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Minor key signatures are wrong

s&r 08 Jun 13 - 06:46 PM
Don Firth 08 Jun 13 - 03:05 PM
GUEST,leeneia 08 Jun 13 - 11:51 AM
GUEST,larehip 08 Jun 13 - 11:22 AM
s&r 08 Jun 13 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,Kritzblieg 07 Jun 13 - 08:17 PM
Don Firth 07 Jun 13 - 07:56 PM
GUEST,Hotpole 07 Jun 13 - 07:47 PM
s&r 07 Jun 13 - 07:19 PM
GUEST,Hotpole 07 Jun 13 - 06:56 PM
Don Firth 07 Jun 13 - 06:48 PM
Rumncoke 07 Jun 13 - 05:04 PM
Don Firth 07 Jun 13 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,KP 07 Jun 13 - 01:47 PM
Jack Campin 07 Jun 13 - 01:11 PM
Don Firth 07 Jun 13 - 12:37 PM
Manitas_at_home 07 Jun 13 - 12:20 PM
s&r 07 Jun 13 - 07:47 AM
Gibb Sahib 07 Jun 13 - 06:01 AM
Jack Campin 07 Jun 13 - 04:47 AM
IanC 07 Jun 13 - 04:01 AM
GUEST,Futwick 06 Jun 13 - 10:17 PM
GUEST,Futwick 06 Jun 13 - 10:16 PM
Jack Campin 06 Jun 13 - 08:59 PM
Jack Campin 06 Jun 13 - 08:48 PM
GUEST,KP 06 Jun 13 - 04:27 PM
Highlandman 06 Jun 13 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 06 Jun 13 - 04:04 AM
Jack Campin 05 Jun 13 - 08:10 PM
Don Firth 05 Jun 13 - 07:48 PM
Don Firth 05 Jun 13 - 07:34 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jun 13 - 06:38 PM
dick greenhaus 05 Jun 13 - 06:01 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jun 13 - 05:44 PM
Gibb Sahib 05 Jun 13 - 05:37 PM
Highlandman 05 Jun 13 - 05:05 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jun 13 - 04:12 PM
Don Firth 05 Jun 13 - 03:22 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jun 13 - 03:18 PM
Don Firth 05 Jun 13 - 02:56 PM
Highlandman 05 Jun 13 - 02:49 PM
Gibb Sahib 05 Jun 13 - 02:40 PM
Highlandman 05 Jun 13 - 02:37 PM
Highlandman 05 Jun 13 - 02:36 PM
Don Firth 05 Jun 13 - 02:17 PM
Will Fly 05 Jun 13 - 04:07 AM
GUEST 04 Jun 13 - 11:45 PM
Don Firth 04 Jun 13 - 10:42 PM
GUEST,Futwick 04 Jun 13 - 09:54 PM
GUEST,Futwick 04 Jun 13 - 09:49 PM
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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: s&r
Date: 08 Jun 13 - 06:46 PM

I agree Leeneia. Don is one of the mudcatters whose erudition adds to this valuable resource of Mudcat

Stu


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 Jun 13 - 03:05 PM

Thanks for the kind words, Leeneia.

I feel fortunate that I've actually been able to make a career for myself by singing for audiences. I haven't become famous, but that was not the point. I'm reasonably well-known in this area, and I've been able to make a living by singing for people.

I love the idea of being a "minstrel," part of an ages-old tradition. And I've always believed that it's better to know more than I need to know than to blunder around not knowing what I'm doing.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 08 Jun 13 - 11:51 AM

Don, has anybody ever told you how smart you are and how wise, when it comes to really making music? If not, I'm doing so now.

There are so many people who come to the Mudcat just to argue, but you are a catter with a true love for music.

There, I said it.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,larehip
Date: 08 Jun 13 - 11:22 AM

That I can believe.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: s&r
Date: 08 Jun 13 - 05:10 AM

The subtlety escaped me.

Wow

Stu


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Kritzblieg
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 08:17 PM

**For singing purposes and for a ready reference for the songs I have learned, I have all manner of sheet music and charts, most of which I have written out myself. Melodies with words attached or written out, chord symbols, more complicated guitar riffs written out. . . . I keep this material in notebooks for ready reference when needed. I do, however, leave them at home when I perform somewhere or go to an informal song fest. When I perform, I don't use "crib sheets."**

Yeah, me neither. I see people go up with lyric sheets and all that. If I can't get through a song without reminders then I'm not ready. I don't take a chart when I perform solo and don't need one. I use them to rearrange songs so they don't get stale to perform. Sometimes I have a chart when I play in a group but often I have nothing or I'm peering over another musician's shoulder looking at his sheet music.

