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

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19
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16answers
6k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
6k views

Why is music for strings more likely to be in keys with sharps?

One thing I've noticed is that music written for strings, such as violin concertos, are a lot more likely to written in a key like D or A major than something like F or Bb major. I recently saw a ...
16
votes
1answer
425 views

Are there any rules of thumb for shifting the key signature within a tone net?

[ ... struggling with giving this a better title ] I'm working out the algorithmic bases for generation of a tone-net (tonnetz) in preparation for programming the presentation layer. The problem is ...
13
votes
4answers
660 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 ...
11
votes
10answers
2k views

What key could the progression Cm - G - Dm - Am be in?

I'm working on a song (my first ever actually) and I love the chord sequence: Cm - G - Dm - Am I started off working in C-Major, but borrowed Cm from the parallel minor key C-Minor. But really, in ...
10
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
809 views

What mode consists of the note G A Bb C Db E F G?

I was playing random scales . I came to a strange nice sounding mode,but could not find out what it's name theoretically. (Even I could not find a tonic sounding in it) The scale/mode notes are : G ...
9
votes
6answers
904 views

Algorithm for Transposing Chords Between Keys

I'm writing software that transposes sheet music between keys and I'm still new at music theory so I was hoping someone who knows more could let me know if my approach is correct. Here's my process ...
9
votes
3answers
758 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
170 views

Continuous Music Theory

Is there a musical theory of harmony or a system of chord-understanding that does not rely on the 12-tone temperament? For example, a fretless instrument has (theoretically) an infinity of tones ...
8
votes
2answers
4k views

Parallel octaves vs doubled octaves

I've read this Wikipedia article on parallel fifths, which also touched on parallel octaves. However, I'm having difficulty understanding the difference between doubled and parallel octaves. I think I ...
7
votes
4answers
4k views

How does fusion guitar playing work?

So I have seen a lot of guitar players playing fusion rock but never understood what is actually going on in the theory. When watching them play, it sounds like they're not in key and just ...
7
votes
3answers
692 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
450 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

son vs. rumba clave and bass line

The answer to Latin jazz: anticipated chord change on last beat provided by Ulf Åkerstedt raises another question: I have written a son bass line, and I realize I have a rumba clave on the drum set. ...
6
votes
2answers
370 views

Why Seven Principal Tones?

Why are there seven principal tones (A-G)? Just tradition? In the same vein, why are various sounds (of differing pitches) said to represent the same principal tone?
6
votes
3answers
2k views

What is a parallel mode?

What is a parallel mode? How are the parallel modes used in composition and/or improvisation?
6
votes
7answers
629 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
3answers
1k views

How to decode this CSV from a MIDI file?

So I decoded a midi file using a MIDI to CSV converter I found online. The ouput is : 2, 3072, Note_on_c, 1, 26, 96 After reading on MIDI format, I still don't understand what I see here. What ...
6
votes
4answers
225 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?
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the difference between sixteenth century counterpoint and eighteenth century counterpoint?

What's the difference between sixteenth century counterpoint and eighteenth century counterpoint? Is sixteenth century counterpoint melody or modal based (as this answer suggests) and eighteenth ...
5
votes
4answers
11k 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!!
5
votes
1answer
187 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
929 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
246 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" remain ...
4
votes
4answers
246 views

Understanding Inversions

I am not completely understanding how I find the major and minor chords. I understand half of what is going on, but not fully. Can someone please help.
4
votes
3answers
731 views

Pentatonic Scales Question

I'm learning the notes on the fret board and I just wanted to ask something about the pentatonic scales you see, A minor pentatonic is A C D E G on the 5th fret, but when I play it on the 2nd fret its ...
4
votes
8answers
4k views

Confusion about major and minor second intervals

Why is a major second interval different from a minor second interval considering that in the natural scales formulae they are both one whole step?
3
votes
4answers
219 views

Can someone please tell me why there are 5 different patterns to Penatonic scales

I mean if you can move them, why do you need more than one? All are movable up and down the fretboard? Right? So why does each need 5 patterns and how do you know which one to use? This has really ...
3
votes
3answers
401 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
4answers
3k views

Are ties necessary?

From a theoretical point of view (let's leave apart for a moment interpretation and writing), are ties necessary to account for note values that notes and dotted notes cannot provide? Two tied ...
2
votes
0answers
33 views

What are the rules of improvisation in Indian ragas?

In How does improvisation in Indian ragas differ significantly from jazz melodic improvisation? Phil states: With a Raga, there is no theme, per se. A Raga is more like a set of rules as to how ...
1
vote
5answers
265 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 ...
22
votes
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?
16
votes
4answers
5k views

Can a scale contain both a sharp and a flat note?

So, the question should say it all, but for example: The G minor scale (G - A - Bb - C - D - Eb - F - G) To change this into the G harmonic minor scale, I would need to raise the seventh note a ...
15
votes
8answers
1k views

How to figure out what key a piece is in?

I am trying to write a guitar accompaniment to the piece "Fair and Tender Ladies", but I have no clue what I need to do to figure out what key that piece is in. Also, the instrument playing the piece ...
13
votes
9answers
5k views

Is Emajor the dominant chord in the key of A minor?

I read somewhere that Emajor is the dominant (V) chord in A minor. Is this correct? If so, why is it not Eminor, since the A minor scale has no sharps or flats in it?
12
votes
3answers
1k 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
2answers
6k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
429 views

How long is Staccato?

Question for skimmers: how do we know when to play portamento/portato or a dry staccato? Is it based on a date or composer? Or is a half-staccato still common practice? Sometime in college I played ...
10
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the difference between a collection of sounds and music?

From my reading I've gathered that the difference between music and noise is that music is an organized collection of sounds. In that definition, noise would then be an unorganized collection of ...
7
votes
3answers
448 views

Is solfege systems octave-agnostic?

I'm writing a somewhat comprehensive music theory programming library - Both to have the ability to make "intelligent" theory programs, and to refresh all the theory to myself. I've however just met ...
7
votes
1answer
213 views

How was the ordering of Allen Forte's list of prime forms determined?

I'm familiar with how "prime forms" are determined from a pitch class set using the Forte (or Rahn) systems. A good list is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forte_number However I am puzzled by how ...
7
votes
1answer
510 views

Why isn't the second whole note's accidental natural?

Above is a staff. After the third bar, why isn't the second C either sharp or natural?
7
votes
1answer
524 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
5k views

What is a chromatic scale?

I notice that the blues scale usues notes that don't fit into the regular pentatonic scale, is there an entire scale that icorporates this method?
6
votes
2answers
179 views

The Harmony of Clashing Tempos

The jazz guitarist John McLaughlin once published a book of scores for a number songs that he composed for his Mahavishnu Orchestra. There are some very unusual theoretical conundrums that come up ...
6
votes
1answer
531 views

Is the bass note of a chord the only indicative of its [the chord's] inversion?

If a C major chord is voiced as (from low to high) E-G-C, it is said to be in first inversion , if it is voiced as G-C-E, it is the second inversion. But the resources I have read do not specify if a ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Same note in two staves [duplicate]

I have only just started to learn (on my own) to read music and play the piano at the grand old age of 64! Please can someone tell me how to play the same note on two staves? I keep being asked to ...