Ornery.org
  Front Page   |   About Ornery.org   |   World Watch   |   Guest Essays   |   Contact Us

The Ornery American Forum Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» The Ornery American Forum » Ornery U » Ornery U: Music Theory

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Ornery U: Music Theory
JoshuaD
Member
Member # 1420

 - posted      Profile for JoshuaD   Email JoshuaD   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'd be glad to explain anything about music theory. I'm not going to start off with a long essay; I wouldn't be quite sure where to start. If you have any questions about anything to do with music and/or music theory I'd be glad to field them.

My knowledge is founded on the piano and then extended to whichever instrument I wish to play. When studying theory, as opposed to technique, I don't believe there is a better medium than the piano.

I'm trained in classical and self-trained in all sorts of modern, from jazz to blues to whatever music I enjoy listening to. Music theory is incredibly helpful in understanding them all.

Posts: 3742 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Daruma28
Member
Member # 1388

 - posted      Profile for Daruma28   Email Daruma28   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Josh, I'm an intuitive musician...don't read music, but have been playing and singing my entire life. I play drums, bass, guitar, 'ukulele, mandolin...but mostly the guitar. I learn from watching and listening other people, as well as I used to use guitar tablature alot. (When I was 15, I wanted to play Metallica, so I bought all their tab books)

I've been working on the blues lately, and while I have an inkling of understanding of the Circle of 5ths in chord progressions, could you please attempt to break it down into easy to understand, layman's terms for a non-music reader?

Posts: 7543 | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JoshuaD
Member
Member # 1420

 - posted      Profile for JoshuaD   Email JoshuaD   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hrmm. I'm not quite sure how you want me to answer that question. Are you trying to gain theoretical understanding? Or do you have some practical goal in mind?
Posts: 3742 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kenmeer livermaile
Member
Member # 2243

 - posted      Profile for kenmeer livermaile   Email kenmeer livermaile       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
D: start on E, go to B, then go to F#, then go to C#, then G#, then D#, then A#, then F, then C, then G, then D, then A, then E.

You've come back home, and the whole time you've been able to switch keys in a harmonically 'fitting' manner. From there, play around with it. See what happens when you move a third interval harmony up a fifth and this time play a fourth interval.


Behold

Music is sonic geometry.

Try playing a C major scale then follow with an A minor scale. Then play them together. Nice little string of thirds. There is no single 'meaning' in the circle of 5ths, just a strikingly simple formula for achieving a very consonant harmony.

What I love about music theory is that it combines strict math a la Pythagorean ratios with, in the finer measurements, seat of the pants fudge factors. ('mean tuning' versus 'well tempered' as in Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavichord)

[ March 01, 2009, 01:29 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

Posts: 23297 | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kenmeer livermaile
Member
Member # 2243

 - posted      Profile for kenmeer livermaile   Email kenmeer livermaile       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Pythagorean comma
Posts: 23297 | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Daruma28
Member
Member # 1388

 - posted      Profile for Daruma28   Email Daruma28   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yes Josh, theoretical understanding please.

Thanks for the input Ken...

Posts: 7543 | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JoshuaD
Member
Member # 1420

 - posted      Profile for JoshuaD   Email JoshuaD   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey Daruma, sorry for the delay.

It's pretty simple. But first I have to touch on a few more basic concepts. We'll start with the Major scale, which is the basis of all western music theory.

There are 12 notes in western music theory. If you play with your guitar you can verify this; each fret on a string is a different note, and when you get to the 12th fret, you're at the same note as the open string, but an octave higher.

Each of these notes has a major scale. The major scale is just a specific combination of 2-fret steps and 1-fret steps. These are also known has whole steps and half steps, respectively.

Start on any note, then move up the string to the next fret indicated:

(Start with the open string)
Move 2 (Now you're on the 2nd fret)
Move 2 (Now you're on the 4th fret)
Move 1 (5th fret)
Move 2 (7th fret)
Move 2 (9th fret)
Move 2 (11th fret)
Move 1 (12th fret)

You've just played the major scale. [Smile] Notice that you've 12 frets - an octave - above where you started. If your fretboard was long enough, you could repeat this pattern and play the same scale an octave higher.

