Music Theory Made Simple #0: Index (TOC)

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by stevel, Jan 5, 2014.


  1. ceanat

    ceanat Supporting Member

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  2. stevel

    stevel Member

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    You are very welcome!
     
  3. denmalley

    denmalley Supporting Member

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    I'm hooked - today I was browsing forum topics and thought, "oh hey I never visited the playing and technique area"

    Read through the first 15 today. I would say I've always had a working knowledge of the main meat of these concepts but have never dug down to understand all "why's" for how it works the way it does. Thanks for this.
     
  4. kinmike

    kinmike Supporting Member

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    What no discussion of rhythm? Some of us are really stupid out here.

    Mike
     
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  5. stevel

    stevel Member

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    Hmm, not a bad suggestion Mike...

    I've been pondering where to take this next (for a while!) and that might be a nice break from all the "pitch" aspects.
     
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  6. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Looking forward to it, steve.

    Rather you than me, mwahahahahahaaa!:Devil

    (I mean, some aspects are straightforward, the kind of thing you can notate and write down. Others...the more interesting and elusive aspects.... hmmmm.....)
     
  7. Willabe Storms

    Willabe Storms Member

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    Very well written... Thank you...
     
  8. etheran

    etheran Member

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    Time to start reading up here. My preoccupation with speed has kept me away from theory for a while. I'm finally getting my technique down, now it's time to round out those edges! Thanks for this :D
     
  9. MegaSaiyan25

    MegaSaiyan25 Member

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    Hi Stevel,

    Thanks for all you do, I've read many of your threads here. They've been a huge help.

    I guess i can say i know the basics of the Number System with the Roman Numerals in UC and LC
    Example: I ii iii IV V vi VIIo
    to the point where ive been teaching my band mates this concept and way of seeing music.

    You (and many other sources) have said that the 2nd degree of the major scale is "always minor" from what I've read here. (wanted to quote you but i couldn't find it lol)
    But this is where I'm lost and would like for you to explain or at least direct me in the right way to understand this issue.

    I play at my church, there's a song called "Mighty to Save" in the key of D
    It begins:
    D-A-F#m-E
    This is the Intro chord progression.

    BUT if it is indeed in the key of D major, all the chords make sense except for the"E major chord".
    It sounds right when we play the song.
    But i know this "E chord" should be minor but it sounds wrong if i play it instead of the E major.

    So why is it that it fits into this song's chord progression?
    Whats happening here?

    That confusion was enforced when i realized
    all four chords of that song exist in the Key of A Major as follows:
    I ii iii IV V vi VIIo
    A Bm C#m D E F#m Go

    So is it that something is happening to the ii chord in the key of D that i dont know about, which is making it major?

    Or is it that the song is ACTUALLY in the Key of A major playing a
    IV-I-vi-V progression??

    Understanding what's going on here would help out so much, i really want to get this concept wrapped around y head well enough to introduce
    the rest of the band to adopt this method of visualizing Music and the relationships between notes.

    Thanks for reading and hope you can help.

    God Bless
     
  10. stevel

    stevel Member

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    In a Major Key, yes.


    It could sound "right" only because you've first heard it that way and it's kind of ingrained in your hearing that way. But read on...


    This is correct - well, almost :) Up above you wrote "VIIo" - but we usually put viio - lower case because the diminished triad has a m3 from its root to the 3rd of the chord.

    However, you put "G" here - but 7 in the key of A Major is G#. So it may just be a typo but since both the errors in text here regarded the same chord, I just wanted to make sure you've got that - In the key of A Major, the viio chord is G#o (G# diminished).

    But the rest is correct, and your thinking is right on - aligning the major and minor triads to make them fit the key. Good!
    There could be. I don't know the song so I can't be positive, but yes, it's always possible other things are happening that either allow this Major "II" chord to appear in this song. Just don't know what yet - so, read on...
    A-ha! It very well could be.

    So, here's a problem we run into: In modern music, the "rules" of Tonality are not followed. In fact, it's not really "Tonal" music at all, but, it looks so darn close that people often assume it is (or haven't learned about other possibilities, etc.).

    Traditional Tonal music didn't really "loop" progressions in the way that modern popular music does.

    But even traditional tonal music doesn't have to start on the I chord.

    So progressions often start on I, but they don't have to, and in CPP music they do typically end on I. But in modern music, all bets are off!

    So this could be "in D" with a "wrong II chord". And that could have been done solely for the sound of it. "As Tears Go By" by The Rolling Stones uses a Major II chord in its progression. Like your example, it doesn't sound "wrong" per se. But it's largely that we've gotten used to hearing these "out of key chords" (some theorists refer to them as "color" chords - used solely for their different color) that they sound "right" even though on paper they seem "wrong".

    However, that's usually our last resort at an explanation in music that's still closely related to Tonal music (which this may be).

    Another option is, as you suggest, that it is in fact in A Major, and simply starts on the IV chord.

    However it could be in D Lydian - not in the Major/minor key system (so modal, instead of tonal). That's probably unlikely, but it's certainly well within the realms of possibility.

    Tom Petty's "Her Comes My Girl" starts off with a Lydian-sounding vamp. It does later end up on a chord that really makes us re-think what we've been hearing as I and II is really IV and V and we just haven't heard the I yet.

