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 Post subject: Chanson pour une vie
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 4:29 pm 
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Hello, musicians. My name is Christian Perrotta, I'm Brazilian and 21 years old. I have never studied music in a school or elsewhere. I learnt it all by myself. Only now I'm studying music at the university.

This is a composition of mine that people seemed to like (some friends and friends of friends). However, I've never had an opinion from musicians about my music. I'd like to have any comment, criticism, praise etc. What else you'd like to add to my compositional process.

Thanks


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 Post subject: Re: Chanson pour une vie
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 1:57 am 
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Hello Christian,
Well this work bears the traits of exploration and discovery. I can hear you exploring with this piece. The basic harmonic language is Common Practice Period (meaning the pervasive use of tertian harmony (chords of stacked 3rds) and functional tonality), but you don't yet seem to understand the principle of Closely Related Keys (simply put they differ by only one degree (added or subtracted) in the key signature, whether major or minor mode*) and how to move from one to another (modulation). From about the 20-40 second mark, you use chromatic tones that are out of context. As a composer you must a have a reason for every note you write, understanding it's purpose and context. Your texture is basic, and known as treble-dominant or homophonic in that there is a high melody part supported by harmonic activity below: a lot of great music has been written this way. There seemed to be some shift(s) of meter (not tempo) that were not immediately inteligible. The most difficult thing you will likley need to tackle is to understand harmony, funtional tonality, how to use non-chord tones (dissonance), and form (the larger shape of musical works). This is no easy task and is in fact the reason many go to college/university/conservatory to be instructed in. Music is a language, and as such it has its grammar, cadences, syntax, lexicon, and literary forms, not to mention styles. It is no minor task to prepare oneself to be sufficiently skilled to compose. If you have patience and tremendous dedication, to the point of great sacrifice, then this is something you will be able to develop. You are not too old, but most your age pursuing composition would already know all the basic science of this art. As with any other artist, you learn the craft and the history of those before you. Then you may be able to contribute something new and interesting. Good luck and study very hard! :)

Regards,
Eddy


* e.g.: F major/ D minor - C major/A minor - G major/E minor. (6 closely related keys)

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: Chanson pour une vie
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 1:58 pm 
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This is the same point I am always making - though without all the factual information. One cannot just start composing out of the blue,
unless one has tremendous originality. And even then, some basics have to be learnt (spelling :P ) Clumsy harmonies and modulations usually give away amateur compositions, as well as a lack of development and purpose. Everybody can dream up a tune (though few can dream up a GOOD tune) but to do something interesting with it, that will capture a listener for more than 10 seconds, is another matter. The biggest mistake IMO, one that many make, is to doodle for 5 or 10 minutes minutes around a single idea (a Ravel could do that in his Bolero, but that's another ballgame). If you have little material, keep it short. That is one of the reasons while Riley's piece 'Despair' is good, it knows when to stop.

Sorry to be a bit critical, Christian. Nonetheless, welcome to PS, and thanks for your feedback on other composition efforts.

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Nothing is always absolutely so -- Sturgeon's law
Chris Breemer


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 Post subject: Re: Chanson pour une vie
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 5:25 pm 
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Thank you so much, guys, for listening and helping me. You don't need to be sorry due to the criticism. That's what we need! There would be no purpose to post a composition here just to be praised.

Well, understand very well what are closely related keys. However, I do unterstand too that I don't HAVE to modulate to a closely related key. I started with the key of E major, but I decided to go to A minor! In fact, I challenged me to fo that. The main idea (the A minor melody) existed before the introduction. So I started the introduction in another distant key and gradually reached the A minor in chromatic progressions.

I'm not an expert in Harmony, I'm still studying it with the book Harmony, by Schoenberg. I've been using this new knowledge in some compositions, but this one is an older one, so yes, it's very exploratory!

Well, your comments will certainly be in my mind the next time I'll start a composition.

Thank you again


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 Post subject: Re: Chanson pour une vie
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 6:54 pm 
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Perotta wrote:
The main idea (the A minor melody) existed before the introduction. So I started the introduction in another distant key and gradually reached the A minor in chromatic progressions.

