music theory


  • Common ways of notating or representing chords[46] in western music other than conventional staff notation include Roman numerals, figured bass (much used in the Baroque era),
    chord letters (sometimes used in modern musicology), and various systems of chord charts typically found in the lead sheets used in popular music to lay out the sequence of chords so that the musician may play accompaniment chords or improvise
    a solo.

  • [8] Greece[edit] See also: Musical system of ancient Greece and List of music theorists § Antiquity Early preserved Greek writings on music theory include two types of works:[9]
    • technical manuals describing the Greek musical system including notation, scales, consonance and dissonance, rhythm, and types of musical compositions; • treatises on the way in which music reveals universal patterns of order leading to
    the highest levels of knowledge and understanding.

  • Below is the E9 chord audio: Duration: 13 seconds.0:13 Timbre, sometimes called “color”, or “tone color,” is the principal phenomenon that allows us to distinguish one instrument
    from another when both play at the same pitch and volume, a quality of a voice or instrument often described in terms like bright, dull, shrill, etc.

  • The Oxford Companion to Music describes three interrelated uses of the term “music theory”: The first is the “rudiments”, that are needed to understand music notation (key
    signatures, time signatures, and rhythmic notation); the second is learning scholars’ views on music from antiquity to the present; the third is a sub-topic of musicology that “seeks to define processes and general principles in music”.

  • Music theory textbooks, especially in the United States of America, often include elements of musical acoustics, considerations of musical notation, and techniques of tonal
    composition (harmony and counterpoint), among other topics.

  • Many cultures have also considered music theory in more formal ways such as written treatises and music notation.

  • Music can be transposed from one scale to another for various purposes, often to accommodate the range of a vocalist.

  • Chords and sequences of chords are frequently used in modern Western, West African,[42] and Oceanian[43] music, whereas they are absent from the music of many other parts
    of the world.[44]: p.

  • Indian classical music theory continues to strongly associate keys with emotional states, times of day, and other extra-musical concepts and notably, does not employ equal

  • [49] In popular and jazz harmony, chords are named by their root plus various terms and characters indicating their qualities.

  • The unique characteristics of octaves gave rise to the concept of pitch class: pitches of the same letter name that occur in different octaves may be grouped into a single
    “class” by ignoring the difference in octave.

  • The period may be considered the complete melody, however some examples combine two periods, or use other combinations of constituents to create larger form melodies.

  • “[1] Music theory is frequently concerned with describing how musicians and composers make music, including tuning systems and composition methods among other topics.

  • Mensural notation used different note shapes to specify different durations, allowing scribes to capture rhythms which varied instead of repeating the same fixed pattern;
    it is a proportional notation, in the sense that each note value is equal to two or three times the shorter value, or half or a third of the longer value.

  • It is of considerable interest in music theory, especially because it is one component of music that has as yet, no standardized nomenclature.

  • [19] During the thirteenth century, a new rhythm system called mensural notation grew out of an earlier, more limited method of notating rhythms in terms of fixed repetitive
    patterns, the so-called rhythmic modes, which were developed in France around 1200.

  • During the Baroque period, emotional associations with specific keys, known as the doctrine of the affections, were an important topic in music theory, but the unique tonal
    colorings of keys that gave rise to that doctrine were largely erased with the adoption of equal temperament.

  • For example, the long and rich musical traditions unique to ancient and current cultures of Africa are primarily oral, but describe specific forms, genres, performance practices,
    tunings, and other aspects of music theory.

  • For example, ancient instruments from prehistoric sites around the world reveal details about the music they produced and potentially something of the musical theory that
    might have been used by their makers.

  • The manner in which a performer decides to execute a given articulation is usually based on the context of the piece or phrase, but many articulation symbols and verbal instructions
    depend on the instrument and musical period (e.g.

  • [n 1] But this medieval discipline became the basis for tuning systems in later centuries and is generally included in modern scholarship on the history of music theory.

  • [22][23] o Sacred harp music uses a different kind of scale and theory in practice.

  • As the music progresses, the pitches used may change and introduce a different scale.

