote some key demo music for demonstration.  Both of these compositions are 

identical except for the different keys.

Key Demo, G Minor:

http://www.alexandermusic.com/resources/KeyDemoGminor.mp3

Key Demo B Minor:

http://www.alexandermusic.com/resources/KeyDemoBminor.mp3

It is easy to hear the difference in tonal qualities of the two different keys.

Larry Graham Alexander

 

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Yes, the key is key! On guitar it makes a massive difference too, as when people use traditional open chords, the actual chord voiceings change.

Its a hard decision though, as sometimes a great key on an instrument, may be bad for a vocalist. Usually I prioritise vocals.

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The keys of my piano-based compositions tend to be dictated by the fingering of some chords or just where I happened to  'find' the piece while improvising.  I've occasionally transposed recorded MIDI to another key to get the right timbre. If the piece is easily played in the new key, I might re-record it, but sometimes it's really not playable in the ideal key.

I'm having to think about this more frequently lately as I'm now going back and forth between synth pianos and a real grand piano which gets 'muddy' much faster at the low end than any synth. Nothing resonates like a real piano. 

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My thoughts after listening (nice piece by the way Larry!) 

I found the G minor darker than the B minor which seemed more optimistic. However I did wonder if that was merely because it was starting from a higher position on the scale (if it was?)

Interesting what wiki says about those scales - especially the Beethoven quote

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G_minor

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B_minor

 

And this

https://ledgernote.com/blog/interesting/musical-key-characteristics-emotions/

 

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23 minutes ago, JoeGBradford said:

I found the G minor darker than the B minor which seemed more optimistic.

All other things being equal lower pitches will evoke darker, less optimistic emotions.

25 minutes ago, JoeGBradford said:

I'm not buying it... at least not for equal temperament-tuned instruments.  Other characteristics of a musical piece have a much more predictable impact on it's emotive content than what key it's in, and I'm quite sure my own repertoir includes many counter-examples. And what's with capital 'B' being used to indicate 'flat'.  ;^)

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I'm actually reading a book right now called This is Your Brain on Music, written by a neuro-psychologist at Stanford who specializes in musical perception and creativity. I'm just now getting into the meat of the book after he went through an introduction of the basic physics of sound and musical concepts. I had a course in acoustic physics in college, so that part is familiar, but I expect to learn some things specifically related to musical perception as opposed to just raw sound perception.

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11 hours ago, David Baay said:

All other things being equal lower pitches will evoke darker, less optimistic emotions.

I'm not buying it... at least not for equal temperament-tuned instruments.  Other characteristics of a musical piece have a much more predictable impact on it's emotive content than what key it's in, and I'm quite sure my own repertoir includes many counter-examples. And what's with capital 'B' being used to indicate 'flat'.  ;^)

Of course there are more factors than different keys that determine the characteristics of  compositions.  That was the point of my post.

The capital B is merely a part of the link title.  It doesn't indicate 'flat' in this case.

Larry Graham Alexander

 

 

Edited by Larry Graham Alexander

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Of course there are more factors than different keys that determine the characteristics of  compositions.  That was the point of my post.

The capital B is merely a part of the link title.  It doesn't indicate 'flat' in this case.

Larry Graham Alexander

 

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11 hours ago, JoeGBradford said:

My thoughts after listening (nice piece by the way Larry!) 

I found the G minor darker than the B minor which seemed more optimistic. However I did wonder if that was merely because it was starting from a higher position on the scale (if it was?)

Interesting what wiki says about those scales - especially the Beethoven quote

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G_minor

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B_minor

 

And this

https://ledgernote.com/blog/interesting/musical-key-characteristics-emotions/

 

Very interesting post.

Thank  you, Joe.

Larry Graham Alexander

 

 

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5 minutes ago, JoeGBradford said:

David's referring to the capital B's used for flats in the Ledger article I shared Larry not your post 🙂

OK.  My bad.  Sorry 'bout that.

Larry Graham Alexander

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4 hours ago, Larry Graham Alexander said:

OK.  My bad.  Sorry 'bout that.

