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Questions tagged [theory]

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

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If parallel keys aren't closely related, then why are they so easy to get to?

I got this comment on an answer of mine: (A comment on this answer) Parallel keys are three sharps / flats away from the tonic, and therefore, they are not closely related. Regardless, they are ...
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2answers
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What is the chord progression and also the technique used in this rock riff?

Example of the riff being played Relative novice here in music theory, forgive me. There's this fantastic rock riff, and I'm trying to figure out what they're doing in it. I know it's some simple ...
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1answer
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Why are these double notes labeled 'contrary motion'?

In my PDF version of Slonimsky's Thesaurus, there's a section called 'Double Notes in Contrary Motion' on page 215. Can anyone explain why he is calling these contrary motion? To me, apart from the ...
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4answers
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The primary triads in minor keys-music theory

I can not for the life of me understand/see this: The primary triads in minor keys: When a triad is not in root position, the root is always the upper note of the interval of a 4th???!!!??? It’s ...
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About Relative keys

C Major key's Sub Dominant relative key is F. But instead, could Fm key also be a Relative key ? So if that works.. From c minor key, could F Major be a relative key also ?
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Classification of 9th, 11th, and 13th intervals by consonance and dissonance

An interval is classified by its consonance or dissonance: as an open consonance (unison, perfect fifth, octave), a soft consonance (major and minor third and sixth), mild dissonance (major second ...
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2answers
98 views

Why is the alignment of notes written this way?

I've been playing a song wrong for a while now, and it's only when I took the time to slow down the music that I learned why. The alignment of the notes on the sheet music is different to how it the ...
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4answers
366 views

Why do we start from the bottom note when counting intervals?

Say if I play G to C descending, my intuition tells me to start from the note that came first. But I've been told that's not correct. You start from the bass note and count up no matter what.
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1answer
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I want to start compose music but I don't know where to start [duplicate]

I play the Double Bass and I've always wanted to compose music for an orchestra. I know that I need to learn more theory, but I don't know where to learn it. I was thinking about learning it in a book,...
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1answer
69 views

what is a “leitmotif” and by whom has it been introduced into music language?

after debating about Paraphrase in music and whether "paraphrasing" could mind something different I came to the question, that someone has been used the first time the German term of "leitmotif" ...
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Did I use the correct key signiture for this 12 bars blues?

QuincyPenolaSheetMusic Any input would be fine. I was wondering if another key signature would have made it more easy, as there is a couple of double flats.
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2answers
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Is there a name to this piano element from Country Music?

There is a certain piano element I hear in certain classic country songs, where the piano seems to play backup to the vocals for the extent of one verse. It has a feel that the person is sitting ...
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8answers
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Why diatonic chords and not always major, always minor, etc?

Why is it important to stay within the key, i.e., to use diatonic chords (minus modulation and key changes)? My intuition is that if the song is supposed to be happy, ergo if it's to use major chords,...
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8answers
610 views

Confused about intervals and keys, does the former depends on the latter?

Sorry if my question is too trivial, I'm trying to understand intervals and keys. I've read on Wikipedia that a third "is a musical interval encompassing three staff positions and the major third is a ...
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2answers
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Harmony on measure 21/22 of Chopin's Fantaisie-Impromptu

On measure 21, Chopin uses a B major-minor chord followed by a D# minor chord. One might think we're in E major and that he's just borrowing the D# minor, but on measure 19, it seems Chopin has ...
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1answer
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Why do some phrygian dominant pieces end on the iv chord?

I was looking at Itzhak Perlman playing Shalom Aleichem It starts (0:14) in E Phrygian Dominant with the i chord, but ends (4:16) in A minor, the iv chord. I've seen the same thing happen with Hava ...
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3answers
610 views

Is it wrong to have two voices move from a perfect fifth to a perfect octave?

I had a teacher once tell me that although not forbidden, it is not advisable to have the same two voices move from a perfect fifth to a perfect octave (specifically referring to a four-part chorale ...
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3answers
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Is this chord in Für Elise an example of a diminished seventh chord in classical music?

We seem to think that some of those 'far-out' seventh chords are only the remit of jazz music but you can as I understand it add a fourth note to any of the diatonic chords in standard harmony to make ...
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3answers
119 views

Is a chromatic mediant considered a modulation?

Say I go from a C major chord to an E major chord. I understand that this is a chromatic mediant. Does this change my key from C to E though? said differently, does non-functional harmony change ...
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5answers
128 views

What is the ordering of modes (Ionian, Dorian, etc.) from least to most dissonant? [closed]

What is the ordering of modes (Ionian, Dorian, etc.) from least to most dissonant? Intervals are dissonant/consonant so why wouldn't there be a way to measure the totality (or average?) of modes ...
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1answer
71 views

How does one interpret (or write) scientific pitch notation with accidentals when it crosses octave boundaries?

Given C♭♭4, for example, is that enharmonic with B♭3 (because you start at C4 and flat it twice) or B♭4 (because octave number 4 means octave number 4)? Asked another way, how do you write the note ...
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3answers
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Transposing down

When transposing, if its transpose down a Major 6th from C. Do you take the key of Eb and say that a major 6th up is C as that would be a major 6th down. But cause your starting note is C if you took ...
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2answers
120 views

what are the hand-signs in solfege?

I've searched in SE for solfege and names of altered notes or tones. This point seems to be cleared. But I couldn't find any about hand-signs for solfege. What are the solfege hand-signs? In our ...
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2answers
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Are all modes relative to Ionian (major) in Roman numeral analysis?

