Main Music Theory 101: From Keys and Scales to Rhythm and Melody, an Essential Primer on the Basics of...
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CHORD PROGRESSION From Here to There Simply put, a chord progression is a movement of chords from one point to another. If you’ve ever heard a blues song, you’ve heard a progression of chords. All the pop music from the last one hundred years is loaded with chord progressions. If you play guitar or piano, you know all about chord progressions. The trick now is to figure out what they are, why you need to know them, and, more important, how this information is going to help you. CHORD STACKS When you studied how to make chords, you looked at the chords a few ways. First, you stacked diatonic notes from the scales and ended up with seven different chords. You also dissected the intervallic properties of every triad and seventh chord in existence. This is one way of looking at chords. But there is another angle. When you talk about chords as vertical stacks of notes, you essentially are adopting a philosophy that chords are objects. Notable Chords and melodies are tied together very tightly. When you play a melody, you can almost imagine what harmony is present with that melody. As a result, it’s possible to think melodically and harmonically at the same time. Beyond the theoretical underpinnings of what melody notes fit with which chords, when you listen to a melody, that melody has a way of telling you what chord it wants to have accompany it—all you have to do is listen. THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG? The concept of vertical stacks works pretty well in studying a single chord. Looking back through the development of music shows that chords, although they are vertical stacks of notes, are closer to being vertical collisions of voices. What does this mean? Well, imagine that you are not playing guitar or piano; you are in a choir. There are soprano, alto, tenor, and bass voices. At the simplest level, there is one singer per part. Is a person in the bass section singing one note at a time, singing chords? No, he’s singing a line—a melody, to be more specific. Since one voice can’t make a chord, you h; ave to look at the net result of what the choir is singing. There are four melodies going on at once. Each part is different. Now, if you freeze any single slice of vertical time, you could look at all the notes that are sung on the first beat of the first bar and come up with a chord. That would make sense because music should sound rich and consonant, and chords and harmony allow this. Now ask yourself which came first, the individual lines of music or the chords? Did the voices simply flesh out the chords as they went along? The answer is complicated. It’s hard to say for sure because most of the composers are dead. However, throughout the development of music, especially classical music, lines ruled and chords were afterthoughts. Put simply: composers wrote lines of melodies that summed together as chords when musicians looked up at them (vertical thinking). Since music theory has a wonderful ability to look back at composed music, it’s easy to forget that lines were dominant. Using the tools of music theory, you can look back at any piece of music, new or old, and figure out what chords are used and why. The better question to ask is why. Why did anything happen the way it did? Why did Bach use certain chords and not others? Why did Beethoven and Mozart use similar chords? Were they working from some sort of rule book, so to speak? The answer is no. Harmony developed. It’s as simple as that. Diatonic harmony was a long time in the making. It started with one voice, then a second was added, and so on, and then eventually triads and harmony fell into place. It wasn’t until the baroque era that harmony started to solidify into something recognizable. The music evolved because musicians listened and studied what had come before. They took what they liked and moved forward. Notable Theorists look back and try to fit all the music into a set of rules. But this is not always in your best interest. It is worth noting that a certain sequence of chords happens over and over and over again, but trying to figure out why will drive you crazy. In the end, you’ll understand that there are sounds associated with feelings, moods, and other things that cannot be quantified with theory. Remember: music first, theory second. SEVENTH CHORD CONSTRUCTION Seventh Chord Blueprints This section explores all the available seventh chords. A seventh chord is nothing more than a triad with an added seventh interval (when measured from the root). This gives you at least eight seventh chords (four possible triads and two sevenths), although there is one more that breaks the rules. MAJOR TRIADS WITH SEVENTHS To make a major triad into a seventh chord, there are only two possibilities: a major triad with a major seventh on top, and a major triad with a minor seventh on top. Start with the following figure. [image: image] When you look at this chord, you can see two things: a major triad (D–F♯–A) and an added C♯. The interval from the root of the chord to the seventh (D to C♯) is a major seventh. Call this chord a major/major seventh chord for a second because it tells you exactly what you have: a major triad with a major seventh interval added. Now, the rest of the world calls this chord a major seventh, as in D major seventh, or Dmaj7 for short. Many theorists use major/major seventh to be more specific, but if you say D major seventh, you’re saying the same thing. The major seventh chord is found on the first (tonic) and fourth (subdominant) degrees of a harmonized major scale. You could think of the formula for a major seventh chord as being 1, 3, 5, 7. (This is if you take the scale degrees from a major scale.) Notable The major seventh chord is interesting for two reasons: First, you can spell it simply by choosing the first, third, fifth, and seventh notes from any major scale. This is because a major seventh chord is the tonic seventh chord in a major key. Second, its proper name of major/major seventh shortens to simply major seventh. The next possible seventh chord is shown in the following figure. Looking at this chord, you see another D major triad (D–F♯–A) and an added seventh of C. The interval between D and C is a minor seventh. This chord is called a major/minor seventh chord. When it’s shortened, it’s called a seventh chord, as in G7, or D7 in this case. The term seventh chord is far too general for music theory. Theorists and many musicians call this chord a dominant seventh chord because it occurs only on the fifth scale degree, which has the proper name of the dominant scale degree. Whichever you call it, G7 or G dominant seventh, both are correct. [image: image] The formula for a dominant seventh chord is 1, 3, 5, ♭7 (if you take the scale degrees from the major scale). Dominant seventh chords are important. It’s hard to have harmony without dominant (V) chords. MINOR TRIADS WITH SEVENTHS Minor triads with sevenths also have two varieties. Look at the next figure. [image: image] Start with a C minor triad (C–E♭–G) and add a B♭. The interval from C to B♭ is a minor seventh, so this chord is called a C minor/minor seventh chord. It’s shortened to C minor seventh, Cm7, or C-7. This is the basic minor seventh chord that is found on the second, third, and sixth scale degrees of a harmonized major scale. Again, just as the major seventh, when both the triad and the seventh are the same (both minor), the name of the chord is simply minor seventh. You can form the minor seventh chord by taking the first, third, fifth, and seventh notes from a pure minor scale (Aeolian). If you wanted to relate the scale to major, its formula would be 1, ♭3, 5, ♭7 (relating the scale degrees to the major scale). The next seventh chord is the first unnatural seventh chord; it’s not formed in the diatonic major or minor scales. Take a look at the next figure. [image: image] This C minor triad with an added B natural gives a very unusual sound—unnatural, even. The interval from C to B is a major seventh, so the full name for this chord would be a C minor/major seventh chord. There is no other name for this chord. The only shorthand you may see is in the chord symbols in popular music: Cm(maj7), C-(maj7), or Cmin(maj7). While these chords have an unusual sound, they can be quite striking when used in the proper context. Again, this triad does not occur anywhere in the natural major or minor scales. A formula for a minor/major seventh chord would appear as follows: 1, ♭3, 5, 7 (if you take the scales degrees from the major scale). DIMINISHED TRIADS WITH SEVENTHS Diminished chords are a bit tricky, especially when it comes to naming them. Start with the diatonic diminished seventh chord (see the next figure), built from the leading tone of a major scale. [image: image] What you have is a B diminished triad with an added A. The interval from B to A is a minor seventh, so the full name for this chord is a diminished/minor seventh. However, here’s where it gets tricky. This chord is called a half-diminished chord. Half-diminished chords use the symbol Bø7. A formula for the half-diminished seventh chord would look like this: 1, ♭3, ♭5, ♭7 (if you take these from the major scale degrees). This chord, while it may be the diatonic chord, is not the typical diminished seventh chord. Look at another diminished seventh chord in the following figure, which explains why that particular chord is called half diminished. [image: image] Start with a diminished triad and add an A♭. The interval from B to A♭ is a diminished seventh. The full name for this chord would be a diminished/diminished seventh. Just like major and minor seventh chords that share the same name and type of seventh, this is the diminished seventh chord. It’s also called a fully diminished seventh chord, but for most people, diminished seventh will do. The symbol for a fully diminished seventh chord is Bº7. A formula for the diminished seventh chord would look like this: 1, ♭3, ♭5, [image: images]7 (if you take these from major scale degrees). Note: this is the first time you’ve seen a double flat in a chord formula. Fully diminished seventh chords don’t occur in major or minor scales naturally; they are the result of stacking minor third intervals. You can also derive this chord if you harmonize the harmonic minor scale at the leading tone degree. HALF AND WHOLE DIMINISHED Why is one diminished chord half diminished and another whole diminished? Well, for starters, it’s a name. But there’s more to it than that. The diminished triad is a symmetric chord in that it uses all minor third intervals. When you spell a diminished seventh chord, you actually use all minor thirds again (B–D–F–A♭). It is called fully diminished because it follows the pattern of all minor thirds and becomes perfectly symmetrical at that point. A half-diminished chord (B–D–F–A) has a major third between the fifth and the seventh and isn’t fully diminished because it loses the pattern of all minor thirds. That’s where the difference comes from. Usually when you see diminished chords with sevenths, they are fully diminished seventh chords. Half-diminished chords are used mostly in jazz. Since the diminished chord comes in two flavors, modern musicians differentiate these two chords. Look at a half-diminished chord as a minor seventh chord with a ♭5: To avoid confusion, most modern music uses min7b5 instead of the half-diminished symbol (ø). This way, when you see a diminished symbol (º), you can infer that it’s a fully diminished chord. AUGMENTED TRIADS WITH SEVENTHS Augmented triads have a particular sound that isn’t used very much. Nonetheless, modern music, especially jazz, uses augmented seventh chords, which come in two varieties. Start with the following figure. [image: image] Start with the G augmented triad of (G–B–D♯) and add an F♯. The interval from G to F♯ is a major seventh, so this chord would be called an augmented major seventh. For short, the symbol G+(maj7) or Gaug(maj7) is used. A formula for this chord would look like this: 1, 3, ♯5, 7 (if you derive this from the degrees of a major scale). The other augmented chord is shown in the next figure. [image: image] Start again with the G augmented triad and add an F. The interval from G to F is a minor seventh, so the full name for this chord would be an augmented minor seventh. Typically, this is shortened to G+7, Gaug7, or G7♯5. The G+7 chord is closely related to a G7 chord. The augmented nature of the raised fifth is