Another, more common, way to write this progression is:

Whole Step
Whole Step
Half Step
Whole Step
Whole Step
Whole Step
Half Step

Now look at this picture of a piano

Each key, both black and white, represent a single fret on your guitar. Do you recognize the pattern? If you start at the lowest key, you're playing the major scale.

Now, depending on which note you start at, you're playing a specific major scale. If you start on the open big string (the E String), you're playing E major. If you start on the 3rd fret of the E String - that is if you start on C - you're playing C major. Each of the 12 keys has a name (in fact, they all have multiple names). The white keys on the piano are A-G, and the black keys are either sharps or flats.

Another small point: Sharp just means "One Fret Higher", and inversely, flat just means "One Fret Lower". So C# just means One Fret Higher than C. Db (D flat) just means One Fret Lower than D. Incidentally, these two names represent the same note. Don't let this confuse you too much, this will make more sense once we look at the circle of 5ths.

Let me know if you have any questions. If not, we'll move on.

[ March 15, 2009, 10:09 PM: Message edited by: JoshuaD ]

Posts: 3742 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Daruma28
Member
Member # 1388

 - posted      Profile for Daruma28   Email Daruma28   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Josh...with you so far - I understand all of that. Continue, please. [Smile]
Posts: 7543 | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JoshuaD
Member
Member # 1420

 - posted      Profile for JoshuaD   Email JoshuaD   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Alright, so the circle of fifths is just a relationship between the major scales starting at each note. Open up this picture and refer to it as you're reading. Disregard everything inside the circle for now, just look at the outside.

Start with C Major. C D E F G A B (C) I showed you in the last post that there are no sharps or flats in this key. Now if we move to the 5th note in the C Major Scale (Use your guitar if necessary) we're at G.

Now figure out the G Major Scale - G A B C D E F# (G). You'll see that it has only one sharp note - F#. (We figured this out by using the pattern we discovered in the first post, Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half).

Now we move up another 5th to D Major - D E F# G A B C# (D). Notice that we picked up another sharp note - C#.

Again let's examine the major scale starting at the 5th note of D Major - A Major. A B C# D E F# G# (A). The same sharps as before, with one more added in.

This pattern continues around the until you get back to C. [Smile] It gets kinda crazy once you pass the G# barrier, because you're going to start double sharping things, but this is why all the notes have multiple names. We tend to refer to the scales on the right side of the circle by their sharp names, and the left side of that circle by their flat name (although we could easily call F major E# major, and have it progress E# F## G## A# B# C## D## E#, but that's not nearly as simple or clear as F G A Bb C D E F).

It's also worth noting that it's the same relative note that changes each time. When we compared G major to C major, we only had to raise the 4th of C major to create G major scale. The same thing occured from G major to D major, and continues to occur all the way around the wheel.

If you go the other way around the circle - now known at the circle of 4ths - you'll have a similar pattern, except you flatten a note each time. Start C:

C D E F G A B (C).

Now start on F:

F G A Bb C D E (F).

Now start on Bb:

Bb C D Eb F G A (Bb).

etc.

Again take note of the pattern: We continiously lower the 4th note of the scale to create th next major scale.

So how is this useful? Say you're jamming with someone and you notice they've played a G# and a G. You can know with some good certainity that if you play a D major scale with them you'll sound find. Why? Because D major is the only basic scale that has a C# and a natural G in it.

Let me know if you have any questions. I can expand on any idea in here if you'd like.

Next up: How chords are formed.

After that: Modes of scales and what they mean to you.

