Questions tagged [theory]

For questions about of how music works, seeking to identify structures and patterns in music.

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What is an altered chord?

A chord can be altered in many ways, but not all alterations make a chord an "altered" chord. Which alterations actually make a chord an altered chord? Do altered chords have special notation?
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1answer
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What does /r mean in a score?

Does anyone know what the "/r" in this score might mean? Thank you so much...
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3answers
261 views

Why is more music written in sharp keys than flat keys?

According to Spotify, an analysis of their song library, sharp keys are more common than flat keys. Why?
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3answers
93 views

What set of notes can be used as a scale?

There are many different scales. As far as I understand, a scale is defined by intervals between notes. For example, for major scale it should be: tone-tone-semitone-tone-tone-tone-semitone I know ...
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4answers
69 views

How to determine the downbeats of a time signature?

From what I understand of time signatures, the top number indicates the number of beats, except for compound or odd beats. Like 4/4 has 4 crotchet beats, while 6/8 has two groups of 3 quaver beats, so ...
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1answer
64 views

The New Complexity movement

What are the main ideas incorporated into the New Complexity movement (contemporary classical music, late 20th century)? What kind of notation, musical techniques, or theoretical ideas would composers ...
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5answers
94 views

How can I find how many sharps or flats are in a scale only given its name

My piano teacher taught me some way to find sharps and flats of a scale only given its name(which I forgot), and using knowledge of a relative scale, like G major is relative to E minor. If I’m given ...
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3answers
78 views

Notating “enharmonic” chords, e.g. iv7 vs bVI6

I've seen those two chords bVI6 and iv7 used interchangeably for what seems like the same context following I -> IV chord movements in B sections (sometimes continuing to the dominant, sometimes ...
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2answers
668 views

“Push chord”. What's that?

I came across this post the other day that referenced a "push chord". What does "push chord" mean in that context? Is that a term specific to Bossa Nova (a latin jazz genre), or is it just a term I ...
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2answers
106 views

Cheat sheet for music theory - where can I find it? [on hold]

Is there a downloadable cheat sheet for music theory? (about basic terms and nomenclatura) Edit: ... as basic information for absolute beginners, like I gave to pupils of secondary school. Maybe for ...
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10answers
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If equal temperament divides an octave into 12 equal parts, why are the hertz differences not the same but 12ths of two?

Let's take a 440Hz A pitch and the 880Hz A an octave higher. If we divide space between 440Hz and 880Hz into 12 equal parts, we would have: [440Hz, 476.6, 513.2 ... 880Hz.] And this looks ...
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1answer
93 views

Given that an Octatonic Scale has 8 notes, what are the names of the scale intervals e.g. for a diminished scale?

Assuming the C° (half/whole) scale (C D♭ E♭ E G♭ G A B♭ C) comprises the intervals P1, m2, m3, d4, d5, d6, and m7, what is the correct name/interval descriptions for B♭ & C (the 8th & 9th ...
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2answers
171 views

Where is the circle of fifths mentioned for the first time?

How and when was the Circle of Fifths invented, and who is responsible for the discovery of this musical godsend?
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4answers
713 views

Why are second inversion triads considered less consonant than first inversion triads?

Can anyone help me understand why second inversion triads are considered less stable than 1st inversion triads even though the intervals between the bass (chordal 5th), root, and chordal 3rd of a ...
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9answers
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How to figure out key from key signature?

I know the major scale formula so can easily work out the signature by building the scale from tonic, but I've never learnt it the other way... How to know the key/scale from the signature of sharps/...
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4answers
615 views

How to determine passing chords

How do you determine passing chords from one chord to another, as I've seen how most gospel/jazz pianists do? So far, I am familiar with progressions such as the II-V-I as means to go from one chord ...
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1answer
49 views

singing without lyrics

I was recently listening to some music while working on a book I'm writing and an orchestral piece came on. There was a woman singing over this instrumental but it wasn't lyrical words, more just ...
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2answers
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English translation of Brahms' essay: “Octaven und Quinten”?

I am now doing some research on Brahm's essay, Octaven u. Quinten. I cannot read German, so I cannot do anything with the original manuscript. I have read some secondary sources about this essay, but ...
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0answers
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Pitches on AP Music Theory examination

I was listening to some sample questions for the Advanced Placement Music Theory examination, given to high schoolers in the United States. I noticed that on a lot of the listening examples, ...
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4answers
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What is the name for a fluid transition between two tones? When did it first appear?

With instruments such as violins or trombones, it is possible to shift from one tone to another fluidly. What is this practice called? When has it first appeared in [Western] music?
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2answers
55 views

How does Different Chord Qualities work in Chord Progressions?

I'm curious how different types of chord qualities affect chord progressions, for example: Can an add9 chord be added into a C F G progression?
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1answer
83 views

Examples of composers and pieces heavily using four-part harmony [closed]

As I am currently deeply involved in studying four-part harmony, I am interested to know some examples of composers and pieces, which heavily use the rules of four-part harmony and not wildly (...
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10answers
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If the music alphabet had more than 7 letters would octaves still sound like the same note?

I have a question about theoretical music theory... So say whoever first invented/discovered the musical alphabet decided to make it an 8-letter alphabet, consisting of A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H. ...
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2answers
99 views

Is there a method for studying music theory through chiptune?

is there a music course or preferably a book to learn the fundamentals of music but through chiptune and electronic music? something that makes you study, exercise and experiment through these "...
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1answer
51 views

Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring: What term is appropriate for the instrumental ornaments in Bachs Choral arrangements?

a related question asks if there is a specific term for the voicing in Bach's Chorals: What is the term for the sung voice found especially in Bach's chorale music (eg. Jesu Joy of Man's ...
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Is there a way to make a Minor key sound “less dark”?