simply seen as an alteration. The formula for this chord would look like this: 1, 3, ♯5, ♭7 (if you derive the formula from major scale degrees). SEVENTH CHORD RECAP The following table contains all the formulas side by side. FORMULAS DERIVED FROM A MAJOR SCALE NAME SYMBOL INTERVALS Major seventh Cmaj7 1, 3, 5, 7 Dominant seventh C7 1, 3, 5, ♭7 Minor seventh Cmin7 1, ♭3, 5, ♭7 Minor/major seventh Cmin(maj7) 1, ♭3, 5, 7 Half-diminished seventh Cø7 1, ♭3, ♭5, ♭7 Fully diminished seventh C°7 1, ♭3, ♭5, [image: images]7 Augmented major seventh C+(maj7) 1, 3, ♯5, 7 Augmented seventh C+7 1, 3, ♯5, ♭7 Notice the analysis under the chords. There are loads of ii–V–I progressions in many keys, both major and minor. This is standard practice for jazz (changing keys often), but beyond that the progressions are fairly simple; it’s just modulating often. Notable The previous figure is essentially a lead sheet. This skeletal form of music tells you what chords to play on what beats and, if a melody is present, the melodic line. If this figure had a melody, it would be enough for an entire band. The chords would be created from the symbols, the bass player would walk a bass line that made sense with the chords, and the melodic players would improvise on the chord changes. Chapter 11 Applying Musical Theory Knowledge You now have a robust working knowledge of the amazing, intricate, and specific ways that music works. You can spell chords, you can listen for harmonies, you can identify and build a scale, and you can tell what harmonies are dissonant and why. Now, let’s apply that information to how you approach music: playing and listening, and even arranging and composing. In this chapter you’ll learn about the different kinds of instruments, what kind of music they make and how, and how they play together. This chapter also looks at how music has to be altered, or transposed, so that instruments in different keys can play together. That involves both intervals and moving things around the staff—in other words, music theory in action. [image: Image] CONTENTS INTRODUCTION CHAPTER 1: THE BASICS OF MUSIC THE PERIODS OF “CLASSICAL” MUSIC TERMS TO KNOW TIME BASIC RHYTHMS METER CHAPTER 2: INTERVALS INTERVALS INTERVALS FROM SCALES THE SIMPLE INTERVALS ADVANCED INTERVALS INVERTED AND EXTENDED INTERVALS HEARING INTERVALS CHAPTER 3: THE MAJOR AND MINOR SCALES SCALES DEFINED SPELLING SCALES SCALE TONES THE DEFINITIVE AND DERIVATIVE APPROACHES DEGREES IN MINOR SCALES CHAPTER 4: MUSICAL KEYS AND KEY SIGNATURES THE MUSICAL KEY ALL ABOUT KEY SIGNATURES RELATIVE MINOR KEYS MINOR KEYS ON PAPER CHAPTER 5: MODES AND OTHER SCALES MODES MODAL SCALES OTHER IMPORTANT SCALES CHAPTER 6: CHORDS CHORDS MAJOR TRIADS/CHORDS MINOR TRIADS/CHORDS OTHER TRIADS CHORDS IN SCALES SEVENTH CHORDS SEVENTH CHORD CONSTRUCTION CHAPTER 7: CHORD INVERSIONS AND PROGRESSIONS INVERTED TRIADS INVERTED SEVENTH CHORDS CHORD PROGRESSION DIATONIC PROGRESSIONS AND SOLAR HARMONY SOLAR HARMONY THE CHORD LADDER CHAPTER 8: EXPLORING HARMONY MELODY CHORD TONES AND PASSING TONES TRUE MELODIC HARMONIZATION SINGLE-LINE HARMONY JAZZ AND JAZZ HARMONY JAZZ PROGRESSIONS BLUES FORMS AND HARMONY CHAPTER 9: READING MUSIC TEMPO DYNAMICS NAVIGATION IN A SCORE CHAPTER 10: EXPRESSION MARKINGS AND OTHER SYMBOLS EXPRESSION MARKINGS ARTICULATIONS OF LENGTH ARTICULATIONS OF STRENGTH PERFORMANCE INDICATIONS OCTAVE SIGNS MISCELLANEOUS SYMBOLS CHAPTER 11: APPLYING MUSICAL THEORY KNOWLEDGE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF INSTRUMENTS INSTRUMENT AND VOCAL RANGES TRANSPOSING MUSIC TRAINING YOUR EAR WHAT AM I LISTENING TO? FINAL EXAM: ANALYZING A PIECE OF MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHS ABOUT THE AUTHORS INDEX So, first you need to figure out which instruments are already in concert key and which ones need to be transposed. This is easy: in the instrument list, an instrument that isn’t in concert pitch already is listed as such—B♭ clarinet, and so forth. That whittles down the task to merely B♭ clarinet, horn in D, and trumpet in D. [image: image] Now, go over their transpositions individually to bring them all into concert pitch in their own way. • For B♭ clarinet, transpose the notes down a whole step. • For the horn in D, transpose the notes up a whole step. • For trumpet in D, do what you did to the horn in D: transpose it up a whole step. Here’s what those notes will look like in concert pitch. [image: image] Now, insert them back into the score and in concert pitch so you can continue your analysis. CHORD CONSTRUCTION AND ANALYSIS Now that you’ve (almost) literally got all the instruments on the same page, you can start looking at how they come together to play chords. The roots can come from the lowest tones, which here would be provided by the lowest instruments on the piece: the bass and contrabassoon. But look what chords emerged (see next image). Those are triads: B♭, G minor, and A triads, to be exact. Because even though a symphony is long and complex (or just one movement) and involves so many instruments, there aren’t all that many notes. Beethoven was a tonal composer who relied heavily on triads and seventh chords; his symphonies take a three-note chord and voice it throughout a huge orchestra, doubling notes where necessary to create a monster, cohesive sound. The foundations of harmony simply don’t change in the scientific world of music. SPELLING SCALES Now I Know My B, C, Ds To spell a scale, start out with a root note; in this example it will be A♭, as seen in the following figure. [image: image] Next, place the rest of the notes on the staff. Now, don’t be too concerned about whether you have the correct intervals or even the right spellings; you just need to have one of each letter name, in order, up to the octave. So simply add B–C–D–E–F–G–A to the next figure. [image: image] Now that you have added in the raw notes, you need to add the intervals. The formula is WWHWWWH, so add the intervals between the notes of the scale, as seen here. [image: image] You’re nearly done. Now just engage the intervals and make sure your scale is spelled correctly. Follow this process: • You need a whole step from A♭. A whole step away would be B♭. Add a B♭ to the scale. • You need a whole step from B♭. A whole step away would be C, which you already have written down, so you don’t have to change anything. • You need a half step from C. A half step away would be D♭, so put a flat in front of the D to make it D♭. • You need a whole step from D♭. A whole step away is E♭, so make the E an E♭. • You need a whole step from E♭. A whole step away is F, which you already have, so no change is needed. • You need a whole step from F. A whole step away is G, which you also already have, so no change is needed. • You need a half step from G. A half step away is A♭. Change the A to A♭. (Coincidentally, since this is an A♭ scale, every A in this scale is flat, so you could have just made it flat.) Now, look at the following figure. [image: image] That’s it! You have an ascending scale that uses every letter of the musical alphabet once. The scale follows the pattern of WWHWWWH, which all major scales follow. Play it on your instrument just to be sure, and that familiar sound will tell you that you’re correct. SOME SCALY THOUGHTS You have now seen a couple of major scales. This is a good time to pause and point out some very interesting characteristics about scales. First, scales are unique. They are a bit like DNA and that makes them pretty easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for. What does that mean? Well, each scale has a different pitch. No two scales look the same on the surface. Although each scale uses the same interval pattern, that fact is not clear until you analyze the scale. The fact that each scale uses a unique set of pitches is what makes each one unique, and that is something that you can clearly see. Second, did you notice that the scales that contain sharps use only sharps and never throw in a flat or two? Also, the scales that contain flats use only flats and never sharps? That’s right, when you spell scales or analyze music, you will notice that scales have either flats or sharps; you rarely see both sharps and flats in the same scale. These two points will help you understand scales so much better and make your life in music theory so much easier. Based on which chromatic note the scale starts on, you may get a scale that spells pretty easily. On the other hand, certain scales contain double flats or double sharps in order to keep the WWHWWWH pattern going and use each note in the alphabet. Some spell easily and others are a pain. As a result, some chromatic major scales don’t appear often; you typically see scales that spell without constant use of double sharps and double flats. Due to enharmonic notes, scales can have the same sound but be spelled differently. A good example is A♭ and G♯. The key of A♭ has four flats and isn’t too hard to spell or read in. The key of G♯ has six sharps and a double sharp. Which would you rather read in if both scales actually sounded the same? Even though there are twenty-four possible scales, there are only twelve chromatic notes in the scale, and you will find yourself reading in the easiest twelve keys. Remember, music isn’t just for the composer; it has to suit the player as well. Notable Knowing that flats and sharps are mutually exclusive items in scales should help you spell your scales more accurately. If you’re spelling a scale and you see a mixture of flats and sharps, something’s wrong. If you see mostly flats and one sharp, something’s wrong. Scales will always look cohesive, and that will make your job a bit easier. ALL ABOUT KEY SIGNATURES Name That Key Key signatures use a specific system. Not just any note can appear in a key signature. There is an order and a logic that makes key signatures understandable. There are two varieties: sharp key signatures and flat key signatures (excluding C major, which has no sharps or flats). A key signature displays only sharps or only flats, never both. Within these groupings of sharps or flats there is an order to how individual notes appear. Do you remember reading that proper scale spellings also result in either sharps or flats? Scales and key signatures show you the same information, which is exactly why they help you understand more about the music. Sharps appear in key signatures in a specific order: F♯, C♯, G♯, D♯, A♯, E♯, and B♯. They always follow that order. If a key has one sharp, it will be an F♯. If a key has two sharps, it will have F♯ and C♯. It always works through the pattern in the same way. A great way to remember the order of sharps is to use a little mnemonic device: Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle. The first letter of each word corresponds to the sharps as they appear. Notable Even though key signatures may appear confusing at first, most musicians would have a hard time reading without them. Constant flats and sharps placed throughout music are more challenging to read than a single key signature. Just like sharps, flats appear in a specific order every time. Here is the order: B♭, E♭, A♭, D♭, G♭, C♭, and F♭. There is also an easy way to remember the order of flats: Just reverse the mnemonic for sharps! Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles’s Father. One saying gets you both sharps and flats—pretty convenient! If you stare at the circle of keys long enough, you might memorize what each key represents. However, there are a few tricks that can help you. On the flat side, the first key is F, which starts with the same letter as the word flat. After that, BEAD contains the names of the next four flat keys. That’s a handy way to learn some of the keys. The sharp side is a bit harder. BEAD appears again on the right side. However, there are two little tricks you can learn for instantly naming a key just by looking at it. THE SHARP KEY TRICK For any key that has a sharp in it, naming the key is as simple as following two easy steps. First, find the last sharp (the one all the way to the right). Once you’ve found and named the note that corresponds to the same line or space the sharp is on, go one note higher, and you’ve named the key. Look at the next figure. The last sharp in this key is A♯. Going one note above this is the note B. Five sharps is, indeed, the correct key signature for the key of B major. You can check the trusty circle just to make sure. [image: image] The good news is that this trick works on every key that has a sharp in it. To find the name of a sharp key: 1. Name the last sharp, the one all the way to the right. 