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

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Why is the complete circle of fifth progression more common in minor than major?

In relation to How common is the complete circle of fifths progression? which describes some examples of the complete circle of fifth progression (a consecutive 4-7-3-6-2-5-1 progression), apparently ...
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4answers
158 views

Do notes from non-natural minor scales fit well in the associated major key?

Any major scale contains the same notes as the natural associated minor scale - C major being the easy option contains all the same notes as A minor natural. But of course we also have other common ...
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4answers
125 views

Are the accidentals counted as a single note or double notes?

I am a newbie to music . I have a doubt about accidentals . My doubt is whether a basic note and an accidental of that note is counted as a single note or double. That is , if a tune X contains ...
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2answers
189 views

Modulating between minor keys

I wanted to change keys from A minor to B minor. Tried ii-V-i progression (through F# major chord on the way up) but the transition did not sound smooth. Tried Em-F#m- Bm which sounds slightly better ...
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1answer
106 views

Which one to teach first: solfege or absolute notation?

Which musical notation should be taught to kids first- the solfege (movable do, in this case) or absolute notation? Thanks :)
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4answers
282 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 ...
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4answers
894 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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3answers
159 views

What might make for “ambient” or “atmospheric” classical music?

I am primarily trying to identify the types of compositions and approaches to composition that would produce such music, with any particular composers or pieces that might make good examples as ...
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3answers
397 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
481 views

Writing Arrangements

I play in a youth brass band and I've been writing basic arrangements for it for the past year or so. The thing is, I use MuseScore. I just enter what I think will sound good, play it back and make ...
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2answers
197 views

Happy, oriental minor songs

According to music theory, songs in minor keys are supposed to be sad. However i often find minor pentatonic songs, especially from Chinese folk songs, that are happy and upbeat (Chinese New Year ...
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21answers
2k views

Ways to get out of a scalar rut?

I'm a well versed and experienced guitarist. I have a decent sense for rhythm and melody, but I have a VERY hard time with soloing. I know you've heard it all before I'm one of those guys that got ...
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10answers
732 views

Why is the tonic chord of a key formed with the 1,3 and 5 notes of the key but the major chords in that key are the I IV and V?

The tonic chord in a given key is formed by using the 1 and 3 and 5 notes of the scale in whatever key you are in. However, in chord theory, the Major chords that work in that key are the one, four ...
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5answers
3k views

What defines a Tango?

Is there something about a song that can be used to classify it as "a Tango"? There's different Tango styles (Finnish Tango music, for instance, is different from Argentinian) and there seem to be ...
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2answers
173 views

chord progression if the chords are not part of the scale?

I've been learning about harmony, and the harmonisation of major scales. I can recognise simple chord progressions, and I try and practice by listening to popular songs. For a major scale, we ...
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9answers
2k 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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3answers
101 views

The melody+chords pattern in perspective

Most of us who know the basics of music theory and share the "common" musical culture (western mainstream popular songs, mass media, "classical" music from the common practice period), tend to think ...
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3answers
216 views

Harmonizing a melody for 4 voices… help?

Recently I've started encountering a multitude of questions that ask for me to harmonize a melody. I've never really seen a question like that before, so I've been a bit lost as to where to start. I ...
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2answers
3k 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 ...
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3answers
150 views

How can different compositions use C Major?

Pardon what I know is an embarrassing question - I am at the very basics of learning music theory. If a scale such as C Major is an exact pattern of intervals, how can multiple songs be composed with ...
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6answers
362 views

Why do composers use seemingly/unecessarily complex time signatures?

I see this all the time: In the piece I'm currently analysing (Sei Quartetti Brevi by Sciarrino), the composer uses 7/16 + 4/8 in the first measure, followed by 5/8 + 3/8 in the second, followed by ...
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3answers
976 views

What does it mean when one says that rock and jazz have strong beats on the even numbered beats?

It is usually said that rock and jazz musics have the strong beats on the even numbered beats (2 and 4 on a typical 4/4) instead of the odd ones (1 and 3). However, chord changes and bass (whether ...
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1answer
272 views

What do the numerator and denominator of a chord name in roman numerals mean?

I'm reading a paper on music theory and I keep coming across names of chords expressed as a fraction - I/I, I/V, ii/I, etc. Based on the use of these names in the paper, I'm reading this as: I/I: A ...
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1answer
621 views

Why do the Canadian and American ways of writing chords symbols differ?

I've been studying music harmony (for the RCM program), and my teacher explained to me that the American way of writing chord symbols slightly differs from the Canadian way. For example, the chord ...
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4answers
324 views

Non-diatonic chord?

I've done some looking to no avail, so I'm hoping one of you will know the answer to my question. If I'm in a minor key and I play a i, iv, v progression, but later on I change ONLY the i to a major, ...
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6answers
844 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 ...
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4answers
427 views

Do the 'natural' chords to use in a key change if you use a different mode?

This question gives a great, not-too-technical explanation of modes: What are modes and how are they useful? I wondered if playing in a different mode would mean the standard chords change move also? ...
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13answers
5k views

Why can some people play music well who don't “know music”?