  • The development, preservation, and transmission of music theory in this sense may be found in oral and written music-making traditions, musical instruments, and other artifacts.

  • Western music theory generally divides the octave into a series of twelve pitches, called a chromatic scale, within which the interval between adjacent tones is called a semitone,
    or half step.

  • [28] In traditional Western notation, the scale used for a composition is usually indicated by a key signature at the beginning to designate the pitches that make up that

  • 15  The most frequently encountered chords are triads, so called because they consist of three distinct notes: further notes may be added to give seventh chords, extended
    chords, or added tone chords.

  • For example, classical Ottoman, Persian, Indian and Arabic musical systems often make use of multiples of quarter tones (half the size of a semitone, as the name indicates),
    for instance in ‘neutral’ seconds (three quarter tones) or ‘neutral’ thirds (seven quarter tones)—they do not normally use the quarter tone itself as a direct interval.

  • [38] Because melody is such a prominent aspect in so much music, its construction and other qualities are a primary interest of music theory.

  • Scales and modes[edit] Main articles: Musical scale and Musical mode A pattern of whole and half steps in the Ionian mode or major scale on CDuration: 0 seconds.0:00 Notes
    can be arranged in a variety of scales and modes.

  • ; his chapters on polyphony “come closer to describing and illustrating real music than any previous account” in the Western tradition.

  • Since the interval relationships remain unchanged, transposition may be unnoticed by a listener, however other qualities may change noticeably because transposition changes
    the relationship of the overall pitch range compared to the range of the instruments or voices that perform the music.

  • [25] Pitch[edit] Main article: Pitch (music) Middle C (261.626 Hz)Duration: 0 seconds.0:00 Pitch is the lowness or highness of a tone, for example the difference between middle
    C and a higher C. The frequency of the sound waves producing a pitch can be measured precisely, but the perception of pitch is more complex because single notes from natural sources are usually a complex mix of many frequencies.

  • Post-classical[edit] See also: List of music theorists § Post-classical, and List of medieval music theorists China[edit] The pipa instrument carried with it a theory of musical
    modes that subsequently led to the Sui and Tang theory of 84 musical modes.

  • Although any chord may in principle be followed by any other chord, certain patterns of chords have been accepted as establishing key in common-practice harmony.

  • Sacred Harp also employs a different notation involving “shape notes”, or notes that are shaped to correspond to a certain solfege syllable on the music scale.

  • In addition, there is also a body of theory concerning practical aspects, such as the creation or the performance of music, orchestration, ornamentation, improvisation, and
    electronic sound production.

  • Chords are also commonly classed by their root note—so, for instance, the chord C major may be described as a triad of major quality built on the note C. Chords may also be
    classified by inversion, the order in which the notes are stacked.

  • Timbre is principally determined by two things: (1) the relative balance of overtones produced by a given instrument due its construction (e.g.

  • [19] This treatise carefully maintains distance from the actual practice of music, focusing mostly on the mathematical proportions involved in tuning systems and on the moral
    character of particular modes.

  • Thus, in historically informed performance of older music, tuning is often set to match the tuning used in the period when it was written.

  • Other systems of indicating volume are also used in both notation and analysis: dB (decibels), numerical scales, colored or different sized notes, words in languages other
    than Italian, and symbols such as those for progressively increasing volume (crescendo) or decreasing volume (diminuendo or decrescendo), often called “hairpins” when indicated with diverging or converging lines as shown in the graphic above.

  • [32] In recent years, rhythm and meter have become an important area of research among music scholars.

  • The time signature or meter signature specifies how many beats are in a measure, and which value of written note is counted or felt as a single beat.

  • Internationally, the system known as equal temperament is most commonly used today because it is considered the most satisfactory compromise that allows instruments of fixed
    tuning (e.g.

  • [7] Apart from technical and structural aspects, ancient Chinese music theory also discusses topics such as the nature and functions of music.

  • [30] Rhythm[edit] Main article: Rhythm Metric levels: beat level shown in middle with division levels above and multiple levels below Rhythm is produced by the sequential
    arrangement of sounds and silences in time.

