|posted: 6/16/2004 at 1:13:16 PM ET|
1. What is a Key- the concept of a key is that most music is centered around one note. When the music is on this one note the music seems to be at rest. In the Western Philosophy this one note is called the tonic or if you are familiar with solfege it is called Do. Without getting into music theory specifics when a piece of music is not on this tonic note it will be in a state of change until it reaches the tonic note. It is important to recognize that this tonic note changes from piece to piece and sometimes during the same piece. A good example of this idea of tonic note is usually the first and last chord in a piece of music.
2. How is music played in a key? When reading music, at the beginning of each line there is a series of #'s and b's on the staff to indicate which notes are sharp or flat. Following this key signature is how music is played in "a key". This means that one must know the name of each note played and change these notes are specified in the key signature.
3. A different Key- many times the tonic note is changed to accommodate a different vocal range, instrument range, or just to make a piece easier to play. You can notate any piece in all keys. When the same song is played in different keys the notes of the piece will be a different. What will remain constant is the distance between these notes. For Example consider the following versions of the first line of "Mary had a Little Lamb":
in C Major: E D C D E E E
in D Major: F# E D D F# F# F#
in A Major: C# B A B C# C# C#
If two people play the same piece in two different keys the result is usually hard on the ears. Notes of the harmony that usually support one tonic note will clash with the harmony of the second tonic note of the other person.
Hope that helps,