Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 17

Thread: Sad music in major keys

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    160
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Sad music in major keys

    Why do composers set sad music in major keys? Examples are the slow movements of:

    Beethoven's Tempest Sonata (Bb Major)

    Mozart's G-Minor String Quintet (Eb Major)

    Schubert's Unfinished (E Major)

  2. #2
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ashland, OR
    Posts
    17,922
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Maybe they feel that sadness can be expressed in major keys. Or maybe "sadness" is just something we read into it. Both, I think.

  3. #3
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    5,362
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Aurelian View Post
    Why do composers set sad music in major keys? Examples are the slow movements of:

    Beethoven's Tempest Sonata (Bb Major)

    Mozart's G-Minor String Quintet (Eb Major)

    Schubert's Unfinished (E Major)
    Why? That question makes no sense. It's not like the composers had some sad music and then decided to "set" it in the major mode. The mode at any particular moment is an intrinsic element of the music, not some variable setting applied to it. The question that makes sense is: How do composers create sad music in major keys? The answer, if we take these examples as a guide, is: They write much of the movement in the minor mode and mix notes and harmonies from the minor mode into themes beginning and ending in the major mode.

    Your frogs make me shudder with intolerable loathing and I shall be miserable for the rest of my life remembering them.
    — Mikhail Bulgakov, The Fatal Eggs

    Originality is a device untalented people use to impress other untalented people and to protect themselves from talented people.
    — Basil Valentine

  4. #4
    Junior Member MAXSWAGGER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Posts
    23
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Aurelian View Post
    Why do composers set sad music in major keys?
    Because they were in grateful sorrow.

  5. #5
    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    2,626
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MAXSWAGGER View Post
    Because they were in grateful sorrow.
    You mean like this?


  6. #6
    Senior Member mbhaub's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Gilbert, AZ
    Posts
    2,378
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Of course one of the saddest tunes ever, "TAPS", played at every military funeral is just the notes of a major chord.

  7. #7
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    5,362
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    Of course one of the saddest tunes ever, "TAPS", played at every military funeral is just the notes of a major chord.
    Ah, but what major chord? What if it's an eternally unresolved V chord in the minor mode ending on the fifth degree of the mode?
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Jan-01-2020 at 21:20.

    Your frogs make me shudder with intolerable loathing and I shall be miserable for the rest of my life remembering them.
    — Mikhail Bulgakov, The Fatal Eggs

    Originality is a device untalented people use to impress other untalented people and to protect themselves from talented people.
    — Basil Valentine

  8. Likes Luchesi, jegreenwood, Woodduck liked this post
  9. #8
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ashland, OR
    Posts
    17,922
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    Ah, but what major chord? What if it's an eternally unresolved V chord in the minor mode ending on the fifth degree of the mode?
    Appropriate for one who died before his time.

  10. #9
    Senior Member mbhaub's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Gilbert, AZ
    Posts
    2,378
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    To my ear it's clear that the tune begins on the 5th, moving to the tonic. By the end, there's no argument - it's a major chord. Here's the official US Military version. Written in C, but depending on what instrument is used could be in almost any key - a major one!
    taps.jpg

  11. #10
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    5,362
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    To my ear it's clear that the tune begins on the 5th, moving to the tonic. By the end, there's no argument - it's a major chord. Here's the official US Military version. Written in C, but depending on what instrument is used could be in almost any key - a major one!
    taps.jpg
    Four notes does not a key make. On a more serious note: Taps is sad by convention and association, not so much by its musical character, although slow tempo tends toward the serious and solemn.

    If it is a major key, in this case the answer to why is clear: It's a bugle.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Jan-04-2020 at 00:09.

    Your frogs make me shudder with intolerable loathing and I shall be miserable for the rest of my life remembering them.
    — Mikhail Bulgakov, The Fatal Eggs

    Originality is a device untalented people use to impress other untalented people and to protect themselves from talented people.
    — Basil Valentine

  12. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Wales
    Posts
    1,182
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I find B major to be a very sad key. Not surprising as the scale uses all 5 black keys in the octave.
    "I like to think that oysters transcend national barriers" - Roger Waters

  13. #12
    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Posts
    4,419
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Charles Hazlewood thinks the slow movement of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik K525 is the saddest music ever written in a major key.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8FQH_Sr4J4&t=21m30s
    Last edited by hammeredklavier; Jan-05-2020 at 07:22.

  14. Likes pianozach liked this post
  15. #13
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    5,362
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MAXSWAGGER View Post
    I prefer women
    Real ones? I ask because some of your posts suggest otherwise ("Nudge, nudge, know what I mean?"):

    Quote Originally Posted by MAXSWAGGER View Post
    Sounds like a pornstar name
    Quote Originally Posted by MAXSWAGGER View Post
    Theoretical skill is like watching porn all day - no matter how much time you spend - you're still a virgin.
    Quite the expert it seems. Alas, this is a music theory forum. This instructional video might be of use to you:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Kwh3R0YjuQ
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Jan-06-2020 at 04:09.

    Your frogs make me shudder with intolerable loathing and I shall be miserable for the rest of my life remembering them.
    — Mikhail Bulgakov, The Fatal Eggs

    Originality is a device untalented people use to impress other untalented people and to protect themselves from talented people.
    — Basil Valentine

  16. Likes Woodduck, mikeh375 liked this post
  17. #14
    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,757
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    5

    Default

    .................................................. ........................................
    Last edited by mikeh375; Jan-06-2020 at 11:18.
    New website and some new music......www.mikehewer.com

  18. #15
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    1,002
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    No one mentioned Mahler?




Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •