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Music Theory

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Jared March

on 8 February 2014

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Transcript of Music Theory

—cancels any previous sharp or flat and returns to the natural, or unaltered, pitch

The Staff
an art of sound and silence in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through elements that include melody, harmony, rhythm, and color
Music Theory
& Ear Training

The DNA of Music
Goals for the class
for you to go fairly "deep" into what is behind music without it being overwhelming
for you to think consciously about the patterns in music
to equip you with the basic tools you need to listen analytically to music and write down what you hear (notate)
for you to know enough about the patterns in music to make "good" musical choices on your own,
you made them
What is Music?
Music is organic
Music is art
Music Theory
Music Theory essentially is the study of patterns in music
Nearly anyone can hum or whistle a tune, but Music Theory tells you what other notes sound good with that song and why they work well together.
Music Theory also includes the study of the languages and notation of music.

It allows you to listen to a song you enjoy and write down a way to tell other musicians how to play it.
The melody is made up of various sounds (or tones) that have a definite

There are actually an infinite number of pitches in the range of human hearing, but in Western Music, we've settled on a repeating pattern of 12
The notes of the melody also have
a definite
a certain
A Melody can also be based around any of the 12 notes
We use different keys for several reasons
A song can sometimes be more interesting when the key changes (e.g. Kelly Clarkson)
Everyone's voice is different, so you should change the key to fit what is comfortable for you
Every Key also has two main
an interval is simply the distance between two notes
Every interval has a name which describes the distance between those notes
The two closest intervals are whole steps and half steps
A scale is an orderly progression of all the notes native to a given key, and each key has two main kinds of scales-
major and minor
Scales are made up of combinations of whole and half steps, and follow a definite pattern
Key: C major

Key: A minor
In most of our music today, harmony is generally synonymous with chords
Chord: A collection of 3 or more notes, usually played simultaneously
There are four basic "flavors" of chords: Major, Minor, Diminished and Augmented.
Major Chords
You can build a major chord "from scratch" a couple different ways
First, take a major scale built on the chord's note name, and only play the first, third and fifth notes of that scale
C Major
The second way is to count the intervals that make up the chord
A major chord has a major third on the bottom,
and a minor third on top
Count 4 half steps up from the chord's note name,
and then up another 3 from that note
Minor Chords
The way you build a minor chord is very similar
Take a minor scale built on the chord's note name, and only play the first, third and fifth notes of that scale
C minor
The intervals between the notes are flipped from the major chord
There is a minor third on the bottom and a major third on the top
You could also think of it like a major chord
with a lowered third
The notes in a triad are called the root, the third and the fifth
unlike a chord chart, which only gives you an outline to follow, the staff allows you to learn a piece of music without ever having heard it before
5 lines
4 spaces
treble clef
Other Types of Chords
to create an
chord, start with a major triad, and raise the fifth a half step
to create a
chord, start with a minor triad, and lower the fifth a half step
it tells you precisely what notes to play, how long and loud they should be, and what style they should be played in
Bass Clef
the bass clef generally denotes a lower pitch instrument or voice, and is centered on the note F
The treble clef is used for higher pitched instruments, and is centered on the note G
you can combine these two "staves" to form a
Grand Staff
are symbols that are placed to the left of the noteheads to indicate the raising or lowering of a pitch
Sharp #
—raises the pitch a half step

lowers the pitch a half step
rhythm is a general term used to describe the motion of music in time
the fundamental unit of rhythm is the pulse or beat
in our system of music notation, the beat is most often represented by a
quarter note
can be defined as a regular, recurring pattern of strong and weak beats.
This recurring pattern of durations is identified at the beginning of a composition by a
time signature
the upper digit indicates the number of basic note values per measure
the lower digit indicates a basic note value:
2 signifies a half note, 4 refers to a quarter note, 8 to an eighth note etc.
meter falls into two basic categories: simple and compound
in simple meter, beats are usually divided in two parts
the upper numbers are usually 2, 3 or 4
in compound meter, each pulse is a dotted note, which is divided into three parts
the upper numbers in compound meter are usually 6, 9, and 12
in compound meter signatures, the lower number refers to the division of the beat, whereas the upper number indicates the number of these divisions per measure
in 6/8 meter, there are only two basic pulses; in 9/8 there are three, and in 12/8 there are four
both simple and compound meters will have two, three or four recurring pulses
meters can be categorized as
if there are two recurring pulses,
if there are three, and
if there are four
if the meter or pulse is not a multiple of 2 or 3, we usually call it
complex time
asymmetrical meter
as you might guess, those meters are not usually popular choices for worship music, but it is possible to use them! (e.g. Bryan & Katie Torwalt - Worthy King)
Chords 2.0

Diatonic chords
are chords that are only made of notes that occur in that particular key
(the opposite would be chromatic chords)

• these chords can be strung together in repeating patterns to form
, which form the basis of 99% of the harmony found in modern worship
• there are certain progressions that sound better than others (subjectively speaking)
some examples:
Major: vi - IV - I - V
Major: IV - V - vi - iii
Major: ii - IV - I - V
Minor: i - iv - i - V - i
• in Western Tonal music (all worship music), the tonic chord is the most stable of all
• most music revolves around moving away from, then back to the tonic (tension & release)
• progressions that don't follow this convention tend to sound disjointed and directionless
How Great Is Our God
Worship Progressions & Transposition
• what key is it in?
• what are the four chords used in this progression?
• what if we want to play this song in C Major?
Our God
• what is the key?
• what are the numbers of this chord progression?
• what would the chords be in the key of G?
transpose to A
transpose to E
Chord Progressions & Ear Training
• listening for and recognizing chord progressions is an extremely valuable skill for any musician, but it is especially important for the improvisatory style that we use at KHOP
• like most musical skills, it is one that needs time, effort and practice to really be effective, but here are some starting points:
• listen for the main note of the key first (tonic) in order to get that stuck in your head. When it shows up again in the music, you can easily identify it
• it is much easier to hear chord changes by focusing on the bass line than the treble
• try to create a mental picture of the different "spaces" or intervals between the notes of the bass; the distance between I-IV or V-I is quite a bit larger than I-vi or vi-IV
• "listen with intention" to songs you know well; you probably already have those progressions unconsciously ingrained in your head, so match them with their functions in order to identify that same progression elsewhere
• Practice Practice Practice! Try analyzing music whenever you hear it (except in church) to give your aural skills a workout
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