I saw in this Wikipedia article that there are a lot of flats and sharps in the modal natural chords. And I was wondering if it's because they all refer to Ionian. So in Aeolian the "bIII" chord is ...
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1answer
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Grade 8 ABRSM Theory - weaknesses

I have taken the grade 8 ABRSM theory exam twice now and have failed by a couple of marks. My main weakness is question 2: completing the piano extract. Has anyone got any tips on how to complete this ...
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5answers
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How do you build a blues scale?

Hi I am doing grade 8 theory (Trinity). I need a quick and easy way to remember/ know of how to build blues scales. TIA
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1answer
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What is the difference between accented and unaccented notes?

how can I tell the difference between an accented and unaccented note? (I am doing grade 8 ABRSM & Trinity theory, any tips?)
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6answers
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What chord does C, E, G♭ , and B♭ make?

You can use whatever note, but we can use C. Unfortunately, I don't know what the root position would be in this case, so I will lay them out as positions. I used intervals, too. Position 1: Root, ...
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1answer
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Solo Scales to Blue Train (John Coltrane)

Blue Train (John Coltrane) is a blues in Eb. What are the best options for soloing to it (Trombone)? major pentatonic? It feels somehow strange... the F minor pentatonic seems to fit quite well also.
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1answer
779 views

Are you still playing a scale if you don't include every note in said scale? [duplicate]

For instance, if you're playing C major, and instead of playing C D E F G A B, you play C D E F G A, or C D E F G, would that still be considered playing in that scale or key? Because I doubt that ...
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How is music theory helpful in fitting notes together?

I'm very new to music; i've played a guitar before but without a real direction in my practice. I'd like to learn to play the guitar properly, but before that can happen I need a clarification ...
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1answer
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Identifying chords with multiple extensions

I understand that this may be basic. I have a chorus progression (C major) I am working on, and it originally started as basically the following: I-VII-V-vi-V I wanted to experiment a little by ...
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1answer
65 views

How to properly notate scales that are not heptatonic

As far as I understand Scales are defined on intervals. So, for example, the major scale is defined by the following intervals from the root: C - Root D - Major Second E - Major Third F - Perfect ...
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5answers
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Which are all the musical intervals that are valid?

I have been reading around many sources, but it seems there is not a full standardized way in naming intervals, some sources say that such a thing as a diminished first exist. So I started making an ...
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2answers
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Am I observing subharmonics using this method on guitar?

Are we hearing a subharmonic? Friends and I hear a note that is lower than my lowest unfretted string on my standard acoustic guitar with standard tuning when I use the following very simple, easy ...
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1answer
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Are seventh and extended chords used to create dream-like and fantasy music? [closed]

There's an arpeggio that I've heard in different songs and it usually signifies some kind of transition into a "dream world". Here's an example of it, which happens for the first few seconds of Great ...
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1answer
74 views

Psychology Of Key Preferences

I'm a layperson with regards to all things music. I have some experience with the guitar and took a semester long music theory class in high school, but aside from that and some stuff I've heard from ...
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1answer
54 views

Is there a way to create a personal keyboard online? [closed]

I'm working on a project of my university (mathematics). I think it would be really cool if I could show that we can make new music systems with new tunes. So, is it possible to create a keyboard ...
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Can someone teach me [closed]

Can someone teach me how to write melodies like: I know basic theory but I don't know how to generate melodies.
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5answers
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Do the notes in a scale have to be played in order?

Beginner here, it seems like a scale just defines a particular set of notes that don't have to be played in any order to me. But if you look at A minor pentatonic scale you have A, C, D, E, G, yet ...
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1answer
127 views

Parallel chord substitutions

Are parallel chord substitutions common in (classical) music (if so, please share some examples)? And do they have the same function as the original chords? By saying parallel chords I am referring ...
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3answers
91 views

Best sequence to learn about harmony, melody and rhythm? [closed]

I have basic knowledge about these but I want to learn in depth. So what could be the sequence to learn. Also tell where Form, and other elements will come.
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2answers
84 views

Mathematical methods for analysing melodic contour? [closed]

Are there any mathematical methods for identifying melodic shape, identifying motifs and general pattern recognition?
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1answer
88 views

What is a panharmonic scale?

In the English translation of Plato's Republic, he does not allow flutes to be played because they are used to play "panharmonic scales", and he says that no panharmonic scales should be played or ...
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1answer
56 views

Is there a formal name for tones occurring at the same instant?

I am not talking about chords. Imagine a score with two staffs (e.g. for piano) and let's say 2 voices. In the first measure on the upper staff we have some chord (let's say it consists of 4 notes) ...
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1answer
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What kind of guitar scale did I “discover”?

I barely know any music theory but I love experimenting with notes and finding two-note chords that sound cool on my guitar. I've been playing this progression below and I've found that any three ...
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1answer
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Correct Notes for C## in Harmonic Minor Scale

Is the following scale correct for C## Harmonic Minor? C##, D##, E#, F##, G##, A#, B# I read on a good music theory page and they had B## as 7th note in the key, so I was wondering, but I'm pretty ...
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What are weak and strong chords?

I'm reading Jazz Theory by Stuart Smith. In the chapter on functional harmony the author introduces the notion of strong and weak chords: I, II, and IV are generally treated as strong chords. V, VI,...
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2answers
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Learning piano by song tutorials

I started learning piano few years ago. I did not spend too much time on theory as it seemed straightforward to me, but easy to forget. I However practiced a couple of songs over and over. I looked at ...
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Which 'Scale' A Song is In

A month or two ago, I participated in a school music programme, where I was playing guitar. The chord progression I was playing was in the key of C. Then our music teacher comes, and asks in which ...