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Weekly Music Theory Thread [Week 30, 2018]
#1
Music theory is such a large umbrella term. Many many many things constitute as music theory, which is how music works and really just all the different concepts and things that actually make up music. Melody, Rhythm, Chord progression, actual production (analogue, electronic), intervals, dissonance, performance, tuning, improv, harmony, structure, etc. any element you can think of, has to do with music theory. Being so vast, it's hard really to know what somebody might know when they even mention music theory.

I'd like to gauge what people know in this discussion. Simply having advanced chord knowledge is an aspect of music theory, knowing about major 6th chords or dominant 9th chords or whatever else -- it counts. It's a very intimidating topic and it may definitely seem unnecessary. However, knowing basic things about music theory is really what makes us <I>able</I> to compose, play, and work with other musicians in a universal language. It is my fear that many people will find the term daunting, and just not even try to read about it -- but I want to show that probably all of you have at least some very basic music theory knowledge.

<U>These are the things that I am most familiar with in music theory:</U>
<LIST>
  • <LI>
  • Chords/Types of Chords (Major, Minor, Augmented, Diminished, Extended, and anything else. Just so this doesn't seem too foreign, I'll give an example. In a lot of my music, I make a specific choice to use MAJOR 7th chords because they have a very dreamy and laid back feel to them. Just my knowledge of what something sounds like and how it will benefit my writing <I>is</I> music theory.)</LI>
    <LI>
  • Intervals (The relationship between two notes. Guitarists, a power chord? That is called a perfect fifth interval and it is one of the strongest. Or I could identify a certain note in a chord that is the one actively making that chord either major or minor, because of it's locational relationship to whatever note I'm trying to figure out.)</LI>
    <LI>
  • Notes [time value and tone/pitch] (I can read quarter notes, whole notes, etc and I am familiar with all 12 different notes of music. In my music production, I don't regularly READ music so this skill doesn't necessarily help me create music but it definitely helps me understand it more.)</LI>
</LIST>
There is so much more considered to be music theory. Knowing about and utilizing vibrato, and bends, and different techniques is music theory too. I do not have a good grasp on modes, scales, key signatures, or the circle of fifths (that one specifically is supposed to be really useful.)

Honestly learning about chording and intervals has helped me immensely in not just making music, but also understanding it. That understanding allows me to really appreciate and also convey my thoughts on music from a more technical level. I will never learn everything I want to know, as the database is insanely vast but I learn what I can and whatever I find to be applicable.

With that being said,
What are your thoughts on music theory? Are you familiar with the term? Given the knowledge that some of these key basic concepts ARE music theory, how much do you know? When you're composing music, how do you know what you're doing? Do you like to work with certain chord types? Are you interested in learning MORE music theory?
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#2
I don't know many formal terms in music theory beyond stuff like chord names and music sheet notation, but I have a grasp on some concepts!
Stuff like harmonization, stable and unstable intervals and resolving them, modal interchange, and modes in general
Understanding theory is definitely useful in improving as a composer, but to some people it may not be necessary. That's not to say it is unimportant!
At the heart of it, music is an art, and art serves to convey a message or evoke a reaction or emotion. True skill is in being able to effectively convey the message you want, not merely technicalities. Theory definitely helps in understanding how to set the moods or emotions that you want!
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#3
<I>Great writing as usual, a very clear introduction to a topic that I believe should become central to this community.</I>

I used to make music purely by trial and error, and it got me somewhere, but recently, as in this year, I started to approach my hobby more seriously. I have been an engineering student for three years now, and then I really learned how to study something efficiently, so I thought "Why not apply this to my hobby as well?", and so I did. I have barely scratched the surface, familiarizing myself with terms like chords, intervals, resolution and expectation, but I have no intention of stopping there, hence why I really support having a thread like this one.

At first I thought that this would be like learning the rules, and then suddenly your music sounds like everybody else's, but I could not have been more wrong. Having an overview of the theory does the exact opposite, as it allows for full creativity, because instead of spending time shooting in the dark and trying out random stuff, I can now just translate ideas and concepts directly into sound, almost. The overhead of composition is gone, only music is left.

Anyways, I want to share an awesome resource if you want to dive into this head-first, and that is the youtube channel 8-bit Music Theory (<URL url="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeZLO2VgbZHeDcongKzzfOw"><LINK_TEXT text="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeZLO2 ... congKzzfOw">https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeZLO2VgbZHeDcongKzzfOw</LINK_TEXT></URL>). This guy knows music theory very well, and he explains how it is used around in various game soundtracks (not just 8-bit, mind you). I have read or watched more formal material as well, but this source is just a pure delight.

So, that's my take on this whole thing, now to some more specific discussion:
[mention]Gravaged[/mention], you have so respectfully pointed out my struggles with ending a song, are there any pointers you can give me to improve on this? Like what theory (both musically and psychlogically) lies behind closure in a track? Why are we sometimes <COLOR color="#0000FF">blue balled</COLOR> by a song's unsatisfying ending?
[Image: GFBF9Xv.png]



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#4
You had mentioned the term "resolution". Theory wise, the strongest progressions create a sort of tension and then resolve it. In the particular case of a certain song of yours, the final chording sounded as if it was going on an epic passage with a lot of movement. It was kind of slowing down, not really, but kind of -- and then you picked it back up and THEN ended it. Chord wise, it wasn't as if you ended with a dominant 7th that was waiting to be resolved. The chord was fine, it's just the context of the chord within the position of the song is what created that premature ending feeling. That works in some cases, an intro is a great place to do something like that because of the anticipation that it builds, and you have the next track to satisfy that. I could equate it to a novel abruptly ending shortly after the climax.