2. Go one note higher than the last sharp, and that’s the name. Unfortunately, it works only when you’re looking at a key. For everything else, refer to the circle of keys and the order of sharps and flats. THE FLAT KEY TRICK The flat keys have a different naming trick. When you see a piece of music that has flats, find the second-to-last flat. The name of that flat is the name of your key. Look at the following figure. This key has two flats and the second-to-last flat is B♭. The name of the key with two flats is B♭. This is an easy trick. [image: image] There is one exception: the key with one flat, F major. Since this key has only one flat, there is no second-to-last flat. In this case, you’ll just have to memorize that F has one flat (which is B♭). To find the name of a flat key: 1. Find the second-to-last flat (from the right). 2. The name of the flat note you find is the name of the key. Just remember the exception—the key of F major has one flat and therefore the rule does not work for it. For the other keys, it works like a charm! THE CIRCLE MOVES IN FOURTHS AND FIFTHS The circle of keys is often referred to as the circle of fifths or the circle of fourths. The keys are arranged in the circle in a fairly logical way. The key of C, with no sharps or flats, sits squarely in the center, and the sharp keys move around the right side, each key increasing the number of sharps by one. The flat keys move to the left, increasing their flats by one as they progress. If you move to the right from C, each key is a perfect fifth apart. In addition, the order of sharps as they appear in the key signatures is also in perfect fifths starting from F♯. If you move to the left from C, each key is exactly a perfect fourth apart. Conveniently, the flats as they appear in the key signature are also a perfect fourth apart, starting from B♭. Think about these two points: 1. Sharp keys move in fifths around the circle, and the sharps are fifths apart. 2. Flat keys move in fourths around the circle, and the flats are fourths apart. When you move in one direction in the key circle, you move in fifths; when you move in the opposite direction, you move in fourths. Remember the explanation about interval inversion: A perfect fifth becomes a perfect fourth when inverted. A fifth up is the same as a fourth down. The same explanation applies to the order of sharps and flats. The sharps are spaced a fifth apart starting from F, and the flats are spaced a fourth apart starting from B. Interestingly, when you spell out all the sharps and read them backward (backward = inverted = in fourths), you get the order of flats. We hope you enjoyed reading this Simon & Schuster ebook. Get a FREE ebook when you join our mailing list. Plus, get updates on new releases, deals, recommended reads, and more from Simon & Schuster. Click below to sign up and see terms and conditions. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP Already a subscriber? Provide your email again so we can register this ebook and send you more of what you like to read. You will continue to receive exclusive offers in your inbox. Chapter 7 Chord Inversions and Progressions Chords are more than just a collection of intervals. To understand chords in their entirety you need to look at a few more aspects including chord inversions and progressions. Understanding chords and how they are spelled is only the first step. Once you can look at a chord and give it a name, you need to look for context. What chord preceded this one and what comes after? Are there patterns to observe? This chapter contains the answers to all these questions as you study how chords move from one to another. Chapter 5 Modes and Other Scales It is true that major and minor scales make up the majority of the scales that you encounter in everyday life. However, both traditional and modern music theory include other scales as well. Mode is a term that music students hear often and rarely understand. In addition, you’ll hear about pentatonic, diminished, and whole-tone scales. Thank you for downloading this Simon & Schuster ebook. Get a FREE ebook when you join our mailing list. Plus, get updates on new releases, deals, recommended reads, and more from Simon & Schuster. Click below to sign up and see terms and conditions. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP Already a subscriber? Provide your email again so we can register this ebook and send you more of what you like to read. You will continue to receive exclusive offers in your inbox. SCALE TONES You Can Call Me by My Name or Number Each scale has seven tones (eight, if you include the octave). There are two ways to talk about tones: by number and by degree. SCALE TONES BY NUMBER In a C major scale, the note C is given the number one because it’s the first note of the scale. Then, each of the scale tones, one through seven, can be assigned a different note. This is useful for several reasons. First, the distance of an interval is measured with a number, which is often taken from a scale. Second, since all major scales are made of the same pattern, music theory uses a universal system for naming these scales. If a piece starts on the third note of a scale, you can take that idea and use it in any key. If you simply say, “It starts on E,” you lose the context of what scale or key you are in and need extra information in order to work with the idea. Using numbers is a handy way to think about scales and scale tones. A numbering system is also useful in the discussion of chords and chord progressions, since in music theory chord progressions are only labeled with Roman numerals. SCALE TONES BY DEGREE You can also describe the tones of the major scale by giving a name, instead of a number, to each degree. This method is traditionally used in classical or academic music-theory contexts, but some of the terms have become universal and you should at least be aware of them. One example is the term tonic, which is used to refer to the root (that is, the first chord or tone) of any scale. The following chart gives the names of each note in the major scale. NAMES OF NOTES IN THE MAJOR SCALE SCALE DEGREE NAME First Tonic Second Supertonic Third Mediant Fourth Subdominant Fifth Dominant Sixth Submediant or superdominant Seventh Leading tone Eighth (the octave) Tonic These names are also used when talking about chords and chord progressions, so knowing them will aid you in understanding progressions. Although these terms aren’t used nearly as much as numbers for the tones, certain names such as tonic, dominant, and leading tone are prevalent in musicians’ vernacular. Formal theory, however, uses the names of scale degrees, so now you know what they mean. Notable Originating in the thirteenth century, the motet (derived from the French mot, meaning “word”) is an early example of polyphonic (multivoice) music. Motets were generally liturgical choral compositions written for multiple voices. Johann Sebastian Bach wrote many motets, seven of which still exist today. INTERVALS FROM SCALES The Easiest Way to See Intervals You may be wondering why a discussion of the C major scale appears in the interval chapter. Simply put, once you know whole and half steps, you can spell any scale, but more important, the other intervals are much easier to see and learn through the use of a scale. Notable Usually when musicians name a large interval, they don’t count the numbers of half steps they need to figure out the answer. They are so familiar with scales that they use that information to solve their puzzle. Scales are such useful bits of information, and they are, of course, made up of simple intervals! INTERVALS IN THE C MAJOR SCALE Forming a C major scale is pretty simple: You start and end on C, use every note in the musical alphabet, and don’t use sharps or flats. The C major scale is easy to spell and understand because it doesn’t contain sharps or flats. It’s the scale you get if you play from C to C on just the white keys of a piano. The following figure shows the scale. [image: image] The distance between any two adjacent notes in the scale is simply a collection of half and whole steps. Now try skipping around the scale and see what intervals you come up with. Start with C as a basis for your work. Every interval will be the distance from C to some other note in the C scale. To start, measure the distance where there is no distance at all. An interval of no distance is called unison. See the next figure. [image: image] Unison is more important than you think. While you won’t see it in a solo piano score—you couldn’t play the same key twice at the same time—when you learn to analyze a full score of music, it’s handy to be able to tell when instruments are playing exactly the same notes rather than other intervals, such as octaves. The movement from C to D is a whole step, but the interval is more formally called a major second. Every major second comprises two half steps’ distance. See the next figure. [image: image] The next interval is from C to E, which is four half steps’ distance. It is called a major third (see the following figure). [image: image] Next up is the distance from C to F, which is five half steps. It is called a perfect fourth, as seen in the next figure. [image: image] Perfect fourth? Are you confused yet with the naming of these intervals? Hang in there! Before you get to why this is so, finish the scale. You have only begun to chip away at intervals. The next interval is the distance from C to G. It is seven half steps and is called a perfect fifth (see the following figure). [image: image] The interval from C to A, which is nine half steps, is called a major sixth. The next figure presents a major sixth. [image: image] The next interval, from C to B, is eleven half steps. It is called a major seventh (see the following figure). [image: image] To complete this scale, the last interval will be C to C. This interval is a distance of twelve half steps, or an octave (see the next figure). [image: image] INTERVALS IN THE C MINOR SCALE Now that you’ve seen the intervals in the C major scale, here is the whole C minor scale and all its intervals. Look at the figure. What do you see? [image: image] For starters, the third, sixth, and seventh intervals are now minor. That makes sense because those are the three notes that are different when you compare a C major and a C minor scale side by side, as in the next figure. [image: image] The intervals that were perfect in the major scale remain the same between both scales. However, the second note of the scale (C to D) remains the same in both scales, yet that interval is called a major second. Why are scales so important when dealing with intervals? Can’t intervals be measured on their own, separately from a scale? Of course, but most musicians become comfortable with scales and use them to figure out intervals because scales are a point of reference. If you ask a musician what the interval is between A and F, it’s likely that he will think first of an A major scale and then determine if F♯ is in the A scale. Since it is, he will lower the F♯ from a major sixth to a minor sixth, and that’s the answer. Notable When you measure a musical interval, always count the first note as one step. For example, C to G is a fifth because you have to count C as one. This is the most common mistake students make when they are working with musical intervals. They often come up one short because they forget to count the starting spot as one. QUALITY AND DISTANCE Intervals have two distinct parts: quality and distance. Quality refers to the first part of an interval, either major or perfect, as you saw from the C major scale intervals. Now, these are not the only intervals in music; these are just the intervals in the C scale. Distance is the simplest part—designations such as second, third, and fourth refer to the absolute distance of the letters. For example, C to E will always be a third apart, because there are three letters from C to E. The numerical distance is the easiest part of intervals. Determining the quality of an interval is a different story. It’s only when you understand all the different qualities that you can name any interval, as you’ll see in the following sections. ENHARMONICS An interval has to determine the distance from one note to another. As you can see in the C major scale, every interval has a distance and a quality to it. Confusion arises because notes can have more than one name. You might recall enharmonics, where C♯ and D♭ sound the same yet are different notes when written. In analyzing written music you have to