What Is The Difference Between Major & Minor?

What Is The Difference Between Major & Minor?

In music, what is the difference between major and minor?

C Major & Minor Music Scale

This is an extremely loaded question with mountains of information waiting to tumble down upon us. To make it easier to handle let’s narrow it down to what is the “effect” of major and minor in music, and more importantly, what is the effect on the listener.

The foundation of Western Music is the major scale and the harmonic possibilities (chords) within it. This series of notes comes to us directly from the Greek modes. If we take the note series C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C there is a half-step between E&F and B&C, all other notes are a whole step apart. The Greek modes go from A-A, B-B, etc. all the way to G-G with the half step intervals shifting position because E&F and B&C are a half step apart and all the other notes are a whole step apart regardless of where they are used or what scale they are being used in. There are 7 Greek modes: the Ionian mode is from C-C and is commonly referred to today as the Major scale and the Aeolian mode is from A-A and is commonly referred to today as the Minor scale. These 2 scales, major and minor, share the same notes, the only difference between them is where they start and stop. Another way to put it would be to say how they resolve or come to rest within the listener’s ears.

The major scale is used to denote: good, air, light, positivity. The minor scale is used to denote: evil, darkness, mystery, sadness.

When we play or compose music properly, what we are really doing is giving voice to feelings and emotions that reside within us. These feelings and emotions that are communicated are not in result of some man made system of audio processing, they are the result of the effect that these particular patterns in sound have and always have had on human beings. The study of music theory in the West has always been based on what the sound is telling us. We listen and then make up rules on music theory and harmony.

If you’re writing a happy song chances are your first chord would be C, and if you had just lost a loved one Cm.

Composer vs Arranger

What is the difference between being a musical composer and being a musical arranger?  While a composer creates the original melody and harmony the arranger takes the composition and filters it thru the melody, harmony, bass lines and rhythm of the style of music and pairs it with the intended ensemble.  In a lot of cases the distinction between the two is very fuzzy.  When Beethoven wrote the 5th Symphony he composed it while arranging it for the orchestra at the same time and at least in Beethoven’s case made it almost pointless to do anything with the work other than to leave it as it is.  The 5th Symphony would not work for Peter, Paul and Mary or Maroon 5.

For me it brings up the question of the symbiotic relationship between a songwriter (composer) and an arranger in modern day popular music.  If you look at the credits on Michael Jackson’s Thriller album it lists a variety of composer’s, arranger’s (8), instrumentalists, etc.  The arrangers are listed as sectional and Quincy Jones is listed as the producer which in this case means one generally in charge of the entire production.  I would put forth that Mr. Jones was actually the arranger of the entire album.  He took a wonderful group of musicians, oversaw their efforts and channeled them thru his vast amount of musical experience, knowledge and God given talent.  Thriller would not have been the album it was without the incredible talent and composition of Michael Jackson (and others) and the amazing arrangement and production skills of Quincy Jones.

Welcome To RobertAbateMusic.com

Welcome To RobertAbateMusic.com

I would like to cordially invite everyone to visit my new website: robertabatemusic.com. The main focus of the site is the sale of original composition and custom band arrangements. Original music for any purpose and custom ensemble arrangements for any size group or style. There are many playable audio files showing examples of these services including the entire score to my latest musical theatre piece. There are also pages devoted to performance and lessons.

Dance companies, movie makers, song writers wanting professional recordings of their songs, vocalists needing demo tunes with instrument back up, commercial producers, musical theatre playwrights, professional bands needing hot custom arrangements and artists recording CD’s with no band are just a few of the types of people who would profit and find value in my services. All genres and styles.

Please visit the website, enjoy the musical experience and recommend me to anyone you think would need or benefit from what I have to offer.

The audio file with this post is an original composition entitled “She’s Got The Fever”, from my new CD of the same name. Thank you very much, Robert.