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

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7answers
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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.
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3answers
3k views

Whole bar rest in 6/8 time?

Can one expect to find a semibreve rest in 6/8 compound time?
12
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3answers
10k views

Playing Guitar Tabs on Piano?

I was wondering if anyone could possibly explain how I could somehow translate a guitar tab into notes on piano. Is there some sort of algorithm I can apply? ex: ...
12
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7answers
1k views

What gives a piece of music its personality and feeling?

What makes a piece of music sound angry, dark, sad, happy, or otherwise? "La Chute" by Yann Tiersen sounds so angry to me and "A Dark Knight" from "The Dark Knight" movie sounds so dark and ...
12
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3answers
1k views

Why do we need modes?

We don't play scales, we play music. The notes we play and the order is based on sound and emotion. Then why is it that if the notes are the same for all of the derived modes, why do we need modes? ...
12
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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 ...
12
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3answers
759 views

Why does B work as a bass note against F7 in Bb?

I wrote a song in Band-in-a-Box. It includes this turnaround: Dm Dbm Cm F7/B BbMaj7 The chord F7/B doesn't sound good on guitar (I play it as F7 or F9 instead), but the low B note works really well ...
12
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4answers
3k views

What makes a song sound “folk-y”?

Are there distinctive traits (melodies, scales, chord progressions, rhythm, techniques) that set the genre of folk music apart?
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4answers
9k views

What makes a song a “rock” song?

Sometimes I'm not completely sure when a song is a "rock song" or when it is from another music genre or even a "something-rock" song. How do you recognize it? Is it some bass rhythm? Some chord ...
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4answers
4k views

What time signatures are used in flamenco and related styles?

Recently I've been trying to get some flamenco spirit into my playing. I've already experimented with some 'gypsy' scales and it feels good ... but I've also realized that part of the secret is in ...
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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 ...
12
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2answers
760 views

How to interpret a switch from Em (Aeolian) to Bm?

I'm self taught, so I know just a few things on scales and modes, some probably wrong. So the other day I was composing a new song. I believe it starts in E minor, as I was playing over the Chords Em ...
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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 ...
12
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3answers
451 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 ...
12
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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
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3answers
551 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 ...
12
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3answers
4k views

What's the theory behind the “80s” sound of a song?

Today I was listening to Separate Ways, a great song by Journey in the 80s. The style of this song is so typical of the period. In fact, my first interaction with this song was through a ...
12
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5answers
382 views

What are the benefits of determining form before composing?

I've heard time and time again of composers who say "It is better [for beginners] to know your form, and have a general idea of important chord progressions before you begin thinking seriously about ...
12
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1answer
252 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 ...
12
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3answers
3k views

How do you know what beat to emphasize based on the time signature?

In learning the guitar I have run across various time signatures. In each time signature it seems as if you are supposed to emphasize different beats. Is this something that you just have to intuit, ...
12
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2answers
323 views

Alto singing Tenor

I am currently musically directing a community theater production of Sweeney Todd. We have cast a female to play the part of Toby, and in the song "Not While I'm Around", she is not able to achieve ...
11
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11answers
3k views

Math PI represented musically

I'm creating a program to output the values of pi as sound. I've seen a few videos and some other representations, and want to try to make my own for fun, except i'm unsure how to proceed. There are ...
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7answers
8k views

Why is the highest frequency on a piano 4186 Hertz?

The human hearing range is between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz. The lowest frequency on a piano is 27.5 Hz, which is almost at the start of the human hearing range. However, the highest frequency on a piano ...
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10answers
2k 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 ...
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11answers
3k views

Use of Music Theory in Composition

I've been told by many people that music theory is not normative; it doesn't tell you what to write or do in music to create something beautiful that sounds good. I've been told that it's strictly ...
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5answers
2k views

Are sharp keys “bright” and flat keys “dark”?

I was reading this book and on the "Circle of Fifths" chapter it claims that keys with sharp key signatures (C, G, D, ...) are "often though by musicians" to be "bright" sounding and those with flat ...
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4answers
2k views

What are some interesting ways notes and chords are spelled in cultures outside of the U.S.?

I've heard that German musicians spell the seventh note of the C major scale with an "H" where an American musician would use a "B". And, for the fourth note of the F major scale, where an American ...
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4answers
20k views

What is a secondary dominant chord?