The purpose of an "Introduction" is three-fold: to establish the key, the meter and the tempo. View the first few beats of the Mozart Symphony in G minor no 41 (or 40, it's been a while). One would not write an "introduction" in another key. This is also true of a Coda or Codetta. Examples are almost ubiquitous.

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: Chanson pour une vie
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 3:02 am 
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Quote:
One would not write an "introduction" in another key.


Well, I did it. In addition, I don't imagine this introduction as an anticipation or whatelse, but think of a person in a parachute, descending until he lands on the floor: that's the idea of this beginning. That's why I have different keys. The beginning is kinda volatile... till it lands the real key of A minor.

I'm not here to justify myself and convince people to accept my musical idea, but I'd like to put some of these "closed concepts" on discussion, like "The introduction HAS THE PURPOSE OF...". Why can't we think "an introduction CAN HAVE THE PURPOSE OF..."? Ok, everybody in music do an introduction this way... that's not the reason why I should do the same.

I really apreciate what people are saying here, these compositional discussions are what make the pulse of musical experimentation and creation alive!


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 Post subject: Re: Chanson pour une vie
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 3:41 am 
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Perrotta wrote:
Quote:
One would not write an "introduction" in another key.


Well, I did it. In addition, I don't imagine this introduction as an anticipation or whatelse, but think of a person in a parachute, descending until he lands on the floor: that's the idea of this beginning. That's why I have different keys. The beginning is kinda volatile... till it lands the real key of A minor.

I'm not here to justify myself and convince people to accept my musical idea, but I'd like to put some of these "closed concepts" on discussion, like "The introduction HAS THE PURPOSE OF...". Why can't we think "an introduction CAN HAVE THE PURPOSE OF..."? Ok, everybody in music do an introduction this way... that's not the reason why I should do the same.

I really apreciate what people are saying here, these compositional discussions are what make the pulse of musical experimentation and creation alive!

Christian, I would respond this way, the reason is that the "rules" of form and function are not a priori, they are gleaned from the practice of composers. So more fundamentally, when I said "One would not write an 'introduction' in another key," I was really saying that composers would not write an introduction in another key. Of course there are exceptions to everything; yes, the Chopin Fantasy in F minor actually ends in A-Flat Major, and the delightful J.S. Bach Prelude in C Minor, BWV 999 ends in G major, but as a rule, pieces end in the same key that they start in. For every exception you might site I could probably list hundreds (if not thousands) of examples that are consisitent with what I'm saying. If you want to bend and stretch the rules like Beethoven, Liszt, Strauss or Mahler did, or reinvent them entirely like Schoenberg, then you must first prove your skill and earn the right to be unorthodox. If you haven't you should listen to the early works of Schoenberg; you would never have recognized him (if you know his dodecaphonic language and style that he is known and credited for). Or, see Picasso's earliest works like his The First Communion (1896) http://lh4.ggpht.com/_ChFRT_6jNKM/SXL9WTOswMI/AAAAAAAAFF8/uOVwqgyF0oU/%5BClio%20Team%5D%20%201896%20%20Picasso%20%20La%20Premi%D0%9Are%20communion,%20The%20First%20communion%20%20Huile%20sur%20Toile%20%20166x118%20cm.jpg
and works of his Blue Period and Rose Period, before he comes to his great contribution of Cubism.

Perotta wrote:
However, I've never had an opinion from musicians about my music. I'd like to have any comment, criticism, praise etc.


Well, now you have it. :wink:


Edit: corrected name

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: Chanson pour une vie
PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 4:06 pm 
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Hi Christian, Welcome to PS.

I've listened to this and to your fugue. I haven't had the chance to comment until now. In this post, I'm adding my 2 cents worth about some of the discussion between you and Dr. Eddy. In the next post, I will have a few issues about this compostion that you may wish to explore.

For an early level composer I think that you are getting a grasp on the composition process. What you have presented here and particularly in your fugue shows that you are learning about composition and making conscious decisions as opposed simply providing random improvisations, as some have, and calling them compositions.

