Tip #101 – Weird Third Interval Substitution

This is an odd tip I received from a professor on a way to do chord substitutions.

First, it involves taking a composed progression. Like this one below:

From there, you take a chord you want to substitute (be it in this case the Fmaj7 chord) and change the root to a minor/major third below or above the original. For the pitch F, we get Db, D, Ab, and A.

After that, you change the quality of the chord from the root you choose to a minor chord (either a min7 or a min7(b5), otherwise known as a half-diminished seventh chord).

And there you have it. 8 different substitute possibilities for one chord. However, as I have learned from using this professor’s tip, not all the possibilities work. So, take this as a “last-resort” idea when you are stuck and in need of a more interesting harmonic progression.

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Tip #99 – Understanding the Vanaspati 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 Vanaspati (meaning “fruit-bearing tree”) scale, the fourth scale from the first 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. However, the other scale degrees are lowered as well as clustered in chromatic runs. In addition, the sixth scale degree (DHA) is raised, creating a tendency to resolve upwards. While this may sound dissonant or exotic, this scale gives a great amount of opportunity to play with tension and chromatic passing tones.

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


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.

Tip #98 – Pushing-Forward by Dropping a Beat

There are several ways that you can create an effect of pushing forward within a piece of music. The music can increase in dynamics (volume), increase in tempo (speed), become more accentuated, modulate, or have rhythmic anticipations in the melody or harmony.

But what if we become so anticipatory that we skip an entire beat?

In some compositions and popular songs, a steady meter of 4/4 might momentarily drop to 3/4 do accomplish some of the following:

  1. Push forward to a new section
  2. Create a moment of cutting-off early an older section
  3. Reformat the melody to land on a strong beat in an awkward meter

Each of them having the common purpose to make things line metrically in the song according to the hierarchy of beats while creating an unexpected surprise while dropping a beat to mimic momentum into a new section.

I encourage you to play around with a melodic riff and see how dropping a beat in a what-would-be 4/4 sound like.

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How To Beat Writer’s Block – Tip #10

In some DAWs (actually, in most) you have a piano roll setting where you can draw in “notes” that will be played horizontally in time along with a keyboard instrument propped up vertically.

While most people use this piano roll setting to create the exact melody, harmony, rhythmic pattern that they are looking for – you can also use it to draw!

Because the “notes” are in shapes of lines and blocks, you can use them as lines in a drawing to create a cool image… as well as a cool musical idea!

Take a look at an example below made in FL Studios:

Notice how the blocks where arranged to look like a heart-shape… or shape of a cat’s face. Whatever you are up to imagine and interpret.

You can do a similar thing, too – but also try to stay conscious of the melodic and harmonic qualities of the thing you are drying. The object of this writer’s block tip is to be visually creative while musically driven.

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Teach Yourself Music Theory – 11.) Counting Rests and Pickups

By first glace, how would you count the rhythm of the piece below?

It may seem tricky, but there is an easy way to figure this out!

First, let’s talk about the rests. As you know from before, a rest has its own value similar to that of a note. The difference is that with a rest, you don’t make any counting sound for that symbol. One way to practice counting a rest in to count in your head, instead of out-loud. Other ways are to quietly say “rest” or “shh” in a whisper tone.

Now let’s talk about that incomplete measure, also known as a pickup or anacrusis.

Simply, count it as the final beats of what would have been a complete measure. So, in this case of a simple quadruple meter type, this anacrusis would be counted just as 4 because it is the last beat of this particular incomplete measure.

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How To Compose – a Corrente/Courante

This post will discuss approaches to writing a corrente/courante.

First of all, the corrente/courante is a dance commonly found in the Baroque era suite.  The origin of the dance is French, but difference being is that the corrante is the Italian take on the dance with a more lively tempo at 3/4 or 3/8, while the courante is the original French version that is not as lively at a 3/2 meter. Dancers would be fast with their partners; jumping, running, and hopping between the steps while sliding to a new position. These factors should be considered for when witting an appropriate melody for the dance.

Here are some critical features that are characteristic of the dances:

  • Meter: 3/8, 3/4, 3/2, 6/4, 6/8
  • Tempo: lively
  • Binary form of AB, with the B section usually longer than the A section
  • If A section begins in a major key, it cadences in the dominant where the B section will start and return back to the home major key
  • If the A section begins in a minor key, it cadences in the dominant/relative major where the B section will start and return back to the home minor key
  • B section often begins with the transposition of the main theme
  • Begins with an upbeat of an eighth/sixteenth-note
  • Flowing eighth/sixteenth notes supported by a steady bass
  • Can be divided into triplets if desired
  • Homophonic texture
  • Typically features a “hop” in the rhythmic motive or melody
  • Hemiola before cadence
  • Composed based on these rhythms for dance purposes:

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the style before attempting to compose one!  Look into pieces of your favorite composers for inspiration and understanding or direction on how to approach a new work.


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Tip #97 – Understanding the Ganamurti 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 Ganamurti (meaning “icon of music”) scale, the third scale from the first 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. However, the other scale degrees are lowered as well as clustered in chromatic runs. In addition, the seventh scale degree (NI) is raised, which creates a tendency to resolve upwards. While this may sound dissonant or exotic, this scale gives a great amount of opportunity to play with tension and chromatic passing tones.

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


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.