Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!

Related threads:
Time Signatures: 2/4 or 4/4 time.... (60)
12 tone music explained -- 30 min vid. (1)
Question about musical notation (47)
Music Theory: Who is W.A. Mathieu? (6)
Why Only 7 letter names? (31)
Unequal temperament (46)
Helmholtz: Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen... (7)
harmony vs. melody (51)
Online printable music paper source (55)
Basic Music Theory Question (62)
Time Signature help needed... (7)
tone vs pitch (36)
help with music theory (19)
Origins of music: new theory (18)
stupid notation question (11)
Music Question: Improvisors? (82)
Music Theory:Number Notes Need? (30)
2 ideas for technique/theory study (3)
Tunes rule OK? Or chords? (34)
How to train one's ear? (8)
Music Theory/Arrangement Question? (38)
Another Music Theory Question (6)
Theory questions that make me nuts-- (24)
US / UK differences - music theory (12)
Link for music theory and tunings (3)


Rick Fielding 30 Nov 01 - 12:08 PM
Jeri 30 Nov 01 - 12:33 PM
Allan C. 30 Nov 01 - 12:36 PM
Jeri 30 Nov 01 - 01:09 PM
Jim Krause 30 Nov 01 - 01:18 PM
Jeri 30 Nov 01 - 01:25 PM
MMario 30 Nov 01 - 01:26 PM
Gary T 30 Nov 01 - 01:52 PM
Jim Krause 30 Nov 01 - 02:01 PM
Bert 30 Nov 01 - 02:02 PM
Rick Fielding 30 Nov 01 - 02:12 PM
DougR 30 Nov 01 - 02:18 PM
Night Owl 30 Nov 01 - 02:21 PM
JohnInKansas 30 Nov 01 - 02:51 PM
katlaughing 30 Nov 01 - 03:04 PM
JohnInKansas 30 Nov 01 - 03:21 PM
GUEST,Les B. 30 Nov 01 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,Les B. 30 Nov 01 - 04:48 PM
katlaughing 30 Nov 01 - 05:02 PM
Jon W. 30 Nov 01 - 06:04 PM
GUEST,Les B 30 Nov 01 - 06:11 PM
Rick Fielding 30 Nov 01 - 06:15 PM
M.Ted 30 Nov 01 - 06:20 PM
Jon W. 30 Nov 01 - 06:24 PM
JohnInKansas 30 Nov 01 - 06:36 PM
Burke 30 Nov 01 - 06:54 PM
katlaughing 30 Nov 01 - 08:21 PM
M.Ted 30 Nov 01 - 10:03 PM
Rick Fielding 30 Nov 01 - 10:05 PM
Mark Clark 30 Nov 01 - 10:20 PM
Justa Picker 30 Nov 01 - 11:58 PM
M.Ted 01 Dec 01 - 12:08 AM
Justa Picker 01 Dec 01 - 12:12 AM
GUEST,Night Owl 01 Dec 01 - 12:57 AM
winniemih 01 Dec 01 - 12:04 PM
Rick Fielding 01 Dec 01 - 01:33 PM
Gary T 01 Dec 01 - 02:09 PM
Big Mick 01 Dec 01 - 02:11 PM
Night Owl 01 Dec 01 - 03:09 PM
GUEST,Sheila 01 Dec 01 - 04:37 PM
Night Owl 01 Dec 01 - 04:51 PM
Gary T 01 Dec 01 - 05:40 PM
katlaughing 01 Dec 01 - 06:45 PM
Gary T 01 Dec 01 - 07:32 PM
JohnInKansas 01 Dec 01 - 08:36 PM
Mary in Kentucky 01 Dec 01 - 09:09 PM
Rick Fielding 01 Dec 01 - 09:57 PM
Gary T 01 Dec 01 - 10:03 PM
katlaughing 01 Dec 01 - 10:31 PM
Mary in Kentucky 01 Dec 01 - 10:43 PM
Mary in Kentucky 01 Dec 01 - 10:50 PM
Gary T 01 Dec 01 - 10:52 PM
Gary T 01 Dec 01 - 10:55 PM
Mary in Kentucky 01 Dec 01 - 11:04 PM
katlaughing 01 Dec 01 - 11:06 PM
Gary T 02 Dec 01 - 01:35 AM
katlaughing 02 Dec 01 - 01:48 AM
Mark Clark 02 Dec 01 - 02:31 AM
Peter T. 02 Dec 01 - 02:21 PM
M.Ted 02 Dec 01 - 11:05 PM
Jeri 02 Dec 01 - 11:30 PM
Gary T 03 Dec 01 - 12:48 AM
Night Owl 03 Dec 01 - 02:59 AM
M.Ted 03 Dec 01 - 10:33 AM
Mary in Kentucky 03 Dec 01 - 12:26 PM
Jeri 03 Dec 01 - 01:56 PM
Rick Fielding 03 Dec 01 - 01:56 PM
Peter T. 03 Dec 01 - 03:02 PM
Rick Fielding 03 Dec 01 - 05:16 PM
GUEST,Night Owl 04 Dec 01 - 02:32 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 04 Dec 01 - 04:11 AM
Mary in Kentucky 04 Dec 01 - 08:37 AM
M.Ted 04 Dec 01 - 08:42 AM
English Jon 04 Dec 01 - 08:44 AM
Gary T 04 Dec 01 - 10:03 AM
English Jon 04 Dec 01 - 10:25 AM
M.Ted 04 Dec 01 - 12:17 PM
English Jon 04 Dec 01 - 12:29 PM
Gary T 04 Dec 01 - 01:49 PM
Night Owl 04 Dec 01 - 02:01 PM
Gary T 04 Dec 01 - 02:10 PM
JohnInKansas 04 Dec 01 - 02:25 PM
Night Owl 04 Dec 01 - 03:07 PM
Night Owl 04 Dec 01 - 03:33 PM
Night Owl 04 Dec 01 - 03:39 PM
Mary in Kentucky 04 Dec 01 - 04:34 PM
GUEST,Joan 04 Dec 01 - 08:44 PM
Gary T 05 Dec 01 - 01:57 AM
Night Owl 05 Dec 01 - 02:50 AM
JohnInKansas 05 Dec 01 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,Les B 05 Dec 01 - 04:07 PM
Mary in Kentucky 05 Dec 01 - 05:39 PM
Big Mick 05 Dec 01 - 11:22 PM
marty D 05 Dec 01 - 11:30 PM
Night Owl 06 Dec 01 - 12:59 AM
JohnInKansas 06 Dec 01 - 06:22 AM
Rick Fielding 06 Dec 01 - 12:14 PM
GUEST,Frank 06 Dec 01 - 01:55 PM
M.Ted 06 Dec 01 - 01:55 PM
Marion 06 Dec 01 - 07:04 PM
GUEST 08 Dec 01 - 12:29 PM
GUEST,Night Owl 08 Dec 01 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,Frank 08 Dec 01 - 04:44 PM
katlaughing 08 Dec 01 - 05:11 PM
Bert 09 Dec 01 - 02:13 PM
Mark Clark 11 Dec 01 - 12:13 PM
Gary T 11 Dec 01 - 01:53 PM
GUEST 11 Dec 01 - 01:57 PM
M.Ted 12 Dec 01 - 01:30 PM
Gary T 12 Dec 01 - 03:07 PM
Mark Clark 12 Dec 01 - 03:32 PM
Mark Clark 12 Dec 01 - 04:05 PM
Gary T 12 Dec 01 - 04:36 PM
M.Ted 12 Dec 01 - 05:25 PM
Mark Clark 12 Dec 01 - 09:07 PM
M.Ted 13 Dec 01 - 02:20 PM
Mark Clark 13 Dec 01 - 07:32 PM
GUEST 14 Dec 01 - 01:56 PM
M.Ted 14 Dec 01 - 02:28 PM
katlaughing 19 Sep 02 - 12:54 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 12:08 PM

Yes, I stole "faggggedaboudit" from the movie "Mickey Blue Eyes". (it was on the tube last night)

OK, here's an idea I had. I really don't know if it'll work or if enough folks will be interested to sustain it for more than a day, but here goes:

A LOT of people (I used to be one of them) are scared to learn music theory, simply because they think it's hard, and they have horrid memories of deadly dull piano books, and (sometimes) even deadlier old teachers who never cracked a smile (let alone a joke) foisting it on them when they were kids. Well, it ain't hard. It can be a lot of fun (sort of like doing newspaper puzzles...but with actual results that you can show off)

I thought that maybe some of us could contribute little 'mini-lessons' in ABSOLUTELY SIMPLE UNDERSTANDABLE TERMS. Let's aim them at folks who 'don't know nuthin' about theory, with the aim of helping those folks "know sumthin' about it within a couple of days. We all have different methods and terminology, but let's try to keep it simple (I tend to 'over-explain'...so I'll keep that in mind.

Here's one from me.

The absolutely hardest task you'll have is memorizing where the notes are on your guitar (or banjo, or mandolin etc.) For the moment, just memorize those notes in the simple chart below. Find out where they are in the lowest (near the tuners) part of your instrument. But first:

Memorize the scale. Lets start with an easy one, and to make it even more easy, don't bother with any sharps or flats (they're not hard either), that can be done later.

The key of "C".

C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C.

We don't need to repeat the first C but it serves to 'bracket' the scale.

Here's a good little trick (all the 'studio' musicians know it)

Ascribe a number to each letter, so you've got:

C=1, D=2, E=3, F=4, G=5, A=6, B=7.

(the highest "C" is just the whole thing starting over again, so fagggedaboudit!

These are just "notes". So what's chord? A chord is a collection of notes played at the same time.

Ever hear the term "Three chord country hurtin' song"?

Well, the "three chords" they're referring to, each start with one of those letters (or numbers)

In fact they ALWAYS start with the C, the F, and the G. (or the 1, 4, 5.)

But for the moment let's take a "Two chord" song (Short'nin Bread, Skip to m'Lou, tons of fiddle tunes).

They use only the C and G chords. The 1 and 5.

So what are the REST of the notes in each of those two chords?

Go back to the scale chart. The simplest (and that's what were doin') chord is made up of the "1" the "3" and the "5".

So for the C chord, you must play C, E, and G, together

For the G chord (5) re-write your chart STARTING at G. It'll look like this:

G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G. The numbers will of course be the same 123 etc.

Pick the "1", "3", and "5" again (G, B, D)

There, you've 'constructed' your two chords.

Playing a "two chord song" with a friend or two? Just tell 'em "One five" guys! They'll be impressed (or completely confused.....in which case you can teach them this).

Next time I come back here I'll talk about "one flat" in the key of F.

Anybody got anything else? Maybe some 'timing stuff', or whatever?

Cheers

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Jeri
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 12:33 PM

Rick, you seem mighty double-spacy today!

I often think a little wheel doohicky would be a great invention. An outer wheel with all the notes and half notes, and an inner wheel with markings to point to notes in any scale. You could add another wheel to point to notes in a chord, or anything else.

This is very simple, but it helped me (and hopefully it will work in pre-formatted text):

Major scale:

  C  C# D  D# E  F  F# G  G# A  A# B  C
1_____2_____3__4_____5_____6_____7__1

If you put the above on the outside of a circle, the notes would just repeat.

If you start with D and just move the bar down, (or the inner circle around, if you do it that way) you have a D scale:

  C  C# D  D# E  F  F# G  G# A  A# B  C  C# D
1_____2_____3__4_____5_____6_____7__1

Like I said, it's simple. Understanding intervals is the foundation, and has helped me more than anything else I've ever learned.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Allan C.
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 12:36 PM

Great try, Rick! No kidding. But my eyes started glazing over about halfway through. I think I may have to read this again after awhile and attempt to digest even this little bit in small chunks. I know it is going to sound odd, but I think I actually know all of this stuff. It is just overwhelming to see it all at once. Maybe it is just me. Probably is.

Thanks again for starting this.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Jeri
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 01:09 PM

Playing off (sorry) what Rick said, imagine someone says "the next one's in F - 1, 4 and 5 chords."

Sometimes notes are flat (b) instead of sharp (#). (Somebuddy smarter than me cud eksplain why.) I've changed the little chart thingie to reflect that.
Here are the notes of the F scale:

  F  Gb G  Ab A  Bb B  C  Db D  Eb E  A
1_____2_____3__4_____5_____6_____7__1

Look for 1, 4 and 5, and you'll see you need an F chord, Bb chord, and C chord.

Find an F chord. Look at the above, because its the F scale, and find what notes correspond to 1, 3 & 5.
F, A and C

Find the Bb chord. Slide the thingie down so "1" is on "Bb"

  F  Gb G  Ab A  Bb B  C  Db D  Eb E  F  Gb G  Ab A  Bb
1_____2_____3__4_____5_____6_____7__1
Gotcher Bb, D and F. That's the Bb chord.

C is a no brainer - I can use my fingers for this one: C, E, G.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Jim Krause
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 01:18 PM

OOH, OOH, I like it, I like it!

I can't wait til we get to chord substitution. That's where this really gets fun. Go, Rick, go!
Jim


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Jeri
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 01:25 PM

I can't wait until he gets to 7th and 9th chords, diminished chords, and diminished 7th and 9th chords. I'd like more of an understanding of why they don't sound icky. Also, perhaps, why they exist. (But I'll just sit back and wait.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: MMario
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 01:26 PM

You're not actually gonna do chord substitution right out in publicly available text, are you?

WOBH!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 01:52 PM

Good stuff, quite helpful to know, and not too tough to learn.

One suggestion:

When referring to NOTES, use Arabic numerals--thus 1, 3, & 5 are the notes of a major (or tonic) chord.

When referring to CHORDS, use Roman numerals--thus I, IV, & V are the chords in a typical three-chord song.