**I can't speak for private music teachers, Hotpole, but at both the University of Washington School of Music and the Cornish College of the Arts, a course called "Sight Singing and Ear Training" was required for all music students. This included being able to sing intervals at sight (major thirds, minor sixths, etc.), complete with clues, such as the opening notes of well-known songs.
I can't imagine a decent music school or conservatory not teaching this material. In fact, I recall seeing it in one of the "For Dummies" books. "Music Theory for Dummies" or "Singing for Dummies." Can't recall exactly.**

The good thing about solid ear training is that it gives a better sense of intonation. A lot of rock songs I've heard over the years, the lead singer often isn't that good. He or she is off a bit--sometimes a lot. Listen to the opening line of "Ruby Tuesday" and listen to Jagger trying to sing "from". It's godawful. Jack Bruce is much more precise even though he wasn't a singer most of the time but he was a classically trained cellist. Listen to "As You Said" for an example.

**Another required course at Cornish was "Music Calligraphy." How to write or copy music manuscripts clearly and readably.**

I have some real sheet music from that period that I bought online for $80 per page. Nice illuminated. By monks I assume. Latin. Kept in glass frames. No idea what piece or pieces the two pages represent.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 07:56 PM

For singing purposes and for a ready reference for the songs I have learned, I have all manner of sheet music and charts, most of which I have written out myself. Melodies with words attached or written out, chord symbols, more complicated guitar riffs written out. . . . I keep this material in notebooks for ready reference when needed. I do, however, leave them at home when I perform somewhere or go to an informal song fest. When I perform, I don't use "crib sheets."

"One of the things that is wrong with how music is taught is that rarely is ear training part of it."

I can't speak for private music teachers, Hotpole, but at both the University of Washington School of Music and the Cornish College of the Arts, a course called "Sight Singing and Ear Training" was required for all music students. This included being able to sing intervals at sight (major thirds, minor sixths, etc.), complete with clues, such as the opening notes of well-known songs.

Examples:   A minor third—the first two notes of "Greensleeves," a major sixth—the first two notes of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean," etc., and on through all the other intervals. I still have the textbook (entitled, oddly enough Sight Singing and Ear Training) for the course on my bookshelf.

I can't imagine a decent music school or conservatory not teaching this material. In fact, I recall seeing it in one of the "For Dummies" books. "Music Theory for Dummies" or "Singing for Dummies." Can't recall exactly.

Another required course at Cornish was "Music Calligraphy." How to write or copy music manuscripts clearly and readably.

Don Firth

P. S. Why is it that I hear so much about what music teachers and music schools don't teach from people who have never taken music lessons or never gone to a music school?


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Hotpole
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 07:47 PM

Erm, it's a reversal of pothole, dummy. Looks like I'm not the only one who's confused around here.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: s&r
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 07:19 PM

Another tasteless pseudonym heading a confused post. Sad Josepp sad

Stu


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Hotpole
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 06:56 PM

**In fact, in your last two examples, there is no way of showing what the melody line is. And simply chords and rhythm isn't going to do it.**

You can write the melody line on the staff, Don. That's a very common convention, in fact.

Also, you can take any standard piece of sheet music and make it into a chart. Takes a bit of practice. And when you learn the rules of how to embellish your structure, you can redo it in any number of ways. And you can reuse structures to make new songs. Junior Brown has a whole slew of songs that follow the same formula but yet each has its own character. Now, I don't know if he uses charts but if you made charts of these songs, there would be very little difference between them.

**I was a jazz bassist in my earlier days, until I felt like if I heard one more "ii-V7-I" my head would explode.**

Nobody is a jazz musician in their earlier days. You were, perhaps, a jazz student. You obviously were not a jazz musician just by making that statement. No shame in that but you can still learn to use a chart for whatever it is you can play.

***It does mean that I sometimes have to make up a tune because the dots stubbornly refuse to become a tune.***

One of the things that is wrong with how music is taught is that rarely is ear training part of it. I think everyone should ear train FIRST and THEN learn the dots. You have to have a musical idea that you can set the dots to. You can't just start drawing the dots and a piece of manuscript paper and suddenly a song magically appears on the page. Nothing turns a kid who wants to learn music off faster than throwing a bunch of sheet music in front of him. Help him develop his ear first and then he'll do a lot better learning the notation part of it.

