educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

So here is something on which I am not clear, among about a bazillion other things. In some ITM tunes, the key will change from the A part to the B part, from a major scale to its parallel minor, or vice versa. The Connaughtman’s Rambles is a good example of this, "changing" from D major to B minor.

As a fiddler, this fact is of no value to me, at least that I know of, because both keys have an F# and a C#. Both keys have all the same notes. What is the point of the key change? Is it more for backing musicians, to help with appropriate chords?

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"Is it more for backing musicians, to help with appropriate chords?"

Yep!

Or box players for basses and chords.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Well, D major sounds different from B minor so the whole feel of the tune changes, which is a thing of value.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

B minor is the relative minor of the key of D. The parallel would be D minor.

The point of the key change is that it sounds good.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

goldfrog/jerry - makes sense.

steve - Ah, it sounds good, that is the value to me. Got it. So, if someone was playing the tune, blissfully unaware of this insidious key change, yet, they nonetheless managed to get the notes right, the tune would not sound good? :)

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Imo the best way to approach Irish music is not by analysing tunes using scales or keys. The idea of ‘keys’ is an artificial one, and although it can be helpful in a lot of situations, such is not always the case.
Irish music particularly does not inevitably fit into the format that was developed in other countries for other types of music. A tune might appear to fall easily into, say, the key of D, perhaps with occasional C naturals; but the same tune will not have been composed in that key. Or indeed in any key.
The ‘tidying up’ of incidentals, errant timings, ‘out-of-tune’ notes etc result from the attempted shoe-horning of the feet of one culture into the shoes of another.
Think of a tune as a piece of music in its own right, and don’t try to make it fit into what you think should be there. Rather listen carefully to the music, and ask yourself ‘does it sound right?’, instead of looking at the score and saying, ‘that must be a mistake - it’s not in the right key.’
In the example of The Connaughtman’s Rambles, for instance, the tune does not ‘have’ a first part in D then change to B minor for the second part — there is no ‘point’ in the ‘change of key’ — the tune just sounds right, and it happens that the notion of keys and key changes can be imposed onto the tune afterwards.
As you yourself (almost) say, "…if someone was playing the tune, blissfully unaware of any notion of key change but simply managing to get the notes right, the tune would sound just as good."

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

I’m afraid you are confused teagan, but as you say, chords don’t much matter to you as a fiddler. I’d suggest you just learn some tunes and forget about this.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

More of an academic question, really… the tune I brought up as an example, I’ve been playing for a while now, blissfully unaware… the key change has absolutely no impact on how I play it. More a curiosity than anything. That said, I agree that not getting caught up in this is a good thing.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"So, if someone was playing the tune, blissfully unaware of this insidious key change, yet, they nonetheless managed to get the notes right, the tune would not sound good?"

The notes are the same, so unless there’s any accompaniment, the key of the tune doesn’t matter a bit. As soon as there’s a backer, it matters a lot more. There nothing like playing with a clueless backer who doesn’t hear "where the melody goes" (whether there’s a key change or not between parts).

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"What is the point of the key change?"

What is the point of the tune? What is the point of life?

The advantage of *knowing about* the key change is mainly for anyone playing chords. But keys, modes etc. are only a way of putting a name on something that already exists. To play a tune, you need know nothing other than how the tune goes - what the notes are (not what they’re called, just what they sound like) and when to play them. Furthermore, I would wager that there are a great many backers out there who have no knowledge of what key a tune is in, what the chords are called etc., but they know what chord sounds right with what bit of the tune, they know what chord sounds good following what chord and so on.

If it *sounds* good, it *is* good… or, as 19th Century US humorist Edgar Wilson Nye perversely put it: "Wagner’s music is better than it sounds."

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

The point is is sounds different with a different root although the notes may be the same. To demonstrate play the notes in a scale or progression starting on D and then descending back to D (i.e. with F# and C#). Now play exactly the same notes but start on B up an octave and back down. Same notes, different feel.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

The whole tonal center of the tune changes and it "doesn’t matter?"

Only if your ‘painting by numbers.’

If you’re treating it like music, it matters a lot… with or without a backer.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

@ Jason_Van_Steenwyk —I don’t think anyone is saying it ‘doesn’t matter’ — we are saying that knowing there is a theoretical change of key in a purely melodic tune makes no difference to the tune. Of course knowing that the whole tonal centre changes ‘matters’.
The post by redh above illustrates the danger of not knowing the tune, and changing the root without respecting the ‘imagined’ root of other players. To say ‘the notes are the same’ is wrong anyway — the notes of the melody might be the same, but if you change the root, you change everything, not just the root.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

[*I’m afraid you are confused teagan, but as you say, chords don’t much matter to you as a fiddler. I’d suggest you just learn some tunes and forget about this.*]

Bernie, should teagan also find out the keys of the tunes he is learning, or just start them on the right note so they sound right?

