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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
Aug 27, 2021

Follow along as we delve into enharmonic spellings and reinterpretation and the various reasons why they are necessary. We will also demonstrate some great ways to use these reinterpretations for some snappy modulations to far away places!

May 25, 2021

We've almost said everything we can about the fully diminished 7th chord. ALMOST! In this episode we will explore this versatile chord and its many possibilities. We will hear it's use as a secondary leading tone chord (viiº7 of), as a modulatory technique, as a chain of viiº7 chords and as a counterpuntal element. Enjoy our chatter on this extraordinary chord!

Jan 25, 2021

Orchestration is the art of choosing the right instruments, and the proper balance thereof, for a composition. Different considerations go into conveying different moods and emotions to better tell the story. The string section is often the most utilized. So well will focus on it's instruments: the contra bass, the cello, the viola and the violin!

Nov 30, 2020

We've familiarized ourselves with the building blocks of a form, such as motives, phrases and periods. We have delved into small forms, such as binary and ternary. Now it's time to think a little bigger. It's time to talk about the sonata form and it's basic elements: the exposition, the development and the racapitulation.

Feb 25, 2020

Dive with us, face first, into chromaticism with this discussion on extended and altered chords. We will make sure we're well acquainted with the concept of suspended ("sus") chords and added ("add") chords. This will prepare us for an ongoing exploration of altered chords. We will also compare the use of these chords, in classical theory, to their rolls in the jazz and pop music genres!

Jan 27, 2020

It's time to get a little out of step with time! Syncopation is a technique that can add more color and interest to your rhythms. In this episode, we will define syncopation, give some examples and share some stories where we've been challenged by this composition technique.

Jan 13, 2020

In episode 65, we discussed the Italian, French and German augmented sixth (+6) chords and their main functions. In this episode, we'll dig a little deeper into these chords and talk about some other functions and placement options that can really add color to your chord progressions!

Dec 23, 2019

When you learn or write a melody, you may want to add some harmonic textures to it. In this episode, we will learn a melody. We will write harmonies that move along with it in parallel motion. We will then find the chords that suit it best. Get ready to know harmony better!

Oct 6, 2019

Picking up from where we left off on episode 71, we will now further our discussion on modulation to distantly related keys. The focus, on this show, will be the use of chromatic mediants!

Jun 3, 2019

Picking up from where we left off on episode 69, we will now learn how to modulate to distantly related keys using chords that are diatonic, or chromatic, in either key (or any combination thereof). Some pivot chords we will use to pull this off will include the German augmented 6 chord (Gr+6), the Neapolitan chord (N) and secondary seven diminished vii chord (viiº7 of ?). Let us invite a few more accidentals to the table, shall we? Join us!

May 5, 2019

Picking up from where we left off on episode 50, we will continue our discussion on modulation to closely related keys. We will talk about modulating to relative keys. We will discuss chromatic modulations, with and without pivot chords. We will also take on sequential and phrase modulation and we may get blind sided by a direct, or abrupt, modulation or two. Finally, we will take a moment to harmonize some modulating melodies!

Apr 7, 2019

The hexatonic scales are six note scales. In many cases we are simply adding a note to a pentatonic scale or deleting one from one of the seven modes. But there are other interesting possibilities: the blues scales, the whole tone scale, the augmented scale, the tritone scale and the elusive Prometheus scale. We will also create some of our own by combining triads. Let's listen!

Mar 4, 2019

The augmented 6th (+6) chord is a very tense predominant chord. Like most chromatic chords, it can add motion and color to your chord progressions. In this episode we will discuss the 3 main types of augmented six chords: Italian, French and German.

Jan 6, 2019

The Neapolitan chord and the Neapolitan Sixth chord add a very distinctive sound to a progression. You've heard it many times and you probably LOVED it. Now you're going to learn all about it! We will discuss how to build one, how it's used in a progression and we'll play a few examples you may recognize. This ain't just some boring ice cream favor. This is good music!

Nov 20, 2018

We are bringing chromaticism to your doorstep! Today's special delivery? Mixed modes and borrowed chords! Learn how borrowing just two or three notes from a parallel key can allow for several new chords that can add intrigue to your progressions and help to smooth our your modulations.

Oct 7, 2018

Just as you can use secondary dominant chords to aid in the movement to any diatonic chord, you can also use secondary leading tone chords for the same purpose. These chords can add intrigue, color and tension to any harmonic progression. We'll discuss how to identify them, how to spell them out and how to analyze them. Give them a listen. Give them a try.

Sep 9, 2018

In part one of our "Form and Analysis" series, we familiarized ourselves with the building blocks of a form, such as motives, phrases and periods. Now, we will begin our official discussion on small forms. We will cover rounded, simple, sectional and continuous binary forms. Then we will move into ternary and compound ternary forms. Finally, we will close it out with a brief discussion on theme and variations.

Aug 19, 2018

At this point, we've discussed the two most common diatonic 7th chords: V7 and II7. Now, we will discuss "The Others". These are the VII7, IV7, VI7, I7 and III7 chords. We will take a little time with each of these, give them a listen, discuss the way they sound and briefly discuss their functionality. Just because these are a little less common, that's no reason to not bring them up because they are often featured in great music!

Jul 22, 2018

We celebrate our 50th episode by breaking the ice on the much anticipated topic of modulation. This discussion will include an introduction to the concept of modulation, or change of key.
We will first cover modulation to closely related keys and what makes a closely related key. Then will discuss the pivot chords that can help to facilitate this technique. Also included will be some tips on how to hear key changes in music and recognize them on paper. And, of course, we will share some advice and tips on how to write them!

Jul 8, 2018

Join us, as we continue to venture toward the coming mountain of chromaticism. We will approach the foothills as we resume our discussion of secondary dominants. We will talk about how these chords can be used in the tonicization of chords other than the tonic, with their dominant function. In this episode, we will focus on the V of ii (V/ii), V of vi (V/vi) and the V of iii (V/iii).

May 7, 2018

Join us as we venture toward chromaticism with this discussion of secondary dominants. We will talk about how these chords can be used in the tonicization of chords other than the tonic, with their dominant function. In this episode, we will focus on the V of V (V/V) and the V of IV (V/IV).

Apr 22, 2018

Transposition, the act of changing a piece of music to a different key or mode, can be one of the most useful tools any musician can have in their kit. In this episode, we will discuss diatonic and chromatic transposition, as well as when and why we use them. We will also have a discussion on transposing instruments, instruments that sound out different notes then what is written on paper. It's time to change it up a bit! It's time for transposition!

Jan 28, 2018

Pentatonic scales are five note scales that span the length of an octave. Major and minor scales, along with their respective modes, are all considered "heptatonic" or "seven note" scales. These scales also have five note subsets that are easier to learn and recognize. They are also more universally used across the globe. In this episode, we will discuss the major and minor pentatonic scales of the west and several others from the east, including the Hirojoshi, Mongolian, Iwato and Yo scales.

Jan 14, 2018

Continuing our discussion from episode 35-Counterpoint Pt.2, it's time to tackle 3rd and 4th species counterpoint! We have already built our cantus firmus and tried it out with 1st and 2nd species counterpoint. Our trilogy now comes to a satisfying end with melodies that coexist and commingle, all the while, maintaining their independence!

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.

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