Friday, November 27, 2015

How Do You Figure? A Guide To Figured Bass

This week we talked about Figured Bass, so let's dive right in! As always, put your answers in the comments below or on the video.

1) Here's some bass notes. See if you can figure out which inversion they're in, then see if you can figure out which chord they are. Remember to use the key signature!

2) This is a full figured bass example. Start by identifying the inversions. If you want, try to analyze the chords. If you really want, maybe try realizing it in four parts. Don't worry if it's not perfect, this stuff takes practice and the voiceleading on this one is a challenge at times.

3) What do you think about figured bass? Does it seems like a better or worse system than chord symbols? Why? What benefits does it have over chord symbols, and what drawbacks? Why might you want to use one or the other? There are no wrong answers here, and I'd love to hear what you think.

And that's that! we'll see you next week!

Friday, November 20, 2015

More Scales!

This week we looked at a bunch of new scales, so let's see what you've learned!

1) Let's start with pentatonics. Each of the following is either major or minor pentatonic. All you need to do is tell me which one. Simple!

2) Now let's move to Blues. the Blues scale is largely a melodic thing, so let's try writing a melody with it. Interestingly, in 12-bar blues, you usually use the same scale for the whole thing, even as the chords change. So here's a simple blues backing track in A: Listen to it and try to write some melodies with the blues scale over it. See what you like: The Blues is all about what you feel and what sounds good to you in the moment.

3) Finally, let's look at the uniform and altered scales. All of these are scales built on a rule. For the uniform scales, it's a set interval, and for altered it's a consistent alteration to the major scale. What would happen if, instead of flatting every note in major, you sharped them all? How do you think that might sound? What are some other rules you could build a scale with? Get creative!

And that's it! Put your answers in the comments below or on the video, and we'll see you next week!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Escapes, Neighbors, and Other Non-Harmonic Tones

Welcome back! As always, put your answers in the comments below or on the video. Let's get to it!

1) Identify the type of non-harmonic tone in each example below:

2) Here's a melody with all chord tones. Spice it up by adding a few non-harmonic tones. You can add a lot or a little, it's up to you. Try to play it, or if you can't, send it to me and I'll make you a track of it. Here's what they base melody sounds like. I also added the note names below to help for those of you who can't read sheet music yet.

3) Let's talk about Appoggiaturas, because like I said it's a controversial definition. I've seen people use it to mean any non-harmonic tone, and on the other end of the spectrum I've seen people argue that it only counts if it's both unprepared and exactly the same length as the chord tone that follows it. I'm gonna try something new here: A research assignment. Go read up on the term. See what you can find and report back. Keep in mind that academic sources will skew towards a more classical definition, so if you have any friends who play contemporary music, as them about it. See what you can find on your own and let us know so we can all learn together.

And that's that! See you next week!

Friday, November 6, 2015


Alright, let's get right to it. Modulation is a really complicated subject that honestly we shouldn't be covering yet but I think you people are pretty smart so it should be ok. As always, put your answers in the comments below or comment with them on the video, and if you're confused about anything, ASK. Let's get started!

1) Let's start with differentiation. The following examples contain either parallel or direct modulation. Just tell me which one it is, and where the modulation occurs. I added the starting key signatures so you know what key we begin in.

2) Now let's look at pivot chord modulation. For each of the following pairs of keys, see if you can figure out all the available diatonic triad pivot chords between them. See if you can figure out the available seventh chords too. And if you're feeling really adventurous, see if you can write a progression that transitions from one to the other through those pivot chords. Play it if you can, or send it to me and I'll make you a quick recording of it.

  • F major to Bb major
  • E minor to D minor
  • Ab major to G minor
  • And for extra fun let's try modes: F# mixolydian to A lydian
3) There's another type of modulation I didn't mention in the video: Relative modulation. This is where you change the tonic, but you simultaneously change the scale so that all the notes remain the same. For instance, you could move from C major to A minor, of F lydian. What do you think of this type of modulation? Does it make sense to you? When might you use it? Heck, when might you use any type of modulation?

And that's it! See you next week!