Not a problem. Larry. And I should clarify that my comment about other things being more determinative of the emotive impression made by a piece was also directed at the premise of that Ledgernote.com page that Joe shared, which proposes that different key have distinct (and definable) emotional characters beyond major = happy and minor = sad. Even that convention isn't totally consistent across all cultures.

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Just now, David Baay said:

Not a problem. Larry. And I should clarify that my comment about other things being more determinative of the emotive impression made by a piece was also directed at the premise of that Ledgernote.com page that Joe shared, which proposes that different key have distinct (and definable) emotional characters beyond major = happy and minor = sad. Even that convention isn't totally consistent across all cultures.

I understand.  Thanks.

Larry Graham Alexander

 

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Thanks for all the discussion about "Capital B"  (as in "DB MAJOR").  I rarely click on links to external sites, but thanks to the controversy/misunderstanding I took a look.  Relationships between music (theory and practice) and communication (including what has been called the Doctrine of Affects) has been a longstanding personal interest.  The article (the one has "DB MAJOR" 😞 ) is a new expression of a discussion that is (minimally) thousands of years old.

Esoteric Footnotes: Some of the "elocutionists" from a century or two ago actually talked about how different intervals (specific intervals!!!) could evoke different emotions (specific emotions!!!) in speech.  More recently, 1990s IIRC, a team of medical  researchers tried to measure the effect of differences between a  major key melody and a minor key melody on people with Alzheimer's.  Fortunately, JMO, more recent research has taken a holistic approach--as opposed trying to measure alleged effects of microscopic changes.  

This is not to say that specific keys (C major v. A minor for example v. C# major) won't have different communicative properties / effects / listener reactions / etc.  However, I agree (as has been pointed out in the discussion) that individual differences between the experiences of individuals and groups of individuals (including cultural groups)  probably has more impact on communicative value (including connections with moods, feelings, states, emotions, etc.) in musical contexts than innate properties of sound / sound waves / etc.  -- not withstanding things like chalk squeaking on a chalkboard, PA system feedback, weaponized sound, etc.

ADDENDUM:

Quote

Now, we didn't come up with these feelings all by ourselves. A German music theorist and composer John Mattheson laid it out in his writings way back in 1713, among many other related topics. 

This is a tiny part of the history.  Many other German musicologists among others correlated music theory and communication theory.  IMO the article, while colorful and geared towards a pop audience, does a great disservice to the full body of literature.  JMO: it adds nothing new and perpetuates stereotypes.  Citing Mattheson to lend credibility to the article don't make it true. 

Edited by User 905133
to add a reference to the article's use of Johann Mattheson as a source.

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On 2/16/2020 at 2:05 PM, Larry Graham Alexander said:

Your music's key is important.

I wrote some key demo music for demonstration.  Both of these compositions are 

identical except for the different keys.

Key Demo, G Minor:

http://www.alexandermusic.com/resources/KeyDemoGminor.mp3

Key Demo B Minor:

http://www.alexandermusic.com/resources/KeyDemoBminor.mp3

It is easy to hear the difference in tonal qualities of the two different keys.

Larry Graham Alexander

 

Hey, Larry.  Assuming you have these as midi files, could you render the Gminor version an octave higher and the Bminor version an octave lower?  Thanks.

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15 minutes ago, User 905133 said:

Hey, Larry.  Assuming you have these as midi files, could you render the Gminor version an octave higher and the Bminor version an octave lower?  Thanks.

Since I am no longer composing because of bad health (I am 86) , I removed all of my music software from my computer.  I am unable to fulfill your request.

Sorry.

Best Regards,

Larry Graham Alexander

Edited by Larry Graham Alexander

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46 minutes ago, Larry Graham Alexander said:

Since I am no longer composing because of bad health (I am 86) , I removed all of my music software from my computer.  I am unable to fulfill your request.

Sorry.

Best Regards,

Larry Graham Alexander

Sorry to hear about your health issue.  Thanks for the reply.

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