Schizo Sapiens (rainy_sunny) wrote,
Schizo Sapiens
rainy_sunny

О Ре-миноре

Наткнулся недавно на статью в Rolling Stone про тональность ре-минор. Автор, кажется, приняла всерьёз шутку из фильма Spinal Tap, про то, что D minor is the saddest key.

В некотором отрицательном восхищении (не часто видишь тексты, с которыми НАСТОЛЬКО всё не так) я написал комментарий на Реддит, а потому подумал — а пусть и тут будет. Статья на английском, поэтому и комментарий тоже. Если увидите в тексте грамматическую ошибку — желаю о ней знать )


That recent Rolling Stone Article about D minor called The Heartbreak Key has so many things wrong, I can't even... Some examples:


Even the most used keys of C, G, and A major, when paired with the right lyrics, can convey melancholy emotions, as in Prince’s “Purple Rain” and The Beatles’ “Yesterday.”

This sentence kinda implies that these songs were written in some of the mentioned keys. But "Purple Rain" is in B-flat major and "Yesterday" is in F major (ironically, it shifts to D minor at some points).


What might make D minor so glum is that the chord’s tonic, or its tonal center, is the downbeat D minor itself.

This explanation doesn't actually explain anything, unless we are already convinced that D minor chord is somehow inherently saddest of them all.

"What might make F# minor so glum is that the chord’s tonic, or its tonal center, is the downbeat F# minor itself." See? This one is just as convincing and justified as that one.


Nirvana’s Nevermind and Radiohead’s In Rainbows are often considered two of the most depressing albums to listen to, but Radiohead crafted its gloomy tone across major keys, and only one song off of both albums (“Polly” from Nevermind) is in D minor.

Polly is in E minor on the album and is in E-flat minor in Unplugged version.


As a case study, consider the D minor song “Nutshell” by Alice in Chains. {...} “Nutshell” is often played with the guitar tuned down half a step (to E flat minor, the enharmonic equivalent to D# minor)

That one got me confused. They even have chart with "10 saddest songs of all time" right beside this paragraph and it says that Nutshell is in D# minor (it would be more correct to call it E-flat minor but whatever). But then I saw this part in the beginning of article:

“Melancholy womanliness” was Schubart’s preferred term in describing the D minor key, a key of particular fascination because it lent itself to music in which “the spleen and humors brood.” And its sibling key, D# minor, somehow evoked “feelings of the anxiety of the soul’s deepest distress, of brooding despair, of blackest depression, of the gloomiest condition of the soul,” Schubart observed: “Every fear, every hesitation of the shuddering heart, breathes out of D# minor. If ghosts could speak, their speech would approximate this key.”

So, author, accepting Schubart’s opinion as universal truth, is treating D# minor and D minor as kinda same thing for the rest of article. Despite the fact that in modern equal temperament differences between keys that existed in Schubart’s time (because intervals were a little bit different in different keys) don't exist anymore. So D# minor is no more "sibling key" to D minor than C# minor. And even if we accept this "sibling thing", it's still wrong to call "Nutshell" a D minor song.


“Crazy in Love” is Beyonce’s sole track written in D minor to date — though the key is all but hidden by the energetic pulse and visually exciting music video. When the song is played in stripped-down acoustic chords, however, D minor takes center stage. Schubart talked of a “brooding love.”

Fittingly, many of these overly positive songs in D minor read like animated love songs on the surface, until you take a deeper look at the lyrics. These songs tend to put on a happy face in the face of brooding despair, and the manic mutability of D minor is overshadowed by an outwardly upbeat pop jam.

After all, what is sadder than a sadness that needs to be so cloaked?



So, let's wrap this up:

The author shows us in the article that saddest songs are not that often in D minor key.

She also shows that many songs in D minor don't sound sad.

But she wants to support "D minor is the saddest key" narrative so much, that she produces conclusions such as:

* Saddest songs are usually not in D minor because D minor is too sad, and you need some kind of "sad vs not-so-sad" dynamics to create really sad song ("Just as a story moves from rising action to climax to denouement, a chord progression follows a structure of suspense and resolution")

* Even if the song in D minor is not sad-sounding, there is sadness in it, if you look deeper.

Again, same things can be said about any minor key with same level of justification.

What surprises me most is that the author is "a Ph.D student in quantitative methods who writes about music, using data". But I don't see her actually using data in the article. She shows some sheets and plots, but they all outright contradict her statements. She could show us some real correlations. For example, if there was some list of saddest songs produced with a mass poll and it contained disproportionately many songs in D minor, THAT would be interesting. Or, in the actual article she's saying:

Other keys have certain chords that contribute crucial suspense, like with the denouement of C7 rounding out the E minor key (listen to the buildup in “I’m “Only Sleeping”), or the triumphal release of the F major progression (Paul McCartney’s rapture in “Hey Jude”). By contrast, D minor’s chord progressions feel more uniform across the board.

This would be appropriate place to show some data supporting that last statement. But alas...

Instead, for the whole article she just takes Schubart’s words and attempts to confirm them by made up "explanations". This article basically says "D minor is the saddest key because Schubart thought so". It doesn't even attempt to answer the question "is that really so?".

P. S. What irks me the most is probably circular logic. The article starts with the premise "D minor is the saddest key", and then it supposedly affirms it by other facts. But all the argumentation is actually based on initial premise. When some of the facts contradict the premise, instead of stopping and thinking "maybe it's not such a solid idea?" the author produces some convoluted explanation of why D minor is still the "saddest".
Tags: english, в интернете кто-то неправ, музыка
Subscribe

  • Bullshitting

    Наткнулся в твиттере на свежее исследование феномена булшиттинга (пиздёж по нашему). Было опрошено 40 тысяч молодых людей из девяти…

  • (no subject)

    Наткнулся на реддите на комментарий из обсуждения американских реалий, но он замечательно подходит и под нашу ситуацию с законом о «пропаганде…

  • Про «ЯНеБоюсьСказать», запоздалое

    Разбираю ЖЖ-хвосты. Я часто пишу посты, но так и не публикую: начинаешь о чём-то писать, и понимаешь, что вот тут оговорочка нужна, а тут вот тему…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 13 comments

  • Bullshitting

    Наткнулся в твиттере на свежее исследование феномена булшиттинга (пиздёж по нашему). Было опрошено 40 тысяч молодых людей из девяти…

  • (no subject)

    Наткнулся на реддите на комментарий из обсуждения американских реалий, но он замечательно подходит и под нашу ситуацию с законом о «пропаганде…

  • Про «ЯНеБоюсьСказать», запоздалое

    Разбираю ЖЖ-хвосты. Я часто пишу посты, но так и не публикую: начинаешь о чём-то писать, и понимаешь, что вот тут оговорочка нужна, а тут вот тему…