deal with what you are given. When you listen to any interval, you hear the sound—so the distance from C to D♯ will sound just like C to E♭. What you hear is the sound of those notes ringing together, but if you had to analyze it on paper, you’d be looking at two different intervals (one is a minor third and the other is an augmented second) with two different names. The system of intervals has evolved somewhat strangely because enharmonics is built into written music. Notable Many modern theorists and composers don’t use the traditional intervallic system. Instead, they use a more numerically based system of organization, called set or set theory, which bases intervallic measurements on pure distance-based relationships in half steps. This system solves the ambiguity with enharmonic intervals. So, instead of a major third, it would be a five because a major third is five half steps. [image: Image] [image: Image] THE PERIODS OF “CLASSICAL” MUSIC A History of Styles While there are more genres of music than we’ve got space to write them down, not to mention the subgenres of all of those, there are essentially a few overarching styles under which most music can be categorized. While all more or less follow the rules and structures of Western music theory, the following types of music also boast their own highly recognizable and innovative tropes, details, and traditions. Here’s a brief history of symphonic and orchestral musical styles. BAROQUE (C. 1600–1760) Baroque music is complex, soaring, heavily ornamented, and undeniably grand, and is the basis for the classical and symphonic music that followed. The baroque period produced some of the most groundbreaking composers, including Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, and George Handel. CLASSICAL (C. 1760–1820) While you often hear the term classical in reference to any kind of music that involves a large group of varied instruments playing a complex, lyrics-free composition, the term is more accurately applied to a certain period in European music. And while “classical” music seems fancy and grand, classical composers actually tried to strip down music to its basic and most beautiful elements in favor of clear, strong melodies. Some of the best-known composers come from the classical period, such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Joseph Haydn. ROMANTIC (C. 1780–1900) In the romantic era, composers attempted to evoke particular feelings and even tell stories with emotional and slightly informal pieces. They idealized nature, love, spirituality, and foreign lands in a style similar to other storytelling forms, such as opera and ballet. Major romantic composers include Johannes Brahms, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (a.k.a. Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky), and Richard Wagner. MODERN (C. 1900–1975) With musical traditions going back hundreds of years, one option for modern composers was to reject history, and its rules, and instead experiment. Consistent and pleasant melody, harmony, and rhythm was often downplayed in favor of dissonance, heavy use of minor keys, strange meter, and even random sounds. Some of the notable composers who shook things up during this period include Richard Strauss, Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, and Erik Satie. Notable Western music grew from European musical traditions. Those traditions started with the simple monophonic (or one-voice) chants used as a form of worship by monks. This was the most common type of music from about 350–1050, which means it took a good 700 years for polyphonic liturgical music (multiple voices singing different lines at the same time) to develop. Polyphonic music dominated from about 1050–1300, until more complex compositions and instrumentations began to emerge. CONTEMPORARY SYMPHONIC MUSIC (C. 1975–PRESENT) The history rejected by modernist composers has come full circle, with many musicians looking to the golden ages of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for inspiration and creating lush, textured, melody-driven symphonies. Other composers have continued to experiment with music, taking it to the very edge of logic and what could reasonably be called music, carrying on the avant-garde work of the early twentieth century. There’s also been a movement toward minimalism. Influenced by rock-and-roll, minimalists favor sparse instrumentation to deliver short melodies that repeat and grow in complexity. Major names in the last forty years of composition include Philip Glass, John Adams, and Thomas Adès. Notable All the music described in the previous section is Western, meaning that it stems from what’s historically been called the West: Europe and later, the Americas. Asia, Africa, the Americas, and indigenous peoples throughout the world each have their own rich musical histories—all of which can and have filled their own books. This book focuses almost entirely on the forms and systems of Western music. [image: Image] Adams Media An Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc. 57 Littlefield Street Avon, Massachusetts 02322 www.SimonandSchuster.com Copyright © 2017 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Adams Media Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. First Adams Media hardcover edition AUGUST 2017 ADAMS MEDIA and colophon are trademarks of Simon and Schuster. For information about special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-866-506-1949 or [email protected] The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event. For more information or to book an event contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at www.simonspeakers.com. Interior design by Colleen Cunningham Cover design by Heather Mckiel Cover images © Clipart.Com Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Boone, Brian, author. | Schonbrun, Marc, author. Music theory 101 / Brian Boone and Marc Schonbrun. Avon, Massachusetts: Adams Media, 2017. Series: 101 Includes index. LCCN 2017015056 (print) | LCCN 2017017218 (ebook) | ISBN 9781507203668 (hc) | ISBN 9781507203675 (ebook) LCSH: Music theory--Elementary works. LCC MT7 (ebook) | LCC MT7 .B693 2017 (print) | DDC 781--dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017015056 ISBN 978-1-5072-0366-8 ISBN 978-1-5072-0367-5 (ebook) Many of the designations used by manufacturers and sellers to distinguish their products are claimed as trademarks. Where those designations appear in this book and Simon & Schuster, Inc., was aware of a trademark claim, the designations have been printed with initial capital letters. Contains material adapted from the following titles published by Adams Media, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.: The Everything® Music Theory Book, 2nd Edition by Marc Schonbrun, copyright © 2011, ISBN 978-1-4405-1182-0 and The Everything® Reading Music Book by Marc Schonbrun, copyright © 2005, ISBN 978-1-59337-324-5. Chapter 4 Musical Keys and Key Signatures As you learned earlier, intervals are the smallest element of music. Intervals combine to form scales. Scales, in turn, make up melody and harmony, the lifeblood of music. The key is the next major level of organization and one of the major elements of musical analysis. In this chapter, you will learn what makes a key, how to identify a key, and why you should care about the musical key. TRANSPOSING MUSIC Translating for Instruments in Different Keys One of the most potentially nerve-wracking ways to apply music theory to real-life musical purposes is the act of transposing instruments, or converting music across keys, ranges, and instrumental capabilities. It’s certainly detail-oriented and time-consuming work, but when you learn about the different instruments (and their different keys) and how to transpose their music, you also learn about range, composition, and arranging along the way. A symphonic score—the one a conductor uses—is arranged for multiple instruments. It’s a complicated document for a novice to read, but it demonstrates the importance of transposing: different instruments naturally play in different keys. The alto saxophone and clarinet, while both in the woodwind family, actually can’t play off of the same formatted sheet music. One instrument’s music would have to be translated, or transposed, so that the other instrument could use it. CONCERT PITCH On a scientific level, notes exist as vibrations of air. The speed at which they vibrate can be measured and is expressed in hertz (Hz). The only true measure of a note is its frequency in hertz. A large group of instruments plays in concert pitch, meaning that when they play or read a note on the musical staff, they are getting the mathematically correct answer. When a piano plays a middle C, it’s playing a note with a frequency of 261 Hz—it’s an exact thing; the piano is playing concert pitch. Other instruments play at concert pitch, and they’re known as C instruments. The most common include: • Violin • Flute • Viola • Oboe • Cello • Bassoon • Harp • Trombone • Guitar • Tuba Guitar and bass guitar do as well, but with the notable quirk of having music knocked down an octave so their music stays within the staff, but that’s still considered concert pitch. (Another thing that sounds at concert pitch is an orchestral tuning note. When a symphony tunes up, the oboe player rings a concert A note, and the rest of the orchestra tunes to get as close to this note as possible.) Notable A great example of concert pitch is an orchestral tuning note. When a symphony orchestra tunes up, the oboe player plays a concert A note and the rest of the orchestra tunes up to this note. Most tuning forks that provide a tuning pitch also provide the same concert A (A = 440 Hz). Meanwhile, the common instruments that do (and often have to) transpose are: • Clarinet • French horn • Trumpet • Saxophone—soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone HOW TRANSPOSING WORKS A transposing instrument reads the same music as other instruments. The only difference is that when a tenor sax plays a written C, the note that comes out would not register as a C on a tuner or match a C on a piano. An entirely different note comes out! A concert B♭ is heard when a trumpet plays a written C—this is what is meant by transposition. If the following example melody for the tenor sax from the top staff was played, what comes out is actually from the bottom staff. [image: image] There are two possible reasons why some instruments transpose and others don’t. The first is history. Brass instruments rely heavily on the overtone series to make their notes happen. Brass instruments used to add crooks, which were additional pipes, to play in different keys. In time, as the instruments evolved and valves became standard on brass instruments, those additional crooks were no longer necessary. Certain instruments evolved into certain keys and just stayed there. It’s now been so long and there has been so much music written that it would be too difficult to change it all—either the music or the instruments. The second reason is best shown in the saxophone family. There are four saxophones in common use today: soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone. Each of the four saxophones transposes, but differently. The reason that it’s done this way has less to do with history and more to do with the ease of the player. Each of the four saxophones, while physically differing in size, has the exact same system of keys that Adolphe Sax invented in the 1800s. The sax transposes four different ways so that any sax player trained on any one of the instruments could play any of the saxophones without having to relearn anything. Each saxophone reads the same treble clef melody, and the composer makes sure that each part is transposed correctly on paper for the proper sonic result. TRANSPOSING SHORTCUTS For too many years, students have been generally confused as to how to transpose correctly for instruments. But there are ways to get it right. For instance, each major instrument carries with it a seldom-used key name. The trumpet should technically be known as a B♭ trumpet, but nobody calls it that. However, knowing those full names provides clues as to how they transpose. The other is this little nugget of easily memorized information: an instrument’s key name is the note heard in concert pitch when that instrument plays its written C. Let’s put this to work with the trumpet, or rather B♭ trumpet, since the instrument has a key of B♭. Recalling that line about concert pitch: B♭ is the note heard—in concert pitch—when the trumpet