I'm glad you brought up 8-bit Theory, because I love the channel and that gives me an opportunity to link other theory related YT channels I enjoy!

<URL url="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTUtqcDkzw7bisadh6AOx5w"><U>12 Tone</U></URL> is a music theory channel best know for its series "Understanding _________" (Examples are: Understanding The Trooper, Hotel California, Killing in the Name). It's very easy to digest and I highly recommend watching a video or two, especially from that series. There's a large visual element that makes things really accessible.

<URL url="https://www.youtube.com/user/havic5"><U>Adam Neely</U></URL> is a bassist who graduated from Berkeley college of music, he is primarily a jazz bassist. His lessons // video essays vary widely in range. Music Theory does have a lot to do with his content, but he goes a lot into history as well. I would recommend <URL url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eR5yzCH5CsM">"The Devil in Music"</URL> which goes over some of the history of the tritone interval. I would also recommend <URL url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKTZ151yLnk">A = 432Hz</URL> which details how our current musical standard tuning of 440hz came to be and history in regards to how different countries would tune differently back in the day because of weather.

Lastly, I'd like to recommend <URL url="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJquYOG5EL82sKTfH9aMA9Q"><U>Rick Beato</U></URL>, who really goes over everything about music - no specific topic. I like his series "What Makes This Song Great?", and he details a lot of production knowledge as well.
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#5
<QUOTE author="Gravaged" post_id="1651" time="1532390495" user_id="583">
Gravaged post_id=1651 time=1532390495 user_id=583 Wrote:You had mentioned the term "resolution". Theory wise, the strongest progressions create a sort of tension and then resolve it. In the particular case of a certain song of yours, the final chording sounded as if it was going on an epic passage with a lot of movement. It was kind of slowing down, not really, but kind of -- and then you picked it back up and THEN ended it. Chord wise, it wasn't as if you ended with a dominant 7th that was waiting to be resolved. The chord was fine, it's just the context of the chord within the position of the song is what created that premature ending feeling. That works in some cases, an intro is a great place to do something like that because of the anticipation that it builds, and you have the next track to satisfy that. I could equate it to a novel abruptly ending shortly after the climax.
</QUOTE>
I get what you mean, it's all about listener expectation. I am actually considering using this as an intro for a concept album though, so maybe I use that as an opportunity to pick up where I left off, in an interesting way. Like, I think short tracks in this style can work greatly to foreshadow a longer more stretched out track.

<QUOTE author="Gravaged" post_id="1651" time="1532390495" user_id="583">
Gravaged post_id=1651 time=1532390495 user_id=583 Wrote:I'm glad you brought up 8-bit Theory, because I love the channel and that gives me an opportunity to link other theory related YT channels I enjoy!

<URL url="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTUtqcDkzw7bisadh6AOx5w"><U>12 Tone</U></URL> is a music theory channel best know for its series "Understanding _________" (Examples are: Understanding The Trooper, Hotel California, Killing in the Name). It's very easy to digest and I highly recommend watching a video or two, especially from that series. There's a large visual element that makes things really accessible.

<URL url="https://www.youtube.com/user/havic5"><U>Adam Neely</U></URL> is a bassist who graduate from Berkeley college of music, he is primarily a jazz bassist. His lessons // video essays vary widely in range. Music Theory does have a lot to do with his content, but he goes a lot into history as well. I would recommend <URL url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eR5yzCH5CsM">"The Devil in Music"</URL> which goes over some of the history of the tritone interval. I would also recommend <URL url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKTZ151yLnk">A = 432Hz</URL> which details how our current musical standard tuning of 440hz came to be and history in regards to how different countries would tune differently back in the day because of weather.

Lastly, I'd like to recommend <URL url="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJquYOG5EL82sKTfH9aMA9Q"><U>Rick Beato</U></URL>, who really goes over everything about music - no specific topic. I like his series "What Makes This Song Great?", and he details a lot of production knowledge as well.
</QUOTE>

Awesome resources, all of them. I'll make a template for next week's music theory post, with a list of useful links.
Brb, gotta binge all of these now.
[Image: GFBF9Xv.png]



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#6
I'd like to ask anyone who reads
This may be a prompt for Week 31 if it gets no answers here. What sort of chord progressions do you find yourself using? You don't have to know I-IV-V or any heavy theory like that to answer this question. First off, I mean is it random? It probably isn't, you generally know what sounds good and what might sound <I>bad</I>. Are your chords just major or minor? Do dominant 7th chords often find their way into your songs? Yeah you write progressions but can you just describe them?
I'm mainly asking to compare my answer. I play a lot of Shoegaze inspired material, and because of that I often have Major 7th chords as well as Suspended chords in my progressions. I won't get into what makes a major 7th chord a major 7th chord because it has to do with chord construction (Which is offputting. You would play the root, the perfect fifth, the major third, and then the major seventh which is one note on the next octave immediately a half step down from the root note)
The major 7th chord is in my opinion the dreamiest chord. The suspended chord comes close though! It has neither major no minor, so it's got a very ambiguous sound. It kind of shapes to whatever you're working with. If you do a bunch of suspended chords it sounds really open and like something is missing and it's kind of thick sounding. It's oddly heavy and noisy, it's a very versatile chord. It can be used beautifully as well.

What do you guys think?
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