256 Answered Questions for the topic music theory
how do all the notes of the same name relate?
I suppose that frequencies were randomly assigned letter names here we have A4 = 440Hz http://www.phy.mtu.edu/~suits/notefreqs.html C3 here = 130.81Hz C4 here = 261.63Hz C5 here =... more
Is it possible to write a song without a key?
Is it possible to say "This song has no key"? Are there songs that have/follow no key? Is it possible to create song without adhering a key?
Can someone explain the theory behind the changes in Superstition by Stevie Wonder?
I'm learning Stevie Wonder's Superstition on guitar (an awesome song) and I'm really curious about the theory behind the changes in the chorus. The intro and verse are just a riff in E minor... more
Music Theory Composition (music)
How can I turn any (pop) song into a jazz song?
I tried jazzying up Bad Day by Daniel Powter. It's basically a D-G-A chord progression (1-4-5), wich is quite simple. I thought that adding 7th chords and some altered timing, would at least give... more
Did Jeff Beck "play the changes" on Goodbye Porkpie Hat?
I have read several different accounts of Charles Mingus' reaction to Jeff Beck's cover of Goodbye Porkpie Hat. One account says he liked it and sent Jeff a note saying this while another says he... more
Alternative theories of harmony?
Do you know of any alternative (to functional) descriptive theories of harmony or attempts at creating them? By that I mean attempts to explain both functional and non-functional harmonies in a... more
What's the difference between arpeggio and broken chord?
I always thought of them as synonyms, but googling around found that some people see them as different, with the distinctions changing depending on who you ask. Is there a formal distinction... more
Ornaments in ABRSM theory, start on the note or the note above?
I know that depending on the era you can either start on the note or note above in some ornamentation such as a turn or mordent. For Abrsm grade 8 theory do you start on the note or the note above... more
Collective word for sharps and flats in the key signature?
On a mailing list I'm subscribed to, someone recently asked what the collective name was in English for the sharps and flats you find in the key signature. Apparently, the closest translation from... more
Chromatic vs Non-diatonic vs Accidental?
I was wondering if all three of these terms: chromatic, non-diatonic, accidental, all mean the same thing?
How to differentiate between relative keys?
So I'm learning that C major and A minor scales have the same notes. Then, if I look at, say, 10 consecutive single notes, how do I tell if they're in C or Am? It's easier when you see a chord,... more
How do I correctly borrow chords from one key to another?
So how does one decide to borrow chords? Let's say I am in the key of C Major. Can I borrow chords, say, from the G Major key? How does this work?
Why diatonic chords and not always major, always minor, etc?
Why is it important to stay within the key, i.e., to use diatonic chords (minus modulation and key changes)? My intuition is that if the song is supposed to be happy, ergo if it's to use major... more
What is the most convoluted standard musical form?
In musical composition, we tend to reuse sections of a piece in patterns that are referred to as "musical forms". Some basic examples of these that I know of are ABA, AABA, ABAB, and the rondo form... more
Shouldn't all music intervals have five names?
Shouldn't technically all intervals have five names? (Maybe with few exceptions where it goes below zero semitones but still I can't see why it can't go below zero semitone when it can be... more
Is it possible to understand and enjoy classical music just by listening, without music theory knowledge?
Pretty much every book out there which claims to teach the readers to appreciate classical music, has significant amount of theory in it. Ex: What to listen for in Music by Aaron Copland. Is it not... more
Which scales have a major chord built on second note? Which scales have a minor chord built on the seventh note?
Which base scales (base scale meaning not modes) have a major chord built on the second note? (In which scales is the II chord a major? Is this the proper nomenclature?) Which scales have a minor... more
Does the ability of reading and writing music on staff help with learning music fundamentals?
As I see it, notation on sheet music is a tool for translating musical ideas into something that can be read/interpreted by others and played back, given they understand the same set of rules. I... more
Do capable harmony singers sing in just intonation or tempered tuning?
Given that the human voice is capable of microtonal adjustments to an infinite degree and not limited by the fixed tuning imparted upon an instrument such as a piano - I am wondering if singers who... more
Term for distinguishing dim/perfect/aug intervals from dim/min/maj/aug ones?
There are two types of intervals, distinguished by their possible qualities: - Unisons, fourths, fifths, and octaves (and their compound variants) may be of perfect or (multiply)... more
Why are certain scales considered unstable?
The Locrian Mode is considered unstable - my question is what in it makes it unstable? What makes a scale stable (have better relation between the keys)?
Is the Benny Hill Theme inherently comedic?
The question is in the title. I have tried to answer it for myself, using my knowledge of music theory, and have come up with nothing. I thought it might be the V & I bass pattern, the... more
Do modes exist in the harmonic / melodic minor scales?
I'm trying to get my head around modes and the tonal center. In my understanding the natural minor scale is the same as the Aeolian mode. However, when considering the mix-up that happens in the... more
How can you tell the chords of a piece of music if you can only hear bass and melody?
How can you tell the chords of a piece of music if you can only hear bass and melody? There are a lot of possibility that it can be more than a single chord..Also, would be better like this.. To... more
What are ways to use the palindromic property of a palindromic scale?
A palindromic scale, as I've seen it described on a number of music theory websites, is defined as one whose sequence of intervals is the same when ascending and descending. For instance: D Dorian... more