Hot answers tagged

27

My PhD is in Music Composition, but it was a heavily theory-focused program. I also have many theorist colleagues. Your question is interesting, and difficult to answer in total detail without writing a book, so I won't try to be exhaustive. Let me first say that the understanding of "Music Theory" is most definitely not complete, and that there absolutely ...


26

A lot of the benefit is in how you practice them. If done mindfully and effectively, playing scales can give you a way to focus your practice on the building blocks that make up most of the music you play. Don't think of scales as a series of notes. Instead, think of them as the foundation pieces that music is built around. Here are some examples of ...


15

In addition to the other answers, I believe it improves the ability to simplify the music in your mind. Researchers studied the memory of chess experts and found they could recall the positions of almost all the pieces when placed in positions typical of a game, but did no better than amateurs when the pieces were placed randomly. For me, at least, the ...


15

Brass have their overall sweet spot around 2 flats, strings about 2 sharps. That's because their layout is based on some natural notes related by pure intervals. Essentially those you can play while leaving valves or fingerboard alone. In contrast, many woodwinds have a sort of "piano keyboard" with the difficulty being more or less that of working with ...


15

The obvious ones are -trumpet - no use for pinkie at all, and slide trombone - no use for fingers separately. Followed closely by xylophone/marimba/glock/vibraphone and drums.


10

Really? Not one mention of Django Reinhardt? Django lost the use of his fourth and fifth fingers in a fire but that didn't stop him from ripping it up on guitar (and inventing a new genre of music in the process). A few years ago, I sustained a minor sprain in my fretting hand which made it painful to make certain finger changes (I play bass mostly, but ...


9

I actually studied music composition and computer science myself. Great combo! It sounds like what you are really looking for is a formal music composition program, so, first of all, I would say that if this is something that really interests you, and you have the time and the means, you should look into trying to study music through your school, either by ...


9

I've been playing trombone for a while and I think I'm fairly well positioned to answer some of your points: They will often say that the piece we are playing is too hard due to relatively basic rhythms... The effort needed to articulate a distinct note is greater on a larger instrument - this complicates playing complex rhythms, as the end of one note ...


9

I think that a well-rounded guitarist should use both. Regarding negative effects, my answer is no, provided that you continue to occasionally go back and practice the other style. For example, if you've been using a pick for a long time, and then decide to play fingerstyle for an extended period of time, don't hesitate to go back to using a pick every ...


9

Releasing notes after the correct duration is all part of practising. Just as the attack of a note starting at the right time is important, so is the release. I practice this by slowing the tempo right down, by half or even more. Whatever you need to give yourself enough 'thinking time'. Then really focus on each note length and when notes in each voice get ...


8

Learning the guitar as a beginner has many inherent challenges from the very start. For one, you are asking the new guitar student to teach their brain how to tell their fingers to contort in very strange and unnatural ways that they have never before even remotely contemplated. And the finger strength needed for many chords has not been developed yet. ...


8

It isn't entirely clear from your question whether you're fluent in reading Western music notation and if you're conversant in the (relatively) standardized vocabulary for Western harmony and melody. If not, a first place to begin investigation might be Joseph Straus's Elements of Music. It begins with how to read notes, then moves on to keys, scales, meter, ...


8

The amount of air that a flautist is moving and a lower brass player is moving are substantially different. It's much quicker to articulate on a flute. Also, you have to barely move your fingers to change notes, where brass has to move the full height of the piston. When it comes to knowing the fingering, flutes look up a flute fingering chart, and they're ...


8

Make or buy yourself some flash cards for bass clef notes. Begin with a very small subset of cards -- choose several that you can identify reliably, such as middle C. If you have, say, 3 easy cards and 2 slightly harder cards, that's a good combination. On the back of the card, write the name of the note. Now shuffle and quiz yourself. Say the names of ...


