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

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24
votes
9answers
4k views

Why are the white and black keys on the piano placed the way they are?

I am pretty convinced it is not just for historical reasons. I have found a mathematically-sound explanation of the twelve-tone musical scale, thanks to this question. Does anyone know a similar, ...
13
votes
5answers
299 views

What defines pop music as a genre? Which patterns and trends can we find in pop music?

Today, not all popular music is labeled as pop. To me it seems that pop has become a genre that can be defined by its musical patterns, techniques, and styles. Similar to rock, jazz, and classical ...
3
votes
4answers
78 views

How to write music using standard notation / Finding key

I would like to ask a typical question from amateur musician. Most of amateur musicians understand tabulature notation and often even some music theory, I personally can read notes but not in all keys ...
1
vote
2answers
107 views

What is this Chord Notation?

I know how to read Roman Numerals for chord progressions. But I've seen something recently I don't understand. I've attached an image below. What are those sub/post-strip's?
7
votes
3answers
108 views

Minor subdominant in a major key

I was listening to the song "go all the way raspberries" in "Dark Shadows." I sorta figured out the song by ear on my guitar and I was a little confused. It is in the key of A and uses D minor. Here's ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

What is a groove?

How is possible to "trigger" a groove? Is there a technical reason for the groove to happen? Is it just when you stuble across any kind of rhythm / melodic progression interaction that "moves"? ...
17
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
279 views

Raised leading tones in Phrygian mode counterpoint

In most cases the penultimate note of the counterpoint will be the leading tone, which must be raised in minor to establish a sense of tonality. But why is the leading tone in the Phrygian mode ...
6
votes
3answers
376 views

What is a parallel mode?

What is a parallel mode? How are the parallel modes used in composition and/or improvisation?
7
votes
2answers
334 views

In Jazz, what is an avoid note?

Why are some scale degrees avoided? What is the reasoning behind the avoid notes? Are there avoid notes in all modes? If so, which are the avoid notes of the different modes? Is this pattern widely ...
40
votes
4answers
8k views

What are some chord substitutions for a I-IV-V blues progression?

I was watching a video of SRV and one of the things that really stood out was the fact that he seemed to have a different iteration of the I-IV-V turnaround - and made it look/sound effortless. Any ...
5
votes
1answer
137 views

In jazz, what is a chord family?

In the jazz context, what is a chord family? How is the concept used in improvisation, chord substitution, and re-harmonization? Which are the families and their members? I've seen chords divided in ...
17
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Uses for augmented chords in composition

I've been studying for music theory for many years and I enjoy just writing little chord progressions and melodies to see what certain progressions sound like and how interesting I can make them. The ...
3
votes
2answers
86 views

Voice classification and voice types: how can voice be classified based on range?

How can voice be classified based on range? What system is typically used? Which voice types are there? What are their ranges? Are there other less-known or alternative systems?
5
votes
2answers
141 views

Notation used for harmonic context

Could someone please explain what it means to say, "the harmonic context of V/V-V-I". How should one read this? It would be nice if you could also give two or three examples if you think it would ...
6
votes
1answer
189 views

In jazz, what is an upper structure triad?

What is upper structure? Which are the upper structure triads? How are they used?
2
votes
4answers
147 views

How can I increase my note reading and finger strength?

I'm playing piano and I have problem going through pieces quickly, I keep pressing wrong keys and it takes me a lot of concentration and practice to get the piece sounding like it should and even ...
12
votes
1answer
172 views

What are the significant schools of 20th century music theory?

I'm reading the following paper, Lerdahl, F. (1988). Tonal pitch space. Music Perception, 315-349. I'm interested in comparing what is written here with other equivalent theories. Some of these ...
9
votes
1answer
385 views

In jazz, what is diatonic substitution?

What is diatonic substitution? How is it used in improvisation?
7
votes
1answer
125 views

Parallel Fifths in Pachelbel's Canon in D?

The other day, I was watching a scrolling score of Pachelbel's (in)famous Canon in D on Youtube, when I noticed something interesting. In the excerpt below, shouldn't the the circled notes in the 1st ...
5
votes
1answer
164 views

What do the numerator and denominator of a chord name in roman numerals mean?

I'm reading a paper on music theory and I keep coming across names of chords expressed as a fraction - I/I, I/V, ii/I, etc. Based on the use of these names in the paper, I'm reading this as: I/I: A ...
16
votes
8answers
900 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

What is a “Chord of Nature”?

Could someone explain in simple terms, and preferably with an example or two what "chord of nature" means. I tried reading about this in Wikipedia, but I cannot see how this is different from just a ...
11
votes
1answer
129 views

What are the fundaments of Harmolodics?

Ornette Coleman has developed a framework for his ideas called Harmolodics. It is somewhat hard to understand what this constitutes though. It is stated that melody, harmony and rhythm are equally ...
16
votes
2answers
222 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...) ...
24
votes
6answers
3k views

Why isn't D the “most central” note?