Funny, I never once gave a thought to a ‘key change’ in Connaughtman’s Rambles until this thread, but if someone asked what the keys were, I would know the answer right away.

I was always aware of key changes, or modulations within the same part of a tune, eg the famous Em /D maj / Em thing in Coolie’s Reel (and the other 72000-odd tunes)..hehe…

I don’t agree with the opinion that you don’t need to know the chords of a tune if you are a melody player. How would you ever make a backing track for yourself? What would you say if a (very competent) guitarist asked what the chords were (a pretty sensible question)?

OK, there is no absolute *need* to know, in order to play the melody, just like there’s no absolute *need* to know what day it is. It just makes me wonder sometimes.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

They’re called major and minor because of the levels of tension on the cadences(the note or phrase a melody end on.) The major scale ends on a resolved, consonant note. The minor scale ends on an unresolved, dissonant note. It’s all about the root, and the root changes our perception of the melody because of the notes being in a different order.

"the key change has absolutely no impact on how I play it."

It shouldn’t, but it will change how the tune sounds coming out. One part being in major, and the other part being minor is a contrast that makes the tune more interesting and is a common transition you’ll find in most music.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

teagan = she. :)

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Jim-there is no key change in Cooley’s,if that’s what you’re referring to. The tune is in E dorian throughout.The tune sugests chord changes from Em to D but that’s not a key change In The Connaughtman’s Rambles the tonal center of the tune changes from the A secton to the B section,so that is a key change.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

You can use music theory to find tonal centers, or, like most people, you can just proceed by instinct. Key changes have a lot of impact on how you play a tune, whether you realize it or not.
No one needs to know theory to play this music, but once you start digging into it, you can have a lot of fun figuring out how things work, and it can have a positive impact on your playing.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"They’re called major and minor because of the levels of tension on the cadences(the note or phrase a melody end on.) The major scale ends on a resolved, consonant note. The minor scale ends on an unresolved, dissonant note. "

Ouch! Hey Jerone go check out some discussions of major and minor and unresolved and dissonant. There’s nothing dissonant or unresolved about a minor key ending unless some clueless backing player is blissfully playing along in the major key. I suspect you know what you want to say and just used wrong words, but your statement might lead folks down a strange path indeed…

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

[*Jim-there is no key change in Cooley’s,if that’s what you’re referring to*]

duh…sorry, chord change.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

teagan = she … sorry, Miss :)

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"I don’t agree with the opinion that you don’t need to know the chords of a tune if you are a melody player. How would you ever make a backing track for yourself? What would you say if a (very competent) guitarist asked what the chords were (a pretty sensible question)?"

I have to say I would expect the very competent guitarist to figure out the chords; that’s my understanding of what competence on the guitar in this context involves. I wouldn’t be asking the guitarist what notes to play for the melody. Maybe my expectations are unrealistic; guess that’s why I’m so often disappointed!

I would agree that as a melody player knowing chords to tunes would be useful in the context of helping others or extending your playing beyond melody but if you just want to play tunes (and really that’s what traditional Irish music is: tunes, not backing or chords or keys) then it’s really not needed. After all, I’ve played with more than one musician who doesn’t appear to know what day it is and they all get along fine.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

To illustrate my point about tunes ‘not being in keys’ here are two versions of the same tune by the same people, one with a whistle joining in
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoEFJkMcDJQ

and the other with a guitar
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LheAUk6E9s

Being primarily a piper, I hear the first version as it would be if there were a constant ‘D’ drone, with the resultng tensions and harmonies implicit in the tune, which is wonderfully free and open like intricate lacework with shifting patterns. The second one, while there is no doubting the guitarist’s ability, I find hard to listen to, not only because a blanket of sound has been stitched behind the lace, as it were, but mainly because the chords he is playing clash with my internal harmonies.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

It can really help to know the harmonic structure (and the implied underlying scales) if you are coming up with variations. The applicability of variations to session playing is, well, another discussion…

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Yes! As a fiddler, I constantly think about the key/chords because it changes how you think about variations, suitable drone notes and whether to leave a finger on an adjacent string to get a two-note chord. It’s also just part of the aesthetics - I like to think about these things. They please me.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

That’s fine Jerry, I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself, but you can do all the things you mention just as well without ever thinking about chords or key changes.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Bernie29, it’s not a question of whether it is *possible* to do these things without knowledge of music theory. it’s possible to drive your auto around town in reverse gear only making right turns. Are you claiming that it’s useless or harmful to apply theoretical knowledge of chords, keys, etc, to playing? If so, what is your evidence for this claim?

