Have you ever thought about the effect of key signatures on your composing? Does it matter what key signature you compose in, or can you just transpose after the fact and thats that?
Key Signatures as Souls
Paolo Pietropaolo seems to think that’s not the case. He has put together a very fascinating series on key signatures and their “personalities”. Needless to say, I listened to all of these this morning, in a row, and I was captivated. They rang so true, that I couldn’t help but be moved. The sadness of G minor; the leadership of Eb major; the optimism of Db major; they all have a story to tell. These are all posted just a little ways down.
Composing in All Twelve Keys
I began a long time ago (actually only a little over a year as of writing this post) composing what I called 30 minute compositions. These were very short pieces, with a specific time constraint. They had to be completed in 30 minutes or less.
- 30 minutes from start to finish, minus a few formalities:
- I could pick the key signature, tempo and meter before hand.
- I could prep the manuscript paper before I started.
- The 30 minutes doesn’t include transcribing on the computer.
Inevitably, I would make a few “corrections” when transcribing on the computer, but overall, the piece was composed in 30 minutes, or I had to leave it.
Inevitably, as always seems to happen one way or another, my plan to compose through all keys major and minor was derailed. I went on to “bigger and better” things. I think I will start picking up where I left off and finish the task.
One of the things that struck me, and still strikes me, is when you decide on a key signature and meter before hand, the mood seems to take care of itself. It’s as if the keys have temperaments built in.
A Little Inspiration
D Major: Miss Congeniality
Joyful by nature, she sees the world through rose colored glasses. Listen to the last piece, and tell me if you recognize it… it’s the end to my favorite symphony of all time.
G Minor: Unsteady and Tragic
Mozart thought that it was the only key that could express sadness, and is the only minor key that he based two of his symphonies on… and no other symphonies were written in a minor key.
B Minor: A Gloomy Fellow
Funny that I chose B minor for my first piano sonata…
A Major: Something Just Out of Reach
I love it.
C Minor: A Misunderstood Genius
Maybe I need to compose more in C minor…
E Major: A Morning Person
He makes you question your own cynicism because he finds joy in the simplest things… that little bird at the top of the tree.
A Minor: Conflicted
She’s torn between how she always imagined her life would be, and how it actually turned out…
G Major: The Nicest Guy You’ll Ever Meet
He believes in taking the time to do things right. What he lacks in intellect, he makes up for in his persistent optimism.
D Minor: Sexy
Try to resist her dark temptations… she can turn on you in a split second. Hell hath no fury like D minor’s scorn.
Db Major: A Dreamer
She sees beauty in all things, you want to protect her… but she is fine on her own.
F# Minor: Freshly Fallen Snow
A hardened heart, she is petrified of people. Sometimes it just feels good to be sad.
Eb Major: A Hero
Eb major is good at everything. He climbs cliffs barehanded.
Keeping Track of This Series
If you want to keep up to date with this series, go to http://www.cbcmusic.ca/signatureseries.
Tell Me What You Think
How does key signature effect your composing?