Questions tagged [theory]

For questions about how music works, seeking to identify structures and patterns in music. Used to indicate questions about musical concepts and structures, as opposed to techniques and execution.

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16
votes
4answers
14k views

Can a scale contain both a sharp and a flat note?

So, the question should say it all, but for example: The G minor scale (G - A - Bb - C - D - Eb - F - G) To change this into the G harmonic minor scale, I would need to raise the seventh note a ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

In a song in G major the sound F appears and sounds good. Is there a name for such a phenomenon?

The song "Misty Moisty Morning" by Steeleye Span is in a major key. My knowledge of music theory is fragmentary so I may have gotten it wrong but I believe it's true. I don't remember which key it is ...
2
votes
3answers
10k views

How to understand layering of multiple elements in composition (pop/jazz)

I'm trying to understand more about how to compose music and most importantly combine multiple instruments at the same time. I'm quite capable of composing a bass-line, chord progression, or main ...
21
votes
7answers
3k views

"slash" chords, e.g. B/F♯ - are these only for inversions, or can any note be the bass note?

I'm trying to work out whether it is technically correct to have a "slash" chord where the bass note is not one of the notes in the chord. I thought the main reason for slash chords is to show which ...
67
votes
22answers
138k views

What is the difference between a mode and a scale?

I can't seem to find a straight definition for both.
22
votes
5answers
17k views

Is it possible to find the correct chords from melody notes alone?

I'm caught up in this thought. My friend gave me just the melody notes of a song. Here it is, So, here is the problem: "without having the chords supplied, there is no way of knowing what the chords ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Chord books and theory

I have some basic knowledge on chords but I was wondering what books on chords and theory were the best for expanding my musical knowledge? As in, intermediate to advanced level books ?
35
votes
6answers
48k views

How do classical composers write music?

I am starting to learn about music theory and today it hit me how do classical composers such as Mozart and Beethoven are able to write music for instruments they don't play, such as (for example ...
4
votes
3answers
418 views

What is the most classically correct way to play this fast run?

I am trying to figure out the best way to play the first run in Francesco Tarrega's Caprice Arabe. This run is meant to be played really really really fast. First way: p i p i p ...
19
votes
6answers
16k views

What defines a Tango?

Is there something about a song that can be used to classify it as "a Tango"? There's different Tango styles (Finnish Tango music, for instance, is different from Argentinian) and there seem to be ...
22
votes
11answers
5k views

Collective word for sharps and flats in the key signature

On a mailing list I'm subscribed to, someone recently asked what the collective name was in English for the sharps and flats you find in the key signature. Apparently, the closest translation from ...
20
votes
6answers
37k views

Do all chords in a progression usually fit within a scale

I am wondering if when writing a chord progression, all the notes fit within a single scale. If not, what is the logic behind chord progressions?
16
votes
3answers
19k views

Can an accidental carry over to the next measure?

I have been practicing this piece (The Stars and Stripes Forever) for a while. On the first note of the second measure of the second line, there is a natural sign. I have always understood accidentals ...
7
votes
3answers
7k views

tanpura - 7 notes?

I overheard that indian music disputes the notion that 7 notes are equally divided. Hence, people should use tanpura (instead of harmonium or piano) to practice with. I googled about it, and I read ...
70
votes
6answers
207k views

What is the relationship between "do re mi" and note letter names?

When people sing the song, they use do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, (si), etc, but sometimes I hear that the music people say A, B, C, D flat, etc. Is there a relationship or are they two different ...
19
votes
4answers
8k views

What are the most common ways to "decorate" a melody?

Yes, I know, there are way too many possibilities and it depends on the style of the music... I would be happy with an incomplete list for beginners (like me). Here is what I have so far: ...
2
votes
2answers
435 views

is there a modulation in boogie-woogie?

Consider the standard boogie-woogie bass such as this one. The C, F and G phrases are each in its own mixolydian. Is that a modulation from C to F and G? If no, why?
41
votes
11answers
27k views

Why are the white and black keys on the piano placed the way they are?

