Music: Just what exactly is 'key'?
April 10, 2004 7:16 PM Subscribe
Music: Just what exactly is 'key'? [more inside]
posted by Gyan to media & arts (21 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I've read the definitions in some textbooks. I know the formulae for the scale constructions. A Major key is supposedly upbeat, a minor is more sad/dissonant/whatever. But what exactly is the 'key'?
There was this person I knew who could listen to half a minute of the music and proclaim: "That's in E Major". Is that by just recognising the tonic, or what?
Also, what does it mean to compose something in say, C Major (C D E F G A B)? You can't use other notes (accidentals)? Or you can't use accidentals frequently? You have to end the piece on the tonic? Or your chords must be assembled from only the 'key' scale? What if you have no chords in the piece (a violin solo)? Well, as you can guess, I'm pretty curious and bewildered. Hopefully, someone can attune me to the answer.