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Minor key signatures are wrong

GUEST,Futwick 31 May 13 - 03:14 PM
Jack Campin 31 May 13 - 03:21 PM
Acorn4 31 May 13 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 31 May 13 - 03:32 PM
Will Fly 31 May 13 - 03:32 PM
Herga Kitty 31 May 13 - 03:34 PM
GUEST 31 May 13 - 03:46 PM
Murray MacLeod 31 May 13 - 03:57 PM
GUEST 31 May 13 - 04:31 PM
GUEST 31 May 13 - 04:31 PM
PHJim 31 May 13 - 04:45 PM
Stanron 31 May 13 - 05:03 PM
Artful Codger 31 May 13 - 05:06 PM
GUEST,Grishka 31 May 13 - 05:28 PM
Murray MacLeod 31 May 13 - 06:30 PM
GUEST,leeneia 31 May 13 - 07:04 PM
GUEST,Futwick 31 May 13 - 07:47 PM
Stanron 31 May 13 - 10:09 PM
Artful Codger 31 May 13 - 11:54 PM
Dave Hanson 01 Jun 13 - 03:31 AM
GUEST,Grishka 01 Jun 13 - 05:09 AM
s&r 01 Jun 13 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,Stim 01 Jun 13 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,Grishka 01 Jun 13 - 10:47 AM
s&r 01 Jun 13 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,Futwick 01 Jun 13 - 02:24 PM
GUEST,Futwick 01 Jun 13 - 02:26 PM
GUEST,Triplane 01 Jun 13 - 03:22 PM
s&r 01 Jun 13 - 03:34 PM
Don Firth 01 Jun 13 - 03:39 PM
GUEST,Futwick 01 Jun 13 - 04:28 PM
GUEST 01 Jun 13 - 04:57 PM
Stanron 01 Jun 13 - 05:09 PM
GUEST,Richie 01 Jun 13 - 05:26 PM
s&r 01 Jun 13 - 06:45 PM
Don Firth 01 Jun 13 - 07:03 PM
Tattie Bogle 01 Jun 13 - 07:37 PM
GUEST,Futwick 01 Jun 13 - 10:40 PM
The Sandman 01 Jun 13 - 10:43 PM
GUEST,Futwick 01 Jun 13 - 10:52 PM
GUEST 01 Jun 13 - 11:04 PM
Don Firth 01 Jun 13 - 11:54 PM
Gibb Sahib 02 Jun 13 - 01:41 AM
GUEST,Grishka 02 Jun 13 - 06:46 AM
Stanron 02 Jun 13 - 08:51 AM
Mooh 02 Jun 13 - 09:56 AM
GUEST,Futwick 02 Jun 13 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,Grishka 02 Jun 13 - 01:20 PM
Stanron 02 Jun 13 - 01:35 PM
GUEST,Grishka 02 Jun 13 - 01:41 PM
Stanron 02 Jun 13 - 01:50 PM
Gibb Sahib 02 Jun 13 - 02:08 PM
Don Firth 02 Jun 13 - 02:19 PM
John P 02 Jun 13 - 02:30 PM
Stanron 02 Jun 13 - 03:40 PM
s&r 02 Jun 13 - 06:45 PM
Nigel Parsons 03 Jun 13 - 03:18 AM
Nigel Parsons 03 Jun 13 - 03:40 AM
GUEST,Triplane 03 Jun 13 - 05:38 AM
s&r 03 Jun 13 - 06:53 AM
Tattie Bogle 03 Jun 13 - 10:37 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 03 Jun 13 - 11:11 AM
GUEST,Mr Red 03 Jun 13 - 11:31 AM
GUEST,Grishka 03 Jun 13 - 07:08 PM
Jack Campin 03 Jun 13 - 08:40 PM
John P 03 Jun 13 - 11:03 PM
GUEST 04 Jun 13 - 12:20 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 04 Jun 13 - 04:04 AM
Tattie Bogle 04 Jun 13 - 10:42 AM
dick greenhaus 04 Jun 13 - 04:42 PM
andrew e 04 Jun 13 - 08:39 PM
Jack Campin 04 Jun 13 - 09:05 PM
GUEST,Futwick 04 Jun 13 - 09:49 PM
GUEST,Futwick 04 Jun 13 - 09:54 PM
Don Firth 04 Jun 13 - 10:42 PM
GUEST 04 Jun 13 - 11:45 PM
Will Fly 05 Jun 13 - 04:07 AM
Don Firth 05 Jun 13 - 02:17 PM
Highlandman 05 Jun 13 - 02:36 PM
Highlandman 05 Jun 13 - 02:37 PM
Gibb Sahib 05 Jun 13 - 02:40 PM
Highlandman 05 Jun 13 - 02:49 PM
Don Firth 05 Jun 13 - 02:56 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jun 13 - 03:18 PM
Don Firth 05 Jun 13 - 03:22 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jun 13 - 04:12 PM
Highlandman 05 Jun 13 - 05:05 PM
Gibb Sahib 05 Jun 13 - 05:37 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jun 13 - 05:44 PM
dick greenhaus 05 Jun 13 - 06:01 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jun 13 - 06:38 PM
Don Firth 05 Jun 13 - 07:34 PM
Don Firth 05 Jun 13 - 07:48 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jun 13 - 08:10 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 06 Jun 13 - 04:04 AM
Highlandman 06 Jun 13 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,KP 06 Jun 13 - 04:27 PM
Jack Campin 06 Jun 13 - 08:48 PM
Jack Campin 06 Jun 13 - 08:59 PM
GUEST,Futwick 06 Jun 13 - 10:16 PM
GUEST,Futwick 06 Jun 13 - 10:17 PM
IanC 07 Jun 13 - 04:01 AM
Jack Campin 07 Jun 13 - 04:47 AM
Gibb Sahib 07 Jun 13 - 06:01 AM
s&r 07 Jun 13 - 07:47 AM
Manitas_at_home 07 Jun 13 - 12:20 PM
Don Firth 07 Jun 13 - 12:37 PM
Jack Campin 07 Jun 13 - 01:11 PM
GUEST,KP 07 Jun 13 - 01:47 PM
Don Firth 07 Jun 13 - 02:16 PM
Rumncoke 07 Jun 13 - 05:04 PM
Don Firth 07 Jun 13 - 06:48 PM
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s&r 08 Jun 13 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,larehip 08 Jun 13 - 11:22 AM
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Subject: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 31 May 13 - 03:14 PM

If you look at C minor, it has a Bb in it but you can't use it. To play chromatically, you need a B natural. Going to F minor, you can't use the Eb to play chromatically but you DO need that Bb. Bb minor has an Ab that it can't use for chromatic play but it does need the Eb.

If we look at some sharp keys, F# minor has a natural E but needs an E# for chromatic play but it doesn't have one, it only has F#, G# and C#. But C# minor has a natural A when it needs an A# (it's only sharps are F, C, G and D) but it does require a natural E.

I find this quite surprising. Our minor scale key signatures are simply wrong.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 31 May 13 - 03:21 PM

Or playing chromatically is wrong.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Acorn4
Date: 31 May 13 - 03:26 PM

When I used to learn piano I seem to remember there was a distinction between "harmonic" and "melodic" minor - this is even before you start talking about modes - this is a difficult place to go.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 31 May 13 - 03:32 PM

I'm pretty sure that at one time "minor" keys tended to have a "flattened" 7th note ( a tone below the tonic/root note), but then the modern 7th ( a semi-tone below the tonic ) became popular bringing it in line with the major key.
Of course, folk "minor modes" ( the dorian, for example) does have a "flattened" ( as it were ) 7th.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Will Fly
Date: 31 May 13 - 03:32 PM

If I play a C minor scale - with no flats or sharps other than those in the conventional key signature of Eb, the Bb sounds perfectly acceptable - and a B natural grates on my ears.

In the end, it doesn't really matter what a key signature says - just play what the melody and harmony demand.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 31 May 13 - 03:34 PM

IIRC, the difference between harmonic and melodic is that one of the notes is flattened when playing an ascending scale but not when playing the descending scale... and the key signature is determined by the corresponding major scale.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST
Date: 31 May 13 - 03:46 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C_minor

Hear the difference at that site. Folks is right.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 31 May 13 - 03:57 PM

What exactly does "playing chromatically" entail ???


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST
Date: 31 May 13 - 04:31 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gy6E3X2mKQ


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST
Date: 31 May 13 - 04:31 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gy6E3X2mKQ


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: PHJim
Date: 31 May 13 - 04:45 PM

Futwick, let's look at C minor since that's the key you started with. C is the relative minor of Eb, which has 3 flats, Bb, Eb and Ab. You're right when you say we need a B natural to play a chromatic scale, but you also need a Bb.
A chromatic C scale is neither minor nor major, but contains all twelve tones of the western musical scale. A chromatic C scale is C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B then we start at C again. It could also be spelled C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab A Bb ... since C# and Db are the same note (enharmonic).
I'm not even sure if you'd call this a chromatic scale. It's just all the notes available to us.
Going chromatically from C to F, you would play C Db(C#) D Eb(D#) E F


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Stanron
Date: 31 May 13 - 05:03 PM

This was written befor PHJim posted.
Is this thread a joke? This subject is nowhere near as complex as it is made out.

The simplest key is C major, with no sharps or flats. Each major key has a 'relative' minor key based on its sixth note. The sixth note of the C scale is A so the relative minor to C major is A minor. It also has no sharps or flats. This scale is called the

NATURAL MINOR SCALE.