In my opinion, consistently doing this can avoid a lot of potential confusion.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Jim Krause
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 02:01 PM

Hey Mario, yeah, gonna do chord substitution in public, right in front of God & Everybody. Wanna watch?!?!?!?!?
Jim


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Bert
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 02:02 PM

It's not the theory that's the problem it's the bloody practice. Or in my case it's "NOT practicing" that's the problem.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 02:12 PM

Great! OK I'm already gettin' some ideas. This will probably work best as individual lessons from folks. So maybe others can just take what they will from this one and that one etc.

I find sometimes that it's really hard for me to explain on paper what I do face to face. It may be because I NEEDED tricks and shortcuts to actually learn myself...in a sense I needed someone to say "Nah....don't worry about the "whole magilla", here's one little part you CAN understand". Eventually all those 'little parts' added up, and it became great fun rather than a complete drag.

I'll be watching this very carefully for approaches I can steal!

Cheers

Rick

P.S. Jeri, I was double spacing BECAUSE I thought it would make it clearer! See ya learn something every day!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: DougR
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 02:18 PM

Super thread, Rick! Thanks for starting it. Music theory was an absolute nightmare for me in college. I'm gonna try the Mudcat method and see how I do.

DougR


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Night Owl
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 02:21 PM

I was HOPING this thread was yours Rick......THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! I assume there are lots of us out here whose brains shudder at the words "Music Theory" somehow thinking only mathematicians can understand it. Personally, I have to cut through years of "I don't /can't get it" to even open the classroom door. But I've found my seat at my desk here, just have to get my pen out and open my notebook to a page with no other writing on it. Puhleeeeeze go slooooowly......otherwise......my.....brain..........just ........shuts........down.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 02:51 PM

A little exercise, for those who can get to a keyboard. Piano, organ, or whatever.

Put your right hand down with the thumb on C, the first finger two white keys "up" on E, and the middle finger another two up on G.

When you hit all three of those notes together, you've got a C chord. (I in the key of C)

Leave the thumb where it is, and move the other two up one step each - C, F, A

You've got an F chord (IV) in the key of C. (hey look - it's upside down, but what the hey.)

Go back to the C, E, G position.

Now move the thumb and first finger each down one white key, leaving the middle finger where it is - to B, D, G.

You've got a G chord (V in the key of C).

Practice switching back and forth, until you get the feel of it, and you've got the basic "moves" for the I, IV, V chords commonly used in the key of C.

It's good ear training, and a little practice at this can help give you a feel for "linking" your chord movements. An oft-cited rule of "composition" is that when you move from one chord to another, both chords should have at least one note in common. - Note the finger that didn't move, in the exercise.

Also note that C and G, or C and F played in succession sound a little more natural than when you jump directly from F to G of G to F.

Rick will probably get around to explaining that the "seventh" chord has to get invented to make transitions smoother??

John


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: katlaughing
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 03:04 PM

Great thread, Rick. It has prompted me to go public, come outta the closet and admit, after 40 years, off and on, of playing the piano, violin, playing in orchestras, with a family of musicians, taking private lessons for the first 10 of those years, I still cannot get it in my brain how to tell what key someone is in AND I don't remember any of my teachers telling us how. I know it seems simple and I've been told how by my dad, sister, and brother, and I think you, but it just isn't there. I've even looked online. Anyway, anyone have a dead easy, simple-stupid way to pound it into my brain?

THANKS!

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 03:21 PM

Kat

There are several "traditional" explanations, but the one that works is:
Write out all the notes, with appropriate sharps and flats (accidentals).
Change the "key signature" so that as many as possible of the accidentals disappear.

Read the (major) "key" from the key signature.

This isn't a "musically correct" method, and it doesn't take account of "modalities" - even major and minor; but it's a good cut at it in simple minded terms.

John


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 04:38 PM

I like the idea of using Arabic numbers for Notes, and Roman for Chords.

Can anyone clarify why it's "1-3-5" to build the chord, and "1-4-5" to determine the chords ?? And why the use of threes in a seven (or eight?) based string of numbers ?

I understand this in practice, just not the idea behind it.

Kat, are you trying to figure out the key when playing with someone, or when listening to a record, or reading a piece of music? There are different ways for each.

When playing with: -- 1. ask 2. look at the chords the guitar or other chordal instrument is using (assuming they know what they're doing)

When listening: -- 1. hunt around until you find a note on your instrument that matches - you're in the ball park. Then find the very end note of the piece,(or phrase) usually a tune ends on the "home" note, that is if it's a C, it's in the key of C, etc.

When reading: -- if you read music, the sharps & flats at the beginning will tell you, if not(like me), go to the end note, as above.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 04:48 PM

Kat - to add to those ways above of finding the key, there are a couple more: if you're one of those lucky few who have perfect pitch, and have trained your mind to assign a designated key to those pitches, you can tell right off.

Also, in the old-timey and bluegrass areas, there are certain tunes that are traditionally played only in certain keys; like Orange Blossom Special in E & A, and "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" in G. If you know those keys and launch into such a tune only to discover the rest of the crowd is playing it in Eb, then you can assume a pained, distainful expression and say, "That's not the way, Bill (or Earl, or Ralph) did it!" and stomp off !


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: katlaughing
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 05:02 PM

I don't mean to hijack this thread, but would like to respond to LesB. Sorry, Rick, I know this isn't the way the thread was envisioned.:-)

Les, I read music fine. I know where all of the sharps and flats are. I have an excellent ear and almost perfect pitch (at times). When listening, I can pick up a right note somewhere along the line and join in with harmony, on instrument. Ths year is the first in all my years of music in which I've played mostly by ear and mostly alone, so I am not used to looking for what chords people are playing or anything. With my voice I have no problem; been singing harmony since I was born, just about (4 older siblings plus mom and dad to do so with), and as long as I know the song, somewhat, and it's in my range, I can be spot on.

When playing with others, if I ask, it still means nothing to me as I do not know which keys have what sharps or flats. That's how basic the deficiency is in my *larnin'*.:-) Thanks!

katkeyless


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Jon W.
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 06:04 PM

Okay, here's the secret on flats and sharps and key signatures: There are two "circles", the "circle of 4ths" and the "Circle of 5ths". The circle of 4ths is associated with keys that have flats in the key signature. The circle of 5ths is associated with keys that have sharps. Both circles start at C (no flats, no sharps). The 4th of a C scale is an F. F is the key that has 1 flat. The 4th of an F scale is Bb. Bb is the key with 2 flats. The 4th of Bb is Eb. Eb has 3 flats. etc. etc. Now for the sharps - use the circle of 5ths. The fifth of C is G. G has 1 sharp. The fifth of G is D. D has 2 sharps. The fifth of D is A. A has 3 sharps. and so on and so forth. Both circles continue around until you get back to C.

Now, why do some keys have sharps and some flats? Because you want to use all seven letters for note names. Take the key of D: D E F# G A B C#. You could say that it is D E Gb G A B Db. You'd be playing exactly the same notes. But it's not very convenient because two of the notes share the "G" letter in their names, and two share the "D" letter. Simple, huh? And when you have accidentals (sharps or flats that don't occur in the diatonic scale of the key), normally you write them with the symbol that is used in the key signature, be it sharp or flat. There are exceptions to this rule, though.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST,Les B
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 06:11 PM

Kat - if you can do all that, why worry. Your musical sense will probably get you where you need to go.

I really wish I had a better sense of identifying pitch. I play guitar and banjo backup at old-time fiddlers meetings, and quite often some old fiddler will say his next piece is in D, when it's really in G, and then launch into the tune. I often play merrily away for a couple of measures before my ear tells me there's something wrong, and then I spend a few more measures hunting around for the correct key. Others seem to pick up on this more quickly. I've learned to read other, better-eared, chord player's hands for the correct keys.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 06:15 PM

Little tiny pianos!! Yep those things from yamaha and casio that can now be had for virtually nuthin' in any pawn shops. GREAT tools for learning some theory. Mike Cooney turned me on to this many years ago, and they work.

The black keys are the sharps and flats. Makes it easier to memorize 'em.

Hi Les. The 1,3,5. is part of a musical construction.

The 1,4,5. is simply about specific songs. 1,4,5. is like a "practical application" for simple songs in WESTERN culture. 1,4,5 wouldn't have much significance in Indian or Chinese or Arabic music.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 06:20 PM

Another good idea shot to hell, old sport. The problem is that everyone piped in with their pet chord/scale/theory thing, including(god knows why) a lesson on playing the piano, and anyone followed what you said in your first post, was totally confused by the time they finished Jeri's post, and it went downhill from there.

There are simple answers to each of these questions, but answering all of them, and tying the answers that come up in a thread together so that they make simple sense is impossible--if you don't believe me, read every thread about modes--

The only possible way out of this problem is if one person talks and everyone else listens, but this is the internet, and that ain't a gonna happen--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Jon W.
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 06:24 PM

Speaking of diatonic scales, what's that? There are two ways to get from a root note up a scale to the same note 1 octave higher. The most common way is the diatonic scale, the familiar do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do (or CDEFGABC). This one consists of what are called steps and half steps. A step is the "distance" between most pairs of notes, say C and D. A half step is the distance between a note and the note's sharp or flat version (C and C#, for instance). The tricky thing about diatonic scales is that most notes are one step apart, but there are two places where the notes are only 1/2 step apart. In major scales, these places are between the 3rd and 4th, and between the 7th and 8th (or octave) notes. In minor scales, the places for half steps are between the 2nd and 3rd notes, and the 5th and 6th notes (I think).

The second way to get from the root to the octave is by going half steps all the way. This is called a chromatic scale, and it has 12 notes, counting the octave: C C# D D# E F G G# A A# B C. That's why the octave is at the twelfth fret of the guitar (or whatever).

Now, I know all this theory, so can't I play worth a tinker's cuss?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 06:36 PM

Special for Kat:

"Fat Boys Eat Apple Dumplings."
One flat is key of F (fat)
Two flats is key of Bb (boys)
Three flats is key of Eb (eat)
Four flats is key of Ab (apple)
Five flats is key of Db (dumplings)

"Go Down And Eat Breakfast."

One sharp is key of G (go)
Two sharps is key of D (down)
Three sharps is key of A (and)
Four sharps is key of E (eat)
Five sharps is key of B (breakfast)

Of course, these are the "major" keys, but that's a start.

John


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Burke
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 06:54 PM

Even more basic here.

Everything that people are teaching here is based on the diatonic scale.

The anchor points on the scale at the 2 ends are Octaves (8 notes) A physicist could tell you why, but the important thing is that we tend to hear octaves as the same note. Men & women easily sing parallel octaves apart without thinking about it. It's the ultimate in a 'consonant' sound.

Much of our western music breaks the distances between the 2 ends of the octave into 7 intervals of uneven 'size' or distance. This is what a tin whistle does. A piano & fretted instruments use semi-tones or half steps to break that octave into 12 intervals.

The scale everyone has been using a reference is commonly known as a major scale. With a - to indicate the distance between the notes, the interval distances are:
1--2--3-4--5--6--7-8

There are whole tones between all notes except the 3-4 and 7-8. You can put your finger on the neck of the guitar, begin at any location, skip a fret to play the whole tones & go to the adjacent for the half tones; you've got a major scale (at least until you run out of neck). On a piano those black keys are like the frets. Start at any point, skip over or play the note according to the pattern & you can play a major scale in any key. Again, C is all natural so when you count the keys you see that 3-4 & 7-8 have no black key between them, automatically giving you the half tone.

You can take that some repeating pattern of whole & half tones & end up with scales that are called by differnent modes.

1--2--3-4--5--6--7-1a--2a--3a-4a--5a--6a--7a-1b

A scale that starts on the 2 & goes to 2a is what's usually called a Dorian minor & is very common in folk music. 6-6a is a natural minor. (Harmonic minors are for a more advanced class) Going with no accidentals in a key signature, the natural minor goes A-A, major C-C, Dorian D-D. If you have a tin whistle play a scale that begins & ends with 1 hole uncovered & you've got Dorain. Begin & end with one hole covered, etc. is a natural minor.

I used the numbers above for illustration, but in real usage the scale gets renumbered. When talking scales the key note is usually denoted 1 as one regardless of the mode. Thus a natural minor scale:
1--2-3--4--5-6--7--8
Has the half tones between 2-3 & 5-6.

This is why just looking at the number of accidentals in the key signature does not really tell you the key. One sharp is G major, but it's E minor. Determining which is which is also for a more advanced lesson :-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: katlaughing
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 08:21 PM

Some of you remind me of my brother, who has a masters in theory composition! Thank you all very much, I will study this more, but for now I think I'll stick with LesB's suggestion. I can play and I can sing, so I won't worry about it, just practice, pratice, practice! **BG**

Back to you, Rick!

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 10:03 PM

None of you boscos have gotten into actual music theory--these items are all simply bits of mechanical information, which is why they don't make sense to a lot of people(as in "music theory completely lose me")--and why JonW ends up saying "Now, I know all this theory, so can't I play worth a tinker's cuss?"

"Music Theory" gives you ideas about how harmonies and chords are used, what the scales are for--plans for creating and developing musical ideas(like solos) systems that can be used for creating arrangements, that sort of stuff--it helps to answer the question "Now what do I do?"

You can play from written music, without theory--You can play a melody instrument, and learn to play by rote, note for note,without theory--But if you play improvised music, write music, or have to think up your own chords and or accompaniments for singers or other solo instruments,the theory is there to help you--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 10:05 PM

I hear ya Ted...BUT..it's the only way to do it in this kind of community. I think if someone takes EACH post as a little lesson in itself, much can be learned.

