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Thread: What key is this melody in?

  1. #1
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    Default What key is this melody in?

    E E G F# D E

    And why does it remind me of pirates?

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    It doesn't necessarily imply any one key (it's too simple for that). You could harmonize it in C major relatively easily, or A minor, or perhaps E aeolian (or any number of other keys, with some creativity). As for the pirate association, I'd imagine that it has more to do with rhythm than the notes you've given.
    Last edited by Mahlerian; Feb-07-2013 at 02:43.

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    Senior Member Tristan's Avatar
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    I'd say it does suggest E minor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tristan View Post
    I'd say it does suggest E minor.
    It would have to be E aeolian, because there's no leading tone D#. E aeolian is only the clear choice if a) the final note of the given melody is the end of a period, b) it was the intent to go for a modal sound, and/or c) the rhythm is the same for every note. It could easily be harmonized in any number of keys, especially allowing for ending on a half-cadence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahlerian View Post
    It doesn't necessarily imply any one key (it's too simple for that). You could harmonize it in C major relatively easily, or A minor, or perhaps E aeolian (or any number of other keys, with some creativity). As for the pirate association, I'd imagine that it has more to do with rhythm than the notes you've given.
    I was in fact attempting to improvise in C lydian. which progressed or modulated somewhat to where it was in some sort of pentatonic. In fact I know nothing about ancient modes so I have no idea what I was actually doing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by obwan View Post
    I was in fact attempting to improvise in C lydian. which progressed or modulated somewhat to where it was in some sort of pentatonic. In fact I know nothing about ancient modes so I have no idea what I was actually doing.
    In the tonal system, an F# in a melody centered on C should resolve to G as its leading tone, either as part of a V-of-V chord or a #ivdim, both preparing the dominant. If you want a specifically lydian flavor, harmonize it differently (like over a drone) and/or emphasize the motion of that F# to another note. Also, using plagal cadences rather than perfect tends to sound lydian or folk-like.

    This one would feel like a tonal C major.
    C major example.png

    This one more a modal C lydian.
    Lydian Example.png

    (Excuse my poor part-writing)

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    When I sing the given melody notes, my mind can harmonize it quite easily in E minor...it doesn't really have to be E aeolian (ever heard of the melodic or natural minor scales? They both have a D natural in them.)
    "Perhaps only genius really understand genius."
    – Robert Schumann

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarterJohnsonPiano View Post
    When I sing the given melody notes, my mind can harmonize it quite easily in E minor...it doesn't really have to be E aeolian (ever heard of the melodic or natural minor scales? They both have a D natural in them.)
    You are of course correct, but if the D is the penultimate note of the melody, then it cannot coexist with a true V-I perfect cadence. Thus while the above may fit into a piece in E minor, it is not itself justifiable as (common practice tonal) E minor.

    (Yes, I realize how pedantic this all sounds.)

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    Yes, somewhat pedantic, but I can be a bit of a legalist myself, so I see where you're coming from . I just thought that the OP had this piece in his head and was wondering what key it was in, so he took part of the melody and asked us...but you are still right (even more specific than I )
    "Perhaps only genius really understand genius."
    – Robert Schumann

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    Random knowledge here, but this fragment is quite similar to the main motive in John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness" soundtrack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahlerian View Post
    In the tonal system, an F# in a melody centered on C should resolve to G as its leading tone, either as part of a V-of-V chord or a #ivdim, both preparing the dominant. If you want a specifically lydian flavor, harmonize it differently (like over a drone) and/or emphasize the motion of that F# to another note. Also, using plagal cadences rather than perfect tends to sound lydian or folk-like.

    This one would feel like a tonal C major.
    C major example.png

    This one more a modal C lydian.
    Lydian Example.png

    (Excuse my poor part-writing)
    wow thank you so much dude!

    and how did you write the musical staff?

    and any theory books you guys might be able to reccommend?

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    Quote Originally Posted by obwan View Post
    wow thank you so much dude!

    and how did you write the musical staff?

    and any theory books you guys might be able to reccommend?
    Free program called MuseScore. It's like a stripped down version of Finale, or so I hear. Not suitable for professional composition, but for dabblers like myself, it's good enough for creating scores.

    http://musescore.org/en

    (After that, I just used the print screen function and pasted into Paint...)
    Last edited by Mahlerian; Feb-08-2013 at 01:41.

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    ^ Hey, I have MuseScore! When I go to university I will get Finale, but for now, MuseScore is good enough for simple transpositions...
    "Perhaps only genius really understand genius."
    – Robert Schumann

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarterJohnsonPiano View Post
    ^ Hey, I have MuseScore! When I go to university I will get Finale, but for now, MuseScore is good enough for simple transpositions...
    My impression is that if you're going to get scorewriting software, Sibelius is the best. Anyway, I didn't mean to offend, and you're absolutely right that MuseScore is fine for what it does. It's just harder than it should be to do some things with it.

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    Senior Member hreichgott's Avatar
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    I like Lilypond a lot. It's genius at separating musical syntax from layout issues. You just make a text file that says something like { b4 b c d d c b a g g a b b4. a8 a2 } and it figures out how to display everything in the most readable way possible. Dynamics, articulations etc. are mostly easy and logical to enter in text, like c( d) to represent a slur from c to d. The output is more beautiful than that of Finale, I find. I use Lilypond when arranging music for students or when re-typesetting decrepit copies of ballet music. I can work pretty fast in it because most of my time is spent entering information rather than tweaking appearance, although appearance is tweakable for the detail-oriented. And it's free. You do have to be willing to deal with some computer-programming-type problems like getting all your parentheses to match, though.
    Heather W. Reichgott, piano
    http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

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