A major

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A major
A-major f-sharp-minor.svg
Relative keyF-sharp minor
Parallel keyA minor
Dominant keyE major
SubdominantD major
Component pitches
A, B, C, D, E, F, G

A major (or the key of A) is a major scale based on A, with the pitches A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Its key signature has three sharps. Its relative minor is F-sharp minor and its parallel minor is A minor. The key of A major is the only key where a Neapolitan sixth chord on <math>\hat2</math> requires both a flat and a natural accidental.

The A major scale is:

<score vorbis="1" lang="lilypond"> {

\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \relative c {

 \clef treble \key a \major \time 7/4 a4 b cis d e fis gis a gis fis e d cis b a2

} } </score> In the treble, alto, and bass clefs, the G in the key signature is placed higher than C. However, in the tenor clef, it would require a ledger line and so G is placed lower than C.

History[edit source | edit]

Although not as rare in the symphonic literature as sharper keys, examples of symphonies in A major are not as numerous as for D major or G major. Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, Bruckner's Symphony No. 6 and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4 comprise a nearly complete list of symphonies in this key in the Romantic era. Mozart's Clarinet Concerto and Clarinet Quintet are both in A major, along with his 23rd piano concerto, and generally Mozart was more likely to use clarinets in A major than in any other key besides E-flat major.[1] Moreover, the climax part of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto is also in A major.

The key of A major occurs frequently in chamber music and other music for strings, which favor sharp keys. Franz Schubert's Trout Quintet and Antonín Dvořák's Piano Quintet No. 2 are both in A major. Johannes Brahms, César Franck, and Gabriel Fauré wrote violin sonatas in A major. In connection to Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata, Peter Cropper said that A major "is the fullest sounding key for the violin."[2]

According to Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart, A major is a key suitable for "declarations of innocent love, ... hope of seeing one's beloved again when parting; youthful cheerfulness and trust in God."[3]

For orchestral works in A major, the timpani are typically set to A and E a fifth apart, rather than a fourth apart as for most other keys. Hector Berlioz complained about the custom of his day in which timpani tuned to A and E a fifth apart were notated C and G a fourth apart, a custom which survived as late as the music of Franz Berwald.[4]

Notable compositions in A major[edit source | edit]

See also[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. Mark Anson-Cartwright (2000). "Chromatic Features of E-Major Works of the Classical Period". Music Theory Spectrum. 22 (2): 178. JSTOR 745959.
  2. Peter Cropper, "Beethoven's Violin Sonata in A major, Op.47 'Kreutzer': First Movement", The Strad, March 2009, p. 64
  3. Rita Steblin (1996) A History of Key Characteristics in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries, University of Rochester Press, p. 123, ISBN 0835714187.
  4. N. D. Mar (1981). Anatomy of the Orchestra University of California Press, p. 349, ISBN 0520045009.

Further reading[edit source | edit]

  • Colin Lawson, Mozart: Clarinet Concerto, A Cambridge Music Handbook, Cambridge University Press, 1996.

External links[edit source | edit]

  • Media related to A major at Wikimedia Commons

Visibility[edit source | edit]

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