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

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23
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4answers
2k views

How do I become better at “playing outside”?

One can spend an enormous amount of time playing melodies "in" the tonic. For example if your are in A major, you might favor A major or A lydian. However, there is a term called "playing outside" in ...
31
votes
9answers
1k views

What is the best way of learning the notes on the fretboard.

What is the best way to learn the notes on the fretboard. Are there any good tips on how to do this?
17
votes
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 ...
12
votes
10answers
5k views

What is the full list of possible chord names? Are there chords that don't have a name in chord theory?

My chord book covers 35 different chord types. When I look on the web or in other tools, all the same types of chords come up. But I don't think this is the "full" set of possible chords. I'm not ...
15
votes
3answers
10k views

Do all chords in a progression usually fit within a scale

I am wondering if when writing a chord progression, all the notes fit within a single scale. If not, what is the logic behind chord progressions?
12
votes
3answers
432 views

What are some good/interesting ways to exit a circle of fifths section?

Circle of 5ths is in tons of chord progressions, sounds nice and 'easy', etc. But if you keep going on it the song can sound unreasonably predictable. What are some good ways to use a little bit of ...
3
votes
1answer
761 views

Are there in-depth music theory books that can serve as a compendium?

If I'm looking for Music Theory on Google I find articles, tutorials and sites that explain the basics. However, this won't allow me to really master Music Theory and be able to look up advanced ...
19
votes
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 ...
18
votes
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 ...
15
votes
2answers
963 views

Music education audio lessons

I am currently learning to play the guitar, and that has sparked an interest in learning more about music in general. I would like to learn about music theory, ear training, history, musical styles ...
12
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5answers
6k views

Music Theory: Frequencies related to playing a note on guitar

I am studying the physics related to playing guitar. I need to understand the relationship between the fundamental frequency of a guitar string and its harmonics. For e.g., the top string has the ...
7
votes
5answers
607 views

Learning music theory and music writing around guitar

I have fun playing guitar, learning songs or licks and solos from songs is fun and all but I really don't know much about these pieces of music and why they sound good. Sometime I want to be able to ...
14
votes
4answers
16k 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
525 views

Comfortable notes in a key

I've been playing guitar for some time, and often when i do improvisation exercises, I hit notes which sound too tense to finish a run/lick/riff on. Kind of like having a sentence which no full stop. ...
27
votes
9answers
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 ...
15
votes
3answers
577 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 ...
11
votes
10answers
1k views

What is the secret of jazz phrases?

I'm diving into Jazz, both with guitar and trumpet, and I'm looking for that typical jazzy sound when traveling from lows to highs (and opposite). How were Miles and friends achieving it? What ...
9
votes
6answers
8k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
298 views

Recommend reading why we have 12 pitches and another metrics in microtonal music?

I know there are many books which describe why we have 12 pitches (for example this book: R.H.M Bosanquet - An elementary treatise on musical intervals and temperament, 1876 in the public domain). ...
7
votes
3answers
749 views

How many types of modulation are there?

I know a few types of modulation off the top of my head like common chord modulation and and chromatic modulation, but I was wondering how many different types of modulation are there and what are ...
5
votes
5answers
892 views

Techniques for creating melodies

I've posted this question: Learning to create melodies I've got a few ideas of techniques towards creating melodies but wanted to ask if there are any specific methods to help get better. I've read: ...
5
votes
2answers
852 views

Differentiating between II and II7 (secondary dominant V of V)

I'm studying harmony and start to make roman numeral analysis on Bach pieces. I often mistake a II (second degree) for a secondary dominant on the 2nd degree(V7 of V). I guess there are some notes ...
17
votes
1answer
843 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
913 views

What are the shared fundamental components of Baroque and Minimalist music that make them sound similar?

Baroque and minimalist music are two of my favorite genres. In particular, I like the repetitive note sequences with variations. J.-S. Bach's Goldberg Variations and Phillip Glass's Naqoyqatsi are ...
12
votes
6answers
1k views

“slash” chords, e.g. B/F♯ - are these only for inversions, or can any note be the bass note?

I'm trying to work out whether it is technically correct to have a "slash" chord where the bass note is not one of the notes in the chord. I thought the main reason for slash chords is to show which ...
11
votes
4answers
61k views

What do the 3/4 and 4/4 numbers mean?

In music notation, I've always been looking for a simple explanation of those numbers that appear on the far left of musical piece, such as 3 over 4 or 4 over 4. I have a hunch they affect the ...
10
votes
2answers
256 views

Was the pitch A given that letter because the minor key was originally the “basic” mode?