Some people never learn it even though they play and sing pretty good. The Beatles certainly come to mind here. There's an emotional side and an intellectual side to music. Without the emotional component, no one is motivated enough to learn the intellectual side. Ear training is that emotional component because it gets you going quickly. Right off the bat, you're playing songs instead of sitting there plucking note exercises out on a printed page wondering when you're going to get to the good stuff. How can you gauge how good you are if you can't play anything but exercises? Once you hit an impasse in your ear training where suddenly you can't do a certain thing then the intellectual, practical side kicks in and you realize that to be able to play that requires exercises that you need to master. To me, that's how it should be done.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 06:48 PM

A common error made by many people who do not read music—folkoid types in particular—is that you are ruled by the dots.

No, you are not!

Being able to read music is an extremely valuable tool. A singer of songs who cannot read music is extremely limited, and can learn songs only by what they have an opportunity to hear, not unlike an aspiring poet who refuses to learn to read, for fear that being able to read will "limit his creativity."

Balderdash!!

If I have a good reason to depart from the written music, then there is nothing preventing me from doing so.

However, if I were playing in an orchestra or ensemble of some kind and refused to play the notes as written, then the conductor or leader of the group would undoubtedly, and quite rightly, remove me from the group. And, for that matter, if you are playing in a session—a folk music session—and insist on playing a G7 when everyone else is playing a D, you can expect to find yourself duck-walked to the back alley and inserted head down in the Dumpster.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Rumncoke
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 05:04 PM

Having tried to learn to read the dots several times I find it frustrating that the sense of it still eludes me - but sometimes - just sometimes - I am so glad that it is still a closed book to me and that my music is just the music and not the dots.

It does mean that I sometimes have to make up a tune because the dots stubbornly refuse to become a tune.

Perhaps that is no bad thing, the world could do with a few more tunes - but if you want them you will have to do the man on the bicycle thing and come along to catch the tune out of the air.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 02:16 PM

IanC, I agree with you up to a point, but there are a couple of major problems with insisting on keeping folk music strictly "oral tradition."

Prepare for lengthy dissertation:

Many of us who are currently singing folk songs and calling ourselves "folk singers" are not born and raised in the oral, folk tradition. I think I'm probably pretty typical. I was born and raised in a big city, and almost all of the songs I heard sung by other people were songs they had learned off the radio—generally commercial, "tin-pan-alley" songs. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, etc. Or later, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, et al.

I had heard Burl Ives and Susan Reed on the radio (this was in the 1940s) and I found the songs interesting and intriguing because, instead of the usual "moon-June" stuff, they were about something, often historical events. For example, Burl Ives' series of Sunday afternoon programs, one of which described the history of the Erie Canal, with him illustrating with songs, for example.

When I got to college, I ran into a few fellow students who were avidly interested in folk music, and were singing folk songs and ballads to simple guitar accompaniments—including a quite young Sandy Paton who was living in Seattle at the time. I bought a cheap (but playable) guitar and a stack of records that were recommended to me, and started learning songs from them. Burl Ives, Susan Reed, Richard Dyer-Bennet, Joe Hansen ("Stranger from the Sea")—and some banjo player named Pete Seeger.

And I ALSO bought a copy of Carl Sandburg's The American Songbag, a copy of Best Loved American Folk Songs (Folksong U.S.A. compiled by John and Alan Lomax, and a whole stack of other song books.

My younger sister was taking piano lessons at the time, and she showed me how to read music well enough so that I could "one finger" the tunes on the piano. A couple of years later, by now seriously interested, I took voice lessons and classical guitar lessons (because the teacher showed me how to use my right hand fingers rather than making me use a pick). Then, eventually, I changed my college major to music.

Any kind of formal training is considered a "no-no!" by many self-styled folk musicians, but I wanted to learn fast—and I did. However, I do not sound like an opera singer and I keep my song accompaniments fairly simple and straightforward.

I know hundreds of songs, only a dozen or so I have actually learned from other people in person. The vast majority of my repertoire has been derived from the records of other singers and learned from my collection of song books, ranging from a 35˘ paperback copy of A Treasury of Folk Songs by John and Sylvia Kolb to Cecil J. Sharp's two volume set, English Folk Songs in the Southern Appalachians. About ten or twelve feet of bookshelf space devoted to various collections of folk songs and ballads. With words and written music.

