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45

First off, for any melody that stays within a key, you have about a 1/7 chance of any random note you guess being the next note. Second, there are popular melody patterns and techniques, and sometimes the chords being played will suggest likely places for the melody to go. Depending on the chords and the harmony, you may be instinctively understanding that ...


44

It's because in music, when you're talking about intervals, you count the first note, all notes in between, as well as the final note. For example, if you play two notes that are right next to each other, the interval is a second - even though the second note is just "one note" away from the first. In fact, if you play the same note at the same time, it's ...


38

You're correct; it should be called a fourth! But since "augmented fourth" won't be big enough for this, we kind of had to make up a term, and the world of music theory collectively decided upon calling this interval a doubly augmented fourth. This just means that it's one half step larger than an augmented fourth. (As such, the augmented fourth is not ...


38

The intervals between notes are "equal" not in the sense that the difference in Hz between them is the same, but the ratio a between them is the same. Let's say g is one semitone higher than f, then g = a f. Note Hz Ratio a to previous note, rounded to 3 decimal places A4 440.00 A#4 466.16 1.059 (466.16 / 440.0 = 1.059, and so on down the column)...


38

It's an artifact of Spotify's analysis. Notice that this chart shows no songs written in a flat key. Therefore, without a doubt, the chart is simply using "F♯" to mean "F♯ or G♭," "A♯" to mean "A♯ or B♭," and so forth. In particular, B♭ major (with a key signature of ♭♭ – two flats) is definitely much more common than A♯ (with a key signature of 𝄪𝄪𝄪♯♯♯♯ –...


37

This is actually tr, the notation for "trill," an embellishment (or ornament) on a note where you rapidly alternate between the main pitch and an adjacent pitch. There are many different types of trills; the style of music (and perhaps editorial notes) will clarify exactly which type is intended. You can check out more in the Wikipedia article.


33

(It's going to be tough to explain all of this in a single answer. If you're interested in this, I strongly recommend finding a music theory text, either online or in hard copy. But I'll do my best to address it all here!) When it comes to major and minor keys, the best way to determine tonality, in my opinion, is to determine the location of half steps. (...


32

Traditional tonal music plays with expectations. Music can do many surprising and unexpected things, but very often music will do what is "expected" meaning that it follows certain conventions. Let's switch to a language metaphor just for a moment. If I say "hello, what is your... ", what word do you expect might be next? Do you think "name?" Certainly ...


30

Even if one can ever be too old to learn an instrument (I don't think so), then this is definitely not the case already at 22. You may not be able to make as fast progress as if you had learned it at 13, but ultimately it's up to how much effort you put in. Practive five minutes every week, and it'll probably not go anywhere. But practice half an hour every ...


29

Why does standard notation not preserve intervals (visually) It does, but I think you are probably not accustomed to reading it, or how it was developed. Let's first make an analogy with something familiar: reading English. What is the meaning of "right" versus "right?" I can read the words, but only reading the single word isn't going to tell me the ...


29

As Michael Curtis has pointed out, from the linguistic side, the study of phonetics is all about what speech sounds humans make and how they make them. Phonetics doesn't really approach things from a musical perspective, so I thought I might try to make some correlations between phonetics and musical acoustics. Phonetics divides speech sounds (phonemes) ...


28

No, and for at least three reasons: Assuming "chord" to be a tonal entity, we can explain anything as having alterations, omissions, and extensions. With add11, ♭13, no5, etc., we can make sense of any combination of tones. We can understand harmonies as combinations of chords; such polychords allow any and all possibilities. We have systems of ...


28

The division of notes has to do with human perception and psychoacoustics. One description of human perception is the Weber-Fechner law, where a human will perceive equal changes in some sensory input, such as sound level or sound pitch, not by absolute level or value difference, but by the ratio of the change. e.g. larger values need a proportionately ...


26

when I'm picking a "bass" can I choose any instrument..? Yes, you can. However, you might find that not all instruments work well to your ears as 'bass' instruments. When you see 'bass' in a synth patch name, it usually doesn't only refer to the instrument being low - because, as you say, you can usually play low notes with any sound in a synth. ...


