Friday, January 29, 2016

Writing A Row

Since this week's episode was all about writing, we're gonna focus on that. Let's try writing rows in the various styles discussed! As always, put your answer in the comments below or on the main video.

1) Let's start with a random number generator. Go to and roll up a completely arbitrary row. Now take a look at the intervals: Do you see any patterns? Any emergent structures? Try playing it if you can: What do you hear? Does anything stand out to you?

2) Now let's try to write a row with intervals. pick an interval you like and try to write a row with about 5 to 7 of it. Play it: How does it sound?

3) Finally, let's look at derived rows. Pick a 3-note seed and try to figure out how to extrapolate it into a full derived row. (NOTE: You can build a derived row with any 3-note seed except for a diminished triad. Those don't fit.)

Post your results below, and we'll see you next week!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Secondary Function And The Wonderful World Of II-Vs

This week we went over some really important concepts in modern harmony, so let's get started! As always, put your answers in the comments below or on the main video.

1) Let's start with a discussion question. At the start of the video, we mentioned how the V chord is special, getting most harmonic developments before other chords do. Why do you think that is? What makes the V chord, or dominant function in general, so special?

2) Let's move on to II-Vs, because those are the real meat of this episode. Let's try identifying them: Below are the basic chords for the jazz song I Love You, by Cole Porter. See how many II-Vs you can find! (HINT: There's a lot.)

3) Finally, let's talk about that last thing I said, about the voice-leading symmetries. I'm not gonna give you more work to do than that, but see if you can't go back and figure out what I was talking about there. It's not crucial, but it's an interesting concept and understanding it might give you some valuable insight into harmonic structure. Give it a try!

And that's it! See you next week!

Friday, January 15, 2016

An Exploration Of Odd Accents

Well that was fun. Odd accents are a bit hard to do exercises for, since they're mostly just something to play around with, but let's see what we can come up with. As always, put your answers in the comments below or on the main video.

1) Let's start with a listening exercise. Go through your favorite songs and see if you can find any odd accent patterns. If you hear off-beat emphasis, try to figure out if it's really an odd accent or if it's just syncopation. If you're not sure, share it and I'll try to help you figure it out, although really it's kind of a judgment call anyway.

2) Let's look at the clave specifically. Go back and listen to it again: How would you describe the feel? What does it make you think of? Specific emotions? Specific songs? That rhythm has been used all over the place in a lot of different ways. Try tapping it out. How would you use it?

3) Try making up your own odd accent patterns. Remember, the sky's the limit! Use whatever rhythmic subdivisions you like. Try tapping out your rhythms, or if you play an instrument try playing it on there. Maybe even write a melody with it!

And that's odd accents! We'll see you next week!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Secondary Dominants: A Thing You Should Probably Know About

And we're back! We kicked off the new year with secondary dominants, an important but kind of complicated concept. But don't worry, we're here to help! As always, you can put your answers in the comment box below or on the main video: Either way, we'll get back to you. Let's get to the exercises!

1) Let's start by analyzing secondary dominants in isolation. For each chord below, use the key signature to identify what degree it's the secondary dominant of. The first two examples give you the chord and the key names, the next two just the chord, and the last two you'll have to figure out on your own. (All the keys are major.)

2) Now let's look at it another way. Let's start with the key of C major and identify every available secondary dominant. For each chord in C major, what secondary dominant would resolve to it? What non-diatonic notes are needed in order to make that secondary dominant? What about B diminished? Does a secondary dominant for that make sense to you?

3) Write something! Maybe try the interpolation method, finding a chord progression you like and inserting some secondary dominants to help guide the listener along. Or start with an interesting resolution and build around it. It's up to you! If you have a progression you think is interesting, send it to me and I'll try to get you a track of it so you can hear what it sounds like.

And that's secondary dominants! Welcome back, and we'll see you next week!