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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

10
votes
9answers
2k views

Is it possible to learn theory without sight reading?

I'm learning music theory by myself with online books and video lessons. I don't have much trouble understanding the basics of theory, such as intervals, basic scales and modes, but I have a huge ...
10
votes
4answers
4k 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?
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Voice leading confusion

I perfectly understand the theory of voice leading when explained in most theory books about moving voices between chords in the shortest possible manner to give a smooth connection between chords. ...
10
votes
2answers
40k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
287 views

Music Cognition

I am learning to play the harmonica. As with so many people around the world, the approach I use is to take a song and its notes somewhere from the internet and practice it until I can play it well. ...
10
votes
4answers
393 views

Composition of music suitable for concentration

What are the parameters of music to consider so that the resulting composition is suitable as a background music when reading, studying or doing some mental work? I'm interested in parameters like ...
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
2answers
541 views

What is the difference between the classical and contemporary method of teaching instruments?

Ever since I learned that you could learn to play instruments through a classical or contemporary method, and that musical teachers are taught classically or contemporarily, I've been asking myself ...
10
votes
4answers
673 views

Theory of improvisation

I am looking for improvisation theory ressources. I mainly focus on free jazz and improvised music but I am also interested in dance, drama and pictural improvisation. I want to know if a ...
10
votes
1answer
527 views

In jazz, what is diatonic substitution?

What is diatonic substitution? How is it used in improvisation?
10
votes
1answer
395 views

Trumpet improv harmonics?

So I have no background in music theory, only basic knowledge from junior high band, but I've recently started playing trumpet with some friends and I've noticed that when I try to improvise, if I ...
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 ...
10
votes
3answers
622 views

Relative Major/Minor keys question

I've got a question, I thought perhaps one of you fine human beings could help me out. I am under the impression that you can find the relative minor key of a major key by counting down 3 steps, ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Why must the final bar complete the anacrusis?

The Wikipedia page for anacrusis states that Western standards for musical notation often include the recommendation that when a piece of written music begins with an anacrusis, the composer, ...
10
votes
3answers
747 views

What is a “D-10” Chord?

I found a Paul McCartney Song, "Maybe I'm Amazed" that showed a chord which still has me stumped: The name of the chord is D-10. Now, I understand that most chord names are 'even' (as opposed to ...
10
votes
1answer
871 views

Why is Italian the standard for expressive markings in music?

I was reading through the music for Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy a few days ago and I realized that I am often surprised when I see expressive markings (dynamics, tempo, accents and the like) that ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

What makes african blues so distinctive?

When you listen to the music by Ali Farka Toure, Rokia Traore, Afel Bocoum and other african blues artists you can recognize it in a second. What is it what makes the african blues so distinctive? Is ...
10
votes
4answers
614 views

What does it mean when there are two time signatures

I am learning the Blazhevic number 34 for tuba and it is in (9/8 3/4) time. What does that mean? It seems to me that some measures equate to be in 3/4 while others equate to be in 9/8. Very confused. ...
10
votes
2answers
183 views

How do instruments with discrete tuning play chords alongside those with continuous tuning?

I was taught that when playing a triad, the third should be played sharper and the fifth flatter than the notes would sound on an instrument tuned to equal temperament, such as the piano. However this ...
10
votes
2answers
256 views

Was the pitch A given that letter because the minor key was originally the “basic” mode?

It's something that's puzzled me; The key that has no sharps and no flats, in essence the "basic" key, is C Major. Well, fine, but why C? Why not label that key and note A, if it's the foundation of ...
10
votes
2answers
218 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
520 views

What are the fundaments of Harmolodics?

Ornette Coleman has developed a framework for his ideas called Harmolodics. It is somewhat hard to understand what this constitutes though. It is stated that melody, harmony and rhythm are equally ...
10
votes
4answers
731 views

In what order shall I introduce traditional music theory concepts to adults using solfege?

I have 24 sessions in which to deliver basic music theory to university-age students. Although they are likely to do some singing in their future careers, they are unlikely to receive further musical ...
10
votes
4answers
561 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
421 views

Do different modes have the same cadence structure?

In major and minor keys, the perfect cadence is V to I Will this structure remain the same in a different mode? I.e. E Phrygian Mode in the key of C (E F G A B C D), the tonic chord is the iii of ...
9
votes
7answers
6k 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
4answers
1k views

Why is a minor 3rd consonant but an augmented 2nd dissonant?

I am currently reading the Jazzology and on the chapter per the consonant and dissonant intervals I came across this statement: while a minor 3rd is consonant, an augmented 2nd is dissonant. ...
9
votes
9answers
977 views

Is looking for chord after having the melody unusual?