    So it could be Lydian, or we might just not be getting the "real I" until later in the song (and the D now isn't strong enough to tell).

    Not to open a can of worms, but this is the problem with "Sweet Home Alabama". It it's truly in a key, and you align I IV and V, it makes it HAVE to be G. But if it's in D, it could be D Mixolydian (which isn't uncommon in blues-based rock, which those guys were certainly familiar with).

    Now one of the reasons that song is so tricky is 1. Many people don't understand that possibilities other than Major or Minor exist, so aren't even aware it could be Mixolydian, and 2. The song itself doesn't *clearly* lean on either D or G as the home - at least in such a fashion that a vast majority of people hear it one way over another. Something like "Can't You See" by The Marshall Tucker Band uses a similar progression, but always comes back to D each time. So it more clearly makes D sound like home.

    SHA - D - C - G - G
    So see, it begins on D, and ends on 2 Gs, so it should give more weight to the G by there being 2 of them and it being the last chord, but it's not CPP music either and a lot of people still really hear the D strongly.

    CYS - D - C - G - D - this one begins AND ends on D, and there's more of them, so we tend to hear this one far more strongly as being "in D".

    So here, it's not in G Major even though the chords align with that. It's in D Mixolydian instead.

    So for your song, it really depends on how strongly listeners perceive any 1 chord as the "Center" or "Home" chord (and if in a Key, the "Tonic").

    If it sounds like D is "home", we'd have to say it's "In D", meaning the E chord is either a color chord, or it's D Lydian (melody notes containing G or G# could be a clue).

    If instead it sounds like A is "home", it's just in A Major and starts on some chord other than the Tonic.

    Now, as I play through the chords, cycling through a couple of passes, if I come to rest on the E it doesn't sound "final". If I continue on to the D after that, it still doesn't sound "final". But when I continue on 1 more to the A chord, that does sound like the "chord of rest".

    So, *out of context* it sounds very "A-Majorish" to me. It reminds me a bit of "Let it Ride" by BTO, which goes:

    D - A - E - F#m - A/C# - Bm - F#m

    Even though the verse is clearly in F#m (which is the relative minor to A Major), the "happy-ish" sound of the Chorus - at least at the beginning, sounds very "A Major" becuase of the use of amounts to IV - I - V - vi - I...though it steadily shifts back to F#m all the time.

    Yours is the first four, and two out of order, but again, out of context, this sounds "more A Major-ish" than anything else to me.

    IOW, I don't get "In D" with a "wrong" II chord (or color chord if you like). I also don't get "D Lydian" out of.

    Now, my feelings on that might change with more of the song, or the melody notes included, but with what you've given here, I'd go with A Major before D Major.

    Sometimes, in practice, we don't need the theory! IOW, it may not make a difference if it's "in A" or "in D" in the grand scheme of things. You could say "well guys, this could be D or A, but I'm going to treat it like A Major, and call the first chord IV, etc.".

    IV - I - vi - V

    Done.

    Where it can also help is if you're trying to tell someone how to improvise or solo over it. I've seen guitar magazines for years take something like this and say "It's D Lydian" simply because they're working off the first chord and trying to give the player a "box" to play in - a "pattern". But that doesn't mean it's really that.

    I've worked with players who don't know enough about modes that if I said "D mixolydian" they look at me funny, and I just say "just play G Major". :)

    So in this case, I think you'd be justified in saying "A Major" as it all works (again, barring any other information contained in the song we don't have here) to tell someone what note resource to use to play over this progression (though it starting on IV might throw them a bit!).

    HTH,
    Steve
     
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  11. MegaSaiyan25

    MegaSaiyan25 Member

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    Wow first of all thank you for taking time out of your day to respond back I really appreciate it.
    Thanks for all the great examples.
    I've even gotten a better picture of how music is just so mysterious, the more I learn, the more I find out there's still to learn.
    I look forward to your future topics!

    Thanks, God bless
     
  12. Guitar1969

    Guitar1969 Supporting Member

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    Mighty to Save is in A. Just because the Intro/verses start in D doesn't always mean that is the key of the song, but this does work most of the time.. When you get to the chorus you will can hear it is centered around A, and also starts with the A. The minor chord(vi) - F#m also tells you that it is A major.

    God Bless, Michael
     
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  13. wizzard

    wizzard Member

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    wooow such a great thread! thank you very much i will probably spend months here :)
     
  14. dc_jcm800

    dc_jcm800 Member

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    Dspec1 Member

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  16. skydog52

    skydog52 Member

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    Thank You for this thread!
     
  17. stevel

    stevel Member

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    You're welcome to all of those who've thanked me and I haven't had a chance to say that to. Thank you all for reading as well.
     
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  18. Doug G

    Doug G Silver Supporting Member

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    Another thanks for this series of threads. I've been coming back to it regularly, and it's helped to improve my musical knowledge immensely.

    Steve, appreciate you taking the time to do this.
     
  19. stevel

    stevel Member

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    Glad it's helping Doug!
     
  20. cycler

    cycler Supporting Member

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    Bookmarked on my computor.
     

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