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Black Keys

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Has anyone here ever tried to write a piece solely using the black keys on the keyboard?

I think the black keys make up a Chinese scale, or something?

I've just had a go, and you can make some interesting harmonies.

Has anyone tried this?

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a chinese scale? ... :P

chopin wrote a piece almost exclusively for black keys, there are some white notes, it depends on how difficult the piece you write is, the more difficult it gets the more the need for white keys increases i think

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Yeah, I'm sure the black notes represent a Chinese scale.

Have you got a link to the piece?

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The black keys make a pentatonic scale. Major when starting on F#/Gb, minor when starting on D#/Eb :)

*I think, although I haven't slept in days so I may be wrong ;)

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Fair enough.

Do the Chinese have a name for it? Or just I leave Chinese scales alone for now...? :S

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The pentatonic scale was first found in a tomb from about 3000 BC (or thereabouts) in the form of tuned bells. The Chinese had created what we know as the major scale but they didn't care for the instability of the interval between the fourth and seventh degree (tritone) and so they eliminated it.

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Yeah, I learned about this in 7th grade from my band director.

I've improvised some songs using only the black keys. If you throw in some white keys every now and then, it sounds Chinese.

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For some reason though, whenever I play a pentatonic scale on a real piano, it always sounds different when I play it all on the black keys, to me, F#/Gb pentatonic sounds a little warmer then any of the others. No clue why.

That's because F#/Gb is just an all-around awesome key :D To me, it's one of the warmest keys... That may be due to it's position: halfway between C and C, one of the brighter keys in my opinion. Eb is warm, too, because A is the brightest key ever in my opinion, it's so tinny @_@;

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Pentatonic scales are extremely common in many musical traditions around the world, perhaps they're even the most common type of "scale". Take the Balinese/Javanese slendro for example. However, most of these have intervals that are quite different from our tone system, so using the black keys is only a very rough approximation. (In slendro for example, the five tones in an octave are much more evenly spaced than the "black key" scale consisting of major seconds and minor thirds.)

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Perhaps I might mention an instrument that tends to be tuned to the pentatonic scale (corresponding to the black keys on the piano, of course). This is called a hang drum, and can come in several tuning, pentatonic being only one of them. Here's what it sounds like:

Pentatonic Hang Drum

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