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Thread: Did Baroque music have "keys?"

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Default Did Baroque music have "keys?"

    Did Baroque music have "keys?"

    Without harmony, and if everything is counterpoint and linear, how can there be "keys?"

    I thought what we now call "key signatures" were, in the Baroque era, only indicators of notes in the scale, not indications of "key" or tonalty, and that "accidentals" simply indicated notes that were not in the scale.

    I thought the Baroque didn't have chords or 'chord functions' because it was all linear.

    Without harmony, and if everything is counterpoint and linear, how can there be "keys?"

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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    Oh please, Just stop.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasks View Post
    Oh please, Just stop.
    Well, Bach's figured bass system didn't indicate "chord function" because it didn't exist.

    But this raises an important question, Vasks: what is a "key signature," and should it be called that?
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-09-2020 at 23:47.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    what is a "key signature," and should it be called that?
    In this case it's the best approximation of 7 equal in 12 equal (or unequal, in historical systems, that's why we get stuff like sharps lower in pitch than flats etc, if we extend the chain of generator -> the metric is based on fifths or fourths, not on chromatic semitones). It has many nice properties for notation or voice leading and easily get us intervals that sound good together in most cases. The last one is big advantage, compared to other viable alternatives (like hexatonic ((whole tone or Messiaen/Liszt scale))or octatonic).
    This can be easily generalized to any system. If generator isn't co-prime to the number of steps, the period is a fraction of octave and the scale is a mode of limited transposition.

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Yes, please just stop.

    What greater comfort does time afford than the objects of terror re-encountered and their fraudulence exposed in the flash of reason?
    — William Gaddis, The Recognitions

    Originality is a device untalented people use to impress other untalented people and to protect themselves from talented people.
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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Does Florida have keys? Do locks have keys? Does Alicia have Keys?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Does Florida have keys? Do locks have keys? Does Alicia have Keys?
    You missed Evelyn.

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    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Does Florida have keys? Do locks have keys? Does Alicia have Keys?
    "I'm wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be," Bob Dylan.
    There are two kinds of music, good music and the other kind. - Duke Ellington.

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    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    1. D major ( tonic , I )
    2. A major ( dominant , V )
    3. B minor ( submediant , vi )
    4. F♯ minor / D major ( mediant / first inversion of tonic , iii / I6 )
    5. G major ( subdominant , IV )
    6. D major ( tonic , I )
    7. G major ( subdominant , IV )
    8. A major ( dominant , V )

    In 2002, pop music producer Pete Waterman described Canon in D as "almost the godfather of pop music because we've all used that in our own ways for the past 30 years". He also said that Kylie Minogue's 1988 UK number one hit single "I Should Be So Lucky", which Waterman co-wrote and co-produced, was inspired by Canon in D. The Farm's 1990 single "All Together Now" has its chord sequence lifted directly from Pachelbel's Canon.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    WIK says:

    Relationship between key signature and key
    A key signature is not the same as a key; key signatures are merely notational devices. They are convenient principally for diatonic or tonal music.


    The key signature defines the diatonic scale that a piece of music uses without the need for accidentals. Most scales require that some notes be consistently sharped or flatted. For example, the only sharp in the G major scale is F sharp, so the key signature associated with the G major key is the one-sharp key signature. However, it is only a notational convenience; a piece with a one-sharp key signature is not necessarily in the key of G major, and likewise, a piece in G major may not always be written with a one-sharp key signature; this is particularly true in pre-Baroque music, when the concept of key had not yet evolved to its present state.


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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Does Florida have keys? Do locks have keys? Does Alicia have Keys?
    No; I think that Little Walter had the key.

    https://youtu.be/aHAxZkcGALg

    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-11-2020 at 13:25.

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    Senior Member Luchesi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    WIK says:

    Relationship between key signature and key
    A key signature is not the same as a key; key signatures are merely notational devices. They are convenient principally for diatonic or tonal music.


    The key signature defines the diatonic scale that a piece of music uses without the need for accidentals. Most scales require that some notes be consistently sharped or flatted. For example, the only sharp in the G major scale is F sharp, so the key signature associated with the G major key is the one-sharp key signature. However, it is only a notational convenience; a piece with a one-sharp key signature is not necessarily in the key of G major, and likewise, a piece in G major may not always be written with a one-sharp key signature; this is particularly true in pre-Baroque music, when the concept of key had not yet evolved to its present state.

    Actually I've wondered for more than a few years whether the key that we hear while we're playing a piece - is always accurately the key? Most of the time it is.. IOW, how does that all work in our brains?

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luchesi View Post
    Actually I've wondered for more than a few years whether the key that we hear while we're playing a piece - is always accurately the key? Most of the time it is.. IOW, how does that all work in our brains?
    Just as an amusement, I sometimes listen to a Mozart Piano Sonata in C as being in A minor. It works pretty well, if you keep an "A" drone in your mind as a reference tone.

    You can do this with any "root" of any mode of C major, as well.

    If I'm really feeling adventurous, I keep a "B" drone in my head, and listen to the piece as if it were in B Locrian.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-12-2020 at 13:03.

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    Senior Member Luchesi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Just as an amusement, I sometimes listen to a Mozart Piano Sonata in C as being in A minor. It works pretty well, if you keep an "A" drone in your mind as a reference tone.

    You can do this with any "root" of any mode of C major, as well.

    If I'm really feeling adventurous, I keep a "B" drone in my head, and listen to the piece as if it were in B Locrian.
    Thanks. Now I'm even more curious about how the musical brain does what it does.

    I sit down to warm up and it's all right there from the recent past, ...and pieces I haven't heard in years. It's like talking. No thoughts or thinking required.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Charles Ives said his dad used to get them to sing a familiar hymn in C, while he would play the piano accompaniment in F# or something weird like that...just to exercise their ears.

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