[ April 01, 2009, 04:09 PM: Message edited by: JoshuaD ]

Posts: 3742 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Daruma28
Member
Member # 1388

 - posted      Profile for Daruma28   Email Daruma28   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
So how is this useful? Say you're jamming with someone and you notice they've played a G# and a G. You can know with some good certainity that if you play a D major scale with them you'll sound find. Why? Because D major is the only basic scale that has a C# and a natural G in it.

Thanks Josh...this is exactly why I asked you to explain it to me!

I need to sit down with my guitar to follow along with your lesson here...and I don't have internet at home, so I'll print this and your circle of 5ths diagram up and go home and do some homework with my guitar.

[Smile]

I'll get back to you when I think I've got it down pat.

Thanks again.

Posts: 7543 | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JoshuaD
Member
Member # 1420

 - posted      Profile for JoshuaD   Email JoshuaD   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
[Smile] . I'm glad. It won't usually be as simple as the example I gave above; only one pair of notes per scale will uniquely identify it, but the idea is still strong. If I see a C#, I'm trying F# pretty soon.

Once you get the hang of this let me know. The next lesson's a big one.

Posts: 3742 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JoshuaD
Member
Member # 1420

 - posted      Profile for JoshuaD   Email JoshuaD   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Eww. That line you quoted should read C# and G, not G# and G. I repeat it the right way later, but I mistyped the first time.
Posts: 3742 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
KnightEnder
unregistered


 - posted            Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
How come the piano keys seem to have an extra 13th key/note? I see the 2 and 3 black keys that correspond to the movement on the frets, but why are there 13?

KE

IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kenmeer livermaile
Member
Member # 2243

 - posted      Profile for kenmeer livermaile   Email kenmeer livermaile       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Can you say 'octave'?
Posts: 23297 | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JoshuaD
Member
Member # 1420

 - posted      Profile for JoshuaD   Email JoshuaD   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by KnightEnder:
How come the piano keys seem to have an extra 13th key/note? I see the 2 and 3 black keys that correspond to the movement on the frets, but why are there 13?

KE

There are only 12 unique keys, what you're referring to as the 13th key is really the first key in a repeating pattern. As Kenmeer pointed out, this is called the Octave.

An octave is, for all practical understanding, the "same" note, just higher up. This isn't exactly accurate scientifically, but it's all you need to know to understand music theory.

Posts: 3742 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
scifibum
Member
Member # 945

 - posted      Profile for scifibum   Email scifibum   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Up an octave = double the frequency, right?

The reason it sounds the "same" is a bit mysterious to me but I'm guessing it's related to the fact that the higher octave 'divides' neatly into the lower octave. (Or to put it another way, the soundwave peaks of the lower octave are a regular subset of the soundwave peaks of the higher octave.)

A quick read turns up the hypothesis that we're attuned to octaves because they are often present as overtones in natural sounds like voices. (Which in turn is because an object like a vocal cord that can hold a standing wave can often also hold that wave frequency x2 - simply because the length works out.)

[ April 17, 2009, 03:53 PM: Message edited by: scifibum ]

Posts: 6847 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kenmeer livermaile
Member
Member # 2243

 - posted      Profile for kenmeer livermaile   Email kenmeer livermaile       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"The reason it sounds the "same" is a bit mysterious to me but I'm guessing it's related to the fact that the higher octave 'divides' neatly into the lower octave. (Or to put it another way, the soundwave peaks of the lower octave are a regular subset of the soundwave peaks of the higher octave.)"

Bingo. Identical symmetry, different scale. Like scale models of an object. An object like, say, those Playskool stack-ring toys graded so one can see (or in this case, hear) when one ring is twice as big or half as big as another.

Hmmm... I'm wondering if 'complimentary color' via the 'color circle' invoke something similar with optical perception of light wave frequency.

Incidentally, one of the reason 'blue notes' are 'blue' because they hit a point of -- how shall I say -- 'dissonant harmony'. You can hear that the note fits in with the rest but it does so in a way that tugs at the harmony of the general Pythagorean scheme of precise mathematical ratios on which the basic scale is based.


