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

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11
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4answers
39k 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 ...
9
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
9k 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
2answers
432 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.
7
votes
4answers
279 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
363 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
492 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.
12
votes
6answers
975 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
3answers
900 views

What is tritone substitution?

What is tritone substitution? How can this device be applied to improvisation and composition?
11
votes
5answers
9k 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.
11
votes
2answers
5k views

What is an “open tuning”?

I know that Keith Richards has been known to use open tunings on some songs, but what is an open tuning exactly and when/why would you use it?
10
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
5k views

How to use diminished scale over I IV V changes in blues

I want to spice up my solos over a Blues progression. I already can play a variety of scales but the Diminished scale is something I would like to add because of the particular sounds it creates. In ...
8
votes
1answer
639 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
798 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
332 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
708 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
1k 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
553 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
177 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
2k 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
1answer
2k 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
399 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 ...
18
votes
11answers
781 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 ...
17
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 ...
17
votes
5answers
3k 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?
11
votes
3answers
10k views

Classical music theory notation for chord inversions (figured bass)

In classical music harmony analysis, we see the chord inversions notated like I6/4, I6, V4/3. Examples: What are those numbers? How do they define the inversion? What's the theory behind using ...
11
votes
4answers
368 views

What is this type of shift called?

In a lot of (usually electronic) music, I notice a section of music that seems to shift up a number of notes and continue with a similar melody in a way that greatly emphasizes the melody. Does this ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Harmony and roman numeral analysis: how to deal with chromaticism?

I recently started playing piano. While learning and performing new pieces, I found that it helps me a lot to have some certainty of what's going on with the notes, the chords, and the harmony. I ...
9
votes
1answer
899 views

Different Simile Marks

In the pictures below, there are many measures with different simile marks. I know there are many different types of simile marks, varying number of lines, with or without dots, on barline or in the ...
9
votes
3answers
557 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
375 views

What's “species counterpoint”? Are there any other types of counterpoint?

I believe the title says it all. On Wikipedia it shows the five species but I have the idea that there is another type of counterpoint not based on those species. Is that vague idea of mine correct? I ...
6
votes
7answers
567 views

Definition of the note C

That I'm using the note C is arbitrary, I could be using any other. How would you define a C? If you define it as the tone with frequency 261.6 Hz (or 2^n * 261.6) then you run into problems when you ...
6
votes
4answers
200 views

What are some harmonic options for layering guitar lines while recording?

I would like to layer multiple guitar lines for a section of a song that I'm working on - what are some harmonic variations that I would be able to use?
5
votes
1answer
156 views

Is there an amp power formula?

I'm looking to buy a new amp for my keyboards, and I was wondering if there's a formula I can use to help me calculate some of the objective specs I should look for. Something along the lines of: I ...
5
votes
4answers
8k views

What is the I-vi-ii-V Chord Progressions?

Are there any scales that work well over this progression? My Mistake!! I was thinking of the song Breezin' by George Benson!!
4
votes
2answers
195 views

Diatonic Function of Accidentals in Counterpoint

Why is it in counterpoint that the fourth degree of natural mode "F" lowered to "Bb" instead of remaining as "B"? Why isn't the fourth degree lowered for other modes? Shouldn't the "B" ...
4
votes
2answers
765 views

Why don't pianos use multiples of 12 for the number of keys?

In one of the answers of this question, some pianos with 44, 61, 76, and 88 keys are introduced. I just don't get it. Why notes are not following any formula? I mean, a piano with 63 keys means that ...
3
votes
1answer
118 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
246 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
254 views

What gives 'Winter Song' by Nico a medieval sound?

The song below seems to have a definite medieval flavour to it, but what causes this? Is it the guitar or vocal melodies? What scale/mode aspects give this feel? ...
0
votes
5answers
159 views

Beating 'Blank Page Syndrome' and Projecting Intent

I posted a question earlier, which a number of people pointed out was coming off too broad to make for a good post, and it was suggested I boil it down to a smaller bite, so here goes. I have been a ...
20
votes
2answers
1k 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?
16
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
996 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
3k views

What does it mean to play in an 'arpeggiated' style on the guitar?

I sometimes hear a guitar player described as having an 'arpeggiated' style, such as Peter Buck of R.E.M. I know that an arpeggio is the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 8th of a scale, but exactly what does it ...
11
votes
2answers
3k views

Can an accidental carry over to the next measure?

I have been practicing this piece (The Stars and Stripes Forever) for a while. On the first note of the second measure of the second line, there is a natural sign. I have always understood accidentals ...
9
votes
2answers
474 views

Is there a term for a chord progression that chromatically ascends or descends an octave?

I've noticed a pattern in music that is very interesting where a progression will start with one chord and chromatically ascend or descend until the starting chord is reached again. For example: a ...