It's something that's puzzled me; The key that has no sharps and no flats, in essence the "basic" key, is C Major. Well, fine, but why C? Why not label that key and note A, if it's the foundation of ...
9
votes
7answers
6k views

Want to learn composing and producing music with a DAW. Where do I start?

I am a computer engineer and a passionate music listener. I have been listening to movie scores and soundtracks for many years now and it has really inspired me to want to learn more about music and ...
8
votes
4answers
445 views

Alternative Analysis for Non-Functioning Secondary Dominants

I've been reading though my Pocket Music Theory book and in the chapter on secondary dominants there is a concept that confuses me. The book says there can be non-functioning secondary dominants that ...
8
votes
2answers
524 views

How do you name chords in 20th Century Music? (Chords stacked in intervals other than 3rds)

This question stems from some thoughts on List of possible trichord/triad names.. When you stack chords in 3rds, you get all the standard chord names of Major, minor, 7 etc, but what about when ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Harmony analysis program

Is there any computer program that automatically analyzes harmony given the score? I refer specifically to roman numeral analysis and functional harmony.
3
votes
1answer
488 views

Can modal counterpoint be studied without studying harmony? Where to start?

I have a background 1 year of harmony study and I'm now taking a non-western modal approach to music (trough Indian Classical Music, which is mainly monophonic and have no concept of harmony). I have ...
17
votes
4answers
443 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...) ...
15
votes
2answers
561 views

What is the name of the interval Db - D#?

I know that Db - Eb is a major second/diminished third. What is the interval Db - D# called (and why)? EDIT: oops, Db - Eb is NOT a diminished third.
13
votes
6answers
14k views

Polymeter vs Polyrhythm

What is the difference between a polymeter and a polyrhythm? Do these words mean anything different for different instruments? PS: I'm a drummer.
13
votes
2answers
3k views

Why do the notes of a blues scale sound good with the I, IV, and V chords?

If you are playing the blues in the key of C, any note in the blues key of C should sound good in the melody with either of the C, F or G (I, IV or V) major chords in the bass. Why is this and how do ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

What is tritone substitution?

What is tritone substitution? How can this device be applied to improvisation and composition?
8
votes
1answer
741 views

What is this called? Why is it allowed?

"Golden Train" by Justin Nozuka (YouTube link below) is in the key of Ab major. However he uses a Cb major chord throughout the song, which is not in the key of Ab major. It sounds good and works ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Does a chord need to include its root?

While I understand that it is very important to include the root note in a chord, is it required? Let's say I'm in C Major, and I want to play a I chord. Do I need to include C in order for it to be ...
7
votes
5answers
383 views

Resources for learning the Blues

Can anyone recommend any good resources (books or online) for learning the Blues on the guitar? Scales and theory is what I am looking for.
7
votes
4answers
2k views

When is it proper (if ever) to extend time signatures (8/4 vs 4/4)?

When listening to most contemporary music, in my experience, time signatures tend to be in "common time", or 4/4. But sometimes it feels like the phrase or measure extends beyond the four quarter ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

I-IV-V blues progression

I'm currently learning a 12 bar blues rhythm and am getting confused by it. The solo is played over the A minor pentatonic scale. And the underlying chord progression is A - D - E. But isn't this ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Changing key in a song convincingly

Update 3 I have started to break down this broad question to specific, smaller questions. 1) Classical music example for seamless transition from one section to other with changing keys Say, I ...
6
votes
2answers
190 views

Links and tips for Learning and using scales

Tips and links on learning and using different types of scales will be helpful. If possible List of scales with songs in which they are used and (artists/types of bands) who uses certain scales to a ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

What are alternative “voicings” for Major/Minor/Dominant Chords if I can't play “Barre Chords”?

I would like some alternative Chord Voicings if I don't want to play the standard barre chords for major/minor/dominant voicings: Thanks!!
6
votes
2answers
3k views

An effective method for counting and identifying time signatures.

When I listen to some odd time signature songs I have some serious trouble dissecting the time signatures at times. Songs with 6/8 or 3/4 are easy enough to identify, but some progressive rock/metal ...
4
votes
4answers
5k views

How Can I Replicate The Sound Of An Instrument?

I have experience of basic music theory, guitar and piano. My current project involves creating a computer program that can replicate the sounds of any given instrument (starting with piano). I can ...
2
votes
4answers
670 views

Why does it take 700 cents to get to a perfect 5th, which is 3/2 (one and a half) from the root?

I think I have the wrong perspective. If you take an octave and express it in cents, you get 1200. Half of that is 600. A perfect 5th is 1.5 (3/2) of the root. But 600 is not a perfect fifth, 700 ...
18
votes
16answers
5k views

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
votes
11answers
887 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 ...