Official Music Theory Thread

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AWA Offline
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Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 6:07 pm



There's been a recent surge in discussion about music theory. Here's a thread devoted to the same. Please keep this thread distinct from the Composition Discussion thread.
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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:47 pm



This question could probably go in the composition thread, but this thread needs posts. In another thread, AWA said the following when talking about writing melodies in a minor key.

"In summary: Always raise the seventh scale degree. Do not raise the sixth scale degree unless the melodic line is followed by a raised seventh."


My question is this....Lets assume I have a melody that goes 4565. Would I raise the sixth scale degree then? I'm thinking the answer is no, but I'm not positive. If I'm correct in my assumption, why is this? What makes the sixth being followed by the seventh so special?


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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:33 pm



noname wrote:This question could probably go in the composition thread, but this thread needs posts. In another thread, AWA said the following when talking about writing melodies in a minor key.

"In summary: Always raise the seventh scale degree. Do not raise the sixth scale degree unless the melodic line is followed by a raised seventh."


My question is this....Lets assume I have a melody that goes 4565. Would I raise the sixth scale degree then? I'm thinking the answer is no, but I'm not positive. If I'm correct in my assumption, why is this? What makes the sixth being followed by the seventh so special?
No, you would not. The melodic line does not have a 6-7 interval.

The reason that the sixth scale degree is raised is because the seventh scale degree is raised (remember, the seventh must be raised for harmonic purposes, to create proper dominant chords). When the seventh scale degree is raised, the interval between the sixth (flatted in minor tonality) and the seventh (raised in the minor tonality out of having been flatted) becomes an augmented second. This melodic movement is forbidden (there are varying reasons, from aural inelegance, to difficulty in vocal performance, to the fact that an augmented second is neither a half step nor a whole step, and thus cannot be included in a scale). To avoid this, the sixth scale degree is raised (to make the movement from six to seven more conducive).

The reason that "melodic minor" exists only upward is that when moving upward, the seventh scale degree acts as a dominant, leading to the tonic. The sixth is raised for the reasons above. When moving downward, it no longer leads to the tonic, so it does not have to be raised. Consequently, the sixth does not need to be raised, either.

A good rule of thumb is to always stay diatonic unless otherwise required. In the melodic line "4-5-6-5", the sixth is not required to be raised, so don't raise it.
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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:39 pm



[sub topic]

What are some of your favorite intervals?
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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:45 pm



drmmrboy88 wrote:[sub topic]

What are some of your favorite intervals?
Come on. Please restrict this thread to serious discussion, not "What's your favorite ____".
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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:57 pm



Ah, ok. That makes sense. Thanks, Glenn.


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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:22 pm



AWA wrote:
drmmrboy88 wrote:[sub topic]

What are some of your favorite intervals?
Come on. Please restrict this thread to serious discussion, not "What's your favorite ____".
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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:57 pm



noname wrote:Ah, ok. That makes sense. Thanks, Glenn.
Now, say your melodic line goes something like 4-5-6-7-5-6-4-5-6-7-8. Note that we have a 6-7, which does not go to the tonic, but instead returns to the 5, and then a 6 not followed by a 7, and then a 6-7-8. What do we do?

I'm not 100% sure, but my intuition would be that the first instance of 6-7 would be diatonic, that is, neither of the notes are raised (this depends on chord choice, obviously). I say this because the next note is 5, which is not usually chosen as a melodic note when resolving a dominant to the tonic from the 7th scale degree (in fact, unless it specifically goes from 7 to 8, I would not raise the 7th scale degree). Likewise, the second instance of the 6 would not be raised. The final instance, "6-7-8", would have both the 6th and 7th scale degrees raised, as they are part of a dominant-tonic chord movement.
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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:02 pm



Could you raise the sixth and seventh anyways, just to make it sound like you were going to the tonic, but then go down to 5? I guess I'm asking...if you did that, would the "pull" that the raised seventh has that sorta "pulls" it to tonic in your ear be greater at the end of your melody than it normally would? I'm not sure if I asked that clearly, so just let me know if I didn't.