The HARMONIC MINOR SCALE sharpens the seventh note.

In the scale of A minor the seventh note is G. In the A harmonic minor scale this becomes G#. On a score this does not appear in the key signature. Instead a # sign is placed in front of each G note when it appears on the score. This practice keeps key signatures consistant and easy to read.

In the A MELODIC MINOR scale, the sixth and seventh notes are sharpened when notes are ascending but played as naturals when descending, and again the key signature is not affected, the changed notes are written as 'accidentals'.

Melodic and harmonic minor scales are hangovers from an earlier time. Unless you are about to take a music theory exam you can forget about them and concentrate on making the music that sounds good to you.

Playing chromatically means playing notes other than those in the scale.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Artful Codger
Date: 31 May 13 - 05:06 PM

In the modern minor mode, one uses three scale patterns simultaneously. The key signature corresponds to the natural minor scale, which is the primary basis of the harmonic structure, though both harmonies and melodies commonly employ chromatic alterations. The raised (major) sixth and seventh are primarily artifacts of leading tones when ascending melodically or chord alternatives to the "natural" chords, for instance, to avoid the diminished triad. The VII chord, used much more frequently than in the major mode, is rooted on the minor 7th, not the major 7th. In short, the key signature, corresponding to the natural minor scale pattern, remains the best primary pattern for representing the minor mode.

The three minor scales and minor harmony have been extensively discussed in older threads.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 31 May 13 - 05:28 PM

If the idea were to minimize the number of written accidentals, the signature without flatted B would often be preferable. If the convention would allow that, it would still not be any more "correct" though, and even less "logical" in a sense. The notation system is largely determined by its history - like it or not.

Many alternate systems have been invented, less space-consuming, easier to learn, more suitable for equal temperament, more suitable for pure intonation, more symmetric for all keys, easier to read by humans, easier to read by software ...

We are still typing on computer keybords layouted as if for mechanical typewriters.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 31 May 13 - 06:30 PM

Just FTR, I am well aware of what a chromatic scale is...

What I still am unaware of is what "playing chromatically" entails. Like... what would the converse of "playing chromatically " be ?

As Will Fly said above, you play what the melody and harmony demand.

Many times, wnen playing a piece, there will be passing notes a semitone above the previous note and below the following note.

But you know what ...nobody who actually plays gives a toss about how many sharps or flats are in the key signature ...they know where the notes are on the fretboard and they know which notes to play in the tune.

Doc Watson never bothered about key signatures ...


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 31 May 13 - 07:04 PM

1. You play a major scale, any key you want to name.

do re me fa so la ti do

2. You play it again, noting which note is #6

do me me fa so LA ti do

3. Now play the same notes, but this time you start and stop on La, formerly the sixth note. Remember, you keep the same sharps and flats as in step 1.

4. You have just played the relative minor scale for whatever key you chose key in Step 1.

5. Play the minor scale again, but this time, slide your finger up and make the 7th note one half-step higher. That is the 'harmonic minor,' or as we call it at my house, 'the belly-dance minor.'

Some popular major keys and their relative minors:

C Am
D Bm
G Em
F Dm
A F#m

Of course, people are free to use the other notes, either black or white, that we have on our instruments. However, using too many of them leads to music which sounds more like machinery than like music, and while we pay tribute to the creativity and prestige of the people who wrote it, we don't actually want to listen to it.

Finally - sometimes people think that if a song looks to be in C, but it sounds minor, then it's in C minor. No, it's not, it's in A minor. As somebody said above, Cm is the minor for the key of Eb. It is not a favorite key around here.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 31 May 13 - 07:47 PM

**The simplest key is C major, with no sharps or flats. Each major key has a 'relative' minor key based on its sixth note. The sixth note of the C scale is A so the relative minor to C major is A minor. It also has no sharps or flats. This scale is called the

NATURAL MINOR SCALE.**

It might interest you to know that you're wrong. I know, I know...that's how you were taught. But it's wrong. Aeolian mode (the 6th degree of Ionian mode erroneously assumed to be the major scale) is NOT the natural minor scale. In the major-minor system we use today, the minor is simply its major of the same scale major modified at 3 and 6.

The reason is that Aeolian mode has no V7. The true minor scale MUST have a V7. Someone else asked how it is that we play chromatically. We play chromatically BECAUSE we have the V7. Without that one chord, we cannot change keys or hit turnarounds and resolve back to I. Look at your song structures: ii-V7, ii-V7-I, I-vi-ii-V7. In Aeolian C minor where is your V7? Nowhere. So what can it do chromatically? Nothing.

**Futwick, let's look at C minor since that's the key you started with. C is the relative minor of Eb, which has 3 flats, Bb, Eb and Ab. You're right when you say we need a B natural to play a chromatic scale, but you also need a Bb.**

Yes, as a passing note. Forget the term "relative minor" as it doesn't have much meaning.

**The three minor scales and minor harmony have been extensively discussed in older threads.**

I hope the conclusion was that three are not necessary. We only need one.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Stanron
Date: 31 May 13 - 10:09 PM

Wow! I'm wrong, like key signatures are wrong, like the major scale is wrong, like deriving the natural minor from its relative major is wrong - Wow!

Good luck with all of that.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Artful Codger
Date: 31 May 13 - 11:54 PM

Grrr, third time's a charm?

Futwick, there are several flaws in your analysis. First, relative minor is quite important, because many songs flip their tonality between the major mode and the relative minor mode (or minor and relative major)--this involves no change of "scale" but a very real change in tonic, modulating by a minor third. The overlap in chord sets, albeit of different degrees relative to the effective tonic, lends to fluidly transitioning from one mode to the other. It's similar to temporarily shifting the tonic by a fourth or fifth (as happens in many chord progressions and melodic passages).

Of course, many other songs flip between major and minor mode while keeping the same tonic, effectively changing their "key signature" or basic scale pattern. So while the relative minor of C major is A minor, the (absolute) minor corresponding to C major is indeed C minor. Two separate relationships, both important.

There is also no requirement for V7 to be composed only of natural notes in the minor scale; Vm(7) is also common, and used to predominate. Note that VII becomes a very prevalent chord in minor mode--some minor mode songs use only two chords: I and VII. (So do many Dorian and Mixolydian songs.) This VII chord is rooted on the minor seventh--though it's a major triad, it frequently functions as a rootless V7 chord, but a minor V7 (Vm7). The importance of the VII chord in minor mode trumps the simple chromatic alteration often used to transform the natural Vm7 chord into a V7 chord, which does strengthen the pull of the V-I progression but isn't mandatory. Minor mode poses special challenges for harmony, meaning that it requires greater flexibility and astuteness on the part of accompanists. If you try to stick to Im, IVm, and V7, instead of considering other variants of these same degrees, you're likely going to hash it.

Melodically, the minor seventh still occurs more often than the major seventh (except in leading-tone sequences like tonic-seventh-tonic), and melodies using the "belly dance" pattern (minor 6th to major 7th) still sound somewhat "exotic"--the reason the 6th is usually raised in ascending melodic sequences. The blues scale uses a minor 7th, as even does a lot of major mode music in country and rock. To assert then that the 7th should be major in minor mode is decidedly odd, contrary to predominant usage not only in minor but in most major modes other than "straight" major.

As I said, in practice all three minor scale variants are used simultaneously, according to context. To be complete, the minor scale would have to include both minor and major 6ths and 7ths--but that would confuse things even more than the three scale patterns (which reflect both the standard melodic variations and the main chordal variations). An understanding of all three is useful, but as Will implies, if you have an intrinsic understanding of how stuff should sound, NO scales are necessary. Not a terribly useful argument, since it just brags about one's own ability and cuts off a means to convey what one has learned to others, particularly via notation. We haven't yet progressed to the point that we teach and learn by mental osmosis. A thimbleful of theory, properly expressed, can accelerate learning and understanding significantly.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 03:31 AM

Looks like all the music books in the world will have to be altered now fuckwit, I think not.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 05:09 AM

It is legitimate (though mostly futile) to question the wisdom of conventions. For example, a more logical spelling of the word "could" would be "cound".

Key signatures are conventions of notation, not of the music itself. A key signature of just Eb and Ab would make perfect sense; if the music contains any Bb, a flat accidental can be added at the note. The ABC notation language used at Mudcat actually allows for such signatures: "K:C _e_a" or "K:Cm =b" - try them out!

Nevertheless, they are nonstandard, mainly for reasons of history ("musica ficta"). But I also doubt that they would make for improved logic (as "cound" would).

Again: this is only a matter of notation. Scales and harmonies of minor keys are different topics, quite independent.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: s&r
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 09:25 AM

I can't make cound sound like an English word. I agree with yoursecond sentence though

Stu


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 09:45 AM

Very good explanation, Artful Codger--and Futwick, given the strident tone and stubborn wrongheadedness of your postings, it was kinder and gentler than you deserved.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 10:47 AM

Stu, I only mentioned spelling, assuming pronunciation to be (even more) out of reach of standardizers. A mute "n" would sound exactly like a mute "l". Admittedly, logic in languages is always relative. Do you fear that "cound" could be mispronounced to resemble the name of a German philosopher who advocated pure reason?


