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

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What properties of a chant can be used to encode information (w/o lyrics)

I am currently researching for a (fictional) draft and need help. I am a complete layman in music and musical theory. A single person or a group of people is singing a song to control a machine, ...
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0answers
14 views

Recognizing modulation style / pattern in Steely Dan's “West of Hollywood”

I'm a fan of Steely Dan's music, but I find analysis of their music to be difficult from a tone-, modal-, and chord-theory point of view. But perhaps the complex jazz-influenced M7/M9/M11 chords ...
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4answers
299 views

Music Theory Classification Systems

For musical instruments there are a number of hierarchical classification systems in use worldwide, amongst them the well-known but somewhat limited Hornbostel-Sachs system. I find myself wondering ...
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1answer
98 views

Mists of Pandaria ambiguous and aggressive tonality

I've been trying to analyze Heart of Pandaria by Russel Brower which is a World of Warcraft song, And I'm having problem decoding what chords are being used to create a surprise and aggression in 00:...
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3answers
105 views

How to write the melody notes of my original songs

How put my original songs' melodies in note form on paper so that the melody can be played on an instrument. (I normally just play the chords on piano or guitar and sing the melody but I want the ...
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3answers
100 views

What are Guitar Scale Patterns?

I am trying to understand, what is a guitar scale pattern ? For example, following shows "C Major Scale Pattern." What exactly is the purpose of a scale pattern ?
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1answer
50 views

Are there any prominent examples of music based on random pitches in a pitch class set?

For many / most compositions, the composer sticks to one pitch class set. For example, {C,C#,D,D#,EF,F#,G,G#,A,A#,B} where A = 440 hz would be an example. But let's suppose instead I picked a set of ...
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1answer
72 views

What is a “tone”?

Some musical instruments are capable of making sounds called "tones." For example, a piano, a tuba, a saxophone, a violin, etc. These are all instruments capable of making "tones." Some percussive ...
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1answer
63 views

What is an algorithm for deriving a secondary chord?

I am trying to find an algorithm for determining the secondary chord (e.g. the V/V) but I would also like to derive the vii/ii, the V/vii, etc. Here is what I have so far: The base note value can ...
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3answers
476 views

How did the plagal modes differ from their authentic counterpart in practice?

In the traditional modal system there were eight modes. Four that were authentic and four were plagal. These modes are depicted below: Based on the description of the modes the final note of the ...
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2answers
46 views

What can a dominant seventh over a submediant chord resolve to?

In this song from Family Guy, a barbershop quartet is singing a song in C major, and they end a phrase on a V7/vi (E7) chord, and proceed to drag that chord out for about one minute (until 1:52), at ...
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5answers
2k views

What is the difference between equivalent Flat and Sharp keys as far as musical notation? Are there any reasons to prefer one over the other?

I wrote a sone in Dd Major, but I could also notated that it would be equivalent to say C# Major as well. I am not well versed in musical theory and I think both are equivalent to each other and ...
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3answers
317 views

Do modes exist in the harmonic / melodic minor scales?

I'm trying to get my head around modes and the tonal center. In my understanding the natural minor scale is the same as the Aeolian mode. However, when considering the mix-up that happens in the ...
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3answers
72 views

How is the tempo and time signatures related?

I've been playing piano for 7 months now. I've decided to formally start music theory. I know the notes, rests and their values. Now, let me start off with 2 bars. The first being a 4/4 and the next ...
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10answers
734 views

How can I learn to play the chords by listening to the song (like I do with notes)?

I have started learning to play piano (I am from a poor family and can't afford a teacher). So,I've learned some popular songs and the notes from the internet. From there I started listening to songs ...
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3answers
50 views

Modal approach to soloing over this piece?

Is my approach for creating a melody over this harmony I have written theoretically correct? Harmony: (KEY OF A) F#m F#sus4 C#m C#msus4 Bm Bsus4 AMaj7 Now lets just take a really straight approach ...
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3answers
148 views

Any pointers on how to convert 4/4 to 3/4?

I'm currently studying Music Theory using the RSA grades (formerly known as RockSchool). I'm trying to get through on my own at the moment but I'm half-way through G6 and I'm increasingly feeling the ...
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5answers
407 views

Enharmonic equivalents to Ab besides G#

I'm current studying RSL Music Theory grades and I'm stuck on a grade 6 question. The question asks to write out two enharmonic equivalent notes to the note provided using sharps, flats, double-...
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3answers
452 views

Dominant Chord in minor key

In a minor key, e.g. E minor, if you take the dominant triad, it contains the leading note. Is the leading note of the natural minor or the major for the dominant triad? So for E minor dominant triad ...
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5answers
4k views

Understanding minor key harmony

A comment discussion under this question from me, clued me in to the fact that I don't really understand how minor keys work very well. So here is what I think I know The natural minor comes from the ...
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2answers
50 views

Working with Secondary-Dominants

I was wondering about using secondary dominants in a chord progression. I suppose anything can be redundant if used too often, but, can someone give me some insight on using secondary dominants in a ...
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1answer
385 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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9answers
407 views

Fundamental and In-Depth Music Theory for an Absolute Beginner

I know nothing about music theory, but I have been playing the guitar for over 5 years and have been only working with tabs. I want to learn music theory from scratch, fundamentally and meticulously. ...
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2answers
5k 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 ...
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1answer
82 views

What is the earliest instance of a composer/theorist publishing an analysis of his/her own music?