About three years ago I started a "guitar tips" thread, and a kindly Mudcatter PM'd me saying "let's team up,...I'll make charts and stuff on my website and it'll really help people". The trouble was that within a couple of days I realized that his approach was virtually OPPOSITE to mine. Now I don't get passionate about much, but I've worked with soooo many people who considered themselves "unteachable" (and gotten great results) that I'm a real stickler for certain things. Thumb placement on guitar for one thing. Buying the RIGHT instrument for YOU (that alone can cut the learning process by 50%) Certain fingerings that produce certain results in the future, etc. etc.

The Upshoot was that I let him do his own thing and kind of moved to the background rather than start being critical of his information. I think he may have been a bit offended, but I didn't see an option. I won't knowingly support what I think is a wonky approach. BUT...everyone's approach is valid to THEM.

I've learned a couple of things here already.

'Course when we write our books Ted, there'll be no reason for compromise!

Cheers

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mark Clark
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 10:20 PM

Rick,

This thread is indeed a great idea. I do have a suggestion that might work out though. Clearly, you have developed a very good sense of how big the chunks of theory should be and in what sequence they are best presented. Why don't you prepare a short outline for the entire thread and post the outline. That way the rest of us can make contributions that are within the framework of your experience. It would be really nice if we could construct a theory thread that had a proven logical progression instead of jumping randomly around in a sort of stream-of-collective-consciousness fashion.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Justa Picker
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 11:58 PM

The only music theory you need to know....is that the bass player's spot is right beside the piano player or rhythm guitarist. 8-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 12:08 AM

You can't explain everything, because it is too confusing, and if you can't explain everything, you won't understand anything. It's a big problem,


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Justa Picker
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 12:12 AM

Okay, here are a few useful tidbits which are helpful to know when one wants to learn to improvise chord substituions in familiar songs or ones you're writing. This also assumes you have a working knowledge of all major and minor chords, and all major and minor 7th chords.

This principle and pattern applies to any key but for the sake of this example we'll say we're playing in the key of C to keep it simple. The dominant seventh - in this case G7th - which would be treated as the turnaround/resolving chord back into C, can be replaced with either: a straight C# or C# seventh; or a Bb7th or 9th; and the root chord, the C chord itself can occasionally be replaced with an E minor or minor seventh - all for the equivalent length of time the G7th chord would have been played.

This type of experimentation lends itself well to improvisation. Before you know it, you discover you've created something entirely different than when you began. It might sound very cool or it might sound completely inappropriate for the song but you don't know till you check it out.

I sometimes amuse myself by taking a real trad tune and throw these types of alternate chord changes into them, just to get a reaction from the listener - and more often than not, it's not a favorable one. But it is fun.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST,Night Owl
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 12:57 AM

Dunno how I thought this thread would progress......but just got home from work......settled in and opened my notebook. I read quickly....(NOT "studiously") through the thread and said "fagggggedaboudit" A large part of my frustration here is that you guys are ALL saying things I want to understand and learn......the whys etc. At first glance I thought I could just pick the posts I understand and ignore the rest. But I can't ignore the rest..cause there's some NEAT stuff from knowledgable people I respect here. I sure do like Mark Clark's suggestion..I think. Ex. If I told you that you have to buckle the crupper before you attach the tugs, you might recognize that the instruction was important, but you'd need a beginner's course to understand what it meant. Rick...I, for one, DO have an inexpensive keyboard thingy and did learn that black is sharps/flats, white is.....ummmmmm "other". Anway..I got a headache ALREADY!!! BUT my lesson for today is....."1,3,5 progressions are the notes within the chord; I,IV,V progressions are the chords used within the song.....(in Utah or thereabouts that is). Yes???????


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: winniemih
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 12:04 PM

I recently came upon a great publication that "delivers the general theory of music in a new and uniquely down-to-earth manner" and have found it to be a big help -clearly written with lots of diagrams. You can check it out at this website: www.naturalwaymusic.com Tell me what you think if you obtain it. b Winnie


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 01:33 PM

AIEEEH CHIHWAWAA!!

Well now I know WHY I (and probably lots more) was scared of music theory!

From my "primer style" of "learn 1-7 and put a note with each number" to pretty complex explanations of all sorts of things.

BUT....the thing is, we're all trying to make it more "alive" than the printed page usually conveys, and that's good. My problem when I was first being taught theory was that it wasn't nearly as interesting as baseball. Many of my friends were cajoled and disciplined into learning it (and you know how far I can be cajoled into ANYTHING!) but my guess is very few of them continued on with it simply because it was FUN. I find it easy to use my approach when it's 'one on one', and all my students (even the ones as distractable as I was) seem to catch on. But remember, every teacher pro or amateur has their OWN approach. Mine has a lot of jokes thrown in with the notes and numbers. I still figure that MOST (not all...I Know, I know!) may be able to get something out of each individual post here.

For any REAL theory neophytes....We'se TRYIN'! Ha Ha!

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 02:09 PM

I'm sure M.Ted is right that technically this isn't necessarily music theory. However, in the general sense of theory vs. practice--book larnin' vs. doin' it--I would call it theory.

Now we all learn to talk without formal education, but instruction in reading and writing helps us expand and cement our understanding and command of language. Likewise, learning some of this music theory can help enrich our playing and singing.

In language, we start by learning the alphabet, then learn how to spell words, then learn the rules for putting words together to make proper sentences, etc. (We also find that sometimes we can make a point more effectively by violating those rules, although it's usually best to avoid this.) In music, we can learn and profit from similar basic knowledge.

Let's start with the alphabet--the chromatic scale. This is something that really should be committed to memory. It's a matter of definition and convention in Western music, and you gotta know it to fully understand the rest.

Our music is made of notes that have certain physical relationships to each other (based essentially on the lengths of vibrating strings). These notes are given names. There are only twelve names, and they are re-used as we continue going up or down the scale, which is theoretically infinite. If we start with A, going up, we have:

A-A#/Bb-B-C-C#/Db-D-D#/Eb-E-F-F#/Gb-G-G#/Ab-A-A#/Bb-B-C-etc.

Note that some notes have two names. For example, A# is the same note as Bb. Which name you use generally depends upon what key you are in (more to follow).

The next thing to learn is the major scale pattern. The distance (interval) from any note in the chromatic scale to an adjacent note (up or down) is called a half step. So, from A to A#(=Bb) is one half step. Likewise, it is a half step from A# to B, and from B to C, etc. The major scale pattern is a counting of half steps as follows:

2-2-1-2-2-2-1.

You start at a chosen note, find successive notes in the major scale by counting half steps according to the pattern, and end on a note with the same name as where you started. This comprises eight notes, and hence is called an octave. (The eight note has a vibration frequency that is twice that of the first note, and they sound very harmonious together, though obviously one is higher pitched than the other.)

We'll begin with an example in the key of C:

Start on C. Go two half steps, land on D. Go two half steps, land on E. Go one half step, land on F. Go two half steps, land on G. Go two half steps, land on A. Go two half steps, land on B. Go one half step, land on C. We now have named the notes of one octave in the key of C: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C.

Note that in the key of C, none of the notes in the major scale are sharps (#) or flats (b). Note also, that if you play this scale on a piano keyboard, you play only white keys (the black keys are the sharps/flats). This is a convention, the piano keyboard is set up to play the C major scale on only white keys. I find it very helpful to know the notes on a keyboard, it makes a good visual aid to grasping this.

Now let's try it in the key of D. We start on D and count up in the 2-2-1-2-2-2-1 pattern:

D--E--F#/Gb-G--A--B--C#/Db-D

So, do we call the third note F# or Gb? The seventh note C# or Db? The rule, to minimize confusion, is to use each letter name once. Thus we'll call the third one F#, so that we can use "F" and not use "G" twice. Likewise, the seventh note is called C#. So a D major scale is:

D--E--F#-G--A--B--C#-D

Note that there are two sharps in the key of D. This is the only key with two sharps, and its key signature in sheet music will have two sharps.

Let's try the key of F.

F--G--A--Bb--C--D--E-F

We call the fourth note Bb rather than A#, so as to use "B" once and not use "A" twice. This key has one flat, and is the only key with one flat; its key signature has one flat.

To quickly find the notes in any major scale, write out the note names, at first without sharps or flats. For example, the key of A:

A--B--C-D--E--F--G-A

Now add sharps or flats as needed to make the intervals fit the 2-2-1-2-2-2-1 pattern:

A to B, two half steps--okay. B to C, one half step--not okay. Make it a C#, now it's two half steps--okay. C# to D, one half step--okay. D to E, two half steps--okay. E to F, one half step--not okay. Make it an F#, now it's two half steps--okay. F# to G, one half step--not okay. Make it a G#, now it's two half steps--okay. G# to A, one half step--okay. So now we have:

A--B--C#-D--E--F#--G#-A

There are three sharps, which is unique to the key of A.

Let's try the key of Eb:

E--F--G-A--B--C--D-E

Since the chosen key is Eb, we know the first and last ones must be Eb. Two half steps takes us to F. Two half steps takes us to G. One half step takes us to Ab. Two half steps takes us to Bb. Two half steps takes us to C. Two half steps takes us to D. One half step takes us to Eb. Now we've got:

Eb--F--G-Ab--Bb--C--D-Eb

Three flats (we only count Eb once), unique to the key of Eb. Here we're using Ab and Bb over G# and A# to follow the rule of using each letter name once. By writing each letter name out to begin with, then adding either a sharp or flat as and when needed to fit the pattern, you automatically do this.

What if you had wanted to call this the key of D#, which is the same note as Eb? You'd get something like these:

D#--F--G-G#--A#--C--D-D# [No "E", no "B", two "G's", two "D's"--rather confusing]

D#--E#--F##(=G)-G#--A#--B#(=C)--C##(=D)-D# [Uses each letter name once, but double sharps add to confusion]

The standard keys, and the number of sharps or flats in each are:

B--five sharps
E--four sharps
A--three sharps
D--two sharps
G--one sharp
C--no sharps or flats
F--one flat
B--two flats
Eb--three flats
Ab--four flats
Db--five flats

The key of F#/Gb is a bit trickier than the others. If you call it F#:

F#--G#--A#-B--C#--D#--F-F# or F#--G#--A#-B--C#--D#--E#(=F)--F#

You either have to use "F" twice and not use "E" or use E# to indicate F.

If you call it Gb:

Gb--Ab--Bb-B--Db--Eb--F-Gb or Gb--Ab--Bb-Cb(=B)--Db--Eb--F--Gb

You either use "B" twice and not use "C" or use Cb to indicate B.

I would say the second choice in each of the above is more technically correct, as the key signature will have either six sharps (F#) or six flats (Gb).

Okay, that's an introduction to the chromatic scale and the major scales. Next installment we'll look at chords.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Big Mick
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 02:11 PM

And please don't stop trying!! I thought I better chime in on behalf of those doing the reading that you aren't aware of. This thread, my good friend, in invaluable to one who is functionally illiterate with regard to the subject of music theory. I am one of the many who just started learning where to put his fingers in order to make a chord. As often happens when one learns to play this way, is that I found myself wanting to be able to understand the sheet without the record, to not have to ask how to make a diminished, minor, 7th, circumcised and neutered chord. I want to be able to construct it meself.

So keep this thread going.........it is working.

Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Night Owl
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 03:09 PM

thank you Gary!! Please keep trying Rick....it just MIGHT work!! I suspect that each of us struggling to learn this stuff may have to individually reorganize these posts according to our learning styles. I think the problem for me may be recognizing which informaton I should put aside for now.....and which ones I need to "study" first. For me, I'm taking Gary's last post, your first post and John In Kansas' post (for kat)as my first "lesson"..feels like it might sink in. And then "harvest" more here for Lesson #2. The great thing about this Rick, is that I can go out for recess ANYTIME I want and don't need to wait for the bell....bg.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST,Sheila
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 04:37 PM

The way I learned the intervals for the major scales was "whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half." This refers to the steps from one tone to the next.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Night Owl
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 04:51 PM

this is gonna sound REALLY dumb Sheila...but when Gary counted it all out in HALF steps....something made sense here...simple nuances I guess.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 05:40 PM

A whole step is two half steps. I find it easier to mentally keep track of one vs. two of the same unit (half step) than to keep track of two different units (whole steps vs. half steps). Both ways are correct, it's just a matter of personal preference.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 06:45 PM

What Night Owl said. Thanks!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 07:32 PM

Before we move on to chords, a few clarifications.

When I mentioned twelve names for notes in the chromatic scale, I was not thinking of the two possible names for some of the notes. It would have been more accurate to say that if you go from A to A (or C to C, Eb to Eb, etc.) one half step at a time you will cover twelve differently-named notes, then start repeating the note names.

A major scale in any given key, covering an octave, is the familiar (we hope) do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do.

Now, we'll talk about chords and how they are constructed.

Chords are combinations of three or more different notes. (Occasionally two different notes, properly called an interval, are used as if they were a chord.) The particular type of chord defines which notes of the major scale are used to form it. For examples of the different types of chords, we'll use the key of C. We must start with its major scale, and we'll assign each note an Arabic number for reference, as such:

  C  D  E  F  G  A  B  C  D  E  F  etc.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 etc.

A major chord (also called tonic chord), is comprised of notes 1, 3, & 5. Thus a C major chord (written C) has the notes C, E, & G.

A minor chord has the notes 1, 3b, and 5. Thus a C minor chord (Cm or Cmin) has the notes C, Eb, & G. You'll notice when going from an X major chord to an X minor chord on most instruments that you're changing just one note, lowering it a half step (although you may change more than one string on a guitar, for example, if that note is repeated in the way the chord is fingered).

A seventh chord (also called dominant seventh) is a major chord plus a flatted 7th note of the scale. In C, the 7th note is B, the flatted 7th is Bb. A C seventh chord (C7) has the notes C, E, G, & Bb.

There is a chord called a major seventh chord which uses the 7th note (unflatted). A C major seventh chord (Cmaj7) has the notes C, E, G, & B.

