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Thread: Key of the song based on the melody

  1. #51
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    Not at all sure what that distinction means. The form is AABA. What happens in the AA is that the progression after 16 bars, and only then, reaches a full A major cadence by a very tortuous route. But even through all interpolations and sidestepping it all somehow relates to an A major tonality. It *could* end with an A major cadence after 8 bars, but follows the ii-V with a turnaround leading back to the beginning, a false cadence, and we hear it as such.

    After the full A major cadence there's a ii-V signaling the key of F major; after 6 bars strongly anchored in that tonality there's a harmonic gesture clearly leading back to the A major tonality, with the F7 chord sort of just delaying the reentry to the original key. If these two places aren't key changes, then what is? Do key changes within a song structure even exist? What about The Song Is You, Body and Soul, In a Sentimental Mood? Whatever changes of "key centers" you detect in the outside (A) segments don't you hear the qualitative difference between these and the passage in and out of the bridge??

    There are people who "hear" a Rhythm bridge as several shifts of tonal centers; that's not the way I conceive it, really, and if I did I would certainly hear the qualitativer difference from, say, a full chorus of IGR, in Bb, followed (by way of an F# chord) by another chorus in B.

    Here is a very good analysis of the song.

    https://www.jazzstandards.com/compos...nthatdream.htm
    As I said, semantics. Technically, the key doesn't change unless the key signature changes, although key centers might change many times. Your own example, Body and Soul, does actually change Keys.

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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    First, I really enjoy how far afield this thread had gone. It is fascinating to read people who know way more than I do discuss how they they think about keys and harmony and tonal centers.

    But, back to the original poster, don't be intimidated by this and feel like you need to get deep into music theory to play Salt Creek. I think this thread exemplifies that there is always more to learn, and always more to think about, if you want. But you don't have to. Until you are ready.

    As NDO wrote above, "Every time I think I’m learning to swim a thread like this comes along and reminds me how vast is the ocean." But swimming is still fun.

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  4. #53

    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    Still thinking about this thread too in conjunction with another (several) thread about modes. Salt Creek, in being a “mixolydian” flat-7 based tune, is using a WWHWWHW scale. If you do the math and find the note in that sequence that is the beginning of the WWHWWWH major scale in the key of A, it’s D, which is the passing chord to the flat 7 G in Salt Creek and a number of other tunes. In D major, the G is the IV. So there is also an implied sequence of I-IV(I)-bVII(IV). I think Don is right that the “new” key is G instead of D because the G is much more impactful on the sound of the tune than the D. It lasts three times as long and is the most important tone in that sequence of melody. But it’s always fascinating how many layers these things have.

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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    Quote Originally Posted by lowtone2 View Post
    As I said, semantics. Technically, the key doesn't change unless the key signature changes, although key centers might change many times. Your own example, Body and Soul, does actually change Keys.

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    So this distinction is ďtechnicallyĒ about notation, not the music as such? That, of course, is a bit confusing to the many jazz players who learned much of the standard repertoire by ear. Also, does that mean that there never is a key change from one minor key to its relative major (or vice versa)? What about, e.g., My Funny Valentine (which I learned from a record, not notation).

    Body and Soul is generally considered to pass through the keys of Db, D, and C. In the Real Book only the passage from Db to D is signalled in the obvious way, by an A7 chord, and changing the key signature from five flats to two sharps. The passage from D to C is more subtle (ii-V-I) and not reflected in the key signature, which is unchanged until the return to the home key, Db (which is again somewhat subtle, since the A part doesnít start on the root chord).

    My guess is that this omission is made in the interest of readability, just as no one would signal all the key changes in All the Things in the key signature.

    But googling around Iíve also found a source (from an Eb book) where all three changes, Db to D, D to C, C to Db, are pedantically reflected in the key signature!

  6. #55
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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    So this distinction is “technically” about notation, not the music as such? That, of course, is a bit confusing to the many jazz players who learned much of the standard repertoire by ear. Also, does that mean that there never is a key change from one minor key to its relative major (or vice versa)? What about, e.g., My Funny Valentine (which I learned from a record, not notation).