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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:06 pm



Favorite Interval=The old Devil's interval from medieval times, which is basically C and F#.. But, a really cool piano etude, it the devil's staircase, or l'escalier du diable by Ligeti, it's really cool.

EDIT: Oh, I just found out that SCV is doing this for their 2011 program..
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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:49 pm



noname wrote:Could you raise the sixth and seventh anyways, just to make it sound like you were going to the tonic, but then go down to 5? I guess I'm asking...if you did that, would the "pull" that the raised seventh has that sorta "pulls" it to tonic in your ear be greater at the end of your melody than it normally would? I'm not sure if I asked that clearly, so just let me know if I didn't.
You could in theory, but there are much better choices. The only real practical application of this is if you went for 5-#6-#7-5-#6-#7-8 (that is, a literal repetition of the ascending line), since the leading tone must always resolve upward to the tonic when acting as a dominant function (in common practice writing).
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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:54 pm



AWA wrote: You could in theory, but there are much better choices. The only real practical application of this is if you went for 5-#6-#7-5-#6-#7-8 (that is, a literal repetition of the ascending line), since the leading tone must always resolve upward to the tonic when acting as a dominant function (in common practice writing).
Care to elaborate?


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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:58 pm



Dorian?


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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:14 pm



noname wrote:
AWA wrote: You could in theory, but there are much better choices. The only real practical application of this is if you went for 5-#6-#7-5-#6-#7-8 (that is, a literal repetition of the ascending line), since the leading tone must always resolve upward to the tonic when acting as a dominant function (in common practice writing).
Care to elaborate?
Theoretically, any note can move to any other notes; this is mostly explored in 20th century music. In common practice composition and theory, however, the leading tone almost always moves to the tonic (that is, it is almost always used as a dominant function).
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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:17 pm



AWA wrote:
noname wrote:This question could probably go in the composition thread, but this thread needs posts. In another thread, AWA said the following when talking about writing melodies in a minor key.

"In summary: Always raise the seventh scale degree. Do not raise the sixth scale degree unless the melodic line is followed by a raised seventh."


My question is this....Lets assume I have a melody that goes 4565. Would I raise the sixth scale degree then? I'm thinking the answer is no, but I'm not positive. If I'm correct in my assumption, why is this? What makes the sixth being followed by the seventh so special?
No, you would not. The melodic line does not have a 6-7 interval.

The reason that the sixth scale degree is raised is because the seventh scale degree is raised (remember, the seventh must be raised for harmonic purposes, to create proper dominant chords). When the seventh scale degree is raised, the interval between the sixth (flatted in minor tonality) and the seventh (raised in the minor tonality out of having been flatted) becomes an augmented second. This melodic movement is forbidden (there are varying reasons, from aural inelegance, to difficulty in vocal performance, to the fact that an augmented second is neither a half step nor a whole step, and thus cannot be included in a scale). To avoid this, the sixth scale degree is raised (to make the movement from six to seven more conducive).

The reason that "melodic minor" exists only upward is that when moving upward, the seventh scale degree acts as a dominant, leading to the tonic. The sixth is raised for the reasons above. When moving downward, it no longer leads to the tonic, so it does not have to be raised. Consequently, the sixth does not need to be raised, either.

A good rule of thumb is to always stay diatonic unless otherwise required. In the melodic line "4-5-6-5", the sixth is not required to be raised, so don't raise it.
Man, I understood NONE of that. Hey AWA, how would go about learning music theory at its basic level?
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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:27 pm



This isn't a question about actual theory in itself, but how do you guys go about learning theory? Know of any good online resources that you use? Or books? I mean I have a basic level of understand, I know how to construct triads, know major/minor/augmented/diminished chords, know major/minor/melodic minor scales, stuff like that. But I'm looking to learn more on my own. I just haven't been able to find much to teach myself with.