Quote:
I'm not here to justify myself and convince people to accept my musical idea, but I'd like to put some of these "closed concepts" on discussion, like "The introduction HAS THE PURPOSE OF...". Why can't we think "an introduction CAN HAVE THE PURPOSE OF..."? Ok, everybody in music do an introduction this way... that's not the reason why I should do the same.


Terms like "introduction", "coda", "exposition" and so forth came about as a means to discuss music. Over time they have come to represent generally agreed upon principals to allow us to further talk about details of the actual music. The above terms describe a function within a composition. If the music does not fit the function, then the wrong term has been used. This does not make the music wrong and we do not need to redefine the term to fit the music. To mess with an old saying, "unless it waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, it is not a duck."

In the case of "introduction", at its most basic level, an introduction first defines its position within a piece -- at the beginning. Secondly it is used to create an expectation of what is to be presented in the main body of a piece. It may do so in any number of ways, which are dependant on the types of musical materials used. It may be as simple as a single chord or it may be expanded into the proportions of an entire movement. It may prepare the mood of the piece. It may prepare a basic rhythmic pattern or accompaniment pattern. It may introduce some idea of the thematic material of the main body, or it may be thematically unrelated. Whatever it does and how ever it does it, by the end, we should expect something to happen.

In tonal music, that which is built around a primary tonal center or key, one important function is to prepare for the initial tonic gesture in the main body. This does not necessarily mean that tonic must be featured, or even announced in the introduction, only that by the end, one expects to hear tonic soon. This has often been done by preparing the dominant (the harmony built on the 5th step of the primary scale) of the tonic. Thus, the final harmony in an introduction is frequently the dominant triad or a dominant 7th. In the case of a dominant triad, it has often been presented by establishing the key of the dominant.

Quote:
The main idea (the A minor melody) existed before the introduction. So I started the introduction in another distant key and gradually reached the A minor in chromatic progressions.


In this case, your introduction in E major for a piece in A minor is not particularly unusual. E major is not a distant key to A minor. E major is the dominant of both A minor and A major. The idea of closely related keys being those with just one sharp or flat difference does not completely work when discussing minor since minor key signatures are derived through unusual means and have not always been the same as we use today. (For example, Bach would use the key signature of C major for some pieces in D minor, indicating the dorian mode of minor, not the aeolian or natural minor). Also remember that the primary forms of minor used in tonal music are the Harmonic with the same 7th degree as major (G# for A minor) and melodic minor, which contains the same 6th and 7th step as in major (F# and G#).

Anyway, your introduction can be easily analyed simply as an extended dominant harmony. It functions the same whether in notation you use the key signature of E major or use accidentals with the A minor key signature.

Scott


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 Post subject: Re: Chanson pour une vie
PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 3:10 am 
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Scott, you have reached the point! I've been thinking about these matters of terminology and the discussions here about the "introduction". I believe we can have your words as a good explanation to what happens in my Chanson pour une vie.

Your comments have really collaborated to my work. You see, I study composition techniques, harmony, counterpoint, and I try to put this knowledge in my musics, although (as I've been perceiving here) I don't see many things I do! We study, but we do not think on EVERYTHING we do... if I do so, this is not music, but mere mathematics. The spontaneity and the intuition are the elements which give life to the techniques we know. This is art!

Thank you a lot for you attention. Hope we can exchange more.

Chris


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 Post subject: Re: Chanson pour une vie
PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 6:25 am 
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RSPIll wrote:
E major is not a distant key to A minor

