C-sharp minor

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C♯ Minor Attributes

Relative major: E major
Parallel major: C♯ major

  • Fr. do dièse mineur
  • It. do diesis minore
  • Ger. cis-Moll
  • Sp. do sostenido menor

C♯ minor is the minor tonality, scale or chord based on the tonal center of C♯ minor. The scale and tonality are made up of the pitches C♯, D♯, E, F♯, G♯, A, and B, while the chord comprises of C♯, E, and G♯. Its key signature consists of four sharps.

<music> \cadenzaOn \meterOff \key cis \minor cis! dis! e fis! gis! a b \bar "|" <cis,! e gis!>1 <e gis! cis!> <gis! cis! e> </music>

The C♯ major scale and chord inversions

C♯ minor's role in instrumentation

Throughout the 18th century, C♯ minor rarely appeared in symphonic writing. Only two symphonies were known to be written in this key during this period. One of them was written by Joseph Martin Kraus, but apparently found the symphony difficult to be performed so later re-wrote in the more common key of C minor. The key remained comparatively rare in symphonic writing through the next two centuries. However, two famous examples of symphony written in C♯ minor are Mahler's Symphony No. 5 (though only the first movement is in C-sharp minor) and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 7.

The key occurs more often in piano literature. While the key rarely appeared in Baroque literature, Beethoven's famous Moonlight Sonata being was written in the key of C♯ Minor and thus influenced several subsequent composers to write in this key. Chopin's famous Fantasie Impromptu was also written in this key. Perhaps the best example of a 20th century piano piece written in C♯ minor is Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C sharp minor.

While its relative major is considered a guitar-friendly key, C♯ minor is considered rather unfriendly to the guitar as its tonic chord does not utilize any of the open strings. However the key can still utilize four out of six open strings which makes it a considerably more friendly key than keys like F minor.

Extra-musical associations with C♯ minor

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Famous pieces in C♯ minor

  • Ludwig Van Beethoven - Sonata no. 14, "Moonlight Sonata"
  • Frédéric Chopin - Fantasie Impromptu
  • Gustav Mahler - Symphony No. 5