  • In ancient and living cultures around the world, the deep and long roots of music theory are visible in instruments, oral traditions, and current music-making.

  • Texture is often described in regard to the density, or thickness, and range, or width, between lowest and highest pitches, in relative terms as well as more specifically
    distinguished according to the number of voices, or parts, and the relationship between these voices.

  • This is not an absolute guideline, however; for example, the study of “music” in the Quadrivium liberal arts university curriculum, that was common in medieval Europe, was
    an abstract system of proportions that was carefully studied at a distance from actual musical practice.

  • Several centuries later, treatises began to appear which dealt with the actual composition of pieces of music in the plainchant tradition.

  • [47] Harmony is often said to refer to the “vertical” aspect of music, as distinguished from melodic line, or the “horizontal” aspect.

  • Playⓘ in just intonation Playⓘ in Equal temperament Playⓘ in 1/4-comma meantone Playⓘ in Young temperament Playⓘ in Pythagorean tuning A chord, in music, is any harmonic set
    of three or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously  These need not actually be played together: arpeggios and broken chords may, for many practical and theoretical purposes, constitute chords.

  • [31] Playing simultaneous rhythms in more than one time signature is called polyrhythm.

  • This same notation, transformed through various extensions and improvements during the Renaissance, forms the basis for rhythmic notation in European classical music today.

  • Works of the first type (technical manuals) include • Anonymous (erroneously attributed to Euclid) (1989) [4th–3rd century BCE].

  • [29] The interrelationship of the keys most commonly used in Western tonal music is conveniently shown by the circle of fifths.

  • In many types of music, notably Baroque, Romantic, modern, and jazz, chords are often augmented with “tensions”.

  • It has been called “… the psychoacoustician’s multidimensional waste-basket category for everything that cannot be labeled pitch or loudness,”[51] but can be accurately
    described and analyzed by Fourier analysis and other methods[52] because it results from the combination of all sound frequencies, attack and release envelopes, and other qualities that a tone comprises.

  • Sacred Harp music and its music theory originated with Reverend Thomas Symmes in 1720, where he developed a system for “singing by note” to help his church members with note

  • Unique key signatures are also sometimes devised for a particular composition.

  • [6] Arabic countries / Persian countries[edit] Medieval Arabic music theorists include:[n 3] • (Bagdad, 873 CE), who uses the first twelve letters of the alphabet to describe
    the twelve frets on five strings of the oud, producing a chromatic scale of 25 degrees.

  • Since the early 20th century, Arnold Schoenberg’s concept of “emancipated” dissonance, in which traditionally dissonant intervals can be treated as “higher,” more remote consonances,
    has become more widely accepted.

  • The musicological approach to theory differs from music analysis “in that it takes as its starting-point not the individual work or performance but the fundamental materials
    from which it is built.

  • [48] Counterpoint, which refers to the interweaving of melodic lines, and polyphony, which refers to the relationship of separate independent voices, is thus sometimes distinguished
    from harmony.

  • Boethius represented Classical authority on music during the Middle Ages, as the Greek writings on which he based his work were not read or translated by later Europeans until
    the 15th century.

  • [24] Further information: List of music theorists § 19th century Contemporary[edit] See also: List of music theorists § 20th century, and List of music theorists § 21st century
    Fundamentals of music Music is composed of aural phenomena; “music theory” considers how those phenomena apply in music.

  • [n 2] Music theory as a practical discipline encompasses the methods and concepts that composers and other musicians use in creating and performing music.