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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:33 pm



AWA wrote:
noname wrote:
AWA wrote: You could in theory, but there are much better choices. The only real practical application of this is if you went for 5-#6-#7-5-#6-#7-8 (that is, a literal repetition of the ascending line), since the leading tone must always resolve upward to the tonic when acting as a dominant function (in common practice writing).
Care to elaborate?
Theoretically, any note can move to any other notes; this is mostly explored in 20th century music. In common practice composition and theory, however, the leading tone almost always moves to the tonic (that is, it is almost always used as a dominant function).
Right, the leading tone almost always goes to the tonic. But if went to the piano right now, and played the first seven degrees of a scale, it wouldn't feel complete. If someone wanted to kind of fool the listener, theoretically they could write the leading tone, and then not go to tonic. Is that right? If it is, you could assume that after doing this, they could go to the leading tone again, and follow the leading tone with the tonic, to sort of relieve the listener. Maybe. I'm not sure what effect that would achieve. It may just sound like crap. I guess that's what I was asking about earlier, and you said "there are better choices". I'm not sure if you were referring to what I just typed, but if you were, what would those choices be? (I'm betting one of them is "don't do that"). And to the guy above me...musictheory.net
It's the only one I've used so far. It's got listening exercises and other stuff.


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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:34 pm



baerds wrote: Man, I understood NONE of that. Hey AWA, how would go about learning music theory at its basic level?
College.


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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:36 pm



ConorD wrote:
baerds wrote: Man, I understood NONE of that. Hey AWA, how would go about learning music theory at its basic level?
College.
Thanks man, I'll have to check out a few courses at the local community college.
I live 20 minutes away from RCC so i'm sure they'd be more than willing to help me out!
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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:50 pm



noname wrote:
AWA wrote:
noname wrote: Care to elaborate?
Theoretically, any note can move to any other notes; this is mostly explored in 20th century music. In common practice composition and theory, however, the leading tone almost always moves to the tonic (that is, it is almost always used as a dominant function).
Right, the leading tone almost always goes to the tonic. But if went to the piano right now, and played the first seven degrees of a scale, it wouldn't feel complete. If someone wanted to kind of fool the listener, theoretically they could write the leading tone, and then not go to tonic. Is that right? If it is, you could assume that after doing this, they could go to the leading tone again, and follow the leading tone with the tonic, to sort of relieve the listener. Maybe. I'm not sure what effect that would achieve. It may just sound like crap. I guess that's what I was asking about earlier, and you said "there are better choices". I'm not sure if you were referring to what I just typed, but if you were, what would those choices be? (I'm betting one of them is "don't do that"). And to the guy above me...musictheory.net
It's the only one I've used so far. It's got listening exercises and other stuff.
Well, what you're suggesting is something called "irregular resolution"; I'm sure you've discussed the deceptive cadence in your theory class, and this is one of the most common and important irregular resolutions.

Keep in mind that any discussion of melodic line must be done with the understanding that there is an accompanying harmonic structure. If you were to follow a leading tone (which is dominant, and therefore part of either the V chord or the viio6 chord) with a different note, other than the tonic, then you would have to outline which chord is being moved to. Naturally, there are better chord choices than others; dominant chords generally move to the tonic (I or i), or deceptively to a tonic substitute (vi or VI) or a predominent as a retrograde progression (ii, IV6, iv6, V/V, or N6), the latter of which would naturally move right back to the dominant.

When composing a melody, don't simply write a melodic line; be cognizant of the harmonic function of each note that you select.

----
As for learning music theory, take a class. Seriously. I'm currently halfway through the AP Music Theory course in my high school. While you're taking this class, supplement yourself with independent research (Wikipedia has a lot of music theory articles, and there are endless resources online).
2007 - 2010: West Deptford High School (07-08 FE, 09-10 quads)
2013: Spirit of Atlanta (Marimba)
2014: Bluecoats (Vibraphone)

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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:09 pm



See I'm taking AP Music Theory too, but I think you guys are ahead of where we are. We were going to have to cut the class due to budget cuts, but it got added on last minute as an "independent study". There was a student intern assigned to teach the class until marching band season was over, at which point my band director was going to take over. Things went well enough for a while, but we have a couple of idiots in our class who were very disruptive. They had no respect for this kid, because he was a student, and not an adult. Therefore we had a period where we didn't accomplish much. We are learning at a very fast pace now, just trying to catch up, but I don't know if we'll make it up in time for the AP Exam. We've discussed deceptive progressions, but we haven't talked about retrograde progressions yet.


