Harmonic rhythm is the rate at which chords change. It is the duration of the chords within a chord progression.
In today’s lesson we’re looking at Bach’s Invention no. 1, the first out of a collection of 15 written in 1720. We’ll be looking at the full piece: the subject, the motifs, the rhythm, the harmony and the structure because there is so much to learn!
The riff is a short and catchy melodic idea and it recurs so often that it gives character and structure to a song. The hook is any part of a song that is meant to grab the listener’s attention. The hook is also catchy but it doesn’t recur as often so that it makes a greater impact when it turns up.
There are 15 different key signatures in music so how do we figure out which ones have sharps and which ones have flats? How do we know how many sharps and flats they have? And where do the minor keys fit in? We’ll answer all these questions and others like them thanks to a few […]
In total, there are 12 major scales because the major scale pattern can begin on any of the 12 notes of the musical alphabet.
There are 3 minor scales, or more precisely, 3 variants of the minor scale because of how harmony and melody interact in tonal music. Composers change some notes of the minor scale to achieve a specific sound for a particular style.
There are two ways to tell whether a song is major or minor: by ear and by sight. When doing it by ear, listen to the major vs. minor qualities in the music. When reading the sheet music, the answer is in the key signature and in notes and chords are used.
No, not every song has a chorus. While most songs do have a chorus, there are plenty of great songs without one. These songs are just as effective and prove that is not necessary for a song to have a chorus.
No, the tonic is not the same as the root. While the tonic is the fundamental, ‘home’ note of scales and keys, the root is the fundamental note of chords and arpeggios.
‘Tension and release’ refers to the build-up of musical intensity that eventually dissolves and relaxes. For the listener, a moment of unrest in the music creates an expectation for its resolution and an anticipation for the drama to resolve. Tension and release keeps the music moving forward.
The cadential 6 4 is a melodic and harmonic formula that often appears at the end of phrases in music of the common practice period. Typically, it consists of a decoration of the dominant chord by displacing both its third and fifth by a step above.
This short, fun video from medici.tv went viral some time ago. It features the Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer criticizing the well-known tune. “I think it’s a very poor melody” he says, “it’s not written well” and then goes on to recompose it.
Tonality (also known as ‘tonal music’) is music that has a tonic – that specific note on which music is the most stable and at rest. In general, tonal music works by establishing a tonic, moving away from it and then returning to it.
Four-part harmony is a traditional system of organising chords for 4 voices: soprano, alto, tenor and bass (known together as SATB). The term ‘voice’ or ‘part’ refers to any musical line whether it is a melody sung by singers, a long note played on an instrument or anything in between.
I’ve probably watched hundreds of TED talks over the years but as a composer and a music teacher, a great talk about music can really make my day (if not my week!). I love sharing inspirational stuff with my students so here some of the best TED talks about music. In no particular order, here are my 10 favorite TED talks about music.