56

Birds don't sing in a key. Keys are human cultural constructions with some basis in physics, but primarily just artful constructions of a sentient mind. In fact, when you hear a parrot or something similar attempt to mimic human song, it's not nearly as "in key" as even an average human singer would be. Birdsong only sounds pleasant because you've learned ...


50

Bird song is not tonal. Read this paper by Wallins and Mercer. A key quote from them: Any similarity between birdsong and modern music is by analogy And Carol Whaling (document available at the same link) provides this spectral plot: Which you can see is not tonal, in the way we think of music.


42

Anacrusis (pickup) is a bit more rhythmic than melodic. Hearing it seems easy to my musical brain, but I can understand how it would not be easy for others. Most music has a set rhythm, which we can understand in its simplest form by saying there is a fairly low number (most commonly 4), to which one can repeatedly count while listening to a piece of music, ...


23

In the late medieval system there were six normal notes, C D E F G A, and one note that had two forms, soft B (b) which was a semitone above A and hard B (♮) which was a whole tone above A. As written in the earliest sources, hard B looked a bit like an H with an added crossbar which may have been the reason for the change to H (or it was the next letter of ...


22

Of course it is. And most people do. And, while any piece more extended than a simple song probably does involve a 'journey' of some kind, there's no need to invent a storyline.


19

No, they are not considered consonant in all music cultures. The perception of consonance and dissonance can be different among cultures. The same interval can be perceived (and labeled) differently by different cultures. This is influenced by many factors (and the harmonic series is not the only one!) For example, in medieval times major thirds were ...


16

The short answer is yes (and I have occasionally written such music myself). Musical styles never really die, they just fall out of general fashion. It should be noted that there are a couple categories of music that might be considered in an answer. First off, and perhaps least authentic, are what might be termed "fusion" styles -- mixtures of baroque (or ...


15

Baroque music was all about expressiveness, and the rhythm was not necessarily meant to be held as strictly as the Renaissance tactus. Wheat Williams has mentioned historically informed performance, and as he says, these things are debated academically. But there is some good indication that Baroque composers did think of slowing down at the end of pieces. ...


13

I am really not knowledgable in ancient music theory so the following might be riddled with errors, but here is what I've gathered. What are the original Greek modes? Ancient Greek music scale theory was built upon the concept of the "tetrachord" - literally meaning four strings. A tetrachord consists of a group of four notes with three smaller intervals ...


12

I would say that music theory spans a range of 'types' of statements, from almost totally objective to quite subjective... You've got elements that are pretty much scientific facts, such as what the harmonic series is, or how the physics of instruments works, or how the mechanics of the ear work. Then you've got a level of stuff that is technically '...


11

I'll try to give you a clearer example of a tune with an anacrusis or pick-up: The Star Spangled Banner. This melody has three beats to a measure. The first full measure contains "Say, can you". The two little notes in the very beginning of the tune, sung to the word "Oh" are the anacrusis. Now you need an example of a tune that doesn't have an ...


11

You can't just transpose a minor key into a major key, because a minor scale has a different structure than a major scale. Natural minor scale in steps: whole, half, whole, whole, half, whole, whole Major scale in steps: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half Because you've talked about cents... 100 cents are equal to one semitone. So you could ...


11

...the leading tone wants to rise to the root... Basic theory says things like... the leading tone is a half step below the tonic in a proper cadence the leading tone moves to the tonic, or if in a inner voice it may move down to the dominant. ...of course that isn't a complete theoretical overview of the leading tone. A claim that theory simply says '...


10

Wheat Williams covered the basics of historically-informed-performance quite well. I want to add that unmeasured preludes (not uncommon in Baroque music) indicate that Baroque composers did have a concept of give-and-take in regards to tempo. (You can look at examples of preludes here or here to see what the music looked like.) So, while the purists may ...


10

Is it possible to enjoy driving a car without understanding how the gearbox works? Watching t.v. without understanding the electronics involved? Yes, of course! In fact, once theory is studied and understood, most music is listened to and appreciated in other ways. Not better or worse, just different. Think about it: if music was only appreciated if the ...


9

You could transpose the G minor sample to A minor, which is the relative minor of C Major, which means that it uses the same notes as C Major and the sample won't clash (too much) with other elements in C Major. You'll have to judge whether the combination of A minor and C Major elements in the track sounds good or not on a case by case basis. That would ...


8

According to the note "H" in German musical nomenclature The German nomenclature merely sought to give each pitch-class that ocurred in the system a unique name. Later, when the letter b was employed to effect mutation into other, more distant tetrachords (or hexachords), the German nomenclature was never modified to accomodate it, and its use as a flat ...


8

Just to add information, indian classical music is based on the concept of Raga ("color"), a hard to define concept because it doesn't exists in western music as it is, but we can say it's the melodic system used in ICM, the modal framework. Raga generates Bhavas ("moods") and these moods generate Rasa ("essence") and it's the essence of an emotion that the ...


8

Generally speaking, a minority of Bach scholars question the piece's attribution. Christoph Wolf, who is for many the top Bach authority does not question the piece's attribution at all. For what it's worth, the mark's against Bach's authorship can mostly be explained away. There is no direct evidence against his authorship, unlike some other works where ...


8

Studying lullabies? That sounds kind of interesting, actually! The lullaby is typically a soothing song, and it's typically used to help someone fall asleep. Indeed, the German word (Schlaflied) is literally "sleep-song." As such, I think it only makes sense that it would be a slow tempo instead of a fast one, don't you? As for the high tessitura, I can't ...


7

I'm not sure where you got spaghetti westerns from, but the examples you've given in your question are generally considered to be on the pop side of things. This dichotomy of "pop vs. classical" or "art music vs. pop music" and the question of what defines those things is truly a complicated one in my mind; in that nearly any definition you can come up with ...


7

some people only know Dvorak's 9th. And when they hear a film soundtrack with orchestra sound and timpani they are reminded of this symphony. As my students always said when I was demonstrating how Renaissance music would sound: but this is music for christmas... as they had no other concept of this style. If you want that I don't have to listen the whole ...


6

The definition of an avoid note is independent of the type of scale you use. What you need to define an avoid note is a (chord) scale and its related chord. If you define the basic chord of a scale as the seventh chord constructed in thirds starting from the root then an avoid note is [T]he pitch or pitches of a chord scale which are not used harmonically ...


6

In general, scales tend to have about seven notes in them, or "seven, plus/minus two". This number is believed to have to do with cognitive limitations; it would be difficult to recall more notes. On the other hand, scales with fewer notes impose more melodic and harmonic limitations. In order to answer whether or not it is a coincidence that Indian and ...


6

The Lydian mode was associated with healing. See Lewis Lockwood's biography, Beethoven: The Music and the Life: That he chooses the Lydian mode betokens not only a desire to frame this poignant movement with a modal cantus firmus that has an archaic character, but to use the time-honored Lydian mode in one of its historical associations, as the mode ...


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