25

If someone is asking about the key of the instrument, I would answer "I play in concert pitch." If when jamming, someone asks "what key are you in?" I would say, "I am playing in (name a key) concert pitch." Then everyone else will transpose appropriately. In a group with many transposing and non-transposing instruments, a discussion might be needed to find ...


24

Certainly children learn more quickly than adults, particularly when it comes to languages, and to skills. (That is, "proficiency, facility, or dexterity that is acquired or developed through training or experience.") As a former US Figure Skating Basic Skills instructor, I observed this effect time and again when teaching school-age children as compared ...


24

This question seems to arise from a “linear” mental model of notes. C♭ C C♯ D♭ D D♯ E♭ E E♯ F♭ F F♯ G♭ G G♯ A♭ A A♯ B♭ B B♯ C♭ C C♯ Like a piano keyboard, but somehow with 31 notes per octave instead of 12. (Building or playing such an instrument is left as an exercise for the reader.) But instead, look at the notes in Circle of Fifths ...


23

No, not all songs have to be in a major or minor scale. All that it takes to prove this is to find one example that goes against the rule: This melody, which has both C♯ and C♮, cannot belong to a single major scale. (It also has both F♯ and F♮.) Most compositions, however, do have what we call a tonic. This is a pitch center, a "home base" of sorts, to ...


22

The Locrian mode does not need any reason to exist, it simply does. It would seem stranger that we would give names to all of the other note collections built from the degrees of the Major scale, yet leave the seventh degree out. The confusion here seems to be one about functional harmony. The idea of a tonic is part of functional harmony, but the idea of a ...


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.


22

Your confusion is understandable because you have the choice of using one, or a combination, of three minor scales: the natural minor, the harmonic minor or the melodic minor. In using a D# you have strayed from the natural minor scale to the melodic minor scale, and this scale has worked for you. The natural minor scale flattens the 3rd, 6th and 7th ...


21

The difference, in short, is because one of the ensembles is using historical tuning practices. The modern pitch standard is A440, meaning that A4 (the A above middle C) is 440 Hertz. Not everyone uses this; last I heard, the San Francisco Symphony uses an A a little higher (442, perhaps), and some push it down to, say 438. But A440 is nevertheless the ...


21

Yes absolutely. An "octave" is all about a doubling of the frequency of the note, not the letters commonly used to refer to them. The octave can be split into any number of tones, which may or may not be equally (in the logarithmic sense) spaced. We use a system of 12 equally spaced "semitones" (as we call them) in most western music, called "equal ...


20

It DOES preserve intervals (visually). What it does NOT tell you is whether those intervals are major or minor (or augmented or diminished). The distance of a space to its adjacent line will always be a second of some sort. This is because in part of history (which requires a discussion of Church modes and the history of notation), and partly because the ...


20

What happens if you go down by the same steps: 440Hz 1 step down : 403.33Hz 2 steps down : 366.67Hz 3 steps down : 330.Hz ... 11 steps down : 36.67Hz 12 steps down : 0Hz 13 steps down : -36.67Hz So, using your "equally divided" logic, we are at zero Hz after 12 steps, and the next step beyond that is minus 37 Hz! What does that even mean? But ok, let's ...


19

Chromatic mediant is the technical name https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_mediant This is where the chord roots are a third apart and there is one common tone. So with Fm and Am you have: F, A flat, C A, C, E So the "C" is the common tone, and F and A chord roots are a third apart. I think part of what makes the great sound is that the two moving ...


19

how do I determine which key they are in? A) Recognise that those notes are the start of the overture to Mozart's The Marriage Of Figaro, but two semitones higher. B) Note that that piece is in D major. C) Infer that the notes in the question are therefore in E major. :-) More seriously, I don't think you can say definitively just from the notes.  They ...


19

I'm not aware of a name for this phenomenon, it's just a quick way to transpose music based on how the tonal system works out. In short, when you're in a key, look at the key signature. Take the number of accidentals in the key and replace them with the mod-7 complement of the other accidental type and you're left with a key built a half step away from the ...


19

As other answers have pointed out, there are advantages to the player in having notes in pitch order, rather than arranged by consonance; it probably makes things easier for instrument builders too! However, the idea of placing consonant notes together isn't crazy at all. In fact there are other instrument layouts that do something like this. One example is ...


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