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#1406151 - 03/29/10 09:56 AM determining key of two pieces in PA 3A  
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 13
Red, Piano Mom Offline
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Can any of you all help me? I am trying to figure out what key the following songs are in PA 3A: Cossack Ride, Lunar Eclipse and Malaguena. I think the first one is in D Minor... but I am not at all cure about the other two, being theory-weak. Thanks for your help,

Red

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#1406843 - 03/30/10 02:22 AM Re: determining key of two pieces in PA 3A [Re: Red, Piano Mom]  
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Volusiano Offline
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If you can tell people here what the key signatures are for the pieces (how many sharps or flats shown), the major and minor keys can be determined from the signature. Whether it's the major or corresponding minor key is a little harder to determine. But one can look at the notes to determine the chords' composition which will give you some clue about whether it's major or minor.

#1407135 - 03/30/10 12:36 PM Re: determining key of two pieces in PA 3A [Re: Volusiano]  
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KrAYZEE Offline
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I'm about to start this book so I gave it a look. Neither Cossack nor Lunar eclipse have sharps or flats shown in the key signatures.

Cossack ride does seem to be in Dm. The many b flat accidentals look to be part of a minor IV chord

Lunar Eclipse I'm thinking is in C minor because most of the accidentals are flat E's and it ends on a C

These are just beginners guesses.

Malaguena, I don't see in PA 3a. Is it from the performance book?

Kurt

#1407572 - 03/31/10 02:54 AM Re: determining key of two pieces in PA 3A [Re: KrAYZEE]  
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Basia C. Offline
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I googled a free preview showing the Cossak ride, and here is my take on it. Kurt is right about it. It is in D minor. You can see how the melody has D as a base and then flows around a little but always returning to the D.

So why is it not in C major or A minor, as the key signature would imply? Well, I can only see page 16, and there actually is a B flat in bar 7. As it should be if the piece is D minor. Usully the composer/arranger would put that B flat in the key signature instead of adding it as an accidential. This time maybe he/she thought that "Why put it in the key signatur if there is only one note in the whole piece that is affected?" Indeed confusing for a beginner!

(Hope I'm not adding to the confusion.)


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#1407604 - 03/31/10 04:34 AM Re: determining key of two pieces in PA 3A [Re: Basia C.]  
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Elissa Milne Offline
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Beginners don't understand key signatures as a rule, mostly to do with the age of the majority of students who are at this level (obviously not appropriate in an adults discussion!) learning in an experiential not intellectual fashion.

And then there is the issue of much music of the 20th century not being diatonic anyway: a piece in G based on the Mixolydian mode will have no sharps or flats in its key signature; a piece in C in the Dorian mode will have 2 flats in its key signature; and so forth.

It's best to notice which note feels like 'home' in the piece, and then to notice whether the 'home' chord is a major or minor chord: this way, no matter what decision the composer and/or publisher have made regarding key signatures, you will always know what 'key' you are in.


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#1407615 - 03/31/10 05:24 AM Re: determining key of two pieces in PA 3A [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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keystring Offline
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For those who may not know, the two modes described can be thought of this way:

Mixylydian: Imagine a scale that goes along the white keys of the piano but goes from G to G (G,A,B,C,D,E,F,G) You will see that the half steps are between the 3rd & 4th note (B,C) - that part of it makes it sound like a major scale) and the other half step is between the 6th & 7th note (E,F) - that part makes the scale sound "different". Play the scale through a couple of times listen for the different flavour this mode has. Our major and minor scales are actually modes too, and they have distinct flavours or moods. Imagine "Baa Baa Black Sheep" played starting on G using only the white keys - it would be in Mixolydian. So a piece in Mixolydian mode would be one where the scale has its half steps in those two locations. It will have that kind of flavour. .... If a piece is in G Mixolydian, then it will have its home key, or tonic, as G, meaning that it hovers around G and probably ends on it, but no F#, and that distinct type of flavour to it.

Dorian mode: Same deal, but imagine the scale going from D to D on the white keys. D,E,F,G,A,B,C,D (this is D Dorian, btw) Your half steps of E,G and B,C are now between the 2nd & 3rd (like minor) and 6th & 7th (again) and again you have a distinct flavour. If a piece seems to have D as its tonic, but doesn't have the key signature of D major (2 sharps) or D minor (1 flat) then it might be in D Dorian, especially if it has a bit of an odd sound which isn't quite minor but seems minor-ish somehow.

The long and short of it is that if a piece seems to have the tonic being a note where you expect a certain key signature for major or minor, and it doesn't have it, then it might be in a mode.

Quote
It's best to notice which note feels like 'home' in the piece, and then to notice whether the 'home' chord is a major or minor chord: this way, no matter what decision the composer and/or publisher have made regarding key signatures, you will always know what 'key' you are in.

That is new information for me. smile Elissa, are Dorian and Mixolydian the main modes that are used the most often or maybe even exclusively? As I wrote this out I noticed that Dorian and Mixolydian are identical in the placement of their second self of half steps (6 & 7) but differ in the 1st set of half steps. That first set make Mix. sound major, because you end up with a major chord from the tonic, and the Dorian sound minor, because of its chord (which is what you essentially refer to).

#1407626 - 03/31/10 06:25 AM Re: determining key of two pieces in PA 3A [Re: keystring]  
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Elissa Milne Offline
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Hmm, maybe I should create a modes thread?


Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
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#1407635 - 03/31/10 07:05 AM Re: determining key of two pieces in PA 3A [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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keystring Offline
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Originally Posted by Elissa Milne
Hmm, maybe I should create a modes thread?

In fact, that would be wonderful and much appreciated.

#1407641 - 03/31/10 07:27 AM Re: determining key of two pieces in PA 3A [Re: keystring]  
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DragonPianoPlayer Offline
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Elissa Milne
Hmm, maybe I should create a modes thread?

In fact, that would be wonderful and much appreciated.


There have been a few postings on modes on the forums, but I have not seen anything recent in the ABF>

Here are the threads from the past year with modes in their title:

Fingerings for Modes

The Arrangement is in A and Bb Dorian Modes

Confused about modes vs harmony

Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re: Modes- confusing?

Even though there have been postings on this, I agree with Keystring that it would still be good to get a perspective on this from the ABF side.

Rich


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