A C minor seventh (Cm7, Cmin7) has C, Eb, G, & Bb. A C minor major seventh (Cmmaj7, Cminmaj7) has C, Eb, G, & B.

A C sixth (C6) is a major chord plus the 6th note: C, E, G, & A. A C minor 6th (Cm6, Cmin6) likewise has C, Eb, G, & A.

A C ninth chord (C9) adds a 9th note (D) to a C7 chord. Its notes are C, E, G, Bb, & D.

A C eleventh (C11) adds an 11th note (F) to a C9: C, E, G, Bb, D, F. A C thirteenth (C13) adds a 13th note to a C11: C, E, G, Bb, D, F, A. On most instruments you run out of fingers or strings to play all of these notes, and certain ones are left out, sometimes the root (note 1--in this case C), sometimes the 5th (G), sometimes others. A C13th chord may not have all seven different notes when you play it, but it will have that 13th note, which gives it its essential character compared to, say, a C7. These higher number notes (9, 11, 13) are typically played at a high pitch--you don't generally see a 9th or 11th as the lowest note of the chord, where it might be called a 2nd or 4th, respectively.

Various other chords also have their definitions of which notes are used. Among these are diminished, augmented, suspended, and flatted 5th chords. I don't have all these chord formulas at my fingertips, but it's not hard to find books that show all these chords (and more!) in each key for a given instrument. These books are like chord dictionaries, and I highly recommend them. They're especially helpful in showing various options in forming a given chord (in other words, there are several ways to make a C minor chord on a guitar).

The same formulas apply to any key. An F major chord has the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of an F scale (F, A, & C). A D minor chord has notes 1, 3b, and 5 of a D scale (D, F, & A).

The "textbook ideal" is to have the notes of the chord correspond in pitch to their numbers. In other words, for a C chord you'd like the bass note to be C, with a higher E, and a higher yet G. Sometimes, however, these relative pitchs are rearranged, to form what are called inversions of the chord. Some inversions sound okay, some don't. For example, on a guitar one could play a C chord with the 6th string open (an E note). It sounds lousy. If that string is fretted to form a G, it sounds fine. So in this case the inversion with a G as the bass note is pleasant, the inversion with the E as the bass note is not.

Many instruments will typically sound more than three or four notes, so some notes of the chord are repeated. On a guitar, for example, a typical C chord using five strings has C, E, G, C, & E. Using six strings it has G, C, E, G, C, & E. An F chord can be played with four (F, A, C, F), five (C, F, A, C, F), or six (F, C, F, A, C, F) strings.

Knowing the formula for a given chord can help in understanding what you're doing with your instrument. For example, on a guitar, there are two commonly used variants of A7 which are one finger different from the basic A chord (E, A, E, A, C#, E). In one, the finger on the (3rd) G string is lifted, changing that note from A to G (giving E, A, E, G, C#, E). In another a finger is added to the (1st) E string to make it a G (giving E, A, E, A, C#, G). Each version has all four notes that comprise an A7 chord, and now you know why either one of those strings can be fretted differently from an A chord to make it an A7.

Next, typical chord progressions used in songs.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 08:36 PM

Good going Gary T:

As interjections - not really too important, the "double sharp" ## and "double flat" bb - for which we don't have the character symbols here, are "standard" notation devices, although only appear in what most of us would call "weird keys" like F# or G#, Cb, etc.

An F## is just the same note as a G, but is "theoretically pure" when transposing. Same for Bbb which is the same pitch as an A.

Not something essential - especially for beginners, but nice to be aware they exist.

I've encountered a lot of confusion over the chord notations like C/E - with a lot of people believing this means you can play a C chord or an E chord. This is the customary notation for a C chord with E played as the lowest note - thus a way to specify that a particular "inversion" should be played.

Keep it up guys - we're getting better at this.

John


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 09:09 PM

kat - to summarize what Gary said: To find the key, look at the key signature. Instead of memorizing his chart:
B--five sharps
E--four sharps
A--three sharps
D--two sharps
G--one sharp
C--no sharps or flats F--one flat
Bb--two flats -- NOTICE THAT I MADE THIS Bb NOT B (Gary made a mistake above)
Eb--three flats
Ab--four flats
Db--five flats

I taught my 8 yr. old piano students -- memorize the ORDER of sharps and flats (F#, C#, G#, D#. etc) or for flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, etc. it spells the word BEAD) OR if you can't memorize them at first, just look at the order they are written in the key signature from left to right. THEN --- if you have sharps, count up a half step from the last sharp to get the key signature. (one sharp, F#, count up one half step to get key of G major) OR if flats, take the next to last flat and that's your key signature (two flats, Bb and Eb, key of Eb). Remember the key signature gives the major key OR the relative minor key. To get the relative minor key, count down 3 half steps from the major key. (Key of C major has the same key signature as key of A minor...key of G major has the same key signature as key of E minor, etc.) The song tells you if it's major or minor. I find this helpful for keyboard/visual thinkers. For non keyboard people, a half step is just the next note (black or white) on the keyboard.

I like what Sheila said about intervals of the major scale...whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. I would have itty bitty kids start on ANY note of the piano, and play the major scale, first by ear (do, re, mi what sounded right), then analyze the whole, whole, half, etc.

Many traditional songs, have the I, IV, V (or V7) chords AND their relative minor chords. Then throw in a zinger for color. Example: key of C -- C major chord (I), F major chord (IV), and G major chord (V) or G7 major chord (V7) then also the relative minors of those... a minor, d minor, e minor.

From studying Learning Theory I learned that I'm primarily a visual learner who likes Advanced Organizers. That means I don't have to understand everything in order to assimilate pieces as I go along, but if I don't have an overall outline in advance, my mind shuts down and I refuse to take in bits and pieces. (I think that was what M.Ted was referring to) From teaching, however, I learned that EVERYONE is different. My best friend is an aural learner and absolutely drives me insane. I find her instructions extremely frustrating.

Rick, after a hodge-podge of talking here, it's your job to summarize it. ;-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 09:57 PM

Summarize it MARY? Bloody hell, I gotta learn it foist!

This is great. Don't worry beginners if this seems too complicated. Give it a shot, it's still a lot less "dry" than theory books

Besides...here, we can PM or phone or e-mail and get the 'personal touch' if we really want to.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 10:03 PM

Thanks for the additions and corrections, John and Mary. I definitely made a typo in putting "B" where a "Bb" should have been in the chart. (By the way, I don't advocate memorizing the chart, but rather the cycle of 5ths, to come later.)

I was away from my resources when I wrote my last post, and I think I got a bit out of my depth. Some corrections:

My chord dictionary doesn't use the term X minor major seventh chord, calling it instead an X minor sharp seventh (Xm#7). Same notes as I mentioned (1, 3b, 5, 7), but you may not ever see the name I used.

The same book is not showing the 3 note in eleventh chords, making them 1, 5, 7b, 9, 11. It does show a minor eleventh chord with the 3b note but no 9: 1, 3b, 5, 7b, 11.

It shows thirteenth chords without the 11 note (1, 3, 5, 7b, 9, 13).

My apologies for the misinformation. My main intent was to show that even chords that appear mysterious and intimidating (how about an X13b9b5?) follow a defined formula, and if you know the formula/definition, you know what notes should be in the chord. I advise getting a chord dictionary or similar reference for those who care to know just what the formulas are for various chords.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 10:31 PM

Mary, thanks, that's closest to the way it has been explained to me before. I think I can wrap my head around it, will have to go get my keyboard back from my bro to practice on it, though. I know what my main problem has been in thread and that is, I think, that most everyone is coming from a playing guitar and chords perspective, which is just not where I am at. No problem, just an observation. Thanks!

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 10:43 PM

Gary, I like that explanation of chords.

An addendum to it: Gary said, "A major chord is made up of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of a given major scale." Another way to analyze this is, four half steps between the 1st and middle notes, three half steps between the middle and last notes. (this is true because of the defined intervals of a major scale.) But just let your ear tell you if it's right. Little kids can tell the difference between a major and a minor chord.

I'm waiting for the next installment on typical chord progressions. I like to hear things said in different ways, and I particularly like the explanations from performers who don't really understand the theory, they just know from experience to throw in a certain chord or a certain sharp or flat to get a certain effect. It's probably not as efficient (for me) as understanding and analyzing the explanations, but I'm envious of performers who can do this.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 10:50 PM

kat, I can really sympathize with folks who don't understand all this half step/keyboard stuff. When "they" start talking about open strings I just glaze over. *BG*

I'm so intuned to the piano, for me to transcribe a MIDI, I have to listen to it on the computer here upstairs, then run downstairs to play it on the piano. It is soooooooo easy and intuitive on the piano, but a foreign language just listening or seeing the dots. That's why I'm envious of people who can play any instrument "by ear" without really reading music.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 10:52 PM

Hey, kat, going back your earlier question about how to tell what key someone is in--given what information? Looking at sheet music? Looking at melody notation, or chord notation, or tab? Hearing just the melody? Hearing harmonization, or accompanying instrumentation?

In other words, under precisely what circumstances do you find yourself wanting to know what the key is?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 10:55 PM

Oh, and part two--why do you want to know? What will it help you do--play accompaniment, sing, write something down, other?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 11:04 PM

Gary, I'd like to know how to find the key from just a melody line because of trying to harmonize O'Carolan's stuff. I suspect there are many different chord choices, so it's just historical precedence that makes one version more popular than another. It's fun for me to get hold of a melody that I've never heard before and put my own chords/harmonizations to. Then when I find a "book" with that song, and it's different...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 11:06 PM

Good question, Gary! I guess I am anticipating that I may someday live where I can join in on some sessions and would like to know what is meant when someone yells out what key they are going to play in, BUT, my ear serves me well enough, I can pick it up, intuitively, without really needing to know the technical data, so I guess I don't really have to know. Plus, it's never mattered when I played in the orchestra or piano or violin alone, from written music. Now, if I was going to be fiddling a lot, then I could see a real need for it, because I could relate it to the instrument, but, again, my ear serves well,once i know the piece or hear it a few times. I am not geared to guitars, so would have a tougher time relating it to them in the same way. Hope that makes sense!

Thanks, Mary for the further comments. Despite my lack of this knowledge, I think I've been pretty lucky to have learned the rest of it from my family. Grand ear training, that!

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 01:35 AM

Mary--I don't have a method to tell you other than what I do, which is try to find a chord progression that fits the melody. I use trial and error, especially to identify the key (trying out different chords until one fits), and experience with/knowledge of typical chord sequences. On songs that have less familiar or less common chords, I may not get them all. It seems that some songs--modals?--defy being aligned with a chord progression, although the key can usually be determined.

I often find it helpful to have a book with the chords in it--but not always. Usually, an authoritative source (which usually means sheet music) will have chords that sound right, sometimes showing me an interesting chord that I would not have realized was there otherwise. On the other end of the spectrum, some books are almost jokes with the chords they have for some songs (I'm afraid "Rise Up Singing" comes to mind), which clearly do not fit the tune. And it's not unusual to find different sources having some different chords for a given song, where either version is acceptable. Sometimes you go by the book, sometimes you go with what feels right to you.

kat, I'm still not quite sure what you want to do, but it sounds like play along with an instrument, not using chords. That is not something I have experience in. It appears to me that people who do it have experience-based knowledge of what notes to try if they know what the key is, and the reverse--what key they're in based on the notes that fit.

As far as figuring out the key in a session situation, some of the techniques are: ask;
watch an instrument you know well enough to see what key (or chords or notes) is being played;
trial and error.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help, ladies. Perhaps someone else has some wisdom here?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: katlaughing
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 01:48 AM

It's okay, Gary. I think it would be good if we let the thread progress beyond this one thing. Like i said before, I didn't mean to hijack it. I am sorry I am not expressing what I am getting at very well, but I think I've figured things out pretty well with what's at hand.

THANKS, everyone!

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mark Clark
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 02:31 AM

Just some odds and ends that may help clarify some the great information that's already been posted.

The term degree is also used to designate the numbers assigned to the notes of a scale. So in the key of C major, the note E represents the third degree of the scale.

The term tonic—from tone—refers to the first degree of a major scale. In the key of C, C is the tonic note. A tonic chord is just the chord with the same name as the root key.

The term subdominant refers to the fourth degree of a major scale. In the key of C, F is the subdominant. A subdominant chord (F in the key of C) is the chord with the same name as the fourth or subdominant note of the scale in the root key.

The term dominant refers to the fifth degree of a major scale. In the key of C, G is the dominant.

(I hope all this talk of dominance isn't getting anyone too excited.)

A dominant seventh chord, then, is the major triad (1-3-5) based on the dominant note of the root key with the addition of the flatted seventh. The seventh is a flatted seventh because the major seventh note in the scale of the dominant chord (F# for the G chord in the key of C) is not found in the major scale of the root key.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Peter T.
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 02:21 PM

While I admire all this, I think that it is handling the situation Rick started with incorrectly. As far as I can tell, he was aiming at people who were either slightly beyond beginners or people who were musically sophisticated but were somehow blocked over time from learning music theory. I think it is better to try and get at the blocks and misconceptions than to try and inundate people with theory, however simplified.

For the second group, what would be useful are things that people already know that could be enhanced by theory. For instance, on the guitar, there are these diminished chords that hold their pattern up the neck, repeating. How does that work? That would get people into a huge array of theory. And so on.

For the first group, among the big blocks are misconceptions that are obstacles that sophisticated musicians would be stunned to hear about. I speak from bitter experience, and talking to others. Among them:

On the guitar, certain chords are difficult to play, so they are assumed to be complicated -- early on, for example, I always assumed that the F chord was some bizarrely complicated chord, much more esoteric than a G chord. An A chord must be really simple because it is just three strings beside each other. Later I thought the an "augmented" chord, God it must be insanely complex because it looks complex.

