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Major Keys: The Colors of Emotion in Music

music notes


Why do you listen to music? Many people would answer it because music evokes emotions and tells stories without written words. It doesn’t need language. Rather, music is considered to be a universal language as it makes connections among different cultures and societies. Even if you don’t understand the lyrics, it is not difficult to find what atmosphere the music has. Indeed, music does not need any descriptions behind it. But why? Why does music offer you such experiences? There might be several reasons, but this time, we will dig into the roles of keys. In music, the term 'key' refers to the tonal center or tonal foundation upon which a piece of music is built. The key establishes a specific set of pitches (notes) around which the melody and harmony of a composition revolve. The key provides a sense of tonal stability and organization in music. In simple words, tonal music means it has a 'home key' in music. There is a big difference between the mood of majors and minor keys. However, many people still do not understand what the differences are between different major keys such as D major and A major. While it is really hard to recognize the big differences, certainly composers decide on which keys they want to compose based on the general mood of music. What brings a slight kick to music if you choose different majors? This blog will introduce you to the different majors in which you will understand the subtle difference of major keys.

C Major: Basic Foundation of Music

If you start learning music, most likely you will get into the music in C Major. Out of all scales, C major is the one that has the most simple but yet important one that you need to know. Without having any sharps or flats, C Major does stand out as the ‘pure’ and ‘innocent’ sound. This leads many composers to write music when it comes to children's songs, for example.

You may know "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Its straightforward melody in C major makes it easy for children to sing and play on various instruments. Mozart, who is known for being a child prodigy, composed much of his music based on C Major. The tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" was used in one of his compositions. C Major is known to be the simplest scale, but it has potential in musicality depending on how you use it.

Come play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Start with sheet music.

G Major: The Sound of Optimism

G major key has only one sharp in the key signature, which is F sharp. It is characterized by its bright and happy sound. It is often associated with feelings of optimism and positivity. More importantly, when G Major is used adequately, people tend to find joy in the music.

One of the most iconic songs in G Major is "Piano Man" by Billy Joel. The song's storytelling lyrics and piano-driven melody have made it one of Joel's signature tunes. Its playful rhythm perfectly fits into G Major’s intention of giving off a joyful mood. The scale, rhythm, piano accompaniments, and even the singer’s voice are all intertwined in order to offer playful and enjoyable aspects of the music.

We have a bundle of piano sheet music for Piano Man. Come play with sheet music!

F Major: A Soothing Serenity

While we introduced upbeat and cheerful music for other major scales, here is the other one that stimulates peacefulness inside people. F major has a warm and peaceful sound compared to some other major keys. It is often used in ballads and slower songs to convey a sense of calm and serenity.

There are two examples of this major that incredibly explain this quality. Among pop music, it is an undeniable truth that The Beatles are the most recognizable music band. They have released many timeless classic songs, and "Let It Be" is considered the best among many. It is probably because of its lyric. It comforts people by saying everything you are concerned about will be relieved. And F Major, which provides a peaceful sound, is perfectly chosen in the song.

We have a bundle of piano sheet music for Let it Be. Come play with sheet music!

Schumann: Kinderszenen Op.15 No.7, Träumerei (Horowitz) is another example of using F Major adequately. This music has such a restful and calm mood that offers people to take a rest. This piece of music is in the series that Schumann composed for children. The title that Schumann gave to this piece is Träumerei, which makes more sense why this music was composed in F Major. Träumerei means dreaming in German. While many people already felt the vibe that is given off from the piece, this music is described by many people that a child is taking a nap in peace.


In summary, even though major keys might seem similar, they have unique feelings and vibes that composers use to express emotions. Picking the right major key is an essential artistic choice because it sets the mood for a piece of music. It's not just about the technical music notes; it's like choosing colors for a painting.

As we’ve seen as examples, choosing major scale is like a painter choosing the perfect colors for a painting to create a certain atmosphere. For example, C Major is like a pure and innocent color, G Major is bright and happy, and F Major is calming. Composers use these keys to match the emotions they want to express in their music, just like painters choose colors to set the mood in a painting. Composers carefully select these keys to match the emotions they want to convey. It's not a simple decision; they have to consider various factors even if it looks like the same ones.

So, when you listen to music, pay attention to the key it's in. And if possible, think about why the composers chose this key when they composed this music. You will be able to find that beyond the melodies, there's a world of emotions shaped by the choice of a major key. It reminds us of music's incredible power to communicate, connect, and even stir our innermost feelings.

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