Athough I, in no way, imitate him (among other things, our voices are entirely different, and I think he sometimes goes a bit too far in his arrangements), I tend to agree with Richard Dyer-Bennet when he said that, unless you were born and raised in the tradition and learn your songs orally while you are growing up, you are not and never will be a true folk singer. The nearest you can be, especially if you strive to sing this material professionally for audiences, is the modern equivalent of a minstrel.

I agree.

When Richard Dyer-Bennet sings a folk song in his high, clear, cultivated tenor voice, to the accompaniment of a fairly elaborate classical guitar accompaniment, the song itself that he sings is STILL a folk song, even if at that point, due to the way he does it, it sounds like an art song.   

Okay. Let the rock-throwing begin.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,KP
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 01:47 PM

Jack,
Thanks for the link fascinating stuff. Btw his blog works fine in my version of Safari
KP


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 01:11 PM

Perhaps the notation josepp is really after is like this:

http://www.stockhausensociety.org/intuitive-music.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aus_den_sieben_Tagen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3np6_YqK4LI (amazing piece of street performance)


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 12:37 PM

Futwick, all the examples you have given so far of systems you prefer to standard notation do not give anywhere near complete information in the same way that standard notation does.

In fact, in your last two examples, there is no way of showing what the melody line is. And simply chords and rhythm isn't going to do it.

I'll stick to standard notation, thank you. Simple. Easy enough to learn if you pay attention. And complete information.

But like simply reading a letter or a book, you have to exert a little energy to learn how to do it, and once you do, it's easy, it's very useful, and can give you all the information you need to sing the piece in question, and/or play it on the instrument it's written for or transcribe it to the instrument(s) of your choice.

Inclusive. Versatile.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 12:20 PM

"Every musician can use the same exact chart for his instrument"

Well no, actually. Percussionists for one group melody players for another. We can't all be privileged to be accompanists!


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: s&r
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 07:47 AM

Jack - well spotted as josepp

Stu


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 06:01 AM

...schlock are exactly the sort of thing that drove a lot of us into traditional music,...

True, Jack. I was a jazz bassist in my earlier days, until I felt like if I heard one more "ii-V7-I" my head would explode. It's a shame, but I gave up jazz entirely (not because I thought jazz was bad in general...just that you were generally expected to *play*, the bread and butter, was pointless chord progressions). Jazz is good when its about other things, e.g. a compelling dialogue between the musicians. When it's mediocre, it's people chasing around an overabundance of ridiculous chords.

So yes, Futwick, I for one know how jazz bassists "walk the bass." But I find a lot of other bass lines more compelling than the stuff improvised on a bass to follow around the secondary dominant after secondary dominant around and around and round until it finally all ends with a cheesy syncopation. It can feel like an endless game of hopscotch.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 04:47 AM

Berklee academic jazz theory is great if you want whatever kind of music you know to sound like a demo track by a band of Berklee graduates.

If you want it to sound like itself, you don't want to go anywhere near that jazz crap.

(Covers of Oscar Hammerstein schlock are exactly the sort of thing that drove a lot of us into traditional music, looking for real feeling unprocessed by business-driven stylistic formulas).

Who would want to add jazz chordings to this?

Georgian lullaby

(And josepp, why did you change your guest id? Maybe you realized everybody was getting bored with you?)


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: IanC
Date: 07 Jun 13 - 04:01 AM

I'm tired of reading this stuff.

Surely, you understand that FOLK music in particular has little need for any kind of notation since it is characteristically transmitted and learned orally.

Whatever you're doing when you " play off a chart", it isn't folk as far as I'm concerned.

Sorry, but there it is.

If you want to be clever, keep on with it. Folk isn't clever.

:-s


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 10:17 PM

Now let's look at a more complex chart:

http://www.jazzguitar.be/images/lessons/ATTYA-Key-Centers.gif

Here the key centers are given above the brackets and this time they change throughout the song. So even though the key of the song is Ab major, some of the key centers have us playing in C maj, G maj and E maj. But wouldn't that clash? No. Try it. It's perfect and beautiful sounding. Again, following the chords and the actual key doesn't matter. The accidentals automatically fall into place. Isn't that beautiful?

Look at the first key center progression—F, Bb, Ab, Eb, Db—right along the circle of 5ths on the "fourths" side (counterclockwise). The second key center is C major and the progression is D G C or ii-V7-I. Again, lined up in row along the circle of 5ths. What could be more beautiful than that? The G major key center uses the same progression—ii-V7-I—check it out.

