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tweex
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I play around with lots of different harmony intervals. 5ths seem to be the most popular in music today.

5th what?

first of all, is there a symbol for flat? sharp is easy. it's on the keyboard.

strange. I don't actually see information on wikipedia on how to identify keys if you don't have the sheet music.

I have book that tells you which key you're in depending on which notes are sharps or flats.

I'm trying to decode Final Fantasy 4's Moon (surface) music, and Final Fantasy 7's Makou Reactor. Maybe FF4 Moon is too challenging. I bet Makou Reactor would be much more standard music. I thought I heard chords and such.

In one of the instruments, the first notes are a G#, F, and G. Does that mean that it's actually an A-flat, since you can't have both G# and G in the same scale? In which case it's a key that has an A flat. The only ones that have A flats but no G flat (as it would mean no regular G) are ... oh, finally found it. A flat major or F minor.

oh crap. in another instrument, the 2nd set of notes very soon after has a B, and both Aflat major and F minor keys have B flats... oh, then again, back at the first instrument, it also seems to have changed key. it has an F#, D#, F. that F# must be a G flat. one instrument hits nothing but C and B through both key changes... uh... that's not compatible. There's no key with A flat or G# and regular B. *sigh*

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What does reading the music have to do with music theory?

Reading music is most fundamental step of music theory. If you have no idea what the lines and spaces on the grand staff represent, there is no way you would be able to identify a triad, seventh chord, or any chord for that matter.

When taking a basic theory class, reading music and identifying notes is the first step.

So, to answer your question, reading music has EVERYTHING to do with music theory!

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5th what?

first of all, is there a symbol for flat? sharp is easy. it's on the keyboard.

strange. I don't actually see information on wikipedia on how to identify keys if you don't have the sheet music.

I have book that tells you which key you're in depending on which notes are sharps or flats.

I'm trying to decode Final Fantasy 4's Moon (surface) music, and Final Fantasy 7's Makou Reactor. Maybe FF4 Moon is too challenging. I bet Makou Reactor would be much more standard music. I thought I heard chords and such.

In one of the instruments, the first notes are a G#, F, and G. Does that mean that it's actually an A-flat, since you can't have both G# and G in the same scale? In which case it's a key that has an A flat. The only ones that have A flats but no G flat (as it would mean no regular G) are ... oh, finally found it. A flat major or F minor.

oh crap. in another instrument, the 2nd set of notes very soon after has a B, and both Aflat major and F minor keys have B flats... oh, then again, back at the first instrument, it also seems to have changed key. it has an F#, D#, F. that F# must be a G flat. one instrument hits nothing but C and B through both key changes... uh... that's not compatible. There's no key with A flat or G# and regular B. *sigh*

By 5ths, he probably means a perfect fifth (C-G, for example) instead of an augmented 5th (C-G#) or diminished 5th (C-Gb).

Most people use a lowercase b as a symbol for flat when typing in a context like this.

You're running into one of two problems with trying to figure out keys. One is that if you stick strictly to the notes in a scale, you don't have nearly as much musical freedom as if you allow all 12 possible tones, so composers introduce accidentals. In general, you're allowed to raise (sharpen) or lower (flatten) a note whenever you like. In conventional harmony, there are a lot of rules dictating when you can and can't do that to stay within the accepted harmonies, but don't worry about them for now. Also, accidentals in sheet music are often written in whichever notation is most convenient for the performer. For example, take the note sequence B Bb A Ab G, in G major. G major is a sharp key with one sharp, but musicians generally find the sequence I gave easier to read, instead of B A# A G# G. Both are played the same way, but using flats is more likely in a descending pattern, regardless of the key.

The second problem is that some pieces modulate (change key), and if you're not experienced enough as a listener to identify when that happens, it'll throw you off.

As for how to identify what key a piece is in by listening, there's not much to it. You have to be able to recognize which pitch is the tonal center or root of the key. For example, if I play Twinkle, Twinkle in C, the notes are C C G G A A G F F E E D D C. C is the root, and the key is in C. Music conventionally tends towards the root note, which is another clue. Although a piece may not start on the root, it most often ends on the root. Either way, by listening to enough pieces, you'll get a feel for finding the note around which a piece is centered. Then, to figure out the key, all you have to do is match the root pitch you hear to a note you know, by playing notes on a piano or guitar until you find a match, for example, and then determine the key from that note. To determine the key, you have to know if the song is major or minor; You can tell from the sound; to apply the stereotype, "happier" pieces are major. Try and listen to the third note above the root as well; that will generally tell you. If the root is C and the song has many more Eb's than E's, it's likely in a minor key.