Works Cited

[‘1. See Boethius’s De institutione musica,[2] in which he disdains “musica instrumentalis” as beneath the “true” musician who studies music in the abstract: Multo enim est maius atque auctius scire, quod quisque faciat, quam ipsum illud efficere,
quod sciat (“It is much better to know what one does than to do what one knows”).
2. ^ See, for example, chapters 4–7 of Christensen, Thomas (2002). The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
3. ^
See the List of music theorists#7th–14th centuries, which includes several Arabic theorists; see also d’Erlanger 1930–56, 1:xv-xxiv.
1. Fallows, David (2011). “Theory”. The Oxford Companion to Music. Oxford Music Online. ISBN 978-0199579037.
2. ^
Jump up to:a b Boethius 1989.
3. ^ Palisca and Bent n.d., Theory, theorists. 1. Definitions.
4. ^ Mirelman 2010; Mirelman 2013; Wulstan 1968; Kümmel 1970; Kilmer 1971; Kilmer and Mirelman n.d.
5. ^ Mirelman 2013, 43–44.
6. ^ Jump up to:a b
c Lam
7. ^ Service 2013.
8. ^ The Nāțyaśāstra, A Treatise on Hindu Dramaturgy and Histrionics, attributed to Bharata Muni, translated from the Sanskrit with introduction and notes by Manomohan Ghosh, vol. II, Calcutta, The Asiatic Society, 1961.
See particularly pp. 5–19 of the Introduction, The Ancient Indian Theory and Practice of Music.
9. ^ Mathiesen, T.J. (2002). “Greek music theory”. In Christensen, T. (ed.). The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press. pp. 112–113.
10. ^ Manik 1969, 24–33.
11. ^ Wright 2001a; Wright 2001b; Manik 1969, 22–24.
12. ^ Rodolphe d’Erlanger, La Musique arabe, vol. I, pp. 1–306; vol. II, pp. 1–101.
13. ^ d’Erlanger 1930–56, 2:103–245.
14. ^
Shiloah 1964.
15. ^ d’Erlanger 1930–56, 3:1–182.
16. ^ Anon. LXII in Amnon Shiloah, The Theory of Music in Arabic Writings (c. 900–1900): Descriptive Catalogue of Manuscripts in Libraries of Europe and the U.S.A., RISM, München, G. Henle Verlag,
1979. See d’Erlanger 1930–56, 3:183–566
17. ^ Ghrab 2009.
18. ^ Jump up to:a b c Shiloah, Amnon (2003). The Theory of Music in Arabic Writings (c. 900–1900). Germany: G. Henle Verlag Munchen. pp. 48, 58, 60–61. ISBN 978-0-8203-0426-7.
19. ^
Jump up to:a b Palisca and Bent n.d., §5 Early Middle Ages.
20. ^ Palisca and Bent n.d., Theory, theorists §5 Early Middle Ages: “Boethius could provide a model only for that part of theory which underlies but does not give rules for composition
or performance. The first surviving strictly musical treatise of Carolingian times is directed towards musical practice, the Musica disciplina of Aurelian of Réôme (9th century).”
21. ^ “Guy Aretini’s letter to the unknown : modern translation
of the letter”. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
22. ^ Kubik 2010, passim.
23. ^ Ekwueme 1974, passim.
24. ^ Cobb, Buell E. Jr. (1978). The Sacred Harp: A Tradition and Its Music. United States of America: The University of Georgia Press
Athens. pp. 4–5, 60–61. ISBN 978-0-8203-0426-7.
25. ^ Palisca and Bent n.d.
26. ^ Hartmann 2005, [page needed].
27. ^ Bartlette and Laitz 2010, [page needed].
28. ^ Jump up to:a b Touma 1996, [page needed].
29. ^ Forsyth 1935, 73–74.
30. ^
Jump up to:a b Latham 2002, [page needed].
31. ^ “Syncopation”. The Oxford Dictionary of Music. Oxford University Press. 2013. ISBN 978-0199578108. Syncopation is achieved by accenting a weak instead of a strong beat, by putting rests on strong
beats, by holding on over strong beats, and by introducing a sudden change of time‐signature.
32. ^ “Polyrhythm”. Grove Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 11 August 2017. The superposition of different rhythms or metres.
33. ^ Yeston
34. ^ Lerdahl and Jackendoff 1985.
35. ^ Kramer 1988.
36. ^ London 2004.
37. ^ Kliewer 1975, [page needed].
38. ^ “Definition of melody |”. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
39. ^ Stein 1979, 3–47.
40. ^
Benward and Saker 2003.
41. ^ Károlyi 1965.
42. ^ Mitchell 2008.
43. ^ Linkels n.d., [page needed].
44. ^ Jump up to:a b Malm 1996.
45. ^ Schoenberg 1983, 1–2.
46. ^ Benward and Saker 2003, 77.
47. ^ Dahlhaus 2009.
48. ^ Jamini 2005,
49. ^ Faculty of Arts & Sciences. “Pitch Structure: Harmony and Counterpoint”. Theory of Music – Pitch Structure: The Chromatic Scale. Harvard University. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
50. ^ “Chapter 2 Elements and concepts of music (With reference
to Hindustani and Jazz music)” (PDF). Retrieved 3 March 2022.
51. ^ McAdams and Bregman 1979, 34.
52. ^ Mannell n.d.
53. ^ “How Loud? How Soft?” (PDF). Sheffield-Sheffield Lake City Schools.
54. ^ Benward and Saker
2003, p. 133.
55. ^ Benward and Saker 2003, [page needed].
56. ^ Isaac and Russell 2003, 136.
57. ^ “Canon: music”. 11 April 2022.
58. ^ Brandt 2007.
59. ^ Scholes 1977.
60. ^ Middleton 1999, [page needed].
61. ^ London
62. ^ Avison 1752, [page needed].
63. ^ Christiani 1885, [page needed].
64. ^ Lussy 1892, [page needed].
65. ^ Darwin 1913, [page needed].
66. ^ Sorantin 1932, [page needed].
67. ^ Davies 1994, [page needed].
68. ^ Read 1969, [page
needed]; Stone 1980, [page needed].
69. ^ Castan 2009.
70. ^ Bent 1987, 6.
71. ^ Quoted in Bernard 1981, 1
72. ^ Schenker described the concept in a paper titled Erläuterungen (“Elucidations”), which he published four times between 1924 and
1926: Der Tonwille (Vienna, Tonwille Verlag, 1924) vol. 8–9, pp. 49–51, vol. 10, pp. 40–42; Das Meisterwerk in der Musik (München, Drei Masken Verlag), vol. 1 (1925), pp. 201–05; 2 (1926), pp. 193–97. English translation, Der Tonwille, Oxford University
Press, vol. 2, pp. 117–18 (the translation, although made from vols. 8–9 of the German original, gives as original pagination that of Das Meisterwerk 1; the text is the same). The concept of tonal space is still present in Schenker (1979, especially
p. 14, § 13), but less clearly than in the earlier presentation.
73. ^ Schenker 1979, p. 15, § 21.
74. ^ Snarrenberg 1997, [page needed].
75. ^ Lewin 1987, 159.
76. ^ Tan, Peter, and Rom 2010, 2.
77. ^ Thompson n.d., 320.
78. ^ Samson
79. ^ Wong 2011.
80. ^ Green 1979, 1.
81. ^ van der Merwe 1989, 3.
82. ^ Moore 2001, 432–33.
83. ^ Laurie 2014, 284.
84. ^ Kivy 1993, 327.
85. ^ Smith Brindle 1987, 42–43.
86. ^ Smith Brindle 1987, chapter 6, passim.
87. ^ Garland
and Kahn 1995, [page needed].
88. ^ Smith Brindle 1987, 42.
89. ^ Purwins 2005, 22–24.
90. ^ Wohl 2005.
91. ^ Bandur 2001, 5, 12, 74; Gerstner 1964, passim
92. ^ Whittall 2008, 273.
93. ^ Grant 2001, 5–6.
94. ^ Middleton 1990, 172.
95. ^
Nattiez 1976.
96. ^ Nattiez 1990.
97. ^ Nattiez1989.
98. ^ Stefani 1973.
99. ^ Stefani 1976.
100. ^ Baroni 1983.
101. ^ Semiotica 1987, 66:1–3.
102. ^ Dunsby & Stopford 1981, 49–53.
103. ^ Meeùs 2017, 81–96.
104. ^ Jump up to:a b
McCreless n.d.
105. ^ Meeùs 2015, 111.
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