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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000269.txt from 2003/06

From: "Bill Semple" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Keys and their character
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003 11:42:01 -0400

Hee hee hee. Here we go again.

The primary difference between bright and dark is less the difference in
keys than in whether notes or flated or sharped, as in minors vs majors vs
diminished vs augmented triads. But keys do tend to sound one or the other
based on how they are played and on what instruments. The E Clarinet is
quite a bit "brighter" than an A Clarinet, but that's about as useful as
saying an oboe sounds brighter than, ah, a French Horn.

I am not sure even an accurate listener could tell the difference between
the Saints played in C or G or E, but they sure can tell the difference if
you start the tune say in G, and then modulate up to C, which is standard
technique in Dixieland. And they certainly can tell the difference if you
drop the whole thing into a minor.

To my ears, bright and dark requires some context, sometimes within the same
tune, such as I Love Paris, which is a simple but dramatic example of the
emotional difference between major and minor keys.

But what I think Dan is arguing is that one can tell the difference between
E Major and C Major. I agree with Dan there is no a priori truth to the
notion that E is brighter than C, except that the tonic is higher. But E
minor is a wonderful jazz chord, e.g., Blue Skies. And that is NOT a bright

William T. Semple
Office: 202-364-2466
Home: 540-364-4823
Cell: 540-903-6645
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dan Leeson" <>
Subject: [kl] Keys and their character

> The idea that each key had its own personality (with A and E being
> bright) and D-flat, G-flat being serious (or whatever), is another
> romantic assertion that doesn't have a leg to stand on. There has never
> been anything put forward (other than opinion) that would allow any
> thinking person to believe such nonsense.

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