9. Minor keys and vital Signatures9.1 Introduction

Chapter 8 discusses just how pieces that draw primarily native the pitches of a significant scale are said to be in that major key. Similarly, pieces that draw primarily from the pitches of a minor scale—a scale based on the W-H-W-W-H-W-W sample of totality steps and fifty percent steps—are claimed to it is in in that minor key. Minor key signatures can similarly be obtained from the accidentals that the matching diatonic minor scale.

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In this chapter us will comment on how a minor vital is constructed and also established and how minor key signatures room written and used. (We will return to this topic once much more in chapter 16, as soon as we discuss variant creates of the young scale.)

9.2 young keys

Chapter 6 discusses the building and construction of significant scales and the assorted names offered to each scale degree. All of the degrees of a boy scale have names together well. Because that the many part, these names room the exact same as those of major keys. The few differences are due to the lower scale degrees hat3, hat6, and also hat7. The following example shows the 3 systems used to label and also refer to minor range degrees:


In labeling the actions of a boy scale, the scale degree numbers space the very same as in major: hat1, hat2, hat3, etc. The solfège rate mi, la, and ti are adjusted to me, le, and te to reflect the lowering the those range degrees. The only difference in the scale level names is that scale level hat7, in its lower form, is currently referred to together the subtonic.

The adhering to melody is adjusted from Chopin’s second piano sonata. That is in a boy key:

example 9–2. Frédéric Chopin, Piano Sonata No.2 (Op. 35), III. Marche funèbre, mm. 1-10 (in A minor).


As with significant keys, a melody or item is claimed to be in a minor vital if it uses mainly the pitches of a boy scale and gives the tonic a place of main importance. This melody is in A minor: it begins and ends top top A and uses the pitches of the diatonic A-minor range (A, B, C, D, E, F, and G). The tonic, A, is the most vital pitch in this melody. The serves as a stable starting point and brings a feeling of closure when it return at the end. Every one of the various other pitches are organized hierarchically roughly A and also have differing levels the stability. The Cs in mm. 5-8, for example, bring a sense of arrival. They sound stable, yet not as stable as the final A.

Were the melody in instance 9–2 to it is in transposed to a various minor key, the new tonic would certainly be heard in the same means even despite the pitch level would certainly be different:

example 9–3. Frédéric Chopin, Piano Sonata No.2 (Op. 35), III. Marche funèbre, mm. 1-10 (in Bb minor).


Example 9–3 transposes the melody to Bb boy (the initial key, as created by Chopin). The now has a brand-new set of pitches (those that the Bb-minor scale) and also Bb is heard together the new tonic.

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Now think about the following melody:

example 9–4 Louise Reichardt, 12 German & Italian Romantic Songs, 3. “Durch die bunten Rosenhecken,” mm. 1-8.


This melody is in F minor. Because that the many part, it uses the pitches of one F boy scale. Note, however, that it also includes E§ in m. 6. The presence of E§ go not protect against the listener from hearing F as the tonic. In fact, that helps do the come on F sound an ext conclusive. Unlike their major counterparts, minor scale are provided in numerous variant creates which include one or more pitch classes from exterior the diatonic scale. We will comment on these changed versions of minor in thing 17. The continuing to be sections the this chapter will be concerned only through the unaltered diatonic minor.