Major isn’t happy, Minor isn’t sad

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Significant vs is often dealt with as the great dichotomy of harmony, however in truth and small are simply 2 points on our tonal spectrum. Streamlining the two down to obvious opposite feelings, pleased and unfortunate, actually doesn't justify how these sounds operate and contrast versus each other. So today we are going to take a look at a various way to think about these two tonalities and we will also discuss what truly makes a tune noise pleased or sad.

My video on the Modal Spectrum:.

And, an additional unique thanks goes to Douglas Lind, Vidad Flowers, Ivan Pang, Waylon Fairbanks, Jon Dye, Austin Russell, Christopher Ryan, Toot & Paul Peijzel, the channel's Patreon saints!.

0:00 Intro.
0:40 however delighted.
1:56 Major however sad.
3:52 Various types of and sad.
5:30 the tempo determines the .
7:10 Synchron Duality Strings.
7:56 .
9:36 Modal Spectrum.
13:04 Patreon.


Major isn't , Minor isn't sad

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  1. I find major chords in sad songs are even sadder, like for no one and no surprises

    1. That uses a minor 4 chord, and I – iv is one of the saddest chord movements (I think at least)

    2. i think the word he was looking for was melancholic when describing the major sad feeling

  2. Hey I just want to say I love these videos about like general song structure you’re the reason I started composing

  3. Most sad songs are in major. That I-iii change is the saddest chord progression. IV-iv-I is a close second… also in major.

    1. Sorry, natural minor take the cake here for poignance. The VI-i is classic, the i-Vi is classic, basically every sequence and combination of the v VI VII & I chords Plus inversions can create an extremely poignant chord progression, and it’s extremely flexible too.

    2. I’d argue that the minor plagal cadence is far sadder. It involves the major 4 being a cornerstone of the major key but then injuring it by going to the minor 4 instead before resolving. That is the saddest chord move I could think of. Also, harmonically, the minor plagal cadence is the exact opposite to the perfect 5-1 cadence so it sounds just as perfect. 1 to 3 is sad and commonly used, but 1 to dominant 3 with a flat 13th that resolves down and then the minor 6 chord just squeezes more emotion out of it. I know I know… no need to overcomplicate it. Keep it simple, stupid.

  4. The best example of a song in minor key that is actually happy is probably Barbie Girl! Yes you heard it right! BARBIE GIRL by AQUA is in MINOR KEY!

    1. Minor key happiness is the snarkiest of happy songs; they are happy in wry, ironic, happy-go lucky ways. Now a challenge: anyone know a happy Phrygian song?,

    2. Yep, it’s a ridiculously good example of a song with a minor key chord progression that through some tricks of arrangement sounds very upbeat. Which is a perfect choice for its socially critical lyrics to feasibly sound like an endorsement, and that’s why it’s been so successful.

    3. To me the best example of a happy minor key song is Bon Jovi’s “Livin on a prayer”.

    4. That was written as a very sad song though, it was composed as a cynical critique.
      Which was actually a common theme in millenial EDM: Write a super sad/cynical song in a minor key, and package it as a happy eurodance hit.

    5. @@odw32 yeah definetely, Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” follows the same pattern

  5. “In fact another song…”

    Don’t do this.

    “…that has often made me want to cry-“

    Please no-

    “-and I know I’m not alone in that…”


  6. I agree – I say this all the time. The minor key songs tend to be “cooler”, darker and more “exotic”-sounding to the average ear, but they are often used in upbeat, dancy, or funky songs.

    Sad major songs can be more elegiac and dramatic, especially because they allow us to sprinkle in the contrast of minor chords. Going from “light” to “dark” is arguably sadder and even more tragic than just going from dark to even darker.

    Hard to explain in two paragraphs, but I generally agree.

    1. @@DavidBennettPiano Yes, I rate it better than the average David Bennett Piano video, which is already a high bar

    2. Another great video. Highly informative, and fascinating. I love the drawing upon well-known pop/rock songs to illustrate the technical point being explained.


  7. So I guess Nigel from Spinal Tap wasn’t completely correct when he said “D minor is the saddest of all keys” haha

    1. Well, I’ve heard Rick Beato saying the same thing as Nigel several times. Granted, he chuckles every time he says it but still…

    2. @@smithjohn383 He occasionally acknowledges the reference so it is a little humour creeping in.

  8. My go-to example of happy music in a minor key has always been the entire genre of klezmer. Summed up perfectly by the song in Crazy Ex Girlfriend…

    🎵 Nights like these are filled with glee
    Noshing, dancing, singing, wee!
    But we sing in a minor key
    To remember that we suffered. 🎵

  9. Major key songs that are sad: Green Day’s “Wake me up when September ends”; Coldplay’s “Fix you”; Eric Clapton’s “Tears in heaven”; Blink 182’s “I miss you”; My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” and “Helena”. Minor key songs that are happy: Mika’s “Relax, take it easy”; Dua Lipa’s “Levitating”; Bon Jovi’s “Living on a prayer” and “You give love a bad name”; Arctic Monkeys’ “Do I wanna know?”; The Weekend’s “Can’t feel my face”; Europe’s “The final countdown”. I could go one even more but I’ll stop there!

    1. Wow, thanks for mentioning Mika’s Relax, Take It Easy. Haven’t heard that song in years

    2. Wake me up when September ends and Welcome to the black parade{Sometimes I get a feeling section} use very similar chord progressions actually, with the descending bass line (of the major scale).But September ends has a minor plagal cadence,so more melancholy from that.

    3. @@avijatsinharoy8944 I know, David did a great video about those descending chord progressions and a great video about the minor plagal cadence. Still they’re both in the major key and sad

  10. i never thought i needed a melancholic, somber version of the friggin tetris theme

  11. “No surprises”, “Fake plastic trees” and “True Love Waits” are among the most depressing Radiohead songs, but all of them are in a major key.
    “Lazarus” by porcupine tree is in A-Major, but is one of the more melancholic songs on Deadwing

  12. First sad major song I thought of was the beginning scene in Up. Old-school Pixar knew how to get us, man.

  13. I really enjoyed this one. One of the clearer explanations of major, minor and modes that I have heard. David’s a pretty smart dude.

  14. Wow this is mmmmindblowwing 🤯
    David thank you very very much for all what you are doing. You are so cool ❤

    I watch your videos rarely, because I’m interested in music relatively less than in other my hobbies. But I feel happy every time I notice your new video in my YT-recommendations, even though I don’t click each of them. Your channel is literally a piece of gold, it can help so many new people in music. Thank you very much ❤ I wish you great continuation of all of your ideas and many many cool new ones 🌈 Good luck and good health to you, David 👍

    1. Me too. Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and the hymn “O Sacred Head Sore Wounded” are very poignant. And there’s something very evocative about Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.

  15. This is how I would explain it.
    Major isn’t happy, minor isn’t sad. But also …
    Major is happy, and minor is sad.

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