Internalizing the half-step, whole step structure is often a disaster for learners. It takes people a very long time to connect going up a key on a piano or a fret on an guitar to that. It ought to be obvious, the most obvious thing, but isn't, partly because of the visual confusion (on the piano, for ease) between going from certain "main letter notes" like B to C or E to F which are right beside each other, and jumping up to something with a flat or a sharp, which must be different, smaller or maybe bigger.

On a guitar, this is even more confusing because the strings are different, and the jump from one string to another in scales seems random. It takes a long time to focus on the pattern of the scale over the range of strings, and not the pattern of the 6 strings themselves.

What else can I think of off the top of my head. People think that a minor chord must have a flat or a sharp in it, because it has the word "minor" in it and sounds flat or sharp; when it is really just the dropping of the 3rd of the chord one half step (which is of course sometimes the equivalent).

I am sure there are lots of other weird things that block people's understanding of chords.

Here's another big obstacle, the ridiculous chord notation system. Hands up all those who know the difference between a G9, a Gadd9, and a Gsus2?

I could go on.....

yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 11:05 PM

Thanks for the comments, Peter--I was wondering when you would step in--being the one who is the most inclined to pursue questions about theory--

As a teacher, you can spend all of your time answering questions that come out of the misconceptions, but when you do, you loose control of your lessons, and the end result is that the student doesn't get anywhere.

Students have to start out learning things by rote, and praticing them til the teacher is satisfied that they have them. Explanations come later--You need to know your scales, your chords, and how to construct them, but the why is not initially important--

You memorized the capitals of the states, provinces, and nations,but you didn't need to know why they were the capitals when you learned them--those questions are saved for much later, same with music theory--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Jeri
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 11:30 PM

M.Ted, with all due respect, that approach may work for some, maybe most students, but it has never worked for me. If you don't start out with the explanations so I understand why something works, I don't learn it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 12:48 AM

I gotta go with M.Ted on this one. I'm not about to get into WHY a major chord uses notes 1, 3, & 5. I don't even fully know myself, but I understand it gets into the physics of frequencies and related psycho-neural aspects of how we perceive them. For those who would like to pursue this aspect of music, I'm sure there are appropriate texts available.

For my contribution here, I'm aiming for enhanced ability to use and understand chords and chord patterns in songs. The chromatic scale, the major scale pattern, and knowing what a chord is are building blocks of information that I believe are very helpful, probably necessary, toward this goal.

I acknowledge that what I have to share may not be the best approach for everyone, but it works for me and for some of my friends, so I offer it here in the hopes it will help a number of Mudcatters.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Night Owl
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 02:59 AM

Just want to report back in here......I took a "recess" and went out to play. The group I was with included a Hammered Dulcimer player.....WONDERFUL music etc. I took with me new information from this thread which was useless tonight for my guitar playing (premature). BUT I was given a brief lesson on how to play a simple scale on the HD......and GUESS WHAT....I PLAYED A CHORD!! Starting from what he said was "Do", I played..(both hands!!) 1,3,5,8(?) AND it sounded NEAT!!! (Wondering why 8 isn't included in the info here?) Anyway, thank you guys!!! and paragraphs 5, 6 in Peter T.'s post are part of my problem here. BUT, I'm gonna hang in......remembering how Peter struggled to learn Modal tuning stuff a while ago. I CAN play guitar, have been playing for thirty years now. I know a bunch of chords, finger-picking patterns and strumming patterns, have a fairly good ear and am a solid rythym guitar player in groups. But like many others here, I learned from chord charts; playing with other people; listening and watching and some tablature. Dunno why it's important to me NOW to learn this stuff...just IS! (AND I feel really dumb with this stuff!!!!)

I do have a favor to ask before I go study..when you all are writing info that has more than one # in it, could you space between them??? found it hard here to count them up in some of the posts.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: M.Ted
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 10:33 AM

Jeri,

You mean that you didn't learn the names of the notes in scales till you understood:

Why there were eight notes in them
Why they are the pitches that they are and not eight other pitches
Why notes in different octaves have the same names, even though the are obviously different notes
Why there are three minor scales but ony one major scale
Why there are different keys
Why the intervals are the same in different keys
What the difference is between a major scale and a mode
Why the last note in a pentatonic scale is called an octave when there are only five notes in it, not eight
Why the keys move in a circle of fifths(or fourths)
And why does that make any difference, anyway?

I presume, from what you've said, that you can either answer these questions or that you don't know the names of the notes, and their intervals in the scales--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 12:26 PM

I think Jeri is saying the same thing I was saying about Advanced Organizers. I don't have to understand every detail and nuance of some content matter, but if I don't have an outline in advance, my mind refuses to memorize bits and pieces. Oh, I have a very good ability for memorizing unrelated bits and pieces, such as strings of numbers. But it's just not my preferred learning style.

One reason my friend who is an aural learner/teacher frustrates my learning so much is that my mind just shuts down when she starts talking. An example: when looking at a new software program I prefer to scan the pull down menus first to see what all is possible or to just see the vocabulary. I can't begin to understand all the possibilities, but when I later hear them explained I have a place in my brain to make the connections (and that is what learning is, making connections in the brain). When my friend taught the software program Quicken, she would say, "Now let's write a check." (and show us how) Then, "Let's go to our register." (and show us how.) I could have grasped it mush faster just going through the pull-down menus.

Another example: When I first get a textbook, I scan the table of contents. I hate to just start reading a narrative (textbook), possibly because so many are really poorly written, and I don't realize it until I've invested time.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Jeri
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 01:56 PM

You mean that you didn't learn the names of the notes in scales till..."

Ted, I still haven't memorised the notes in scales. I've never found it necessary to have instant recall of the notes in a given scale, although it makes playing with others a lot easier. I know some scales, but for most of them, I still think about intervals and where I stick my finger on the string tuned to "X" to get that sound, then figure out what the note is. If I play in an unfamiliar key, I can figure out how to play the scale by knowing intervals, but I'd have to think to tell you what notes I was playing.

I learn better when I can visualise: the little charts I made earlier, sheet music, imagining the fingerboard or fretboard. If you give me the name of a note to play, I will still have to visualise it in a way that makes sense to me. If you ask me what the notes in the scale of F# are, I will probably draw a picture (either literally or imaginary) and figure out the names of the notes from counting intervals.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 01:56 PM

Hmmmmm, I won't put any more data in here 'cause the idea at the beginning was to keep it REALLY simple...but that's difficult, 'cause everybody's got different ideas about 'simple'. And it's a fascinating subject that most people have very definite opinions on. Once again, I guess it can be useful if people take "one" post that they understand and like, and use it the best they can. Thought I might do a bit of an overview on the "kinds" of students I've worked with over the last 15 years (got my 'book of names' here, in case memory fails.

"The prodigy"

I see about 2 or 3 of these folks a year. Absolutely natural. The youngest, about 20 (I try to work only with adults) the oldest, late sixties. Usually completely unaware of how little they have to work, to achieve what others may take years to get. Mudcatter Marion (who now lives in Toronto) certainly qualifies. The problem with these folks is sometimes they move too fast and I really have to drill the 'basics' into them. The most irritating player in the world to me is the one who can play flashy complex leads, and still can't keep a solid rhythm.

"The Tab veteran".

Makes up about 50% of the folks I work with. Often they've been playing for years, but still have trouble playing ONE song from beginning to end at proper tempo with some feeling. Usually they've been weaned on Tablature, and haven't developed their ear at all. It makes it very difficult for these folks to play with others. I try to get them "off the paper", to start training their ear, and almost always to work on their 'dynamics' in order to 'swing'.

The 'bad habits' bunny.

Usually someone who has been playing for years and knows that 'something's wrong' 'cause they haven't progressed beyond that first year. Can be as simple as better left hand fingering, a DISCIPLINED right hand (gotta get them to start memorizing again) or even that they've been playing an instrument that is totally unsuitable to their body-type (that happens a lot!) or musical ambitions.

The "unmotivated" (that was ME at the beginning)

The person who wants to learn, but hasn't yet found music that 'pierces the heart'. These folks are fun to work with 'cause I get to play (and tape for them) a LOT of great music from old records and tapes. Watching as someone suddenly "discovers" the beauty of Leadbelly, Django, Big Bill, Charlie Christian, Dave bromberg, Lydia Mendoza, Doc Watson etc. is a real hoot. Helps me relive those same moments when I was 15 or so. Usually once they're hooked... THEY'RE HOOKED! Often during this process, the person will discover it's really the MANDOLIN (or banjo or dulcimer or dobro) that they really want to play. Fiddle even (in that case, I send them to Jamie Snyder, 'cause my fiddle technique is highly suspect...and I don't want to screw 'em up right at the beginning!)

The "Questioners"

The hardest for me, 'cause as has been stated here, ya gotta memorize a few things, before the 'answers' have any meaningful contexts. When someone asks "what's the deal with repeated diminished chords"? I really want them to know what a diminished SOUNDS like, and WHY it's used in the first place. Gotta PLAY it to REALLY understand it.(by the way, Peter's a diminished 'monster' now) This is related to that "investment thing" that I've mentioned frequently on the Cat. I don't believe you can watch "Oh Brother..." and know anything about Trad. Music. You (IMO) should at least 'invest' a bit in Buell Kazee, Tom Ashley, Cousin Emmy, or the Stanley BROTHERS, to understand WHY Hollywood now feels that Trad, and pseudo-trad is a money maker.Same with instrument technique...invest in a bit of the 'grunge-memorization-work' before trying to anylize it.

The 'tips' student.

Great fun. Makes up about 20% of my clientele now. Usually professional players who want extra tips, tricks, and in general, stuff I've learned over almost 40 years of pickin'. This is where I pick up a lot of great stuff as well......but I can't afford to give them back their money!!

The rest(!)

Their AIN'T no 'rest'. Everyone is different, and I use different approaches with each. Some folks are so 'visually oriented' that not being able to see over their fingerboard (and watch their left hand) totally screws them up. Some folks have let me in on a 'learning disability' that prevents them from 'seeing' chord charts after weeks of frustration. (Now I ask, right from the git-go) A common situation is the student who practices SO quietly ('cause of sleeping babies etc.) that when they try to play with a little volume, they get really messed up. There are hundreds of little 'differences', and trying to 'customize' sessions certainly keeps me on my toes...but that's the fun of teaching, for me.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Peter T.
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 03:02 PM

Hmmm. I think I am a seriously diminished restless Tab drinking bad habits questioning bunny. No wonder I ain't getting nowhere fast!

yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 05:16 PM

No Peter. You are (in no particular order) a Saint, possibly God, and DO look like George Martin.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST,Night Owl
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 02:32 AM

clear to me I NEED to do that "grunge-memorization-work"!

I played around in "C" today on a small Casio keyboard I have here, which is allowing me to visualize the chord construction. (I also discovered that each key is already lettered in one of the octaves on it.)

Rick....I went back and re-read your first post here..and see that you've already answered my question about 1, 3, 5 AND 8 that was in the chord I was hearing yesterday. I guess in elementary school I learned that the scale was 8 notes....low Do to high Do..so ending on 7 made no sense...initially. The exciting news for me was that on re-reading your initial post, it ALL made sense, as did some of the others......theoretically anyway BG

I also played around, counting I,IV,V in different keys I know on guitar. I know the base chords, for example, in "C" on guitar are C,F, and G7. Is there a SIMPLE explanation as to why the G7th is the V instead of just G??

I'm "harvesting" info posted here about which keys have what in them (#,b's)to memorize.......AFTER I've learned the individual notes in C on my guitar. I HOPE you meant just the first three frets, Rick. If not....I need some STRONG humor here!!!

I know I'm not the ONLY 'Catter here who has studiously avoided learning this stuff for years...so I will keep coming to class as long as school's open. I assume if I pay attention and don't gaze out the window too much, it'll help me learn to play the Hammered Dulcimer as well. Thank you ALL for doing this!!!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 04:11 AM

(sobbing quietly in a corner) Before I read this I thought I'd never understand music theory. Now I know I never will.
RtS (back to the kazoo, I guess)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 08:37 AM

Now Roger, I taught teenagers algebra, so I know you can learn a little music! As I told my sister when she was taking algebra, the first thing to do is to NOT THROW THE BOOK ACROSS THE ROOM when you first read an explanation.

Night Owl, in the key of C, the G chord IS the V (Five) chord. We use the V7 because it sounds good. Correct me here historians if this explanation is not quite right...historically people just started using what sounded good and then it got to be familiar to them they continued to use it. (Western music). I taught beginning piano students (even 4 year-olds) how to play the tonic chord then the V7 chord in the first 6 easy keys so they could play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" in 6 different keys. (In the key of C, the tonic chord is just the home chord, C...and the V7 chord is the G7 chord) I would also tell them to "drive Mom crazy" by playing a V7 chord and then walking away from the piano. It seems that our ear wants to hear it "resolve" or go to the home/tonic chord after it's played.

Hang in there. This stuff makes sense as we hear it explained in different words again and again.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 08:42 AM

Nightowl,

Yes, there is a simple explanation, and that is that the G7(G-B-D-F) chord has tension in it that can be resolved only by moving back to the C (C-E-G). The tension is a strong dissonance between the G and the F in the chord.

If you don't understand what I mean, just play the two chords--Play C, and it sounds like you can stay on C--Play G and it sounds like you need to go somewhere.

This tension/resolution is a basic element in music. In classical western music(and in western folk music), we resolve it in by moving back to the fundamental (C).

Some composers a long time ago liked working with musical tension in this way, and so almost all of our music is built around it--it isn't the only way you can do it, and other musical traditions do things differently(though they still work with the tension/resolution thing).