Now you might ask how a bassist would use this chart. He can't strum the chord so he'll play each note separately in a variety of patterns that he can choose from. It's how jazz bassists walk the bass. You probably never knew how they know what notes to use from one bar to the next. Now you know—they play the notes in the chord indicated for that bar. If there are two chords in a bar then he play both using just root-5th for each or maybe root-3rd—whatever he wants. Wow, how cool is that?!

And look! It doesn't matter what the clef is! Every musician can use the same exact chart for his instrument! Even modern classical composers make use of this system. Folk can use it, rock can use it, country can use it. Write a song and make a chart out of it and watch all the hidden musical secrets spill out of it and then embellish it and see how you have virtually infinite variations you can make of that song nd can mix them together on the fly if you want to.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 10:16 PM

A tonal center (aka a key center, a tonic center, etc) is a groups of chords in a piece that give a strong impression of being in a certain key regardless of what key the song is actually in.

There are used quite a lot in jazz and blues but can be used for any type of music except classical which is slavishly devoted playing the note of the written page exactly as it is written. Key centers are useful for improvisation and most forms of modern music resort to some amount of improv. Key centers often do not even have notes on the staff. They aren't necessary. Really, the time signature isn't necessary most of the time since, in modern music, were are usually dealing with 4/4 and occasionally 2/4 and 3/4. A more exotic time would require the time to be written down. Usually, when you see a chart, the key signature and time are included for reference but aren't necessary.

When I play off a chart, I don't even look at the key signature since it doesn't matter. If you're playing an old folk standard, you don't want some sheet music. You want to know what chords you're going to be playing but you want to put them together your own way. Who wants to play it exactly the same way Dave Van Ronk or Pete Seeger did it? Maybe you liked their version and decided to do that song but it's such a standard that you want to put your own stamp on it. Tonal centers will allow that.

What you have to know before you start is your scales and particularly your chords. You have to know those by heart. And you have to know structure. I was taught it by rote but I found that the circle of fifths helps. Here's a key center chart:

http://www.guitar4free.com/images/jazz-blues-in-f.png

This one is a single tonal center and it's been mapped out for us. The first bar is F7, the second is Bb7. Notice F as tonic going up to Bb is a perfect 4th (picture the circle of 5ths and notice that F and Bb are next to each other counterclockwise which is the "fourths" direction). Now it just alternates between IV and I for a bit and then goes to a VI before shifting to a G-7 chord. Then the G-7 jumps to a C7. Again, G and C are next to each other on the circle of 5ths. with G as the tonic in this interval it is a fourth. G is the ii and the C is the V. But of what? Of the key center--which is what?

Well, if G is ii in the scale then what is I? F. So the key center is F. Then notice the progression of the last line: ii-V-I-VI-ii-V. In modern music, a huge number of songs are ii-V(7) but many are ii-V(7)-I. The VI (which is usually minor but is dominant 7 in this case because jazz likes to do that) is thrown in and many songs are also I-vi-ii-V (in fact, this is called the "doo-wop progression" because that's how doo-wop is structured--I-vi-ii-V).

Notice how it doesn't matter a wit what the key of the song is. All you need to look at is those chords. All the accidentals and what not will take care of themselves. When you want an accidental, you do what this chart does in the second bar of the second line and write a a diminished or augmented chord.

The beauty of the key center approach is that you break the song down into it's harmonic structure which always follows along the circle of 5ths. You can embellish the chart anyway you want and you can do it on the fly which is why it is so useful for improv.

Notice it doesn't even have notes. Why? Because we don't care. We don't need to care. The chords tell us what notes are available for each bar and we can put them together as we please


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 08:59 PM

Found it!

http://traffic.libsyn.com/shumays/PPerform_019_2007-02-02.mp3

Now save it - it's not easy to locate. It's in his blog

http://shumays.libsyn.com/

which is hellish to read in my browser.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 08:48 PM

I think Shumays is the guy who did that demo/lecture:

http://maqamlessons.com/analysis/index.html

but I can't see it on his site.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,KP
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 04:27 PM

To Jack Campin:
Jack, recent postings to this thread have reminded me of a fascinating link you posted some time ago: about an Egyptian Musicologist demonstrating the numbers of intervals that he could fit into the gap (I seem to recall) between our Western notes. I think it was 12 notes between a major second and a forth (i.e. where we just have a minor and major third). I can't find the link searching through your postings, but perhaps you can remember when you posted it so I can narrow down the search. Or perhaps you recall the link itself? (he said hopefully). Thanks in advance!