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: s&r
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 10:55 AM

I would read cound to rhyme with sound. The only examples of silent n I can bring to mind in English usage are at the end of words like hymn and damn. It doesn't alter your general point however.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 02:24 PM

**Again: this is only a matter of notation.**

But if it affects the notation then it will inevitably affect the practice. Going back to the three minor scales, many students are made to practice something that makes no sense and does absolutely nothing for their musical abilities or knowledge--namely the playing of the melodic or harmonic minor ascending and then reverting back while descending.

That's not how those work. Has anyone noticed, for example, that harmonic minor has a big hole in the scale? When you sharp the 7 position, you're creating a step and half gap between 6 and 7. How do you fill it in? With a passing note such as flattening the 7th or sharpening the 6th to momentarily close the gap. Which one? Depends on the chord you're harmonizing with. Sometime you want to keep the minor sound and other times you want a major sound. And you're going to ascend and descend the same way.

And Artful, let me digest all your info and make sure I know what point you're making and get back to you. You certainly put in some effort so I want to make sure I do it justice.

**Futwick, given the strident tone and stubborn wrongheadedness of your postings, it was kinder and gentler than you deserved.**

Oh, WAHHHHHHH!!!! Would you like a little toe cheese with that whine? Open wide and I'll flick a little in.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 02:26 PM

**The only examples of silent n I can bring to mind in English usage are at the end of words like hymn and damn.**

What about Camembert?


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Triplane
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 03:22 PM

Thats a bit cheesy, but then again im really into anagrams


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: s&r
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 03:34 PM

Camnemberntn - of course

Stu


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 03:39 PM

Bit of a boo-boo here.

The Melodic Minor ascending raises both the 6th and 7th degrees of the scale while going up, then returns them to their key signature position when descending.

I don't know what all the fuss is about. I've never been confused by the system and it works just fine. And is not wrong, it is accurate. It has evolved into a cohesive, highly usable system over the centuries and some pretty high-powered musicians, Monteverdi, Haydn, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc. have found it perfectly good for cranking out masterpiece after masterpiece.

The only musicians I have ever heard criticize the system or try to find things wrong with it are those who have little or no musical education or formal training, and generally tend to be self-taught.

Like folk-type singers (city-billies, rather than actual traditional singers).

Don Firth

P. S. Okay, let the rock throwing begin.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 04:28 PM

In jazz, you ascend using the melodic minor and you descend using the melodic minor. Whether you revert depends on the chords the melody is harmonizing with otherwise you may end up being seriously out of tune just doing it automatically because that's how you practice it that way. Ultimately, it's not really useful to practice that way.

You should know those scales but only ascending. They teach you how to "plug holes" in the scale depending on the situation but how you descend is also likewise dependent (and, more often than not, it is the same way you ascended). Nothing graven in stone so why practice it as though it is?

It's funny because I'm saying, music has become too cluttered with crap that isn't particularly useful and sometimes wrong and people are arguing that I need to keep it simple. I guess my saying that there are easier ways to learn about music than the bloated holdovers taught in music even by people who should know better is not the same as keeping it simple.    Grishka seems to be the only one really getting it.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 04:57 PM

Futwick, perhaps you haven't noticed but this is a folk forum and not a jazz forum. In folk music, as a rule of thumb, you do and play what the folk you like irrespective of rules or theoretical stratagems. Generally here sounds trump theories.

From your initial post I assumed you wanted some explanation or clarification regarding aspects of fairly simple music theory issues. But it seems that you want us all to acknowlege your superior theoretical perceptions. Sorry. This is not the right place. Perhaps you will have better luck elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Stanron
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 05:09 PM

Last post was me without cookie.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 05:26 PM

Perhaps looking at the minor chord scale (each of the three scales in triads) you can better talk about chords and minor scales.

I think the minor system is imperfect largely because of the V7 chord and you need to adjust the scales and corresponging chords to fit the chord progession (song) you are playing.

You can do that by using the 3 scales but certainly one scale may not work- there needs to flexibility.

Certainly 3 minor scales "harmonized" is how I teach the scales. Then you need to make exceptions depending on the song you are palying,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: s&r
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 06:45 PM

If there's an Eb in the key signature, every time you play an E it's flat. If the composer player or bloke who writes the score wants E natural he uses an accidental to modify the instruction given in the key signature.

Notation tells you which notes to play if you're going to follow the score.

Where's the problem?

Stu


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 07:03 PM

I've seen a number of systems that people have worked out, claiming they are simpler or easier to use than standard notation, but it turns out that they're simpler for the inventor of the system to use, mainly because the inventor has a specific instrument or type of music in mind. But they rarely give complete information and fail when it comes to music for other instruments or other genres of music.

I've had a number of people argue with me, since I play the guitar, that tablature is much easier system. But tablature is applicable to one instrument only. My wife couldn't play a piece of guitar music written in tablature on the piano, for example.

Or I can look at a song written in standard notation and sing it right off. Tablature and a variety of other "systems" are worthless for something like that. Lots of cello music can be played on the guitar right off the cello sheet music.

Most cobbled together "easier" systems rarely allow this kind of versatility.

Don Firth

P. S. Sharps and flats can be added to specific notes, and as Stu has pointed out, any sharp or flat in the key signature can be nullified by adding a natural sign before the note in question.

Standard notation has always worked well for me. And for millions of musicians.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 07:37 PM

Agreed, Don: it's a good system, no need to mess with it.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 10:40 PM

**Futwick, perhaps you haven't noticed but this is a folk forum and not a jazz forum. In folk music, as a rule of thumb, you do and play what the folk you like irrespective of rules or theoretical stratagems. Generally here sounds trump theories.**

What difference does it make whether it's folk or jazz?? The same rules apply. Folk doesn't use the minor scales any differently than jazz does because the same rules of harmony apply. But jazz takes melodic minor up and down the same way because that's most often going to be the case. If jazz can do it, why is it still taught in this same useless fashion?

**From your initial post I assumed you wanted some explanation or clarification regarding aspects of fairly simple music theory issues.**

I asked for no such thing. I'm well acquainted with music theory.

**But it seems that you want us all to acknowlege your superior theoretical perceptions. Sorry. This is not the right place. Perhaps you will have better luck elsewhere.**

It's as good a place as any and you know it.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 10:43 PM

minor key signatures are not wrong


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 10:52 PM

**Sharps and flats can be added to specific notes, and as Stu has pointed out, any sharp or flat in the key signature can be nullified by adding a natural sign before the note in question.**

Taking C minor scale as an example, it would be easier to assign a key signature of two flats (E and A) rather than three because modern music demands these scales have chromatic capability. Unless you are playing in true Aeolian mode then three flats would be acceptable.

One advantage of this is that minor scales would have their own specific key signatures apart from major scales instead of borrowing the same ones.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 11:04 PM

Fuck. Now we gotta learn new key signatures?

Start a movement, a new way of doing what we've done for hundreds of years. There's the ticket. If it catches on we could capitalize on it by selling t-shirts.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 11:54 PM

Futwick, many larger pieces of music, whole symphonies and such, AND many shorter works as well, switch back and forth between the major and minor mode within the key signature, adding "accidentals" where needed. And they make use of both major and minor chords and scale runs.

To require that they have separate key signatures would add completely needless complications to both composing a work and reading it.

There is nothing wrong with the current system, accepted by all musicians who write and read music in the long-standing and wide-spread European tradition.

Don Firthq


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 01:41 AM

Futwick (AKA Orientalist Twat),

One can make the key signature read however one wants, in so-called "modern music." Perhaps you have not seen this, but composers and other notators of music have done it.

The custom you're saying is wrong is something developed for classical "TONAL" music—a system largely concerned with harmony and harmonic relationships. (Not for Jazz. Not for Romanian fiddle tunes.) The key signatures are part of a larger (holistic) system of relationships. Such relationships take/took precedence, within that music, over incidental melodic movements. Cf. the equal tempered system, again highlighting the emphasis of harmonic relationships over the context-specific tuning of melodies. Cf. Highland bagpipe notation, which requires no key signatures because its key in relation to others is irrelevant.

From the standpoint of MELODY: no, one doesn't find a major sixth and major seventh to be ubiquitous for the melodic descent when in minor. Those are leading tones in the ascent. In this sense, "minor" is much like a melodic MODE.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 06:46 AM

Remarkable how easy it is to provoke angry debates among adult persons. This was obviously the intention of the OP, given the choice of nickname.

Our notation system has many disadvantages (see my post of 31 May 13 - 05:28 PM). Some of these could be mended without any drawback, were we to reinvent the system for Martians. For Earthlings, there is a "pluralistic" approach: each player or singer chooses a printout in the representation s/he likes best. In the near future, people will use their tablet computers instead of music sheets and simply switch representations as desired. (Warning: the choice is not as easy as you may think! For old music, some musicians insist on a "historic" notation, hoping to inspire them with the original aura.) —

Minor scales are a totally different topic. The way they are taught for instrumental practising covers the most typical uses in the most typical styles, thus they are necessarily incomplete. The so-called chord-scale system makes a dogma of them, hoping to get rid of the notions of key and harmonic relation altogether. Needless to say that - like most such theories - it is far from representing the corresponding music completely, thank goodness!


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Stanron
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 08:51 AM

I reckon the OP started this thread as a joke, for a bet or as a task set by some kind of educational regime. You know the sort of thing,

'Start a ridiculous debate on an inappropriate forum and maintain it for as many posts as possible. 10 posts = Pass, 25 posts = Merit and 50 posts = Distinction.'