What is a secondary dominant chord? What's the theory behind them? How are they used in composition?
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5answers
987 views

Flat symbol in key signature and bar

If i have a flat for a note in the key signature, and then in a bar the same note with an flat symbol, does that mean the note is "double flatted"? For example in the key of D Minor with hash one ...
11
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6answers
12k views

How to make songs with chords that don't belong in a scale?

I've always wondered how come there can be a chord progression with some chord that doesn't belong in the particular scale... Moreover, how can it be possible that this progression is in any key at ...
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3answers
2k views

How does one start learning music theory?

I know some basic stuff like scales and how to construct chords, but I don't know much about the roles notes play in melody, what kinds of melodies there are, how to do chord progressions, and so on. ...
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5answers
6k views

How to recreate a sound on a synth

Is is possible to recreate any sound you hear in a synth? Think of it like ear training, but with a synth. Being able to deconstruct a sound with your ear, know what type of waveform is being used, ...
11
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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 ...
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5answers
658 views

Is a high A in the key of D flat still flat?

I'm learning a song in the key of D flat. I know that any middle A within the song is flat. However, is a high A (above the staff) still flat?
11
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4answers
506 views

Can any diminished chord be used as V anywhere?

I've been playing with diminished chords as 'V' in ii-V-I progressions. I often use one of the three diminished chords in a ii-V-I progression -- I sharpen the 5th note of the scale and hang a ...
11
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5answers
10k views

Melody improvisation over chords

My question deals with what scale to play over a given chord progression. For example, consider a progression containing I,II,IV,V in C. I.e., the rhythm guitar is playing C, Dmin, F, and G... My ...
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8answers
3k views

Is it possible to create a completely new genre of music

This question might appear really weird, but still I ended up asking me this. Every genre of music as we know today comes from some previous genre (as an evolution, a combination of two different ...
11
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4answers
71k 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 ...
11
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7answers
9k views

What is a good solo to learn in the Dorian mode?

I understand that Dorian is a commonly used mode in rock. I am starting to play / improvise in the mode and would like to learn some guitar solos that are good examples of this scale so that I see how ...
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5answers
14k views

How do I become a better electronic music producer?

I am 18 years old. I love music and I would love to make it and maybe become a music composer. However I do not know anything about music theory or anything. I can't play any instrument or so. When I ...
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3answers
1k views

Can music theory help hobbyist instrumentalist get better at playing?

For hobbyists who don't plan to write songs, is it worth to invest their time to study music theory rather than get better at playing? I sometimes wonder how given piece is it structured, especially ...
11
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3answers
2k views

What is tritone substitution?

What is tritone substitution? How can this device be applied to improvisation and composition?
11
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4answers
5k views

In jazz, what is a guide tone?

I've heard that guide tones are very useful while improvising, and seems to be an important concept for jazz theory. What is a guide tone? How can it help improvisation?
11
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2answers
45k views

What chords are used often in “Funk” - Why?

"Pass The Peas";"Le Freak"; "Get up and Jump";"Shake your Pants""The Crunge"....They all use very similar chords in a Funk setting - what are some Standard Funk Chords and why (from a Music Theory ...
11
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1answer
131 views

What is the Linear Harmonic Transform?

What is the Linear Harmonic Transform actually?
11
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2answers
206 views

What makes graduate-level music theory different from undergraduate-level music theory?

It's been years since I graduated with a music minor. My background consists of: Traditional two-semester sequence in music theory (basic notation to borrowed chords), i.e., Kostka/Payne ...
11
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4answers
7k views

Music Theory for a Beginning Drummer

I've been learning Drums for the past few months (lifelong dream, and I should have my very own kit in 36 hours or so! \o/) and my teacher has been teaching me how to sight-read. I'm doing quite well ...
11
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4answers
665 views

Do songs written in certain modes not have keys?

Up until recently I thought that if a song was written in a mode with a major 3rd, then it was in a major key, and if it was in a mode with a minor 3rd, then it was in a minor key. But I read an ...
11
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1answer
3k 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 ...
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2answers
338 views

When did keyboard partitions start to use the G-clef for the upper staff ?

When you look at very old sheetmusic (for harpsichord or organ), you see that the upper staff has a C-clef, first line. The lower one is the familiar bass F-clef, fourth line. Why and when did the ...