I'm afraid Scott is quite erroneous regarding this matter. (Sorry Scott :( ) The chord of E major is diatonic to A Harmonic minor due to the altered raised 7th; this is in fact the very reason for the Harmonic minor form: to have a Major dominant chord. But the key of E major, is very remote from the key of A minor. You will recall that I mentioned that related keys differ in their signatures by one, in either dirrection. A Minor, sharing the same key signature as C Major, has zero (0) sharps or flats in the key signature. To go towards more sharps (or less flats), we go to 1 sharp and have the keys of G major/E Minor. To go in the other direction or to go towards more flats (or less sharps, again from zero sharps/flats) takes us to 1 flat and the keys of F major/D minor. These encompass the Closely Related Keys. E Major is 3 more steps away than G Major. Another way to view it is that E major has F#, C#, D#, (and G#) where A minor has F, C and D (and maybe G too). If you compare closely related keys, their Key Signatures differ only by one (1) step, and their scales have one (1) note different: compare G Maj (1 sharp) with C Maj (0 sharps) or D Maj (2 sharps). The Beethoven Sonata in C major, Op.53 (Waldstein), 1st movement, is exemplary precisely because of its distant modulation from C major (the relative of A minor) to E major for the second theme of the Exposition; an unusual modulation to a very distant key! I wish to be helpful here and not pedantic. I so love teaching theory and appreciate anytime that I can share concepts on this forum. I hope it helps.

_________________
Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


Last edited by musical-md on Sun May 08, 2011 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Chanson pour une vie
PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 2:28 pm 
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In fact, they're not closely related keys... but does it count that I passed throug other keys before reaching A minor? I just have one cadence (into A minor), so we have to consider the modulation simpy E major to A minor (without the intermediate keys)? This is really a doubt, so if you could answer me...

Thanks


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 Post subject: Re: Chanson pour une vie
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 5:44 am 
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RSPIll wrote:
In this case, your introduction in E major for a piece in A minor is not particularly unusual. E major is not a distant key to A minor. E major is the dominant of both A minor and A major.


My purpose in my statement about E major as an introduction to A minor was because Christian keeps thinking the he must go through all sorts of steps to get from E major to A minor when in fact he has everything he needs. To get from E major of the final cadence of the introduction to A minor is as simple as a finger slipping from an "E" above the bass to "D" forming the dominant 7th of A major or minor.

Let's look at the situation being discussed. The intent is to go from E major to A minor, not from A minor to E major as a secondary key of the piece. This represents a V - I harmonic movement, the most tonally decisive movement in music. In a Schenkerian point of view, this would simply represent an extended unfolding of the E major triad and could even be thought of as an extended dominant upbeat. Schoenberg's "regional" view offers similar conclusions. Everything between the initial E and the final E is just fortification or embellishment of the dominant harmony. It is no more than a basic gesture found over and over in the music of the "Common Practice Era", V - I or Dominant to Tonic.

The brighter major mode inflection of the introduction delays and provides contrast to the darker minor mode of the main body of the piece. One may want to introduce the "C" of A minor into the E major introduction to hint of what is to come. That can be done as simply as substituting the minor form of the IV of E (A minor) through modal interchange. This usage of the "foreign" A minor is nothing exceptional and involves no modulation.

musical-md wrote:
RSPIll wrote:
E major is not a distant key to A minor
I'm afraid Scott is quite erroneous regarding this matter. (Sorry Scott :( ) The chord of E major is diatonic to A Harmonic minor due to the altered raised 7th; this is in fact the very reason for the Harmonic minor form: to have a Major dominant chord. But the key of E major, is very remote from the key of A minor.


First, I did not use the term "closely related", I chose the wording "not distant" specifically. The simplistic view of "closely related keys" as being those that differ by one sharp or flat derives from the theories of music presented by Rameau in 1722 and further reiterated and repackaged by Reimann in the early 20th century and from which the theory texts pervasive through the first 3 quarters and on into the last quarter of the 20th were derived.

To put Rameau's work into perspective, Bach would not enter service at Leipzig for another year, C.P.E. Bach was 9 years old, Style Galant was just beginning, and Haydn would not be a gleam in anyone's eye for another 10 years. There was a lot of "Common Practice Era" music to be written.

Walter Piston (whose "Harmony" is a derivative Rameau / Reimann) recognizes an additional force at play in key relationships, interchangeability of modes. In his book (1959 edition page 82) under the section "Related Keys" he states ""The relationship of keys has two aspects of definition. The first conception is based on the number of tones in common between two keys." He then continues using the same description that you have given concerning the one sharp more or less of the key signature.