Only a few to go.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Mooh
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 09:56 AM

It's a good thing music notation conventions don't change like computer operating systems, or there'd be a whole new unnecessary and pointless industry.

The current key signatures work great, and all one needs to do is learn the language of music in order to read and play music.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 01:13 PM

Now now CHILDREN, let's control our tempers.

This is just a discussion, one you can choose not to participate in but most of you are hypocrites who whine about these thread but just can't stay off them for whatever--few of them valid.

***Futwick, many larger pieces of music, whole symphonies and such, AND many shorter works as well, switch back and forth between the major and minor mode within the key signature, adding "accidentals" where needed. And they make use of both major and minor chords and scale runs.***

I think I may have heard rumors about that being done a time or two.

***To require that they have separate key signatures would add completely needless complications to both composing a work and reading it.***

But Don, key signature DO sometimes change in pieces and so do clefs--right in the middle of the staff sometimes. Doesn't seem to bother anybody. You take out the unnecessary flat, for example, now you don't need to go in an insert accidentals. Ta-da!

**There is nothing wrong with the current system, accepted by all musicians who write and read music in the long-standing and wide-spread European tradition.**

That's not true, either. There is something wrong with it and notation has changed over the years greatly. I'll prove it:

Play this for me on your guitar please

Or this

Or perhaps this

***Fuck. Now we gotta learn new key signatures?***

Well, which is less sonfusing--minor scales getting their own key signatures or minor keys having the exact same key signatures as major scales?

You remind me of that Monty Python sketch about the club where everybody is named Michael Baldwin Bruce then when a new guy joins with a different name, the other club members grouse that this is going to cause a bit of confusion.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 01:20 PM

Yes, Stanron, all Mudcatters know the game. However, the point system is the following:
  • Posts explaining well-known facts: 1 point each
  • Posts ranting at the OP: 5 points each
  • Posts making fools of their authors, e.g. by insulting other posters: 10 points each (extra bonus if the author is a public figure or claims to be authoritative)
  • Posts contributing unexpected and interesting aspects or facts: -5 points each.
  • Posts containing good jokes: -1 point each.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Stanron
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 01:35 PM

So, Grishka, is that 1 point for a well known fact or 5 for unexpected and interesting? And who gets them?


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 01:41 PM

-5 is minus five, for the OP in the trolling competition.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Stanron
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 01:50 PM

Thank goodness for that! For a moment there I thought he'd got Distinction.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 02:08 PM

*she'd


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 02:19 PM

Guys, the only reason I respond to things like this is not to score points, nor, for that matter, to knock someone off his hobby horse, but because on a folk music site such as this, there are a lot of self-taught musicians or those who have no musical training at all and are trying to muddle through as best they can, and who can wind up hopelessly befuddled when cockamamie ideas like Futwick's are put forth. I'm trying to save them from being let into an impenetrable thicket of screwball ideas such as the thrust of this thread.

=======

Futwick, the examples of music you linked to are facsimiles of very old music manuscripts, and at least one of them is not written notation, it is tablature. The first two have only four lines, indicating that they predate the current system, which has five lines.   The last one is obviously tablature, but the instrument it's written for is not indicated. Guitar? Lute? Vihuela? The instruments are tuned differently, and if you try to play right off lute tablature on a modern guitar, it isn't going to work.

I could link you to manuscripts in English that were written several hundreds of years ago, using the same letters and the same words (some with the "creative spelling" that existed prior to dictionaries), but due to the style of handwriting, most people these days simply couldn't read them.

Now hear this:

C major and A minor use the same notes. To create a "leading tone," which the natural minor does not have, the seventh degree of the natural minor scale is raised a half-step. Many composers felt that this created too large a gap (a minor third—actually, and augmented second) between the sixth and seventh degrees of the scale, so they took to raising the sixth a half-step to avoid what is a very "Mid-East" sounding interval (this effect is often kept in Flamenco music).

In the key of C, the chords, going scalewise, are C, Dm, Em F, G, Am, Ddim (which is subsumed by playing a G7 chord, and back to C again. Depending on the song or piece of music, any or all of these chords can be used.

C major and A minor (and all other major and relative minor keys) are two different modalities of the same key.

It works for millions of musicians, singers, and composers, and has done so for a couple of centuries now.

If it ain't broken, don't fix it. And it ain't broken!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: John P
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 02:30 PM

Is it possible that the OP is not a troll, but is really someone who thinks that folk music must use classical music rules? This is what makes me think this might be the case:

Folk doesn't use the minor scales any differently than jazz does because the same rules of harmony apply.

No, the same rules of harmony do not apply, at least not to most traditional melodies. To start with, "playing chromatically" (whatever that's supposed to mean) isn't usually a concern. Mixolydian and dorian melodies are common. Even when using the usual major and minor scales, tunes with the chords Am, Em, and G are quite normal. Drones abound. Oddly, it still sounds good and adds up mathematically.

As for minor scales being played differently when ascending or descending: Can anyone point me at several folk melodies where that is the case? A vast majority of the folk melodies I know are diatonic. Part of that means that they use one scale for the whole melody. For many folk instruments, it's not even possible to play chromatically. Even the odd accidental is there to be an odd accidental, not an alteration of the scale for some classically-oriented harmonic purpose.

As for "needing" the major seventh in an otherwise minor melody -- again, can anyone tell me if I'm wrong when I say that there is a relatively small number of folk melodies that use a minor tonic chord and major fifth chord? I usually love melodies that do that, but it seems much more common to me that the fifth chord is also played as a minor. i.e., melodies that use Am and Em are more numerous than ones that use Am and E7.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Stanron
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 03:40 PM

Jon P,

I am not sure whether it is more generous to ascribe ignorance or perversity as motives for starting this thread. As you quite rightly point out the ignorance is obvious but there is also a kind of hectoring antagonism which looks very close to a wind up. Don't suppose it really matters.

Off hand I can't think of a folk tune that uses the melodic minor consistently but then again folk musicians think more in sounds than in theoretical constructs.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: s&r
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 06:45 PM

I remember being in the same frame of mind with a previous poster whose knowledge opinions and understanding (lack of) grossly disturbed the merits of the site. This led to all sorts of bad tempered posts: many of us took the same attitude as Don describes above.

Many of the group of mudcat posters provide helpful, erudite, and friendly posts; the level of knowledge and understanding is high indeed.

Then there are the trolls


Stu


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 03:18 AM

I would read cound to rhyme with sound. The only examples of silent n I can bring to mind in English usage are at the end of words like hymn and damn. It doesn't alter your general point however.

Stu


Unfortunately, these days, 'government' also seems to have a silent (first) 'n'.

Cheers


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 03:40 AM

Well, which is less sonfusing--minor scales getting their own key signatures or minor keys having the exact same key signatures as major scales?


Maintaining the status quo is less confusing. It seems that most people will quickly identify a key by the number of sharps/flats in the key signature, and then identify if it's a minor key by the sound.
Having two 'unrelated' keys with the same key signature (okay, e.g. the two flats in the signature may be on different notes, but that is not always obvious, particularly as they will appear differently in different clefs) seems a pointless complication of the system.

For the major keys, number of sharps in order:
Go Down And Enter By Force,   Crash!
Number of flats, in order:
Fly B.E.A. Don't Go Cambrian. (okay my last school music lesson was before B.E.A. & B.O.A.C. merged into British Airways, and Wales still had its own airline, 'Cambrian')

Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Triplane
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 05:38 AM

Is OP really gfs same style

In my youth I used to play juke boxes - I believed the scales used on them were Nickelodeon ... i could be wrong?


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: s&r
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 06:53 AM

I wondered WAV...


Stu


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 10:37 AM

There was some discussion on another forum about what key signature to use when you were notating e.g. a Scottish pipe tune in a modal scale with flattened 7ths. i.e. in the key of A all Gs would be naturals, therefore some people would only put 2 #s in the key signature.

To me, having laboriously and faithfully learned standard music theory nearly 60 years ago, this was confusing and "wrong" (dare I say it?), and would suggest the key was either D or Bm. My take on it was that you should still use the usual A key sig of 3 #s and then write a natural in front of each G in the score: (or if there had to be any compromise it would be to write the key sig as F#, C#, Gnat, but I would still prefer the first option of 3 #s.)

(And I'm not talking about "bagpipe notation" which is another can o' worms entirely and I won't even go there!)

Yes, Don, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 11:11 AM

The reality is that there are often several different ways of notating something, and this doesn't just apply to key signatures. Often the alternatives are entirely logical, and work. However over a long period of time a standard way of doing it has arisen. Conventions are useful because they lead to consistency. The concventional approach to key sigs doesn't immediately tell you if its major or minor, but it is a standard approach that lets you sort out what they really mean very easily.

That doesn't mean to say conventions should be followed slavishly, but if you deviate from them you should have a very good reason, and be aware that you're likely to cause as much confusion as you prevent.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Mr Red
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 11:31 AM

Speaking as an engineer:

Surely if you are playing an unfretted instrument - like a violin - sharps and flats can be chosen for their sound.

Guitar, Piano, melodeon, flute etc - you dun gotta go with the available approximations. And they are approximations.

Having said that you can bend a clarinet note or a trombone even a guitar if you are sharpening. And vibrato covers a multitude of sins. Singing - all the possibilities are available, including the wrong ones.

