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The Official Music Theory Thread

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by guitarguru777, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. guitarguru777

    guitarguru777 Member

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    Here is a list of all the posts discussing the topic of music theory / songwriting / guitar playing


    *Time Signatures and How to count odd time


    * http://www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/...torial-breaking-down-guitar-scales-modes.html


    Music Theory & Modes - The Basics

    Applying music theory to song writing.

    This is a very indepth subject but I am going to break it down to its core elements as it comes to song writing and the guitar in general. Music Theory is probably the monst important thing you can learn as a musician. The ability to use expanded chords and voiceings in your songwriting can add depth and dimension to even the simplest of riffs.

    Part 1: The Theory Of Music:

    All western music is based off of the 12 Note Chromatic Scale:
    C-C#/Db-D-D#/Eb-E-F-F#/Gb-G-G#/Ab-A-A#/Bb-B

    The foundation for most western music is based off of the C Major Scale. The C Major scale is the only Major Scale which contains no flats or sharps. Everyone knows the C Major scale, if you sing Do, Re, Mi .... Thats the C Major scale.

    The notes of the C Major Scale are C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C

    We are going to use the C major Scale as the base of this lesson.

    Part 2: Building Chords:

    To put it in its most simple form Major chords are made up of the Root 3rd and 5th of any major scale. So if we use the C Major Scale as the base of this we end up with the notes C - E - G. If we play the 3 of these notes together as a chord you get a C Major Triad.
    Minor Chords are built using Root flat3rd and 5th of the Major Scale. So if we use C Major as a reference we get C - Eb - G. If we play the 3 of these notes together as a chord you get a C minor Triad

    Chord building and knowing how chords work is invaluable for a guitarist / songwriter. It allows you to build and create chord progressions, arpeggios, and give you the tools to create different moods and tensions when soloing over a chord progression by using Modes (more on modes later)

    To put this into practice and songwriting in a metal context, one thing you can do is have the Guitar player just playing standard power chords (root and 5th) and you can have a clean guitar playing the Triads or the "tension" below it. The tension is what gives a chord its "color" wether its Major minor or diminished, tension notes are your 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 11th and 13th.

    So guitar one would play C5 (C and G) and the clean guitar would play a C Major Triad over it. This would give you a very happy sounding riff. Alternately you can do the same with Minor chords. You can have one guitar play C5 and you can have the other guitar playing a C Minor Triad.
    So to put it simple have the main guitar play a Power Chord and have another guitar play the tension on top of it to give the riff its color or mood.

    Example:
    Guitar one plays C5 (C and G) and guitar 2 plays Eb, and G, the Eb of guitar 2 gives the chord its minor characteristic. Guitar 2 could even play Eb and C and you would still get the minor tonality. Experiment with different chords and see what sounds best to you.

    a.) Using octaves to your advantage:

    An octave is 2 notes that are separated by 12 semi tones (half steps). For example, playe a C on your A string (3th Fret) then play an A on your G String (5th Fret) these notes are exactly 1 octave apart.

    You can use these octaves to your advantage to make a riff more interesting. So lets take that same C5 chord we played earlier and have the 2nd guitar play a slowly arpegiated chord using C E G one octave higher. This can add some depth to a simple riff.

    b.) Chord Harmony

    Using chord harmony is another way to make a riff cool. Say we have 2 guitars, Guitar one plays a C Major Chord in the 3rd position (your basic C major chord). The 2nd guitar can play an A Minor chord over that and harmonize the part using music theory!
    How is this possible?
    Well this gets into the deepest part of music theory. Scales and Modes

    Part 3: Scales and Modes

    The easiest explination I can give you of modes is they are scales that are built from different parts of the Major (or minor sometimes) scale. This can get very confusing so I am going to build you a small chart so you can see how it works.

    The modes follow a specific order: This order NEVER changes

    Ionian (Major)
    Dorian (Minor)
    Phrygian (Minor)
    Lydian (Major)
    Mixolydian (Major)
    Aeolian (Minor)
    Locrian (Diminshed)

    If we apply each note of the major scale to each of the modes based in C we get.

    C Ionian (Major scale)
    D Dorian (Minor)
    E Phrygian (Minor)
    F Lydian (Major)
    G Mixolydian (Major)
    A Aeolian (Minor Scale)
    B Locrian (Diminished)

    Each note also get asigned a "degree" in the scale. This is very useful for chord progressions. ir would look similar to this.

    C - 1 (Root)
    D - 2 (2nd)
    E - 3 (3rd)
    F - 4 (4th)
    G - 5 (5th)
    A - 6 (6th)
    B - 7 (7th)

    So lets put it all together:
    Ionian (Major) - C - 1
    Dorian (Minor) - D - 2
    Phrygian (Minor) - E - 3
    Lydian (Major) - F - 4
    Mixolydian (Major) - G - 5
    Aeolian (Minor) - A - 6
    Locrian (Diminished) - B - 7

    So based on this we can build chord progressions based within the key.