When laying out the notes in the two-dimensional Wicki-Hayden layout, which is the most symmetrical layout I know of, it is visually clear that D is the "most central" note. Why, then, doesn't D play ...
7
votes
1answer
173 views

Groups of eighths

A lot of times, I've seen eighths in groups of 2, and other times in groups of 4. Is there any difference in the way you are supposed to play them?
6
votes
2answers
100 views

Voice-leading with three chords in first inversion?

Hey guys just keeping my part writing skills sharp (not flat) for the long summer. I got this out of Assignment 9.4 of Robert W. Ottman's "Elementary Harmony." It's in G♭ major. I was already given ...
6
votes
3answers
405 views

Why is bII 7(b5) considered a dominant?

I am using Ear Master for ear training and at the Chord Progression exercises, there is an exercise called "Various dominant-tonic combinations". These are the chord progressions that are being ...
3
votes
3answers
123 views

Naming pitch and interval collections

I have a few questions regarding the correct naming of pitch and interval collections. We call an ordered collection of adjacent pitches a scale. For example, (C D E F G A B) is called C major (or ...
3
votes
3answers
287 views

The origin of “Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father” [closed]

The order of the flats is given by the mnemonic "*B*attle *E*nds *A*nd *D*own *G*oes *C*harles' *F*ather". What is the history behind this strange phrase?
6
votes
4answers
328 views

What notation would you use to differentiate different types of minor keys (e.g. Em natural, Em harmonic, Em melodic)?

Are they all just 'Em', or is there some standard, concise way of differentiating between them? Thanks!
4
votes
1answer
158 views

Does a taste in music reflect an understanding of that music?

It has been my experience that often times I will not like a song the first time I hear it, but the more I hear it the more I begin to like it. I think it has something to do with understanding the ...
8
votes
2answers
146 views

Pursuing a career in music [closed]

I've been debating on going full time in the music world. Does anyone have any creative suggestions on how to finance it? I know I could gig all the time or teach, but I don't want to get burned out.
11
votes
3answers
838 views

Pentatonic scale with a sharpened 2nd note, any name?

I was messing with the A minor pentatonic scale and discovered that if I sharpen the 2nd note of the scale, it sounds very interesting to my ears, even more than the original scale. Does this already ...
3
votes
3answers
173 views

How can I practice harmony?

I know some basic stuff about harmony, but I do not know have to advance any further.I finished my harmony lessons for this year and I'm going to start again in the autumn. Is there any way I can ...
4
votes
2answers
480 views

Name for a group of notes made up of a root, major third, and perfect 4th?

I'm looking at the song "One thing leads to another" by the Fixx. Throughout the song, the guitarist plays the highest three strings at the 5th fret (giving C E A). Correct me if I am wrong, but the ...
1
vote
2answers
75 views

Good material source for learning to read music?

Specifically I am interested in learning how to play the Violin. I am good at reading music insofar as the open strings are concerned, but when we are using the E string such that we are hearing a G I ...
7
votes
2answers
154 views

What's so off about the intro to Prokofiev's Dance of the Knights?

Now this question is by no means an attack on any conductor or orchestra, nor Prokofiev himself, but why does it seem that it's hard for everyone to get right into time with one another with this ...
3
votes
4answers
115 views

Drums: Playing consecutive beats with the same hand compared to alternating hands

I am currently learning the Seven Stroke Roll , Drum tune : Right , Right , Left Left .... Will playing the above tune : Right , Left , Right , Left instead of Right , Right , Left , Left ...
4
votes
4answers
257 views

Do the different Modes have different scale degrees?

For example, C Ionian has the same notes as D Dorian. But when looking at the scale degrees, I think they have to be different. Here's what I mean: C Ionian: C Db D Eb E F F# G Ab A Bb B C ...
3
votes
3answers
174 views

Ηοw important is to know classical music theory to study jazz theory?

I was interesting in getting a little more involved with jazz theory. I know classical music theory and harmony up to a point. Should I keep developing my classical music theory/harmony knowledge ...
7
votes
2answers
132 views

What is the technical term for what the percussion is doing in this song?

In Massive Attack and Burial's collaboration track Four Walls, the percussion in the middle part of the song does something interesting where it shifts around the beat. It can be heard at 6:22 and ...
16
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
107 views

Scale degree naming

As I understand the minor pentatonic degrees are 1 b3 4 5 7b it says b3 & 7b, does it matter which side the b is on? and do they both mean flat? Scale degrees are almost always based off the ...
6
votes
3answers
387 views

How to identify key changes?

I have learned music theory from the internet but I have this question that how to come to know that where one key starts and other ends? (When I am reading the music sheet) For example, in Minuet In ...
10
votes
3answers
263 views

Interval of a 4th above the bass

As I was studying music theory (harmonizing a melody in particular) I got confused with the statement: The interval of a 4th above the bass is considered dissonant and must resolve down by ...
4
votes
3answers
174 views

General procedure for determining the name of an interval given a major key / diatonic collection

I'm attempting to program a library that lets one make use of concepts from Peter Westergaard's tonal theory. The current problem I'm trying to solve is to determine the specific name of an interval ...
1
vote
3answers
121 views

Tips on arranging music on ukulele?

I started off by writing the melody line because I need them on top. Let's just assume the melody note I'm working on is C on the C major scale; I will have like 3 chords to choose from which are ...