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

I would imagine that playing variations without knowing music theory is a hell of a lot easier than driving around town in reverse gear, only making right hand turns. It is also slightly more legal.

I would hazard a guess that most melody players have some vague idea of what keys the tunes they play are in — I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t the faintest idea — but they might not be able to tell a clueless guitarist what chord they should be playing with each and every bar.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Timmy, Bernie just likes to keep things simple and un-complicated at all times.

I’m sure he could explain his thinking to you.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

If the tonal center changes, everything changes, unless maybe if you’re on a fixed-pitch instrument.

For example, the key of Am is the relative minor of C. But if you play a B in Am, it’s probably going to be a pretty good amount flatter than a B note acting as a leading tone in the key of C. And the E is going to be way, way different…. as much as 15 cents off.

This notion that knowing the key doesn’t affect how you play the melody of a tune is only true for people who aren’t thinking or listening very much. Maybe it’s true for certain accordionists who only ever play one note at a time and never play bass notes, or something.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"This notion that knowing the key doesn’t affect how you play the melody of a tune is only true for people who aren’t thinking or listening very much. "

You’re wrong Jason: you can learn to play this music perfectly well without ever thinking about the names of the notes or what key you are in.

I can read music, I can play Bach on the piano from music, but I’ve learned Irish fiddle purely by ear, without thinking about what key I am in or what finger produces what note. I didn’t set out to learn fiddle this way, but when I realised it had happened I found it interesting so I just carried on that way. I do all that stuff you talk about, different pitches for B depending on what key I’m in, but without being able to tell you what key I’m in, or which note is B.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"if you play a B in Am, it’s probably going to be a pretty good amount flatter than a B note acting as a leading tone in the key of C"
This is why I keep saying that Irish tunes are not ‘in keys’. It doesn’t matter in the slightest what the tonal centre is supposed to be, if you learn to play the tune the way you hear it. The only reason for playing a note ‘flatter’ or ‘sharper’ is that you think it should be something other than what you are actually hearing. I would suggest that more damage is done to traditional tunes by making them conform to a preconceived but erroneous temperament.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

[*I would suggest that more damage is done to traditional tunes by making them conform to a preconceived but erroneous temperament.*]

Gam, I don’t understand that at all. A good player will be aware of the same notes having fractionally different pitches, depending either on the key, or the adjacent notes, and will play them so they sound right. That would apply to any kind of music. That’s assuming you’re talking about a non-fixed-pitch instrument (eg fiddle).

There are intonation exercises for violin, where there simply *is* no key. It’s all based on the concept of context, ie whatever group of notes you happen to be playing at the time, and getting them to sound right.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"For example, the key of Am is the relative minor of C. But if you play a B in Am, it’s probably going to be a pretty good amount flatter than a B note acting as a leading tone in the key of C. And the E is going to be way, way different…. as much as 15 cents off. "

What? If I play a B, it always sounds like the same B regardless of what key the tune is in. Which is probably about 15 cents off, but never mind.

This must only be relevant to fiddle players.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"will play them so they sound right" — to whom?
We’re getting a little side-tracked here, but anyway, there is no doubt in my mind that intonation can sound weird to one culture and spot on to another. My point is that you should not automatically assume that something is out of tune, and ‘correct’ it, without understanding something about the intentions of the composer/player and the nature of the instrument on which the music is played.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

@gam, Ok, I see what you mean now :)

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

@DrSilverSpear:
"This must only be relevant to fiddle players."

Mostly fiddle players, but flute players can also "lip" a note up or down in pitch within a very small range, using embouchure adjustments. Not as much as fiddle, obviously, but I’ve heard it said that the diatonic, simple system flutes we use in this music aren’t actually in tune by themselves, and they have to be "blown into tune" by the player’s embouchure. That provides a little bit of flexibility in adjusting to the sound of playing in different modes.

