Friday, September 25, 2015

All About Minor

This time we took a look at all the various sorts of minor. It was a lot of information, so let's take a second to review!

1) We discussed relative and parallel modes. These are relationships between major and minor keys that make them sound similar. For each of the following keys, give me its relative major or minor and its parallel major or minor:

  1. F# major
  2. Ab minor
  3. C# major
  4. G minor
  5. A major
  6. E minor
2) We also talked about harmonic and melodic minor. We briefly mentioned some harmonizing, but we didn't really go into it much. Using what you know about harmonizing, can you give me all the diatonic triads in C harmonic minor and C melodic minor? Remember that chords are built in stacks of thirds. If you feel like you've got it, how about all the diatonic seventh chords as well?

3) What do you think of the harmonic and melodic minor solutions? Do they address the problem well? Are there better ways to handle those concerns?

And that's it! See you next week!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Twelve-Tone Composition

So... This one was pretty intense, huh? But you got through it! And now it's time to hone your skills with it. Let's go!

1) Let's start with the transformations. Below is a randomly generated row. It sounds... actually pretty good for a random sequence. But don't worry about that. Just find the retrograde, the inversion, and the retrograde inversion. And while you're at it, maybe try transposing it up a whole step as well? Why not, you're already here.

2) Make your own row! A good technique is to pick an interval and try to work that in a bunch. Not every leap of course, but you can fit it in 5 or 6 times without problems. The row in the episode had five minor thirds in it. You don't have to use that technique, though: Just make one that you think sounds good and see what happens. Maybe try the transformations on it too!

3) Try writing a piece, with either the row from the first exercise or the one you made in the second. It can be short, maybe four or eight bars, and it can just be one hand. Try the transformations, play with rhythms, transpose to your heart's content... Just make something you enjoy. If you don't have the resources or expertise to play it, send it to me and I'll try to get you a recording so you can hear what it sounds like.

And that's it! See you next week!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Harmonizing a Melody

Alright! Let's practice harmonizing. This will be a little different than past examples.

1) Well, the best way to practice harmonizing is to practice harmonizing, so here's another melody. First try it with one chord per bar, then try two. If you want you can even try 4, or do a hit-for-hit harmony with the chord changing every note. See what you can do!

2) In harmonizing like this, it can be very tempting to use 7th chords, because they give you access to more notes, so now seems like as good a time as any to ask: What do you think about 7th chords? Do you notice any difference in how they sound compared to triads? How about when the melody is on the seventh: Does that sound different to you than lower chord tones? If you can, try playing some of both and seeing whether they make you feel any different.

3) Does this method of harmonizing feel comfortable to you? Is there another way that you find more effective or more natural? Or do you feel like starting from the harmony and adding a melody on top works better for you? Discuss your methods!

Friday, September 4, 2015


Hi! We covered the basics of guitar this week, so let's get to the exercises!

1) What's a good voicing for each of these chords? Keep in mind that a voicing doesn't have to use all 6 strings. If you want, try to come up with a couple good voicings for each chord, it's good practice. If you can get your hands on a guitar, try fingering those voicings, see if they're actually comfortable.

i) Ema
ii) Dmi
iii) F#o
iv) Gma7
v) Cmi7
vi) Eb7

2) One thing we didn't cover in the video is guitar tab. This is an alternate notation system guitarists use where they just mark which fret on which string you're supposed to play. they're notated highest string on top, and make it really easy for guitarists to quickly pick up new songs. for instance, the arpeggiation Milo played in the video might look like this:

E - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B - - 1 - - - - - - - 0 - - - 1 -
G - - - 0 - - 2 - - - - 0 - - - 0
D - 2 - - - - - 3 - 3 - - - 2 - -
A 3 - - - - 3 - - - - - - 3 - - -
E - - - - 1 - - - 3 - - - - - - -

Now, looking at that and using what you know about guitar tuning and intervals, what are the notes Milo played? If you can, turn this into standard notation. If you want to try more, look up the tab to any song you like and try to figure out what's actually going on.

3) Try writing some stuff for (Or even better, on) guitar! There's really no better way to practice instrumentation than just doing it. If you can't play, that's totally fine. See if you can find a friend who can and ask them if they can play things for you. It really is the best practice. Even if you're just spelling voicings and seeing if they're playable, there's no substitute for real experimentation with the instrument.

So that's that! Post your answers (To the first two, at least...) below or in the comments on the video, and we'll see you next week!