Re: music-theory

>Date: Fri, 04 Nov 1994 17:20:37 +0100
>From: Karl Storck <karl@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>Subject: music-theory


>now to my question. it's about playing in different keys. what exactly
>does it mean. ok, i can believe that if two musicians are playing in
>different keys, it will sound yucky. (i have got a weak feeling for
>what a key is, VERY weak). 

Well, at least you have SOME idea.  I don't want to confuse I 
think another post on this subject may have, but it's hard to describe this 
in a way which won't at least risk being confusing.

There are 12 different key signatures, one for each of the twelve tones.  
These key signatures cover all the possible major, minor, and modal keys.  
A major scale in one key sounds very much like a major scale in any other 
key because the steps are the same for all major scales.  However, the 
pitches will be different.  One scale could start on C and another might 
start on E.  If you played them alone they would sound similar but if you 
recorded the first one and then played along with the recording in the 
other key you will hear how the pitches are different (this does not 
necessarily sound bad either).

Some instruments (like the harp) are in what is called "Concert pitch".  
This means that if you play a C on those instruments it is really a C that 
you hear.  There are also some other instruments (trumpets, saxes, french 
horns, etc.) that are NOT concert pitch (they are Bb, Eb or Bb, and F, 
respectively).  So when a Bb trumpet plays a C you don't actually hear a C 
you hear a Bb instead.  Now, if the trumpet player wants to play along with 
a harp or piano, then they have to play all their notes a whole step up 
from the note that the concert pitch instrument is they would 
play a D when the harp plays a C and its the SAME pitch that they hear.

The only time this is important is when you have a bunch of different 
instruments trying to play along with each other.

>but if one musician, playing one instrument, plays a song, written for one
>key, in a different key, what will the result be? different tone-level? how
>does scales fit in.

The most obvious result will be that the song will be higher or lower in 
pitch.  It's very common for a guitar player/singer to change the original 
key of a song to fit their singing range.  Or for a guitar player to play 
in a key that a harp player can get on the harp they have.  Even though the 
notes in the scale will have the same relationship to each other in the new 
key, the musicians have to be sure to play in the new key signature to 
preserve those relationships.

>so maybe, if i only play to myself, i can give the f..k about keys. for
>instance, i play 'when the saints' on my A-harp just as if it was a
>C-harp, i cant hear the differense. it sounds good to me.

You are right...when you're all by your lonesome then keys don't really 
matter.  But if you're trying to learn a song off a tape or cd (no-one uses 
LPs anymore, right?) then what harp is used and which key the song is in 
will determine what POSITION to use on the harp to get the notes you need 
to play that particular song.  Of course, once you learn the tune then it 
don't matter which harp you pick out to play it that repect 
positions are like keys...interchangable, with slight variations in the 
ease of certain techniques depending on the pitch of the reeds being played.

Hope this makes sense to you and hasen't been a total waste of bandwidth!

Bill Long >-- StarGazer

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