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Thread: A couple of questions about music theory

  1. #1
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    A couple of questions about music theory

    A couple of questions about the C natural minor scale
    on: Today at 10:10:21 PM
    Hey guys, first of I need to say i know nothing about music theory I am a dj/producer and I make house/trance music. Usually I will get a scale on a piano chart of 8 notes.com and then just play with those notes on my midi keyboard and make melodies and bass lines that sound well together. Now I have a few questions, first of I noticed that some notes in the scale don't all sound well togeher it's like they need to have a certain note played before them to make them sound in key for example in my new tune I'm writing it in C minor now the notes D and D# seem to be an example. In the melodies I'm writing these notes can sometimes sound awesome in particular D but other times just sound awful. What's all this about? Next question, I have a Melodie playing and I'm wanting to put some nice lush chords underneath I thought about just following the melodies notes with chords but this can sound a bit boring so I was wondering how do I go about making a really nice chord sequence that will go well with a Melodie? And my final question is sometimes when I have different things on the go like a baseline, pads, melodies etc it seems that certain chords or melodies played together give this amazing sound like real emotion wether uplifting or blue now for me it's just random if I'm lucky I can punch in some notes and different progression get these really nice harmonies going but what is this said effect I'm talking about and how do I get it to not be random but just know which notes go well together to get these great sounds? Also is there a website which has all the chords that can be used in c minor on like a piano diagram? I can't read music and just saying something like the chords of C minor are c c# d etc won't help me because I need to see what notes on the piano make up these chords. All help greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
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    unfortunately the answer to most of your questions require lots of practice. for the "sometimes D sounds nice and sometimes not" part, well that's music. basically the D sounds like that, and sometimes that's a good sound you might want and sometimes not.

    from theory point of view you can look at it as what's that D compared to the chord playing in the background, but to me what's most important, is what's that D in comparison to the key. then when you switch keys you'll know what the sounds are like. music theory is not like reasons for stuff sounding good, it's just names of what things sound like so that you can recall those sounds you like whenever you want.

    which brings us to part 2 of your question which is how to build those chords you like. well a chord sounds like a chord on its own. you can figure out what chord that is by checking out a site that will reverse chord find piano chords (you can find one on google) or you could figure out how they go about naming chords so you can do it faster yourself. it's fairly straightforwardish. but also what's important i find maybe more even is what's that chord in comparison to the key. to me, the key is the most important thing. and a chord is a collection of notes on that key. less than a chord is a thing on its own.

    as for your melody thing, often it is nice when melodies use chords you might not expect, which means the melody is maybe using chord extensions rather than the meat and potatoes, or the meat and potatoes are not what you'd expect.

    to understand this more you'll have to look a little at what chords are, but quickly basic chords are 3 notes. a fourth would be an extension. major and minor are the main kinds of 3 note chords, and so interesting chords in comparison to melodies might be where the chord isn't regular minor or major, or where you are using a chord with more than 3 notes, and the one that's used in your melody is not one of the main basic 3 notes of the chord. but again, key location is... key.

    as for chords you can look at the chords that makeup the scale. these will be your basic chords. you don't need to stick to these. often an interesting melody will have notes that are out of this key. when that happens you need to play a chord that has that note in it, but the rest are in the key. generally you always play notes in the key, but you can bend this rule alot too. a hell of alot. but say you're building chords for your melody, sticking in the key is where you want to be.

    the main chords of a key are basically any 3 note chords you can build in the key.

    key of C is all the white notes (also known as A minor) I figure you know the naming of the notes on the piano. so your first chord will be your first white note, skip a white one, next white note, skip a white one, next white note. this is C major, then use the same pattern on the next white notes, so move all fingers up one white note, this is D minor. it is minor because the number of semi tones between notes is different. a semi tone is up any note of the piano including the black ones. a tone is up 2 notes including black ones. so then you can cover all these white notes following this pattern, and you'd end up playing major-minor-minor-major-major-minor-diminished.

    notice the last one is different. this is not minor or major, it is a 3rd option and a 4th exist for basic chords. but major and minor are the main ones.

    so on C minor, all the notes you can use for C minor chords are every 3 note combination you are using in the key of C minor, on the pattern C minor you figured out. if your melody sticks to this your chords will probably stick to this also, but like i said before if your melody goes outside of that, your chords will probably use that melody note and the rest of them be parts of the key.

    the naming system of notes puts everything relative to degrees of the major scale. so like if all the white notes were starting on C. 1234567, and even 9, 11, 13, which is going up into the next octave. these have nice sounds i find, i like the 9 alot.