I am pretty convinced it is not just for historical reasons. I have found a mathematically-sound explanation of the twelve-tone musical scale, thanks to this question. Does anyone know a similar, ...
79
votes
12answers
20k views

Is there a way to measure the consonance or dissonance of a chord?

I know that if I played C and B together they would be very dissonant compared to if I played a G or C one octave up. Is there a quantitative way to describe that sort dissonance? Edit: I understand ...
44
votes
10answers
135k views

Why learn scales? What are they for?

I tried Googling but it seems there is no answer for this one. So the internet assumes everyone knows what scales are for? Why should I learn them? Are they important to be a good guitarist?
7
votes
2answers
5k views

What are the characteristics of Negro Spiritual vocal arrangements?

I've tried several times to write vocal arragnements that are in the style of Negro Spiritual music. Here's an example of the style I'm referring to. Typically, I use simple SATB style arrangements, ...
12
votes
4answers
4k views

What online resources should I use to learn harmony and musical analysis?

I had some harmony courses and I want to learn some more about it. Ideally, I am looking for is a KhanAcademy-like website about harmony and musical analysis. If that doesn't exist, where else should ...
13
votes
1answer
677 views

Help me understand this progression

A friend showed me this progression: G7, F#m7b5, B7, Em7, A7, Dm7, G7, CMaj7, Cm7, Bm7, Bdim7, Am7, Ab7, Bm7, Bb7, Am7, Ab7 For the most part, I understand that at its heart it is built on a I vi ii ...
10
votes
10answers
2k views

Is looking for chord after having the melody unusual?

Most people I encounter seem to have the opinion that the definitive way is to first have the chords and then "mess around" with the harmony notes until one founds a desirable succession of notes, i.e....
6
votes
5answers
9k views

How do you compose using the chromatic scale?

Writting a piece of music using the chromatic scale would be interesting, but I can't think of a way to start it? What kind of structure would a piece have? Is it all subjective and up to the composer ...
9
votes
7answers
1k views

Theory of improvisation

I am looking for improvisation theory ressources. I mainly focus on free jazz and improvised music but I am also interested in dance, drama and pictural improvisation. I want to know if a ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Why don't pianos use multiples of 12 for the number of keys?

In one of the answers of this question, some pianos with 44, 61, 76, and 88 keys are introduced. I just don't get it. Why notes are not following any formula? I mean, a piano with 63 keys means that ...
24
votes
6answers
28k views

With sheet music, how do you determine whether the song is in the major key or the minor key?

For example, if the key signature on the left doesn't have any sharps or flats then it could theoretically be in either the C Major scale or the A Minor scale. How do you determine which one?
2
votes
2answers
6k views

What is a harmonic note and how do you play it?

While I was browsing here I came across an interesting question so I decided to see what the answer was and well, I had some difficulties understanding it. I'll quote a short part of the answer. If ...
6
votes
1answer
13k views

What makes a happy song happy? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What gives a piece of music its personality and feeling? What makes a happy song a happy one? What are the elements that give this particular property to a music piece? Can a ...
4
votes
1answer
324 views

Is there an amp power formula?

I'm looking to buy a new amp for my keyboards, and I was wondering if there's a formula I can use to help me calculate some of the objective specs I should look for. Something along the lines of: I ...
34
votes
3answers
44k views

How do harmonics work?

The guitar has harmonic notes at some places. I can play it, but I don't understand the logical reason why/how this is can played. Can you tell me how exactly this works? What other musical ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

How do you label a sequential interval when the second note is lower in pitch than the first?

Consider the interval D3 G3. This would form a perfect fourth. In a sequential interval, say a quarter note D3 followed by quarter note G3, this still "sounds" like a perfect fourth so using that ...
5
votes
4answers
901 views

What's the term for the intervals between notes within a scale that produces a chord

I probably described that poorly in the title, and I'm not even sure there is a word for what I'm thinking. Lets say you're playing on just the white keys on a keyboard. C E G is C major, and D F A ...
9
votes
5answers
18k views

What is "groove"?