I'd suggest you stay away from both of the pieces you suggested until you learn to recognize keys a little more. For example, take a song like "Racing Chocobos - Place Your Bets" from Final Fantasy VII. It'll be much easier to follow. I'd also suggest Fiddle de Chocobo, but it modulates between two or three keys, and you don't want to confuse yourself too easily. There are a ton of video game songs that are easier and don't modulate though, so don't push yourself too hard to learn on something trickier.

Good luck!

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Reading music is most fundamental step of music theory. If you have no idea what the lines and spaces on the grand staff represent, there is no way you would be able to identify a triad, seventh chord, or any chord for that matter.

When taking a basic theory class, reading music and identifying notes is the first step.

So, to answer your question, reading music has EVERYTHING to do with music theory!

I see your point there. But never downplay aural ability, its the most powerful tool you have as a musician.

But notation is just the written language of music. You do not need to know how to read music to learn music theory. I learned theory long before I buckled down and learned how to sight read on it.

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Whether you have good aural ability, or the ability to sight read, theory is still a good place to start with your education. Being able to read the notes if you have very little, even no talent, in music just helps to get you on the road to gaining skill, and maybe eventually talent.

I myself lack talent, but I do want to learn to read music so I can eventually gain skill and proficiency so I too might be a great musician one day.

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I've never understood the reluctance some musicians have wrt studying theory. They say that compositional rules will just stifle their creativity--but theory doesn't offer any rules for composition and it can only harm one's creativity if you let it.

Based on the discussions I've had, I tend to think that most of the anti-theory types don't really understand what the point of theory is; they seem to confuse a largely analytical tool for a compositional one.

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My only complaint with theory is that from what I've read thus far, there's a lot of sweeping stuff under the rug. What I mean is that I've read the phrase "Most of the time, composers do..." countless times, and there's often not a followup phrase, something like "but this and this are also fairly common." I'm not expecting to get a complete overview of all possible chords that follow a V chord, for example, as that's clearly too much to cover, but it's getting annoying to hear that kind of thing so many times. Of course, this could be a result of the books I'm reading, and it's not like I'm not learning anything, but still, it is a bit of an annoyance.

As for the application of theory to composition, I think Jack Sparrow says it best: "They're more guidelines than rules, actually."

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Based on the discussions I've had, I tend to think that most of the anti-theory types don't really understand what the point of theory is; they seem to confuse a largely analytical tool for a compositional one.

with the way a lot of theory snobs talk about theory, i can see how people would be turned off by it. theory comes from music, not the other way around. but some people talk like music comes from theory, like its some kind of math equation. yuck

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I've never understood the reluctance some musicians have wrt studying theory. They say that compositional rules will just stifle their creativity--but theory doesn't offer any rules for composition and it can only harm one's creativity if you let it.

Based on the discussions I've had, I tend to think that most of the anti-theory types don't really understand what the point of theory is; they seem to confuse a largely analytical tool for a compositional one.

lol you've never been a guitarist then. That's the bulk of non theory players who can actually be great musicians. Because you get guitar tabulature, you can rock out on a song with just a little practice and most of them like I was for a while just use their ears to figure out stuff and memorizing entire songs in order just to play them once through.

Yeah you hear a lot of excuses. The main reason I chalk it all down to is laziness. It's reading and its not fun to most "cool rock guitarists" who are rebelling against conformity lol.

It's kinda funny how the word has done a complete 360 conformity to me is being ignorant.playing classical or jazz music seems to be more rebellious.

But if is very easy for a beginner to get stuck in familiar scales and everything else, but it takes a lot of desire to become like a virtuoso type musician, it's not for everyone. You know when it's for you when your instrument becomes like this vital organ to your existence.

I honestly go crazy without my guitars or a keyboard or something. I just want to play music all the time. Or talk about it

I like to play devils advocate when it needs to be done. It's a combination of great knowledge, experience, technique, creativity and presence that makes a truly great musician. For some of us it's a never ending learning process of bettering ourselves.

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Because 1) I was primarily talking about people who write music, and 2) the reasons performers (including guitarists) give for not learning theory aren't any good.