During the next section "Interchange of Modes" he gives the second aspect. I quote "During the nineteenth century, as more interest in harmonic color developed, the latent potentialities of another aspect of key relationship were exploited. This is the closeness of the major mode to the minor mode having the same tonic. Under the principles just outlined ("Related Key Section that I just described"), the keys C major and C minor are rather distantly related since there is a difference of three flats in the signature. We have seen, however, that these two keys are practically identical, having as they do the same tonal degrees and really differing only in the third degree. Practice in the nineteenth century, and much individual practice in the eighteenth, tends to regard the two modes as simply two aspects of one tonality, so the 'family' of keys is greatly enlarged."

Unfortunately, other than introducing a close relationship between parallel major and minor, Piston gives little more information about how this works. But, Schoenberg does give us a chart that includes the parallel modes.

Schoenberg, in his "Structural Functions of Harmony" relates the keys through "regions". In is chapter "Regions in Minor" (pg. 30, 1983 ed.) he shows the relationships of keys through a chart, first a general description and then in a minor (conveniently).

G em E c#m C#
em C am A f#m F#
fm F dm D
Bb

(there is a polygon in the shape of a "cross" that encompases "am", the keys above and below ("em" and "dm") and the ones immediately to the right and left ("C major" and "A major") defining the closest relationships). You will note that he places E major (the dominant) in the same relationship as G major (a key that is admitted by the above "one sharp, one flat difference system").

This diagram indicates that Schoenberg believes that the closest relationships are those in the 3 x 3 square around "am", though he does indicate two different degrees of closeness. Those keys further from that square are more distant. But in this reckoning, E major is not "very remote" (
musical-md wrote:
But the key of E major, is very remote from the key of A minor. You will recall that I mentioned that related keys differ in their signatures by one, in either dirrection.
).

Schenker views the tonality as a "major-minor" complex, thus simply bypassing the need for "interchangeable modes". In his system, he is most concerned with the root/tonic relationship by 5ths to tonic. In this case, "E major-minor", being the "first 5th" in relationship to "A" is the closest -- it represents the dominant - tonic relationship (V - I).

musical-md wrote:
You will recall that I mentioned that related keys differ in their signatures by one, in either dirrection. A Minor, sharing the same key signature as C Major, has zero (0) sharps or flats in the key signature. To go towards more sharps (or less flats), we go to 1 sharp and have the keys of G major/E Minor. To go in the other direction or to go towards more flats (or less sharps, again from zero sharps/flats) takes us to 1 flat and the keys of F major/D minor. These encompass the Closely Related Keys. E Major is 3 more steps away than G Major. Another way to view it is that E major has F#, C#, D#, (and G#) where A minor has F, C and D (and maybe G too). If you compare closely related keys, their Key Signatures differ only by one (1) step, and their scales have one (1) note different: compare G Maj (1 sharp) with C Maj (0 sharps) or D Maj (2 sharps). The Beethoven Sonata in C major, Op.53 (Waldstein), 1st movement, is exemplary precisely because of its distant modulation from C major (the relative of A minor) to E major for the second theme of the Exposition; an unusual modulation to a very distant key! I wish to be helpful here and not pedantic. I so love teaching theory and appreciate anytime that I can share concepts on this forum. I hope it helps.


If you will recall, I said:

RSPIll wrote:
The idea of closely related keys being those with just one sharp or flat difference does not completely work when discussing minor since minor key signatures are derived through unusual means and have not always been the same as we use today.


I fully understand the key signature of C major and E major. Since my statement referred to minor, I am not sure what the example of the "Waldstein" Sonata was intended for. This example perfectly describes and instance where Beethoven chose to use the key of the major mediant in relationship to a piece in major instead of the textbook more normal dominant. But it really does nothing to prove the distance or closeness of these two keys, only Beethoven's compositional choices. Mind you, this piece also begins with a free interchange of the minor sub-dominant for the major sub-dominant and a half cadence incorporating the minor tonic instead of the expected major tonic all within the first phrase of a piece in C major!!

Though, I might have stated it better, I do believe that my statement clearly indicated that I was referring to the minor mode. So let me try to be clearer about my reasoning.