    Lets use a ii-V-I (2 - 5 - 1) progression for this example.

    So if we take the 2 chord (D minor) the 5 Chord (G major) and the 1 Chord (the C Major) and play them in succession we get a ii - V - I chord progression. If we expand on this into soloing over this progression, you can play D Dorian over the D minor chord, G Mixolydian, over the G Major Chord, and C Ionian, over the C major chord

    There are a million other options but for now to keep this "SIMPLE" we will just name those.

    But how do you know what a D Dorian or a F Lydian Scale is?

    That my friends is the most SIMPLE part of Music Theory. If you know the notes of the Major Scale you know ALL of your modes. The easiest explination is a Mode is a Scale staring on a Degree in a Major scale and continuing that scale through its octave. CONFUSING I KNOW, but onece you SEE it you will understand. Look at the example below:

    C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C ( C - Ionian Mode )
    D - E - F - G - A - B - C - D (D - Dorian Mode )
    E - F - G - A - B - C - D - E (E - Phrygian Mode )
    F - G - A - B - C - D - E - F ( F - Lydian Mode )
    G - A - B - C - D - E - F - G ( G - Mixolydian Mode)
    A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A (A - Aeolian Mode)
    B - C - D - E - F - G - A - B ( B - Locrian Mode)

    See the Pattern? Make Sense?

    If you play all the notes of a C Major Scale starting from D and playing through D you get the D - Dorian Mode, If you play all the notes of a C Major Scale from A to A (octave) you get the A - Aeolian Mode.

    See how easy that is :)

    Part 4: Expansion into other keys

    You can use the above examples starting from any Major scale. Lets use F major for our next example. The note of the F Major Scale are F - G - A - Bb - C - D - E

    So that gives us:
    Ionian (Major) - F - 1
    Dorian (Minor) - G - 2
    Phrygian (Minor) - A - 3
    Lydian (Major) - Bb - 4
    Mixolydian (Major) - C - 5
    Aeolian (Minor) - D - 6
    Locrian (Diminished) - E- 7

    So if we have a progression that is A minor, D minor and F Major what modes should we play over each chord?

    (scroll down for answer)











    If you said A Phrygian over the A, D Aeolian over the D and F Ionian over the F major then you got it right! THATS MUSIC THEORY!!!

    Ok guys I have to get back to work but thats the basics of how music theory works :)

    I will explans on 9th's 11th's and 13ths later .... I just have to get back to work :)

    Quickly, if you keep counting into the next octave the 2nd becomes the 9th and so on ....
     
  2. Loki Laufeyiarson

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    Sorry to nitpick here, but the 5th fret on my G string is a C. Wich suddenly makes the sentence make sence. :)

    Other then that, great post.
     
  3. Ionei

    Ionei Member

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    Yeah my brain broke when I read that part too.

    Cool idea though man!
    I'm sure this will be mighty useful for people who don't have much of a grasp on theory.
    Or even people who need to brush up on the basics again.
     
  4. Charlie E.

    Charlie E. Member

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    How about A Minor, D Dorian, and F Lydian? Those chords are all part of C maj/ A min just as much as they're part of F major and D minor. Especially if the progression starts with an A min.
     
  5. guitarguru777

    guitarguru777 Member

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    You are still in the key of C Maj,


    As for the octave thing, 5th fret on your G string is C ... exactly. 3rd fret on the a and 5th fret on the G are both the note C one octave (12 semi tones) apart ;)
     
  6. Charlie E.

    Charlie E. Member

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    That's precisely my point. It also happens to be the relative of A minor which is the starting chord in your progression example.
    Perhaps if you had included a chord that contains B flat then F major would be implied but otherwise I believe my suggestion would not only work but sound better.
     
  7. Josh M.

    Josh M. Member

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    Thanks man, I needed a proper explanation of modes. I knew a bit about them (that they are the notes of a particular scale starting on a different root), but this helped me to understand why.
     
  8. donimoines

    donimoines Member

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    a section on time signatures would be nice!
     
  9. Plankis

    Plankis Member

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  10. guitarguru777

    guitarguru777 Member

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    (Post is a work in progress... gimme some time to finish :p)

    Time signatures are easy if you know how to subdivide the beat.

    In all the below examples the quarter notes are in bold.

    Quater Notes - 4 notes per measure - 1-2-3-4

    Eighth Notes - 8 notes per measure - 1 - and - 2 - and - 3 - and - 4 - and

    Sixteenth Notes - 16 notes per measure 1 - e - and - a - 2 - e - and - a - 3 - e - and - a - 4 - e - and - a

    Lets take a standard 4 / 4 time signature.

    In a 4 / 4 time signature there are 4 quarter notes per measure. It is counted (Measure 1)1 - 2 - 3 - 4 (Measure 2) 1 - 2 -3 - 4 and so on .. so every 4 beats the measure changes.

    If you look at a 6 / 8 time signature there are 6 eighth notes per measure
    1 and 2 and 3 and

    In 9 / 16 there are 9 sixteenth notes per measure
    (Measure 1)1 - e - and - a - 2 - e - and - a - 3 (measure 2) 1 - e - and - a - 2 - e - and - a - 3

    So how does all of this break down..

    Here is a great video from Mike Portnoy explaining odd time and how he breaks it down into 4 / 4 sections so you can "feel" how it works.


    As you listen to the example above follow the bass line, the bass line is playing 16th notes and count each time he hits the strings you will count it .... 1 - and - 2 - and - 3 - and - 4 - and - 5

    Mike then goes to on explain how you can break that down into 2 measures of 4 / 4 with an added 16th note.

    Basically 1 - and - 2 - and - 3 - and - 4 - and - 5 (measure 2) 1 - and - 2 - and - 3 - and 4 - and - 5


    So how does this break down into other time signatures:

    Lets look at 7/4

    7/4 means there are 7 quarter notes per beat, counted 1-2-3-4-5-6-7

    Pink Floyds Money is a perfect example of this:


    Here is another set of examples by Portnoy:

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUfyc-LK2eY&feature=related[/ame]

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWBEau-j4PA&feature=related[/ame]

    And here is an example of a DT song and the NIGHTMARE that Odd time can be... Keep an ear out for how the sub division of the beat (the click) changes from quater notes to eighth notes to 16th notes

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7jikeIyKaE&feature=related[/ame]
     
    #10 guitarguru777, Dec 20, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2015
  11. pikachu69

    pikachu69 mixomatic 2000

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    GuitarGuru:
    I have almost finished the first part of my planned guitar theory lessons thread. Given you have re launched your thread and had it stickied should I just tack onto yours or should I start a new thread? I don't want to take over your thread but I don't want mine lost within yours either lol. what do you think?
     
  12. Plankis

    Plankis Member

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  13. guitarguru777

    guitarguru777 Member

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    Yes thats a great Idea plankis!

    Make a new thread then link to it here. i will keep an ongoing list at the top in the OP :)
     
  14. pikachu69

    pikachu69 mixomatic 2000

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    Good idea guys will do.

    Cheers.
     
  15. pikachu69

    pikachu69 mixomatic 2000

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  16. guitarguru777

    guitarguru777 Member

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    Yup, added your link to the OP :)
     
  17. abt

    abt BT

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    I'll admit I didn't read the entire thread so forgive me if this has been covered but this example of 6/8 is not correct or perhaps not well explained. 1 and 2 and 3 and looks to me to be straight 3/4 time where 6/8 is very different. In its simplest form 6/8 is dotted crotchets which sounds very different. A perfecty example of this is the Mission Impossible theme*. This is in 6/8 3/4 time. If you subdivide each bar you get the same number of quavers but the timing is very different.

    *EDIT: This is wrong! See correction below. (okay, I screwed up)
     
  18. guitarguru777

    guitarguru777 Member

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    What you are referring to is the "swing", "groove", or "feel".

    3/4 and 6/8 are the same yes, and normally you would notate it as 3/4, its just being used as an example of the eigth note subdivision for that particular portion. I was trying to convey time signatures that were fairly "common" as opposed to getting all crazy like 13 / 8 or 12 / 16 ....lol
     
  19. abt

    abt BT

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    No they are not the same and has nothing to do with swing or feel. Take a look at the Bach Cello Suites 1007 for example, the entire 2nd half is in 3/4 then the last movement is in 6/8 (I had this exact conversation with someone recently) the timing is not the same. If you stick strictly to the idiomatic style of Bach then Bach has no swing.

    I'm not trying to be a dick here but IMO this is super important in understanding how any time works.
     
  20. pikachu69

    pikachu69 mixomatic 2000

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    3/4 and 6/8 are entirely different in how they sound, how they are performed and how they are notated.
    Think of 6/8 as two groups of 3,
    1 2 3, 4 5 6 - 1 2 3, 4 5 6 etc putting an emphasis on the 1st beat and the 4th beat. This has a distinct 'swing' feel, almost a triplet feel.

    3/4 on the other hand is a very straight feel, think of it as 1 group of 3. ala always with me always with you by Joe Satriani.
    1 2 3 - 1 2 3 etc putting the emphasis on the 1 only.
     

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