How's possible to trigger it? Is there a technical reason for the groove to happen? Is it just when you stuble across any kind of rhythm / melodic progression interaction that "moves"? Please do not ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

What does it mean when one says that rock and jazz have strong beats on the even numbered beats?

It is usually said that rock and jazz musics have the strong beats on the even numbered beats (2 and 4 on a typical 4/4) instead of the odd ones (1 and 3). However, chord changes and bass (whether ...
20
votes
12answers
3k views

Can a chord contain both the C and C♯ notes? (as opposed to containing C and D♭ notes)

Can a chord contain both the C and C♯ notes? Or do you always have to use D♭ rather than C♯ in a chord that already contains the note C? I'm guessing the answer is no, both C and C♯ should not be ...
25
votes
9answers
17k views

What is the full list of possible chord names? Are there chords that don't have a name in chord theory?

My chord book covers 35 different chord types. When I look on the web or in other tools, all the same types of chords come up. But I don't think this is the "full" set of possible chords. I'm not ...
19
votes
5answers
5k views

Why is a note sometimes a 4th and sometimes an 11th?

If I play the chord: GBDA, then this is considered a Gadd9. But if I play the 3rd above the 5th (GDB), it is not called a 10th. Why don't we refer to all notes by 1-7, and is there a system to ...
56
votes
8answers
12k views

Which notes are optional in jazz chords?

I have a question on jazz chords, and what notes can be removed from the chord. My understanding is fairly superficial - mostly from what I've read in books. This is what I understand: In some chords,...
39
votes
12answers
20k views

Is it possible to write a song without a key?

"This song is in F Major", "That song is in A Minor", "This song is in D Minor, but modulates to F Major in the middle", etc. Can we say "This song has no key"? Are there songs that have/follow no ...
3
votes
3answers
8k views

In what order should I learn all the theoretical concepts for piano?

I can do major scales with every key. I am now start minor scales. In what order should I learn all the concepts and theories? For example chords, chord progressions, lots of other stuff etc.. I ...
32
votes
11answers
42k views

How is counterpoint different from harmony?

Harmony is a kind of second sound you hear. Counterpoint is also the second sound you hear. Aside from technical differentiation, how can you by ear differentiate these two concepts. Is it possible ...
55
votes
7answers
37k views

Does it really make difference to play a song in a different key?

I hear sometimes players and composers say that this song won't sound good in F Major for example, and you should play it or write it in G Major (this was just an example). In other words, it seems ...
6
votes
3answers
8k views

recognizing the motif

I encounter the term motif in composition books, and still have no idea what a motif is. Many sources (including some dictionaries) try to define it as "prominent sequence of notes" or "basic theme of ...
5
votes
3answers
260 views

How could I create a musical vocabulary based on a group of similar classical pieces?

Sometimes I'll be working on a group of pieces and realize that I'd like to experiment with abstracting some of the musical ideas (rhythms, harmonies, etc) into a musical vocabulary that I could use ...
5
votes
1answer
609 views

What's so special about III ?

Take a C major scale, and pick each other note, starting from each note C-D-EF-G-A-BC-D-EF I: C E G = C ii: D F A = Dm iii: E G B ...
3
votes
1answer
495 views

The tonal function of a bar in minuet by krieger

This is Minuet by J.Krieger If I look at the 6-7-8 bars, there is the following chord progression: E - E(7) - Am With a trill in the 7th bar. I feel like the 6 bar does a kind of "teasing" in a ...
8
votes
3answers
384 views

Recommend reading why we have 12 pitches and another metrics in microtonal music?

I know there are many books which describe why we have 12 pitches (for example this book: R.H.M Bosanquet - An elementary treatise on musical intervals and temperament, 1876 in the public domain). ...
15
votes
4answers
11k views

Music Theory for a Beginning Drummer

I've been learning Drums for the past few months (lifelong dream, and I should have my very own kit in 36 hours or so! \o/) and my teacher has been teaching me how to sight-read. I'm doing quite well (...