And as Einstein might have said:
E=MFb


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 07:08 PM

Tattie Bogle, you seem to talk about the mode "A mixolydian", which by standard should be written with the same key signature as D major or B minor, though it should not be confused with D major - in particular not by modern arrangers who have lost the "feeling" for those modes. The (nonstandard) signature of A major would not really help: insensitive readers may think "oh, it has temporarily modulated to D major!".

Mixolydian tunes are by no means restricted to Scotland. For an example (in D mixolydian), and a possible harmonic arrangement, see Rounding the Horn.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 08:40 PM

There was some discussion on another forum about what key signature to use when you were notating e.g. a Scottish pipe tune in a modal scale with flattened 7ths. i.e. in the key of A all Gs would be naturals, therefore some people would only put 2 #s in the key signature.

To me, having laboriously and faithfully learned standard music theory nearly 60 years ago, this was confusing and "wrong" (dare I say it?), and would suggest the key was either D or Bm. My take on it was that you should still use the usual A key sig of 3 #s and then write a natural in front of each G in the score:


That's counterproductive for diatonic instruments. It tells a moothie player to pick up the wrong instrument and tells a clarsach player to use the wrong lever settings. It also gives a singer the wrong idea entirely of what pitch set they'll be using.

"Standard" music theory was never as rigid as you make out. Bach never notated a piece in G minor with two flats. Correct modal notation for Scottish music predates the modern convention for minor key signatures and has been in continuous use for more than 300 years.

For more complex modal systems like Turkish or Indian classical music, all the players know exactly what set of pitches they'll be using (and when, if the mode has to modulate). This tells them how to set the instrument up (if it's something like a kanun or a wire harp), what fingerboard positions will be in play (if it's a ud or violin), which pitch of flute to choose and which notes in its scale will need which sort of inflection... The performance will usually open with a semi-improvisatory prelude (taksim, alap) whose main point is to get everybody perfectly in tune across the whole range of the mode, and for each of the standard cadential figures. Misinformation of the sort you're advocating about where the tonal centre is and what the pitches to be used will be would bring the entire performance to a grinding halt before it even started.

If you play any instrument with sizable differences in the technique required for different keys, you will think the same way. If I'm playing the recorder in a key with a bunch of accidentals, I'll quietly tell my fingers which ones will be needed to do the cross fingerings. If you play a chromatic button accordion, you have three different alternative fingering patterns each of which deals with four keys, and you'll be using different ones if you think the primary key is A than if you think it's D.

(or if there had to be any compromise it would be to write the key sig as F#, C#, Gnat [...])

That was once common in pipe music, David Glen used it a lot.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: John P
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 11:03 PM

Yeah, all that and also it's a lot easier to notate and to read with two sharps.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 12:20 AM

And a good pair of glasses. Most instruments can be tuned to a greater or lesser degree. Drum skins can be heated to lower the notes; trumpets can have the mouthpiece inserted further to raise the note (relax girls); blades of grass between the sides of the thumbs get stretched more to raise the note (relax boys); even the human voice--like a water hose: increase the pressure, alter nothing else, whoa. Any to-any-degree escaping air will vibrate at a faster rate and thus raise the note. The real question, well here it is:

Poutine: food or not? Eat some of that and your heart's blood supply will decrease in geometric proportion to your intake. Bon appetit. As it does so, the tonal output of your body will increase BUT, the resting tonality of your body will exert itself more fully. Bad in this case. Anyway, back to notes about plumbing.

Sharp-turn 90s behave differently than long-sweep-bend 90s (relax girls). However, any restriction or direction-change in the flow will change the note until the turbulence settles down. At that point someone will suggest divine intervention and others will suggest grabbing a cab to 7th and 42nd.

Celery sings. It sings higher when it's tapped after it's frozen. Don't we all. Thaw the tapped celery and the note will be thawed too. That should be no surprise. If it is, call 555-5555. No one you know will answer. And the celery will sing.

Methane gas is a remarkable gas. Next time you fart, restrict your anal sphincter. The note will rise.

Have a good evening all.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 04:04 AM

Calling them "key signatures" is misleading - they don't actually tell you the key, all they do is indicate which notes are sharped or flatted.   There's a conventional way of writing this, which makes it easier to interpret. You can derive the key from this, but only by also looking at the melody and deciding where it is rooted, especially where modal versions are involved. When people first study music they don't usually come across modes, so a simple major/minor choice is easier to learn but can lead to a rigid way of thinking which may be unhelpful when you move away from Western classical music.

As someone who uses notation as an aide-memoire rather than for playing from, I find it helpful to denote A Mixolydian with two sharps and a naturalised C, rather than making all the Cs natural as they occur, or just showing two sharps which can be confused with D major or B min. ABC displays "A Mix" as two sharps, but the natural can be added.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 10:42 AM

Don't you mean naturalised Gs Howard?


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 04:42 PM

I'd guess that the reason for key signatures in the forst places was to minimize the need for marking each accidental.Still functions that way.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: andrew e
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 08:39 PM

I've always felt that a minor scale should be [in C]
C D Eb F G Ab Bb C and the same back the other way.
That's what I would call a minor scale, but the standard harmonic and melodic don't do that.

With notation programs such as Finale, it's easy to notate music any way you want. I've sometimes omitted a key signature when I felt it was better not to have one. Some early classical pieces, and others I imagine, you can't really say what key they're in.

I've also seen pieces in G minor notated with only Bb in the key signature. I feel that's a bit confusing as we're used to seeing the 2 flats.

In the original post it's stated that minor scale key signatures are wrong.
If I was notating a harmonic or melodic minor scale just for the tune, I think I might not use a key signature. Depends who it was for.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 09:05 PM

Accidentals as an artform:

http://imslp.org/wiki/Vexations_(Satie,_Erik)


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 09:49 PM

You can do away with key signatures entirely in most modern pop and jazz pieces by resorting to tonal centers. I was waiting for someone to bring it up but, of course, no one did.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 09:54 PM

***Futwick, the examples of music you linked to are facsimiles of very old music manuscripts, and at least one of them is not written notation, it is tablature. The first two have only four lines, indicating that they predate the current system, which has five lines.   The last one is obviously tablature, but the instrument it's written for is not indicated.***

Feeling any irony at your statement Western notation hasn't changed because it's good enough. Wasn't always so and I suspect it isn't going to always be so soon again.

**Guitar? Lute? Vihuela? The instruments are tuned differently, and if you try to play right off lute tablature on a modern guitar, it isn't going to work.**

Just play the notes, Don, should be a piece of cake since western notation is so stable.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 10:42 PM

Futwick, tablature is always written for a specific stringed instrument. It is NOT standard Western notation.

It does not tell you what the indicated notes are unless you know what instrument it is written for. It tells you which strings to put your left hand fingers on, and which frets they should go on—but NOT what the notes are.

And as I said, the instruments are not tuned to the same intervals. If you tried to play a piece written for the lute on a modern guitar, some of the notes would be wrong.

Anyone who's ever dealt with Early Music knows this.

Tablature is NOT the same as notation.

And the other examples you gave are in a far more primitive system of notation--only four lines on the staff instead of five--than the current, modern one (which has been used essentially unchanged for at least two centuries) that I learned when I first started studying music, and the system that was used at the University of Washington School of Music and the Cornish College of the Arts. And is used by millions of musicians within the European tradition the world over.

It's standard, and accepted by trained and educated musicians for a good reason. Because IT WORKS!

The four line staff is a different system and has been superseded by the modern five line staff. It would take someone more conversant with Early Music notation than I am, although I do know something about it.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 11:45 PM

"You can do away with key signatures entirely in most modern pop and jazz pieces by resorting to tonal centers."

That is nonsense. Tonal centers my Aunt Mahitabel's tonal center.

Either that or define/describe the term, tonal center.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 04:07 AM

Every discussion of a "tonal centre" that I've read locates it firmly in a key...


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 02:17 PM

"Tonal center" is not an expression that I ever heard when I was attending the two music schools I mentioned in my post above, nor did I hear it from any of the music teachers I took lessons from. Nor can I find it in any of the music theory textbooks that I have.

I have spent a lot of time Googling "tonal center," and nobody seems to agree on what the expression means. There is some mention of it on sites having to do with jazz, but none of them defines what it means.

To me, the "tonal center" of a piece of music would probably be the tonic chord, from which a piece of music starts, then eventually, to which it returns.

Can anyone who's been using the term explain precisely what they mean by it?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Highlandman
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 02:36 PM

Disclaimer: this is not an authoritative definition, but Don asked for someone who uses the term to define what they mean by it.
In my mental theory book, tonal center is simply where your ear finds the place of rest in a particular musical context.
Play C - D - E - F - G - A - B for a Westerner and he'll feel unsettled until you play the top C. C is the tonal center.
There are probably more scientific explanations but I don't know them.
Most often a tonal center is suggested to your ear by the dominant-to-tonic or leading tone-to-tonic movement. We see it in action in a temporary modulation: say you are in the key of C (major) and your chords go C-G-C C-G-E-am. This would put you (in my book) in a tonal center of A (minor). Classical Western theory calls these definitive motions toward a tonal center "cadences."
Tonal center is to key signature as audible music is to notated music. You write a key signature; you hear a tonal center.
Just my 2 cents.
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Highlandman
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 02:37 PM

Should have mentioned that a tonal center can be quite transient. -G


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 02:40 PM

I would use "tonal center" as fairly synonymous with "tonic". The reference pitch, around which others being used "revolve" or are heard in relation to.