plays a written C. [image: image] This means that whatever note is written for trumpet will come out exactly one whole step below what is written. So what can composers do to fix this? They simply write the trumpet part up a whole step, in a written D. The trumpet player will read and play the D, yet a perfect C will come out in concert key. Sounding down and writing up is the case for most transposing instruments. TRANSPOSING E♭ INSTRUMENTS Two common instruments lay in the key of E♭: the E♭ alto saxophone and the E♭ baritone saxophone. Being in the key of E♭ means that when these instruments read a written C, an E♭ concert pitch is heard. The E♭ alto saxophone transposes a major sixth away from where it’s written. In this case, a melody written in concert pitch would have to be transposed up a major sixth to sound right on the alto saxophone. [image: image] The baritone saxophone is also in the key of E. But as it naturally resides a full octave below the alto sax, it transposes at the intervals of a major sixth and an octave (also known as a major thirteenth). For a melody written in concert key to sound correctly on a baritone sax, it must be written up a major. [image: image] TRANSPOSING F INSTRUMENTS Just two instruments transpose in the key of F: the French horn and the English horn. Both the French horn and the English horn (also called a tenor oboe) transpose the same: a fifth away. If a composer writes a melody in concert key and wants the French horn and English horn to play correctly, he must write the melody up a perfect fifth for it to work. [image: image] CHORDS IN SCALES Making Triads Scales are very important. They are an essential building block in music. Let’s revisit the C major triad in the following figure. [image: image] This triad can be constructed in a few different ways. First, take the first, third, and fifth notes of the C major scale and stack them together to build a quick C major triad. This trick works in every major and minor scale, so in theory, you could build any major or minor chord you need. Since chords are built from third intervals, it would make sense that you could do more than just stack the first, third, and fifth notes. There are many possible third combinations in a scale if you start on each note in the scale and build triads. What would happen if you stacked these different combinations from each note? You’d get a lot of different chords, seven to be exact—one from each degree of the scale. To learn how to make triads from every note in a C major scale, start with a C major scale and simply add triads (roots, thirds, and fifths) from each note in the scale. What you’ve just done is created all the basic harmonies (and chords) in the key of C major by creating triads off each note. See the next figure. [image: image] Don’t downplay the significance of this accomplishment. You’ve just learned the basis for understanding harmony and chord progressions. Contained within those triads are seven different chords and endless possibilities for creating music. When you create triads from a scale and use only those notes to do so, you use a technique called diatonic harmony. Now let’s take a look at exactly what chords are created from making these triads (see the following figure). [image: image] You can see from the example that a variety of triads are created. There is a major chord, minor chords, and a diminished chord. Strangely, augmented triads are missing. THE ORDER OF TRIADS The order of triads in the scale is important. In a major scale/key, the triads always progress in this order: major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, and diminished. Memorize this order; it will serve you well—and the best part is that what you’ve just done in the key of C major holds true in every major key. Since all major scales are constructed in the same fashion, with the same intervals, when you stack triads in any major scale, you always get the same order of triads/chords. This is a huge time-saver! Only the names of the notes change because no two keys have the same pitch. The chords and their order will always be the same. The next figure shows an example of this order of triads in the key of D major, B♭ major, and E major. The figure illustrates that no matter the scale, the same order of triads always exists. Just as major scales have formulas for their construction that allow you to spell any scale easily, knowing that the triad order holds true to all the keys is a dependable element in music theory. [image: image] Notable Notice that the notes in the scales are in different keys, but the order of chords (major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, and diminished) stays the same. This holds true for every major scale/key. ROMAN NUMERALS To music theorists, there isn’t any real difference between any major key. Unless you have perfect pitch—meaning you can name a note just by listening to it—you won’t be able to hear a difference between C major and D major scales. Since there is such equality in the keys, music theory has a system of naming chords relative to the note of the scale from which they are built. If you were to number the notes and their corresponding triads from the G major scale, you’d end up with the image in the following figure. [image: image] Since triads are built off the notes, they can be referred to by a number and/or Roman numeral. For example, a one chord in the key of C major is the chord built off the first note in the scale, which is C major. Since every major scale starts with a major triad, the one chord in any major key is major. The only limitation is that there is no way to convey whether that chord is major or minor simply by using the number 1, 2, or 3. Musicians use Roman numerals instead of Arabic numbers for this very reason. By using uppercase Roman numerals for major chords and lowercase Roman numerals for minor chords, musicians have created a system that makes sense in every key and conveys a lot of information about a chord. Notable Roman numerals are a standard way for music theorists not only to name chords, but also to analyze choral structures in pre-existing music in order to gain some insight into how the music was constructed. Roman numerals are still a convention in classical music. If you plan to study music formally, you need to know Roman numerals. The next figure shows the harmonized major scale with the corresponding Roman numerals. Notice that the diminished chord is denoted by a lowercase Roman numeral and a small degree symbol next to it. That’s the standard way to indicate diminished chords. [image: image] PHOTOGRAPHS [image: images] Archaeologists have found ancient flutes made from wood, bones, and animal skins dating back as far as 40,000 years. This has led many scientists and music scholars to believe that the flute was one of the first instruments ever created. The discovery of these flutes also proves that there was a developed musical tradition in the earliest periods of modern human existence. These particular wooden flutes come from ancient Egypt around 1537 B.C.E. Photo Credit: © Wikimedia Commons [image: images] In C.E. 521 the Roman philosopher Boethius pulled together the ancient Greek philosophies of music, translated them, and provided his own overviews on the essential points. The result was his work De institutione musica, which became the most important work on music in both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Boethius’s work simplified the Greek theories on music and made it possible for the common man to understand and apply those theories to his own music. [image: images] Guido d’Arezzo (also known as Guido Monaco) was a Benedictine monk and music theorist in Italy in the medieval era. Guido’s principles are considered to be the basis of modern Western musical notation. His innovative system of notation consisted of construction by thirds of a system of four lines, or staffs, and the use of letters as clefs. He is therefore regarded as the inventor of modern staff notation. Photo Credits: © Wikimedia Commons [image: images] The Guidonian hand is a mnemonic device often attributed to music theorist Guido d’Arezzo that is used to assist singers on how to sight-read music. The idea is that each portion of the hand represents a specific note on the hexachord (or six-note) scale that Guido invented. In teaching, the instructor would indicate a series of notes by pointing to them on his hand and the student would sing them. Photo Credit: © Wikimedia Commons [image: images] Franchinus Gaffurius was an Italian music theorist and composer during the Renaissance. Gaffurius wrote a number of treatises on music, including Theorica musicae, Practica musicae, and De harmonia musicorum instrumentorum opus. He was well known for establishing that the tactus—the tempo of a whole note—is equal to the pulse of a man who is breathing quietly (about 72 beats per minute). Gaffurius was also the first known musical theorist to discuss temperament (a system of tuning). Photo Credit: © Wikimedia Commons [image: images] Music theory is the study of the structure and composition of music; it is concerned with musical concepts such as tuning and tonal systems. A tuning fork resonates a specific constant pitch after being struck against an object, and unlike many other types of resonators, it will emit a pure musical tone after waiting a moment. Since its invention in the 1700s, it has become the standard of pitch to tune musical instruments. [image: images] The grave of famed music theorist Heinrich Schenker is inscribed with the words “Here lies he who examined and revealed the laws concerning the soul of music like none other before him.” Schenker created the influential Schenkerian analysis, which involved looking beneath the immediate surface of music to understand how it connects in a larger sense. Schenker suggested that you can hear connections between notes that don’t happen next to each other in a piece. Photo Credits: © Wikimedia Commons; GettyImages/TPopova [image: images] A notable innovation in music and music theory in the last century is jazz. Jazz takes many of the preconceived notions about musical structures and alters them to create a new system of music. One of the things that makes jazz so different is its improvisation. This improvising of melodic solos over chord changes is what sets jazz apart. Jazz greats like composer and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie added layers of harmonic complexity that were previously unheard in music. [image: images] The Eastman School of Music has been called one of the most prestigious music schools in America. The school features the Institute for Music Leadership, which teaches students to think about their music through music theory. The man credited with making Eastman the institute it is today is composer and music theorist Howard Hanson. While at Eastman, Hanson published his work Harmonic Materials of Modern Music, laying the foundation for musical set theory, which categorizes musical objects (such as pitch classes) and describes how they relate. Photo Credits: © Wikimedia Commons [image: images] An American music theorist, musicologist, and Battell Professor Emeritus of Theory of Music at Yale University, Allen Forte became a major voice in music theory for his work with atonal music (music with an absence of functional harmony). Forte was also the first president of the Society of Music Theory. Photo Credit: © Wikimedia Commons [image: images] The Society of Music Theory is located in the music department of the University of Chicago. The society publishes three scholarly journals, holds annual conferences and workshops, and promotes music theory scholarship through awards and grants. Photo Credit: © Wikimedia Commons EXPRESSION MARKINGS Add Dimension to Your Music Without expression music would be flat and boring. You could feed a computer a musical score and it would play a perfectly executed piece of music. The notes would be correct and the rhythms would be perfect. What’s missing are the subtle nuances that only human performers give to music. Music lives and breathes; it’s not a static thing. While many performers naturally bring their own form of expression to each note they play, there is a system of markings that give specific information about exactly what to play—and more importantly, how to play it. SLURS A slur is simply a way to connect two notes smoothly. Every instrument gives life to a slurred note in a particular way. No matter how your instrument produces sound, when you play a note there is an “attack” to each