That is music theory.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: English Jon
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 08:44 AM

7 of V resolves downwards to 3 of I

Hence, G7 - C, the F in the G7 chord has a strong harmonic pull towards the E in the C chord.

Sounds crap though.

EJ


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 10:03 AM

I'm still planning to post on chord progressions, when I have a long enough block of time to do so--should be soon.

But for now, I'll tie up a few loose ends and address a few questions that have been raised.

I did see a book that used the terminology X minor major seventh chord, written Xmin(maj7). Means the same thing as X minor sharp seventh--Xmin#7.

I don't know if the 11th and 13th chords I talked about earlier lack certain notes because that's the definition of the chord or because the book I was looking at was accomodating the fact that guitars offer a maximum of six different notes. I'm sure there are texts that have the info, for those who are curious. The main point in my mentioning those chords was that they (and 9th chords) are built on 7th chords. Sometimes a plain old 7th chord is a reasonable substitution for a 9th, 11th, or 13th chord. Other times it's not satisfactory--trust your ear.

Now, about that #8 note:

It's significant in terms of an octave (A to A, C to C, Db to Db, etc.)--our word octave stems from the Latin word for eight. "Do-re-mi-etc." back to "do" comprises eight notes.

In 9th, 11th, & 13th chords, you're obviously going to pass 8 on your way to those numbers, so you've got to have a #8 note.

BUT--in terms of major, minor, seventh, suspended, diminished, etc. chords, it's just a repeat of note #1. Another way to look at a C scale is this:

  C  D  E  F  G  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  A  B  C  D  etc.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 etc.

Sometimes you'll see the second course labeled "1a, 2a," etc. and the third course "1b, 2b," etc. This is because they are different notes--that second C is a higher pitch than the first C. But for our purposes, we're concerned about the essential character of its being a C, rather than a D or an E.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that a typical guitar F chord has the notes F, C, F, A, C, F. The important thing is that the F major chord has the notes F, A, & C (notes 1, 3, & 5 of the F scale) and ONLY those notes. Whether it has one, or two, or three F notes (or A notes or C notes) doesn't really matter. It's still an F major chord. You could call the F notes in that chord 1, 8, & 15, which is technically correct, but for our purposes irrelevant. Look at the seven different notes of the scale, look at the definition of the chord in question, and select notes with the correct note name. For most chords, there is no need to count above 7.

Some mention has been made of the fact that there are no notes between B & C or between E & F, while there is a note (black piano key) between A & B, C & D, etc. Well, here's the explanation:

Because.

I'm sure there's a history of music text that explains how and why this came to be, but in terms of practical application, there is no more definitive nor satisfying answer than--because. That's the way it is, it ain't gonna change, we just gotta learn it and deal with it.

Now, about that V or V7 chord:

When a three chord song is said to have the I, IV, & V chords, those numbers are often meant in a general sense. It might have a I, I7, IV, IV7, IVm, V, V7--the point is it has a I-something chord, a IV-something chord, and a V-something chord.

In a great many songs found in folk, Irish, bluegrass, country, etc. music, it really doesn't matter much whether it's a V or a V7. I notice that bluegrassers hardly ever use seventh chords, whereas folksingers use them a fair amount. You can even find that one book use the V chord in a given song where the next book uses a V7. So often, either one is fine, and it comes down to personal preference.

Sometimes, using the seventh chord is significant. Play I--I7--IV (in C, C--C7--F), and you'll see that it's just not the same as playing I--I--IV. And in blues, often the IV7 is used instead of IV, and sometimes even I7 instead of I. Other blues patterns use V7 in the main phrasing, but use a V as a turnaround between verses. These uses of seventh vs. major chords are part of the character we associate with blues music, so it can matter which one we use.

These distinctions tend to become easier to pick up with experience.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: English Jon
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 10:25 AM

...that's because I to IV is the same relationship as V-I.

Hence I (in C is CEG) + 7 =CEGBb, the Bb wants to resolve to the 3 (A) in IV (FAC)

Or:

I (in G is GBD) + 7 =GBDF, the F wants to resolve to the 3 (E) in IV (CEG)

Cycle of fifths again.

It still sounds crap

EJ


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 12:17 PM

If you are looking up these things, trying to interpret them, and then passing them on, Gary, I think you have to be very careful not to overstep what you understand--You have made some good points, but you have also said a number of things that, if not exactly wrong, are not exactly right either--

There is a difference between situations that use a V chord, and situations where a V7 chord is used--often, the V is followed by a V7--Any song whose melody falls within a diatonic major scale(The C scale, for instance) is a three chord song, because an accompaniment can always be written using only three chords--the I,IV, and V. the IV7 and IVm technically take you into another key--Not that you can't use these things alternately as a matter of taste, but that they have rules and reasons--

For that matter, there *are* notes between E and F and B and C, but the reason that there are half spaces in two places in the scale simply is that if you use all whole steps, you only get six notes to the octave, and no perfect fifth or fourth--

Anyway, and this should extend to everyone, don't speculate on things that you aren't sure of in your explanations, because it only makes things more confusing--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: English Jon
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 12:29 PM

The whole I, IV, V is slightly bogus anyway.

I, II, V is more reasonable, as II is V of V, hence perpetuating the tonic/dominant relationship.

(Note that II is the equivalent minor of IV)

Instant calypso...

EJ


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 01:49 PM

M.Ted, more confusing is quite the opposite of my intent, so thanks for the alert.

I'm trying to keep things in the realm of what I believe the average person can find practical application for, which I think was Rick's intent. As you may have figured, I really don't know music theory, which you and some others apparently do know rather well. But I do have a working knowledge of some basic conventions and definitions "on paper" (hence loosely referred to as theory) that have helped me do things with my instrument. I hope sharing what I know will likewise be helpful to others.

In the matter of using a V chord vs. a V7 chord, I don't doubt that there are technical and theoretical considerations that apply in many instances, and I imagine composers give it careful thought. My approach was related to my experience in jams and song circles with other amateur musicians, where the basic I-IV-V song is sometimes done with a V, sometimes with a V7, and more often than not with no obvious or compelling difference between the two. I often feel that one is preferrable to the other when I listen closely, but the songs seem to flow as well either way, so I don't see it as a significant point in those circumstances. I was not attempting to actually say why a V7 might be called for rather than a V, and I apologize if I muddied up that issure.

I am aware that there are an infinite number of possible notes between B and C, but I was referring to there not being a piano key or a guitar fret that produces such notes.

So there's my rationale. I don't hold to be an expert. I'm trying to keep things fairly simple in the hopes others can get their heads around the basics. I certainly don't want to give wrong, misleading, or counterproductive information. Feel free to keep me honest.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Night Owl
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 02:01 PM

Thank you Mary and MTed for the SIMPLE explanations!! My ear and heart in the music understands EXACTLY what you said...and it's encouraging to know it's there just because it SOUNDS good and wants to be...(right??) Could you just give a brief definition of what "dissonance" means?? I thought it was the sound I hear when I hit a wrong note and it clashes against a prior note. A negative thing!!

Mary..can we make a "rule" here?? NEVER, never mention the word "Algebra". lol

RE the 8 note which for some reason is a problem here. I had decided that I would just translate it to 8/1 to help absorb some of this info. Gary...are you saying it would be 1b for the high do instead of my 8/1?? If so, works for me!

Rog....I have a box of kleenex in my desk here. I just moved my seat away from the window cause I started watching a squirrel play in a tree. Blow your nose and take my seat there. Anyone remember how to make spitballs??


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 02:10 PM

Night Owl--RE the 8 note which for some reason is a problem here. I had decided that I would just translate it to 8/1 to help absorb some of this info.

Good thinking. That works.

Gary...are you saying it would be 1b for the high do instead of my 8/1??

Actually, if you say 1-7, then 1a-7a, then 1b-7b, the 8/1 would be 1a and the 1b could be 15/1. I hope that's clear.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 02:25 PM

Night Owl

For working purposes, you've got it right. A dissonance is simply two notes that don't sound good together.

When you play two notes together, you will usually hear the two notes and also two other notes - one with a frequency equal to the sum of the original two frequencies and one with a frequency equal to the difference between the original two.

The difference frequency is usually perceived most clearly - and is the "beat" many folk use to tune one string to the other.

If the "beat" frequency doesn't fit with the original two notes - it sounds bad. As an example, an A at 440 Hz and an A# at 466 Hz will produce a beat at 26 Hz - which is fairly strongly perceived, and "it don't sound right." Hence the half-step interval is dissonant.

John


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Night Owl
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 03:07 PM

Thanks for the giggle here Gary!!! What IS clear is that you said "Good thinking. That works". Enough for me..the rest looks tooooooo much like Algebra!!! (I must not chew gum in class...I must not chew gum in class.........I must pay attention in class......I must NOT let my imagination run wild in class...I must NOT play with the squirrels.) bg

btw....just read your apology above. Just because some of the information posted in here is over my head, does NOT invalidate the info itself. I CAN recognize some GOOD info here and will harvest it IF and WHEN I can accept it as English!!! I'm sure there are others reading who DO understand more than I can now. and even the stuff I don't understand is interesting to read - different approaches and corrections. Some of the posts I want to understand NOW......but haven't even done my homework on the guitar yet. ( Anyone got a straw??) Thank you ALL again!!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Night Owl
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 03:33 PM

Thanks Jon......I missed your post while I was typing here. I'm gonna repeat back what you said..HOPEFULLY!

When I'm tuning my guitar,I can hear when the "vibrations" (note) is right on or not (usually..bg) When the string is tuned, there is NO "dissonance" right??


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Night Owl
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 03:39 PM

whoooops sorry...JoHn


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 04:34 PM

Mow Night Owl, algebra isn't a dirty word. A really dirty word is trigonometry or...calculus!

I have a theory that nearly any discipline can be understood on some level once the vocabulary is familiar. The concepts in algebra or chemistry or polymers or music are really simple...it's just the vocabulary that inhibits our thinking. And if you're intellectually curious (and patient) the vocabulary becomes familiar with time.

Knowing a little jargon certainly doesn't subsitute for real understanding, but it's up to you to realize your limitations. Now about those spitballs...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST,Joan
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 08:44 PM

What a good thread!!

Great to see theory laid out so clearly with explanations of why we play what we play. I'd taught guitar (with theory in small, easy-to-swallow doses) for years. It took me a while to understand about the different learning styles of the people who came for lessons: the kinesthetic and global learners who must feel the chord shapes with their fingers, do the right hand picking, and listen to the sounds they make. Then there are those who do best with methodical step-by-step instruction and charts, who only THEN can go on to play.

Vive la difference!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 01:57 AM

Before we move on to chord progressions, let's review (oh, what fun!).

We know that our music (music of Western civilization, as opposed to say, much Oriental music) is based on certain tones which, by definition, comprise the notes of the chromatic scale.

From those notes, certain groups can be selected by a set formula to form major scales.

From the notes of a given major scale (and other notes defined in relation to that scale--for example, the flatted 3rd note used in a minor chord), we can form various chords, each of which has its own formula or definition.

Okay, so now we got all these chords, what do we do with them? Lay down the framework for songs and tunes.

In discussing chords, we can save a lot of effort by using a number system that applies to any key, rather than talking about each of the twelve possible keys individually. We numbered the major scale with Arabic numerals to talk about the notes used to form chords. Now we'll number it with Roman numerals to talk about chords themselves.

Let's look at our good friend, the C major scale.

C D E F G A B C

The notes of this scale can be numbered thus:

  C  D  E  F  G  A  B  C
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 (or 8, if continuing)

If I mention 1, 3, 5, it means those NOTES, which can form a chord.

Now we're going to number it this way:

  C   D   E   F   G   A   B   C
I II III IV V VI VII I (no need to ever go above VII)

Now, if I were to mention I, III, and V, it would mean a C chord, an E chord, and a G chord. We know that each of those chords is made up of several notes taken from the C, E, and G scales, respectively, but we're not talking about those notes. We're referring to the chords themselves.

Now "3" and "III" are both forms of "three", and obviously based on the fact that E is the third note of scale here. But other than that, the "3" and the "III" have nothing to do with each other. One's a note, the other's a chord. Apples, oranges. When I talk about chords as units, rather than about the notes used to construct chords, I use Roman numerals. When I use Roman numerals, I'm talking about chords.

A jillion songs use the I, IV, & V (or V7) chords. On Top of Old Smokey, Amazing Grace, Oh Suzannah, etc., etc. etc. In folk, bluegrass, and country music, it's by far the most common grouping of chords. These songs are the "three chorders."

A lesser number use I & IV (Wild Mountain Thyme), or I & V(7) (Short'nin Bread).

There are lots of typical chord groupings that are used in a great number of songs. Some of these are:

I-VIm-IV-V(7)--classic "doo wop" progression--Silhouettes, Santa Catalina

I-IIm-V7--Don't It Make You Want To Go Home

I-VI7-II7-V7--classic ragtime--Salty Dog

I-VIIb--Old Joe Clark, Little Maggie

That's just a tiny sample. There are booklets available that listen many common chord progression.

So why talk about, say, I, IV, & V? You can't play a "IV" on an instrument--you can play a C chord, or a D chord, or an A chord, but what's a IV chord?

Talking about these numbers helps you see patterns. Grasping patterns helps to make sense out of things.

Say you usually play a song in the key of C, and the chords are C, F, & G. Someone says they're going to play that song now, in the key of G. What are the chords to play along in G?

In the key of C, C is the I chord, F is the IV chord, and G is the V chord. The G scale is:

  G   A   B   C   D   E   F#   G
I II III IV V VI VII I

The I chord is G, the IV chord is C, the V chord is D. So this song uses the chords G, C, & D.

Any song can be played in any chosen key. If it uses I, IV, & V in one key, it will use I, IV, & V in every other key, and in the same respective places in the song. You can transpose it to any desired key so long as you know the scales of the "from" key and the "to" key.

