Tip #195 – Dorian Vamp

This will be a short tip.

Say that you want a jazz or funk groove but don’t know where to start when it comes to harmonic progressions.

Well, a typical progression used in these styles is the Dorian vamp, which is a repetition of the progression:

i – IV7

Of course, these chords can be altered with upper extensions and sus4, but the root motion is the same.

Both of these chords are naturally found in the Dorian mode (in the example above it would be E Dorian), so it fits right with the tonality you want to be in.

Try it out and feel free to experiment.

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Tip #194 – Understanding the Mararanjani Scale

The Carnatic music of South India has 72 scales (melakartas) comprised of seven different notes in either an ascending (arohana) or descending (avarohana) fashion. These scales are used in a kind of India music called rāga and are extremely beautiful. In addition these scales are grouped into different chakras, based on certain similarities.

Today’s melakarta is the Mararanjani scale (roughly translating to “killing”), the first scale from the fifth chakra.

Below is a representation of the scale as if it was put into Western notation:

Both the first (SA) and fifth (PA) scale degrees are in a placement normal to most scales found in Western music. In addition, it contains the major tetrachord in the beginning.  With that, there is the lowered seventh degree (NI).

Try playing around with the scale, possible harmonies, and progressions!

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Teach Yourself Music Theory – 26.) Modes of the Melodic Minor Scale

Not only are there modes built from the diatonic scales of Major and natural minor, but there are modes of the melodic minor, too.


Similarly, they are constructed with the same pitch-class collections, but starting on different pitches and spanning an octave from there.


Below are the different modes and names built from the A melodic minor scale in the key of C:


NOTE:
these are the names I use for the modes. You will encounter multiple names for the same scale, so always be open to change.

Further NOTE: it should be a b6 in the Hindu Scale, my apologies.


Practice building the modes, playing them, and memorizing the names.

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Tip #193 – Using Lightness of a Scale

You might have heard the term the “brightness” or “darkness” of a scale/mode. Typically they are referring to how scales/modes containing a lot of sharp or raised scale degrees from the tonic are referred to as “bright” while those that have flattened scale degrees from the tonic are “dark”.

This is not to say that flat keys are “dark.” We are saying that the intervals that make up the scale that are flattened in comparison to the major scale tend to be more “dark” in tonality.

Can you change a scale to make it more “bright” or “dark?”

Essentially yes by either raising or lowering pitches in the scale (usually done in a circle of fifths pattern of selecting which pitch to alter).

This is good to keep in mind as you are writing and trying to find the right emotion and color to express your musical ideas. That might mean using an unconventional sale/mode or building one from scratch.

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Tip #192 – Understanding a Cliché Blues Ending

While it might be wise to avoid clichés, you can certainly learn a lot from them. Musical clichés are what helps group the idioms of certain genres/styles together. Trying to emulate a particular style might mean using a musical cliché – but adding your own unique twist.

Take for example this bluesy melodic ending over a I7 – V7 – I progression:

Let’s dissect into this.

One thing that pops out in an instance is the use of a chromatic line against the upper tonic drone that leads down towards the fifth of the V chord.

Try that for yourself. Build a chromatic line that alternates in pitch between a drone. Now, lead the chromatic line toward the next chord, and after that to the following chord. Listen to how the contour and dissonances shape the forward moving motion towards a cadence.

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Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #37

Another aspect you want to consider when regarding the framework of your song is where it will start, and where it will finish.

Sometimes, the toughest part of writing a song is knowing where and how to start. What will be that opening line and will it grab the audiences’ attention? A way around this is to start writing the “middle” and then come back to the beginning.

However, we are going to tackle this straight-on and discuss how we can have a strong opening for our lyrics.

Your start should be unique, grab attention, and lead us quickly down the path into establishing the “who, what, when, where, why” of the song. Think of all the novels and storybooks you have read in the past – you can probably even recall the first sentence because of its unique qualities.

To draw inspiration, your start can appear as the following:

  • A question
  • A request
  • A provocative statement
  • A greeting
  • An image
  • A perspective
  • A date/time
  • A location
  • Etc.

Remember, a beginning is as strong as the passage that follows. So, make sure that the start can easily transition into the “body” of your song and help deliver your message across musically.

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Teach Yourself Music Theory – 25.) Modes of the Harmonic Minor Scale

Not only are there modes built from the diatonic scales of Major and natural minor, but there are modes of the harmonic minor.


Similarly, they are constructed with the same pitch-class collections, but starting on different pitches and spanning an octave from there.


Below are the different modes and names built from the A harmonic minor scale in the key of C:


NOTE: these are the names I use for the modes. You will encounter multiple names for the same scale, so always be open to change.

Practice building the modes, playing them, and memorizing the names.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.