KP


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Highlandman
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 02:44 PM

Gibb Sahib - I think I mentioned somewhere that I don't know much about Eastern music. I just hooked onto something I had read regarding Turkish musicians recently and overgeneralized it I guess. Anyway it wasn't an important point.

Then I thought a while about tablature for keyboard instruments, and I think it would look like the piano-roll view in a Midi sequencer, not like a staff. Not very readable, at least in real time.

In fact the general compromise with notation systems seems to be that the more accurate you try to make it, the less human readable it becomes.

-G


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 06 Jun 13 - 04:04 AM

So far as I can see, the OP hasn't suggested an alternative.

The established system seems to work well enough, using accepted conventions, and is flexible enough to accommodate variations, including using unconventional key signatures where they are useful.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 08:10 PM

Staff notation was invented for singers, not keyboard players. The first staff notation for voices predates the first written keyboard music by about 300 years.

Textual/numeric notations predate staff notation, have the same expressiveness, and are still in use. Ancient Greek notation has evolved into Byzantine chant notation (maybe the most legible musical notation of all time); sol-fa is still used and has given rise to jianpu, the major notation system used in China; most people here know what you can do with ABC. Staff notation has the advantage of familiarity to us today, but it would never have evolved if the Western chant community had known what you could do with the Greek/Arabic notation system current in their own time in Muslim and Orthodox Europe.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 07:48 PM

Voila!!

(CLICKY).

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 07:34 PM

Dick, that may be the way it was initially developed, but it worked so well for other instruments that it was very quickly adopted by all musicians in the Western European tradition as THE standard method of notation.

Singers can sight read from the current more generalized system than they could from, say, lute tablature. The current system graphically displays note and interval relationships, whereas, if a singer didn't already play the lute, they could not get that kind of information directly from looking at lute tablature,

Pianists, violinists, cellists, clarinetists, players of the French horn, organists—and generally wander through the whole orchestra, band, choir. Then take a look at the "fake books" used by jazz musicians.

The song collections by the Lomaxes, Cecil Sharp, Carl Sandburg, and many, many others. I've got nine feet of this kind of material on my book shelves. Hell's bells, even John Jacob Niles!

As I keep saying, it works. Other cultures have their own systems, and as has been noted, some of them are adopting standard Western notation as the basis of their systems, then adapting and modifying to their particular needs (such as writing it from right to left, which is what they are used to). Not unlike certain standard orchestral instruments, refered to as "transposition instruments" with which the musician reads in one key, but the music comes out in another (CLICKY).

As to ash-canning the present system of notation in preference to someone's "new and brilliant idea" (spawned, perhaps, by their own inability, or reluctance to spend the time and effort to adequately learn the existing system) would, I think, be a pretty hard sell to the millions of musicians who have been using and getting along fine with the current system.

All those musicians you'd have to retrain, all those shelves of books and stacks of sheet music you'd have to transcribe to the new sustem, then reprint. . . .

And the guy who plays a Bb clarinet would really be up a tree!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 06:38 PM

Here is an example of Middle Eastern music notation. The same piece as first notated - it was one of the first fully notated pieces ever in that tradition - and a transcription of it using modern conventions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArquhP9siE4

http://www.mikeouds.com/messageboard/files.php?pid=94026&aid=25910

The original presented in the YouTube clip (by a Pole known as "Ali Ufki" at the Ottoman court) is in Western-ish staff notation, written right to left.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 06:01 PM

"Tablature is NOT the same as notation."
Not quite true. Standard notation is tablature for keyboard instruments.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 05:44 PM

There is no traditional notation system for Middle Eastern music whoch does microtonality in any special way. What people do is supplement Western staff notation by a few extra bits of information:

- a microtonal key signature
- microtonal accidentals if needed
- explicit statement of the intervallic and rhythmic modes at the top of the page.

There are a few competing ways to do it (Turkish folk musicians and classical musicians name modes and microtones differently) but if you know one you can work out the others.

David Parfitt's pages are a good introduction:

http://www.oud.eclipse.co.uk/theory.html


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 05:37 PM

Middle Eastern musicians seem to have been abandoning their traditional (microtonal) notation for a modified Western staff-based one.

No, they haven't.

