Tonality

Tonality is a common hierarchical framework in use in western music from approximately 1600 CE or so. For some of western music history, tonality is the best way to describe pitch relationships in music. Starting toward the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th, tonality became less straightforward, and eventually multiple…

Lesson 7: Basic Chromaticism, Part 1

AKA modulation and secondary dominants First, let’s start with the title: Chromaticism. Up until now, we’ve only been looking at chords that don’t need any extra sharps or flats, once we determine what key signature we should be using, known as diatonic harmony. However, most classical music uses some sharps or flats at least part of…

Lesson 6: Diminished chords

We’ve almost finished covering most of the chords present in diatonic classical music. If you have any previous experience with chord analysis, there are a couple chords you’re probably wondering about. We’ll discuss diminished triads and seventh chords today. To start, let’s review some intervals. Intervals like seconds, thirds, sixths, and seventh come in the…

Main Ideas

This page will continue to be updated after every new lesson to include the bolded concepts in one place. Please let me know if anything is unclear. Lesson 1: Form: the large scale way a piece of music is put together. Formal Analysis describes various sections for a piece of music, and how they interrelate.…

Lesson 4: Numbers

(We’re going to be in C major all day today.) Back in lesson 2 we talked about triads. We defined a triad as being a chord made of three notes, each a third apart. Because of octave equivalence, triads can look like many things. Here’s what the close-packed version looks like: But all these are…

Lesson 1: Cadence and Form

The most common type of musical analysis is arguably formal analysis. Formal analysis answers the question: How are the large parts of this music related to one another? Form analysis is one of the first types of analysis non-specialist music-lovers grasp; think of any pre-concert talk, program notes, or the like. These often consist of…