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34

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 ...


25

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 ...


25

It can be depending on the context . 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 ...


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


22

I think the author of that Wikipedia page has rather misinterpreted Nancarrow's title page for the Study (linked on Roland Bouman's comment to the question). (1/√π)/√⅔ refers to a tempo ratio between two voices, not a time signature. Nancarrow was rather obsessed with canons. The canon is a form where multiple voices each play the same music at some time ...


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 ...


22

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. ...


21

There is a rather more fundamental, physical reason for this than so far mentioned: the bass fills not only the bass frequency range, but its harmonics actually reach well into the midrange where all other voices have their fundamentals! In fact, since the bass has typically the strongest amplitude1 of all tuned instruments (save perhaps trumpets, lead ...


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 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

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 ...


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

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 ...


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 ...


16

It's known as a tritone substitution. In jazz you can substitute any dominant-seventh chord with the one a tritone (b5 or #4) away. This works because of the major-third and minor-seventh which are in every dominant-seventh chord. These make the interval of a tritone, which is exactly half an octave, and so gives exactly the same notes when transposed by a ...


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

One last update. The question as I understand it has numerous nested questions: "...if this statement can ever make sense: "X didn't / doesn't know any music theory and is one of the all time greats..." "...is the above statement really saying that these guitarist essentially make up chords as they go along based upon intuition and ear alone?" "...Is ...


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

The pentatonic scale is a great vehicle for moving outside. It has a very clear structure and sound which the listener is familiar with. Due to its simplicity and familiarity, you can get away with playing it, even if it does not fit the harmony in a traditional sense. The first thing I experimented with when I got into playing outside was "side-stepping", ...


13

It sounds to me like this: So, basically a slow but straightforward 6/8 beat, and then around 6.22, the bassdrum breaks the regular pattern - it comes too soon. I'm not sure if I got the exact timing right but it feels like what I denoted - a "hemiole" - the 3/8ths in the second half of the measure are suddenly divided in 2 equal parts. The hemiole in ...


13

No, not directly. The beaming may affect how you think about the time subdivisions (four groups of two eighth notes vs. two groups of four eighth notes) which might subtly affect your accenting of the overall piece, but it's not really an explicit thing, no. For comparison, in choral music, you often see all the eighth notes unbeamed, unless they belong to ...


13

You are looking at the chords in an interesting way, but you are over complicating the subject a lot and have a few slight misconceptions. I to V or i to V is a very normal chord movement and it is quite strong, but the the opposite is much stronger i.e. V to I or V to i. The movement is so strong at the end of a phrase the movement is known as an authentic ...


13

The list above is a great start. I'll add a few names below, but first let me speak to the technical question. There are a few basic techniques that characterize so-called minimalism in music. Not every minimalist or post-minimalist uses all these, and a number of composers who used to be called minimalists have changed style dramatically over the years, but ...



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