IIRC, 1932 is when Arab musicologists widely adopted an expanded version of Western notation, with lots of practical compromises, to improve on the Western notation they'd *already* been using.

The theoretical language of Arab, Persian, and Turkish systems recognize more notes in the octave than does the 19th century Western system, but all the notational systems have an imperfect (however conventional) relationship to written notation. Middle Eastern musicians and Western musicians all know how to read between the lines of conventional notation to achieve the intended pitches—within the context.

The big difference is that the Middle Eastern art musics emphasize mode (melodic line) and don't care much for harmony—an emphasis of Western tonal music.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Highlandman
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 05:05 PM

Modern 5-line staff notation is inherently biased toward the 8-note diatonic octave. (Hence the weirdness of double sharps and flats.) Our ordinary "minor key" is not really a simple 8-note division of the octave. It's an conflaguration of several different strands of musical thought run together during the late Baroque / early Classical period, when tunings and scales were being squished into a standardized music theory. No surprise that the notation system is not as up to the job as F/W would like, but it's what we have.

Here's an interesting grass-is-greener item to ponder: while Western jazzmen have been searching for years for a workable microtonal notation system, Middle Eastern musicians seem to have been abandoning their traditional (microtonal) notation for a modified Western staff-based one.

-G


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 04:12 PM

There was nothing new in the way Sharp wrote things down. As I said, modal key signatures predate tonal ones, and there was no difference between Sharp's conventions and those of a typical Scottish music manuscript compiled 200 years earlier. There were only a few decades in between when the conventional wisdom had it that 2 sharps meant D major.

Sharp was pretty unsophisticated compared with Bartok - the transcription methods Bartok used record far more information. The British gentleman-amateur approach never caught up with the best practice in the field until there wasn't any primary material left to notate.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 03:22 PM

Cross posted.

Also, Gibb Sahib, that, too, makes sense.

Key signatures are pretty much specific to music of the Western European tradition and are perfectly functional and adequate for notating the folk music of those countries (but speaking specifically of folk music of the British Isles and North America).

When a folk melody is modal, standard notation is also quite adequate for that as well--as Cecil J. Sharp noted when doing his collecting for his monumental English Folk Songs in the Southern Appalachians.

Many of the early collectors, when working in the field, assumed that these singers were unschooled and sometimes sang wrong notes, and they made what they thought were corrections. Sharp, on the other hand wrote down (in standard notation) what he actually heard, and discovered that many of the old modes were alive and well and were still being sung by traditional singers.

High marks for Professor Sharp!

Key signatures, plus any needed additional sharp, flat, or natural signs (called "accidentals") prove perfectly adequate.

Unless one were venturing into Indonesian gamelan music. Or Indian ragas, for example, in which case I would look up my old friend Nazir, who plays the sitar, and get him to give me a rundown on that kind of music.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 03:18 PM

Normally "tonal centre" means what they called "finalis" in chant, but culturally generalized. There are wider uses of the word: in his description of the Turkish makam system, Signell uses it for any of the defined cadential points in the mode (usually four of them, including what would have been called "reciting tone" or "flex" in chant theory).

The term doesn't presuppose anything at all about chords, and applies to music which doesn't or can't have any harmonization just as well as to tonal music. That's the point of using it.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 02:56 PM

Good explanation, Highlandman. Makes sense.

But what it boils down to, really, is essentially the Tonic chord.

In a longer piece of music, it's possible for the piece to modulate all over the place (many long symphonic pieces do), but after spending some time in a new key, the ear gets used to that key, and the Tonic of that key becomes "tonal center" and can leave the ear satisfied if it resolves to that chord. Although most longer symphonic pieces eventually go back to the original key and resolve to the Tonic there.

The same can be said for lengthy jazz improvisations.

A long piece, then, can have several "tonal centers," depending on what the ear gets used to.

But the point should be made that this, in no way, calls for any "dinking around," altering the present completely functional system of key signatures.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Highlandman
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 02:49 PM

GS - I suspect - can't be more definite because I am in no way conversant with non-Western music - that the phenomenon of 'tonal center', in the way you and I seem to be using it, is a universal human perceptual effect, whereas 'key' and 'key signature' are artifacts of Western musical architecture.
There, I've said way more than I know about the topic, so I'll stop now.
-G


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 02:40 PM

I would use "tonal center" as fairly synonymous with "tonic". The reference pitch, around which others being used "revolve" or are heard in relation to.