If I were talking about a performance in "raag" (melodic mode in North Indian classical music), I would not talk about the "key" it was in, rather I'd say it has a tonal center. I would say an Arab 'maqaam" has a tonal center...and that one might at some point play certain pitches and pitch patterns to effect another tonal center.

Though this is more or less (i.e., without being pedantic) the same as tonic, the word tonic is (subjectively?) suggestive to me of a certain slice of Western tonal music (i.e. that world of thinking in harmonic relationships), so I would not tend to say it.

"Tonal center" — which I'm not making any particular argument for, just noting how I might use it — has less "baggage" as the concept of "key." You could still say "key," but that may have some connotations that you wish to avoid.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Highlandman
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 02:49 PM

GS - I suspect - can't be more definite because I am in no way conversant with non-Western music - that the phenomenon of 'tonal center', in the way you and I seem to be using it, is a universal human perceptual effect, whereas 'key' and 'key signature' are artifacts of Western musical architecture.
There, I've said way more than I know about the topic, so I'll stop now.
-G


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 02:56 PM

Good explanation, Highlandman. Makes sense.

But what it boils down to, really, is essentially the Tonic chord.

In a longer piece of music, it's possible for the piece to modulate all over the place (many long symphonic pieces do), but after spending some time in a new key, the ear gets used to that key, and the Tonic of that key becomes "tonal center" and can leave the ear satisfied if it resolves to that chord. Although most longer symphonic pieces eventually go back to the original key and resolve to the Tonic there.

The same can be said for lengthy jazz improvisations.

A long piece, then, can have several "tonal centers," depending on what the ear gets used to.

But the point should be made that this, in no way, calls for any "dinking around," altering the present completely functional system of key signatures.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 03:18 PM

Normally "tonal centre" means what they called "finalis" in chant, but culturally generalized. There are wider uses of the word: in his description of the Turkish makam system, Signell uses it for any of the defined cadential points in the mode (usually four of them, including what would have been called "reciting tone" or "flex" in chant theory).

The term doesn't presuppose anything at all about chords, and applies to music which doesn't or can't have any harmonization just as well as to tonal music. That's the point of using it.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 03:22 PM

Cross posted.

Also, Gibb Sahib, that, too, makes sense.

Key signatures are pretty much specific to music of the Western European tradition and are perfectly functional and adequate for notating the folk music of those countries (but speaking specifically of folk music of the British Isles and North America).

When a folk melody is modal, standard notation is also quite adequate for that as well--as Cecil J. Sharp noted when doing his collecting for his monumental English Folk Songs in the Southern Appalachians.

Many of the early collectors, when working in the field, assumed that these singers were unschooled and sometimes sang wrong notes, and they made what they thought were corrections. Sharp, on the other hand wrote down (in standard notation) what he actually heard, and discovered that many of the old modes were alive and well and were still being sung by traditional singers.

High marks for Professor Sharp!

Key signatures, plus any needed additional sharp, flat, or natural signs (called "accidentals") prove perfectly adequate.

Unless one were venturing into Indonesian gamelan music. Or Indian ragas, for example, in which case I would look up my old friend Nazir, who plays the sitar, and get him to give me a rundown on that kind of music.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 04:12 PM

There was nothing new in the way Sharp wrote things down. As I said, modal key signatures predate tonal ones, and there was no difference between Sharp's conventions and those of a typical Scottish music manuscript compiled 200 years earlier. There were only a few decades in between when the conventional wisdom had it that 2 sharps meant D major.

Sharp was pretty unsophisticated compared with Bartok - the transcription methods Bartok used record far more information. The British gentleman-amateur approach never caught up with the best practice in the field until there wasn't any primary material left to notate.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Highlandman
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 05:05 PM

Modern 5-line staff notation is inherently biased toward the 8-note diatonic octave. (Hence the weirdness of double sharps and flats.) Our ordinary "minor key" is not really a simple 8-note division of the octave. It's an conflaguration of several different strands of musical thought run together during the late Baroque / early Classical period, when tunings and scales were being squished into a standardized music theory. No surprise that the notation system is not as up to the job as F/W would like, but it's what we have.

Here's an interesting grass-is-greener item to ponder: while Western jazzmen have been searching for years for a workable microtonal notation system, Middle Eastern musicians seem to have been abandoning their traditional (microtonal) notation for a modified Western staff-based one.

-G


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 05:37 PM

Middle Eastern musicians seem to have been abandoning their traditional (microtonal) notation for a modified Western staff-based one.

No, they haven't.

IIRC, 1932 is when Arab musicologists widely adopted an expanded version of Western notation, with lots of practical compromises, to improve on the Western notation they'd *already* been using.

The theoretical language of Arab, Persian, and Turkish systems recognize more notes in the octave than does the 19th century Western system, but all the notational systems have an imperfect (however conventional) relationship to written notation. Middle Eastern musicians and Western musicians all know how to read between the lines of conventional notation to achieve the intended pitches—within the context.

The big difference is that the Middle Eastern art musics emphasize mode (melodic line) and don't care much for harmony—an emphasis of Western tonal music.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 05:44 PM

There is no traditional notation system for Middle Eastern music whoch does microtonality in any special way. What people do is supplement Western staff notation by a few extra bits of information:

- a microtonal key signature
- microtonal accidentals if needed
- explicit statement of the intervallic and rhythmic modes at the top of the page.

There are a few competing ways to do it (Turkish folk musicians and classical musicians name modes and microtones differently) but if you know one you can work out the others.

David Parfitt's pages are a good introduction:

http://www.oud.eclipse.co.uk/theory.html


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 06:01 PM

"Tablature is NOT the same as notation."
Not quite true. Standard notation is tablature for keyboard instruments.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 06:38 PM

Here is an example of Middle Eastern music notation. The same piece as first notated - it was one of the first fully notated pieces ever in that tradition - and a transcription of it using modern conventions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArquhP9siE4

http://www.mikeouds.com/messageboard/files.php?pid=94026&aid=25910

The original presented in the YouTube clip (by a Pole known as "Ali Ufki" at the Ottoman court) is in Western-ish staff notation, written right to left.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 07:34 PM

Dick, that may be the way it was initially developed, but it worked so well for other instruments that it was very quickly adopted by all musicians in the Western European tradition as THE standard method of notation.

Singers can sight read from the current more generalized system than they could from, say, lute tablature. The current system graphically displays note and interval relationships, whereas, if a singer didn't already play the lute, they could not get that kind of information directly from looking at lute tablature,

Pianists, violinists, cellists, clarinetists, players of the French horn, organists—and generally wander through the whole orchestra, band, choir. Then take a look at the "fake books" used by jazz musicians.

The song collections by the Lomaxes, Cecil Sharp, Carl Sandburg, and many, many others. I've got nine feet of this kind of material on my book shelves. Hell's bells, even John Jacob Niles!

As I keep saying, it works. Other cultures have their own systems, and as has been noted, some of them are adopting standard Western notation as the basis of their systems, then adapting and modifying to their particular needs (such as writing it from right to left, which is what they are used to). Not unlike certain standard orchestral instruments, refered to as "transposition instruments" with which the musician reads in one key, but the music comes out in another (CLICKY).

As to ash-canning the present system of notation in preference to someone's "new and brilliant idea" (spawned, perhaps, by their own inability, or reluctance to spend the time and effort to adequately learn the existing system) would, I think, be a pretty hard sell to the millions of musicians who have been using and getting along fine with the current system.

All those musicians you'd have to retrain, all those shelves of books and stacks of sheet music you'd have to transcribe to the new sustem, then reprint. . . .

And the guy who plays a Bb clarinet would really be up a tree!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 07:48 PM

Voila!!

(CLICKY).

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 08:10 PM

Staff notation was invented for singers, not keyboard players. The first staff notation for voices predates the first written keyboard music by about 300 years.

Textual/numeric notations predate staff notation, have the same expressiveness, and are still in use. Ancient Greek notation has evolved into Byzantine chant notation (maybe the most legible musical notation of all time); sol-fa is still used and has given rise to jianpu, the major notation system used in China; most people here know what you can do with ABC. Staff notation has the advantage of familiarity to us today, but it would never have evolved if the Western chant community had known what you could do with the Greek/Arabic notation system current in their own time in Muslim and Orthodox Europe.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 04:04 AM

So far as I can see, the OP hasn't suggested an alternative.

The established system seems to work well enough, using accepted conventions, and is flexible enough to accommodate variations, including using unconventional key signatures where they are useful.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Highlandman
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 02:44 PM

Gibb Sahib - I think I mentioned somewhere that I don't know much about Eastern music. I just hooked onto something I had read regarding Turkish musicians recently and overgeneralized it I guess. Anyway it wasn't an important point.

Then I thought a while about tablature for keyboard instruments, and I think it would look like the piano-roll view in a Midi sequencer, not like a staff. Not very readable, at least in real time.

In fact the general compromise with notation systems seems to be that the more accurate you try to make it, the less human readable it becomes.

-G


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,KP
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 04:27 PM

To Jack Campin:
Jack, recent postings to this thread have reminded me of a fascinating link you posted some time ago: about an Egyptian Musicologist demonstrating the numbers of intervals that he could fit into the gap (I seem to recall) between our Western notes. I think it was 12 notes between a major second and a forth (i.e. where we just have a minor and major third). I can't find the link searching through your postings, but perhaps you can remember when you posted it so I can narrow down the search. Or perhaps you recall the link itself? (he said hopefully). Thanks in advance!

