Enharmonia

0

What’s going on everyone! You’ve been out there cutting your teeth on some intense analysis, and I think you earn a treat! So today, we are briefly going to discuss enharmonic equivalents. Big words, simple concept. So sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, about two notes being one, its all about how you spell that stuff, now let’s go have some fun (Gilligans’ Island was a fun show).

So enharmonic equivalents are two notes with different names that share the same pitch. Pretty cut and dry, right? Good lesson everyone! Peace!

No. I won’t leave you like that. Lets listen to the pitch B (the note right below C). Grab an instrument, play the note, listen to the note, now internalize it in your ear brain… aaaaaaaand good! Ok, now I want you to play a C-flat… You hear that right? The same pitch, just spelled differently! “But Kyle! What’s the point!?” It’s to make music playing difficult, as it should be!!! No… No, that’s not the point. I would say that enharmonic spellings come most in handy when wanting to modulate to a key that’s not closely related to the one you are in. Let’s look at one of my favorite uses of enharmonic spelling, which is the German augmented 6th chord (Ger+6 for short).

A Ger+6 chord is spelled using these scale degrees: 1-b3-#4-b6. It Looks like this in C-major.
ee-1

Typically, a Ger+6 chord acts as a predominant chord (precedes the V chord in a progression) if you are staying within a key. This offers a different option for voice leading, which we’ll save for a different visit on my corner. As I said earlier, they work well as modulatory devices too.

ee-2

A Ger+6 chord in the key of D-minor (1 flat) is spelled D-F-G#-Bb. Now here is where the enharmonic spelling comes into play. If we were to resolve to V and use the predominant function of a Ger+6 chord, the resolution would look like the above example. Instead of that, let’s enharmonically spell one of the notes, specifically G#, which I’m choosing because in this scenario, it is a true accidental. The rest of the notes can be found naturally in the key of D-minor. So a G# can be enharmonically spelled to an Ab, which changes the game! So now we have D-F-Bb, and now Ab. Hopefully I have taught you well, and you recognize that as a dominant-seventh chord in first inversion.
ee-3

Which reminds me that I haven’t discussed how dominant chords of chords that are not the tonic do exist simply put, you can have a V of V marked V/V in roman numeral analysis, which in the key of C would be a D major chord since D is the V to G, which is the V to C, get it? No? Ok, next time then.

Where was I!? Oh yeah! If you did not recognize that, then you could restack the notes to a more recognizable chord.

ee-4

Bb-D-F-Ab is the root position of the chord, which is a Bb7 chord, or a V7 in the key of Eb (get it know? No? ok.). So this Ger+6 can be used to modulate to the key of Eb-major (3 flats which is fairly distant) or Eb-minor (6 flats which is really distant). Pretty wild stuff, huh?

Man! There is so much more to talk about. We touched on a couple things I have discussed, as mentioned earlier, but we will go deeper into those topics another time. You should take a moment and sign up for our e-mail list. I am doing some reviews of bands that I am listening that get put on the e-mail list, so if you wanna read that, then sign up! Of course I welcome you unload your music theory burden at my door. Comment, like, and share this with all your music friends, and as always, thanks for turning on my corner!

Puttin’ it All Together

0

Long time no see my theory enthusiasts! I think it is time we put our knowledge so far to some use. From the get go I am hoping that you had a basic understanding of music fundamentals (note values, key signatures, time signatures, lines and spaces, etc…) so that the topics to come were easier to grasp. Well here is where the rubber meets the road, because we are going to do a harmonic analysis of Mozart’s Piano Sonata in B-flat, K.333, measures 1-10. This was the first sonata I analyzed at UTA, so thank you Dr. Hunt!

So first thing you should do is listen to what you are analyzing. Click here to listen to the portion we are going to discuss, which ends at the :20 mark. After listening, you want to have the sheet music, unless you are up for the challenge of doing it all by ear. The best website for public domain sheet music is the Petrucci Music Library. So we have listened, and we have the music. Basics are done. Let’s get into the real deal.

The first step you should take is addressing what key the piece is in. Luckily, a lot of classical pieces were simply titled, “sonata in X-major/minor”, which makes it easy, to an extent. But if there are no titular indicators, what do?