If I were talking about a performance in "raag" (melodic mode in North Indian classical music), I would not talk about the "key" it was in, rather I'd say it has a tonal center. I would say an Arab 'maqaam" has a tonal center...and that one might at some point play certain pitches and pitch patterns to effect another tonal center.

Though this is more or less (i.e., without being pedantic) the same as tonic, the word tonic is (subjectively?) suggestive to me of a certain slice of Western tonal music (i.e. that world of thinking in harmonic relationships), so I would not tend to say it.

"Tonal center" — which I'm not making any particular argument for, just noting how I might use it — has less "baggage" as the concept of "key." You could still say "key," but that may have some connotations that you wish to avoid.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Highlandman
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 02:37 PM

Should have mentioned that a tonal center can be quite transient. -G


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Highlandman
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 02:36 PM

Disclaimer: this is not an authoritative definition, but Don asked for someone who uses the term to define what they mean by it.
In my mental theory book, tonal center is simply where your ear finds the place of rest in a particular musical context.
Play C - D - E - F - G - A - B for a Westerner and he'll feel unsettled until you play the top C. C is the tonal center.
There are probably more scientific explanations but I don't know them.
Most often a tonal center is suggested to your ear by the dominant-to-tonic or leading tone-to-tonic movement. We see it in action in a temporary modulation: say you are in the key of C (major) and your chords go C-G-C C-G-E-am. This would put you (in my book) in a tonal center of A (minor). Classical Western theory calls these definitive motions toward a tonal center "cadences."
Tonal center is to key signature as audible music is to notated music. You write a key signature; you hear a tonal center.
Just my 2 cents.
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 02:17 PM

"Tonal center" is not an expression that I ever heard when I was attending the two music schools I mentioned in my post above, nor did I hear it from any of the music teachers I took lessons from. Nor can I find it in any of the music theory textbooks that I have.

I have spent a lot of time Googling "tonal center," and nobody seems to agree on what the expression means. There is some mention of it on sites having to do with jazz, but none of them defines what it means.

To me, the "tonal center" of a piece of music would probably be the tonic chord, from which a piece of music starts, then eventually, to which it returns.

Can anyone who's been using the term explain precisely what they mean by it?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Jun 13 - 04:07 AM

Every discussion of a "tonal centre" that I've read locates it firmly in a key...


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 11:45 PM

"You can do away with key signatures entirely in most modern pop and jazz pieces by resorting to tonal centers."

That is nonsense. Tonal centers my Aunt Mahitabel's tonal center.

Either that or define/describe the term, tonal center.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 10:42 PM

Futwick, tablature is always written for a specific stringed instrument. It is NOT standard Western notation.

It does not tell you what the indicated notes are unless you know what instrument it is written for. It tells you which strings to put your left hand fingers on, and which frets they should go on—but NOT what the notes are.

And as I said, the instruments are not tuned to the same intervals. If you tried to play a piece written for the lute on a modern guitar, some of the notes would be wrong.

Anyone who's ever dealt with Early Music knows this.

Tablature is NOT the same as notation.

And the other examples you gave are in a far more primitive system of notation--only four lines on the staff instead of five--than the current, modern one (which has been used essentially unchanged for at least two centuries) that I learned when I first started studying music, and the system that was used at the University of Washington School of Music and the Cornish College of the Arts. And is used by millions of musicians within the European tradition the world over.

It's standard, and accepted by trained and educated musicians for a good reason. Because IT WORKS!

The four line staff is a different system and has been superseded by the modern five line staff. It would take someone more conversant with Early Music notation than I am, although I do know something about it.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 09:54 PM

***Futwick, the examples of music you linked to are facsimiles of very old music manuscripts, and at least one of them is not written notation, it is tablature. The first two have only four lines, indicating that they predate the current system, which has five lines.   The last one is obviously tablature, but the instrument it's written for is not indicated.***

Feeling any irony at your statement Western notation hasn't changed because it's good enough. Wasn't always so and I suspect it isn't going to always be so soon again.

**Guitar? Lute? Vihuela? The instruments are tuned differently, and if you try to play right off lute tablature on a modern guitar, it isn't going to work.**

Just play the notes, Don, should be a piece of cake since western notation is so stable.


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Subject: RE: Minor key signatures are wrong
From: GUEST,Futwick
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 09:49 PM

You can do away with key signatures entirely in most modern pop and jazz pieces by resorting to tonal centers. I was waiting for someone to bring it up but, of course, no one did.


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