It’s something we don’t think about consciously, because we’d go mad if we had to think about making a different lip shape for each note. We just do it subconsciously. Well, those of us who are good players anyway. I haven’t been at this very long, although I have noticed that playing flute has sensitized me more to hearing tunes that seem to want a slightly sharp C natural ("piper’s C," or "C Supernatural"). I knew about that when I played only mandolin, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it on a 12TET fretted instrument.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Bernie29,

I am most assuredly not wrong here. I don’t know where you got "thinking of the names of the notes." That’s your own invention. But you should definitely be aware of the pitches you are sounding, within the harmonic context, and the relationship the pitches you are playing have to what is going on around them, both in terms of what’s happening melodically and harmonically, and with references to the natural resonances of your instrument.

And yes, you had better know what key you’re in, in the sense of where the tonal center is at any given point, or what’s going on around you, or you’re a typist, not a musician.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

SilverSpear: It is quite possible your chanter was designed to have a slightly flat B, or a flat "E" and a flat F#, compared to where equal temperament would place your "B," compared to your D natural. In this case, aside from bending and special effects, you don’t have to worry about it much, because your pipe maker took care of a lot of it for you.

That said, I was discussing intonation with an excellent uilleann piper friend of mine, and he played, I think, three different low E’s, each noticeably different in pitch, and each had their place.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Reading the above, I mostly agree with Bernie.

Jason say "But you should definitely be aware of the pitches you are sounding, within the harmonic context, and the relationship the pitches you are playing have to what is going on around them, both in terms of what’s happening melodically and harmonically, and with references to the natural resonances of your instrument." Maybe, but at what level is that "awareness?" A primarily melodic player will instinctively shape phrases as a whole, and is likely to play a given note differently depending on where that note lies in a tune, but there’s no conscious analysis going on, and they might well have to "fast forward" through the tune to see what scale it lies on, and may not be able to guess the "tonal centre." Melodists think differently from harmonists.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Well, even then, Tom, we’ve come a long, long way from some of the earlier assumptions upthread:

****The notes are the same, so unless there’s any accompaniment, the key of the tune doesn’t matter a bit.***
***The Connaughtman’s Rambles is a good example of this, "changing" from D major to B minor. As a fiddler, this fact is of no value to me, at least that I know of, because both keys have an F# and a C#. Both keys have all the same notes. What is the point of the key change?"***

It doesn’t matter if the awareness is conscious and studied, or if it’s arrived at entirely by instinct… if the awareness is there at ANY level, it does matter.

More strictly, it matters mathematically: Anchor your A at 440 and your C# is going to be way flatter than than a C# you play in the key of F# minor. So the key DOES make a difference in the notes.

And when you write: " A primarily melodic player will instinctively shape phrases as a whole, and is likely to play a given note differently depending on where that note lies in a tune," you are affirming what I’ve been writing all along.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Temperament!
The global ear for natural tones has been slowly corrupted: well tempered klavier; Mr Hohner’s reed factory; digital technology. But the chromatacism afforded to us: Bach; Bebop; Beatles; Beefheart; Beethoven are the fab fallout from this.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"This notion that knowing the key doesn’t affect how you play the melody of a tune is only true for people who aren’t thinking or listening very much."
"It doesn’t matter if the awareness is conscious and studied, or if it’s arrived at entirely by instinct"
You seem to have also come a long, long way from your asumptions upthread Jason: "knowing the key " is surely "conscious and studied" by most people’s understanding of language. A player could be quite unable to tell you what key a tune is in yet play notes with the mathematically correct relation to the tonal centre, it would be strange to call this ‘knowing the key’ other than in the context of qualifying ‘knowledge’ as an unconscious ability.

More important to me is the point that gam has made a couple of times above; this music doesn’t necessarily conform to theory - the C# is where the player chooses to put it. Otherwise they may not be a typist, but they would be a mathematician rather than a musician.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

It’s just intonation (haha)

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

This is a really interesting discussion but I just don’t understand the concept of playing different pitches of notes in different keys. I have been learning/playing fiddle for 3 years and have never thought about what key the tune is in (although I thought I had a fair understanding of keys/harmony from playing the guitar).

Why would I play a note slightly sharp or flat? I may well be doing this instinctively, but just not been aware of it. But how would this relate to a classical pianist (or other fixed pitch player) playing pieces in different keys. Would the piece not sound quite right if the notes are not or could not be altered?

If this is totally instinctive then why would it help a melody player to understand the keys. Surely all they need to do is keep playing the correct notes according to how the tune should sound?

If it is not instinctive and needs to be studied then how would I go about learning this? I am certainly no expert but everything I have read on harmony is based on scales of some kind and I have never came across any advice on altering the pitch depending on whether it is a major or minor key.