    Body and Soul is generally considered to pass through the keys of Db, D, and C. In the Real Book only the passage from Db to D is signalled in the obvious way, by an A7 chord, and changing the key signature from five flats to two sharps. The passage from D to C is more subtle (ii-V-I) and not reflected in the key signature, which is unchanged until the return to the home key, Db (which is again somewhat subtle, since the A part doesn’t start on the root chord).

    My guess is that this omission is made in the interest of readability, just as no one would signal all the key changes in All the Things in the key signature.

    But googling around I’ve also found a source (from an Eb book) where all three changes, Db to D, D to C, C to Db, are pedantically reflected in the key signature!

    Right. Yes, a key change is a change in key signature. That's how it's taught, although yes, all jazz musicians understand that they are moving through changing tonalities. The words have to mean something.

    So, you’re going to play Ask Me Now, and everybody wants to know what key? Are you going to say it starts with 2 beats in the key of F, then 2 beats in the key of E, 2 more beats in the key of Eb, the D, and evenually it gets to the key of Db and stays there mostly until the A section comes back around. No, you probably just say we’re playing it in Db. That’s the key monk wrote it in.

    I think it's pretty rare for someone to learn a standard strictly by ear these days, but say you're unfamiliar with it and trying to pick it up on the bandstand. You just hear a couple of bars of descending dominants, or ii Vs, until it gets to the key of the piece.
    Last edited by lowtone2; Aug-07-2021 at 1:42am.

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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    “Right. Yes, a key change is a change in key signature.” There seems to be no universal agreement on that “definition”, and I’ve never heard of it before.

    For instance, Wikipedia states that a key change (modulation) may, or may not, be accompanied by a change in key signature. The Britannica gives two Beethoven examples, one with frequent changes of key signature, and one with frequent key (center) changes within a fixed key signature. I’ve read somewhere (I don’t own any classical scores) that in classic sonata form movements it is customary not to distinguish the two themes by signature although they usually are in different keys.

    At the same time, most scores I’ve seen of harmonically simple tunes like the Clarinet Polka, faithfully and pedantically notate the various sections in the keys of Bb, F, and Eb.

    Whichever happens is largely a matter of convenience and convention. In popular music it may depend on who devised the piano arrangement for publication, or whatever. There is no musical reason why at least the Real Book changes key signatures in the bridge of Body and Soul and not Darn that Dream, which is very firmly rooted in Eb. Or why Ask Me Now is printed without key signature although it lands very safely on a Db chord.

    By contrast Ruby, My Dear was one of the first Monk tunes I tried to learn (without access to a score), and the easiest part was identifying the three ii-V-I’s in the beginning; only on purchasing a Monk book did I learn that the third of them determines the key signature (Ab) , but not really why.How does it end?

    To me Monk ballads like Ruby, Monk’s Mood, and Pannonica, are best analyzed as harmony+melody with little reference to key centers (and, for that reason, were probably very poor choices for me trying to learn jazz harmony decades ago).

    All the Things is often described as passing through five different keys (or key centers) but not notated as such, as that would make the score all but unreadable. The knowledgeable player will note the symmetries anyway: bars 9-16 are the same as 1-8, melodically and harmonically, but a fourth lower. The bridge is similarly made up of ii-V-I’s in G and E, ending with a chord that leads to the final 12 bars, which firmly establish the home key.

    Ah, yes, that’s the word, “establish”. The musical reason for never changing signatures in the first 24 bars of All the Things could be that no key is really *established*.

    And that’s the reason I never accepted the idea of a Rhythm Bridge passing through three different tonalities. What I hear is simply: “step out, circle in”, just as I hear “circle out, step in” in, e.g., Stompin’ at the Savoy.

  8. #57
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    Ok.

  9. #58

    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    Quote Originally Posted by lowtone2 View Post
    Technically, the key signature does determine the key, but practically all american musics that are based on dance music of the british isles or blues or a combination of the two are exceptions that at least bend the rule.


    I think.
    The key signature does NOT determine the key. It tells you which notes are the default notes for that piece. Every key signature can be used for two keys (major and minor) and several modes.

