The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > PLAY and Write

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 02-10-2019, 08:11 AM
stanron stanron is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 2,134
Default The key to keys

For those who have access to it, BBC Radio 3 has a program called 'The Key To Keys' at 5 pm (UK time) this afternoon. The presenter "examines the significance of keys to composers throughout history, examining why there are 12 major and minor keys and how their use has changed over time."

I get the impression that this is intended to be accessible to the general public. It won't be an advanced theory course but it could be useful for anyone wanting to dip their toe in the water.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 02-10-2019, 10:53 AM
stanron stanron is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 2,134
Default

The bulk of the program was about tuning temperament and different solutions for the Pythagorean Comma. Equal temperament got a bit of a bashing. It wasn't all just talk. There were played examples of different tunings and how different music can sound in different keys. I find this stuff interesting.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-10-2019, 03:41 PM
Gjimmy Gjimmy is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 83
Default

Anywhere online we can find this program?
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-10-2019, 03:45 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: UK/EU
Posts: 13,761
Default

It will be online but only to those of us who pay for a licence, unless it is broadcast on the world service.

This sounds rather familiar to a series on Radio 4 where they discussed the emotions expressed by different keys.
__________________
Silly Moustache,
Elderly singer, guitarist, dobrolist and mandolinist.

https://www.youtube.com/user/SillyMoustache/videos
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-10-2019, 04:22 PM
stanron stanron is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 2,134
Default

This won't work for everyone but try this

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0002gts
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-11-2019, 06:27 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 4,634
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gjimmy View Post
Anywhere online we can find this program?
Just be aware it's all historical. None of it applies in modern equal temperament.

Even in earlier just intonations, it's largely BS, IMO. Different keys would have sounded more or less in tune compared to the main reference key, but any associated emotions would be subjective and elusive.

Doesn't make the program any less fascinating of course - in the same way as a survey of popular superstitions can be fascinating.
__________________
"There's only two kinds of music: good and bad. I like both kinds." - Duke Ellington.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02-11-2019, 06:38 AM
Nymuso Nymuso is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Posts: 834
Default

This interests me as well. I once played in Broadway pit band with a pianist who was also a piano technician. He told me he tunes the piano to optimize the keys in which he will be playing predominantly. To illustrate, he got out his wrenches, tuned the piano like he would in your living room and played a song from the show. He then put it in a "sweetened" tuning as he called it, and played the same song. The first one sounded fine but I could hear the difference in the second. There's something to this.
__________________
343
53 Hours
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02-11-2019, 06:42 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 4,634
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nymuso View Post
This interests me as well. I once played in Broadway pit band with a pianist who was also a piano technician. He told me he tunes the piano to optimize the keys in which he will be playing predominantly. To illustrate, he got out his wrenches, tuned the piano like he would in your living room and played a song from the show. He then put it in a "sweetened" tuning as he called it, and played the same song. The first one sounded fine but I could hear the difference in the second. There's something to this.
Sure. If you want to retune your instrument for every song you play... (And the vast majority of listeners wouldn't notice anyway.)
Of course, you could play everything in the same key, but that's something listeners probably will notice (and get bored with).

In fact, slide guitar players can do this by tuning to a pure tuned open chord. But then they do have to play every chord as the same 1-fret barre (although the slide helps them play melody notes in pure tuning, by avoiding the frets).
__________________
"There's only two kinds of music: good and bad. I like both kinds." - Duke Ellington.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 02-11-2019, 09:07 AM
stanron stanron is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 2,134
Default

The program is not primarily about keys and emotions, although that is mentioned. A harpsichord maker brings in a harpsichord tuned in an way optimised for one or two keys only and plays a piece by William Byrd. It sounds sweet. He then plays it in a different key and it sounds comically out of tune. He then changes the tuning to demonstrate other tuning conventions. Other musicians give demonstrations of different keyboard instruments tuned to different temperaments.

To achieve these different temperaments on guitar you would have to refret the instrument each time. At one time frets were gut or string tied around the neck and I presume that they could be moved.