Not trying to be argumentative here, just genuinely interested in the topic.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

< "knowing the key " is surely "conscious and studied" by most people’s understanding of language. >

Ummm. No. Why would you say that?

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

I know which way is up because I know which way gravity pulls me when I am standing on the surface of a planet. How conscious and studied does that need to be, by most people’s understanding of language? A carrier pigeon knows his way home. How "conscious and studied" does that have to be?

But to say that the key, or tonal center, doesn’t make a difference to how one plays a tune is to say that gravity doesn’t make a difference in the direction of falling, and the location of ‘home’ doesn’t make a difference in which way a carrier pigeon flies.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

David,

It’s not trad, but this video… and the other ones in this series, if you click through to the YouTube page, gives a good discussion:

"Which Intonation System to Use When"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaYOwIIvgHg


Now a piano can’t do this. You can optimize a piano or concertina for certain things and make it sound more out of tune for other things by deviating from equal temperament, but equal temperament is a compromise to allow fixed pitch instruments to play equally out of tune in any key.

When the instructor mentions "high leading tones," he’s referring to the major 7th degree of a scale… one that leads the ear strongly to the tonic, which is western harmonish for the "leading tone."

Think of the leading tone… a B in the key of C, as "tension" and the C as "resolution," because if you prep the ear with a melody in that key, the B is going to pull the ear strongly back to C… and if you sharpen B, you can increase the gravitational pull. (This is basic to music around the world and is not "western." It’s at the heart of aboriginal dirigidoo playing for example.)

But that B would be much, much too high, if it’s functioning as the third of a G chord in the key of G. In that key, the leading tone would be F# instead. To get the maximum ‘sweetness’ and the maximum sympathetic resonances out of the instrument, your B should be exactly 5/4ths the frequency of your G. That gives you the maximum number of coinciding sine waves, and sets the instrument abuzz. Violinists know when this happens because the instrument comes alive in their hands.

The challenge arises because that a 5/4ths B over G is well flat of equal temperament, but if you want a strong pull leading tone into C, then you’d set your B somewhere NORTH of that 5/4, if you had set your C exactly a fourth above your G.

A piano tuner wouldn’t tune them exactly a fourth apart for this reason. It’s a compromise. And as the video illustrates, if you have a non-fixed pitch instrument, such as voice or violin, you are constantly making compromises based on the melody, its direction, the melody note’s relationship to the tonal center, and what is going on around you.

Whether you arrive at it instinctively, through exploration, via study, or because someone showed you, makes no difference… and playing at speed, you have to do most of this unconsciously. But the tonal center, or key, absolutely does make a difference to how you play the tune on non fixed-pitch instruments.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"Whether you arrive at it instinctively, through exploration, via study, or because someone showed you, makes no difference… "

So that means you don’t need to "think about it", which is where you were wrong, above.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Many thanks Jason, really interesting article and video. I’ll need to take some time to study this ..

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Bernie, what in the world are you inventing now?

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Bernie, you’re not reading what I wrote. You’re arguing with a pretend version of what I actually wrote. Tighten your reading; we may actually believe much the same thing.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

What is meant by ‘parallel keys’?

I took music theory in college and can’t remember ever hearing that term. I just looked in a music encyclopedia and it isn’t there, either on its on or in the section on ‘keys’.

Are you talking about a ‘relative minor’? That’s a minor key which shares the same key signature as a particular Major key (e minor and G Major, for example). Take any Major scale, but start on the 6th, and Bob’s your Uncle.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Then there’s the different matter of chord selection.

You can substitute a minor chord where a Major one might be expected, say, when a melody is centred around F# and A and one might expect a D Major chord, but one substitutes an f# minor chord instead.

This is very common in traditional hymnody on the pipe organ, where an organist might substitute nearly every chord on one verse, if the mood strikes him. (The melody notes are identical.)

It crops up all the time in Irish music, especially often heard in those reels with the long B notes in the first part, where one might hear G Major, b minor, or e minor (sometimes all three simultaneously, if there’s three guitarists!)

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Jason, Thanks for putting the video links up (I’ve seen the Violin Masterclass one before) and that’s a very comprehensive and informative post too :)

@DavidEd - another way to highlight where the same named note might be played at a slightly different pitch, depending on the context. A simple example : play a simple ascending scale in A. Start on the open A string.

Repeat - now this time sound your open E along with the C#. If you flatten the C# just a fraction, the combination of C#+E should sound sweeter.

