Discovering music through listening
Discovering music through listening

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Discovering music through listening

1.2 Major and minor

Individual chords can also be used to give an indication of the broader harmonic foundation or key upon which the music is built. The key might be described as major or minor.

An image of theatrical masks
Figure 1 Theatre masks representing comedy and tragedy

Music described as being in a major key might be characterised by bright, happy sounds. Conversely, music in a minor key may sound sad or angry. Sometimes during the musical journey, music may move between a major or minor key (or vice versa), and if the mood of the music changes, it is worth reassessing whether the music could be categorised as happy or sad. This may give an indication that the key has changed.

Activity 2

Listen to the two audio extracts, and jot down adjectives that might describe the mood of the music. Then decide whether you think the music is happy (in a major key) or sad (in a minor key).

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Audio 16: Philip Glass, Violin Concerto No. 2, Second Movement, 02:30–03:00
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Audio 6: Oscar Peterson, C Jam Blues, 00:04–00:34
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Discussion

Audio 16 had a subdued, serious feel to it, and this extract characterised music in a minor key. This contrasted with Audio 6 which was lively and had a jolly feel, characterising music of a major key.

DMTL_1

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