Say you have a book that shows chords for a certain song, as follows:

Eb, Gm, Cm, Bb, Ab, Bb, Eb

This is almost certainly in the key of Eb (the I chord is the first chord in a song more than half the time, and the last chord more than 95% of the time). Suppose your vocal range, or the fact that you play guitar, or the fact that you have an autoharp without half of those chords, dictates that you do it in the key of C or G. Just look at the scales:

  I   II  III IV  V   VI  VII I
Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb
C D E F G A B C
G A B C D E F# G

The sequence is I, IIIm, VIm, V, IV, V, I.
In Eb, that's...Eb, Gm, Cm, Bb, Ab, Bb, Eb.
In C, that's....C, Em, Am, G, F, G, C.
In G, that's....G, Bm, Em, D, C, D, G.

You can also transpose a song's chords by moving EVERY chord up (or down--but not both) the SAME number of half steps. To go from Eb to C, everything would go down three half steps. To go from Eb to g, everything would up four half steps. You don't need to know the keys involved to do this, but knowing them could help ensure you get into the right key with one attempt.

This may sound tedious, but I suggest charting out a number of songs you currently do and identifying the chord sequence with Roman numerals. Do it with songs in various keys. I'll bet you start to see some patterns in terms of the chords used (not necessarily the exact order of the chords, but the selection of chords in the piece). Keep an eye out for these patterns, especially in songs you run across in oddball keys. When various patterns start becoming second nature, things tend to get a lot easier to understand and work with.

Here's a chart of chords commonly found in songs and tunes, along with the actual chords in the keys of C and A. These are in roughly estimated order of frequency of use in popular styles of music:

  I IV V V7 I7 VIm IIm IIIm II7 VI7 III7 IVm VIIb IIIb VIb
C F G G7 C7 Am Dm Em D7 A7 E7 Fm Bb Eb Ab
A D E E7 A7 F#m Bm C#m B7 F#7 C#7 Dm G C F

Sometimes if I'm trying to work out a song's chords by ear, and the more common choices don't fit, going through a chart like this helps me find the right chord.

Next--tying it all together with the cycle of fifths.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Night Owl
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 02:50 AM

yes, Mary??? You remember how to make them?? bg

I'm so focused on trying to learn here, it didn't occur to me, until after reading Joan's post, that teachers may need help to teach. This hopefully will be brief and helpful.

I learned to play guitar in college by watching, listening and playing with other people. I learned AFTER I heard the music, felt it and fell in love with it.

My brother was learning to play guitar at the same time, by taking "Music Theory" classes at MIT in Cambridge. He was "labeled" early in life as having a "genius" IQ, received scholarships to MIT, got his degree as an Electrical Engineer and later became staff in the computor labs there.

We were both new to the music and played our guitars together during holiday visits and school breaks. I came home one year with a 12 string guitar and had JUST learned to play "San Francisco Bay Blues" on it....excited about how the bass runs I was doing in the song SOUNDED. He stopped me and asked "why" I did something.(still no clue what) and had me slow the song down. He then informed me that I had added something in the beginning of the song, and "theoretically" it made no sense. He taped my playing and back we went to our respective schools.

About a week later, I received a phone call from him, telling me that he had figured out how I "got away" with what I was doing. Evidently, later in the song I omitted something to make up for what I had stuck into it at the beginning...so I ended in the right place.

It took him years to FEEL the "heart" in the music.

This is already wayyy to long a post for this thread, but I found it sad to think learning to play music for him was another Mathematical challenge that required solving. But that was HIS truth and the way he learned..mathematically and theoretically, pages of equations, paper etc. My truth, I think, is that I need to hear it, and see it...and this little Casio keyboard I have here is helping a LOT to understand a bit of the stuff in this thread.

Apologies for being long-winded...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 11:45 AM

Night Owl

Re the tuning thing: yes - when it's in tune it sounds better.

The "dissonance" is a characteristic of the sound. What makes it "dissonant" is the presence of a "beat" between two notes that is in an "unfriendly" frequency range.
If you fret one string to the same "note" as the adjacent open string and play them together, you hear an additional note - the difference between the two you played - that shouldn't be there. You can exagerate this by "mistuning" them a little, just to see if you can recognize the "beat frequency."

When you are in tune, the difference frequency is zero - and the "bad noise" goes away.

The whole of our "Scale Systems" is actually based on using only those "notes" that don't produce noticeable "beats" when played together. But that's Physics, and we probably don't want to talk about that here yet.

John


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST,Les B
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 04:07 PM

Sorry, my computer has a mind of its own today!!

What I started to type was; Is there any way - using a guitar & a series of chords, perhaps - to identify the different kinds of learners ?? Those who have to hear, or be told first, or feel it under their fingers ?

It seems like there would be a simple little musical exercise that would sort this out, and then you'd know which approach to take. (of course there's probably a "paper & pencil" test that does this easily!)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 05:39 PM

Les, this is a VAST oversimplification, but I used it with piano students and could identify extreme cases of right/left brain thinkers.

THE TEST: Ask the student to count how many letters in the alphabet that rhyme with E. Then ask them to count how many letters that have a curved portion in the printed capital letter. There is no right or wrong answer, just ask them which process is easier. Left brain people like the rhyming better, right brain people like visualizing the letters better.

As far as your question, I think if the student is aware of differences in ease of learning, they can identify what helps them most.

IN TEACHING: Left brain people read well and are sequential in their thinking. (like my husband, disgustingly logical, one track mind!) They can learn from explanations and sheet music. They often need more help with flow, timing, expression; feeling the music.

Right brain people are more wholistic and what I call divergent (in computer jargon, random access) thinkers. They can multitask. They often learn better by feeling the chord shapes and imitating what they hear. Sometimes they are poor readers. They can transpose just by moving the pattern or shape of the notes to another place on the keyboard or fret. They often understand a melody as chord chunks played one note at a time.

I like to first learn (and teach) using the preferred or dominant learning style. Then later reinforce or strengthen weaknesses with familiar material.

Remember, this is a VAST oversimplification. Most of us are pretty much balanced in our right/left brain preferences. Then there are other types of learning styles: kinesthetic, aural, visual, etc. A good teacher uses all the tricks. As a student, I like Socrates' advice: KNOW THYSELF


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Big Mick
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 11:22 PM

One of the very best threads yet. I am devouring all of the wonderful information that you are all providing. Keep it coming!!

Way to go, Rick. I want you to give yourself a 100% increase in your salary from Fielding, Patterson, Swan and Lane, Layabouts at Large and For Hire.

All the best,

Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: marty D
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 11:30 PM

Gary T. Thank you. Your chart puts a lot of this all together. I've never been SCARED of theory Rick, but I sure was bored by it. I think I'm picking up some good things here.

Another reason to be glad for Mudcat.

marty


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Night Owl
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 12:59 AM

Mary.."wholistic"???? "balanced"???? awwwww shucks ma'am.....thank you......I put the straws back in my desk. (Trying to keep a POSITIVE attitude here).

John-I want to make sure I understand this terminology. In your last post (THANKS btw) and only in THIS context, does "beat" equal "vibration"?? When I'm tuning, I hear the string dancing around the one I'm tuning to. I raise or lower the string until it stops "dancing". (Not sure if I've ever heard a third note in there.) Soooo, for THIS conversation do........dancing; vibration; beat; beat frequency.....all mean the same thing??

I also just noticed a neat thing you did Gary.....you put more advanced info in parentheses. If I ignore what's in the parentheses, I can grasp what you said. People with more knowledge can INCLUDE the info...pretty coool!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 06:22 AM

Night Owl

If we assume we're talking about "musical" noises, each "tone" (or note, or pitch) has (or is) a vibration at a particular frequency.

Any time that two "tones" mix together, you actually hear four pitches - or frequencies.

When you pluck a guitar string, you're actually making a "kink" in the string. When you turn it loose, that kink travels along the string, until it hits the bridge or the nut, where it is reflected, turns around, and runs back the other way on the string.

When the "kink" hits the bridge, it shakes it, and some of the "noise" gets out of the string and into the air - so you hear it.

If you pluck two strings at the same time, the "kinks" in the two strings may hit the bridge at the same time on one trip, but at different times on the next.

If the strings are tuned alike - to the same frequency - the kinks in the two strings stay the same distance apart as they travel back and forth, so they make the same "noise" everytime they get to the bridge.

If their tuned to different notes, they may arrive together one time and "add" to each other, or they may "arrive" going opposite directions, and cancel each other out.

Probably by coincidence - the frequency with which they go through the "add - subtract - back to add" cycle is the difference between the frequencies of the two strings.

Example: If one string is at A, 440 Hz, or 440 cycles per second, and the other is at A#, 466 Hz, or 460 cycles per second, 466 - 440 - 26 Hz. They will arrive at the bridge together 26 times per second, and you will "hear" each time this happens. Thus there is a "tone" at 26 Hz.

Probably because this tone is caused by the interference of one string's frequency whipping against the other against the other string's frequency, it's commonly called a "beat."

Since 26 Hz is also about 4 octaves down from the "notes" we usually play, it may be hard to recognize as a "tone," and you may hear it just as a "modulation" of the loudness of the other two original notes. It sounds like the notes "throb" - kinda like a heartbeat.

If you tune one of the strings so that they come closer together in pitch, the difference between the frequencies of the two strings decreases - so the "beat" note gets lower in pitch, or the perception that the note is "throbbing" decreases. When the two strings are tuned exactly the same, the "beat" frequency is zero - and a zero frequency don't make no noise.

The fourth note you hear (theoretically) happens because the bridge gets a shake whenever either of the strings slaps it. This happens once for each cycle of either string, so the "frequency" at which the bridge actually gets hit with something is the sum of the two string frequencies. In the example, 440 + 466 = 906 Hz. This "note" is up in the area where the "harmonics" of the original notes make things cluttered enough that it is very difficult for most people to "hear" the "upper beat" tone, although the "feeling that there's something there" can be used by most of us to adjust things until it sounds "better." That's called "tuning."

John


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 12:14 PM

To the folks who did (and can do) "charts". I envy you! You can put in one picture, what I need a thousand (often confusing) words to describe. I use LOTS of charts in real life!

Cheers

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 01:55 PM

1-3-5 designates the spelling of a major chord. I-IV-V is a chordal progression.

There is a difference between spelling an individual chord (ie: spelling an individual word) and fitting a chord into a chord progress (ie: fitting a word into a sentence).

It's important to keep these two functions separate.

1-3-5 are taken from the first, third and fifth note of a major scale.

I-IV-V are taken from triads (three note chords) built on each note of a major scale.

In a pure major scale (no alterations of the notes) the I chord will be a major chord. The IV chord will be a major chord. the V chord will be a major chord. The rest will all be minor chords or in the case of the chord built on the seventh note, that's a diminished chord. I-IV-V (major chords and traditionally used more than the others which are called "secondary chords". (Simplified general statement with lots of exceptions particularly in the world of jazz).

This being said, the best way to learn theory is to be able to hear it first. The best way to learn scales in every key is to be able to sing them. That's why every music theory course in school is taught with another along with it called ear training.

If you try to separate music theory from hearing it, it's bound to drive most people nuts. When I have taught it, I always insisted that the student was able to sing the chord, sing the scale, then find them on the instrument. It doesn't matter if you have a great voice or not but the best musicians regardless can sing what they play or write.

Best approach, take a musicianship course with a good teacher or enroll at a local community college.

Frank


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: M.Ted
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 01:55 PM

To paraphrase someone, "I can't define dissonance, but I know it when I hear it"

Generally, when the term "dissonance" is used, it refers to any interval that is not part of a major/minor triad, or its inversions. The triad is based on the interval of either major or minor thirds, so seconds and sevenths would be "dissonant".

The problem, of course, is that there are dissonant sounding intervals within the diatonic triads--for instance, the interval between E and C, which is an augmented fifth--

Of course, this even ignores the fact that in some kinds of music, most notably Balkan music, the major second is a widely used harmony, and often, a melody will end on this interval.

In 20th Century Music, the term "dissonant" often refers to any music system(like Shoenberg's 12-tone system) that doesn't use major/minor triads as a basis.

Anyway, you don't really need the word, particular if you play folk music, so, "Fergedaboutit"--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Marion
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 07:04 PM

Gary wrote: " When referring to NOTES, use Arabic numerals--thus 1, 3, & 5 are the notes of a major (or tonic) chord. When referring to CHORDS, use Roman numerals--thus I, IV, & V are the chords in a typical three-chord song."

The spoken equivalent to this convention is to use ordinal numbers for notes or intervals, and cardinal numbers for chords. That is, in the key of C you would say that C major chord is the "one", F major is the "four", and G major is the "five"; whereas if you're talking about the chord C major then the C note is the "first" (or tonic), the E note is the "third", and the G note is the "fifth".

I also want to reiterate what Gary said about transposing: "You can also transpose a song's chords by moving EVERY chord up (or down--but not both) the SAME number of half steps. To go from Eb to C, everything would go down three half steps. To go from Eb to g, everything would up four half steps."

This is really simple, but it changed my life the day I realized I could transpose chord progressions just by moving everything up or down a certain number of semitones, just like I had learned to transpose melodies in my childhood piano days. This is really useful if you're too cool to use a capo or if you want to lower somehing slightly (i.e., to go from E to D you'd have to capo ten frets). It can also help you avoid chords that you don't like.

Marion

PS to Rick re: "The most irritating player in the world to me is the one who can play flashy complex leads, and still can't keep a solid rhythm."