So I have been tasked with trying to write a thing over a backing track written in G minor (scale is harmonic), and I have been asked if there was a way to make it sound "less dark". My question is: ...
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2answers
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natural 5th or #5th on a V7#9 chord?

The most commonly recommended scale for the V7#9 is the altered scale. However, this scale does not have the natural 5th which is present in the chord. What exactly does this mean? I find it quite ...
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1answer
284 views

Does every chord have inversions?

I know triads and 7ths chords have inversions, and their inversions even have names(64, 6, 65, 42, etc.) My questions are: Do the triads' and 7th chords' inversion names also apply to non-major ...
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4answers
491 views

C Clef Showing Middle C on the Second Space: Printing Error, or Obscure Clef?

A friend of mine asked me for help on their theory assignment. Number 8 on the worksheet asked the student to write a certain scale with what appeared to be a standard alto clef, except that the point ...
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4answers
109 views

Does the name of an interval change if the notes are in different octaves?

The interval between C and G is a perfect fifth (P5). But if the G is in a different octave does the interval name stay the same?
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2answers
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I wish you a merry Christmas: what is this chord progression called?

Is there a special term for this chain of secondary dominants V/IV, V/V, V/vi ? (or in C major: C,F,D,G,E,Am) It’s a frequent chord pattern in the era of Baroque and has also been used in the ...
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2answers
65 views

Composition types of music [closed]

Composition types in Western classical music. Is it possible for people to recognize the types of composition without the knowledge of the name given for the piece?
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8answers
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What words convey to you that the note that follows C is G and not D? [closed]

I'd like to make YouTube videos that clarify commonly confusing topics such as why keys are built on fifths - the reason being that, musically speaking, C & G are closer than C & D. The ...
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3answers
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How should one understand/analyse the notes of this melody?

I have been told that the 7th of a scale in most cases is a leading tone. In Du gamla du fria we start the melody with what one could call the 3rd of the scale. The first phrase would then end on the ...
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6answers
998 views

Would you write key signatures for non-conventional scales?

For example, the gypsy scale, I-♭II-III-IV-V-♭VI-VII. Would you write a key signature for a scale like that, that didn't start on B♭ like scales are supposed to? Or would you just add the flat every ...
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2answers
215 views

Functional analysis of the Pink Panther

I'm getting started on functional analysis and trying to understand the Pink Panther theme by Henry Mancini. These is the chord chart I got for the first part (from someone more musically competent ...
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2answers
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Harmonic series role in a just intonation interval ranking?

In my studies, I was reflecting on this theory and just wanted your guys clarification.. A pitch in an octave is comprised of a fundamental frequency followed by its overtones. When we focus on an ...
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1answer
133 views

I have questions revolving around the formula of producing chord ratios?

Good day guys! Thanks to the gentleman @willross1 and others contributions, i have now discovered the formula behind turning interval ratios into chord ratios, which allows me to determine the level ...
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0answers
51 views

Guitar chords vs piano chords [closed]

Why do the guitar chords in fake books not match up with the piano chords? When I play the song on piano, the corresponding guitar chord is different.
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2answers
98 views

Why there is a single-flat key signature for a F major triad?

I am reading a book for beginner about building the chords, basically on triads so far. It is said that the major triads is formed by a root, third and a fifth. From that instruction, it is easily to ...
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8answers
6k views

In a folk jam session, when asked which key my non-transposing chromatic instrument (like a violin) is in, what do I answer?

I know of transposing instruments. A transposing instrument is one where the player reads a C, plays a C, and what sounds is the name of the key of the instrument. Those instruments are often referred ...
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1answer
1k views

What are these brackets? What do they mean and what are they called?

I came across to these brackets in my music theory book of Trinity. I don't know what are these called and what they exactly do in this music?
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1answer
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How to read the music staff with key signatures included? [duplicate]

I am reading an introduction of music theory recently. From the first few chapters I learn the fundamental idea about notes, time signatures, music staff, treble & bass clef, interval and scale. ...
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6answers
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Is the name of an interval between two notes unique and absolute?

Given two notes, is the name of the interval based only on the number of semitones between them (absolute) or can the same exact interval have different names related to the key/scale we're talking ...
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2answers
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Just starting Piano and Theory is confusing and interesting to me at the same time. Anyway resources or tips to learn? [closed]

The title is basically what it is. Piano is fascinating to me and I'd like to be able to understand and play it. Theory really gets confusing for me so are there any resources or places where I can ...
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2answers
66 views

Diatonic and heptatonic scales, and degrees

I have been working on listing all the possible diatonic scales in order of degrees, the number of accidentals in the scale. The first is the ionian ( major ), since there are zero accidentals. The ...
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2answers
69 views

2 notes played at the same time [duplicate]

I want to create a notation for 2 different notes being played at the same time (half and quarter notes) in which the half note is played at first and the quarter is played at the second half of that ...
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4answers
147 views

What is the blues term for the note between the minor third and the major third?

I thought it was the blue note but this is not it. For some reason, "perfect third" comes to mind, but google returns nothing. Anyone know?
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1answer
116 views

Penultimate chord in Messiaen's Regard du Pere seems to break the pattern

I have a question about a particular chord in “Regard du Pere,” the first piece in the Vingt Regards Sur L'Enfant Jesus by Messiaen. I am using the 1947 Editions Durand and don’t know of any other ...
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2answers
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I have three questions on the process of multiplying interval ratios for chords?

Good day music lovers! After the stupendous answers i received recently on this site, i have established the following.. To find the ratio of a chord You take two or more intervals Multiply each ...