AFFECTIVE KEY CHARACTERISTICS
Affective Musical Key Characteristics The association of musical keys with specific emotional or qualitative characteristic was fairly common prior to the 20th century. It was part of the shared cultural experience of those who made, performed and listened to music. When Mozart or Beethoven or Schubert wrote a piece in a Ab major, for example, they were well aware of this was the 'key of the grave' and knew that many in their audiences were as well. We lose a part of the meaning of their music if we are ignorant of their affective choices. Although these characteristics were, of course, subjective, it was possible to conceive of each key as unique because each key actually sounded distinct within unequal temperaments. C Major Completely Pure. C Minor Declaration of love and at the same time the lament of unhappy love. D♭ Major A leering key, degenerating into grief and rapture. D Major The key of triumph, of Hallejuahs, of war-cries, of victory-rejoicing. A♭ Major Key of the grave.
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