This question asks about things like "significance of songs" and "musical significance": Significance of pop songs with progressions that alternate one chord with one that's three semitones below it

I was wondering if there was any musical significance behind this.

There were no comments clarifying what "musical significance" is, and the question wasn't flagged "unclear what you're asking" nor "opinion-based", I guess that means:

  1. There is a thing named "musical significance"
  2. This thing can be objectively determined

Is this correct? What is "musical significance" and how can it be determined?

  • Please fix your url. I can't edit it, since the change is too minor. This is the proper url to the question: music.stackexchange.com/questions/64680/… – Mafii Dec 21 '17 at 10:56
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    @Mafii what's wrong with the url? works fine for me – enkryptor Dec 21 '17 at 12:58
  • Shouldn’t this just be a comment on the question in question? Or at most a meta question? – Todd Wilcox Dec 21 '17 at 17:12
  • 'What is a “musical significance”' wouldn't improve the original question much. Besides, it could be a question on its own, I guess. – enkryptor Dec 21 '17 at 18:23

Although "musical significance" can be a turn of phrase used without really realizing it, musical significance is a thing, and it can manifest itself in several ways.


Sheer innovation is musically significant, especially if the innovation inspires other composers to follow suit. Musical significance based on influence on later composers is often only recognized long after the initial innovation.

Common Patterns

There's a big trend in music theory today called schema theory. Schema are "stock musical phrases" (read more here) that occur often enough to have been given names for easy identification. I think this is actually what the OP of your linked question was asking, just in very different words: is this particular feature of a progression a common schema?

Motivic Recurrance

Motives are often musically significant because they recur time and time again. Mahler was great about hiding little motives in an accompaniment and then later developing them into full-fledged themes. Like the "innovation" heading above, such musical significance is not realized until later in the piece.


The list could go on and on; this is obviously a very incomplete list. But hopefully this gives some idea of what can be meant by "musical significance," since it's a tough thing to define without saying "it's something that's musically significant."

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