The question of Keys, Key Signatures, and Modes comes up again and again.
Most explanations seem somewhat jumbled and/or full of technical description.
This is confusing, but over the years (decades?) it has become clearer to me.
It comes down to:
What note does the tune resolve too? (its Tonic Note)
What notes are in the scale of the tune? (how many Flats or Sharps)
Chords give clues, but they are subjective or 'symptomatic' as chord choices are not always universally agreed upon.
Why does it matter what the Key is?
Knowing what the Key is alerts melody players what notes, and chord players what chords, to expect (or not expect).
Yes, it is possible to play well without knowing what Key, Notes, or Chords you are playing, but most people recognize they have names; and it is easier to understand if everyone uses the correct names.
Tunes may also contain 'accidental' notes (not in the scale of the Key), but these usually stand out as different - the more one plays the more intuitive they are.
TRAD MUSIC ONLY USES 4 MODES?
Major, Mixolydian, Dorian, and Minor are the 4 Modes that virtually all Tradition (Western) Music use - Celtic, Old Time, Country, Blues, Bluegrass, Rhythm & Blues; and I believe Rock, and maybe Jazz too.
Tunes that are in a Major (Ionian) Key tend to be self-evident, however the mislabeling of tunes in Minor (Aeolian) and 'Modal' Keys (Mixolydian and Dorian) cloud that clarity. There are also 3 other 'Authentic' Modes (Phrygian, Locrian, and Lydian) that rarely come up.
There also happen to be 7 "Plagal (or Hypo-) Modes" where tunes resolve to the fourth note of the scale, instead of the first (or last) note. These are typically used in 'Renaissance' music, but commonly are likely never noticed that there is a 'different' name for the scale of same notes. For example the Hypoionian uses the same notes as the Ionian (Major), but the fourth note is the tonic.
HOW TO DETERMINE THE KEY?
1) determine what note a tune (or each of its parts) resolve to - its Tonic Note.
2) determine what notes are played (comprise the scale - how many sharps or flats) - its Key Signature
3) match the Tonic Note and Key Signature with the appropriate Key Name.
KEY NAME is the Tonic NOTE followed by the MODE:
Start by presuming the note it resolves to is a Major Key, and how many flats or sharps would that be?
C Major = 0b / 0#
G Major = 1#
D Major = 2#
A Major = 3#
E Major = 4#
B Major = 7b / 5#
Gb (F#) Major = 6b / 6#
Db (C#) Major = 5b / 7#
Ab (G#) Major = 4b
Eb (D#) Major = 3b
Bb (A#) Major = 2b
F Major = 1b
If less sharps (or more flats) are used, how many?
0 fewer, then Major (Ionian)
-1# (or +1b), then Mixolydian
-2# (or +2b), then Dorian
-3# (or +3b), then Minor (Aeolian)
-4# (or +4b), then Phrygian
-5# (or +5b), then Locrian
-6# (or +6b), then Lydian
If a tune resolve to A:
A Major has 3#s
but Key signature (or actual #s in tune) is 1#
then A Dorian
The attached chart may make it clearer.
The Country Dance Music Radio station has its first modern artist! I am happy to welcome Chimney Swift. Currently their tracks play at these times:
Hour-long programs (BST/EDT/PST)
10 AM/5 AM/3 AM—Chimney Swift
3 PM/10 AM/7 AM—Chimney Swift
5 PM/2 PM/11 AM—Chimney Swift
11 PM/6 PM/3 PM—Chimney Swift
3 AM/10 PM/7 PM—Chimney Swift
I hope more musicians will participate! The station link is:
Hi fellow Shared Weight musicians,
You might be interested in the following webinar that Folk Alliance
International is offering THIS FRIDAY on livestreaming.
I know some of the panelists and they are top notch (e.g., Someone from
Canada's national arts centre is on the list. They are working with artists
across all of Canada to make high quality livestreams from their homes.)
The webinar is free.
More info below :)
Writing from Ottawa, ON
FB Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/214039146704193
"CommUNITY Online Episode 2 - Live Streaming: Earning a Living and Reaching
During this webinar, viewers will learn from experienced panelists what
options are available for presenting livestreamed concerts, how to promote
effectively and connect with fans, what options live music venues have for
presenting artists online, how to effectively set up to present an online
concert, and how to generate income from livestreaming.
Crys Matthews and Heather Mae, artists and online presenters of Apart
Dan Mangan, artist, co-founder of SideDoor Access
Heather Gibson, Executive Producer, National Arts Centre (Canada)
Jonathan Byrd, artist, creator of Shake Sugaree Residency
I have launched an Internet radio station to feature contra, English, and related community dance music. The purpose is to encourage support of out-of-work dance musicians, and to keep the whole dance community connected through music and text chat.
You can see the preview of it here:
If you have recordings or can make recordings I would love to add your music to the station, and to link to any web page or method you have for collecting financial support, selling CDs, etc. The details are here:
Please give me feedback; Let me know if I’m off in left field, right on the money, or just what can be made better here.
Best to all, I’m missing you!