I was somewhat disappointed that the OP showed us a C Major scale without really explaining what a "major scale" is-- a collection of whole and half steps-- especially since they used a keyboard as an example, which is laid out in exactly the right pattern for teaching the major scale. (Notice that the black and white notes are arranged so that you skip some keys-- whole steps-- but sometimes you can't: half steps). I always teach how to build scales based on this pattern- WWHWWWH. Using this pattern, you can build any major scale beginning on any arbitrary note-- including notes that are sharped or flatted, which is neat. From here, you can figure out all of the scales, and thus all of the keys.
The advantage of learning in this fashion is that you can tackle intervals first, which are the distances between notes. (Note that major and minor intervals are named as such because they fit into our major or minor scales). Since a chord is simply collection of intervals, you end up with a more powerful understanding of them by learning which intervals (and which scale degrees) build which chords.
All the same, I really think the more "practical" approach here is really interesting, because you can start writing music earlier, albeit mostly in C Major.
Cool link, it really gives me insight as a fellow music educator.
For those interested, each scale is accompanies by several audio samples to hear what it sounds like.
Steve Vai created a scale called the Xavian scale wich is dividing the octave by 10.
He used in on Deep Down Into The Pain
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60SYLdMYvcE – check out the keyboards!
2. Jazz is barely a genre anymore there's so many different sub-genre's and movements within it that actually using the term how you did is disingenuous.
3. You did the same as above with about the same effect for "pop music". Seeing as you addressed harmony, you'll actually find that there are lots of common harmonic (chord) progressions that are shared between the two idioms. They reflect each other more than they are different to each other. If you really wanted to make the point you were trying to make I'd suggest looking for some form of obscure ethnic music (Pakistani throat singing or Indonesian Gamelan perhaps) that has not really had much chance to mix with western music and absorb its paradigms.
I can understand styles of music sounding awful, but what does it mean for a whole genre of music to sound awful? How does that even make sense?
Just to be clear, do you think this (Desafinado) sounds awful?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So718wk426c
What I'm referring to as what sounds awful are songs that try to use "creative" chords that are really just dissonant or don't belong together and "advanced" notes that are really just out of key. As far as I can tell this song isn't doing that.
According to this website I listen to 60 tracks every day.
You are not used to listen to Jazz so it's more likely to sound horrible to you since it's often rather complex.
Why do you think that parents of the 68' generation hated Beatles despite it being what we consider pop culture today.
You need to understand this in context rather than in absolute terms.
Many people as they start playing instruments they start developing a more and more sophisticated sense of harmony.
It's not different than code looking like nonsense to the noob.
This is where culture comes in. Jazz used to be pop-music, people grew up with it.
Context history culture sophistication at any given subject.
I'm willing to be persuaded and don't claim to have made a large study of this but I'm yet to hear a microtonal tuning that didn't just sound off. The sounds actively work against each other because the resonances just aren't there.
(I'm aware in this that modern keyboards are even tempered and so we don't actually _quite_ have perfect intervals any more, but the differences at that level are far smaller.)
One can alway declare to prefer microtonal or whatever invention, but the level interference (or harmony) between pitched sounds can be determined rationaly. This, for once, is not placable under cultural relativism. That's why it is probable that quater tones in Indian or Iranian music are not really tones, and are more like little bends to the natural scale.
(This fact do not please avant-gardists, because it means there is roughly nothing new to invent in this field, but reality is not supposed to always be pleasant, right?)
By the way, I couldn't read the OP (blocked), sorry if my contrib is not related enough.
They are both interesting because they are using touchscreen meaning that they are fretless.
I am still unsure as to whether the deeper understanding of scales, chords, keys, tuning, and temperament is something I should push to make students study and understand. Many students have a negative reaction to even the simplest math, but other students get a lot of benefit from understanding exactly how and why a given set of pitches fit together to form chords and scales. In the context of group instruction, deciding how much time to devote to this material is a dilemma for me.
I did this when I was teaching my roommate about theory, but he has a degree in math, so it seemed like the logical approach.
That said, teaching theory is incredibly good practice, so I like to do it whenever possible, and in my experience, the best time to explain the mathematical foundations of music is when they start to ask questions about it. It's like the matrix - if they're not ready for it, it's just too much.
There might be a non-mathy way to show that something fishy happens with Pythagorean scales, similar to the post, with well chosen computer-generated sounds; but this would mainly interest people with a couple years of musical practice.
I teach mostly middle-school and high-school kids, and we barely have enough time to get through what I have, so I skip it. I wish I didn't have to.
I've seen something like this elsewhere on the web: teach the C major scale until the student is familiar with it, can play the scale and its chords/arpeggios on their instrument, sing it given the tonic, etc. Then play the scale starting on G. G, A, B, C, D, E, will sound "right", that is, just like the C, D, E, F, G, A. Only the seventh (F) will sound "off". So we "fix" it by raising it a halftone. You can go all thru the circle of fifths this way.
If the student wants to know the reasons behind it you can teach it, but just like in math and CS I believe it's better to teach the concrete before the abstract.
Instead of math maybe show pictures of sine waves and how they relate. My kids learned that in elementary school and it seemed to make sense to them. You can even demonstrate it pretty easily with long strings and a cheap strobe or the 60Hz lighting in the room.
I love the fact that I'm a "non-technical" reader in this discussion!
That said, a lot of work went into the tutorial, and it is certainly well done.
It's not a perfect tool for the application at hand because of the necessity of separating the second and third strings by a major third instead of a perfect fifth, which would confuse the issue.
However, I think it'd be more convenient to have a graphical representation of the major scale's construction on which a whole step is always clearly a whole step.
The other strings on a guitar are separated by a fourth, not fifth (perfect or otherwise).
I'll also point out that the post I was responding to had already established which way he was counting by describing the relationship between the G and B strings (which, if we're counting the other direction would be a flat 6th; and, as a musician of twenty years I had to do mental somersaults to make my brain think of it that way). One way or another the description of standard guitar tuning was incorrect.
See what you made me do? I had to go all pedantic and stuff, and I hate doing that.
I agree. I find it very frustrating that Western music breaks the twelve notes into two classes: the "naturals" (ABCDEFG), and "accidentals" (A# C# D# F# G#, and enharmonic equivalents). Playing guitar, I have come across people explaining barre chords -- a single fingering for a type of chord (e.g., major, minor) that you can shift up or down the fingerboard -- as "you can play any chord with this: E, F, G, A, etc.", and ignoring almost half of the possible chords. I'm convinced that the naming of notes to simplify playing in the key of C major or the relative A minor has inhibited players from gaining a real understanding of intervals.
To wit: when I play piano, I play in C. When I play guitar, I don't think about what key I'm in. I play in whatever fingering is easiest and what sounds best at the time.
I know what you mean, but I think that's significantly a keyboard-based hazard. I play the trumpet (mostly; I can do a very little on a few others and trying to improve) and I've frequently ended up jamming away in odd keys, switching between them as required. F# major is a relatively common key for me, I just hear the intervals and the fingers move quite automatically, even though trumpet harmonics are arranged around C major (well, concert Bb). I'm sure it's much the same on other wind instruments.
Back in the early 20th century, sax salespeople would take advantage of this to sell the sax as an "easy to play" instrument. You can hang a saxophone from your neck and in 5 minutes you are playing the C major scale, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, whatever.
Compare with the trumpet or the violin, where just playing your first major scale in tune scale in tune takes weeks of practice.
 Actually, sax is a transposing instrument. But it does favor whatever scale you read as C major when you play it.
Trumpet fingering is easiest in C, F or G majors (as read, concert Bb, Eb and F). The actual blowing is quite physical and needs a good bit of practice to build strength; that is easiest in C, and the lowest fifth of that too.
But.... There's only three keys, they always operate in the same sequence, so once you've learnt that fingerings flow quite easily, and the harmonics are good, useful intervals. Perfect fifth, perfect fourth, major third, minor third. That gives the five core open harmonics over a core range of two octaves once you use the valves. Hence, once you've got yourself going a bit, while some keys are easier than others the instrument's structure lends itself nicely to switching keys at will without major issues. It makes it a nice instrument for improvisation.
I'm a music educator, of a sort; this is a project of mine, build around interactive drills & concepts (click free resources if curious):
...but I've held off for a long time on writing a real online course, because, well, it's hard. The concepts don't always seem logical in isolation, the names of concepts sometimes overlap in weird ways (er, major 7th interval or major 7th chord?), and the general approach -- to lay down all the groundwork first, and only then get into anything remotely practical -- is deadly, deadly boring.
So I'm very much in favor of taking a practical approach, and trying to give the student something actual musical-sounding they can produce at the end of every mini-lesson... but if this were easy to do, I'd have it up on the site already. :)
1. Send him this presentation: http://fury.com/2010/02/jesse-shells-mindblowing-talk-on-the...
2. Tell him to do it for the iphone and ipad where people can also practice on the ipad.
3. Set up achievement levels
Khan Academy for music education.
in Flash?? Can't be done, you know that.
The information on music theory is similar to the post - but it also shows you how to play a few common songs. If you follow the fingering guide and play the same chords with both hands it sounds damn great! I thought only the guitar had that "pick it up, learn a couple of chords and you're good to go..." attitude!
One of the songs on the site was "Let It Be". I remembered that that song was in the Axis Of Awesome song "Four Chords" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHBVnMf2t7w - now I know how to play hundreds of party-friendly songs on the piano. Damn satisfying for an outlay of just a few hours practice!
Ralph Towner calls the guitar a "portable piano".
My total music illiteracy really annoys me. However, whenever I try to pick up some knowledge I got held back by lots of questions that the usual music student (or teacher for that matter) has never thought about and no answer can be given. Here are a couple:
* Why are there seven notes? Is this due to an property of the ear?
* Ditto, for the octave concept, why should it be multiples of two?
* Why are there black keys between some white keys on the piano and not between others?
Is there a book that explains questions like these?
Why are there seven notes? Is this due to an property of the ear?
Ditto, for the octave concept, why should it be multiples of two?
Why are there black keys between some white keys on the piano and not between
It's difficult to draw the line between culture and biology, but that's probably too far to the "cultural" side. There is a basis for those, which is that if you start on the base tone of C and run around the circle of fifths you'll get the white keys first: C -> G -> D -> A -> E -> B -> F#, and you get F by going down from the base tone. The importance of the fifth itself comes from the fact that the first harmonic of the base tone is one octave up, and the next harmonic is very close to an octave and a fifth with equal temprement. This seems more than coincidence.
I also find this a better explanation for why so many cultures pick this up once they are exposed to it. (Which is not to say they give up all their old harmonies but this tuning+scale has certainly gone global.) I really have a hard time imagining the mechanics of the Western Global Harmonic Imperialist Conspiracy; it seems much more likely that it so happens that people we call Westerners found this local optima first and it spread because humans in general like it, and it belongs to all humanity, not "the West", just like "perspective" and mathematics.
So, I'd grant that much, but beyond that, I don't see much evidence for the diatonic scale as being somehow inherently inevitable. The harmonic series isn't much help, since you get to the flat-7 or flat-five before various other diatonic notes (plus, it's not particularly in tune at the higher partials).
And the circle of fifths rationale seems to be a just so story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-so_story (why stop at 7 notes? why not include G# or even C#? why not just C-G-D-A-E? (incidentally, a pentatonic scale) etc...?)
But this debate could go on ad infinitum, because the issue lacks empirical grounding. Which is to say, how could one falsify either the nature or culture thesis?
As for whether it's a Just So story, sometimes that's all you get. However, if it is just coincidence it's a mighty coincidence.
I wonder if there are user studies to back this claim.
I am also at such a low level, that part of your explanation just goes over my head, i.e. what is chromatic scale? Wikipedia says: "The chromatic scale is a musical scale with twelve equally spaced pitches, each a semitone apart. A chromatic scale is a nondiatonic scale having no tonic due to the symmetry of its equally spaced tones." Now very helpful. I thought there were 7 notes! And I don't know any other terms in that sentence (checking their Wikipedia entries doesn't help either, leads to a loop)
basically what this is saying is that in western music we have divided an octave (the space between a frequency and exactly double that frequency) into twelve "pitches" that we call notes. non-diatonic refers to the fact that it has no basis in any of the western minor or major scales (the two fundamental western scales) as it covers every note of the octave, thus is circular and beyond definition.
