Lesson #384: A Simple Key Change

One of my closest friends can’t hear tone or, at least, hears it very poorly. This is something that I don’t understand. At. All. My life is so intrinsically linked to music that I find it completely baffling when someone can’t tell the difference between a major and minor chord when she hears it.

Now, I don’t have the musical ear some people have. Like my brother, for example. My brother is a bit of a musical savant. He can hear a piece of music once and play it back for you note for note. My cousin in a major western Canadian city has likely forgotten more musical theory than I’ve ever known in the first place. A college friend who recently did a Fulbright scholarship in music on the other side of the world could go on for days about composition. But I know when a note is out of place if I hear it.*

When I play the piano,** I like to take pieces and alter them from a major to a minor key and vice versa, just because I like to hear what it sounds like.


It turns out that a guy in Ukraine and his daughter have taken some popular songs and done exactly that. And it’s really effing brilliant. Some are obviously better than others, musically speaking. No Doubt’s Don’t Speak should never ever ever ever (there aren’t enough evers to cover how deep this goes — just like cheering for Cristiano Ronaldo) be done in a major key. The dissonance I love in the minor key is nearly unbearable in a major key. It’s like nails on a chalkboard. But Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit in a major key is sheer excellence! The Beatles’ Let It Be in a minor key is just brilliant! The Macarena in a minor key? SO. SO. GOOD!

I cannot encourage you (Dad, I’m talking to you specifically; you’ll absolutely love this) enough to go check out this guy’s YouTube channel because it’s been the best part of my week.

*One of the worst stage performances I’ve ever seen was a national touring company production of Miss Saigon in which the guy playing Chris (the male lead) was anywhere from marginally to horrifically flat for the entire thing. It was actually painful to sit through.

**A lot…I have one in my living room that I paid an absurdly small amount of money for — no joke, it was a significant amount under $100…the guy just REALLY wanted to get rid of it. It is admittedly in need of a new coat of varnish and the G below middle C sticks in the humidity, but apart from that, it does exactly what I want it to. It does need a tuning, but I’ll wait until the dry season is upon us before I do that.

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