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Question: Hello Albert,

Many year ago, ns was taught the by looking at the last note or note of a item of music, one could tell what vital it is in, the is of course if one go not know the crucial signature in the beginning of the piece of music.

You are watching: What key is this piece in

That being said, i am practicing a piece of music from Chopin that it is composed in F minor. I understand its relative major is A, right? It also ends in A.

I am finding it complicated to describe this, however why is music written choose this, please?

Why not just write the music in A and call it (Title) in A?

Many thanks,

– Brian (Colombia, south America)

Albert’s reply: an initial and foremost, musical creates are by nature dramatic, not prescriptive! There’s no ascendancy that states that a piece of music must finish in the same key in which it starts. (It simply happens to it is in a convention, such together for timeless – meaning the classical era, a little subset the what we speak to “classical” music – sonata form.)

Chopin damaged with convention in his second Ballade. That starts in F major yet end in A minor. Generally it’s cataloged as Ballade No. 2 in F major, Op. 38, however Murray Perahia detailed it as Ballade No. 2 in A minor, Op. 38 in his recording of Chopin’s Ballades.

You have the right to calculate the family member minor that a major an essential simply by acquisition the note a minor 3rd lower than the tonic. The relative minor that C major is therefore A minor, since A is a minor third lower than C.

The reverse additionally holds, the course. The relative major of a minor crucial is a minor third higher than the tonic. C significant is therefore the relative significant of A minor, due to the fact that C is a minor third higher than A.

The relative significant of F young is therefore A-flat major, because A-flat is a young third greater than F.

Make sure you study the an essential signature chart and also the circle of Fifths so that you’re very familiar with all of the keys.

Also, looking in ~ the final chord of a piece in order come tell what key it’s in is only a unstable guideline. Plenty of pieces in the young mode finish in the parallel major. An example is Baroque works that finish with the so-called Picardy third, in i m sorry the 3rd scale level in a work in the minor mode is raised, make the last chord major. Because that example, a piece in F minor might end in the parallel major, F major.

Nor is looking in ~ the an initial chord totally reliable. Beethoven start his Piano Sonata in E-flat major, Op. 31, No. 3, through an reverse minor seventh on the 2nd scale degree (minor ii 6–5)! less radically, some works, even Classical-period motions in sonata form, prevent reaching the “real” vital of the activity until after ~ an advent is played. Beethoven uses this strategy in the vault sonata in that opus, the “Tempest” Sonata, Op. 31, No. 2. The “Tempest” Sonata start on the leading (in this instance an A major chord), with material that is designed to imitate operatic recitative. The impact is of an improvised introduction before the home crucial of D minor is reached, in ~ which allude the “real” sonata commences.

Finally, a vital signature go not constantly correspond to the one of Fifths, i m sorry depicts significant and minor secrets only. The first movement of Bach’s Violin Sonata in G minor is no in G minor, despite its an essential signature of two flats! Instead, Bach provides D Dorian, which likewise has two flats. To simplify, you might take any crucial signature, create out the pitches A with G, and also start the scale on any note. Each range thus produced would be among the music modes.

Ultimately, the just true systems to identify the an essential of any piece of music is to learn harmony, crucial signatures and musical forms. Constantly remember the harmony is not around technical rules on file but primarily around what us hear and how we hear.

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Albert Frantz

Your Teacher

Albert Frantz learned piano together an adult. Currently a Bösendorfer Artist based in Vienna, his debut album to be an main jury nomination because that the German record Critics" Award. As an international keynote speaker, Albert has actually presented commonly at TEDx conferences and at the unified Nations. In his spare time he has actually trained with Formula One drivers and completed Ironman triathlons. Albert"s distinctive story to be the topic of a documentary and also he to be the cover story because that Toastmaster magazine in 142 countries.