Tip #116 – Key Change with a Predictable Melody

Once you established an “earworm” melody in the listener’s… ears of course, you have the ability to pull out the rug from underneath them and do a key change.

How?

Well, first take a look at the composition below:

Say that the first four measures is the original motif/chorus/theme… whatever you want to call it. We know that on every repeat the second measure of the four measure pattern the melody is an A4.

However, that pitch can be harmonized in a multitude of ways. Looking back at the example above, the pitch is now harmonized with an A major triad instead of an A minor triad. This chord then acts as a IV chord in a IV-V-I progression taking us to the key of E Major.

This sounds smooth to the ear because we were already expecting that A to happen… just not the other notes around it.

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Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #12

Continuing with the recent weeks talking about making artistic comparisons, a songwriter can do so with a simile.

A simile is a comparison of two different things using “like” or “as”

You can compare two similar objects like:

  • Soft as a pillow
  • Hot like fire

Or compare two different things in a contrasting (almost sarcastic) juxtaposition:

  • He’s as alive as a tombstone
  • Strength like a feather

Regardless of how you choose to use a simile, be sure it enhances the creative and descriptive poetry of the song.

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Teach Yourself Music Theory – 13.) Pitch-Class Collections of Natural Minor Scales

Continuing with the idea of pitch-class collections and how they can form scales, let’s introduce a new scale: the natural minor scale.

To make a natural minor scale, one has to have a collection of pitches that in ascending order go in an intervallic pattern of whole-step, half-step, whole-step, whole-step, half-step, whole-step, and whole-step back to the original pitch. One can also think of this as M2-m2-M2-M2-m2-M2-M2.

Take a look at the composition below, write the pitch-class collection, and then arrange the pitches into an ascending manner fitting the pattern of the natural minor scale:

If you did it correctly, you would get {F#, G#, A, B, C#, D, E, F#}, which means this composition uses a F# minor scale…

…but wait, don’t the same pitches used also make up the A Major scale?

That is correct! For every major scale, there is its own relative natural minor scale. All you have to do is go down a minor-third interval (or up a major-sixth interval) from the original major scale to find the relative minor scale. So C major is A minor, G major is E minor, E major is C# minor, etc.

Now, how can well tell if a song is using a major or minor scale? well, that will be saved as a topic for next time.

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Tip #115 – Altering the Fifth of a Chord

One thing you can do to make a simple harmonic progression more interesting is by altering the fifth of the triad chord.

Most people think adding upper extensions like the 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th, are the only way to make a chord harmony more interesting, but altering the inner core of the triadic chord itself is a great way.

Take a look at the progression below:

Notice how the simple I-ii-V-I progression was repeated again but with a b5 of a #5 (or both!).

Some alterations way not work, so an in-depth discussion on what is the correct way to alter certain types of chords will be done in the future.

Till then, experiment!

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Tip #114 – Understanding the Senavati 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 Senavati scale (meaning “maintenance”), the first scale from the second 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 second scale degree (RI) is lowered, creating a tendency to resolve downward. In addition, the seventh scale degree (NI) is lowered as well.  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!

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Tip #113 – Avoid Rewriting with a D.S.

Sometimes when you are reading a score, you will notice a section that says D.S. al Coda or D.S. al Fine. Both can be used as a way to indicate to the performer of your music that you want a section to repeat in a particular way without having to rewrite the section yourself.

Not only will this save time and energy, but it will clearly communicate the message – if done correctly.

D.S. is short for Dal Segno, which means “from the sign.” When you come across a measure in the score that has D.S. above it – it means to repeat back to the measure with this sign right above it:

If the sign is D.S. al Coda, that means there is an extra step. Once returning to the sign shown above, the performer will play till they reach this sign:

…and then jump forward to an area marked “coda.”

If the sign is D.S. al Fine, the performer will play till they reach a measure marked Fine – or end.

Once again, this is a simple tip to help save time to avoid rewriting repeated sections.

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 #112 – Avoid Rewriting with a D.C.

Sometimes when you are reading a score, you will notice a section that says D.C. al Coda or D.C. al Fine. Both can be used as a way to indicate to the performer of your music that you want a section to repeat in a particular way without having to rewrite the section yourself.

Not only will this save time and energy, but it will clearly communicate the message – if done correctly.

D.C. is short for Da Capo, which means “from the head.” When you come across a measure in the score that has D.C. above it – it means to repeat back to the beginning!

If the sign is D.C. al Coda, that means there is an extra step. Once returning to the beginning, the performer will play till they reach this sign:

…and then jump forward to an area marked “coda.”

If the sign is D.C. al Fine, the performer will play till they reach a measure marked Fine – or end.

Once again, this is a simple tip to help save time to avoid rewriting repeated sections.

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.