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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    Yes! The key signature is merely a way of avoiding clutter in the notation. You could write in every accidental and have no sharps and flats but this makes for a cleaner look on the page.
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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    Quote Originally Posted by David L View Post
    The key signature does NOT determine the key. It tells you which notes are the default notes for that piece. Every key signature can be used for two keys (major and minor) and several modes.
    Right.

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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    Key signature does not "determine" the key, but it is a strong indicator. When used properly, it determines the default notes for the piece and indicates the major key, its relative minor key, or one of the associated modes. That's why we call it a "key signature" - it is meant to signify the key of the piece or passage, which can be major, relative minor or another mode.

    Whether or not a key signature is used properly falls upon the author or transcriber who writes the notation.

    This is one good reason to understand the relative modes of a key, rather than only studying modes in parallel key relationships.
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    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Key signature does not "determine" the key, but it is a strong indicator. When used properly, it determines the default notes for the piece and indicates the major key, its relative minor key, or one of the associated modes. That's why we call it a "key signature" - it is meant to signify the key of the piece or passage, which can be major, relative minor or another mode.

    Whether or not a key signature is used properly falls upon the author or transcriber who writes the notation.

    This is one good reason to understand the relative modes of a key, rather than only studying modes in parallel key relationships.
    This seems to be the consensus on Mandolin Cafe at least. So, next time I'm asked a question like "in which key are we playing this piece" my answer should be " i don't know, bur the key signature indicates that it could possibly be in A Major, E Minor, or any associated mode, but it might change many times without a corresponding change in key signature".

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    A consensus on MandolinCafe? Unheard of.
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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    My point is that a key signature signifies information about the key to the piece or passage. One sharp points to the key of Gmaj; we’re also trained to understand it may signify Em (the sixth mode of Gmaj), and by analogy we know it could signify other modes of Gmaj

    With all the talk of “key signature” not “determining” the key, I think it’s important to point out that a key signature actually does a fair job of signifying a key - a major key - to which the modal tonics relate. That’s all
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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    Quote Originally Posted by lowtone2 View Post
    This seems to be the consensus on Mandolin Cafe at least. So, next time I'm asked a question like "in which key are we playing this piece" my answer should be " i don't know, bur the key signature indicates that it could possibly be in A Major, E Minor, or any associated mode, but it might change many times without a corresponding change in key signature".
    Right...but really in practical situations in folk music, one will answer the question with a bunch of the above assumptions. "Yea, we are gonna play in A major." And the tune will go where it goes.
    However very often, if it is in a related minor, or a related mode, we will say that instead. So "what key" - answer we're gonna play it in F# minor. (and that tune will go wherever it goes.)
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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    Quote Originally Posted by David L View Post
    The key signature does NOT determine the key. It tells you which notes are the default notes for that piece. Every key signature can be used for two keys (major and minor) and several modes.

    More to the point is that the key signature often does not follow the various key changes within the piece. In AABA type 32-bar songs it is customary not to change the key signature in the bridge, even when it is in a different key bracketed by modulating passages or chords. By contrast, in pieces lika rags, polkas and marches, if the key changes from one section to the next, there usually is a corresponding change of key signature. I supppose this is because the various sections are closed units, as it were, contrasting, but not really connecting: after a full cadence in one section a new section begins, in a new key, without preparation. This impression is strengthened by the fact that sections often repeat.

    In other cases, equating "key change" with "change of key signature" leads to some confusing arbitrariness. The example of "Body and Soul" was discussed above. I've seen three different versions , one without changes in key signature, several that change on entering the bridge, and one with another change in the middle of the bridge.

    All these versions seem to be taken from fake books, which, of course, raises the question, what is the actual song? I like the story about Red Mitchell and Barney Kessel listening to a pianist in a restaurant butchering "Body and Soul". Apart from the poor execution the player had the tune all wrong, especially the chords. Mitchell and Kessel were so scandalized by this performance that they just had to find out who the player was. His name was Johnny Green.

  18. #67
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    Default Re: Key of the song based on the melody

    Yeah, I donít know about that one, but Iím willing to listen to any story that names those three. Especially Red Mitchell. And Barney Kessel. And Freddy Green.

    Oh! Johnny Green. The composer! I get it!
    Last edited by lowtone2; Aug-18-2021 at 7:33pm.

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