Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Different Keys for Different Moods/Feelings

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by JazzBassvb, Mar 16, 2005.


  1. JazzBassvb

    JazzBassvb

    Aug 5, 2003
    Hi all,

    I had a reference (music book I believe) that I checked out of the library several years ago. In it, it had a list of different keys and their mood/feeling related to how each key sounds.

    Does anyone have a reference like this. I guess what I'm looking for is what keys sound mello, happy/bright, scary, etc...

    Thanks,
    JB
     
  2. Generally speaking, I guess you could say that major keys sound happy while minor keys sound sad. But it all depends in which context they're used.
     
  3. JazzBassvb

    JazzBassvb

    Aug 5, 2003
    Cool.

    That helps. The one I had, listed each key signature and had a description for it. I think a few overlapped, but in general, they were all different, even if it was just by a bit.

    Thanks again,
    JB
     
  4. If you are looking for a sad sounding key, it is my understanding that D minor is the saddest in most musical circles.
     
  5. Affective key characteristics from Christian Schubart's Ideen zu einer Aesthetik der Tonkunst (1806), Translated by Rita Steblin in A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries. UMI Research Press (1983).

    C major Completely Pure. Its character is: innocence, simplicity, naïvety, children's talk.

    C minor Declaration of love and at the same time the lament of unhappy love. All languishing, longing, sighing of the love-sick soul lies in this key.

    Db major A leering key, degenerating into grief and rapture. It cannot laugh, but it can smile; it cannot howl, but it can at least grimace its crying.--Consequently only unusual characters and feelings can be brought out in this key.

    D major The key of triumph, of Hallejuahs, of war-cries, of victory-rejoicing. Thus, the inviting symphonies, the marches, holiday songs and heaven-rejoicing choruses are set in this key.

    D minor Melancholy womanliness, the spleen and humours brood.

    D# minor Feelings of the anxiety of the soul's deepest distress, of brooding despair, of blackest depresssion, of the most gloomy condition of the soul. Every fear, every hesitation of the shuddering heart, breathes out of horrible

    D# minor. If ghosts could speak, their speech would approximate this key.

    Eb major The key of love, of devotion, of intimate conversation with God.

    E major Noisy shouts of joy, laughing pleasure and not yet complete, full delight lies in E Major.

    F major Complaisance & calm.

    F minor Deep depression, funereal lament, groans of misery and longing for the grave.

    F# major Triumph over difficulty, free sigh of relief utered when hurdles are surmounted; echo of a soul which has fiercely struggled and finally conquered lies in all uses of this key.

    F# minor A gloomy key: it tugs at passion as a dog biting a dress. Resentment and discontent are its language.

    G major Everything rustic, idyllic and lyrical, every calm and satisfied passion, every tender gratitude for true friendship and faithful love,--in a word every gentle and peaceful emotion of the heart is correctly expressed by this key.

    G minor Discontent, uneasiness, worry about a failed scheme; bad-tempered gnashing of teeth; in a word: resentment and dislike.

    Ab major Key of the grave. Death, grave, putrefaction, judgment, eternity lie in its radius.

    Ab minor Grumbler, heart squeezed until it suffocates; wailing lament, difficult struggle; in a word, the color of this key is everything struggling with difficulty.

    A major This key includes declarations of innocent love, satisfaction with one's state of affairs; hope of seeing one's beloved again when parting; youthful cheerfulness and trust in God.

    A minor Pious womanliness and tenderness of character.

    Bb major Cheerful love, clear conscience, hope aspiration for a better world.

    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.

    B major Strongly coloured, announcing wild passions, composed from the most glaring coulors. Anger, rage, jealousy, fury, despair and every burden of the heart lies in its sphere.

    B minor This is as it were the key of patience, of calm awaiting ones's fate and of submission to divine dispensation.
    http://www.library.yale.edu/~mkoth/keychar.htm

    hope this helps
     
  6. billbern

    billbern

    Sep 11, 2004
    Daytona Beach, Fl
    Endorsing: Inearz In-ear Monitors
    That's real cool, thanks for the link
     
  7. JazzBassvb

    JazzBassvb

    Aug 5, 2003
    Sweetness! That's a great reference!

    Thanks very much! Did you google that? I tried using terms I knew of, but obviously, I didn't use the right ones.

    I guess that's why the first songs I've written have been in D, E and A. (That and having open strings for fuller sounding chords, I suppose :cool: )

    JB
     
  8. JazzBassvb

    JazzBassvb

    Aug 5, 2003
  9. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Just so you know, a lot of folks don't believe in that stuff at all. It's far from being any kind of established musical "fact."
     
  10. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    Yep. IMO, that list is a load of hooey -- and full of enharmonic "***'s". For instance, the use of D#. Who plays in D#? That's just assinine. 6 sharps and a double sharp, when you could play in Eb -- 3 flats. A complete reading nightmare.

    That said, it's a sad composer who can only express certain emotions in their "corresponding" keys. Yes, something might sound best in a certain key (the guys on the DB side seem to rail against bassists playing the Bach Cello Suites at anything other than written pitch) but that list is ridiculous.
     
  11. fraublugher

    fraublugher

    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    its not a reference for musicians , its for ballerinas and an assortment of other tossers.
     
  12. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    Drum roll, anyone? :D
     
  13. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    That attitude is particularly funny as applied to Bach, who seemingly had no problem reworking and transposing his own stuff to different keys for different purposes. For instance, the Sinfonia to Cantata 29, in D, is basically the same piece as the Prelude to the 4th Lute Suite, in E. Of the great composers, Bach is probably the one for whom transposition to a non-original key matters *least*, if at all.
     
  14. Whafrodamus

    Whafrodamus

    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    A minor- How I feel when taking a large dookie.

    C major- I am prancing into the sunset with my basses. Then we snuggle in the moonlight. I caress the strings softly, and I move my hand down and softly put my finger into the input jack and... ohh.. uhh.. yeah.. C major's happy.
     
  15. My guess would be that the BGers consider the cello suites to be valuable position studies when played at pitch, but I really have no clue.
     
  16. JazzBassvb

    JazzBassvb

    Aug 5, 2003
    Thanks for the additional info.

    I'm a little slow this morning, so please excuse the rather dumb questions, but I am curious about some stuff.

    So, using a specific key does not help a certain mood or whatever come across better?

    I'm just trying to understand the 'against' or 'hooey' argument here. Not trying to start a debate by any means, just trying to understand.

    Thanks,
    JB
     
  17. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    No one, to my knowledge, has ever convincingly shown that it does, so IMHO the whole argument is nonsense. A claim that has nothing to back it up isn't worth taking seriously. The burden of proof would be on those trying to show that keys are associated with moods, not on those who think this is "hooey."

    The stuff silent method posted from 1803 or whatever seemed self-evidently ridiculous to me. I couldn't read it without laughing. I mean, A minor signifying "pious womanliness"? Please! Really more the stuff of Spinal Tap, as stretchcat may have been suggesting.
     
  18. lol i totally agree, i really dont think there is much to this, i just posted it cause he asked for it