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PD: Piano friendly keys03 Oct 2005 19:55
Something that's been always behind me: why are Bb and Eb keys piano friendly.
On the Elton John analysis page (www.eltonscafe.com Your Song) I found some answer for this:

"But there is another reason for Eb. It’s also a very comfortable key for a pianist. Any key that includes 2 or 3 black notes matches up very well anatomically with the human hand. The pianist can keep their littlest digits, the thumb and 5th finger, on white keys and keep their longer fingers on black keys. It’s a much more natural feeling than the key of C, which uses all white notes, and which forces you to contort the hand a little more."
1.Sebastian 03 Oct 2005 22:02
Very interesting. Hadn't thought about that before. Not being properly a pianist myself I can't say much, but it's always comfortable and somehow "natural" to play flat Bs and Es, which is why probably Gm and Bb appear more often there than in guitar-written tunes.
2.Bohardy 04 Oct 2005 13:46
Yep. I can confirm that absolutely is the case.

Obviously on the guitar, if you play anything around the middle of the fretboard that doesn't onvolve open strings, it won't really feel any different to your fingers if it's in G, Ab, A, Bb, B, C or C#. But due to its layout, playing a riff/sequence in different keys on the piano can mean using different fingering patterns, and therefore can mean that something that's relatively easy to play in Bb is an absolute bitch to play in B-natural.

Whenever I fool around on the piano (all the time) you'll find me playing in Db, Fm, Cm, Eb, Bb, Ab and Gm more often than not. Sharp keys are more of a challenge to play in, and to keep myself fresh, challenged and versatile I force myself to play in them, or to play something that I usually play in one key in a different, more difficult key.

Also, aside from the fact that they seem to fit more naturally a hand's physiology, flat-keys on the piano have a different timbre to sharp keys, or more specifically, black-notes sound different to white notes.

To my ears at least, something in Db sounds far more subdued, soft, rounded and mellow than the same thing in A. which has a more spiky and cutting sound to it.
3.zaiga 10 Oct 2005 11:37
This is fascinating for me to know. Being a guitar player myself, I always assumed that for piano players it would be easiest to play the scales with the least black notes, but now I see that isn't the case. Would this be the reason why Freddie Mercury wrote most of his compositions in "weird keys" (according to Brian May) such as Db, Ab, etc?

Also, I agree that different scales have different feelings. I feel that a song in Cm sounds more truly sad than a song in Am, which has also a melancholic feel to, but it has a bit of hope in it too. That's just my interpretation, of course, but apparently a change of scale is not just a matter of transposing a song a few notes up or down.
4.PD 12 Oct 2005 19:15
I play piano on basic level, but I feel myself very far from recognising the piano friendlinss off these keys. You have to be reach the "intermediate/advanced" level to recognise it.
McCartney surprised me having performed "Martha My Dear" (Beatles) in Eb. I see it as a sign of serious formal training.
5.Bohardy 12 Oct 2005 21:42
Agreed PD.

But obviously the only reason the flat keys are for more advanced players is because they require a greater comfortability with the geography of the piano; it's easier for the beginner to play in C, F or G because the lack of black keys makes the patterns of the chord shapes easier to remember. C, Am, F, G, Dm and Em all have identical shapes on the piano. Transposed up a semi-tone, Db, Bbm, Gb, Ebm and Fm all are different shapes. In Db, only Db and Ab involve the same patterns for the fingers.
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