Sheet music-major/minor question

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Rach20191
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Sheet music-major/minor question

Post by Rach20191 » 13 Oct 2019, 17:28

Hi guys,

I just joined as I have no one to talk to about music theory. Been playing the piano for around 20 years and dabbled in other instruments too. Gave up lessons 10+ years ago and now just play for fun when I feel like it. Never really covered theory (wish I had now) but have done my own study of theory the last couple years so I know a little about chord progressions etc.

However I am stuck on a couple of songs. When I play a song I always like to be as accurate as possible to the original so I like to play the original key. Right now I have two songs that just happen to be complicated-one is minor but I can only find it in a major key, the other the opposite. I get why they changed the key to an easier one because the orginals both have lots of sharps/flats (although I myself don't mind that and would prefer to play it the way it was recorded if possible) but why change it from major to minor or vice versa? Wouldn't that change the entire feel of the song?

I can elaborate on the 2 songs if you like but didn't want to make a really long first post. Hope someone can help me out,

thanks,

Rach

chrisw
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Re: Sheet music-major/minor question

Post by chrisw » 13 Oct 2019, 19:31

Hello Rach20191 and welcome to this forum. I wouldn't worry about making long posts, although you may have to sometimes accept long responses !

I have been playing fairly seriously for about 30 years, although have only really made substantial advances in the last ten years and then alas with little understanding of theory.

I agree with you that to convert from a major to a minor key and vice versa appears bizarre and can offer no explanation. I sometimes wonder why composers choose a particular key and sometimes conclude that a particular key makes a work easier to play. For example Beethoven's Moonlight sonata written in Csharp minor. Why didn't he write it in his favourite key of C minor ?

When playing songs I can understand changing key to accommodate a vocalist range but not substituting a major to minor or the other way around. Then of course you have all the different types of minor scale which I find most unsatisfactory.

Rach20191
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Re: Sheet music-major/minor question

Post by Rach20191 » 13 Oct 2019, 20:13

Hi Chris,

thanks for the reply and welcome :) Yeh it has got me stumped too. I could probably transpose it if it was between 2 major or 2 minor songs but not from a major to a minor. I play the saxophone a little and I used to transpose between piano sheet music and sax as they are in a different key but I'm rusty at it now.

If it helps the songs are "The Boys Of Summer" and "New York Minute" both by Don Henley-I don't know whether he likes to put things in hard keys but TBOS is in F# major (6 sharps I think?) but the sheet music I found for it is in E minor (1 sharp). NYM is in Ab minor (I think all the black keys) but sheet music I have is Eb major (3 flats). To confuse things even more I think they sometimes play NYM in a different key live but not 100%. NYM definitely sounds minor to me so I don't know why someone would attempt to change it to a major. I'm still getting my head around what it means for a song to be in a major or minor key-this isn't helping me be less confused!

If anyone could shed some light on why someone decided to change the sheet music from major to minor or knows where I can get the sheet music in the original key I would be really grateful. It's a bug bear of mine to not play everything as close to the recording as possible so I hate playing a different key-unless I can't sing it in the original key. Actually TBOS I'm struggling to sing with the different key so that's another reason I'd like the original key it might suite my voice better. Sorry I know this post is quite confusing I hope I have explained what I'm trying to get at ok :)

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Re: Sheet music-major/minor question

Post by chrisw » 14 Oct 2019, 09:42

Hello Rach
Let me start with a disclaimer! I have not studied theory apart from browsing a couple of ABRSM books so please take the following suggestions with a pinch of salt.

I have had a quick look using Google Images of the first page of 'The Boys of Summer'. The very first image is written with one sharp in the key signature. The melody starts on a D natural, going up to E and is harmonised with Eminor. D is the leading note for both Emajor and minor so it really should have been sharpened if the key was E major or minor. D is the dominant of G Major.The harmonising chord of Eminor contains a Gnatural. In addition the chorus starts with a Gmajor chord. These pointers together with the observation that there aren't any accidentals on the first page leads me to ask if this version is really in G Major. What is the very last chord in your version of the sheet music ?
I will try to get around to looking at NYM later today but would be interested to know your thoughts on the above.

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Re: Sheet music-major/minor question

Post by chrisw » 14 Oct 2019, 13:03

If I look at page 1 of NYM on Google Images it appears to me that they are written in either Cminor or Csharp minor. Usually the last chord of a piece is written in the home key.

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Re: Sheet music-major/minor question

Post by Rach20191 » 14 Oct 2019, 15:25

Oh wow thank you so much Chris, you certainly know quite a bit more theory than me to explain it so well!

Ah I think that site has labelled it in the wrong key again (in the relative minor/major instead) It did that with another song I was looking up. Really confusing for someone like me!

I had a different version of TBOS with an intro (but from the same site) but on looking at the first one on google (the more simplistic one that starts with the melody straight away), it ends on G (my version fades and repeats on C) so it's looking like it's G major and for some reason they've put it in the relative minor for both the simplistic version and the one I have.

NYM ends on Cm7 (well it repeats and fades at the end too) so I'm guessing that's in C minor NOT Eb major, like I say a definite minor sound to it, just someone has obviously labelled it wrong-I wonder why they keep doing that on that site. They also state everything is in the "original published" key-when it clearly isn't! But it is my favourite site for sheets.

I always forget to check the last chord of a song to see what it is to determine the key. I will be doing that with every song from now on so I know for sure (I know there are rare exceptions for the last chord to end on the home chord).

Wow you have really helped Chris thank you so much!
I can play them now without thinking they are wrong, maybe even have a go at transposing them to the more difficult keys if I feel brave enough! :D

chrisw
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Re: Sheet music-major/minor question

Post by chrisw » 14 Oct 2019, 16:14

It is my pleasure, I only hope I get it right some of the time.

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