Archive - Music Theory RSS Feed

Obfuscation through Pedanticism











Ever find yourself in a conversation with some people who suddenly switch to another language to talk to each other? While certainly a bit rude, there are a couple reasons why they might have done this: They may be more fluent in that language, perhaps needing to get to the point quickly, or were at a loss for words in English, but more likely, they didn’t want you to know what they were saying. This is the same reason parents “spell” words around their toddlers: “Do you think we could get some I.C.E. C.R.E.A.M after dinner?” Continue Reading…

The Loss of Creative Innocence















Ever have an idea, invention, or creative thought, only to find out somebody somewhere in the world had already done that same thing? Continue Reading…

Symmetrical Scales – Geometry in Music
















In the previous article, we examined seven-note scales, arguably the most “familiar” sounds in tonal music. Since 7 doesn’t divide evenly into 12, these scales can’t be symmetrical, meaning they don’t repeat an interval sequence. (except at the octave, of course) Today, we will examine scales that are formed using interval patterns, with numbers of tones other than 7.  Continue Reading…

How Many Scales Are There, Really?
















One thing my students often ask about is “scales” and which ones to learn. In an effort to clarify this, here are some permutational ways to look at this question. Keep in mind, I’m not really talking about which ones are most useful, or how to practice and apply them. What we will do here is do a little surveying, to see what’s out there. First, let’s establish some boundaries:

Continue Reading…

The 3 Forces in Art: Part I

I should say, “The three forces that, when in balance, make what I think of as art,” but it is a title, that’s a bit cumbersome. In this series, we will explore these forces, and how we can utilize them to create work that “works.”

It does seem odd that many things come in threes: the three spatial dimensions we experience in our universe, the three legs needed to make something stable, the strength of a triangle, and even the three skills needed for practice. So it is with art and its subset, music.

Force One: Exploration










Continue Reading…

Origami: How “Folding” Makes Melody

Most elements of art exist somewhere in a continuum between order and chaos. Both of these extremes lead to a feeling of meaninglessness in the work. A completely predictable pattern seems mindless and automatic, and complete randomness seems incomprehensible and without information. Continue Reading…

Triads Over Bass Part II: Add 11

In our last lesson, We discussed the use of major triads superimposed various intervals above a bass note. Adding tones to these triads can make these voicings even richer. One of many ways to enhance these triads is to add the 11th or perfect 4th to the triads. Not to be confused with sus4 chords, where the 4th replaces the 3rd, these chords keep the 3rd and add the 11th, creating a four-note shape.

Continue Reading…

Keyboard Harmony: Triads over Bass I

In a previous video, we discussed learning the various major triads by playing them through the cycles of 4ths and 5ths. In this lesson, we will learn some ways to use these triads to build more complex chords.

Continue Reading…

Three Keys to Improvisation









Improvisation is the spontaneous creation of music. Depending on the style, there will be various guidelines and boundaries that define what will work, but in all these situations, there are three skills that need to be in balance. All of these can be improved using organized practice methods, as we discussed in this post.

Continue Reading…

Keyboard Harmony: Triads in Cycles

Cycle of 4ths

Here is a lesson on practicing major triads through the cycle of 4ths. The pattern of chords ascending by perfect 4ths (two whole-steps and one half-step) is fundamental to tonal harmony, and is sometimes called “strong root motion.” Practicing these patterns helps us learn to find these chords in all 12 keys, and in an order they often appear.

Continue Reading…

Page 1 of 212»