If you now play a C nat + E, and sharpen the C a fraction, you’ll get a sweeter and brighter sound.

That’s as simple a practical example as I can think of.

A similar thing with guitar - if you tune the D G and B strings as you would normally, then flatten the open B just a fraction, you’ll get a sweeter-sounding chord of DGB, but the fingered chord of D will then be out of tune.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Richard-as Steve L mentioned at the top of the thread, the parallel key is the key with the same tonic but a different mode. It usually is used to refer to Major vs. minor i.e. D minor is the parallel minor of D major,so you might say the B section of Arthur Darley’s goes to the parallel minor. In trad of course there are other options, but I’ve never encountered the term "parallel Dorian"

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

For what it’s worth, parallel key, minor parallel etc (for the C vs. Am idea) are the terms used in Swedish (and as far as Wikipedia goes, in a bunch of other languages as well).

I doubt that teagan (the OP) had temperament, pitch and cents in mind.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Beter schrijven Jason.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

If you are using double stops on your fiddle, it is better to play the ones that are harmonically pleasant, of course you can use octaves.
Double stops that follow the chords can emphasize the different feel between major and minor chords, and can accentuate the change of mood .

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"the parallel key is the key with the same tonic but a different mode. It usually is used to refer to Major vs. minor i.e. D minor is the parallel minor of D major"

Ah, I see.

Or as worded in The New College Encyclopedia of Music:

"major and minor keys having the same tonic… C Major is said to be the ‘tonic major’ of C minor; C minor is said to be the ‘tonic minor’ of C Major."

Seems like what Breandan Breathnach called "inflection", the habit of certain notes, usually C and F, to fluctuate between sharp and natural. This happens so often in some tunes that one would be hard-pressed to declare what key the tune was in.

However the OP was using the term "parallel keys" in a completely different way, to indicate what are called ‘relative’ keys:

"…from a major scale to its parallel minor… changing from D major to B minor."

B minor being the relative minor of D Major.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Whatever, Bernie.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Richard D Cook: "You can substitute a minor chord where a Major one might be expected."

That’s a dangerous generalisation.

For example, take a G-Major tune which resolves on its keynote, G. The chord played on the last note of the tune would be G-Major. Try playing its normal substitite at that point - E-Minor - and it would sound terrible.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Chord Substitution depends on the melody notes, in the key of g major the notes a and c, can be sometimes harmonized with a d major chord or an a minor,or even a d7 plus 9, or a d 7 without the third, or a d7 with the third the player has to use their hearing and hear how chords fits with the notes and the chords that follow.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Yes Mix these substitutions need to be done judiciously, tastefully.

Sometimes chord-makers can get into an obvious pattern: I have one collection which has chords provided, and in the main they work nicely, and in addition are a bit different than what one usually hears… and in looking over a large number of tunes it dawned on me that the person writing the chords was using a simple device: having the chord’s root a third below the melody note.

I’m usually not a fan of 7 and 9 chords with jigs and reels… I usually like the opposite, removing the 3rds for a ‘gap’ or ‘modal’ sound. Like anything else, if tastefully used pretty much any chord will sound great.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"…we are saying that knowing there is a theoretical change of key in a purely melodic tune makes no difference to the tune."

If this is the original point, then I disagree.

It makes a massive difference because — as said earlier — a relative minor key is a world away from the major key in terms of the feelings it draws from the listeners as well as the players. Any player who can go through a tune or a set and not notice any difference between the major and minor parts is missing out on the experience. My guess is that the players notice, but just don’t take the time to think about it. But feelings change, big time.

If the melody player wants to notice when the major/minor thing is actually happening, simply pay attention to the notes you’re playing. For the B part of Connaughtman’s Rambles, many of your notes will be sketching out Bm chords and not D chords. Whether you want to think about it or not doesn’t matter — it’s up to you. But you’ll be hearing the difference, and without any backers going.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

I really have trouble understanding what the point of this question is. I mean, a tune is just a tune and is constructed from whatever chords it is given. Take for example " A Whiter Shade of Pale", it just flows through one major chord and it’s realtive minor after another. And obviously AWSof P is borrowed off J.S. Bach. I really don’t know what else to say except to repeat that I can’t understand what the question is.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

