A major

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A major
Relative key F minor
Parallel key A minor
Dominant key E major
Subdominant D major
Component pitches
A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A

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 \hat2 requires both a flat and a natural accidental.

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.

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, and generally Mozart was more likely to use clarinets in A major than in any other key besides E-flat major.[1]

A major is often thought of as the simplest key for violin and other orchestra instruments and beginning violin students' first pieces are usually simple ones in this key.[citation needed] 

A major occurs frequently in chamber music. Franz Schubert's Piano Quintet known as the 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]

Ascending and descending A major scale About this sound Play in just intonation .

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]

Classical[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mark Anson-Cartwright, "Chromatic Features of E-Major Works of the Classical Period (2000). 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]

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

Scales and keys[edit]