[Smt-talk] Pieces contrary to the minor/major = sad/non-sad stereotype

Steve Haflich smh at franz.com
Fri Oct 2 12:20:27 PDT 2009

Randolph Johnson <randolph.johnson at gmail.com> wrote:

   I'm interested in identifying pieces that are contrary to the
   minor = sad stereotype.  For example, no one would consider
   Mozart's "Rondo Alla Turca" to be "sad" even though it is
   (mostly) in the minor mode.  

Five years ago I was considering the major and minor contrasts in the
Alla Turca in a slightly different way.  In an hour or two I recast the
piece, entirely mechanically, changing every minor passage to the
parallel major and every major passage to the parallel minor,
readjusting the dominant accidentals as appropriate.  The rewrite
presented no awkward progressions, i.e. nothing required a non-rote

On first hearing the effect is mostly humorous, although there are a few
striking affective moments.  But after several hearings -- perhaps
spread over a few days -- the revised rondo begins to stand on its own
merits, sounds about a Mozartean as the original, and still has those
few strikingly affective moments.  I suspect that the initial humorous
effect arises mostly (entirely?) from prior familiarity with the

If my version had been the one Mozart composed, could it have stood?

Anyway, this was at least a humorous experiment and list members might
want to give it a listen.  A midi file and pdf score are at



I give permission for any kind of reuse.

Steven M. Haflich <smh at franz.com>

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