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

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What is Voice Leading?

In both classical music and jazz, we often encounter the concept of voice leading. What is it? What does it do?
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11answers
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Why are the white and black keys on the piano placed the way they are?

I am pretty convinced it is not just for historical reasons. I have found a mathematically-sound explanation of the twelve-tone musical scale, thanks to this question. Does anyone know a similar, ...
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4answers
509 views

How does “triplet feel” for eighth notes affect non-eighth notes?

I'm a software developer creating a MIDI player that can play with "triplet feel" -- that is, when it sees two eighth notes, it plays them as if they were a triplet of quarter note + eighth note. This ...
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1answer
112 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?
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2answers
67 views

String gauge, scale, and tuning relationship? (Guitar in particular)

Does anyone have general guidance or a good resource on this, specifically considering scale length, string tension, string gauge, and tuning? I've found loads of anecdotal research and a even few ...
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1answer
46 views

In traditional (tonal) harmony, how is the word “sonority” used?

In traditional harmony, I have heard the word "sonority" used sometimes freely in a way to describe harmonic structures or harmonic systems. However, in my experience the word was used somewhat ...
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4answers
853 views

Difference between “Bar” and “Measure”

I was taught musical theory in the UK where I grew up. I was taught what a bar is. In my experience, the terminology "measure" is not used in a musical sense in the UK. Since living in the US, I ...
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4answers
168 views

The concept behind relaxing music?

I am interested to start ...
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3answers
255 views

Chord Progressions Including Majors That Should Be Minors

I have been learning a song by John Frusciante that looks like it's in D minor (or maybe F Major, you tell me). The main changes go something like this: Amin -- Bb -- Dmin F -- C -- Gmin -- Dmin C ...
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6answers
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Is there a way to measure the consonance or dissonance of a chord?

I know that if I played C and B together they would be very dissonant compared to if I played a G or C one octave up. Is there a quantitative way to describe that sort dissonance? Edit: I understand ...
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7answers
502 views

Definition of the note C

That I'm using the note C is arbitrary, I could be using any other. How would you define a C? If you define it as the tone with frequency 261.6 Hz (or 2^n * 261.6) then you run into problems when you ...
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2answers
84 views

F Dorian and Associated Chords

So I have been playing guitar for a long time, but only recently have begun to seriously dive in to music theory. I have limited knowledge, so little that I am unaware if this is a very simple ...
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2answers
86 views

How do I find guitar chords to play while I sing “Frozen Heart” from disney's Frozen?

I'm a beginning guitar player, and I like playing disney songs. I've learned most of the songs from the movie Frozen, but I'm struggling with Frozen Heart. Here's the song: ...
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2answers
634 views

Why don't pianos use multiples of 12 for the number of keys?

In one of the answers of this question, some pianos with 44, 61, 76, and 88 keys are introduced. I just don't get it. Why notes are not following any formula? I mean, a piano with 63 keys means that ...
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4answers
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What is the relationship between “do re mi” and note letter names?

When the people sing the song, we use do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti (or si).... but some time I hear that the music people say A, B, C, or C flat..., what is their relationship? or are they two ...
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11answers
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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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5answers
107 views

How to create an interval from a note which doesn't start a major scale

When constructing an interval, e.g. a major third from A I work like this: Count three notes including the starting one, so A, B, C Now check on the circle of fifths whether A major scale has an ...
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3answers
507 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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5answers
419 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 ...
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3answers
126 views

Website that analyze songs?

Is there a website that analyze songs? for example it describes the rhythm of the song, what key and chords are used, and what scale the solo is using? for example a song like Pink Floyd's Time, it ...
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5answers
229 views

Techniques for creating melodies

I've posted this thread: Learning to create melodies I've got a few ideas of techniques towards creating melodies but wanted to ask if there are any specific methods to help get better. I've read: ...
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2answers
99 views

Is there a name for this: text syncopates otherwise unsyncopated vocal music?