KP


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 08:48 PM

I think Shumays is the guy who did that demo/lecture:

http://maqamlessons.com/analysis/index.html

but I can't see it on his site.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 08:59 PM

Found it!

http://traffic.libsyn.com/shumays/PPerform_019_2007-02-02.mp3

Now save it - it's not easy to locate. It's in his blog

http://shumays.libsyn.com/

which is hellish to read in my browser.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 10:16 PM

A tonal center (aka a key center, a tonic center, etc) is a groups of chords in a piece that give a strong impression of being in a certain key regardless of what key the song is actually in.

There are used quite a lot in jazz and blues but can be used for any type of music except classical which is slavishly devoted playing the note of the written page exactly as it is written. Key centers are useful for improvisation and most forms of modern music resort to some amount of improv. Key centers often do not even have notes on the staff. They aren't necessary. Really, the time signature isn't necessary most of the time since, in modern music, were are usually dealing with 4/4 and occasionally 2/4 and 3/4. A more exotic time would require the time to be written down. Usually, when you see a chart, the key signature and time are included for reference but aren't necessary.

When I play off a chart, I don't even look at the key signature since it doesn't matter. If you're playing an old folk standard, you don't want some sheet music. You want to know what chords you're going to be playing but you want to put them together your own way. Who wants to play it exactly the same way Dave Van Ronk or Pete Seeger did it? Maybe you liked their version and decided to do that song but it's such a standard that you want to put your own stamp on it. Tonal centers will allow that.

What you have to know before you start is your scales and particularly your chords. You have to know those by heart. And you have to know structure. I was taught it by rote but I found that the circle of fifths helps. Here's a key center chart:

http://www.guitar4free.com/images/jazz-blues-in-f.png

This one is a single tonal center and it's been mapped out for us. The first bar is F7, the second is Bb7. Notice F as tonic going up to Bb is a perfect 4th (picture the circle of 5ths and notice that F and Bb are next to each other counterclockwise which is the "fourths" direction). Now it just alternates between IV and I for a bit and then goes to a VI before shifting to a G-7 chord. Then the G-7 jumps to a C7. Again, G and C are next to each other on the circle of 5ths. with G as the tonic in this interval it is a fourth. G is the ii and the C is the V. But of what? Of the key center--which is what?

Well, if G is ii in the scale then what is I? F. So the key center is F. Then notice the progression of the last line: ii-V-I-VI-ii-V. In modern music, a huge number of songs are ii-V(7) but many are ii-V(7)-I. The VI (which is usually minor but is dominant 7 in this case because jazz likes to do that) is thrown in and many songs are also I-vi-ii-V (in fact, this is called the "doo-wop progression" because that's how doo-wop is structured--I-vi-ii-V).

Notice how it doesn't matter a wit what the key of the song is. All you need to look at is those chords. All the accidentals and what not will take care of themselves. When you want an accidental, you do what this chart does in the second bar of the second line and write a a diminished or augmented chord.

The beauty of the key center approach is that you break the song down into it's harmonic structure which always follows along the circle of 5ths. You can embellish the chart anyway you want and you can do it on the fly which is why it is so useful for improv.

Notice it doesn't even have notes. Why? Because we don't care. We don't need to care. The chords tell us what notes are available for each bar and we can put them together as we please


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 10:17 PM

Now let's look at a more complex chart:

http://www.jazzguitar.be/images/lessons/ATTYA-Key-Centers.gif

Here the key centers are given above the brackets and this time they change throughout the song. So even though the key of the song is Ab major, some of the key centers have us playing in C maj, G maj and E maj. But wouldn't that clash? No. Try it. It's perfect and beautiful sounding. Again, following the chords and the actual key doesn't matter. The accidentals automatically fall into place. Isn't that beautiful?

Look at the first key center progression—F, Bb, Ab, Eb, Db—right along the circle of 5ths on the "fourths" side (counterclockwise). The second key center is C major and the progression is D G C or ii-V7-I. Again, lined up in row along the circle of 5ths. What could be more beautiful than that? The G major key center uses the same progression—ii-V7-I—check it out.

Now you might ask how a bassist would use this chart. He can't strum the chord so he'll play each note separately in a variety of patterns that he can choose from. It's how jazz bassists walk the bass. You probably never knew how they know what notes to use from one bar to the next. Now you know—they play the notes in the chord indicated for that bar. If there are two chords in a bar then he play both using just root-5th for each or maybe root-3rd—whatever he wants. Wow, how cool is that?!

And look! It doesn't matter what the clef is! Every musician can use the same exact chart for his instrument! Even modern classical composers make use of this system. Folk can use it, rock can use it, country can use it. Write a song and make a chart out of it and watch all the hidden musical secrets spill out of it and then embellish it and see how you have virtually infinite variations you can make of that song nd can mix them together on the fly if you want to.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: IanC
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 04:01 AM

I'm tired of reading this stuff.

Surely, you understand that FOLK music in particular has little need for any kind of notation since it is characteristically transmitted and learned orally.

Whatever you're doing when you " play off a chart", it isn't folk as far as I'm concerned.

Sorry, but there it is.

If you want to be clever, keep on with it. Folk isn't clever.

:-s


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 04:47 AM

Berklee academic jazz theory is great if you want whatever kind of music you know to sound like a demo track by a band of Berklee graduates.

If you want it to sound like itself, you don't want to go anywhere near that jazz crap.

(Covers of Oscar Hammerstein schlock are exactly the sort of thing that drove a lot of us into traditional music, looking for real feeling unprocessed by business-driven stylistic formulas).

Who would want to add jazz chordings to this?

Georgian lullaby

(And josepp, why did you change your guest id? Maybe you realized everybody was getting bored with you?)


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 06:01 AM

...schlock are exactly the sort of thing that drove a lot of us into traditional music,...

True, Jack. I was a jazz bassist in my earlier days, until I felt like if I heard one more "ii-V7-I" my head would explode. It's a shame, but I gave up jazz entirely (not because I thought jazz was bad in general...just that you were generally expected to *play*, the bread and butter, was pointless chord progressions). Jazz is good when its about other things, e.g. a compelling dialogue between the musicians. When it's mediocre, it's people chasing around an overabundance of ridiculous chords.

So yes, Futwick, I for one know how jazz bassists "walk the bass." But I find a lot of other bass lines more compelling than the stuff improvised on a bass to follow around the secondary dominant after secondary dominant around and around and round until it finally all ends with a cheesy syncopation. It can feel like an endless game of hopscotch.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: s&r
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 07:47 AM

Jack - well spotted as josepp

Stu


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 12:20 PM

"Every musician can use the same exact chart for his instrument"

Well no, actually. Percussionists for one group melody players for another. We can't all be privileged to be accompanists!


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 12:37 PM

Futwick, all the examples you have given so far of systems you prefer to standard notation do not give anywhere near complete information in the same way that standard notation does.

In fact, in your last two examples, there is no way of showing what the melody line is. And simply chords and rhythm isn't going to do it.

I'll stick to standard notation, thank you. Simple. Easy enough to learn if you pay attention. And complete information.

But like simply reading a letter or a book, you have to exert a little energy to learn how to do it, and once you do, it's easy, it's very useful, and can give you all the information you need to sing the piece in question, and/or play it on the instrument it's written for or transcribe it to the instrument(s) of your choice.

Inclusive. Versatile.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 01:11 PM

Perhaps the notation josepp is really after is like this:

http://www.stockhausensociety.org/intuitive-music.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aus_den_sieben_Tagen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3np6_YqK4LI (amazing piece of street performance)


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,KP
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 01:47 PM

Jack,
Thanks for the link fascinating stuff. Btw his blog works fine in my version of Safari
KP


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 02:16 PM

IanC, I agree with you up to a point, but there are a couple of major problems with insisting on keeping folk music strictly "oral tradition."

Prepare for lengthy dissertation:

Many of us who are currently singing folk songs and calling ourselves "folk singers" are not born and raised in the oral, folk tradition. I think I'm probably pretty typical. I was born and raised in a big city, and almost all of the songs I heard sung by other people were songs they had learned off the radio—generally commercial, "tin-pan-alley" songs. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, etc. Or later, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, et al.

I had heard Burl Ives and Susan Reed on the radio (this was in the 1940s) and I found the songs interesting and intriguing because, instead of the usual "moon-June" stuff, they were about something, often historical events. For example, Burl Ives' series of Sunday afternoon programs, one of which described the history of the Erie Canal, with him illustrating with songs, for example.

When I got to college, I ran into a few fellow students who were avidly interested in folk music, and were singing folk songs and ballads to simple guitar accompaniments—including a quite young Sandy Paton who was living in Seattle at the time. I bought a cheap (but playable) guitar and a stack of records that were recommended to me, and started learning songs from them. Burl Ives, Susan Reed, Richard Dyer-Bennet, Joe Hansen ("Stranger from the Sea")—and some banjo player named Pete Seeger.

And I ALSO bought a copy of Carl Sandburg's The American Songbag, a copy of Best Loved American Folk Songs (Folksong U.S.A. compiled by John and Alan Lomax, and a whole stack of other song books.

My younger sister was taking piano lessons at the time, and she showed me how to read music well enough so that I could "one finger" the tunes on the piano. A couple of years later, by now seriously interested, I took voice lessons and classical guitar lessons (because the teacher showed me how to use my right hand fingers rather than making me use a pick). Then, eventually, I changed my college major to music.