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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:14 pm



noname wrote:See I'm taking AP Music Theory too, but I think you guys are ahead of where we are. We were going to have to cut the class due to budget cuts, but it got added on last minute as an "independent study". There was a student intern assigned to teach the class until marching band season was over, at which point my band director was going to take over. Things went well enough for a while, but we have a couple of idiots in our class who were very disruptive. They had no respect for this kid, because he was a student, and not an adult. Therefore we had a period where we didn't accomplish much. We are learning at a very fast pace now, just trying to catch up, but I don't know if we'll make it up in time for the AP Exam. We've discussed deceptive progressions, but we haven't talked about retrograde progressions yet.
Have you discussed normal progression? Like, tonic-predominant-dominant-tonic? Retrograde is generally frowned upon, but it's sometimes permissible, on the condition that you "undo" it immediately (so, if you go from a dominant to a predominant, you have to go right back to the dominant, you can't go right to the tonic).
2007 - 2010: West Deptford High School (07-08 FE, 09-10 quads)
2013: Spirit of Atlanta (Marimba)
2014: Bluecoats (Vibraphone)

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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:22 pm



We're doing progressions now. So....yes? I'm not really too sure. For example, today in class we were given a melody, and told to list the possible chords that could contain that note. We were then supposed to pick the chord we wanted (I, IV, or vi for example) on that beat. We had to do that for every part of the melody, and be careful about which chords we picked so that A) things moved in a good progression and B) we avoided objectionable parallels, spacing errors ect...We were doing this with just triads. What textbook does your school use? I could get more specific if we use the same one.


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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:30 pm



AWA wrote:
noname wrote:
AWA wrote:
Theoretically, any note can move to any other notes; this is mostly explored in 20th century music. In common practice composition and theory, however, the leading tone almost always moves to the tonic (that is, it is almost always used as a dominant function).
Right, the leading tone almost always goes to the tonic. But if went to the piano right now, and played the first seven degrees of a scale, it wouldn't feel complete. If someone wanted to kind of fool the listener, theoretically they could write the leading tone, and then not go to tonic. Is that right? If it is, you could assume that after doing this, they could go to the leading tone again, and follow the leading tone with the tonic, to sort of relieve the listener. Maybe. I'm not sure what effect that would achieve. It may just sound like crap. I guess that's what I was asking about earlier, and you said "there are better choices". I'm not sure if you were referring to what I just typed, but if you were, what would those choices be? (I'm betting one of them is "don't do that"). And to the guy above me...musictheory.net
It's the only one I've used so far. It's got listening exercises and other stuff.
Well, what you're suggesting is something called "irregular resolution"; I'm sure you've discussed the deceptive cadence in your theory class, and this is one of the most common and important irregular resolutions.

Keep in mind that any discussion of melodic line must be done with the understanding that there is an accompanying harmonic structure. If you were to follow a leading tone (which is dominant, and therefore part of either the V chord or the viio6 chord) with a different note, other than the tonic, then you would have to outline which chord is being moved to. Naturally, there are better chord choices than others; dominant chords generally move to the tonic (I or i), or deceptively to a tonic substitute (vi or VI) or a predominent as a retrograde progression (ii, IV6, iv6, V/V, or N6), the latter of which would naturally move right back to the dominant.

When composing a melody, don't simply write a melodic line; be cognizant of the harmonic function of each note that you select.

----
As for learning music theory, take a class. Seriously. I'm currently halfway through the AP Music Theory course in my high school. While you're taking this class, supplement yourself with independent research (Wikipedia has a lot of music theory articles, and there are endless resources online).
*gulp*
Last edited by baerds on Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Official Music Theory Thread

Posted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:30 pm



our music theory program got cut. they took the money and bought new math books and flatscreen tvs.


i study theory independently, and a little bit with my private drum teacher (he's a theory NUT). did me well enough to pass out of general theory for music school
I play and teach music (sometimes even band music!)

I work in music tech and licensing.

Music is an art and positive energy.


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