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38

The keys are only identical on equal-tempered instruments, but that's most modern western instruments like pianos. Wind instruments other than the trombone are built to be (mostly) equal tempered [EDIT: I might be simplifying too much here, see David's comment below], but the players can bend pitches somewhat. The trombone, all non-fretted string ...


28

D's central position in Wicky-Hayden layout is an artifact of the fact that Dorian mode is a symmetric scale (its descending interval pattern and ascending interval pattern are the same) in some tunings, including the twelve tone equal temperament (and it's the only such diatonic mode). Even though I'm sure this mathematical property of Dorian mode has been ...


24

Time signatures and bars are not there arbitrarily, nor just to help count your way through a piece. They are there to provide guidance on the rhythm of the piece. Where it is accented, where it breathes. Some composers do write pieces with no time signature or bars, as an indication that there should be no consistent rhythm. Eric Satie did this for several ...


24

Yep, the second one is far better for precisely the reason you say. A general rule is that you shouldn't have dotted-notes that start on an off beat and carry through the next beat. There are exceptions even to this rule, but showing the underlying beat structure of the meter is paramount in the vast majority of situations. Elliott Carter is an example of ...


24

One option if you're primarily interested in representing the individual digits of pi is to use a representation in a base other than 10. For example pi base 12 would have an individual digital for each chromatic note. Here's a website that might help get you started: http://www.virtuescience.com/pi-in-other-bases.html


24

It can be. If you were using the F# major scale, you would have the notes F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D#, and E#. Another common example is in a C# major chord you would have the notes C#, E#, and G#. The E# is an enharmonic equivalent to F. F is used a lot more though, since it is a naturally named note. In the same way, Fb can used to describe E. How you name a ...


23

This is more clear when you think of it in terms of the length of the string. Ignoring for a second that strings need to be a minimum length in order to vibrate, we can produce a full octave on the first half of any length of string. Open for the "base" note, midpoint for the octave, one third of the way up for the fifth, etc. So on a guitar you have the ...


22

Sharp-keys are in some ways nicer to play than flat ones. The preference for these keys is perhaps most extreme in folk styles: going through two collections of celtic-style fiddle music[978-1-85720-202-1],[1-871931-04-5], I found the distribution to be this crass: ♭♭ : 5 ♭  : 5 ♮  : 7 ♯  : 57 ♯♯ : 70 ♯♯♯: 9 In particular D major is really a great ...


21

Harmonic mixing is the practice of using music theory in your dj sets. You can use this knowledge to achieve specific functions when mixing two songs (similar to chord progressions), or to know which songs are compatible with each other, just to give a few examples. The most common and basic form of harmonic mixing. If you don't want to know about the ...


21

I feel like I've already at least partly answered this question here. But I'll endeavor to add more here. First of all, you aren't quite right in your description of the note-naming system. There are seven letters, and every one of these can be sharped or flatted: A♭, A, A♯ B♭, B, B♯ C♭, C, C♯ D♭, D, D♯ E♭, E, E♯ F♭, F, F♯ G♭, G, G♯ It's just that many ...


20

Your understanding of the math, as it were, is correct. And I would say yes, a multiple of 4 bars of music in 3/4 can be expressed as music in 4/4 (in a multiple of 3 bars), but I would dispute that the same can necessarily be represented as such. The bar line placement of a piece of music has tremendous impact upon live musicians' interpretation of, not to ...


19

The term "voice leading" comes from choral music, but it applies to chord progressions in all sorts of arrangements for all sorts of instruments. A chord progression has two dimensions: horizontal and vertical. Let's say you are playing four-note chords in sequence. You can think of the progression as a series of block chords (vertical), but you can also ...


19

The key change you are describing is known as a Chromatic Mediant Relationship. This type of modulation rose to prominence in the Romantic Period and has been used by composers and musicians ever since. Chromatic Mediant Relationships are ones in which the roots or tonal centers of the keys are a non-diatonic 3rd apart. If diatonic (within the key), it ...


19

1. Bias against "unorthodox" notes Western music tradition (and some others) was, and to a large extent still is, based on heptatonic scales, that is, seven unequal divisions in an octave. So, in a given musical context, all twelve notes are not created equal. For instance, in a musical phrase in C major, natural notes (ones with no accidentals) are the ...