note. A slur is a marking that tells you to smoothly connect those notes and lessen the attack as much as possible. On a wind instrument, this could mean not breathing between each note. On a violin it would indicate to use one long bow. It’s different on each instrument. No matter what instrument you play, a slur marking always looks the same. It is a curved line that connects two or more different notes (see the following figure). [image: image] A slur looks suspiciously like a tie, and this is a common error. But actually, they are easy to tell apart (see the next figure): A tie is a curved line that connects two of the exact same notes. A slur is a curved line that connects different notes. Here is an example for clarity. [image: image] Notable In terms of notation, slurs are typically drawn on the alternate side of the stems. If the phrase had stems that faced up, the slur would be drawn under the notes; if the stems faced down, the slur would be drawn over them—this is simply to avoid clutter. LEGATO Legato is another Italian term used to express musical ideas. The word legato literally means “to unite or bind.” Legato means a smooth connection from one note to the next. Legato and slurs may seem similar, but they are different. Legato is a way to phrase notes so that they are smoothly connected. Slurs are a technique. Legato will be written as a word above the section of music you are playing. PHRASE MARKINGS Sometimes slur markings are used to show musical phrases. Composers do this to show the larger sense of where the phrases are. Phrase markings look identical to slur markings; they just extend much longer (see the following figure). It does not always mean that each note should be slurred—and in fact this may be impossible on your instrument. What it does mean is that you should do the best you can to connect those notes and make them sound flowing and well connected. [image: image] CHORDS Think Three Essentially, a chord is three or more notes sounded simultaneously. The simplest kind of chord is a triad, which begins with the prefix tri, meaning “three.” A triad is a three-note chord, and the intervals between the notes (as you will learn soon) are always thirds apart—yet another use of the prefix tri. Just like intervals, chords come in different qualities. The quality refers to the type of chord it is, which is always based on some sort of construction rule. The basic chord qualities for triads are major, minor, augmented, and diminished. Those are the same qualities that the intervals had (excluding perfect). So to recap, a chord, at its simplest, is a three-note triad with intervals that are thirds apart and notes that ring together. Before you go any further, look at the next figure to see a simple C major triad. [image: image] This is the simplest way to look at a chord, essentially the model or prototype voicing, but rarely do you see chords in such clear order. You should think of triads as model chords. They are the simplest way to spell a chord. Unfortunately, rarely do you ever see such models of perfection in music. What you do see are chord voicings. A voicing is a rearrangement of the notes of the triad without adding or taking away from the essential ingredients (in the case of C major: C–E–G). The next figure shows what a guitarist plays when asked to play a C major chord. [image: image] If you compare this chord with the pure triad in the previous figure, you can see that while they appear visually different on the page, in fact, they contain the same elements. Both chords contain the principal notes C, E, and G, but the guitar voicing repeats the notes C and E to fill out the chord and make it sound fuller. Either way, it’s still C–E–G, no matter how you slice it. When you analyze a chord, you look for the basic notes that define it. Typically, they are not all in a pretty little row, in triadic order; many times you have to hunt around, but you can do that later on. Now you need to define exactly what makes each chord what it is. Notable If you understand your intervals well, building chords is no big deal. Each of the four triad qualities (major, minor, diminished, and augmented) has its own distinct building patterns, much as all the scales did. Once you learn the triad structures, you’ll realize that they’re so different from one another that it’s hard to confuse them. THE CHORD LADDER Step on Up! The chord ladder is a neat little device that shows the relationships among all the diatonic chords in a key. Take a look at the ladder in the following figure, and then you’ll learn more about exactly what it’s showing you. [image: image] It’s a ladder with chords on it. Basically this ladder is a reference to the “harmonic” gravity mentioned earlier. All the chords in some way fall to the I chord at the end. There are a few things to observe. First, notice that there are different steps on the ladder, and occasionally there is more than one chord on those steps. When two chords occupy the same step on a chord ladder, it means that the chords can substitute for each other. Before you go any further, you need to know what makes a chord substitute for another chord. CHORD SUBSTITUTIONS On the first step of the chord ladder is the I (tonic) chord and a very small vi chord on the final step. They occupy the same step because both chords can substitute for each other. They share common tones; more specifically, they share two-thirds of their tones. In the key of C major, I and vi share the following tones (see the following figure). [image: image] On every step of the ladder, when you find two chords occupying the same place, it’s because they can substitute for each other due to sharing of tones. LADDER OF FIFTHS Remember the circle of fifths? Here’s a ladder of fifths. Many, many chord progressions are based on movements of fifths. So, now look at the chord ladder without the extra chords and view it as strictly fifth-based movements from the tonic chord up (see the next figure). [image: image] You end up with a progression of iii, vi, ii, V, I. Look at that for piano and guitar in the next figure. [image: image] This example sounds fine, doesn’t it? Sure it does! Now start to throw in some of the substitute chords, as in the following figure. See what replacing the ii with a IV and the V with a viiº chord look and sound like. [image: image] You get a nice-sounding progression. Unfortunately, no matter how you slice any of these progressions and no matter how crafty you are, when you get to the V (or its substitute, the viiº chord), you pull back to I. Or do you? Remember the small vi chord next to I on the chord ladder. DECEPTIVE RESOLUTIONS The small vi chord is there as a deceptive resolution to the I chord. Essentially, you break the pattern that V has to resolve to I by allowing V to resolve to vi. It’s called a deceptive cadence. Here’s what so neat about the progression: Just when you think you’re going to cadence back to I and essentially end the progression, the music pulls a fake out and gives you a vi chord. It prolongs the progression as it sets you back a bunch of steps on the ladder, giving you more time to keep the musical phrase alive and continue the progression. If you wondered why the vi chord was in very small print, that’s because while it substitutes for the tonic chord, it’s more of a transport, magically linking you back to the real vi chord on the chord ladder. Maybe the ladder should have looked like the following. [image: image] Notable The chord ladder does not dictate what you should or should not use when writing music. It simply presents a number of choices that will work well together. The ladder illustrates how chords typically progress in diatonic situations. Feel free to use it as a starting point and go your own way from there. MINOR TRIADS/CHORDS The Other Common Triad Let’s start with a C minor triad as in the following figure. [image: image] Based on what you know about intervals, look at the distance between each of the third intervals to deduce a formula for this triad. Start with C to E♭, which is an interval of a minor third. E♭ to G is an interval of a major third. So the formula would be a minor third, major third. If you compare this formula with the formula for a major triad (major third, minor third), you see that both the major triad and the minor triad contain a major third and a minor third. What’s unique is that both triads contain one of each quality of third, but they are backward. The major triad is major third, minor third, whereas the minor triad is minor third, major third. Notable Here’s a great way to remember the order of thirds in simple major and minor triads: The name of the triad will tell you the quality of the first third. Major triads start with major thirds, and minor triads start with minor thirds. Both triads conclude with the opposite interval; that is, major triads start with major thirds but conclude with minor thirds, and minor triads start with minor thirds but conclude with major thirds. Memorize this! AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW OF MINOR TRIADS You can also look at the minor triads in a few other ways to aid your understanding. First, look at all the intervals from the root of C: • The interval from C to E♭ is a minor third. • The interval from C to G is a perfect fifth. Remember that the major triad also has a perfect fifth. This characteristic is yet another reason that it is called a perfect interval. Since the fifths don’t change, you have to look at the thirds to find the differences between the major and minor triads. Major triads have major thirds, and minor triads have minor thirds, and both have perfect fifths from their roots. It’s amazing that the difference between a C major triad and a C minor triad is just one note, yet they sound so different. Here’s another look at the derivative approach to music: If you can spell any major triad, all you have to do to make it into a minor triad is to lower the third of the major triad one half step. It’s a trick that always works. Many times, your speed at working with theory can come from changing things you already know. If you memorize the major scale and the major triad early on, changing one note to make either one major or minor isn’t such a big deal. The third way to look at a minor triad is to relate it to its corresponding minor scale. Remember, the major triad took the first, third, and fifth note from the C major scale. The C minor triad does the same thing, just from its corresponding minor scale. To spell a C minor triad, spell the C minor scale and select its first, third, and fifth notes: C–E♭–G. This may or may not be the fastest way for you to work. [image: Image] Chapter 6 Chords The next step in your musical journey is to look at chords and the basic foundations of harmony. Intervals combine into chords, and harmonies emerge from those chords, providing the foundation of tonality, which is the language spoken by the music you hear. To broaden your knowledge of chords you’ll also learn about seventh chords. Seventh chords are used extensively throughout music, and they are the next logical step after you understand triads. WHAT AM I LISTENING TO? Different Types of Musical Compositions As you play more and more music—or at least analyze more and more sheet music—you’ll notice that classical pieces, or symphonic and vocal compositions, are usually headlined with very technically oriented names. “Occasional Oratorio,” for example or simply “Etude.” These are signifiers to musicians about not only the style in which the music is to be played, but also the origins and history of that particular form, and the composer’s intent in writing the piece. Here are the characteristics of but a few of the more common styles. • Toccata: A loosely written piece intended to be heavily improvised and improved upon by a skilled instrumentalist, usually on a piano’s keyboard or plucked strings. The name is from the Italian word toccare, which means “to touch.” A famous example is (at least part of) Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. • Fugue: A style in which two or more voices or instruments keep returning to a specific musical theme over three sections: an exposition, a development, and a final section that returns to the opening part’s statement of the musical theme. • Etude: This is one of the rare musical words that’s French, not Italian—it means “to study.” An etude is a short, difficult-to-play piece designed to train a musician to play faster and better, but when performed is quite impressive. (Chopin published several sets of etudes in the 1830s.) • Ode: A simple, often short celebratory composition written in praise of a subject. