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

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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 ...
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6answers
1k views

I need help understanding the concept of chord inversions.

This article from wikipedia, states: In the first inversion of a C major triad the bass is E—the 3rd of the triad—with the 5th and the root stacked above it (the root now shifted an octave ...
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3answers
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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4answers
1k views

Distinction between same notes played on different strings

While playing a particular piece (not chords, fingerpicking/single note playing) on my ukulele (or as far as the question is concerned, any similar instrument), I use the standard notation and then ...
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4answers
3k views

Understanding minor key harmony

A comment discussion under this question from me, clued me in to the fact that I don't really understand how minor keys work very well. So here is what I think I know The natural minor comes from the ...
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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 ...
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3answers
501 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 ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
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5answers
343 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 ...
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3answers
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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, ...
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1answer
234 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 ...
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2answers
308 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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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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4answers
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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
15k 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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6answers
10k 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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10answers
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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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3answers
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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? ...
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5answers
649 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?
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8answers
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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 ...
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4answers
434 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 ...
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5answers
9k 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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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 ...
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2answers
5k 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 ...
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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
12k 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 ...
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5answers
25k views

How to know which scale a song uses?

I have a song in my mind, and I want to play it on the guitar. I know how scales are made (full and half steps), and I can recognize whether the next note is higher or lower in a song (not ...
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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?
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5answers
11k views

What is a 13th chord?

For example an F13. How do you find the 13th note?
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1answer
128 views

What is the Linear Harmonic Transform?

What is the Linear Harmonic Transform actually?
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4answers
6k 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 ...
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4answers
592 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 ...
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1answer
2k 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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1answer
324 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 ...
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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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3answers
18k views

How to find out the Major and Minor chords of a scale?

How do I know which notes of a scale may be a Major/Minor chord? Take this question as an example. The OP states that the C major scale contains the following chords: C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim How ...
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5answers
925 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 ...
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5answers
5k 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, ...
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6answers
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Is F Lydian mode in the “key” of C Major?

I would assume that many would agree that if we have a piece of music and there are no sharps or flats in the key signature that in most cases (if not all) the piece would be considered in the key of ...
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3answers
766 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 ...
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3answers
10k views

What are the actual notes of each natural harmonic?

So I know that if you play a natural harmonic at the 12th fret, this is just the same note as fretting the 12th is. Also, when I play my electric guitar and listen to lots of metal music in ...
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3answers
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How can I easily translate between a key and a key signature?

Is there a good mnemonic or trick for working out the key signature from a given key? I can always write out the chromatic scale, then count out the appropriate intervals from the tonic, and figure ...
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4answers
2k views

Roman numeral notation for a suspended chord?

On the Wikipedia entry for Roman numeral analysis, it says that major chords use the upper case numerals (e.g. IV for the F major chord in the C major scale) and lowercase letters for minor chords ...
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2answers
2k views

Why play out of scale notes as part of a chord?

So, I'm learning 'Stray Cat Strut' right now and came across something I'm not sure I understood. I have to say, I've only just begun to learn theory, so maybe that's why. Anyway, as far as I can ...