I don’t know why you’ve picked on A Whiter Shade of Pale. This is a very special harmonic example of a phenomenon known as "DESH" or "diatonically enhanced static harmony". Used by Bach in Air on a G String, of course. DESH is common, and a very special form of harmonic construction. The harmony’s the thing in that piece.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Jmbu — you say you disagree, but at the end say, "Whether you want to think about it or not doesn’t matter."
As long as you are aware that something is happening in the tune, you don’t need to know anything about the theories of keys or chords. All you have to do is reproduce the tune. That includes any emotive aspects, not just the notes.
Gobby — some tunes are ‘constructed’ (not my word) without any chords at all. The fact that chords can be imposed onto them is inescapable but not relevant, unless someone other than the melodist (if there is such a word) decides to play them. The question then is, what chords get added, and, more importantly, do they coincide with what is going on in the melodist’s head.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Ben, I Picked on A Whiter Shade of Plale because within my very limited knowledge and total lack of ability of musical composition, it was all I could think of. I think that Gam’s explaination explains my own confusion about the question.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"If the melody player wants to notice when the major/minor thing is actually happening, simply pay attention to the notes you’re playing. For the B part of Connaughtman’s Rambles, many of your notes will be sketching out Bm chords and not D chords. Whether you want to think about it or not doesn’t matter — it’s up to you. But you’ll be hearing the difference, and without any backers going."

You don’t need to pay attention to the names of the notes. You don’t need to know the names of the chords. Listeners who don’t know anything about chords or the names of notes will hear the major/minor thing.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Thanks Ben also for the DESH info, I will look it up because I like to know about such stuff.
Re the chords, surely a lot of backing players would use neutral chords (or so-called modal chords) in this music? I use them a lot, especially on my bouzouki.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

""DESH" or "diatonically enhanced static harmony"."

Actually "Diatonic Elaboration of Static Harmony", coined by Chris Ingham, based on the jazz concept "CESH" (Contrapuntal Elaboration of Static Harmony), being a juxtaposition of a static chord with a moving line.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

I read about it ages ago, and was just going by memory. I could have sworn that the notion was older, but apparently not. Or maybe the notion is, but the word isn’t. Or something.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Obviously the notion of playing a moving line over a static chord was there, but I don’t think Pachelbel or Bach were out to "bang a DESH".

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Oh, I dunno …

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

While we’re on the theme, btw, I’m not sure why Pachelbel’s canon is included with other things in the "DESH" camp. It’s totally different. To me, the notion of DESH is one with a static chord - usually major, but not necessarily - enhanced/elaborated by a descending bass line. Pachelbel’s canon doesn’t fit that bill because the harmony is not static - the chords move.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

" Pachelbel’s canon doesn’t fit that bill because the harmony is not static - the chords move."

Surely it’s the repetitive bass line that is the "static" element?

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Er, no actually. Well, not as I understand it. The static element is the chord itself, as in the examples of Air on a G String, Whiter Shade of Pale, 7 Seconds, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds and others.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Or better to say "Er, no, I don’t think so." I thought I’d known the term a lot longer than just since the 90s, so I’m not trusting my memory on this one. The phenomenon that I attach the name to - a static chord with a descending bass line - is famous and a very old device indeed. Certainly deliberately used by Bach and many predecessors and successors. I studied the phenomenon when I did my degree, a generation and a bit ago.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

nice music jim , cheers

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

[*nice music jim , cheers*]

He plays it on fiddle too.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Gam —

Jmbu — you say you disagree, but at the end say, "Whether you want to think about it or not doesn’t matter."
As long as you are aware that something is happening in the tune, you don’t need to know anything about the theories of keys or chords. All you have to do is reproduce the tune. That includes any emotive aspects, not just the notes.

I hear what you’re saying and I think we actually are in agreement. What I objected to was the idea that not knowing there’s a change of key "makes no difference to the tune."

I’m saying that the fact that it’s in a major or minor key makes a huge difference to the tune. And I’m suggesting that even though the player may not think about the actual chords he or she is outlining with the melody, which I think is optional, depending on your approach to playing, he or she will feel that there’s a change in mood. And that feeling will, or should, guide the player in his or her own feeling. And I don’t mean that everything in a major has to be happy and in a minor has to be sad — but that there’s an emotional sense of how these differences serve to carry out the tune as a whole.