First thing is to look at your key signature. That will bring it to two options, the major key, or the relative minor. Let’s assume there isn’t a title to this piece. The key signature is two flats, which means we are in B-flat major, or G minor. The first chord is going to be the determining factor of the key. In this case, the first measure of music is arpeggiating a Bb major chord, and a G minor chord in first inversion. The first chord in a piece typically denotes the what key the piece is in.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-5-10-45-pm

 

One thing that may present a challenge for first time analysts is that this isn’t a chordal texture. One more feature that could slip you up is that Mozart starts the bass voice in the treble clef, which could lead to a misanalysis of the first chord being a I^5, which isn’t bad, but isn’t right. The second measure the bass is arpeggiating a C-minor chord (ii), and is ended by switching back to the bass clef. The third measure of this phrase is the first time the bass doesn’t arpeggiate the full chord. The bass is fulfilling the root, fifth, and seventh of the V7 chord. Lucky for us, the melody of this piece provides the third to complete the chord.

There aren’t many other chords in this first section, but what a full, and rich portion of music Mozart has provided with only a handful of chords. As I have said in the past, the tendency of music is to return home, and if you listened to the music, you will hear that this section rests at the 0:20 mark where there is a V-I cadence. These demarcations in the overall piece are what help us figure out the form of a piece.

If you have kept up with me this far, then I’m guessing you are in for the long haul. I will continue to introduce new concepts as we go forward, and hope that you contact me with any questions if something doesn’t make sense. If you haven’t signed up for Lindby’s e-mail list, go to our homepage and scroll to the bottom. I have a segment that is coming out that I am pretty excited about. Could be a one-time thing, but who knows! Comment below, and thanks for turning on my corner.

Johnny 5 is Alive!!!

0

MCTC #5: Chord Circuit

 

Johnny Five is Alive!!! This is technically the 5th installment of my theory corner, not counting the introduction, hence the Short Circuit reference! What’s goin’ on theory enthusiasts! I hope your respective seasons have treated you well (for all my Southern Hemisphere readers). We are making quite a trail so far in this music theory forest, but there is much more to explore. So let’s punch some trees, make some paper, and get to some theory!

We talked about inversions last time, but if you didn’t join us, then hop in your TARDIS and correct that (or just read it, but if you know the Doctor, hit me up). So we can stack all these chords, we know how to invert them, and we even have a method for categorizing the chord qualities and what they are in the key, but these chords all play a role as well. A couple posts back I reference a song by Stewie from Family Guy, and talked about how he referenced a chord as being his home. We are going to start with a chord that is typically the first and last chord you hear in a piece of music, or song. This is the I (roman numeral) chord, or, a more forgiving name in the written medium, the tonic.

Yes, the tonic you don’t mix with your gin, if you’re of age. If you’re under 21, MCTC® does not condone the consumption of alcohol; go read a book about music theory.

Sorry. Ok, but the tonic is just a starting place. To preface, what I am about to present to you is merely the tendency of composers studied by theorists, and in no way is a strict set of rules for how to compose your music. This is for the composition of tonal music, but learning new things never hurt. So don’t fight it. Let’s go ahead and pick a key!

The dice roll video posted on Lindby’s instagram last week was to help us decide the key (wanna know how that works, hit me up), which it looks like we are going with the key of D-major. Two Sharps (pound sign/hashtag/tic-tac-toe board – ## <-those things) So the tonic chord is a D-major chord. Pretty straight forward like that. The beauty of the tonic chord is its’ ability to go to any chord without an unsettling amount of dissonance. A tonal partner to the tonic is the dominant chord, or the V chord. In the key of D-major, that would be an A-major chord. Before continuing further I have included the tonal chords in D-major to help with the discussion.

mctc5.1

One aspect about the dominant (V) chord in a key is that you will typically see the seventh of the chord being used as well. This is important because adding the seventh will create a sound of tension between the 3rd and 7th of the chord (C#-G in an A7 chord). This is interval, as we know, is a diminished fifth, or tritone. The tension naturally wants to resolve itself inwards, with C# ascending to D, and G descending to F#. So the tritone in a dominant-seventh chord wants resolve to the root and third of the tonic. As far as the roll of the dominant within the key, it is the chord that is most likely to appear before the tonic, again because of the tritone resolution that happens. There are plenty of instances where the chord following a dominant chord is not the tonic, but we are just covering basic tendencies. Here is an example of a V65 – I progression so you can see the motion I mentioned.

mctc5.2

The viio typically precedes the tonic chord, and that is because of the same tritone that you find in a V7 chord. The viio is also labeled as the leading tone, again because of its’ tendency to lead to the tonic. As you can see below, the viio chord is essentially a V7 chord, but the root of the V7 has been removed.

mctc5.3

There is another pair of notes that act similarly to each other. Those are going to be the chords you should expect to precede the V or viio chord. On occasion, the V-chord will progress to a vi chord, but that is used to deceive the ear from the intended V-I sound the listener expects. We will discuss this further when we talk about cadences, but to be brief, cadences are basically the period/punctuation to a musical sentence.

