So Near, Yet So Far Away

Good Music Speaks

In tonal harmony, there is a concept of distance between keys.  Sometimes we talk about two keys being very closely related to each other.  At different times we describe two key centers as being very distant from one another.  This is a struggle for language to try to describe the feeling that our ears get in these situations, but it is not difficult to explain what is going on.  A major scale has eight notes, including the octave.  Comparing the notes of the B flat major scale to the notes of the F major scale, we find they have 7 of the same notes in common.  There is only one note that is different (E flat/E).  This makes the keys of B flat and F sound very closely related to our ears.  Two scales that share very few, or no notes in common, sound very distant from one another.  That…

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