An experiment in the colours of keys

The relativity of all these key-colour associations was illustrated during a debate on the whole subject organised in London in 1886 by the Journal “Musical Opinion”. That section of the audience that maintained the definite existence of “key colour” by which it could aurally identify a key was submitted to a test, a well known piece being played in both G and Ab, to which they applied and defended their usual G and Ab associations, maintaining that the transposition had totally changed the key colour. The meeting broke up in recrimination and disorder on its being revealed that the piano possessed a mechanical transposing device, so that whilst those present had seen the performer playing in Ab they had heard her playing in G major as before.

P. A. Scholes, The Oxford Companion to Music, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1939, pp. 183-184, cited in J Powell & N Dibben, “Key-Mood Association: A Self Perpetuating Myth”, Musicae Scientiae, vol. 9., 2005, pp. 289-311., 10.1177/102986490500900208, (accessed 25 April 2023).





Featured Content

Mozart’s piano returns to his home
“The piano that Mozart used for the last 10 years of his life and which he used to compose much of his music was returned to his former home in Vienna for a performance of his music. ‘A big, positive shock was how good the instrument is,’ said Russian pianist Alexander Melnikov after the concert […]
Playing by the mood of the audience
Rachmaninoff sent fellow composer/pianist Medtner his Corelli Variations.  He wrote: I played them here about fifteen times, but of these fifteen performances, only one was good.  The others were sloppy.  I can't play my own compositions!  And it's so boring! Not once have I played these all in continuity.  I was guided by the coughing […]
An artist’s personal growth
Funnily, my deep conviction is that no idea or concept of true artistic importance can be imparted or transferred. The real things are those that you grow yourself in your own garden, without anyone overseeing. In that sense art is the land of absolute sole responsibility. There is nothing that cannot be challenged, but in […]
Rustic Dance
Title: Rustic Dance Composer: Greg Smith Instrumentation: Piano Product medium: PDF score SAMPLE:
The juggling jazz musician
“A jazz musician is a juggler who uses harmonies instead of oranges.” – Benny Green, British saxophonist Benny Green (1975) A Reluctant Art: The Growth of Jazz.  Books for Libraries Press, p. 16.
George Gershwin at the piano
The theatre director Rouben Mamoulian describes Gershwin’s playing: George at the piano was George happy … like a sorcerer celebrating his Sabbath.  He would draw out a lovely melody like a golden thread, then juggle it, twist it and toss it around mischievously, weave it into unexpected intricate patterns, and hurl it into a cascade […]
Vocal and choral
See also Sacred Music
The Rink
Title: The Rink (Silent film soundtrack) Composer: Greg Smith Performer: Greg Smith Instrumentation: Piano Product medium: MP3 soundtrack     Related products:     – The Rink – PDF score TRACK LISTING AND SAMPLES: TRACK TITLE LENGTH SAMPLE 1. Papa and Edna 0:55 2. Lunch order 2:03 3. Cocktails 1:34 4. Kitchen scurry 0:25 5. The flirty Mr and […]
Ode to Music and Moonlight
We are the music-makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams; World-losers and world-forsakers, On whom the pale moon gleams: Yet we are the movers and shakers Of the world for ever, it seems. With wonderful deathless ditties We build up the world’s great cities, And […]
Love Came Down At Christmas (MP3)
Title: Love came down at Christmas Text: Christina Rossetti Composer: Greg Smith Instrumentation: Piano solo Product medium: MP3 audio     Related products:     – Love came down at Christmas – SATB and piano (PDF score)     – Love came down at Christmas – Piano solo (PDF score) Samples: