Category Archives: Harmony

Connect 8

It’s Science, Jim, But Not As We Know It.

There are three elements in music – rhythm, melody and harmony. Like other elements, they combine into the various compounds which constitute music. When tricky moments occur, the problem could be caused by one or more elements and some degree of separation may be required to locate the culprit. This is a process with which pupils may be familiar, through Science. Examing the relationship between component parts in a given scientific field often involves: Continue reading Connect 8

Connect 7

Minor Endings

Major = Happy, Minor = Sad.

This has served for generations as a first step to aural identification of the two basic chord types.

Major = Reliable, Minor = Slippery Customer. How’s that, then?

The makeup of a major scale, once learned, remains learned. The minor scale, once conquered, simply grows another head and reappears in disguise. Brought about by historical change and (multi)cultural influence,* Continue reading Connect 7

Arranging 7

To TAB or not to TAB

Tablature is an ancient system of notation for fretted string instruments where horizontal lines represent the strings and numbers placed on these lines represent the chosen fret. Many guitar teachers use only TAB viewing notation as a disincentive. The problem here is that non-readers (of notation) can communicate only with other guitarists. Many teachers use notation exclusively, regarding TAB as a form of cheating. My view….. Continue reading Arranging 7

Musical Grammar 3

Those pupils who become interested in harmony often do so through experimenting with writing their own music. They hear sounds they like and hope to incorporate them into their comopsitions and arrangements. However, the source tune may not be in the same key as their own piece and a more formulaic understanding may be necessary to enable them to use these favourite sounds. This is the process we use to name any interesteing chords which crop up in a piece: Continue reading Musical Grammar 3

Making The Grade

As a welcome back experiment I have been asking secondary pupils of all ages to read their way through an engaging minimalist piece I rediscovered in the holidays. In theory, this piece should be very easy as it featured, until the year 2000, in a Grade 1 syllabus. However, it looks fiendish. I have also indulged in the customary game of guess the grade with my instrumental and classroom colleagues. Guesses have ranged from Grade 3 – 6 and all are equally astonished to discover that Continue reading Making The Grade

Pump Up The Volume

Dynamics ( leading on from Spot The Difference )

“That which is static and repetitive is boring. That which is dynamic and random is confusing. In between lies art.” John A. Locke (1632-1704)

“Are you going to come quietly, or do I have to use earplugs?” Spike Milligan (1918 – 2002)

Why do we change volume in a piece? Simply to avoid boredom? Because it’s marked on the music? Or do these choices help us to convey meaning? Continue reading Pump Up The Volume