In the tonal system that developed during the 17th century, major mode was capable of fulfilling several functions using one scale, the major scale. Harmonically it contains the dominant root movement from V - I, and analagous movements from I - IV, II - V, VI - II III - VI, and VII - III. It naturally contains major harmonies on the primary chords of I, V, and IV (Thus making I - IV parallel to V - I). It naturally contains the melodic Leading tone to tonic 7 - 1. This with the 4th degree forms the tritone that resolves to the root and third of the tonic triad. The major dominant triad naturally contains the leading tone. All of this creating the strong dominant to tonic motion that the tonal system has been built on. In fact, tonic can be identified just by announcing dominant and sub-dominant in conjunction without actual reference to tonic.

The dominant also gains additional strength to identify tonic with the additon of the 7th (the 4th degree of the major scale).

Thematically, the lower tetrachord (1 - 4 or, in C major, C D E F) and the upper tetrachord (5 - 1 or, in C major, G A B C) are exactly parallel allowing motivic statements on both tonic and dominant, particularly important in fugue.

In minor, no single form of the minor scale can fulfill all of these purposes, and ,in fact, some are mutually exclusive. Thus, we have several forms of the minor scale, with at least two forms often operating simultaneously. To chose any one form of minor as the overriding form without recognition of the the others forms an incomplete theoretical description.

All three modal minors (aeolian, dorian, and phrygian) contain the root movement by perfect 5th as in major. None of them contain the leading tone or the major dominant required in the tonal harmonic system Aeolian does contain the same quality of chord above each of those roots, minor, for motivic development, but it looses the parallel motion between the lower tetrachord and the upper tetrachord. The lower tetrachord contains steps W H W from 1 to 4 while it contains H W W from 5 - 1.

Dorian, on the other hand, maintains the parallel tetrachords, but replaces the minor IV chord with major. Use of the major IV detracts from the minorness of a piece.

Of course, harmonic minor was devised to allow for the leading tone for the major dominant, a constituent of tonality. It is the driver of the structural harmony in the tonal system. But, it has its own problems melodically, unless the composer wants the sound of the augmented 3rd that is melodically characteristic of this form. It also does not have the requisite parallel lower and upper tetrachords for imitative counterpoint. And of course melodic minor smooths out the melodic movement, but harmonically, it admits two forms of IV and V.

One could further ask, "why aeolian as the natural minor and not dorian, which is just as natural?" In the modal system, aeolian was not even defined until 1542 when the theorist, Glaren, decided to fill in the modal system with modes on A, B, and C. The eight modes in regular use had been the authentic modes -- dorian, phrygian, lydian, and mixolydian -- which ran from final to final (the modal equivalent of tonic) and their plagal form, with the prefix "hypo-" added, that ran from the perfect 4th below to the perfect 5th above the final of the authentic mode. Though hypodorian has the same range as aeolian, its final is in the middle of the range.

There is actually more historic precedence for minor being derived from dorian rather than aeolian since it was in more common usage throughout the modal period. Fux's rules for dealing with dorian minor in his "Gradus ad Parnassum" form what we identify as melodic minor.

At least some aspects of minor in the tonal system may well have derived from the parallel major since the defining difference between a minor mode and a major mode is the third degree. Lower the third in major and you get melodic minor ascending. Lower it in mixolydian and you get dorian.

The only real reason for aeolian as the theoretical parent to tonal minor is that it represents the relationship of a third between the two tonics, vs. the relationship by a second represented by dorian.

So, what is the real key signature for the minor mode in tonal music? Due to the number of notes admitted into minor (nine with the two inflections of the 6th and 7th degrees; 10 if the b2 of phrygian -- which Schenker proposes as the derivation of the neapolitan harmony -- is also admitted.) The convention used for minor key signatures is just that, a convention that got its standing by usage. The only practical consideration for the key signature of the aeolian over that of the dorian is that it represents the tonal relationship between tonics a minor third apart as opposed to the more distant relationship of tonics a major second apart.

There are alternative viewpoints for many concepts in the field of music theory. In the end, music theory should work to describe the practice, not try to fit actual practice into theories that require exceptional instances to work.


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