    # means up a semi tone b means down one. so Cb5 would be C major (135) except the 5 needs to be flat, so moved down a half step, which would mean 1st white note, 3rd white note and 5th white note but moved down one half step so the black note preceding it. again this is only if you start on C. but reverse chord finders can tell you what chord names are too. just remember to include which degree of the key scale it is in when you take note of a chord you like. because this is important also.

  3. #3
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maddox View Post
    A couple of questions about the C natural minor scale
    on: Today at 10:10:21 PM
    Hey guys, first of I need to say i know nothing about music theory I am a dj/producer and I make house/trance music. Usually I will get a scale on a piano chart of 8 notes.com and then just play with those notes on my midi keyboard and make melodies and bass lines that sound well together. Now I have a few questions, first of I noticed that some notes in the scale don't all sound well togeher it's like they need to have a certain note played before them to make them sound in key for example in my new tune I'm writing it in C minor now the notes D and D# seem to be an example. In the melodies I'm writing these notes can sometimes sound awesome in particular D but other times just sound awful. What's all this about? Next question, I have a Melodie playing and I'm wanting to put some nice lush chords underneath I thought about just following the melodies notes with chords but this can sound a bit boring so I was wondering how do I go about making a really nice chord sequence that will go well with a Melodie? And my final question is sometimes when I have different things on the go like a baseline, pads, melodies etc it seems that certain chords or melodies played together give this amazing sound like real emotion wether uplifting or blue now for me it's just random if I'm lucky I can punch in some notes and different progression get these really nice harmonies going but what is this said effect I'm talking about and how do I get it to not be random but just know which notes go well together to get these great sounds? Also is there a website which has all the chords that can be used in c minor on like a piano diagram? I can't read music and just saying something like the chords of C minor are c c# d etc won't help me because I need to see what notes on the piano make up these chords. All help greatly appreciated!
    You need some basic education on key theory - which notes (and chords) belong to which keys. Plenty of stuff online, but try these:
    http://www.musicarrangers.com/star-theory/p14.htm
    http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory9.htm
    http://www.musiclearningworkshop.com...ure-table.html

    The basic rule is that you need one of each note letter in any 7 note scale.
    So the key of C minor (say) has an Eb, not a D#, because you already have a D.
    It's quite possible to invent your own scales, as long as you follow that rule - most of the scales you invent will exist already anyway.

    For chords, any combination of notes from the same scale will work - but begin with chords built from alternate steps.

    Eg, key of C minor (as that was your example):

    Scale = C D Eb F G Ab Bb

    Chords = C-Eb-G (Cm), D-F-Ab (Ddim), Eb-G-Bb (Eb), F-Ab-C (Fm)... etc. (7 possible chords.)

    These are your basic chords. Try adding any other note from the scale to any of them, to judge the effect.

  4. #4
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    I'm a visual learner, if you are also, help yourself to the following charts:

    All notes in a specific scale will sound good with each other, that Eb, that Jon talked about. Here are the notes in the Major and natural minor scale.

    Major Scale Chart
    C D E F G A B...............Notice the C scale has no Sharps
    G A B C D E F#.............and the G scale has one, the F#
    D E F# G A B C#...........and the D scale keeps the F# and
    A B C# D E F# G#.........adds the C#. Then the A scale keeps
    E F# G# A B C# D#.......everything and adds the G#. See how
    B C# D# E F# G# A#.....it builds on it's self.
    F# G# A# B C# D# E#
    C# D# E# F# G# A# B#
    F G A Bb C D E.............Look what happens with the flat scales
    Bb C D Eb F G A...........F has one the Bb, then the Bb scale keeps
    Eb F G Ab Bb C D.........it's self and adds the the Eb. Same thing
    Ab Bb C Db Eb F G.......the sharp scales did...
    Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C
    Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F
    Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb

    Memory pegs:
    See God Destroy All Earth By F#irey C#haos. Order of the scales with sharps.
    Fat cats go down alleys eating birds. Order of the sharps.
    Farmer brown eats apple dumplings greasily cooked. Order of the scales with flats.
    The key signature is showing three sharps. What scale has three sharps? C has none, G has one, D has two, A has three. Which sharps? Fat = F#, Cat = C# and Go = G# so the A major scale has three sharps, F#, C# and G#.