8

These are jazz articulations, and as a french horn player you'll really just have to do your best imitation of what a trumpet player would do. You might want to ask a trumpet player in your ensemble for some advice and demonstration. What I'd suggest for the shake is a VERY rapid lip slur from the written note to about a fifth above. It's written forte, and ...


7

Scales teach you... Knowledge of music: They are the ABCs of music literally. Scales contain the building blocks of music. Understand them and you understand allot about music and music theory. Having practiced scales for years has also made me better at musicianship (note/interval recognition when listening). The ABCs are there in a different way when you ...


7

Widor's suggestion of slowing down is great. Another than can be used in conjunction with it or on its own is to play staccato. Staccato obviously necessitates lifting your fingers back off the keys, and it will change the sound drastically to ensure that you are concentrating on it. It also has the added benefit of building strength, which can help you ...


7

Harmonica, blues or chromatic.


7

The typical recorder fits the bill perfectly for you. It uses all fingers of the right hand, and the thumb and all-but-the-pinkie of the left hand.


6

Practicing scales teaches....scales. The point of a scale is to determine what sharps/flats a song has. Imagine instead of saying 'This song is on B major' saying 'This song has F,C,G,D,A sharps'. That would be really pointless. Thus, music theorists developed scales so people can easily communicate with each other. Also, when writing the sharps/flats ...


6

When I was learning piano, and, say, Bbminor scale came along, my teacher said the reason I needed to learn to play it was "because it was in the exam". Many many years later, when I started to teach RGT exams in electric guitar playing, certain scales were prescribed to be learned. Later, in the exam itself, the candidate had to make up a tune, to fit to ...


6

Yes they do because they are the key signature of a piece. The key signature tells you what key you are in and what notes to expect. Since you are in the key of E major, you will most likely use the notes E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D# which the four sharps represent. Those are the notes you should use unless a different accidental is applied to a note.


6

First of all I want to congratulate you on following your dream of learning to play guitar. Playing guitar can provide a lifetime of pleasure and enjoyment. Secondly, I would like to assure you that it is never too late to learn guitar! I started learning as a teenager then I broke a finger on my fretting hand and it grew back crooked so I abandoned my ...


6

Congratulations on your acquisition (sounds like you got a great deal on a guitar). And congratulations on your decision to begin what hopefully will be a lifelong journey learning to play the guitar. The guitar is such a versatile instrument which is also quite portable. It can be used to play just about any style, genre or type of music. You ...


6

Pretty much all percussion instruments, which includes hammer dulcimer and its ilk. I don't know whether the harp requires pinky use or not. I suppose it'd be cheating to suggest the theremin :-) .


6

Every symphony ever written has more than one key -- usually several different keys. A symphony may have the name of a certain key in its title, but this only refers to the main key that occurs throughout its structure. Each symphony will have many changes to different keys. Each symphony will tend to be unique in how it uses multiple keys. Different ...


6

It's not clear what your goals and requirements are for this information system -- and that has a huge bearing on the answer. If, for example, your software is trying to analyze the harmony inside of a single piece, then yes, symphonies definitely will modulate (change keys) all over the place, as Wheat Williams describes in his excellent answer. And this ...


5

I play guitar mainly (occasionally piano) so I will answer this question from a guitarist's point of view. I also write songs - both lyrics and the accompanying music. I don't actually write the music down - other than the chords, but I compose it on my instrument and record it on my Boss BR 800 Multi-Track recorder to save for posterity. For me ...


5

I play both the flute and piccolo, so my answer is completely based off of personal experience. In my opinion, the piccolo and flute are completely different. The only thing that's similar about the two is fingering. I suggest memorizing the piccolo fingering if you just want to play piccolo, since the piccolo does not have some of the keys that a flute ...


5

The thing about piano is that unlike most other instruments, playing in the extreme high and low registers is not any more difficult than playing in the middle. So there is a lot of easy music that uses the highest and lowest keys. For classical music, 88 keys is essential. On top of this, any decent electric piano is going to have 88 keys. Shorter ...



Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible