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Music Student 101

We are musicians, composers, engineers, teachers and students alike. The path through academia, as a musician, can be challenging and uncertain but it can also be enriching and great fun! This is the path we chose and we are here as your resource. Explore theory, history, ear training, technique, special topics and overall musicianship.
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Now displaying: 2017
Dec 31, 2017

In the school of music, we have the "Jury". This terrifying moment occurs at the end of the semester when the student must display their progress, on their instrument, in front of a panel of professors. During this brief moment, a number of "fight or flight' symptoms can manifest in the student. In the practical world, any musician (or anyone in the spotlight) may encounter this phenomenon. Welcome to stage fright! Let's try to understand it better and discuss some possible ways to manage it.

Dec 3, 2017

Continuing our discussion from episode 34-Counterpoint Pt.1, we will now discuss species counterpoint. We have already built our cantus firmus. Now, we will add a voice, using first species counterpoint. We will then take a stab at second species counterpoint. The challenge awaits! Do join us.

Nov 19, 2017

Counterpoint, the art of combining two or more independent melodic lines, is a practice that has been around for hundreds of years. However, not a lot of musicians are familiar with the term. In this episode, part 1 of 2, we will discuss it's origins, it's usefulness and the many rules that revolve around it's process. We will build a cantus firmus, based on these rules. We will also learn what a cantus firmus is! Finally, we will tease part 2 of this series with a brief discussion of species counterpoint.

Nov 5, 2017

In the beginning, before written history, our ancestors left artifacts and paintings that gave us clues as to how they once lived. This being a few million years ago, one can only speculate on how or why they began to experiment with sound and eventually music!

Oct 16, 2017

We've given the 7th chords a good listen. Now it's time to discuss the theory behind them and some of the conventions to consider while using them in part writing. This episode will focus on the ii7 and the V7 chords as well as their inversions. It's time to add a little spice to your chord progressions!

Oct 1, 2017

Continuing where Episode 18 left off, this episode will feature the diatonic chords I, II7, IV and V7 (in major and minor). Listen for those chord qualities (major, minor, dominant 7th and minor 7th) and use your theory brain to find out how to decipher chord progressions. Use this skill to learn songs faster and know music better!

Sep 17, 2017

You may be familiar with notes, key signatures and meter signatures. But, there's a lot more happening on a music score. Various markings, such as crescendo, forte, fortissimo and pianissimo, can tell a musician how hard or soft to play. While other expressions, such as adagio, andante and presto, will tell them how fast or slow to play. Get ready to brush up on your Italian and learn all about dynamic, perfomance and tempo markings.

Sep 3, 2017

Just in case we haven't said everything we need to say about intervals, it's time we said a little more! We will have a quick recap on the basic intervals followed by an extended discussion on other interval related topics. We will discuss compound intervals (and the recognition thereof), enharmonic naming, harmonic tendencies and much more.

Aug 13, 2017

Sometimes you will encounter notes that don't belong to the chords they are sounding over. These notes are just what they sound like, nonchord tones! In this episode, we will discover the main types of non chord tones: the passing tone, the neighbor tone, the escape tone, the appoggiatura, the suspensions, the anticipation, the retardation and the pedal tone.

Aug 1, 2017

We've learned about the major and minor scales. Now it's time to explore the 7 Diatonic Modes: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian. We will learn how to construct them and identify them using the "relative" and the "parallel" methods. We will also give them a listen, check out some examples and discuss what moods they convey and how they effect us.

Jul 19, 2017

The bass has a special effect on the listener. The frequencies in the lower register can often be felt just as much as they are heard. The bass can tell us more about harmonic progression and it can also tie the rhythm and melody sections together. Join us, along with Aaron Branson, as we talk all about that bass!

Jul 2, 2017

When writing a song or a piece of music, it's good to know how certain chords and harmonies work together. An understanding of the circle of fifths can make this fairly simple. In this episode we will follow the circle all the way through and hit every chord on the way. It's time to apply a level of understanding to something that seems like a magical musical diagram at first glance. Perk up your ears and step inside the circle!

