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Thread: Parallel keys

  1. #1
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    Default Parallel keys

    A strictly followed practice is using the parallel key to contrast the mood of a previous movement or within a movement. Examples:

    Ronda Alla Turca alternates between A minor and A major.
    Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony begin in E minor and end in E major.

    But, why is this practice followed so strictly? Would Ronda Alla Turca alternating between A minor and D major be that bad?

  2. #2
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    You are free to do anything you like in composition.

    "Would Ronda Alla Turca alternating between A minor and D major be that bad? "

    Try recomposing it/create variations to your liking to hear how it would sound, it's not a bad compositional exercise.

    About stylistic norms - they are not "rules", just observations, noticed by musicologists. Change a few rules and you have new style or musical form.

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  4. #3
    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    The slow movement of Beethoven string quartet Op.132 "Heiliger dankgesang" alternates slow sections in a modal F with faster sections, "Neue kraft fuhlend" in D.
    Chopin ballade No.2 in F major alternates between calm, lyrical F major sections with fiery A minor "allegro con fuoco" sections.

    It seems that the practice of switching between parallel keys was more strict in the Baroque/Classical period. I find a lot of relative major/minor relationships as well,
    take for example, in Mozart's Salzburg masses before 1777, (not the newly-fashioned C major ones where he deployed "symphonic devices", such as K.257, K.317 )
    the agnus dei movements initially start in the relative minor, end with dona nobis pacem in the original keys of the masses.
    K.192: agnus dei (D minor) - dona nobis pacem (F major)
    K.194: agnus dei (B minor) - dona nobis pacem (D major)
    K.275: agnus dei (G minor) - dona nobis pacem (B flat major)
    also there is a special case;
    K.337: benedictus (fugue in A minor) - hosanna excelsis (C major; same material as sanctus)
    Last edited by hammeredklavier; Jun-01-2020 at 23:10.

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  6. #4
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    The idea is to use the same tonic. See here, Rondo alla Turca already alternates with relative major and minor chords within sections already. Between A minor and C major, and A major and F# minor. The use of the same tonic ties things together to some effect that a modulation to another key couldn't.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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  8. #5
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Perhaps alla Turka gives a hint? Turkish music is not known for modulations to remote keys

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