Yeah, you can be a good composer or performer without studying theory, but that doesn't mean it's still not counterproductive to purposefully avoid theory training.

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Because 1) I was primarily talking about people who write music, and 2) the reasons performers (including guitarists) give for not learning theory aren't any good.

Yeah, you can be a good composer or performer without studying theory, but that doesn't mean it's still not counterproductive to purposefully avoid theory training.

This is not a flame lol, I think I get what your typing to say but it's worded very oddly

what did you mean by "give for not learning aren't any good"

and "that doesn't mean it's still not counterproductive to purposefully avoid theory training"

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what did you mean by "give for not learning aren't any good"

I generally hear two reasons for not studying theory. 1) The person just doesn't want to, which is perfectly fine but it's not much of a reason. And 2) The person thinks it will hurt their creativity--and as I mentioned before, barring a misunderstanding of what theory is, this simply won't happen.

and "that doesn't mean it's still not counterproductive to purposefully avoid theory training"

This seems pretty straightforward to me, but here goes: when one makes a decision to purposefully avoid theory for whatever reason (unless there's some really awesome reason that I've never heard) then that person is deliberating handicapping their understanding of music. And that's an obviously counterproductive thing to do.

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By 5ths, he probably means a perfect fifth (C-G, for example) instead of an augmented 5th (C-G#) or diminished 5th (C-Gb).

Most people use a lowercase b as a symbol for flat when typing in a context like this.

Oh ok.

You're running into one of two problems with trying to figure out keys. One is that if you stick strictly to the notes in a scale, you don't have nearly as much musical freedom as if you allow all 12 possible tones, so composers introduce accidentals. In general, you're allowed to raise (sharpen) or lower (flatten) a note whenever you like. In conventional harmony, there are a lot of rules dictating when you can and can't do that to stay within the accepted harmonies, but don't worry about them for now.

If you can use any note, how are you supposed to determine what key it's in? I'm guessing something distinguishes the instrument that sets the key as opposed to the instrument that can go all over the place. It's easy when you see one instrument doing chords and another one all over the place. (well, I'm guessing. I don't actually know if chords set the key) but not all pieces of music do that.

Also, accidentals in sheet music are often written in whichever notation is most convenient for the performer. For example, take the note sequence B Bb A Ab G, in G major. G major is a sharp key with one sharp, but musicians generally find the sequence I gave easier to read, instead of B A# A G# G. Both are played the same way, but using flats is more likely in a descending pattern, regardless of the key.

Well, this isn't written. I found a MIDI, and the program I used to load it just happens to display all the black keys as sharps instead of flats. :)

The second problem is that some pieces modulate (change key), and if you're not experienced enough as a listener to identify when that happens, it'll throw you off.

Nah, that's not so much a problem. Like I said, I have some experience with music.

As for how to identify what key a piece is in by listening, there's not much to it. You have to be able to recognize which pitch is the tonal center or root of the key. For example, if I play Twinkle, Twinkle in C, the notes are C C G G A A G F F E E D D C. C is the root, and the key is in C. Music conventionally tends towards the root note, which is another clue. Although a piece may not start on the root, it most often ends on the root. Either way, by listening to enough pieces, you'll get a feel for finding the note around which a piece is centered. Then, to figure out the key, all you have to do is match the root pitch you hear to a note you know, by playing notes on a piano or guitar until you find a match, for example, and then determine the key from that note. To determine the key, you have to know if the song is major or minor; You can tell from the sound; to apply the stereotype, "happier" pieces are major. Try and listen to the third note above the root as well; that will generally tell you. If the root is C and the song has many more Eb's than E's, it's likely in a minor key.

like I said, different instruments start and end on different notes.

what do you mean by third note above the root? third as in letters? C-E-D? is that in the instrument that goes all over the place, or the one that's more similar to chords or broken chords? (I think that's the term) hrm. well the melody (is that what they call the instrument that goes all over the place?) in racing chocobos starts and ends on A. all C's are normal. wait, can't it be in regular keys instead of just major or minor? (looks at his chart) no, apparantly not. Ok. :)

so Racing Chocobo starts in the scale of A MA/maj, right?

