38 votes
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Why is bass note so important in harmonic analysis of music?

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 ...
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27 votes

What makes a piece sound like Beethoven?

I don't think I can improve on this "answer" of Dudley Moore's one bit: Although it is obviously a parody, and a very funny one, if you study carefully all of the ...
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  • 8,936
26 votes
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If A minor doesn't have any accidentals, is it still minor?

The fact that you are in A minor without G# (or F# and G#) means that you are in A natural minor. What defines a scale as minor or major, is the third of the scale, not the accidentals. If you have A ...
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22 votes
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How can I slow down a YouTube video I'm trying to analyze or transcribe?

There are at least two options: Option 1: You can slow down the video by changing the Playback Speed setting Browser instructions (this link for further alternatives) Click on the Settings menu icon. ...
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  • 56.6k
20 votes

The function of Gm G♭ B♭ chord progression in "Shine On You Crazy Diamond"

The move from Gm to GbM is definitely not a standard “classical” progression, although it does start to happen more and more in the late Romantic era and in lots of Impressionist and other neo-tonal ...
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  • 17.9k
20 votes

How can I slow down a YouTube video I'm trying to analyze or transcribe?

I'd probably recommend starting with the built-in YouTube controls. But for the sake of completeness here's another workflow that makes use of 3rd party software called a "phrase trainer" or ...
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  • 834
18 votes
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Making sense of 5/4 time signatures

Normally, we're told that 5/4 is really 3/4 + 2/4 or 2/4 + 3/4. Well, I have to ask "told by who?" It is not the case that 5/4 has to be interpreted as either 3/4 + 2/4 or 2/4 + 3/4. It is perfectly ...
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  • 20.9k
18 votes
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Why does the IV - V♯ - I chord progression work so well?

First let's not look at it as a ♯V chord, but a ♭VI chord. This chord naturally occurs in the parallel minor and can easily be borrowed. Let's look at how the notes move with a sample progression in ...
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  • 46.2k
17 votes
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How would this chord from "Rocket Man" be analyzed?

To answer the question of whether the C chord is "really" V of V, you need to remember one simple fact about music. When you listen to music, you hear it progressing in time. Therefore, analysing ...
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  • 282
15 votes
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Roman numeral notation for a suspended chord?

Typically, in traditional classical music, non-harmonic tones like suspensions are not indicated in the Roman numeral analysis. You would simply notate the numeral and inversion for the chord to ...
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  • 2,275
15 votes
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Why are pure tones depicted as sine waves?

I'm just going to answer the question "What about tangent, or other functions", since the rest seems to have been fairly well handled. All sounds that we hear as having a definite pitch or note can ...
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  • 51.4k
15 votes

Why is The Star-Spangled Banner said to be in key of F instead of C?

The first section is all tonic (F) and dominant (C) chords in the key of F. Many of the dominants are approached by a secondary dominant (G). It's slightly unusual to bring in secondary dominants ...
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14 votes
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What is the purpose of the first movement in Moonlight Sonata?

The "Moonlight" Sonata is just one of many pieces with the title "Sonata". The title "sonata" is descriptive of how the music is constructed; a basic description can be ...
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13 votes
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Why is Mozart's Turkish March considered a rondo?

Not every rondo is the exact same form. There are many different types of rondos with the most popular variations being A-B-A, A-B-A-C-A, and A-B-A-C-A-B'-A (the last one being comparable to your ...
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  • 46.2k
13 votes
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Harmonic analysis of the B section of "Have You Met Miss Jones"

That's Coltrane changes (before Coltrane actually used them in Giant Steps etc.), where the roots of the tonal centers move in (enharmonic) major thirds (either up or down): [Bb] -> (down M3) [Gb] ...
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  • 19.5k
13 votes

Should I use uppercase or lowercase roman numerals in Jazz harmonic analysis?

Having looked at many analyzed scores, I find the lower case for minor and diminished and upper case for major and augmented much easier to read. The most common places I found hard to read were in ...
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  • 23.1k
12 votes

Is there a term for when a lyric is sung and then an instrument (sound) is played to mimic the lyric?

We call this text painting (or word painting), and it's a clever compositional tactic that dates back centuries. In short, text painting occurs when a composer does something in the music that is a ...
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  • 78.8k
12 votes
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What is the utility of Schenkerian analysis?

Before I answer, we should note that Schenker himself was not the best at expressing his own theories. His treatises are at various times rambling, political, polemical, and utterly contradictory. ...
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  • 78.8k
12 votes

Secondary Dominants - is there a more appropriate term?

I would argue that this E7 is still a secondary dominant, just one that resolves deceptively. This E7 is V7/vi in the key of C, and it resolves to F, thus VI/vi. In other words, we have a V–VI ...
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  • 78.8k
12 votes

Should I use uppercase or lowercase roman numerals in Jazz harmonic analysis?

As long as you use the two systems with the degree of specificity that you've done in your question, it ultimately won't matter, because they tell you the exact same thing. As you've mentioned, major/...
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  • 78.8k
11 votes
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How do I determine the chord progression Roman numerals?

The other chords get Roman numerals based on the key you are in. For example in the key of D major you would have the following Roman numerals map to the following chords: D Em F#m G A Bm C#...
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  • 46.2k
11 votes
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How does “The Simpsons” main theme work?

You might almost say they didn't "work" in terms of sounding good as much as those transitions help make the music sound whimsical. It's not like they fit inside some sacred rules of harmony as much ...
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  • 51.4k
11 votes

Why are pure tones depicted as sine waves?

Sine and cosine are the same, just offset by 90 degree. They form a "quadrature pair": if you add their squares, you get a constant. When you draw a sine wave as a representation of audio, it ...
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  • 119
11 votes
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Harmonic functions of chords in "Killing Me Softly"

First of all, you're reading a very good book from which you'll learn a lot about jazz harmony. One important thing to realize when analyzing jazz progressions is that there is no right and wrong. ...
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11 votes

Features of a Coda section

Coda means tail, ending. Most pieces will (obviously) have an ending, and it's usually the point where the music comes down to its final resting place - using a cadence that indicates this. Here, ...
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  • 174k
11 votes
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Why is The Star-Spangled Banner said to be in key of F instead of C?

Every B isn't natural actually. What about this one: Also if you look at the first F, that's an important note in the song. "Oh say can you see". It's a good candidate for a tonic!
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  • 1,531
11 votes

How to tell the beginning and ends of phrases when there is no significant rest in the music?

I'll focus on "written theory" concerns first, before approaching it in a different (but more helpful) way later. In this particular example, I would argue that there are two issues at play: ...
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10 votes

How is a chord progression with G#, D#m, F and G possible?

The song could be on G# major; It would be easier to say it's in Ab major scale. These two are the same scale and they are called Enharmonic scales. (I'm using Ab because it is more common and easier ...
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10 votes
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Why does this progression sound good, even if it not resolve to the root?

Definitely sounds like a chord sequence in D Minor to me. Particularly because it starts on D Minor, and the A Minor chords at the end have a dominant function, despite not being major. (An A Major ...
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  • 20.9k
10 votes

Chord Progression "Time" - Hans Zimmer

You list G major and E minor as possible tonics, but I'm going to go a different direction: I hear this in A! As such, with one sharp in the key signature, it's really more of an A Dorian. Thus the ...
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