Also, I do agree that not all melodies sketch out specific major or minor parts, because they don’t. In some cases they give subtle clues, and I think in some cases they leave it up to the interpreter. For instance, playing a G chord (as a backer) can be an option for backing a section that could be in Bm — whole different feel.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Jmbu
"the fact that it’s in a major or minor key makes a huge difference to the tune"
What I started out saying is that some types of music are not actually ‘in keys’. It is possible to assign a key or keys that fit, but sometimes, as you say, "not all melodies sketch out specific major or minor parts" — or indeed remain in any given key long enough to warrant the name. What I am concerned about is that once a key is assigned to a particular tune or section of tune, everything in it is made to conform to that key. As a piper as well as a fiddler, I regularly find myself changing ABC notation that is obviously (to me) ill-suited. I am not saying that there are mistakes, or that the ABC is wrong — it just sounds wrong to me, and I can usually tell why.
I do believe we are largely in agreement, but for the business of straitening Irish music by making it conform to a different system.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"Er, no actually. Well, not as I understand it. "

No, it’s not as I see it either. It’s why I presented the post as a question. The repetitive bass line is an anchor, however, and relatively static (repeated two bars over the entire piece) compared even to the repeated chord progressions.
As "DESH" was apparently derived from "CESH", and "CESH" could (so I believe) be present in pieces where the chord is held for as little as two beats, it makes me think that "DESH" isn’t restricted to pieces with such long held chords either.
I’m not sure who first cited the canon as a DESH example either. There seems to be a school of thought that it was cited in William Gibson’s Idoru, but there are online versions of the book and no mention of Pachelbel, let alone his Canon in D.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

"…even though the player may not think about the actual chords he or she is outlining with the melody, which I think is optional, depending on your approach to playing, he or she will feel that there’s a change in mood. And that feeling will, or should, guide the player in his or her own feeling. "

I record myself playing all the time. Sometimes my mind wanders when I’m playing, and I am thinking about a conversation I had or about what I have to do the next day. Sometimes I am intensely focused on the music. When I listen to the recordings, I can’t hear the difference.

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

They key is not changing you are just hanging on the vi chord for a while. Also for some reason I hear chord changes in Air on a G string. I don’t understand how it’s supposed to be a static harmony.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Not sure if anyone has posted this info so thought I’d go ahead & post. Every major key has a relative minor which is the sixth note of the scale. C maj.- Am, Dmaj.- Bm, Gmaj.- Em, etc. Major & minor keys share the same key signature. BUT, if your playing chords, you can figure out which are major and minor in any major key. With the G maj. scale, I is G, II is Am, III is Bm, IV is C, V is D, VI is Em, and F can be a lot of things we won’t go into. So, if your playing a song in G (one sharp) and you "hear" that sound that requires a minor chord (a minor chord flats the third note of the chord) you will have to determine (pretty much on the fly or depending on what notes the melody is playing) if it is an Am, Bm or Em chord. So, to recap any major key, first note is major, 2nd and 3rd minor, 4th & 5th major, 6th minor. Except, on the rare occasion when the 2nd note is a 7th but I wouldn’t worry too much about that. I hope this makes sense. I think if you write out a few scales, you’ll catch on to the pattern. Memorizing them will help, too, if your playing with a group. I think. Sometimes, people play all major chords which would be a travesty when playing Irish music. Just my take on it.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Marcia, I suspect that you are displaying the same confusion I had when I first read the OP’s question. I’m pretty sure on reading it again now that Teagan already knows what you just said, same as I did, and that’s why I cited the example of a "A Whiter Shade of Pale", But my confusion came about because I originally missed the fact that Teagan was asking the question as a melody player. I still wouldn’t know how to answer it because on my fiddle I don’t even really think in keys. I just play the tune, and if I was backing the same tune I’d use my ears, learn it, practice it a bit and play whatever chord was best. As I said earlier, if I was backing up on my bouzouki I’d quite often substitute a change to a minor chord with a neutral chord (i.e, neither major nor minor). Having re-read Teagan’s question with more care I must admit to still not fully understanding the reason for it. Surely we just play whatever is needed?

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Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Thanks for pointing that out, Gobby. I see what you mean now. The post was confusing to me, I never considered it was about melody. I agree with you about playing whatever is needed, never think about major/minor as it refers to melody.

Re: educate me please re: major/minor parallel keys

Bernie,

"I record myself playing all the time. Sometimes my mind wanders when I’m playing, and I am thinking about a conversation I had or about what I have to do the next day. Sometimes I am intensely focused on the music. When I listen to the recordings, I can’t hear the difference."

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I don’t think "thinking" has much to do with it, unless you like to think about keys, etc., but it’s the instinctive feel you have while playing the tune. I once asked Kevin Burke what he thinks about when he’s playing. He thought about it for a minute and then said that often he pictures a field of wheat blowing in the wind, or the sea lapping up against the shore. When he’s doing cuts and rolls he sometimes thinks about a frog lashing out its tongue to catch a fly (!)

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