There's an interesting musical phenomenon in "O Virgo Splendens" (14th century, in the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat) as it is consistently interpreted across all editions I have ever encountered. The ...
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2answers
89 views

Error computing prime form of a pitch class set

I'm working on coming up with prime forms. I've been using this calculator online to check my work. My problem is that the prime form I compute for a certain PCS doesn't agree with the calculator, ...
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2answers
320 views

(Post)-minimalist compositional techniques

I was wondering if anyone out there knew of any techniques associated with the minimalist tradition. I've been really interested in the philosophical notion of minimalism over the last few months or ...
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9answers
852 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 ...
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3answers
106 views

How to resolve chords (and general questions)

I really want to start understanding how harmony works, so I was wondering if anyone could could give me a general explanation as to how chords resolve just to tie me over until I begin studying ...
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2answers
303 views

How to become a DJ

I'd like to become a DJ, and to tell the truth, I also have made many tracks using Encore notation software. But, now that I want to bring it to reality, I don't know what instruments to purchase. A ...
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5answers
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What is the difference between a riff and a lick?

That's it. I was wondering what is the difference between a riff and a lick. The Wikipedia page for lick is somewhat confusing-- what do you think?
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1answer
211 views

Polyphony vs Homophony in Hymns

I understand that polyphony is multiple melodies, while homophony is a single melody with chordal accompaniment (in my own words). I've read that hymns are generally homophonic, yet I find that hymns ...
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3answers
2k 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 ...
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1answer
65 views

What is the clearest way to signify the harmonic function of a polychord?

Chords can be analyzed with roman numerals to indicate function: C, Am, Dm, G I, vi, ii, V (or I, VI-, II-, V in jazz theory) And inversions may be analyzed by adding an arabic numeral indicating ...
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5answers
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What purpose do accidentals serve in music?

I'm having trouble writing music containing accidentals. If the diatonic scale contains 7 related notes, what purpose do accidentals serve? If the accidental notes are not related to the overall ...
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5answers
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When to use a dot or a tie in music notation?

Let's say I have the following piece in 4/4, Should it be notated as: or Are there any specific rules? From my previous experience, I believe the second one is the correct notation since it ...
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4answers
120 views

Still Major Intervals?

I have a worksheet to prepare me for my A level music; however I'm confused when being asked to name these intervals: My logic is that as both the tonic and above note are both flat meaning the ...
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1answer
250 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 ...
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2answers
85 views

Doesn't a major scale share all its notes with its relative minor and vice versa?

I came across this sentence, reading A Theory of Harmony, John Stainer, P 9 item 27: The scale of a relative minor consists of the same notes as that of its relative major, with one exception, ...
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1answer
87 views

Consonance & Dissonance Relative To Melodies

I've been reading of consonant and dissonant intervals within a scale and was wondering if this is a rule that is generally applied in current music? Can this rule help make a melody for example if I ...
8
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2answers
148 views

What is a good way to train one's mental resources for improvising?

I find improvising to be the most challenging and rewarding part about music. When I first started to improvise I found that the ideas I had were limited to the dexterity of my fingers, but now I am ...
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4answers
161 views

How come songs in a certain key play notes not in that key

I just started trying to learn about music theory as I'm learning to play the guitar. So as beginner's do I looked up a list of easy songs to play and i start learning away. Since I'm also trying to ...
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2answers
61 views

Scales - Melodic and harmonic minor

Recently I picked up modes for guitar scales. I just love how this system works and understand it 100%. However, I have heard about other scales that are not covered with the modes. More specifically, ...
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6answers
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How to identify the root note of a chord

I struggle with chords on the staff because I'm not sure which note is the root note. Is it the top note with the rest of the notes falling below it? E.g., The top note is C, and bundled below it are ...
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4answers
279 views

What note type in the 7th of a chord? - Music Theory

If this diagram is accurate, would the 7th of a Bmin7 be formed from a minor 7th interval or a major 7th interval, e. g. A-natural or A-sharp? I'm assuming A-natural. If this line of thinking is ...
13
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2answers
388 views

What is the name of the interval Db - D#?

I know that Db - Eb is a major second/diminished third. What is the interval Db - D# called (and why)? EDIT: oops, Db - Eb is NOT a diminished third.
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2answers
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What note(s) are a diminished 3rd above D-flat?

In What is the interval between Db and D# some of the comments indicate that the interval Db->Eb can be considered as a diminished third. I would think that Fbb (double-flatted F) is a diminished ...
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4answers
267 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 ...
7
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1answer
91 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 ...
6
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5answers
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What is a good solo to learn in the major scale?

I am starting to play / improvise in the major scale and 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 solos in ...
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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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556 views

What are some of the components of a good guitar solo?

Putting aside the emotional value of listening to a great guitar solo, what are some of the criteria that can be applied to make an educated judgement as to the quality of a solo within the context of ...
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5answers
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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 ...