Most people I encounter seem to have the opinion that the definitive way is to first have the chords and then "mess around" with the harmony notes until one founds a desirable succession of notes, ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

What is a “Chord of Nature”?

Could someone explain in simple terms, and preferably with an example or two what "chord of nature" means. I tried reading about this in Wikipedia, but I cannot see how this is different from just a ...
9
votes
6answers
2k views

Triplets in 9/8 time

How do eighth note triplets work in 9/8 or 6/8 time? I know in 4/4 they take up the space of two eighth notes but haven't been able to figure out how they work in 8.
9
votes
3answers
673 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
351 views

What is meant by a “release”?

In a Tom Cosm video tutorial on making beats in Ableton Live, he states (12:20): See, we have that kind of suck now. That's another kind of tension thing. I find with these kind of tension ...
9
votes
5answers
355 views

What is the “unresolvable chord”?

A musician friend mentioned this in passing - she talked about the something chord and then explained it was unresolvable, and how she hates it because she cannot stand music that doesn't resolve. ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

What is bad about Roman Numeral Analysis?

I have studied roman numeral analysis in my theory courses and I think that it's a good way of describing and understanding classical music, especially that of the classical and early romantic ...
9
votes
2answers
3k views

What's the difference between harmony and polyphony?

What's the difference between harmony and polyphony? Is it a matter of perspective or is there a qualitative difference?
9
votes
6answers
8k views

Uses for augmented chords in composition

I've been studying for music theory for many years and I enjoy just writing little chord progressions and melodies to see what certain progressions sound like and how interesting I can make them. The ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Different modes of pentatonic scale

Just as there are seven modes of the diatonic scale, I would expect five modes of the pentatonic scale. Have these been classified? Here they are, in the form of {semitone interval gaps} (Notes for ...
9
votes
1answer
535 views

Is i-V a stronger progression than I-V?

I'm just starting to learn a little music theory (in connection with learning to play the ukelele), and I repeatedly see I-V as basically the strongest chord progression (in whatever sense "strongest" ...
9
votes
3answers
396 views

Which has more overtones: vowels or consonants?

When comparing frequency patterns(e.g. using an FFTSCOPE) for spoken vowel sounds and that of consonants, some of us found vowel sounds to have more overtones(i.e., a larger number of peaks in the ...
9
votes
4answers
8k 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
8k views

What is a good guitar solo to learn in the minor scale?

I am starting to play and improvise in the minor scale, and I would like to learn some guitar solos that are good examples of this scale so that I see how other people use it. What are some famous ...
9
votes
2answers
218 views

Do capable harmony singers sing in just intonation or tempered tuning?

I understand that the mathematical frequency ratios between certain intervals will correlate with the overtones that are present when a note sounds in a fundamental frequency. Certain predictable ...
9
votes
2answers
777 views

Finding the “Starting point” when creating a composition or score

This is a fairly simple one, and hopefully not too wide-open to be permitted here: what approaches are available when sitting at a fresh screen or sheet of paper, or at your instrument, to create the ...
9
votes
4answers
371 views

Can a chord be both major and minor?

So I was messing up with chords the other day and I came with a case where the chord could be both minor and major. I'm wondering if it can be true or if a chord is either, but cannot be both at the ...
9
votes
3answers
332 views

How to give a song this sense of “conclusion”?

Alt-J's first album ends with the song Taro -- a song whose outro leaves a very strong impression on me. The outro sounds like a very fitting ending to any album, because the music simply gives me ...
9
votes
5answers
738 views

Looking for letter-based chord identification algorithms, and related literature

I'm searching for chord recognition algorithms that will assign a chord name(s) to a group of notes, and related literature. Sometimes known as reverse chord identification, where you feed notes to ...
9
votes
1answer
281 views

How does it make sense to leave the root out of a chord?

Chord names can include information about notes to be left out, for instance no5, no3 or even nr (for no root). - Bob Broadley on "Are the names for these chords valid?", May 29 2015 How can a ...
9
votes
1answer
179 views

Scales in modal versus tonal music

When tonal music replaced modal music, why were 6 of the 8 scales (modes) used in modal music abandoned in favor of only two, major and minor? Superficially this would look like a reduction in the ...
9
votes
2answers
234 views

What are the characteristic intervals or scales of 13-limit harmony and beyond?

I've been studying and really getting into the Extended Just Intonation music of composers like Ben Johnston and Kyle Gann. I've started trying to explore the sort of intervals and scales that are ...
9
votes
2answers
308 views

Do Neapolitan chords exist in modes with a minor second?

In relation to a question I asked earlier—What is a Neapolitan 6th chord—I have a follow up question. A Neapolitan chord is pretty much a Major chord built on the lowered second scale ...