I'd suggest you stay away from both of the pieces you suggested until you learn to recognize keys a little more. For example, take a song like "Racing Chocobos - Place Your Bets" from Final Fantasy VII. It'll be much easier to follow. I'd also suggest Fiddle de Chocobo, but it modulates between two or three keys, and you don't want to confuse yourself too easily. There are a ton of video game songs that are easier and don't modulate though, so don't push yourself too hard to learn on something trickier.

Good luck!

I know. Those two songs I mentioned are basically my end-goal. I want to mix them together.

I don't know how well I know myself, but I know some things... I have a hard time seeing mid-term goals and motivation. I'm easily swept up in overly ambitious goals. I wouldn't say it makes the more short-term and immediate goals less interesting, but... most of the time I'm left to learn on my own, and there ARE no short-term goals that are similar to my long-term goals. If I were trying to learn music keys from an easier piece, that would probably work.

It's definately a problem if I need to design my own goals though, and it's not easy to find educational material that even has an assignment for you to do to follow along and learn.

Well, thank you so much for your attention. and thanks for scaling down my problem to an easier song you recomended. It's good to have examples. I'll keep reading, seeing if I can easily identify the keys in the easy songs, and see if I can compare it to the hard songs.

Once, long ago, I managed to match up the tempo on both songs and play them simultaneously. they had really odd tempos that were really hard to match.

One part of my ultimate goal of remixing that I dread is picking out instruments or playing with waveforms and... filters or whatever it is.

Have you guys ever thought about making a wiki on learning music composition? It would be really nice if there were something with visual diagrams and examples and stuff... I always hate the way forums are laid out for this kind of thing. It's always "READ THE STICKY!" and the sticky doesn't tell you what you were looking for. or previously it contained a thread 90 pages long and who knows where the answer to your question might be, or if it's actually phrased in such a way that a newbie can understand it. :S

sorry if I'm rambling.

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^That is a very ignorant post. I can't explain why right now, I have to run. May explain later if someone hasn't already.

And this is the most unproductive post ever.

Yes, I am ignorant. I don't know yet. If I knew, I wouldn't be trying to learn.

with Racing Chocobos, the 6th instrument plays a repeating part like this:

D A A C E D (the 1st A is up an octave, the 2nd one is back down, and uh... the last D is also the first D as it repeats)

and then changes at one point much later to:

F C C E G F

so I'm guessing that this instrument is like a broken chord.

the 1st instrument goes:

A D F# E E D D C C B B A A G A B G A

A D F# E G F# F# E E C C B C D E F# D

I'm guessing this instrument is like the melody that goes all over the place.

but the melody turns into chords when the broken chord instrument changes notes. I don't know how to figure out chords though. I have a book that lists them all, but it's hard to go through them all. looks like chords with 3 notes are often majors, so I just have to look up the majors for all 3 notes.

CFA... is F major

DFB... I can't find. B diminished has 4 notes, but at least all the keys are normal instead of sharps or flats...

how can you play different chords if another instrument is playing just one broken chord?

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B diminished is B-D-F.

which is just in a different order... except it has an Ab in there.

it jumps those chords around pretty fast though. there's more I'll write down later.

I think you are trying to over-analyze that song.

Well, I'm just trying to prepare for a song with greater difficulty. If I can learn to recognize chords and stuff, I figure that's a good thing.

Send me a link to the midi.

I took my suggestion from the guy who was replying to my earlier:

I'd suggest you stay away from both of the pieces you suggested until you learn to recognize keys a little more. For example, take a song like "Racing Chocobos - Place Your Bets" from Final Fantasy VII. It'll be much easier to follow. I'd also suggest Fiddle de Chocobo, but it modulates between two or three keys, and you don't want to confuse yourself too easily. There are a ton of video game songs that are easier and don't modulate though, so don't push yourself too hard to learn on something trickier.

and picked up a copy of the songs here:

http://www.ffshrine.org/ff7/ff7/ff7-3-11-racing_chocobos_place_your_bets.mid

http://www.ffshrine.org/ff7/ff7/ff7-3-12-fiddle_de_chocobo.mid

I gotta say, fiddle de chocobo is a lot more complicated. It has a lot more instruments. hrm... on second glance, it looks like a lot more of them follow the same notes.