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” for example. • Sonata: A piece meant to feature an individual instrumental soloist, but often with a piano or harpsichord accompaniment. (Or just the piano or harpsichord.) A sonata is traditionally arranged into four movements: an allegro (a brief, fast-moving introduction), then a slow section, a dance movement, and a rapid finale. (The most famous sonata is probably Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata.) • Oratorio: It’s very similar to an opera in that it’s a large composition for a full orchestra and multiple singers, including soloists who deliver arias. The difference is that an opera is a piece of fully realized theater, with costumes and sets. An oratorio does have a plot and characters and all the action is fully sung, but is presented as a concert by singers standing on a stage. (Probably the most famous oratorio is Handel’s Messiah, composed in 1741.) • Aria: A self-contained song within the whole of an opera or oratorio. It’s essentially a solo, but can be performed with or without the backing of instruments. (One aria used often in movies is “Habanera” from Bizet’s 1875 opera Carmen.) • Divertimento: A jaunty, short, light-hearted instrumental piece written for a small ensemble. (Mozart wrote a lot of these.) • Canon: A piece in which a strong melody is presented boldly up front, and then other instruments or voices join in to repeat that melody, but changed in some way, such as with a different rhythm or chord structure. (Probably the most famous canon is Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Canons in which all the repetitions are exactly the same are called rounds—such as “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”) • Intermezzo: Translating roughly to “in the middle,” this is a composition that was written to fill space between acts of a play, for example, or as a transitory bridge between movements of a symphony or other long work of music. Notable There are two essential kinds of intermezzo: the opera intermezzo and the instrumental intermezzo. The opera intermezzo is a comedic interlude between acts of an opera. This type usually features slapstick comedy, disguises, and dialect. The instrumental intermezzo was a movement between two others in a larger work, or even a character piece that could stand on its own. PERFORMANCE INDICATIONS How You Should Play The next batch of musical markings are grouped under performance indications because they give you information about how to play a piece—or, how not to play. These indications are different from expression markings. They are essential, common musical symbols you will encounter. BREATH MARKS When playing a wind instrument or singing, the element of breathing becomes an important part of musical flow. While it’s a no-brainer that you have to breathe at some point, the point at which you breathe can define the phrases. Breathing can make or break a phrase! The next figure shows what a breath mark looks like. [image: image] Notable Not only is the breath mark a common symbol to find, but it will also aid in your own practice if you play brass or woodwinds or sing; you can mark up your own phrases to assist in performing. CAESURA Music doesn’t always flow from measure to measure. Music is very much like water in that it ebbs and flows naturally. Music also takes pauses. One such pause is called the caesura. A caesura, which is signified as a [image: images], allows music to suddenly take a brief pause. When you come across a caesura, you take a slight pause of an indeterminate length. You don’t have time to get a sandwich—it’s just a short point of rest. If you are playing with other players, such as in chamber groups, choirs, orchestras, or bands, caesuras need to be agreed upon. If you play with a conductor, she will usually cue everyone in together. When playing alone, you are in control of the length of a caesura. FERMATA A fermata is the opposite of a caesura; it extends the length of a note by an indeterminate amount. Fermatas can affect single notes or chords. You typically find fermatas at the end of sections and at the conclusion of musical phrases (see the next figure). Like caesuras, fermatas don’t go on forever. The conductor, other players, or you will dictate their length. [image: image] INTERVALS Going the Distance Defined as the distance from one note to another, intervals provide the basic framework for everything else in music. Small intervals combine to form scales. Larger intervals combine to form chords. Intervals aid in voice leading, composition, and transposition. There are virtually no musical situations that don’t use intervals (barring snare drum solos). Even in some of the extremely dissonant music of the twentieth century, intervals are still the basis for most composition and analysis. There are five different types of intervals: 1. Major intervals 2. Minor intervals 3. Perfect intervals 4. Augmented intervals 5. Diminished intervals You will learn all about the five types of intervals in this chapter, but before you go any further, you need a visual helper: the piano keyboard. Intervals can seem like an abstract concept; having some visual relationships to reference can make the concept more concrete and easier to grasp. The following figure shows the piano keyboard. [image: image] The keyboard shows you the location of all the notes within one full octave. It also shows you all the sharps and flats on the black keys. Notable Notice how C♯ and D♭ occupy the same key. This situation, in which one key can have more than one name, is called an enharmonic. This occurs on all black keys. The white keys have only one name, whereas the black keys always have a second possibility. (You’ll learn more about that later in this book.) HALF STEPS The first interval to look at is the half step. It is the smallest interval that Western music uses (Eastern music uses quarter tones, which are smaller than a half step), and it’s the smallest interval you can play on the majority of musical instruments. How far is a half step? Well, if you look at a piece of music, a great example of a half step is the distance from C to C♯ or D♭—remember that C♯ and D♭ sound the same. The next figure shows the half step in a treble staff. [image: image] Now that you have been given a rudimentary explanation of a half step, go back to the piano. Stated simply, the piano is laid out in successive half steps starting from C. To get to the next available note, you simply progress to the next available key. If you are on a white key such as C, for example, the next note is the black key of C♯/D♭. You have moved a half step. Move from the black key to the white key of D and you’ve moved another half step. When you’ve done this twelve times, you have come back around to C and completed an octave, which is another interval. Now, this is not always a steadfast rule. It is not always the case that you will move from a white key to a black key, or vice versa, in order to move a half step. As you can see in the next figure, the movement between E and F and the movement between B and C are both carried out from white key to white key, with no black key between them. This means that B and C, and E and F, are a half step apart. This is called a natural half step, and it is the only exception to our half-step logic. The good news is that if you keep this in mind, all intervals will be much easier to define, not just half steps. [image: image] Why is there a half step between B and C and E and F when everywhere else it takes a whole step to get to the next letter name? The answer is simpler than you think. The sound of the C major scale (C–D–E–F–G–A–B–C) came first. The scale happened to have a half step between E and F and B and C. When the system of music was broken down and actually defined, that scale was laid out in white keys and had to fit the other half steps between the other notes. It really is arbitrary and provides another argument for the fact that sounds come first and then they are named or explained. WHOLE STEPS A whole step is simply the distance of two half steps combined. Movements from C to D or F♯ to G♯ are examples of whole steps. If you are getting the hang of both whole and half steps, you can take this information a bit further. You could skip to scales, which would, in turn, lead you to chords. The intervals between E and F and B and C are still natural half steps. The next figure gives an example. [image: image] A whole step from E ends up on F♯ because you have to go two half steps to get to F♯, passing right by F♮. The same holds true for B♭ to C. Now that you have gone through half and whole steps, the next step is the C major scale to see some of the other intervals out there. JAZZ PROGRESSIONS Grounded in Tradition Jazz players used songs from the Great American Songbook as vehicles for jazz improvisation. They played the melodies instrumentally (or sang them if a vocalist was involved) at the start of the tune; this is called playing the head of the tune. Once that was done, the chords that formed the harmony of the song remained while the soloist improvised a new melody; this is called blowing on the changes. At the end, they’d play the melody one last time and that was it. Because jazz players favored these songs so much, their melodies and harmonies became the foundation for jazz harmony. These songs became the songs that all jazz players know and play today; they are aptly referred to as standards. The harmonies of these songs have some regular patterns that appear over and over again, and thankfully can be studied. Start with the diatonic progressions. THE DIATONIC PROGRESSIONS In jazz, if you simply take the diatonic major scale and harmonize each chord up to the seventh, you can learn a lot about how jazz harmony functions. The following figure shows the A♭ major scale harmonized in seventh chords. [image: image] You’ll be happy to learn that the basic jazz progressions are diatonic and still follow the chord ladder. Start with the mighty jazz progression of the ii–V–I. In jazz nothing is more common than the ii–V–I progression. Look at the next figure. [image: image] If jazz harmony were distilled to one central point, it would be the ii–V–I progression. It’s simply all over jazz music. Sure, it gets more complicated, but the ii–V–I is the basic harmonic unit that all jazz players use. What’s interesting is that a ii–V–I is a substituted IV–V–I (as ii and IV substitute for each other), which is just a I–IV–V (remember those simple primary chords) reordered. Why change the IV to ii? By doing so, you create three different chords: a minor seventh chord, a dominant seventh chord, and a major seventh chord. That made jazz sound different from other styles of music. Add some extended chords and you get a very distinctive jazzy vibe out of this progression. See the following figure. [image: image] Add a few more chords before the ii and you reach the other common jazz progression, the iii–vi–ii–V–I. See the next figure. [image: image] MINOR PROGRESSIONS There is a minor key equivalent to the ii–V–I progression in major. It’s still a two–five–one, but the qualities of the chords change. Instead of Dm7–G7–Cmaj7 (in the key of C major), the progression becomes Dm7♭5–G7–Cm7 (see the following figure). [image: image] This progression is easy to spot because you also have three distinct chords, with a dominant chord in the middle. Look for the min7♭5—that’s usually the signpost that screams, “Hey, minor two five coming”—and see if the chords that follow it line up. Now, look at how a real jazz tune is put together. The next two figures present a common standard without the melody, just the changes (jazzspeak for the chords). MODAL SCALES Shift Your Thinking Each and every major scale can be looked at from seven different angles—one mode starting from each note in the scale. While modes theoretically come from parent major scales, it’s easiest to think of them as their own entities. IONIAN Ionian is the first mode to learn about, and you already know it. The Ionian scale is simply the major scale. It follows the interval pattern WWHWWWH. The following figure shows an F Ionian mode. Since the Ionian mode is simply the traditional major scale, think of Ionian as the proper name for a major scale. [image: image] DORIAN The Dorian mode, the first of the displaced scales, is a major scale played from its second note. If you continue to use F major as the parent scale, the Dorian mode in