The study of how music works, seeking to identify structures and patterns in music.

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When is a piece in A minor versus C major?

When would you say a piece, or a movement in a symphony, is in A minor versus C major? They both use the same notes on the scale... what would indicate that the piece is in A minor? Let's take an ...
21
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2answers
2k views

Why does the C7 chord on guitar omit the G note (5th) in open position?

0 C7 C7 ( 1-3-5-flat7) is suppose to contain a G as its 5th right? So how does a guitar get away with this in open position?
21
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5answers
4k views

Algorithms for music composition

I'm a beginner in music but I also like to fool around with simple computer programs . So I found a little python library to generate MIDI files . So what I do now is that I have a few rhythm ...
20
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7answers
12k views

Why does the Dorian mode on C have two flats?

I'm studying scale modes and I just found on Wikipedia that the Dorian mode on C has two flats... Why is this? Because the Dorian mode is just the major scale (Ionian) starting from the second ...
20
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9answers
3k views

What are good resources for learning music theory?

What is a good resource for learning music theory, especially as it relates to the guitar, coming from a completely beginner's perspective? I had a musician friend try to teach me about modes such as ...
20
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2answers
516 views

Is this piece of renaissance music really in the locrian mode?

A fifteenth-century dance manual contains this piece of music: which appears to be (uncharacteristically) in the locrian mode. Is it really, or am I mis-reading? Does anybody know of other music ...
19
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6answers
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How to tell the time signature of a song by listening?

Every song has some kind of time signature; even if different parts of the song have different time signatures, there is always a time signature. When learning a song by ear and no score, knowing the ...
19
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5answers
12k views

What is Voice Leading?

In both classical music and jazz, we often encounter the concept of voice leading. What is it?
19
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4answers
2k views

Did baroque composers think of ritardando on their compositions?

I've been always told that whenever I play any baroque piece on the piano, I should take special care when attending to, for example, the amount of right pedal I should use. It sounded perfectly ...
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6answers
2k views

How to formulate a chord on the piano?

I play guitar, and am attempting to teach myself the piano. Which notes from a scale form the chord on the keyboard? Is there a common rule for this?
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3answers
2k views

How do you remember your music and how do I improve in this regard?

Okay, let me start with my own story. I jumped straight into playing classical pieces on the piano without much in the way of formal musical education. By now I know how chords are built (but it takes ...
19
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5answers
6k views

With sheet music, how do you determine whether the song is in the major key or the minor key?

For example, if the key signature on the left doesn't have any sharps or flats then it could theoretically be in either the C Major scale or the A Minor scale. How do you determine which one?
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16answers
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X or Y guitarist doesn't know music theory - how true is this statement?

We've all heard a statement similar to the following: X didn't / doesn't know any music theory and is one of the all time greats replacing X with a famous guitarist. Being a novice, I am ...
18
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8answers
22k views

What chord is formed by the open strings of a guitar in standard (EADGBe) tuning?

Here is something that I have been wondering about for a while: If you strum all six strings of a guitar in standard (EADGBe) tuning what chord would you play? I think it would be some variety of a ...
18
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10answers
3k views

Where do musicians draw their melodies from?

It has been in my head for so long. I am a visual artist, animator, I do motion graphics, 3D artwork and most of my work is done visually. I am puzzled by this question. Visual artists, they draw ...
18
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10answers
7k views

What makes an interval “Perfect”?

I've been trying to find an answer, but to no avail. Is what we call a perfect interval somewhat arbitrary? It seems as if the modern definition is "perfect under inversion". I know the other thing ...
18
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5answers
44k views

What is the first scale one should learn on guitar

The title really sums it all up but I'll try expand it slightly. Lets say I'm learning guitar and would like to improve my guitar work. Which of the scales should I learn first and why?
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4answers
3k views

Why do frets get closer as the notes get higher?

Why do spaces between guitar frets get smaller as the notes get higher?
18
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6answers
5k views

Relationship between 3/4 and 4/4

I understand the meaning of music notations such as 3/4, 4/4 and so on. The first number is the number of beats per measure, while the second number is the note-duration (quarter, half, one-eighth) ...
18
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11answers
931 views

Can a chord contain both the C and C♯ notes? (as opposed to containing C and D♭ notes)

Can a chord contain both the C and C♯ notes? Or do you always have to use D♭ rather than C♯ in a chord that already contains the note C? I'm guessing the answer is no, both C and C♯ should not be ...
18
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4answers
719 views

Where can I get started with my improvisation?

I have been playing the alto saxophone for a while now. I have also improvised from time to time and have some theoretical and practical background on the instrument, harmony, scales, etc. I have ...
18
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6answers
14k views

How many (major and minor) keys are there? Why?

I am wondering about how many major and minor keys there are and why. Here are some suggestions: 24 keys One could argue that there should be one major and one relative minor key for each of the 12 ...
18
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4answers
7k views

Why is the aeolian mode the minor scale?

I've studied music theory for many years now, and one thing has always confused me about the naming methodology for the minor scale. A major scale is based off the Ionian mode and consist of only ...
18
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5answers
3k views

Are doubly augmented and doubly diminished intervals practical?

In music theory when naming intervals, a lowered diminished interval is a doubly diminished interval (dd) and a raised augmented interval is a doubly augmented interval (AA). One example is a C♯ ...
18
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4answers
471 views

Is there a Relative Pitch Clef?