The ii-chord (supertonic) and IV-chord (predominant) are going to be the chords that you will hear before a V (dominant) or viio (leading-tone). If you have played any level of jazz music, you should be familiar with a ii-V-I turn around. Sometimes I feel like jazz songs are parks where people just litter ii-V-I progressions with reckless abandon, but I digress. Anyway, you will typically encounter the ii-chord in first inversion, which you can see why in the example below. These two chords will sometimes precede one another, depending on your needs, but they are both chords that aurally set up the dominant chord well.

mctc5.4

A ii6 chord is similar to a IV chord because of the shared notes between the two chords (similar to the V7 and viio relation). The IV-chord will also go to the I chord at cadential moments, mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, this is where those kind of relationships end. Granted, that does knock out 5 of the 7 chords we are going to talk about.

So the remaining chords are the vi-chord (submediant) and the iii-chord (mediant), which don’t get as much face-time as the rest, but still can offer great compositional possibilities! These chords also share notes, but they are not interchangeable in the sense of tonal music. The mediants (both chords) get some wicked use in 19th century composition when composers are writing more emotionally charge music, but we will talk about chromatic harmonies a little further down the road (or you can e-mail me). Here is a quick guide for harmonic progression in Major, and also in Minor.

Majormctc5.5

Minor

mctc5.6

I know I am not presenting a lot of things in minor keys, or discussing them a lot. I will be mixing things up in the future, but I want to make sure we have some solid ground before I start fracking around in minor. (frack fracking…) We have a lot of ground to cover still, and if there is anything specific you want me to focus on, I am more than happy to take some requests. Maybe you want me to talk about a specific song instead of just giving you this textbook style. By all means! Feel free to give me something to discuss. If it isn’t on a level that is ascertainable by all the readers, than maybe I can do a separate post about it. But yeah, let me know.

This post was brought to you by the sounds of The Butthole Surfers albums “Independent Worm Saloon”, and “Locust Abortion Technician”. Got an album I should listen to? Buy it for me and I might listen to it while making the next post and give a shout out about how you either changed my life, or shoved garbage in my ears! Thanks for turning on my corner.

 

Welcome To Master Claset’s Theory Corner!

3

Hello everyone! Thanks for taking time out of your day to read this, and I hope to improve upon your current musical knowledge. I expect many different levels of musical experience, but I intend to introduce topics and material that you all will find both interesting and helpful. I am going to try and be as accessible as possible, but I do recommend readers familiarize themselves with basic musical concepts, such as note names, rhythms, time signatures, and key signatures. Music theory is a subject that is best discussed in a dialogue, which is why I encourage you to send in questions that I will discuss at the end of the next entry.

If you are wet behind the ears, check out learnmusictheory.net. My previous professor Dr. Mark Feezell compiled the information, which ranges from music fundamentals to contemporary music theory. I encourage you to consider buying the PDF copy for $4.95, which is probably the lowest you will pay for college level information (other than the free pearls of wisdom to come).

To say a little about myself, I received my Bachelors Degree in music theory at the University of Texas at Arlington with Dr. Graham Hunt (currently at UTA), and Dr. Sean Atkinson (currently at Texas Christian University). There I studied topics in Sonata theory, Schenkerian Analysis, 20th century form and analysis, and Post-tonal theory. Shortly after graduating in 2012, I applied for the Masters program for Music Theory Pedagogy at Southern Methodist University. This is where I honed my skills as a theorist, and delved into the teaching side of things. I worked with Dr. David Mancini, Dr. Mark Feezell, and Dr. Gary Foster in learning pedagogical philosophies about teaching music theory. I also spent two semesters with Dr. Peter Kupfer studying Music History Pedagogy, and studying music history in the 19th century.

I know that sounds like a lot of hoity-toity credentials, but don’t expect to see music from a lot of long dead composers. There will be that, but I want to delve into current music, by both nationally and locally popular music. So if you find yourself outside of the D/FW scene, you might hear of some bands you wouldn’t normally encounter.

As a taste of what’s to come, my first submission will be focused on modes. Below is an example of a C-major scale.
MCTC-sacle-image
We are going to take this single scale, and learn about the 6 other scales that are related to this scale. If you know of a major scale, but are unsure what it is specifically, then here is where we start! I will also discuss a bit of history in relation to scales and modes (the whole tetrachord business), so be ready for that as well.

Send your questions/comments to lindby.mctc@gmail.com, or leave a comment, and thanks for turning on my corner!