this key starts from the note G and progresses up the same notes. The next figure shows the G Dorian scale. The G Dorian scale uses the interval pattern WHWWWHW. [image: image] There is a very important aspect to understand about modes. The G Dorian scale comes from the F major scale and shares all the same notes. This is an important learning tool, but all musicians need to learn the modes as “their own thing.” The Dorian mode is a scale unto itself, with its own distinct sound. If you look at the notes of G Dorian (G–A–B♭–C–D–E–F–G), you might notice that the G Dorian scale looks a lot like the traditional G minor scale (G–A–B♭–C–D–E♭–F–G)—and you’re right. The only difference is that the G Dorian scale contains an E♮ and the G minor scale contains an E♭. You could look at the Dorian scale as a minor-type scale, with an altered sixth note. In this case, the sixth note is raised up a half step. It’s very much like a flavored minor scale. Today modes are used to spice up traditional major and minor scales that may sound overused and dated. As you’ll see, all the rest of the modes closely resemble either a traditional major or a traditional minor scale. Notable When you think of the parent-scale relationship between each mode, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that each mode has to be related to its parent scale. Using the minor scale as an example again, you don’t have to think about its related major scale, do you? No, it can stand on its own. The same holds true for all the modes. Learn to see them on their own if you plan to use them quickly. PHRYGIAN Phrygian, the third mode, is the result of forming a scale starting from the third note of the parent major scale. Using F major as the parent scale, the Phrygian scale is an A Phrygian scale. It uses the interval pattern HWWWHWW (see the following figure). Phrygian has a distinct sound and is often used by Spanish composers. [image: image] The A Phrygian scale (A–B♭–C–D–E–F–G–A) looks very much like a traditional A minor scale (A–B–C–D–E–F–G–A). The only difference is that the A Phrygian scale lowers the second note a half step. You could say that Phrygian is just a minor scale with a lowered second note—and you’d be right. LYDIAN The fourth mode of the major scale is the Lydian mode. Using F as a parent scale, you come to the B♭ Lydian scale. Lydian uses the interval pattern WWWHWWH. See the following. [image: image] The Lydian mode provides a striking, beautiful, and bright sound. It’s used by film composers to convey uplifting spirit and is a favorite of jazz and rock composers. The Lydian scale is so bright and happy that it’s no surprise it’s closely related to the major scale. The B♭ Lydian scale is spelled B♭–C–D–E–F–G–A–B♭, which resembles a traditional B♭ major scale (B♭–C–D–E♭–F–G–A–B♭). The only difference between B♭ Lydian and B♭ major is that a Lydian scale raises the fourth note of the major scale a half step. So, B♭ Lydian is a B♭ major scale with a raised fourth note. The raised fourth tone results in a bright and unusual sound and allows the plain major scale to have a unique overall effect. MIXOLYDIAN The fifth mode of the major scale is called the Mixolydian mode. Using the parent scale of F, our fifth mode is C Mixolydian. C Mixolydian, or Mixo as it’s commonly abbreviated, uses the interval pattern of WWHWWHW. See the following figure. [image: image] The Mixolydian mode is closely related to the major scale but is slightly darker sounding. The C Mixolydian scale (C–D–E–F–G–A–B♭–C) closely resembles the C major scale (C–D–E–F–G–A–B–C). The only difference is that the Mixolydian scale lowers the seventh note of the major scale a half step. The lowered seventh note gives the Mixolydian mode a bluesy, dark color, leading away from the overly peppy major scale. Because of this, it’s a staple of blues, rock, and jazz players who want to darken the sound of major scales. It also coincides with one of the principal chords of jazz, blues, and rock music: the dominant seventh chord (C7, which you’re going to learn all about later in the book). AEOLIAN The sixth mode of the major scale is the Aeolian mode. Previously you learned that minor scales are derived from the sixth note of a major scale. That’s right, the Aeolian mode is the natural minor scale. This is another mode that you already know. Aeolian is the proper name for natural minor. Using the parent key of F major, our sixth mode brings us to D Aeolian. You’ll also remember that the keys of F major and D minor are related keys—F Ionian and D Aeolian are related modes from the same parent scale. The D Aeolian scale uses the interval formula WHWWHWW. See the next figure. [image: image] Since the Aeolian scale is an exact minor scale, there’s no need to compare it to another major or minor scale. Some players are still more comfortable with major scales. If this applies to you, just look at Aeolian as a major scale with lowered third, sixth, and seventh notes. LOCRIAN The seventh and final mode is called the Locrian mode. In our parent scale of F major, the seventh mode is E Locrian. E Locrian mode uses the interval pattern HWWHWWW. See the following figure. [image: image] The E Locrian scale (E–F–G–A–B♭–C–D–E) looks a lot like an E minor scale (E–F♯–G–A–B–C–D–E). The only difference is that the Locrian scale has a lowered second and a lowered fifth note. The Locrian mode has a very distinct sound that you won’t encounter often. Nevertheless, it completes your knowledge of modes, so it’s good to know it. MODES ON THEIR OWN You now know modes in relation to a parent scale. If someone were to ask you to spell a C♯ Lydian scale, however, it might be quite an ordeal. First, you have to remember which number mode it is, then you have to backtrack and find the parent scale, and then you can spell the scale correctly. It’s much easier to understand modes than to have to take several steps to puzzle them out. Here is a recap of the modes, their interval formulas, and easy ways to relate the scales: MODES, SCALES, AND INTERVAL FORMULAS MODE SCALE INTERVAL FORMULA DESCRIPTION Mode 1 Ionian WWHWWWH Ionian is the major scale Mode 2 Dorian WHWWWHW Dorian is a minor scale with a raised sixth note Mode 3 Phrygian HWWWHWW Phrygian is a minor scale with a lowered second note Mode 4 Lydian WWWHWWH Lydian is a major scale with a raised fourth note Mode 5 Mixolydian WWHWWHW Mixolydian is a major scale with a lowered seventh note Mode 6 Aeolian WHWWHWW Aeolian is the minor scale Mode 7 Locrian HWWHWWW Locrian is a minor scale with lowered second and fifth notes DEGREES IN MINOR SCALES Know Your Position Just like major scales, minor scales can also have scale degrees. As with major scales, you can refer to the tones in the minor scale numerically, just as you did when looking at the derivative approach for spelling minor scales (talking about the third, sixth, and seventh scale degrees). As a refresher, here is an explanation of scale degrees. The other way to describe the tones of the minor scale is to give a distinct name to each degree. This method is traditionally used in classical and academic music-theory contexts, but some of the terms have become universal, and you should at least be aware of them. The term tonic, used to refer to the root of any scale, is an example of the names given to each note in the minor scale. The following table shows how to name each note in the minor scale. NAMES OF NOTES IN THE MINOR SCALE SCALE DEGREE NAME First Tonic Second Supertonic Third Mediant Fourth Subdominant Fifth Dominant Sixth Submediant or superdominant Seventh Leading tone Eighth (the octave) Tonic These names are also used when discussing chords and chord progressions, so knowing them will aid you in understanding progressions. Although these terms aren’t used nearly as much as numbers, musicians commonly refer to certain names such as tonic, dominant, and leading tone. Formal theory uses the names of scale degrees, so now you’ll know what they mean. MULTIPLE SCALES—SCALE CLARITY In contrast to the major scale, which comes in only one variety, the minor scale comes in a few different forms. What you have begun to explore is the natural minor scale. When people talk about minor scales, they are typically talking about the natural minor scale, which has the formula of WHWWHWW. However, there are two other minor scales that have different interval patterns than the natural minor scale: harmonic and melodic minor. Notable The natural minor scale is a naturally occurring extension of the major scale, also called a related or relative minor. Relative minors are discussed later in this book. The other minor scales (harmonic and melodic minor) are derivatives of the natural minor scales. Harmonic and melodic minor scales are slightly controversial in traditional music theory. Some theorists argue that they are not true scales because they are not naturally occurring patterns. But music theory is about identifying what is seen and heard in music, and whether you believe that scales should have their own names, these minor scales are found in music often enough that it is important to know about them. In any case, harmonic and melodic minor scales are part of the basic level of theory knowledge. HARMONIC MINOR The harmonic minor is the first variation of the minor scale you should know. It’s a simple change of the natural minor scale, formed by raising the seventh note one half step. Doing so creates a leading tone to the scale. It simply gives a very strong pull from the last note of the scale back to the tonic. All major scales have a built-in leading tone, but natural minor scales do not; they have a whole step between the sixth and seventh tones. Interestingly, this is not why composers use the harmonic minor scale. The name of the scale gives some insight into why the scale exists. The raising of the seventh tone gives composers a slightly better harmonic palette to work with; it gives better chords. The harmonic minor scale provides a major chord on the dominant degree and a diminished chord on the leading-tone degree. Both of these chords are extremely important to composers and musicians and are used so frequently that the harmonic minor scale actually became a scale. The D harmonic minor scale is shown in the following figure. [image: image] The formula of the scale is interesting as it is no longer strictly kept to whole and half steps. In fact, between the sixth and seventh tone, there is a step and a half (an augmented second to be more exact). That large leap is awkward melodically. Melodically, the harmonic minor scale is awkward to work with. So composers created the melodic minor scale to solve this dilemma. MELODIC MINOR The melodic minor scale is created by raising the sixth and seventh tones of a natural minor scale one half step each. The whole point is to smooth out the skip between the sixth and the seventh tones in the harmonic minor scale. The raised seventh tone in harmonic minor is crucial to minor scale harmony, but the scale played alone sounds strange. By raising the sixth as well, the melodic minor scale works better for melodies and harmonies. The augmented second interval between the sixth and seventh tone disappears, and it’s back to whole and half steps. Because the change in the scale makes it melodically smoother, it’s called the melodic minor scale. Both the harmonic and melodic minor scales fall under the umbrella of basic music theory, which is important to understand in order to read music. The next figure presents the melodic minor scale in the key of D minor. [image: image] Contents Introduction Chapter 1: The Basics of Music The Periods of “Classical” Music Terms to Know Time Basic Rhythms Meter Chapter 2: Intervals Intervals Intervals From Scales The Simple Intervals Advanced Intervals Inverted and Extended Intervals Hearing Intervals Chapter 3: The Major and Minor Scales Scales Defined Spelling Scales Scale Tones The Definitive and Derivative Approaches Degrees in Minor Scales Chapter 4: Musical Keys and Key Signatures The Musical Key All about Key Signatures Relative Minor Keys Minor Keys on Paper Chapter 5: Modes and other Scales Modes Modal Scales Other Important Scales Chapter 6: Chords Chords Major Triads/Chords Minor Triads/Chords Other Triads Chords in Scales Seventh Chords Seventh Chord Construction Chapter 7: Chord Inversions and Progressions Inverted Triads Inverted Seventh Chords Chord Progression Diatonic Progressions and Solar Harmony Solar Harmony The Chord Ladder Chapter 8: Exploring Harmony Melody Chord Tones and Passing Tones True Melodic Harmonization Single-Line Harmony Jazz an