I have seen people who can play instruments well, but can't: 1.Read sheet music. 2.Do not know anything about music theory. 3.Do not know the structures or rhythms of sound, acoustics, or the such. ...
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6answers
175 views

What's music? A question about 'foundations' [closed]

First of all, I'm new here. I'm a mathematician who's intersted in understanding music in a foundational way. Basically, I want to understand why we call things musical notes, and why there are a ...
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3answers
436 views

Raised leading tones in Phrygian mode counterpoint

In most cases the penultimate note of the counterpoint will be the leading tone, which must be raised in minor to establish a sense of tonality. But why is the leading tone in the Phrygian mode ...
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1answer
581 views

Meaning of “Battuta” in Counterpoint

What is Battuta and does it only apply to voice leading by contrary motion? For example, in treble clef, if going from "E-G" (major-tenth - that is, the "E" is in the bass and the "G" is ...
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2answers
254 views

Voice-crossing in First Species Counterpoint

In two-part counterpoint, is it okay for the counterpoint and cantus firmus voices to cross? Transferred from: Few Questions on Counterpoint in the Tradition of Johan Fux
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3answers
119 views

Trying to understand a nice harmonic end

The more I learn music and harmony theory the more I understand that I don't know anything yet . As for jazz I was listening for a fly me to the moon performance on the piano : the song is in Am and ...
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0answers
27 views

What is it called to take a scale but start on a different degree? [duplicate]

By which I mean keep all the same notes in the same order, but start on a note that isn't the root. Let's work in C major. There's obviously the special case that if you start on the 6th ...
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1answer
286 views

How is the mordent played in the given piece from Petzold

Here is an excerpt of Petzold's Menuett in G major and I stumbled upon a mordent which I don't know how to play. The fun fact is: The excerpt is from a beginner book where there is an explanation of ...
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5answers
239 views

Is music really infinite? [closed]

In contrast with the common misconception that "there are 7 notes, so you'll end up repeating 'em", I argued that music is infinite. Is this true, or there're boundaries to music?
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1answer
381 views

Is there a name for a minor scale with a raised 3rd or a major scale with a lowered 6th and 7th?

I've noticed a pattern in chord progressions and melodies where I like to use the b7 and b6 chords with a major tonic and there are several modern songs that like to use this pattern as seen in a ...
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1answer
147 views

why major chords only have 1-3-5 notes why not other notes? [duplicate]

I have gone through this question The chord formula for the Major Chord is 1- 3 - 5. What do the numbers represent? I haven't understand that and I have also read many document. Please can any ...
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2answers
55 views

Modulation in the violin solo Bach's Laudamus Te

I'm trying to decide the key changes in the Laudamus Te of the Mass in B minor (J.-S. Bach). I think the key in the 8th measure is B minor (the Laudamus Te is in A Major), but I'm not sure what ...
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4answers
365 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...) ...
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1answer
206 views

How do you do accidentals (eg. E♭) in solfège (Do Re Mi)? [duplicate]

I only ever learned the basics of the major scale syllables, mostly from the "Doe, a deer" song. In C Major, Do - C Re - D Mi - E Fa - F Sol - G La - A Ti (or Si) - B Do - C So how ...
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2answers
246 views

Which enharmonic to use when writing down a sequence of chords

I've got a sequence of chords, denoted using solmization here: S: re di do ti A: ti TA la sol B: fa mi ri re I'd like to write down these chords in B flat major. I'm concerned with the ...
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2answers
81 views

What's the meaning of the phrase “an eighth note at quarter”

The context is comparing the loudness changes in two sounds. An eighth note at quarter equals 120 is 0.25 seconds long So is it talking about four eighth notes beamed together, or is it ...
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2answers
287 views

key changing in a song?

how do i change in keys? All by my self - was in the key in F major and transition to C# minor in the middle of the solo? i notice that "all by my self" and "never going to fall in love again" by ...
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1answer
97 views

How should I understand time signature?

Now, I am not asking for the general answer given in band class ("The top number tells how many beats are in a measure; the bottom number tells what note gives the beat"). I'm more asking what it is ...
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0answers
46 views

What exactly is the point of the Melodic Minor Scale? [duplicate]

I know how the natural, harmonic and melodic minor scales are formed and the first two I have no problem with. But the very concept of a scale which is different going down and up just seems wrong to ...
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3answers
273 views

How do you properly define diminished 9th, 11th and 13th chords?

I understand that a diminished 7th chord is defined by the intervals 1-b3-b5-bb7 and a half-diminished 7th chord is 1-b3-b5-b7, but how do you determine what intervals diminished (and half-diminished) ...
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4answers
174 views

iii9 - I progression in Bach?

In the last of his 15 Sinfonias (aka Three-Part Inventions), Bach uses quite a daring approach to the tonic chord. Occurring in a sequential progression by downward thirds, it can be described most ...
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4answers
147 views

Is there such a thing as an Add#9 chord?

I understand that the chord formed by the intervals 1-3-5-b7-9 is a 9th chord and that the intervals 1-3-5-9 (omitting the 7) create an add9 chord, but how do you properly define the chord created by ...
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5answers
6k views

What defines pop music as a genre? Which patterns and trends can we find in pop music?

Today, not all popular music is labeled as pop. To me it seems that pop has become a genre that can be defined by its musical patterns, techniques, and styles. Similar to rock, jazz, and classical ...