Hope that helps
In short, the Western scale is chosen to maximize the harmonic possibilities between different notes while having a reasonably even collection of whole-steps and half-steps between them. The black keys are the "in-between" half steps that do not appear in the C-major scale. The reason the ear likes harmony is probably due to our ears performing a Fourier transform on the incoming sound waves, and our brain blending together collections of multiples of some base frequency into one "note"--this lets us recognize the different characteristics of periodic oscillations from different physical sound sources.
I'm not in either field, but a belief in universal "deep structure" has helped me learn both language + music stuff. Even if they don't exist, I'm going to stick with what helps me :D
I can't really think of anything that universally defines "music", other than that it's sound with an aesthetically pleasing structure.
I don't know about Chomsky, but I took a linguistics course and the universal grammar was a major part of the course. It seems you're implying there's no such thing, what makes you think so? The impression I got from the course is that the idea of "universal grammar" is universally accepted (among linguists, of course).
Ironically I don't remember Chomsky's name coming up during the course at all.
Although to be honest I probably ignored names on purpose because there were so many of them.
Have a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A13_QGMtlRE. I think Bobby McFerrin would say that there indeed are music universals.
Counter-example don't disprove trends, though, and there are certainly trends (I think "universals" is just not quite the right word).
There's also a great TV series from England called 'How Music Works' which gives more of a historical background. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnbOWi6f_IM
As to why the human ear finds harmonic resonance pleasing is a more difficult question to answer. Why do we find order pleasing, and chaos frustrating? Speaking generally, the human brain functions as an advanced pattern seeking machine. What we do is take in chaotic and diverse information and make sense of it in some way, piecing individual facial features together into a specific face, and so on. Information that is ordered to begin with requires less work for the brain to process, so perhaps we find it pleasing because it is easy to sort and label mentally?
The intervals of black and white keys relate to the major scale. Basically, the major scale has the property of consisting of two whole steps, one half step, three whole steps and finally one half step. So the piano is constructed based on that scale.
Again, I can't explain it much better than that, but any book on the mathematics of music and signal processing / frequencies would have more information.
But yeah, the reason why you can't answer those questions is because you don't know music theory. That's where the answer to them is. It's not that they can't be answered.
Interesting fact: The tones of the scale aren't exactly evenly spaced, because of math. Some instruments use true tones and are made specifically for a certain key. Other instruments that can play in any key (like guitar) are never truly in tune.
EDIT: I realized I assumed a key concept in there. When two notes are played together, a third is heard (the "beat" frequency). If f1 and f2 are the frequencies of the notes being played, f2 - f1 = the beat freq. An octave sounds nice because the beat disappears (2f - f = f, so the beat is the same as the lower note of the octave). Other "pleasant" chord combinations are ones in which the beat does not clash with the first two note (e.g., is an octave of one of the notes).
The reason keys are important is because many instruments have different sound qualities for different notes. Keys close to E minor or G major allow guitarists to get that "twangy" open string sound. You can get a richer sound tuning up, or a thinner "heavy metal" sound tuning down. Keys close to B-flat allow brass players to use more basic tones on their instruments. All singers have certain sound qualities that are only available on certain notes. "Every Breath You Take", for example, would sound different even a semitone off, because Sting's transition from his creepy baritone to his high-pitched whine happens at a very specific part of his range, and the creepy quality of his voice contrasted with the high-pitched pleas for love is one of the most important qualities of the song.
But, yeah, temperament nowdays is almost irrelevant.
There's also Renoise (http://www.renoise.com/) which is inspired by old school mod trackers. There's a free demo, and the full version is really cheap.
Consider looking at the See also section for a list of DAWs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Audio_Workstation#See_a...
Free/open source, for Windows, OS X, and Linux.
Overall I'm not a fan, but I come from a background in more complex/full-featured DAW's like Logic and ProTools. I also find the UI lacking. That said, it's a great way to get off the ground when starting out with digital audio.
Sony ACID (I use ACID Pro extensively, free trial, free lite version)
energyXT (Linux and Mac versions available)
Other stuff to check out: console.jp, Audiomulch
what's great is that it's a serious physics lecture, but designed for kids, and there's plenty of funky experiments within the one hour.
Also, I don't know what the difference between a key, note and a few other words mean.
Trying to be constructive, I hope the article gets edited because I'm genuinely interested in learning these things.
Rhythm is our soul, get some soul, crackers!