In the final chapter of his Harmonielehre, Arnold Schoenberg analyzes a brief passage from his own compositional output. (You can find it here, on written page 418 [page 432 of the PDF].) I'm looking ...
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1answer
75 views

Additional notes that are being played besides picked ones

I was experimenting with sound analysis lately and from what I see when I plot spectral data of an audio file is that apart from notes that were actually plucked there are some other notes with quite ...
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2answers
65 views

Tips on entry level diminished scale ideas for soloing [on hold]

I am an amateur guitar player for a few years already and I have learnt the essential scales, such as major, minor, pentatonic and blues scales but I would like to increase the level of my guitar ...
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3answers
63 views

numerical chords

in a C9, there is the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th degree in the C major scale despite not having a 7 in the chord. Is the same true for chords with sharp or flat degrees, such as a C #9? Would that ...
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1answer
60 views

What do I look over when looking at sheet music?

Imagine I was just handed a piece of sheet music, and I had however long I'd want to look over it before I actually started playing. What exactly would I look over so I'd sight read better?
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5answers
125 views

“The” versus “a” diatonic scale

A diatonic scale is defined as an ordered collection of pitches. However, given the many modes of the diatonic scales, what is meant when someone says "the" diatonic scale? Wikipedia says it's an ...
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2answers
1k views

How do you know if a song has triplets in 4/4 or if the tempo is 3/4?

How do you know if a song has triplets in 4/4 or if the tempo is 3/4 ? For example, consider this song : For the first line , I can count 1,2,3 ,1,2,3 ,1,2,3 ,1,2,...
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77 views

how do you find time signatures which does not match 3 , 4 ,5 , 7 counts,etc ? Or Can some songs have no time signatures ?

how do you find time signatures which does not match 3 , 4 ,5 , 7 counts,etc ? For example , I know that the second song sung here is 6/8 . But what is the time signature of the first one ? ...
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3answers
166 views

Tips for writing an aggressive/violent orchestral piece?

So I'm writing an orchestral composition, and it is supposed to sound aggressive and violent, however I'm not sure how one can accomplish this. At first I assumed it would have a fast tempo, and would ...
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2answers
217 views

“ii and ii6 rarely used to harmonize 6 in the soprano” - for what reason?

In my old theory book, I read that while ii and ii6 harmonize scale degrees 2 and 4, they rarely harmonize scale degree 6 in the soprano. (I'm assuming they mean for common practice music, SATB). ...
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1answer
70 views

Diminished and augmented scales

I know that the augmented scale has a sharpened 4th and 5th, and a diminished scale has a flattened 3rd and 5th, but doesn't a diminished scale have other flats in it as well? Could someone please go ...
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1answer
37 views

Matching time in an audio file to bars in sheet music

I apologize in advance if this is the wrong type of forum to post this question on. Also, I have very little knowledge of music theory so please bare with me. I have a pdf of some sheet music, and ...
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1answer
70 views

What is the exact usage of harmony?

I have completely studied music theory (even diatonic chords) and have just started harmony but I don't know what I am studying in harmony!!! I have faced 2 specific questions and 2 general question :...
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1answer
46 views

beats tempo relationship

If beats and tempo are not related then can you have a tempo (BPM) without first knowing the beat (having a beat.) ie 0 beats = no tempo or tempo zero and infinity. 1 beat = tempo of infinity and 2 ...
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6answers
6k views

How to recreate a sound on a synth

Is is possible to recreate any sound you hear in a synth? Think of it like ear training, but with a synth. Being able to deconstruct a sound with your ear, know what type of waveform is being used, ...
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2answers
5k views

Scales and Ascending/Descending differences

I'm learning some unique guitar scales and I'm confused with certain scales. For example, the Raga Asavari scale plays a list of notes when ascending. However when you descend, you add more notes to ...
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0answers
98 views

What are the rules of improvisation in gamelan music?

I see repeated reference to improvisation in Javanese and Balinese gamelan music but I don't see any reference to the actual rules of improvisation in that music. What are the rules of improvisation ...
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4answers
88k views

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, si, ect, but some time I hear that the music people say A, B, C, C flat, ect. Is their relationship or are they two different things?...
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1answer
113 views

Theories of Orchestration

Obviously there are several well-known orchestration treatises throughout history; Berlioz's is perhaps the most famous, and Adler's is perhaps the one most in use today. My question is whether ...
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2answers
127 views

Are these C notes a slur or a tie?

On the bass clef, there are 2 C notes. I think it is a tie (wiki) and they should be played once for 6 beats. Am I correct? Or do I have to play the C twice, 3 beats each?
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2answers
113 views

Struggling with chords, melodies, and basslines [closed]

I am facing hard time with basslines, chords, and melodies. It's bit a confusing. How do I write them and play on guitar solo? How they are formed and how to resolve them? Can i have an example with ...
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2answers
3k views

In jazz, what is an upper structure triad?

What is upper structure? How are upper structure triads constructed? How are they used?
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2answers
346 views

What are the notes in a 11th chord?

Does a chord like C11 contain (apart from 1st, 3rd, 5th) the 7th and the 9th? Or I can just play the 3rd, 5th and the 11th and the root? I have the same question with chords like C9 and C13.
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6answers
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What is the first scale one should learn on guitar

The title really sums it all up but I'll try expand it slightly. Lets say I'm learning guitar and would like to improve my guitar work. Which of the scales should I learn first and why?
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4answers
170 views

What key is this chord progression?

I'm a beginner guitar player and I am just now foraying into theory / keys / chord progressions. I've seen this grouping of chords in several songs: E - C#m - G# (or Ab?) - A (Where Is My Mind - ...
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1answer
70 views

What Semibreve, crotchet and minim Rests stands for

I'm reading the book of David Braid - Play Classical Guitar, everything goes smoothly until I get the Rests part : Here the part that confuses me : Let me explain first what I understood : exr-...