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Writing Key Signatures


Do You Write Key Signatures?  

2 members have voted

  1. 1. Do You Write Key Signatures?

    • Yes, I Do Write The Key Signature
      19
    • No, I Use Accidentals To Define The Key Signature
      3


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Do you write key signatures in your score? I have the score for 'Across the Stars' by John Williams, and he shows no key signature, even though he obviously begins in D minor and moves freely between keys throughout the piece. So I want to know what you do, and why you do it. Thanks.

Colin Thomson

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But of course I use key signatures. It reduces the number of accidentals I have to write, since I tend to stay within a key or keys. Sometimes I switch them back and forth within a few bars, just because I don't want to write accidentals.

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Guest Anders

I don't use them while writing, but if the piece turns out to be in a key when I'm finished (which is often the case) I add it when I notate a neat score.

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You mean you never use key signatures, even if it's in a crazy key like C# or Fb?

I'd never be in a key like that for more than a few measures...

But, to be fair...if I was going to be using an odd key for an extended period of time, I would use a key signature.

Okay, Fb is kinda poinless, it is notated much more easily as E major, especially when transposing instruments are concerned (so why use it at all?), but C#? I find Db (its enharmonic) and Gb to be my favorite keys, why are so many people afraid of using a key that happens to need a few sharps or flats?

I personally like the idea of mean-tone temperament, where every key has it's own color, but with the equal temperament system everything unfortunately sounds the same. BUT, writing in different keys even in eT can bring out different tone colors from wind instruments (because of their acoustical nature), which is why I choose keys carefully.

Plus, I write with a key signature because it keeps me focused When I'm thinking I'm in a certain key I can picture all the different harmonic relationships. Without a key signature, I tend to think that the piece has no harmonic structure, and its harder to picture harmonic relationships when you have sharps and flats all over the place billowing like red flags saying "Hey, we're usually not in the same key, we're supposed to stick out!"

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... I find Db and Gb to be my favorite keys, why are so many people afraid of using a key that happens to need a few sharps or flats?

You misinterpret me. I'm certainly not afraid of them. When I say I wouldn't be in an odd key for more than a few measures, I mean: I wouldn't be in any key for more than a few measures.

I may have four measures of Eb dorian (derived from Db Major) but my next key may be C lydian (based on D Major). There's no sense in changing my key signature.

...writing in different keys even in [equal temperment] can bring out different tone colors from wind instruments (because of their acoustical nature), which is why I choose keys carefully.

Again, due to the nomadic nature of my key-centres, this isn't something that affects me. Of course I'll consider register and range, which affects the timbral qualities of any instrument...

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I have to agree somewhat with Robin. I start off with no key signatures and use accidentals. Then the key signatures are added later if they make sense. Sometimes passages modulate so quickly that it doesn't make much sense to change key signatures for a bar or so. That might confuse the musicians. In these cases it's much clearer to use accidentals.

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You misinterpret me. I'm certainly not afraid of them.

I never accused you personnaly (sorry if it sounded that way), but there do seem to be a few people here and there that are blatently unaccoustomed to working with 'larger' key sigs.

I may have four measures of Eb dorian (derived from Db Major) but my next key may be C lydian (based on D Major). There's no sense in changing my key signature.

Hmm... Maybe this is where I'm confused, are we talking practically atonal music here? I would have to say I'm sort of biased on that particular matter, I'm not all too fond of music with harmonic A.D.D., as I could never understand how one could change a key every measure or two (or three) and make the music sound focused, but that's just me. But in passing, though, which is what I gather you are talking about, I totally agree with you, as I never stay in a constantly changing pace for too long, but when it does happen, I just leave the key signature in what it was before the devolpment commenced. What I was saying is I would never write without defining a base key to work with.

I happen to be quite fond of the different church modes by the way, esp. dorian, mixolydian, and sometimes phrygian. :laugh:

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I never accused you personnaly, but there do seem to be a few people here and there that are blatently unaccoustomed to working with 'larger' key sigs.

I see...and I tend to agree. I think this stems from players as composers - if a key is challenging for them as a musician, then they'll avoid it as a composer.

Hmm...are we talking practically atonal music here?

No...

I could never understand how you could change a key sig every measure or two (or three) and make the music sound focused, but that's just me.

It's not so much changing key often...more just changing the focus to a different modal tonal centre. If that makes sense...

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I'm not all too fond of music with harmonic A.D.D., as I could never understand how one could change a key every measure or two (or three) and make the music sound focused

Have you never analysed Bach? :laugh:

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