To start out: I am more-or-less familiar with all the standard musical clef notations, including F, C, and G clefs; as well as the fact that clefs can be movable (tenor clef, french violin clef...) ...
18
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1answer
913 views

Are there any machine-readable databases of chord progressions available?

I'm interested in doing some linguistics-inspired computational musicology on chord progressions and am wondering if there are any freely available databases of chord progressions. Obviously, I could ...
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9answers
6k views

Learning to create melodies

I've researched my question on Google before and came across a few threads which I've read a couple of times. So far I've got into music theory and understand scales, how chords are formed, I know ...
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2answers
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Why do notes have multiple names?

I've seen the same note called different names for example the note F# can also be written as Gb. Why is this the case and are there times to use one name over another?
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3answers
3k views

Why are thirds used to construct chords?

I am (slowly) learning music theory on the guitar. I've begun learning about scales and chords, and it seems that all chords are built using some combination of thirds. For example, a minor triad is ...
17
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2answers
13k views

What is concert pitch?

I was watching a song video lesson earlier today and it mentioned that the guitar should be tuned to concert pitch. What does that mean? Is it different from the normal EADGBE tuning?
17
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7answers
1k views

Where should I go to learn about non-Western scales (particularly Turkish & Greek)

Apart from Turkey and Greece, I mean. I'm looking for fairly abstract musicological and comparative descriptions, not "how to play"-style information. Particularly interested in departures from the ...
17
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4answers
10k views

How to play chords like G/B

I heard that if there is a chord written like x/y then that means an x chord with y in the bass. This can be played by playing x normally, but then playing the y note on the 6th string, correct? Then ...
17
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1answer
955 views

What is a multi-tonic system?

Coltrane changes, Slonimsky-Schillinger Symmetric System, three-tonic system, four-tonic system: what are they? How are they used in improvisation, composition, harmonization, and reharmonization? Are ...
16
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10answers
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Why is there a key signature if I never play those notes?

I'm just getting back to playing on keyboard. I'm trying to play "Ode to Joy" from the piano sheet but I have a basic question. At the beginning of some staffs, on the right of the treble clef I can ...
16
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7answers
11k views

What are the objective differences between the guitar and the piano?

The guitar and the piano are two of the most popular instruments which allow multiple notes to be played simultaneously. The acoustic quality of the two instruments are, of course, different, but ...
16
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5answers
10k views

Is it possible to find the correct chords from melody notes alone?

I'm caught up in this thought. My friend gave me just the melody notes of a song. Here it is, So, here is the problem: "without having the chords supplied, there is no way of knowing what the chords ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

What scale is this? ( A B C# D E F G A)

This is a very minor question, but I'm trying to learn a piece (a Bach Concerto in D minor) that has the following sequence of notes played in order: A B C# D E F G A My piano teacher said it was a ...
16
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4answers
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The differences between natural, harmonic and melodic minors

I'm studying scales and came across the natural, harmonic, and melodic minors. I understand the patterns for each scale but what other important differences exist between the three?
16
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4answers
2k views

Why do these progressions sound good?

I have always wondered why these progressions sound so exiting. I don't really know how the I-IV-things work, so I'll just write the chords. An explanation of what's really going on would be much ...
16
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5answers
1k views

Is it possible to create the illusion of a sub-harmonic?

The way I understand it, a normal plucked tone consists of a great many overtones in addition to the base tone. A pinched harmonic, however, shifts the base tone higher into the overtone series by ...
16
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3answers
596 views

How can I move beyond learning songs?

I can competently learn and play chord progressions and simple runs on the guitar but I do not feel like I understand the instrument. My playing progresses by memorizing songs. However, I know that ...
16
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2answers
9k views

What is a “Circle of Fourths” chord progression?

Are there any examples of songs that employ a Circle of Fourths that I might be able to practice along with? How does the progression tie in with different scales?
16
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9answers
1k views

Musical Aids to Memorize Intervals

As the tutor for my school's music department, I spend a lot of time helping students drill intervals. However, I only have a handful of songs to recommend recognition. P8 — Somewhere Over the ...
16
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2answers
5k views

Is there any real difference between Counterpoint and Polyphony?

From what I understand, they both kind of refer to the same thing. Why the need for 2 terms?
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6answers
5k views

What defines a Tango?

Is there something about a song that can be used to classify it as "a Tango"? There's different Tango styles (Finnish Tango music, for instance, is different from Argentinian) and there seem to be ...
16
votes
5answers
18k views

What is the difference between sharp note & flat note?

In guitar or generally in any musical instruments, what is the difference between sharp notes & flat notes? For example : Are A♯ & B♭ the same? And are C♯ & D♭ the same? Does that make ...
16
votes
6answers
929 views

Finding the Shadaj (tonic) in Hindustani Sangeet (North Indian Classical Music)

This question pertains to non-Western music and hence a bit of explanation before a question is stated. I listen to and play Hindustani Sangeet i.e. North Indian Classical Music which does not use ...
16
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4answers
4k views

Most common jazz theory method book

What is the most common text book for learning jazz music theory? I have a strong background in classical music theory and would like to supplement it. I particularly am looking for something for ...
16
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4answers
790 views

Why do melodies have harmonies?

It seems to me that every melody can be assigned chords. Although different people may assign different chords, in many cases, only certain chords (a small subset of all possible chord choices) seem ...
15
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7answers
608 views

Is it necessary to learn the names of fret notes?

I know the names of the notes up to about the fifth fret on each string. I play from sheet music occasionally, but mostly from tabs - so is it necessary to learn the names of the notes for each fret ...