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

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6
votes
4answers
84 views

When to use different scale modes over chord progressions?

I know my major/pentatonic/blues scales pretty well, and I can apply it pretty fluently when playing over 1-4-5-min6 chord progressions, but I find that when I try to improvise over more ...
1
vote
2answers
22 views

What characterizes American folk music?

It seems the American folk genre is pretty diverse, from Bob Dylan (and much earlier!) to more modern musicians like Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes. Specifically, I want to know if there are certain ...
10
votes
4answers
826 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?
9
votes
2answers
182 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
58 views

Suggested text material about Italian baroque composition

As a hobbyist composer who composes in "almost" traditional music styles (baroque-like, classical-like etc.), I am at a stage where I would like to compose authentic music in a specific style. I have ...
69
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
210 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?
2
votes
0answers
85 views

In singing, what is meant by “15/10 tone”?

I was listening to 'Angel' by Anita Baker on YouTube and a commentor said, " That 15/10 tone is hers and only hers!" In singing, what is meant by "15/10 tone"? -practicing male voice student
22
votes
9answers
3k views

What is the difference between a “riff” and a “melody”?

How do I tell when a riff becomes a melody, or is it even important to know? Can you construct a song around a riff - what are some suggestions on how to construct a song in that manner?
11
votes
1answer
426 views

What is a Neapolitan 6th?

In studying music theory I have hear the term Neapolitan 6th a quite few times, but I don't know what it is. What is a Neapolitan 6th and how is it used in a composition?
9
votes
3answers
167 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
197 views

Help me understand this progression

A friend showed me this progression: G7, F#m7b5, B7, Em7, A7, Dm7, G7, CMaj7, Cm7, Bm7, Bdim7, Am7, Ab7, Bm7, Bb7, Am7, Ab7 For the most part, I understand that at its heart it is built on a I vi ii ...
21
votes
7answers
19k views

How to know what notes/chords go together while improvising?

This is 3 questions in one, so it might take a slightly involved answer, or some good links. I'm a very good classical pianist, but I skipped theory entirely in my early days and learned to play well ...
1
vote
0answers
41 views

Seperate gospel music from generic religious / worship music [closed]

I'm interested in a specific type of gospel music, characterized by back beat rhythm, "call and response" and (for me personally) associated with African or South American churches. E.g. the songs ...
19
votes
2answers
577 views

Why does the C7 chord on guitar omit the G note (5th) in open position?

0 C7 C7 ( 1-3-5-flat7) is suppose to contain a G as its 5th right? So how does a guitar get away with this in open position?
8
votes
10answers
413 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
269 views

What's “species counterpoint”? Are there any other types of counterpoint?

I believe the title says it all. On Wikipedia it shows the five species but I have the idea that there is another type of counterpoint not based on those species. Is that vague idea of mine correct? I ...
2
votes
2answers
95 views

In 4-part harmony exercise, how to harmonize soprano 1 to 2 with IV6 - V?

I believe this melody well conforms with the harmony, and does not offense my ear and the rules about counterpoint and chord progression. However, when trying to fill in the inner part, I realize the ...
6
votes
0answers
57 views

What is M-Base and how do I play it?

M-Base was a style of music played by Greg Osby and Steve Coleman. Steve Coleman over the years has been...cryptic about the principles of M-Base. What can you tell me about M-Base that will enable ...
9
votes
4answers
491 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?
7
votes
5answers
248 views

Learning music theory and music writing around guitar

I have fun playing guitar, learning songs or licks and solos from songs is fun and all but I really don't know much about these pieces of music and why they sound good. Sometime I want to be able to ...
13
votes
8answers
546 views

Learning to create melodies

I've researched my question on Google before and came across a few threads which I've read a couple of times. So far I've got into music theory and understand scales, how chords are formed, I know ...
5
votes
2answers
107 views

Why does a melodic half step resolve on the higher note?

What is so special about a melodic half step that makes it "want" to go up (As in the leading tone to the tonic). Why isn't there as much resolution in a melodic half-step downwards?
12
votes
3answers
545 views

Circle of fourths in Jazz

I read on Wikipedia that the circle of fourths (as opposed to circle of fifths) is preferred in the analysis of Jazz music. Why is this so? Are the any good examples to explain this?
22
votes
8answers
4k views

Why Is Just Intonation Impractical?

I've read about the debate of "just intonation" vs 12-tone equal temperament. And nowhere it was clearly stated why just intonation is impractical. Here are my assumptions. Please let me know if I am ...
10
votes
5answers
537 views

Collective word for sharps and flats in the key signature

On a mailing list I'm subscribed to, someone recently asked what the collective name was in English for the sharps and flats you find in the key signature. Apparently, the closest translation from ...
34
votes
19answers
5k views

What's the point of keys other than C and Am?

