If E-flat major were a person, who would he be?

When a composer sets out to write a piece of music — in any genre — one of the choices he or she must make is which key signature to use. What chord does it start on, and end on?

Over the years, many composers have sworn that each key has its own personality.

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 E-flat major, click on the orange play button. 

Follow along with the pop-up comments to find out what composition is playing.

E-flat major: Master of the Universe

Also known as:
The Swashbuckling Hero
The Born Leader

E-flat majors you might know:
William Wallace, especially as portrayed in Braveheart.
Aragorn, from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
Robin Hood.

The notes: E♭ - F - G - A♭ - B♭ - C - D - E♭

Number of flats: three.

Relative minor: C minor.

What they said about E-flat major in the 18th and 19th centuries:

"Heroic, extremely majestic, grave and serious; superior to C major." — Francesco Galeazzi, 1796

"Most harmonious and full key on the horn. Superior to all other keys for the charm and plenitude of its harmony." — Castil-Blaze, 1821

More E-flat major listening:

Prelude to Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner.

Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life) by Richard Strauss.

The Canadian connection:

PLAY "Fixed" by Stars.



Editor's note: Historical quotes and translations from A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries by Rita Steblin, UMI Research Press (1983). 


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