18

Yes. The key signature of Db has a Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, and a Gb. Those notes are flat unless otherwise noted no matter the octave. For any key signature on any staff, you will only ever see the accidentals written once in a typical pattern. The octave the accidentals are in are entirely based on the clef used, but apply to all octaves. You can think of the ...


18

If you're looking for a magic number upon which scales are based, take a look at 1.5. That's the ratio of an interval called a pure fifth. It's also called a just fifth; the terms are interchangeable. (They are not necessarily the same as a perfect fifth, however. And if you're wondering why they're called fifths at all, don't get hung up on that just yet. ...


17

The minor scale is not called the "minor scale" because it is the most minor. Names don't have to accurately reflect the definition. Modes are sometimes classified as "minor" or "major" depending on their third (a minor third usually comes with other minor degrees like the flat 7th which is common to all minor modes of the major scale). And of all the minor ...


17

I would say that the last paragraph of your question is closer to the truth. I wouldn't consider knowing the names and shapes of some chords as knowing theory. I know for a fact that people can play very well with little to no theoretical knowledge, since I have friends with this ability. Theory wasn't there before music, theory is a tool to understand and ...


17

I've studied music in both the US and the UK (piano lessons in the UK at age 14, majored in piano in the US), and bar and measure are used interchangeably in both in my experience. Jazz and blues musicians tend to say "bar" more often than "measure": 12-bar and 16-bar blues, for example. Also, you'd never hear a jazz musician say "He stepped on four of my ...


17

This is an A minor chord in first inversion. A is the root note, C is the minor 3rd, E is the perfect 5th. As the C, the 3rd, is at the bottom, this chord is in first inversion. The musical excerpt below shows this with conventional notation. Each chord has the same three pitches of an A minor triad, A C E (R m3 5), but the change to the lowest pitch ...


17

The reason there are multiple names for notes is that the same note may function differently in different contexts. If you just play a single note with no context, then it could have a multitude of different names. For example if you played the note in between F and G you could call it F# or Gb or more obscurely E## or Abbb. They are all valid names and are ...


16

It's essentially just a matter of perspective. The circle is only organized differently for different purposes. The circle of fourths and circle of fifths are, in fact, the same thing, but written in different directions. This is because P4 and P5 are inversions of each other. For example, a G going to C could either go up a fourth or down a fifth. Both ...


15

Using only your ears, it's impossible to determine the exact time signature the composer would have used when writing the score. This is because there are many ways to write the same thing, all of which sound the same when played. For example, a piece written in 3/4 time can easily be re-written in 3/8 time by halving all the note values and playing it half ...


15

As someone who writes music, I have this to add: I usually come up with ideas for songs by improvising on a piano until I come up with a phrase that I really like. Way back when I started improvising, I came up with some ideas in certain keys (mostly based on what was easy for me to play at the time), and over time, the emotions in those songs became ...


15

Great question - I remember when I myself was confused about this very same thing many years ago, and indeed at first, it all seems completely random. In order to answer your question, there needs to be a little background: Historically, thinking about music in terms of harmonic progression is one that has really only come to complete prominence in the ...


14

It's important to understand that mode doesn't have to be, and often isn't, an explicit choice. You wrote: The notes we play and the order is based on sound and emotion. and that's true enough, but—if you've mostly written notes from a single western key and are writing in a more or less traditional style—then the way you've used those notes will be in ...


14

As Bob mentions, this can be described as a descending chromatic bass line. If descending a fourth, from tonic to dominant, this can also be called a "Lament Bass". As a technique, it dates back at least to the early Baroque Era (famously used in Dido's Lament, that character's dying aria from Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, and also in Bach's Crucifixus ...


14

No, it is still a B♭. The flat is just reminding you that the B is flat. This is typically done if the previous measure uses a B that was different then the one in the key signature or if there was a different quality of B used in the measure it is used to cancel out the other quality. In the key D minor, if you were ascending from A to D, a typical melody ...


14

A fugue is one of the most polyphonic musical pieces you can write. In a typical fugue there are 3 or 4 voices in play that are each treated independent melodies. While this is going on, you have to not only have to keep all the rules of counterpoint in mind for each voice and make sure the harmony always make sense, but you have a structure to keep in mind ...


13

This is called Modulation (which basically just means a planned key change), specifically "Sequential Modulation" (meaning that it changes to the next key in a sequence, and not randomly), and even more specifically a "Diatonic Sequential Modulation" (meaning that the sequence of key changes is diatonic, in your example it's a major scale). This is not just ...



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