Any kind of formal training is considered a "no-no!" by many self-styled folk musicians, but I wanted to learn fast—and I did. However, I do not sound like an opera singer and I keep my song accompaniments fairly simple and straightforward.

I know hundreds of songs, only a dozen or so I have actually learned from other people in person. The vast majority of my repertoire has been derived from the records of other singers and learned from my collection of song books, ranging from a 35¢ paperback copy of A Treasury of Folk Songs by John and Sylvia Kolb to Cecil J. Sharp's two volume set, English Folk Songs in the Southern Appalachians. About ten or twelve feet of bookshelf space devoted to various collections of folk songs and ballads. With words and written music.

Athough I, in no way, imitate him (among other things, our voices are entirely different, and I think he sometimes goes a bit too far in his arrangements), I tend to agree with Richard Dyer-Bennet when he said that, unless you were born and raised in the tradition and learn your songs orally while you are growing up, you are not and never will be a true folk singer. The nearest you can be, especially if you strive to sing this material professionally for audiences, is the modern equivalent of a minstrel.

I agree.

When Richard Dyer-Bennet sings a folk song in his high, clear, cultivated tenor voice, to the accompaniment of a fairly elaborate classical guitar accompaniment, the song itself that he sings is STILL a folk song, even if at that point, due to the way he does it, it sounds like an art song.   

Okay. Let the rock-throwing begin.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Rumncoke
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 05:04 PM

Having tried to learn to read the dots several times I find it frustrating that the sense of it still eludes me - but sometimes - just sometimes - I am so glad that it is still a closed book to me and that my music is just the music and not the dots.

It does mean that I sometimes have to make up a tune because the dots stubbornly refuse to become a tune.

Perhaps that is no bad thing, the world could do with a few more tunes - but if you want them you will have to do the man on the bicycle thing and come along to catch the tune out of the air.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 06:48 PM

A common error made by many people who do not read music—folkoid types in particular—is that you are ruled by the dots.

No, you are not!

Being able to read music is an extremely valuable tool. A singer of songs who cannot read music is extremely limited, and can learn songs only by what they have an opportunity to hear, not unlike an aspiring poet who refuses to learn to read, for fear that being able to read will "limit his creativity."

Balderdash!!

If I have a good reason to depart from the written music, then there is nothing preventing me from doing so.

However, if I were playing in an orchestra or ensemble of some kind and refused to play the notes as written, then the conductor or leader of the group would undoubtedly, and quite rightly, remove me from the group. And, for that matter, if you are playing in a session—a folk music session—and insist on playing a G7 when everyone else is playing a D, you can expect to find yourself duck-walked to the back alley and inserted head down in the Dumpster.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Hotpole
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 06:56 PM

**In fact, in your last two examples, there is no way of showing what the melody line is. And simply chords and rhythm isn't going to do it.**

You can write the melody line on the staff, Don. That's a very common convention, in fact.

Also, you can take any standard piece of sheet music and make it into a chart. Takes a bit of practice. And when you learn the rules of how to embellish your structure, you can redo it in any number of ways. And you can reuse structures to make new songs. Junior Brown has a whole slew of songs that follow the same formula but yet each has its own character. Now, I don't know if he uses charts but if you made charts of these songs, there would be very little difference between them.

**I was a jazz bassist in my earlier days, until I felt like if I heard one more "ii-V7-I" my head would explode.**

Nobody is a jazz musician in their earlier days. You were, perhaps, a jazz student. You obviously were not a jazz musician just by making that statement. No shame in that but you can still learn to use a chart for whatever it is you can play.

***It does mean that I sometimes have to make up a tune because the dots stubbornly refuse to become a tune.***

One of the things that is wrong with how music is taught is that rarely is ear training part of it. I think everyone should ear train FIRST and THEN learn the dots. You have to have a musical idea that you can set the dots to. You can't just start drawing the dots and a piece of manuscript paper and suddenly a song magically appears on the page. Nothing turns a kid who wants to learn music off faster than throwing a bunch of sheet music in front of him. Help him develop his ear first and then he'll do a lot better learning the notation part of it.

Some people never learn it even though they play and sing pretty good. The Beatles certainly come to mind here. There's an emotional side and an intellectual side to music. Without the emotional component, no one is motivated enough to learn the intellectual side. Ear training is that emotional component because it gets you going quickly. Right off the bat, you're playing songs instead of sitting there plucking note exercises out on a printed page wondering when you're going to get to the good stuff. How can you gauge how good you are if you can't play anything but exercises? Once you hit an impasse in your ear training where suddenly you can't do a certain thing then the intellectual, practical side kicks in and you realize that to be able to play that requires exercises that you need to master. To me, that's how it should be done.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: s&r
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 07:19 PM

Another tasteless pseudonym heading a confused post. Sad Josepp sad

Stu


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Hotpole
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 07:47 PM

Erm, it's a reversal of pothole, dummy. Looks like I'm not the only one who's confused around here.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 07:56 PM

For singing purposes and for a ready reference for the songs I have learned, I have all manner of sheet music and charts, most of which I have written out myself. Melodies with words attached or written out, chord symbols, more complicated guitar riffs written out. . . . I keep this material in notebooks for ready reference when needed. I do, however, leave them at home when I perform somewhere or go to an informal song fest. When I perform, I don't use "crib sheets."

"One of the things that is wrong with how music is taught is that rarely is ear training part of it."

I can't speak for private music teachers, Hotpole, but at both the University of Washington School of Music and the Cornish College of the Arts, a course called "Sight Singing and Ear Training" was required for all music students. This included being able to sing intervals at sight (major thirds, minor sixths, etc.), complete with clues, such as the opening notes of well-known songs.

Examples:   A minor third—the first two notes of "Greensleeves," a major sixth—the first two notes of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean," etc., and on through all the other intervals. I still have the textbook (entitled, oddly enough Sight Singing and Ear Training) for the course on my bookshelf.

I can't imagine a decent music school or conservatory not teaching this material. In fact, I recall seeing it in one of the "For Dummies" books. "Music Theory for Dummies" or "Singing for Dummies." Can't recall exactly.

Another required course at Cornish was "Music Calligraphy." How to write or copy music manuscripts clearly and readably.

Don Firth

P. S. Why is it that I hear so much about what music teachers and music schools don't teach from people who have never taken music lessons or never gone to a music school?


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Kritzblieg
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 08:17 PM

**For singing purposes and for a ready reference for the songs I have learned, I have all manner of sheet music and charts, most of which I have written out myself. Melodies with words attached or written out, chord symbols, more complicated guitar riffs written out. . . . I keep this material in notebooks for ready reference when needed. I do, however, leave them at home when I perform somewhere or go to an informal song fest. When I perform, I don't use "crib sheets."**

Yeah, me neither. I see people go up with lyric sheets and all that. If I can't get through a song without reminders then I'm not ready. I don't take a chart when I perform solo and don't need one. I use them to rearrange songs so they don't get stale to perform. Sometimes I have a chart when I play in a group but often I have nothing or I'm peering over another musician's shoulder looking at his sheet music.

**I can't speak for private music teachers, Hotpole, but at both the University of Washington School of Music and the Cornish College of the Arts, a course called "Sight Singing and Ear Training" was required for all music students. This included being able to sing intervals at sight (major thirds, minor sixths, etc.), complete with clues, such as the opening notes of well-known songs.
I can't imagine a decent music school or conservatory not teaching this material. In fact, I recall seeing it in one of the "For Dummies" books. "Music Theory for Dummies" or "Singing for Dummies." Can't recall exactly.**

The good thing about solid ear training is that it gives a better sense of intonation. A lot of rock songs I've heard over the years, the lead singer often isn't that good. He or she is off a bit--sometimes a lot. Listen to the opening line of "Ruby Tuesday" and listen to Jagger trying to sing "from". It's godawful. Jack Bruce is much more precise even though he wasn't a singer most of the time but he was a classically trained cellist. Listen to "As You Said" for an example.

**Another required course at Cornish was "Music Calligraphy." How to write or copy music manuscripts clearly and readably.**

I have some real sheet music from that period that I bought online for $80 per page. Nice illuminated. By monks I assume. Latin. Kept in glass frames. No idea what piece or pieces the two pages represent.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: s&r
Date: 08 Jun 13 - 05:10 AM

The subtlety escaped me.

Wow

Stu


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,larehip
Date: 08 Jun 13 - 11:22 AM

That I can believe.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 08 Jun 13 - 11:51 AM

Don, has anybody ever told you how smart you are and how wise, when it comes to really making music? If not, I'm doing so now.

There are so many people who come to the Mudcat just to argue, but you are a catter with a true love for music.

There, I said it.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 Jun 13 - 03:05 PM

Thanks for the kind words, Leeneia.

I feel fortunate that I've actually been able to make a career for myself by singing for audiences. I haven't become famous, but that was not the point. I'm reasonably well-known in this area, and I've been able to make a living by singing for people.

I love the idea of being a "minstrel," part of an ages-old tradition. And I've always believed that it's better to know more than I need to know than to blunder around not knowing what I'm doing.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: s&r
Date: 08 Jun 13 - 06:46 PM

I agree Leeneia. Don is one of the mudcatters whose erudition adds to this valuable resource of Mudcat

Stu


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