The Signature Series

The Signature Series by producer Paolo Pietropaolo and co-producer Denise Ball is a music program that explores the personality behind the key signatures of music by personifying each of the 24 keys as a person.

A major: The Will-o’-the-wisp

If A major were a person, who would she be?

Here’s how The Signature Series works:

1. Select a musical key.
2. Gather the most famous melodies composed in that key.
3. Mash up.
4. Meet the person behind the key.

To get to know A major, click on the orange play button. Follow along with the pop-up comments to find out what composition is playing.

A major: The Will-o’-the-wisp

Also known as:
The Flibbertigibbet.
The Problem Child.

A majors you might know:
Jane Eyre.
Maria from The Sound of Music.
Veronica from the Archie comics.

The notes: A – B – C♯ – D – E – F♯ – G♯ – A.

Number of sharps: three.

Relative minor: F-sharp minor.

What they said about A major in the 18th century:
“Expression of joy, cheerfulness, dancing. Beautiful Saxon-green, refreshing aroma of lemons.” – J.J.H. Ribock, 1783

“Women and their sweet passions.” – Johann Jakob Heinse, 1795

More A major listening:
The Celebrated Minuet by Luigi Boccherini.

The Kreutzer Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven.

The Canadian connection:
“The Pilgriming Vine” by Basia Bulat.

Note: Historical quotes and translations from A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuriesby Rita Steblin, UMI Research Press (1983).

3 comments on “A major: The Will-o’-the-wisp

  1. Jeremy says:

    What fun — A major was really well done. I’ve recently developed an obsession with C minor, probably because it lets me use the lowest open strings on the viola and cello. Sounds like the key is often used for tragic build-ups that can then be resolved. The C Minor works that jump out at me as being representative are Beethoven’s 5th (of course), Bach’s 5th cello suite, and Shostakovich’s Symphony 8.

    The key seems polarized, maybe even a bit manic-depressive — simultaneously dark/melancholic/introverted and intense/powerful/ambitious. Definitely male, and probably a guy you’re fascinated by, but don’t necessarily want to be close to — aloof, brilliant and intimidating; most likely skeptical, pessimistic or cynical, with a flair for melodrama and the self-indulgence of grand gestures. In Myer’s-Briggs terms: INTP or INTJ, masterminds and architects, maybe villians if things go badly.

  2. Paolo says:

    Hey Jeremy,

    thanks for your comments – glad you enjoyed A Major!

    I can’t wait for you to hear C Minor because it’s just amazing what a similar impression that key has made on both of us. It first aired on In Concert a few weeks ago but I will be posting it on the Signature Series website very soon.

    Basically everything you’ve said above – I felt the same way about C Minor. I love that.

  3. Jeremy says:

    Too funny! I didn’t realize that it had already aired — I’ll look forward to hearing it.

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