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

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29
votes
3answers
2k views

What's so special about minor and major scales?

background: I'm an amateur and self-learner pianist. What I know, I know from books or google, so I'll start with summarising what I already know - please don't hesitate to correct me if I have ...
18
votes
1answer
363 views

Is this piece of renaissance music really in the locrian mode?

A fifteenth-century dance manual contains this piece of music: which appears to be (uncharacteristically) in the locrian mode. Is it really, or am I mis-reading? Does anybody know of other music ...
7
votes
2answers
270 views

In chord progressions, how can I refer to a chord that's out of the scale?

I'm training a music that is most on the G Major scale.. But then there's a B chord. As B is not on the G Major scale, how can I refer to it when I'm writing the chord progression? EDIT My guess is ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

I need help to understand chord intervals (not single note intervals)

I understand intervals between notes. Each number of steps between two notes has a particular name. Like this: But some times I see people refering to intervals between chords, not single notes. ...
5
votes
1answer
226 views

Alternative Numerical Representation of Pitch

I'm aware of a number of different ways of representing pitch as numbers (including one I developed for use in my own software) but am interested if there are others. The most widespread is probably ...
20
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is C the base note of standard notation and keys?

Why is it that notes "start" with C? In key signatures, for example, C Major is the basis and accidentals are added for all other key signatures. I know that the musical alphabet starts with A and ...
17
votes
1answer
650 views

Are there any machine-readable databases of chord progressions available?

I'm interested in doing some linguistics-inspired computational musicology on chord progressions and am wondering if there are any freely available databases of chord progressions. Obviously, I could ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

Capitalization of key names (C Minor vs. c minor)

I was taught when I was young that minor key names should be written with the note in lowercase, as well as the word "minor". Nowadays on recordings, etc., I usually see both capitalized. What was ...
4
votes
4answers
408 views

Do music theory books differ per instrument?

I'm an amateur Spanish guitar player, I know Solfège and how to read music sheets (not expert though). I'm looking for a book that teaches me music theory to gain more understanding and maybe try to ...
16
votes
7answers
641 views

Where should I go to learn about non-Western scales (particularly Turkish & Greek)

Apart from Turkey and Greece, I mean. I'm looking for fairly abstract musicological and comparative descriptions, not "how to play"-style information. Particularly interested in departures from the ...
9
votes
4answers
255 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. ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

Prokofiev's style

I have a predilection for music from the first half of the 20th century. I can't pinpoint the exact reason why, I suspect it is from absorbing so much music from movies, tv series and computer games ...
16
votes
4answers
474 views

Where can I get started with my improvisation?

I have been playing the alto saxophone for a while now. I have also improvised from time to time and have some theoretical and practical background on the instrument, harmony, scales, etc. I have ...
3
votes
1answer
533 views

Are there in-depth music theory books that can serve as a compendium?

If I'm looking for Music Theory on Google I find articles, tutorials and sites that explain the basics. However, this won't allow me to really master Music Theory and be able to look up advanced ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

What scale is this? ( A B C# D E F G A)

This is a very minor question, but I'm trying to learn a piece (a Bach Concerto in D minor) that has the following sequence of notes played in order: A B C# D E F G A My piano teacher said it was a ...
6
votes
4answers
397 views

When is it proper (if ever) to extend time signatures (8/4 vs 4/4)?

When listening to most contemporary music, in my experience, time signatures tend to be in "common time", or 4/4. But sometimes it feels like the phrase or measure extends beyond the four quarter ...
11
votes
1answer
234 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
171 views

What criteria are used for classifying composers?

What criteria are used for classifying composers?
10
votes
4answers
22k 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
335 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
217 views

Learning for entry level exam for music school

On Sunday I am going to take a entry level exam in music theory. They didn't give me any sample exam or references to where can I learn this stuff. All I have is a list of what will be in the exam ...
18
votes
6answers
3k views

Fast Chord Identification

How would someone go about identifying chords quickly and efficiently? While sight reading, I would often come up to some strange chord and try to decipher it. It normally takes me (what feels like) ...
12
votes
6answers
485 views

My ear is not very well trained - what can I look for as easy hints when trying to identify a ii-V-I progression in blues music?

I'm looking to learn how to better analyze music I am listening to, and I'm having problems identifying ii-V-I progressions, especially when they're the basis for improvisation. What are some hints or ...
9
votes
1answer
307 views

Comprehensive theory book

I learned solfège as a kid long ago, and have been playing ever since without interruption, but I seem to have forgotten quite a few things that I haven't really needed all those years, and might not ...
9
votes
4answers
454 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
418 views

How do you compose tuplets against straight notes?