I wish I know how to get FL Studio to display more than one track in the piano roll view, but leave other tracks out. I can have ALL of them greyed out in the background, but can't pick and choose which ones.

only the notes D,G,B for ALL instruments. hrm, pretty simple. it quickly changes, just like he said. C,F,A, back and forth each half a... number. whatever measure of time that is. and in the middle it has a short section where it uses D,F,A#

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Hey, CE, I can't help you much with the analysis, but just so you know, Fruity will only display other piano rolls in this patten as greyed out. So you want to display, say, two violins, and only two violins, just copy both of them to a new patten, and enable... ghost notes? I think thats what it is called. You clearly know it - the greyed out note thing. Hope that helps ^_^

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which is just in a different order... except it has an Ab in there.

That's Bdim7. don't get them confused.

Well, I'm just trying to prepare for a song with greater difficulty. If I can learn to recognize chords and stuff, I figure that's a good thing.

Overanalyzing will still make it worse. Or trying to analyize too much at once.

Fiddle de Chocobo:

Key of C Major

Chord Progressions:

Intro:

G (V chord), F (IV chord), G, F, G, F, G, Bb (major of a flatted seventh...very interesting, I've never seen it before. I guess the chord function would be bVII or something...), G, F , G, F, G, F, G, F

Main melody:

Key of G Major (yes, it changes keys for the main melody)

C (IV chord), D (V chord), G (I chord), Bmin.7 (iii chord), C, D, G, G7 (I7 chord), C, D, G, Bmin.7, F (VII chord), D

Repeat intro sequence again.

Transition to bridge: G chord

Bridge:

Key of Bb major

SAME PROGRESSION AS INTRO, except transposed a whole step lower.

So that's most of the song. That was a difficult piece to start out on, especially if you are easily confused as you seem to be (no offense, it's a hard subject for most people). Practice a little more and you can get it down.

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That's Bdim7. don't get them confused.

Overanalyzing will still make it worse. Or trying to analyize too much at once.

Fiddle de Chocobo:

Key of C Major

Chord Progressions:

Intro:

G (V chord), F (IV chord), G, F, G, F, G, Bb (major of a flatted seventh...very interesting, I've never seen it before. I guess the chord function would be bVII or something...), G, F , G, F, G, F, G, F

Main melody:

Key of G Major (yes, it changes keys for the main melody)

C (IV chord), D (V chord), G (I chord), Bmin.7 (iii chord), C, D, G, G7 (I7 chord), C, D, G, Bmin.7, F (VII chord), D

Repeat intro sequence again.

Transition to bridge: G chord

Bridge:

Key of Bb major

SAME PROGRESSION AS INTRO, except transposed a whole step lower.

So that's most of the song. That was a difficult piece to start out on, especially if you are easily confused as you seem to be (no offense, it's a hard subject for most people). Practice a little more and you can get it down.

I don't know what the roman nuemerals mean. It's hard to tell if it's used for more than one thing in music, since I can't understand any of what it's talking about.

edit: Ok, I managed to piece it together after ending up at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chord_progression (which didn't make any sense by itself) but that lead to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scale_degree when compared to what you said, seems to be the number of notes the chord is compared with the key. although I don't really know what purpose it serves to identify this. I also don't know why you marked some but not others. (if it was just obvious, or if these notes were different, maybe single notes instead of chords)

I also still can't figure out the chart in chord progression, why there are upper and lowercase versions, etc... it's really strange that the information isn't include on the same page.

I read about how chords are made out of major and minor intervals. (although it still takes me a long time to identify them)

but how are you determining these keys? I see only 2 places where an instrument hits the C key, and it doesn't look like the start or end of a melody, so how did you determine a C major key?

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I determined it was in the key of C based on the chords.

The two chords to start it off were G and F. There are only 3 natural major chords in every key signature, so that's the place to start in this situation. It can't be the key of G because then the F chord wouldn't fit (there are F#s in the key of G major). It also can't be the key of F because then the G chord wouldn't fit (it would be minor because of the Bbs). Since it can't have any flats or sharps, obviously it's the key of C major. The F#s and Bbs that are added every once in a while are just passing tones, used for color.

Now, of the C scale, there are seven degrees (notes).

C d e F G a b

On each of these degrees, a chord can be made with the other degrees in the scale. These chords built on these degrees are called "chord functions" and are shown with roman numerals.

C d e F G a b*

I ii iii IV V vi vii*

The lowercase letters are the minor chords, and the uppercase ones are major. the "*" signifies a diminished (it's usually a circle, but that is the only symbol close to it).

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