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E-flat minor

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Title: E-flat minor  
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Subject: Key signature, Enharmonic, 20th Century Fox, Symphony No. 8 (Mahler), Piano Sonata No. 8 (Beethoven), Relative key, String Quartet No. 15 (Shostakovich), 2 Become 1, Guitar chord, Take Five
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E-flat minor



The E (E-flat) minor scale consists of the pitches E, F, G, A, B, C, and D. In the harmonic minor, the D is raised to D. Its key signature consists of six flats (see below: Scales and keys).

Its relative major is G-flat major, and its parallel major is E-flat major. Its enharmonic equivalent is D-sharp minor. Changes needed for the melodic and harmonic versions of the scale are written in with accidentals as necessary.

Despite the key rarely being used in orchestral music other than to modulate, it is encountered in a small fraction of keyboard music, and has been most popular in Russian pieces. For orchestration of piano music, some theorists recommend transposing to D minor or E minor.

This key is often popular with jazz or blues influenced keyboard players as, using all the black keys along with the A, it allows for an easily playable blues scale.

Well known instrumental music in this key

In Book 1 of The Well-Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach, Prelude No. 8 is written in E-flat minor while the following Fugue is written in D-sharp minor. In Book 2, both movements are in D-sharp minor.

One of the few symphonies written in this key is Prokofiev's Symphony No. 6. A few other less well-known Soviet composers also wrote symphonies in this key, such as Andrei Eshpai, Janis Ivanovs (fourth symphony Atlantis, 1941), Ovchinnikov and Nikolai Myaskovsky. Aram Khachaturian wrote his Toccata in E-flat minor while studying under Myaskovsky.

It is also the key in which Dmitri Shostakovich composed his final string quartet.

Alexander Scriabin's Prelude No. 14 from his 24 Preludes, Op. 11, is in E Flat Minor.

Sergei Rachmaninoff's Elegie, Op. 3, No. 1, is in E-flat minor, as is his Étude-Tableau, Op. 39, No. 5. These pieces are noted for being dark and mysterious (a characteristic of this key), as shown even in the later jazz compositions "'Round Midnight" and "Take Five", which are also in the key.

Oskar Bohme's Trumpet Sextet, Op. 30 is written in E-flat minor.

The extended orchestral introduction to Part II Gustav Mahler's Eighth Symphony is in E-flat minor, as is the dark orchestral introduction to Beethoven's only oratorio, Christ on the Mount of Olives. Jazz composer Thelonious Monk's most famous composition, 'Round Midnight is in E-flat minor.

Guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen has composed a number of pieces in E-flat minor, including the Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra. .


Relation to scales and keys

References

  • A. Morris, "Symphonies, Numbers And Keys" in Bob's Poetry Magazine, III.3, 2006.
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