Examples of Musical Key Characteristics and Emotions

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Written By Tanya

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For some reason, musical key characteristics are not often discussed. It’s not as if professional songwriters randomly choose a key and add random chord changes to it and suddenly have the perfect feeling that matches their lyrics.

This is not a secret. It’s not a secret. I can almost guarantee that most songwriters ask themselves “Is it a positive emotion? If the emotion is positive, they will use a major key. If it’s negative, they’ll use minor keys. Unless you are a very experienced musician, you will either rip the key from another song or consult a list.

Here’s your list. So that your effort is not wasted, we’ll help you match the tone of your song with a particular key. You don’t need to create a bizarre juxtaposition effect. Just find the feeling that you are looking for from the list and get to work.

Understanding your emotions

Everybody knows the basic emotions. Many people also know that certain words are synonyms for these base emotions. They are not. These are subtle explanations of how certain base emotions can combine to create more complex emotions.

Comprehending the complexities of combined emotions

Your music’s power can be increased by being able to absorb all these words and the richness they conjure up. These words should not be added to your lyrics. This won’t make a difference. People must feel touched. You must create an environment that inspires people to recall their own memories and experiences.

You do this by selecting the right musical key to express the emotions.

Music Key Characteristics

We have listed every common key, major, and minor.

You can quickly find what you are looking for by using your browser’s search function. # denotes sharp, while b can be used to indicate flat. You may have contradictory emotions. This shows that the key can be used for describing a variety of polar topics.


Innocently happy

Pure and simple. Simplicity and naivety. Children are the key to success. Children are free from burden and full of imagination. Powerful resolve. Earnestness. You can feel religious.


Innocently Sad, Love Sick

Lamentations of lost love or unhappiness, and declarations of love. It is a longing soul searching for something new.


Despair, Wailing, Weeping

An intense expression of grief and sorrow. A time of self-punishment and penance. A conversation with God about the recognition of wrongdoings and atonement.


Grief and Depression

The Rapture of the Sad. The grimacing key to choking on tears. Although it can make others laugh, or smile to cheer them up, the truth is that it is incapable of laughing. It is full of sound, sonority and euphony.


Triumphant, Victorious War Cries

Rejoicing at conquering all obstacles, shouting “hallelujah!” Holiday songs, war marches, and invitations to join the winning side.


Serious, Pious and Ruminating

Feminine, brooding worry, melancholy, and contemplation of negative things.


Deep Distress, Existential Angst

The treatment of anxiety, existential terror, deep despair, and depression. The dark night of your soul. Fear, hesitation, shuddering, goose bumps. Ghost language.


Cruel, hard, but full of devotion

Love, Devotion, Intimacy, Openness, Honest Communion. Conversations with God


Quarrelsome and Boisterous. Incomplete Pleasure

Shouts of joy, complete delight, but bickering, short-fused and ready to fight


Be effeminate, amorous, and restless

The key can bring grief, sorrow, and restlessness. As a princess trapped in a tower, longing for her rescuer or future lover.


Fugitive, quick-tempered, passing regret

Compliance: Controlled calmness instead of the willingness to explode. Deeply angry, but still composed and social. Religious sentiment.


Obscure. Plaintive. Funereal

Deepest depression, sorrow over loss and death, misery, and lament, ready to die. Harrowing. Melancholic.


Take on Difficulties and Sighs of Relief

Triumph over evil, obstacles, hurdles. Overcoming your foes and finding victory in the end. Amazing clarity of thought, feeling.


Gloomy, Passionate Resentment

Discontentment, tears, discontentment and long periods of crying can all be signs of this disorder. You can still fight this feeling.


Grave, Magnificent, and Fantasy

Rustic, Idyllic, Poetic, Lyrical. Calm and content. Tenderness, gratitude and empathy. Friendship and faith. It is a gentle key that brings peace and tranquility.


Unsatisfaction, Discontent

Worry about the future, worry about a failed plan, and gnashing of teeth. A failed plan can cause concern. Struggling with malcontent and dislike


Death, Eternity and Judgement

Putrefaction, Wide-ranging views of the dark cosmos and its existence. Ghosts, Ghouls, Goblins, Graveyards. Haunting and Lingering.


Moaning, grumbling, and wailing

Suffering of the Heart, Lamentations and Life-Long Struggles. Negative views of the life experiences, competition, and growth.


Joyful, pastoral, declaration of love

Innocent Love, Satisfaction in the current state. Optimistic. Believe in Heaven and the possibility of reuniting lost loved ones. Young and energetic. Trusting the spirit of God.


Tender, Plaintive, Pious

Graceful and feminine in nature Can soothe.


Joyful, Quaint, Cheerful

Love, clear conscience, and hope for the future. Positive and able take control to make peace.


Terrible, the Night Mocking

The Garment of Night Surly, Blasphemous and Turning away both the world, and the divine. Preparations for what lies ahead. Pessimism, despair and giving up. Belief in darkness.


Harsh, Strong and Wild Rage

Uncontrolled passions. Anger, Jealousy, Fury and Despair. Ready to fight.


Solitary, Melancholic, Patience

Patience is the key to patience.

These feelings didn’t happen by accident. John Mattheson, a German composer and music theorist, wrote about it in his writings in 1713. Rita Steblin translated them in her 1983 book A History Of Key Characteristics In The 18th and Early 19th Centuries.

Once you are happy with the musical key you chose, it is time to decide which chord progression to use to enhance the feeling that you’re trying to achieve. For a quick guide, check out our post on Chord Maps .

Summary of Affective Key Characteristics

Below is a table that summarizes the key features of affective music.

C MAJORInnocently happy
C MINORInnocently Sad, Love Sick
C# MINORDespair, Wailing, Weeping
DB MAJORDepressives and Grief
D MAJORTriumphant, Victorious War Cries
D MINORSerious, Pious and Ruminating
D# MINORDeep Distress, Existential Angst
EB MAJORCruel, hard, but full of devotion
E MAJORQuarrelsome and Boisterous. Incomplete Pleasure
E MINORBe effeminate, amorous, and restless
F MAJORFugitive, quick-tempered, passing regret
F MINORObscure. Plaintive. Funereal
F# MAJORTake on Difficulties and Sighs of Relief
F# MINORGloomy, Passionate Resentment
G MAJORGrave, Magnificent, and Fantasy
G MINORUnsatisfaction, Discontent
AB MAJORDeath, Eternity and Judgement
AB MINORMoaning, grumbling, and wailing
A MAJORJoyful, pastoral, declaration of love
A MINORTender, Plaintive, Pious
BB MAJORJoyful, Quaint, Cheerful
BB MINORTerrible, the Night Mocking
B MAJORHarsh, Strong and Wild Rage
B MINORSolitary, Melancholic, Patience

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