I'm VERY new to music theory, just learning. I'm reading about keys and scales right now. From what I understand major keys are all the same except for being shifted by one or more semitones (e.g. C ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is music for strings more likely to be in keys with sharps?

One thing I've noticed is that music written for strings, such as violin concertos, are a lot more likely to written in a key like D or A major than something like F or Bb major. I recently saw a ...
7
votes
1answer
222 views

Dealing with synthesized sounds where only a subset of tones sound good

I created a heavily modulated and filtered bass sound on F-1 but cannot play anything other than the F-1 itself and its # as the rest have too many conflicting frequencies. How can these two keys be ...
3
votes
2answers
135 views

What key is correct when guitars are half step down?

I see many charts for praise and worship songs charted in sharp keys (A#, F#) major. One song is charted F# Major. I would think the guitars are tuned a half step down and they are playing like it is ...
22
votes
13answers
8k views

What is the difference between a mode and a scale?

I can't seem to find a straight definition for both.
5
votes
1answer
67 views

What are the Coltrane Changes?

Also known as Coltrane Matrix, Coltrane Cycle, chromatic third relations, and multi-tonic changes. What are the Coltrane Changes? What's the theory behind them? How are they used in improvisation, ...
2
votes
3answers
144 views

How major pentatonic scale is built?

I would like to use this scale to start improvising on an acoustic guitar. I understand the shape on the neck, but I want to increase my knowledge and ask you how is it constructed. Thank you for ...
5
votes
0answers
48 views

What is the four tonic system?

What is the four tonic system? What's the theory behind it? How is it used in improvisation, harmonization, reharmonization?
3
votes
0answers
38 views

What is the Slonimsky-Schillinger Symmetric System?

What is the Slonimsky-Schillinger Symmetric System? What's the theory behind it? How is it used in composition?
15
votes
5answers
2k views

Why is music theory built so tightly around the C Major scale?

Lately, I'm trying to study deeper into music theory, learning Intervals, key Signatures, Chords, Progressions etc. I can see that everything is built around the 'normal' notes that belong to the C ...
6
votes
1answer
74 views

Common Practice Music Theory - Easier method to memorize 4-part harmony doubling rules?

My main question is in the title above. Chords in Common Practice Style only have three notes, so in 4-part harmony (SATB), one note will be repeated. In music theory, there are a ton of doubling ...
1
vote
2answers
155 views

What are the origins of music theory? [closed]

When learning music theory, I always have wondered about the vocabulary words, and how weird some of them were. Who came up with the words? Now, I'm just curious about not just the origins of the ...
6
votes
2answers
132 views

How to calculate the difference in cents between a note and an arbitrary frequency?

Let's say I have the note A 440Hz and the frequency 450Hz. How do I calculate the distance in cents between that note and that frequency?
8
votes
4answers
681 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. ...
6
votes
1answer
572 views

What to call the chord G B F# A C# F#

I wrote a piece containing the following six string guitar chord (fingering shown; first finger barre; standard tuning): %3/2.2/1.4/3.2/1.2/1.2/1 What is the name of this chord?
9
votes
1answer
369 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" ...
16
votes
3answers
901 views

Why are thirds used to construct chords?

I am (slowly) learning music theory on the guitar. I've begun learning about scales and chords, and it seems that all chords are built using some combination of thirds. For example, a minor triad is ...
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 ...
19
votes
4answers
3k views

What are the practical reasons for still having transposing instruments?

I understand that historically there was a need for transposing instruments. e.g. Brass instruments would use lead pipes to change their key and players in brass bands would like to stick to the same ...
11
votes
0answers
92 views

What is a multi-tonic system?

Coltrane changes, Slonimsky-Schillinger Symmetric System, three-tonic system, four-tonic system: what are they? How are they used in improvisation, composition, harmonization, and reharmonization? Are ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Classical music theory notation for chord inversions

In classical music harmony analysis, we see the chord inversions notated like I6/4, I6, V4/3. Examples: What are those numbers? How do they define the inversion? What's the theory behind using ...
11
votes
3answers
864 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? ...
2
votes
1answer
53 views

How to analyze and obtain useful information from a score

I'm a self taught musician. I have learned music theory, composition, and instrument performance by myself. I would like to improve my composition techniques and I believe that I should begin ...
10
votes
4answers
302 views

Guide-lines for creating a simple chord-progression?

I am working on a computer program that generates a simple melody, based on a simple chord progression of four chords taken from the 7 triads of the C Major scale. The program is also supposed to ...