Although equal temperament was spoken of as a bad thing the program showed that it is a compromise, and a compromise that guitar players have to live with.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02-11-2019, 09:18 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is online now
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 7,682
Default

Many, if not most concert classical guitarists will "tune" to each piece, as they know the idiosyncrasies of their individual instrument and know what needs to be "sweetened" to make a particular piece work best...
__________________
Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:

http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 02-11-2019, 09:33 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 4,634
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
Many, if not most concert classical guitarists will "tune" to each piece, as they know the idiosyncrasies of their individual instrument and know what needs to be "sweetened" to make a particular piece work best...
I don't doubt it. You need really good ears to do that!
__________________
"There's only two kinds of music: good and bad. I like both kinds." - Duke Ellington.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 02-11-2019, 09:46 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 4,634
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by stanron View Post
The program is not primarily about keys and emotions, although that is mentioned. A harpsichord maker brings in a harpsichord tuned in an way optimised for one or two keys only and plays a piece by William Byrd. It sounds sweet. He then plays it in a different key and it sounds comically out of tune. He then changes the tuning to demonstrate other tuning conventions. Other musicians give demonstrations of different keyboard instruments tuned to different temperaments.

To achieve these different temperaments on guitar you would have to refret the instrument each time. At one time frets were gut or string tied around the neck and I presume that they could be moved.
Yes. The original bowed viol family also had movable gut frets, before they decided to do without frets at all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by stanron View Post
Although equal temperament was spoken of as a bad thing the program showed that it is a compromise, and a compromise that guitar players have to live with.
True. It's a compromise we all live with, musicians and listeners alike.

In fact, most musicians (aside from keyboard players) can adjust intonation as they play, although one's ears have to be good enough to hear the microtonal differences.

Guitar frets are equal temperament, of course, but we still have our fingers on the strings, and can control tension to some degree.

IMO, the classical culture of vibrato (in singers as well as instruments capable of it) is all about smearing pitch in order to mask the out-of-tune nature of equal temperament - although it also demonstrates that precision of intonation is somewhat of a chimera: we're all actually quite happy with a tolerance either side of precise frequencies, and actually enjoy microtonal variations. "In tune" is all about "near enough" (within a few cents), not about mathematical exactness to the cent.

It's when pitches are fixed beyond the control of the performer (as in piano, organ and related instruments) that intonation and temperament becomes an issue.
__________________
"There's only two kinds of music: good and bad. I like both kinds." - Duke Ellington.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 02-11-2019, 04:01 PM
Chipotle Chipotle is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 207
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
I don't doubt it. You need really good ears to do that!
I don't know if they have to be that good... I do it all the time. I find I have to tweak my tuning slightly to make each key sound the best, at least on the open strings. I know it's a compromise once I start fretting but I figure I can at least start closer.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 02-18-2019, 03:05 PM
patrickgm60 patrickgm60 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: NorCal
Posts: 1,746
Default

Late to the thread; have been in China, where I was unable to access... pretty much everything.

Yes, a fascinating topic, that I haven't visited in a long time. Here's a link to more information:

http://www.biteyourownelbow.com/keychar.htm

Some of the key descriptions are very expressive. E.g. Bb minor:

"A quaint creature, often dressed in the garment of night. It is somewhat surly and very seldom takes on a pleasant countenance. Mocking God and the world; discontented with itself and with everything; preparation for suicide sounds in this key."

While equal temperament has "solved" much of the prior key selection problems faced by classical composers, the key characteristics are still there, if you can hear them. Chopin's music is a wonderful example of the use of various keys, to capture the mood/emotion of his pieces. Were he composing on a modern piano, I suspect he would have chosen the same keys. Playing his music in a different key, to me, "sounds wrong."
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 02-19-2019, 06:18 AM
stanron stanron is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 2,134
Default

Yes piano pieces in the 'wrong' key also got a mention. Also the times when publishers would transpose pieces in 'difficult' keys for reading into keys that were easier to read but actually more difficult to play.
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > PLAY and Write

Thread Tools



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:41 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=