Transpose a second to rhythm. It's easier to hear how a whole beat symmetrically harmonizes with 1/2 or 1/4 or 1/8 or 16th beat, but play a 1/3 beat against this background and you get that hip-jerking effect we associate with really good Latino-Afro-Caribbean music. Like this:

Habib Koite -- Your Work

The opening hand percussion licks throw 3/3 divisions (essentially triangular) onto 1/2,2/4,4/4 (essentially square) divisions.

That itself is so-so, but when the percussionist hgood (as these guys are) they switch from triangular divisions to square divisions midway through a motif, and THAT kicks one's ass. Takes a lot of practice to do this that way.

Now, when a disciplined genius like Joe Morello does stuff like this in 5/4 time (which allows one to do a triangle (3 out of 5) with a small square (2 out of 5) or 1/5 with a big square (4 out of 4), and then splits them into thirds or applies triangular measurement in larger chunks (like (3 out of 3 stretched over three sets of 5 out of 5), AND is physically consummate in his ability to do so as fast as the ear can hear...

Hindustani classical tabla (drums) players considered Joe Morello the only serious American jazz drummer at that time. A few have since joined the ranks but only a few.

The point isn't to play stuff that sounds like relativity equations gone wild -- lots of dudes do that -- but to do so in a way that STILL has a good beat that's easy to do so.

Arguably the greatest jazz (or any western music) drum solo of the 20th century. Listen to the 30-45 seconds beginning at 5:00 to hear what I;m describing in logic an ear can comprehend and translate to your backbone, y'all.

Posts: 23297 | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kenmeer livermaile
Member
Member # 2243

 - posted      Profile for kenmeer livermaile   Email kenmeer livermaile       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Here he is where you can see him, slower tempo but same 5/4 time signature which he (and the DBQ overall) owned as no one pop musically Western ever has.
Posts: 23297 | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kenmeer livermaile
Member
Member # 2243

 - posted      Profile for kenmeer livermaile   Email kenmeer livermaile       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
P.S. YOu do not want him to a) squeeze you as hard as he can or b) hit you with his fist.

Chuck Norris would fall over just from the friggin' breeze.

Posts: 23297 | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kenmeer livermaile
Member
Member # 2243

 - posted      Profile for kenmeer livermaile   Email kenmeer livermaile       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
And here, straight off vinyl, he plays 5/4 again, not with the exhaustive brilliance of the live solo, but with that big bam boom satisfying go man go groove that drum solos are supposed to incite.

Best in headphones. His toms were tuned awesomely for such primitive era skins.

Posts: 23297 | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kenmeer livermaile
Member
Member # 2243

 - posted      Profile for kenmeer livermaile   Email kenmeer livermaile       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
For more 3/4 over 4/4 Afro-Latin-Carib fee:

Wooden Ships

Listen to the guiter licks 'round :35 through :46

Posts: 23297 | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sky
Member
Member # 6452

 - posted      Profile for Sky   Email Sky       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is a question from dummies, but why do they say that C is a happy key and c is a sad key?

Does this apply also in the pentatonic scale?

I'm just assuming that sad and happy are universals. Are C and c?

And what adjectives apply to other scales?

Posts: 72 | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
philnotfil
Member
Member # 1881

 - posted      Profile for philnotfil     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
C is C major, c is C minor. Major keys are generally described as sounding happy and minor keys are described as sounding sad.

A pentatonic scale doesn't have the half steps that a major or minor scale does, and so doesn't have the same sound characteristics when in major or minor modes.

Ancient music theorists (the Greeks, and then the early western theorists who tried to follow everything the Greeks did even though they were using a completely different system) had all kinds of descriptives for the various modes and keys.

Posts: 3719 | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kenmeer livermaile
Member
Member # 2243

 - posted      Profile for kenmeer livermaile   Email kenmeer livermaile       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Modes kick ass when they are applied over major-minor scale theory. Jazz musicians are addicted to this overlay.
Posts: 23297 | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.

Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Ornery.org Front Page

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.1