Jun 18, 2017

MIDI is one of the greatest things to happen to music and those who work with it. This music based language allows for the entry and edit of musical notes and their attributes. It also allows for the synchronization and communication between musical instruments, machines and computers. It can be a vital aid in composition and can expedite your musical work flow to a considerable measure. Learn about its origin, its language and its many uses!

May 21, 2017

A melodic dictation exam is something you may or may not have to reckon with in your musical journey. Passing this course is essential for a music student working towards a degree. But for anyone, academia aside, these tips and tricks will help you know melody better. We will discuss how to establish your tonal "home base" and how to recognize what parts of the scale are being used in the melodic line. We will also spend a little time talking about solf├ęge (fixed "DO" and movable "DO") and how it compares to the number system that we tend to use in theory and analysis. Get ready to sharpen your sense of melody!

May 7, 2017

One big goal in tonal composition is to have good counterpoint within your harmonies. To do that, we need to learn how to approach part writing in the proper manner. To do that, we must first learn the principles of voice leading and why they are useful, and even essential, to the composition process. In this episode, we will learn the main rules to keep in mind when constructing a melody and then blending it with other melodies. We will discuss parallel and contrary motion between melodies, hidden fifths and octaves. We will dare to discuss the heinous parallel fifths and octaves and how they can obliterate your texture. We will also touch on organum and other contributions to the origin of these conventions. We will observe all of these rules closely from a 4 part, SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) "laboratory environment"!

Apr 17, 2017

There's no better way to get your performance feet wet than playing in a cover band! The material is there. You just have to learn it and execute it properly. The crowd will immediately connect with your music because they already know it! But there's so much more to it.  Wouldn't you like to know the fine details? Miguel Martinez is going to give them to you, straight from the drummers seat!

Apr 2, 2017

An understanding of form and analysis can be a great aid in getting to know music better. Like an architect, a composer will structure their music on a foundation of building blocks. It's time to check out the blueprints! In this episode, we will take it from the ground up. We'll start with motives. We'll use them to build phrases and phrases to build periods and phrase groups. 

Mar 19, 2017

A piece of music is often laid out like a poem or a story. The sentences and paragraphs can be likened to motives and phases. The punctuations and ends of these thoughts can be likened to the cadences. Some ask questions. Some answer the questions. Some give you the answers you expect. Some deceive your expectations. The many available combinations of chord progressions can determine how this all pans out. This episode will cover the six most common types of cadences: perfect authentic, imperfect authentic, half, Phrygian half, deceptive and plagal.

Mar 6, 2017

Harmonic dictation is an essential part of the music students curriculum. It can be a powerful tool for any musician because it will help to solidify an understanding of harmony and harmonic progression. In this episode, we will give tips and strategies to on how to hear those harmonies and pass that listening exam! This episode will feature the diatonic chords (in major) I, ii, IV and V.

Feb 19, 2017

The piano is a complex and beautiful instrument. It's fairly easy to learn, but quite challenging to master. In this episode, we will speak to a man that knows it up and down; Matthew Dutot Slocum. We will discuss where he is, how he got there, and where he's going. Then, it's on to practice routines and philosophies of musicianship. Finally, we will dig deep into the instrument, it's mechanisms, and it's genesis. Every musician should take a moment to get to know the piano. This is your moment!

Feb 5, 2017

Many great chord progressions in tonal music are based on specific sequences of triads and chords. These progressions sound naturally fulfilling or appealing. These chords often all consist of notes that strictly come from the major or minor scales they are based on. They are considered diatonic chords. When musicians start speaking about chords using numbers instead of letters, this is what they are talking about. Listen and learn more about the diatonic triads and 7th chords from the major and minor scales.

Jan 22, 2017

When you invert a chord, you rearrange it's pitch order. This can serve several purposes. In this episode, we will cover inversions for triads and seventh chords, how they're built and how to listen for them. We will also cover figured bass, a means of representing them in analysis, and it's origin. We will also share several tips and tricks to help make more sense of this concept.

Jan 8, 2017

A musical performance should really be all about the music. But there is still a performance element that tends to engage the viewing and listening audience. Let's talk about some pointers on how to enhance your over all show!

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