I have a couple of requests (I know it says fork it at the top, but I've taken a look and would be way, way out of my depth!):
1 - modes of the other scales given (melodic and harmonic minor)
2 - a less daunting way of selecting arpeggios - possibly by selecting what would be the first note then removing that from the available options? I love the diagrams, but the massive table is somewhat daunting.
3 - the ability to export a MIDI file of a single run of the chord progression.
Nice work though, lots of interest and fun to be had in exploring the possibilities locked up inside the scales/chords.
I've begun using Cthulhu as a plugin, which works nicely as a MIDI input device :
There's an option to 'lock' certain notes when you try out harmonic progression options.
One suggestion to add. Be able to choose chord progressions from HookPad's database of songs / chord progression probabilities would be really cool with this.
for base_note in range(B,B+5*2,2):
for arpeggio_note in range(base_note,2*base_note,2):
What do the different modes do?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Lydian: (R, R+2, R+4, R+6, R+7, R+9, R+11)
Ionian (Major): (R, R+2, R+4, R+5, R+7, R+9, R+11)
Mixolydian: (R, R+2, R+4, R+5, R+7, R+9, R+10)
Dorian: (R, R+2, R+3, R+5, R+7, R+9, R+10)
Aeolian (Minor): (R, R+2, R+3, R+5, R+7, R+8, R+10)
Phrygian: (R, R+1, R+3, R+5, R+7, R+8, R+10)
Locrian: (R, R+1, R+3, R+5, R+6, R+8, R+10)
Melodic: (R, R+2, R+3, R+5, R+7, R+9, R+11)
Harmonic: (R, R+2, R+3, R+5, R+7, R+8, R+11)
I: (R, R+4, R+7)
ii: (R+2, R+5, R+9)
iii: (R+4, R+7, R+11)
IV: (R+5, R+9, R)
V: (R+7, R+11, R+2)
vi: (R+9, R, R+4)
vii: (R+11, R+2, R+5)
Hope that helped!
A mode (like minor or lydian) determines which notes are played. Let's take the notes in C major as an example. If you start with the C and play it up to C', then you get C major. If you play the same notes but starting at D, and up to D', then you get the D Dorian scale. Start with E, you get the E Phrygian scale, start with F, you get the F Lydian scale, etc.. Those scales or modes are all either major or minor (as the difference between major and minor is determined by the interval between first and third note), modes 1,4,5 are major and 2,3,6,7 are minor.
If someone plays a piece in E Phrygian mode, how would you know that it is? By looking at a piano keyboard, you would see that she only plays white keys, which tells you that the tonic/root is C major. Since a piece written in E Phrygian will most likely have progressions or melodies that start/end with an E, you would know that it's not C major, but E Phrygian. If you pay close attention to scores written for mystery movies (or the Simpson's), you will notice that it sounds outlandish or alien. That's because they use the Lydian scale. They might really only use C major notes, but starting a melody at the fourth (F) makes it sound completely different.
A major chord (example C major) is made up of three notes: first is the chord's tonic (C), second is a major third higher than the tonic (E), third is a quint higher than the tonic (G).
A minor chord is similar to a major, but the second note is only a minor third higher than the tonic. Using C minor as an example, the second note is Eb.
The chords that OP progresses over are the modes/scales I described above. If you set the tonic/root to C major, then the 5th mode would be G mixolydian (which happens to be a major mode), or the 6th would be good old A minor. Still, the only notes that are played are those that occur in the C major scale - the chords just use different starting points.
Any chance on making the source available under a free/libre license?
Chord = multiple notes played together. There are different ways to arrange the notes within the chord but a common example would be a major chord with consists of the root note, and then a note that is a 3rd above that, and then a 5th above that. For example a C major chord would be C-E-G.
An arpeggio is a rapid succession of notes within a chord. Instead of playing the notes in a chord all at once you cycle through them in some pattern. Typically ascending but as you can see from the tool there are lots of options.
Modes are similar to the scale but I've never learned them well enough to explain it. Altering the mode gives the "scale" a different quality sound. Think about the white and black keys on the piano and how they are not evenly spaced. If you start on C and play all the way to the next C one note at a time it sounds like one scale but if you do the same thing shifting one note higher it is going to sound completely different (not just shifted higher in pitch) it actually has a different quality.
many songs do have the issue you describe though, even a simple modulation to lift the last chorus, for example.
A very cool page, thanks. I agree that the chords should be the other way up, for my mental model of pitches. But I guess it's like how we visualise time: everyone is slightly different.
Is there a way to share an arpeggio with someone else?
Would use it in my work right now if it could export a MIDI file.
It would be cool to be able to do other things besides purely diatonic triad progressions:
- 7th chords
- Slash chords
Anyway really inspiring :)
Which is a very nice progression by the way :)
EDIT: Now that I think of it, it might actually be "ivº || vi iii vii I | vi II V" Lydian, which sounds very natural due to "vi-iii-vii-I" being essentially "I-I-vii-I" (vi and iii can be heard as inversions of I) and "vi-II-V-ivº" being actually "I-II-V" (classic jazz progression, II being the V of V) which then goes back to vi (i.e. to I) via "V-ivº || vi(I)" (5-4-1 being the classic blues progression). This movement by V is a much more common way of progressing through a song. I played it in my guitar extending to diatonic 7th chords and it sounds much better than the Dorian interpretation where the ii-III movement sounds awful for some reason.
This ivº-I movement sounds a bit like a plagal cadence which keeps the movement going, which I think works very well with Lydian's uplifting sound to give that never-ending tension-building feel. Resolving to vi instead of I is similar to how a deceptive cadence works which adds to the "suspended" feel.
Somehow my ears still latch onto Locrian's iii as the tonic (i.e. Dorian's i). "viº || i v ii III | i IV VII" could be seen as "viº || i v IV i | i IV VII". "i v IV i" makes a lot of sense (again, blues), but I can't quite understand "i IV VII viº". Maybe I'm right in both cases and the first bar is Dorian and the second modulates to the relative Lydian? Or viceversa?
It's very ambiguous. Modes are kind of confusing (at least for me) but their ambiguity is part of what makes them awesome. One of my teachers insisted there's no canonical way of analyzing sufficiently-complex progressions. In any case I am unable to hear it as Locrian.
(Sorry if I said something stupid. I've never been formally trained in music theory. Can an actual musician step in? :P The more music theory I learn, the more ambiguities I see in music analysis...)
After studying a basic amount of music theory, I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as canonical analysis. Analysis, in most theories, is a way of rationalizing what's become common practice in a given style.
One thing I learned when trying to research the origins of our music system is that our chord progressions appear to be underpinned by rules for multi-voice counterpoint. But in pop music, voicing isn't particularly important, it's just background for the bass and melody lines. So pure chord progressions tend to harken back to harmonic motion that's familiar from the more formal genres. A book I often recommend called A Geometry of Music  goes way down the rabbit hole, if you want to obsess over this to the extent that I did.
So, modal chord progressions (especially Locrian) really only tend make sense to the extent that they analogize major and minor chord progressions, from a functional tonality perspective. I don't think this is precise, but the way I think of it is that you sell the listener on alterations of major or minor scales, and they buy it after a few repetitions, and other signals of what the cadences are :)
Damn you, music!
This is a great way to make daily $instrument exercises. Mine's a bass clef.