I would like to know how to compose tuplets of odd numbers against even numbers on the piano (ie. 3 against 2). How would you go around composing something like this? I have been composing for some ...
13
votes
2answers
659 views

What are the shared fundamental components of Baroque and Minimalist music that make them sound similar?

Baroque and minimalist music are two of my favorite genres. In particular, I like the repetitive note sequences with variations. J.-S. Bach's Goldberg Variations and Phillip Glass's Naqoyqatsi are ...
5
votes
2answers
276 views

Computer-aided musicology

I have been trying to explore music theory concepts programmatically, namely through music21 software, but I've run into a lot of trouble. Are there any other frameworks for this?
7
votes
5answers
835 views

tips for writing the drum notes to a song in a band

I play the drums in a band, and the song has already been written and everything that the vocalist, guitarist and bassist will play. The drums were left out and I have to write them to fit the song. ...
5
votes
2answers
142 views

Links and tips for Learning and using scales

Tips and links on learning and using different types of scales will be helpful. If possible List of scales with songs in which they are used and (artists/types of bands) who uses certain scales to a ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Beaming in different time signatures

I'm studying music theory in the UK, aiming for ABRSM Grade 5, currently working for grade 3. I'm having trouble grasping the rules for when to beam quavers. In my study book, by Eric Taylor, I see ...
34
votes
7answers
5k views

Purpose of double-sharps and double-flats?

In a few pieces of music I have read through, I have come across double-sharps and flats. To my understanding, they are two semitones above/below the note indicated. What is, then, the point of ...
23
votes
8answers
6k views

How to transcribe music by ear?

Often times we find ourselves enjoying a piece of music that, for whatever reason, we are unable to find appropriate documentation/tablature for. What are good practices for transcribing music by ear ...
51
votes
6answers
5k views

Why are there twelve notes in an octave?

I know that one scale consists of 12 half-tones. But my question is still: Why? Why not 13 or 11?
3
votes
1answer
482 views

Does the three chord trick always end a chord progression on the third chord?

It seems almost a redundant question, but the meat of it is this: If one is using the three chord trick, is it stylistically required by rules of theory and phrasing to end the progression on the ...
18
votes
6answers
1k views

How to formulate a chord on the piano?

I play guitar, and am attempting to teach myself the piano. Which notes from a scale form the chord on the keyboard? Is there a common rule for this? Thank you for your time.
42
votes
6answers
2k views

What's the difference between a G♭ and an F#?

I've heard it said that, whilst on most instruments these notes are played with the same fingerings/technique/etc there is a subtle difference. This isn't specific to this particular note ...
7
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
4k views

How to play chords like G/B

I heard that if there is a chord written like x/y then that means an x chord with y in the bass. This can be played by playing x normally, but then playing the y note on the 6th string, correct? Then ...
31
votes
8answers
812 views

What exactly should I have to learn to understand why certain combination of chords are harmonic when played in a sequence?

I am an intuitive music composer trying to move to a technical music composer. As a dummy, I see music as a composition of 'pieces' (my word). Each piece is a set of notes that are melodical when ...
9
votes
6answers
577 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
550 views

Sharp / Flat: Collectively known as property by what name?

If a chord can be said to have a Quality which relates to whether it is major, minor, augmented or diminished then by what name do we call the property of a single note's flatness or sharpness? Note: ...
46
votes
17answers
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 ...
22
votes
4answers
3k views

What is the relationship between the melody line and the rhythm chords?

Let's say I've written a song with the chord progression I-IV-V in the key of A (just as an example). So, the chords I'm playing are A-D-E. When playing a lead over this rhythm, what notes do I need ...
69
votes
7answers
4k views

Why is the guitar tuned like it is?

Why is there that funny tuning kink between the G and B string on a guitar in standard tuning? I.e., the (musical) gap between the rest of the adjoining strings is 5 frets (or a perfect fourth), but ...
16
votes
8answers
10k views

What chord is formed by the open strings of a guitar in standard (EADGBe) tuning?

Here is something that I have been wondering about for a while: If you strum all six strings of a guitar in standard (EADGBe) tuning what chord would you play? I think it would be some variety of a ...
11
votes
7answers
660 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
696 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Can I use semi-acoustic guitar with overdrive (or compressor) without getting feedback?

Old-school method like to put lots of paper into body of guitar is not recommended in here =)) Anyway, I saw on youtube that one guy having delay+compressor+overdrive+reverb played with epiphone DOT, ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

What does it mean to play in an 'arpeggiated' style on the guitar?

I sometimes hear a guitar player described as having an 'arpeggiated' style, such as Peter Buck of R.E.M. I know that an arpeggio is the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 8th of a scale, but exactly what does it ...