You'd better not have still been thinking about me when you wrote this! I wasn't dropping a beat, you were adding one.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Dec 01 - 12:29 PM

Just wanted to thank you all for the info here. I've been straight out with work etc. and haven't had time to sloooowly read. It's good to see OTHER students have an incomplete in Prof. Fielding's "starter" homework assignment on the guitar. Maybe today.....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST,Night Owl
Date: 08 Dec 01 - 12:30 PM

whooops above post was mine......I MISS Loki!!!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 08 Dec 01 - 04:44 PM

To compound the problem (this is why it's dangerous to talk about music without playing it) in Nashville recording studios they use arabic numerals to refer to chord positions rather than roman numerals.

Frank


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: katlaughing
Date: 08 Dec 01 - 05:11 PM

I think I am on a "need to know" basis...read it all, played and sang all of my life and I still don't feel I need to know the whys and wherefores. HOWEVER, it IS fascinating and I HOPE, RICK, that you will go on with another progression to a new thread, as this one if getting rather long.**BG**

Thanks everyone!

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Bert
Date: 09 Dec 01 - 02:13 PM

Rick, What was that thread you started about practicing with open tunings?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mark Clark
Date: 11 Dec 01 - 12:13 PM

I realize this thread has an official continuation at “Your best musical advice in one post!,” but the new thread really has a different subject and I have a theory question that really doesn't fit in the continuation thread.

Why is the spelling of F#dim7 listed as F# A C Eb? I would have thought it should be F# A C D# because key signatures seem to contain either all sharps or all flats.

Of course a key called F# would have to have six sharps including E# (F) and a key called Gb would have to have six flats including Cb (B). Can there be major keys by those names?

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 11 Dec 01 - 01:53 PM

Mark, you're probably technically right about the notes in F#dim. Possibly people write it the other way because in general, Eb gets mentioned a lot more often than D# does, and just springs to mind sooner.

I addressed your second question in a post above, as follows:

The key of F#/Gb is a bit trickier than the others. If you call it F#:

F#--G#--A#-B--C#--D#--F-F# or F#--G#--A#-B--C#--D#--E#(=F)--F#

You either have to use "F" twice and not use "E" or use E# to indicate F.

If you call it Gb:

Gb--Ab--Bb-B--Db--Eb--F-Gb or Gb--Ab--Bb-Cb(=B)--Db--Eb--F--Gb

You either use "B" twice and not use "C" or use Cb to indicate B.

I would say the second choice in each of the above is more technically correct, as the key signature will have either six sharps (F#) or six flats (Gb).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 01 - 01:57 PM

Chords are defined by frequency ratios in a just intonation scale, and with a 12 tone equal tempered scale they don't always work out well. The 12TET approximation seems to be nowhere worse than for a diminished 7th where the ideal ratio is 1.20 between the notes. F# A C Eb is correct (366.67, 440, 2*264, 2*316.8 in just intonation)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 01:30 PM

The answer to Mark Clark's questions are 1) Whoever listed the F#dim7 as F#A#C Eb made a mistake, the note is an E not an Eb, so the chord would be F#A#C E--Eb(D# is the 6th of F#, and if you played a chord with that note in it, it would not be aF#dim7--and the note *would* be written as D#--so there is no problem here-

2)Yes, you can write in either the key F# or Gb--E# and Cb are OK to use, when you need to use them.The fact that are enharmonic with F and B doesn't make any difference--When you write in the F#, there are six sharps noted in the staff, which means that every note (except B)is played a half step higher than it would be in the C scale.

It isn't merely possible to write in F#, Irving Berlin wrote everything in the key of F#, leaving the transposition to others--given the quality of his work, it might be one of the best keys to write in--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 03:07 PM

I just spent some time looking at some chord resources on the internet (enter "diminished chord" into the box at Google).

One source showed a diminished chord to have three notes: 1, 3b, & 5b. However, others mentioned that a dimished 7th chord, which has four notes, can be written as Xdim, Xdim7, or X(little circle that I don't have on my keyboard). Mark's question, and my answer above, are both referring to the diminished 7th chord, even though he wrote F#dim7 and I wrote F#dim.

M.Ted's response above seems to be talking about an F#7 with a flatted 5th--F#7b5?

Now to the meat of Mark's question about naming the notes in F#dim:

The definition I saw for a dimished 7th chord is: 1, 3b, 5b, 7bb (that's note 7 double flatted). Even though note 7bb is the same as note 6 (in the F# major scale, D#), when we're talking about the dim chord the reference for this note is based on note 7 (in the F# major scale, E#), so it would be logical to use its name. Hence, F#-A-C-Eb is consistent with the theoretical derivation of the chord.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 03:32 PM

M.Ted, Thanks for your input, maybe one of these days I'll have it all straight.

Still, I think I need further explanation of your spelling for F#° (F#dim7). I have understood diminished seventh chords to be spelled as tonic, flatted third, flatted fifth, flatted flatted [sic] seventh. One notable characteristic of the dim7 chord is that each note in the chord is a minor third from the note above and below it and, since that is true, a diminished seventh chord may be named for any one of the four notes it contains. For this reason, any given closed fingering for a diminished seventh chord played one fret higher, and then one more fret higher, will have produced some inversion of all possible diminished seventh chords.

Since E is the dominant seventh note of the F# scale, it must be flatted (diminished) for use in the F#° chord. To quote Lee Evans and Martha Baker in their book “How to Play Chord Symbols in Jazz and Popular Music,”

A diminished chord is a chord built in minor 3rds from the root up, and appears in the leadsheets as any of the following chord symbols: C°, C°7, Cdim, Cdim7.

A diminished chord occurs most frequently in jazz and popular music as a four-note chord, as shown above, regardless of whether the symbol says or 7. The 7th of the chord is a diminished 7th but is sometimes spelled as a major 6th. Enharmonic spellings are frequently used in jazz to facilitate reading, as seen in the following...

They go on to explain the harmonic spelling of C° as C Eb Gb Bbb. In “The Musician's Guide To Harmony And Theory” by Leon White the author states:

When a MINOR interval is reduced one half step, the new resulting interval is also known as “DIMINISHED.” A to C is a Minor third. A to Cb is a Diminished third.

Since the interval from the perfect fifth to the dominant seventh is a minor third, I think that again argues for the diminished seventh being Eb in the F# scale. Mr. White also spells Cdim7 as C Eb Gb Bbb adding as a footnote, “This is a special chord with a double flatted 7th note: flatted two times, from B to Bb, and then from Bb to A.”

I'll be very interested in the explanation supporting the use of E in the F#° chord.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 04:05 PM

Gary T, you can make the little circle (°) by holding down the Alt key while typing 0176 on your numeric keypad. Another method is to click Start/Run, enter "charmap" and click OK. This will give you a lot of characters that aren't on the standard keyboard. If you click on the little circle (4 rows down directly under the zero) and look in the lower right-hand corner of the dialog box, you'll see the keyboard sequence that produces the character. You can also just copy the character and paste it into your text.

I must have been preparing my response while you were posting yours. I think the chord M.Ted was describing might properly be called F#-7(b5) or F sharp minor seventh flat five. Don't forget that he included the flatted third. Otherwise, as you can see, my analysis is similar to yours.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Gary T
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 04:36 PM

Mark, thanks for the tip on the circle and other characters. That's good stuff to know.

I don't see a flatted third in M.Ted's post. I see A# twice, even when referring to the notes you posted. It may be a typo, but neither A# nor E are found in the chord you asked about. Without the flatted third, I wouldn't use the word "minor" in naming the chord. F sharp seventh flat five would make sense to me ("seventh" being understood to mean the flatted seventh note of the scale, as opposed to "major seventh" meaning the seventh note).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 05:25 PM

First, I was writing about a different chord, F#A C E, which logically would be the F# dim7-and then I wrote an A# where I meant A- mistake again--didn't mean to confuse--

As per the definitions above, even though a diminished chord features notes that are a minor third apart, because of the funny way that the note names in the scale are set up, it is not possible to spell them so that the notes reflect that--you have to squeeze the extra half step out somewhere, and that would vary, depending on which chord and which key you were using--

In F#, you would probably write it as F# A C D#, which is to say, your sharps are in the key signature, so you'd put natural signs next to the A and the C--in F, with one flat in the key signature, you'd put a accidental sharp next to the F and an accidental flat next to the E--

One thing to remember is that that in a major scale, the diminished triad does occur naturally, extending from the 7th step (B D F) but the four note diminshed chord(B D F Ab) has to be constructed with an out of scale note, written as an accidental--

This means that, in many cases where a diminished chord is used, the accompaniment actually passes into another key, and the notation has to reflect that-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 09:07 PM

M.Ted, Yeah, I thought the A# looked like a typo. Someday when I've gone a year or two (or maybe even a day) without a typo, I'll start worrying about other people's typos. What is the quotation about getting the log out of my own eye before trying to remove the mote from someone else's. <g>

But I still have a question. You wrote:

First, I was writing about a different chord, F#A C E, which logically would be the F# dim7...

See, that's where I don't understand what you're trying to teach me. It seems clear to me—supported by two different authors—that the F#° chord must be spelled F# A C (Eb or D#). If I understand Evans and Baker (quoted above) correctly, naming the note D# is the enharmonic spelling sometimes used for clarity instead of the more conventional Eb. In either case, the named note must be a minor third above C or a diminished third above C#, the perfect fifth above F#.

F# A C E must properly be called F#-7(b5) as follows. A is the minor third of F# making it a minor chord, E is the dominant seventh of F# making it an F#-7 (minor seventh) and since C# is the perfect fifth of F#, C must be the flatted fifth, ergo F#-7(b5).

But then you wrote:

In F#, you would probably write it as F# A C D#, which is to say, your sharps are in the key signature, so you'd put natural signs next to the A and the C--in F, with one flat in the key signature, you'd put a accidental sharp next to the F and an accidental flat next to the E--

which exactly agrees with my enharmonic spelling for F#° and places each note a minor third above its predecessor.

I understand about the diminished triad occurring naturally in music without the diminished 7th. It's only by the convention of jazz and popular music that a diminished chord on a leadsheet is always assumed to refer to a diminished 7th. What I don't understand is a diminished 7th chord spelled with the diminished 7th note raised a half step to the dominant or minor 7th.

Where has my understanding gone awry?

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 02:20 PM

Oh, my head is spinning--Why are we talking about this using an F#dim--it makes it very hard to figure out examples!

First, note that F#-7b5 is a different chord than the Fdim(sorry, but everytime I try to hit the degree sign, it starts AOL Instant Messenger) One has an E, the other is a half step lower--

Second--the use of enharmonic note names is determined by the key that you are in(names of chords, too)--When you are in Ab for instance, the note is called Eb, but in the key of E, it is D#-in the naming of notes, it makes a difference whether the note is in the scale or not--you wouldn't call an D# an Eb in the key of E--

A couple things to keep in mind--at least as far as Leon White is concerned, his concern is that you understand what is expected when certain chord symbols appear in music, and what they indicate--on occasion, the symbols are not precisely right, for one reason or another--For instance, many times you will see a C-Edim-Dminor progression, when what is really wanted is C-C#dim-D minor, a small point, perhaps, but important to say, the person playing the bass line, whose part moves up from C by half steps--

Again, the rule is that the naming of notes and chords is based on the key signature, and it's related keys, so our F#-7b5 may be called an Am6 in another key, and those damned full diminished chords can each have, well, at least eight names each(A guess, I haven't time to figure it out right now)--

The critical thing to understand is that the chords changes really highlight motion in the melody, and the same chord, in a different key, provides a different kind of motion. A move from, say, G to F#dim is a completely different effect than from F to F#dim, and F# to F#dim is different again--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: Mark Clark
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 07:32 PM

I didn't mean to cause any damage. <g> The reason I was asking specifically about F#°7 was because of a post of mine in the most recent “As Time Goes By” thread. I constructed a diagram for F#°7 using the Online Guitar Chord Dictionary and the diagram it returns isn't a valid diagram. While trying to figure out why—I finally decided it was an arbitrary omission—I realized that they always seem to spell F#°7 as F# A C Eb and was simply curious as to the choice of names for the note I was calling D#.

A side benefit of the discussion, though, has been a thorough airing of the theory surrounding diminished seventh chords and the naming of notes in odd scales such as F# and Gb.

I think the discussion has been very helpful. Thanks to everyone who added to it and to Rick for starting this thread—although he had no intention of inviting such a discussion as this. <g>

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 01:56 PM

1, 3b, 5b, 7bb is correct for a diminished 7th. But 7bb isn't really close to a note in a 12 tone equal tmperament scale. Either (24/25) squared (double flat) times 15/8 (the 7th of the just intonation scale), or 6/5 cubed times the chord base frequency gives 1.728 times the chord base frequency for the last of the 4 notes of the diminished 7th chord.

In the 12 TET scale one has the 6th at 1.681792 times the chord base frequency, and 6#/7b at 1.781797 time the chord base frequency. The ideal note (1.728) is slightly closer to the 6th than the 6#/7b of the 12 TET scale, but neither choice is very good.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Dec 01 - 02:28 PM

GUEST,

Interesting as they are,these points step out way beyond the scope of the discussion here, since the method for deriving the value pitch really has nothing to do its place in the chord(though it certainly has a lot to do with its sound in the chord)--

The point that you make, at least by inference, is a good one, though, and that is that that last note in a four note diminished chord does muddy the sound siginificantly--in my playing, as mentioned above, I tend to use what, on reflection is probably best called a -7b5 in place of a diminished chord, and for chord melody arrangements, would use a diminished triad--

Thirds, major and minor, are ambiguous intervals, and a chord that is nothing but minor thirds is going to be a bit dodgy, in the best of circumstances--and on top of that, the flatted fifth is probably the least reliable note in the whole 12 TET scale--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit!
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 12:54 AM

I dropped out of this one early on. Juts have revisited it after talking to someone else. I want to say

THANK YOU TO JON W!! I finally got it, after re-reading your explanation!!*BG*

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 9 December 7:06 PM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.