Archive | understanding music

closely-related-keys-for-modulation

Modulation

Modulation describes the process where a piece of music changes from one key to another key. When you start writing a piece of music one of the first things you do is choose a key to compose in. This choice of key determines the scale you use, how many sharps and flats there are and […]

Arpeggio sheet music example

Arpeggios

Arpeggios are an amazing musical technique which you will come across all the time in lots of different styles. The music theory term arpeggio (or broken chord) simply describes when the notes of a chord are played one after the other rather than at the same time. This is as opposed to a block chord […]

Inversions Root Position

Chord Inversions

Chord inversions add a richness to a chord progression and are a great tool for composers to use. I am going to show how easy chord inversions are to understand and give you a few examples of when you should try to use them in your songs/pieces. Understanding Chord Inversions Chord inversions are really easy […]

Chord Progressions Title Sheet Music

Chord Progressions

The term chord progression simply refers to the order in which chords are played in a song/piece of music. Play a few different songs/pieces and you will see that there are various different ways in which composers order chords. However, the good news is that there are a few simple guidelines which will help you […]

Seventh Chords Introduction

Seventh Chords

Seventh chords are the most common extension of the basic 3-note triad you come across. A seventh chord is built by adding an extra note to a triad which is an interval of a 7th above the root note. e.g. If you build a triad on C you will use the notes (C-E-G). If you […]

Secondary Chords Roman Numerals

Secondary Chords

In the last lesson we looked at the primary chords. These are the most common chords you will come across and are a great starting point for composing music. Now we are going to have a look at the next most common chords you will come across and use – the secondary chords. How to […]

Primary Chords Roman Numerals

Primary Chords

The primary chords are the 3 most commonly used chords in music. Lots of songs and many pieces of music that you will hear will be built around them because they work well together. If you are starting to try to compose your own music then an understanding of the primary chords is going to […]

Introduction to Chords Image

Introduction to Chords

An understanding of chords is vital for any musician – understand chords and you are well on the way to being able to compose and perform some great music. If music was a cake then melody would be the icing and chords would be the sponge – the melody is the first thing you are […]

Music theory triad

Triads

Chords and Triads Triads are made up of 3 notes played on top of each other. You will often hear people describe triads as chords. They consist of a bottom note (root), a middle note (3rd) and a top note (5th) How to make a triad Triads are easy to create – all you need […]

Canon Music Form Diagram

Canon Music

Canon A canon is a piece of music where a melody is played and then imitated (one or more times) after a short delay. It is a contrapuntal technique as the melodic lines move independently from each other, but are linked harmonically. As you can see from the diagram above the first melody is called […]

Rondo Form Diagram

Rondo Form

Rondo Form Rondo Form is a natural extension of the 2 forms we have looked at already – Binary Form and Ternary Form. If Binary Form is A-B and Ternary Form is A-B-A then Rondo Form is A-B-A-C-A-D-A. The main section or theme (known as “A”) alternates with contrasting themes (you will hear these called […]

Ternary Form

Ternary Form

Ternary Form A musical structure where the piece is divided into 3 distinct sections. The 1st and last sections are exactly the same as each other and so the form can be written A – B – A as below: Each of the sections sound like complete pieces of music in themselves – you could […]

Simple Binary Form

Binary Form

Binary Form Binary Form describes the structure of a piece of music which is divided into 2 different sections. The 2 sections are usually labelled A and B. The key concept to grasp is that there is some sort of contrast between the A section and the B section. This contrast is usually (though not […]

Theme and Variations Structure

Theme and Variations

Theme and Variations Theme and variations is a very common musical structure you will come across, especially in classical music. The structure is built upon a musical idea called the theme which is played at the start of the piece. The theme can be as short as 8 bars in length or can be much […]

Pedal Point Sheet Music

Pedal Point

Pedal Point A pedal point is a sustained note during which the harmony above it changes in some way so that the overall sound becomes dissonant. As with a lot of music theory it is easier to see it and hear it rather than trying to work out what a definition is talking about so […]

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