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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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Music Student 101
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Now displaying: Category: music theory
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.

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!

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 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!

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 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.

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.

Dec 12, 2016

Triads are the building blocks of harmony. In this episode, we will introduce you to the 4 basic triads: major, minor, augmented and diminished. We will discuss the theory behind them, the moods they evoke and the functions they serve.

Oct 30, 2016

Understanding intervals is an essential part of understanding, analyzing and critically listening to music. In this episode, we will discuss the theory behind intervals. Listen and learn the types of intervals and their roles. Find out some tips how to identify them by number and by quality (major, minor, augmented or diminished). We will also distinguish the differences between simple and compound intervals. This episode, like many theory episodes, will have an ear training counterpart in the near future!

Oct 16, 2016

This episode is all about the minor scale. We will discuss minor key signatures and how to identify them by using the order of sharps or flats and a few other tricks we picked up along the way. We will discuss the circle of fifths, as it applies to the minor keys.  Finally, we will discuss the three main types of minor scales: natural, harmonic and melodic. 

Oct 2, 2016

In order to play with other musicians, you have to be on the same page as them, rhythmically and tonally. In this episode, we will tackle the rhythmic aspect of music and how to identify what time signature (or meter signature) by using your ears alone. We will also have a little fun discussing some odd time signatures and when and where they have been used, in the classical music genre and in pop music.

Sep 4, 2016

Listen as we dig a little deeper into the major scale. We will also discuss key signatures and how to identify them by using the order of sharps or flats and a few tricks we picked up along the way. The circle of fifths will make its brief debut as will the concept of diatonic and chromatic steps.

Aug 7, 2016

Welcome to part 2 of our theory fundamentals series. This episode will cover the elements of rhythm. Learn about note values and their durations. Explore time signatures and how to distinguish simple and compound meter. You may wish to follow along with this episode on it's complimentary webpage: http://www.musicstudent101.com/03-theory-basics-pt-2.html

Jul 24, 2016

This, our first theory podcast, is elementary but crucial. In this episode, part 1 of a 2 part series, we will have a brief discussion on melody and harmony. We will also touch on scales, intervals and triads. Part 2 will cover rhythm. You may find it helpful to follow along with this episode on its complimentary webpage. Find it at www.musicstudent101.com

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