    Natural Minor Scale Chart
    A B C D E F G ................Notice how the 6th column of the
    E F# G A B C D................Major scale becomes the 1st column
    B C# D E F# G A..............in the minor scale and how the 7th
    F# G# A B C# D E............column of the Major scale is now the
    C# D# E F# G# A B..........2nd column in the minor scale. And
    G# A# B C# D# E F#........yep, the 1st column in the Major scale
    D# E# F# G# A# B C#......is now the 3rd column, etc. etc.
    A# B# C# D# E# F# G#....Ask your self why? Hint, think relative minor.
    D E F G A Bb C
    G A Bb C D Eb F
    C D Eb F G Ab Bb
    F G Ab Bb C Db Eb
    Bb C Db Eb F Gb Ab
    Eb F Gb Ab Bb Cb Db
    Ab Bb Cb Db Eb Fb Gb

    All the notes in one scale will sound good with each other. Likewise all chords from the same key will sound good with each other. As long as you stay in scale, in key, not a lot of bad will happen.

    OK - chords next. The formula for major scales into chords is:
    I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, viidim, I. Take a major scale and apply this formula and you get the chords that go (sound good) with that scale. For Example:

    Interval #.................... 1, 2,... 3,.. 4,..5, 6,... 7
    Scale note ....................C, D.,. E,.. F,. G, A,... B
    Major formula............... I, ii,... iii,. IV, V, vi, viidim
    Chords in the key of C .. C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim
    Notice upper case numbers become major chords and lower case numbers become minor chords. A diminished chord is understood to be both minor and diminished.

    Your formula for the minor scale notes into chords is:
    i, iidim, III, iv, v, VI, VII

    Here are the chords built from the major scale: http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/ch...art-chords.pdf
    That fish thing. Make your own chart of the minor scale chords.

    Now which chords go with what melody notes. A melody note and the chord played under it should share some of the same notes. If they do they harmonize and sound good together. Here is a chart that helps with that.

    C Scale melody notes Try these chords
    1 C.....I (CEG).… IV (FAC).. vi .(ACE).. ii7 (DFAC)
    2 D.....V (GBD).. ii7 (DFAC).iii7(EGBD)
    3 E.....I (CEG)…. vi..(ACE)….iii (EGB)
    4 F....IV (FAC)…. ii..(DFA)...V7 (GBDF)
    5 G.....V (GBD).. I...(CEG)...iii (EGB)
    6 A....IV (FAC)... ii..(DFA)…..vi (ACE)
    7 B....V7 (GBDF).iii.(EGB)

    Your C melody note will harmonize with the I or C chord because the C chord has a C note in it's makeup.
    The F chord will also harmonize a C melody note because the F chord has a C note in it's makeup.
    The Am chord will also for the same reason. Now the Dm chord will not harmonize until you add the 7th note (ii7). So if you are hunting for a harmonizing chord, look to adding the melody note, you are trying to harmonize with, into the chord as an extension - 6th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th, etc.

    One last thing on Chords. When do you need to change chords - when the old chord no longer harmonizes the new melody notes, i.e. when the new melody has moved on to notes not found in the old chord -- then you need to find another chord or add an extension that will harmonize. Finding another chord may mess up your progression the verse takes from rest, tension, climax, resolution and the return to rest - so in an effort to keep that movement intact extensions become your friend. Those fancy jazz chords are that way for a reason.

    Your question about keyboard chords - this should help. http://www.looknohands.com/chordhouse/piano/
    On keyboard a major chord is R+4+3 and a minor chord is R+3+4 or Root note plus 4 white and/or black keys plus three white and/or black keys make a major chord.

    I think that covers each of your questions. Which by the way just about covers all of the basic fundementals of music theory.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 02-24-2010 at 12:00 PM.

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