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Music Theory by Dr.

Brian Blood
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Music 1heory
Dolmetch Music Theory Online
Compiled By Ralfe Poisson

Chapter Description Page #
1 StaII, CleIs and Pitch Notation 2
2 Notes & Rests 10
3 Measures and Bars 19
4 Time Signatures 21
5 Tempo 26
6 The Keyboard 32
7 Small Intervals 38
8 Major Scales 37
9 Key Signatures and Accidentals 40
10 Minor Scales 47
11 Chromatic Scales 50
12 Intervals 51
13 Inversion oI Intervals 55
14 Other CleIs 56
15 Note Groupings 59
16 Triads & Chords 62
17 Chords in Detail 65
18 Figured Bass 72
19 Transposition 76
20 Rhythmic Variety 78
21 Phrasing & Articulation 81
22 Chords & Cadences 95
23 Ornamentatoin 99
24 Repeats 106
25 Notes, Harmonies & Scales 109
26 Score Formats 123
27 Pitch, temperament & Timbre 128
30 Guitar tablature & Notation 152
31 Key Centres 160
34 Drums & Drumming 168
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The Grand StaII
Musical notation describes the pitch (how high or low), temporal position (when the note should begin) and duration (how long) oI discrete
elements, or sounds, we call notes. The notes are represented by graphical symbols, also called notes or note signs. A row oI notes steadily
rising in pitch is named successively using a sequence drawn Irom the Iirst seven letters oI the Roman alphabet, i.e. A, B, C, D, E, F, G.
Where the row needs to continue upwards beyond G, the sequence oI note names begins again, starting with A. II it is Ialling below A the
next note would be G then F and so on.
The notes are placed on a grid oI horizontal lines separated by spaces. The grid is called a staff or stave. The plural Iorm oI either word is
staves. The most common staII Iormat used today has Iive lines separated by Iour spaces. In the past, however, staves were used with more
or Iewer lines.
We illustrate below the most common Iormats used today.

Music is read Irom 'leIt' to 'right', in the same direction as you are reading this text.
Notes may lie on a line (where the line passes through the note-head), in the space between two lines (where the note-head lies between two
adjacent lines), in the space above the top line or on the space below the bottom line.

Notes outside the range covered by the lines and spaces oI the staff are placed on, above or below shorter lines, called leger (or ledger)
lines, which can be placed above or below the staff. The higher the pitch oI the note the higher up the staff it will be placed.

To establish the pitch oI any note on the staff we place a graphical symbol called a clef (Irom the Latin clavis meaning key) at the Iar leIt-
hand side oI the staff. The clef establishes the pitch oI one particular note on the staff and thereby Iixes the pitch oI all the other notes lying
on, or related to, the same staff.
It is common practice to visualise each clef as a part oI a much larger grid oI eleven horizontal lines and ten spaces known variously as the
Great Staff, Grand Staff, Great Stave or Grand Stave. Note the relationship between the Great Staff and most commonly used clefs,
treble (top leIt in the picture below), bass (bottom leIt in the picture below) and alto (right in the picture below). It should be stressed that,
historically, there never was a staff oI eleven lines. It is solely a 'construct' or 'device' used by theorists to demonstrate the relationship
between various staves and clefs.
The note we call middle C and which lies in the middle oI the alto clef (Ior clarity, we have shown it in red), lies one line below the Iive
lines oI the treble clef and lies one line above the Iive lines oI the bass clef.

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The Treble Clef :: top
The Iour inner spaces oI the treble cleI read upwards spell the word FACE.

The Iive lines read upwards spell EGBDF which you can remember using the phrase 'Every Good Boy Does Fine'.

The treble clef is also called the G clef because the inner
curve oI the clef symbol marks the horizontal line associated
with the note G above middle C. The treble clef is actually a
stylised letter G.

When drawing this symbol Ireehand it is easiest to start with the end oI the curve about the G line in the middle oI the symbol and end at the
large dot at the bottom oI the symbol.

The Bass Clef :: top

The bass clef is also called the F clef because the two dots in the clef
symbol lie above and below the horizontal line associated with the note F
below middle C. The bass clef symbol is actually a stylised letter F where
the two horizontal lines oI the letter have been reduced to two dots.
When drawing this symbol Ireehand it is easiest to start Irom the large dot and end with the tail at the bottom oI the symbol - aIter which
one adds the two dots on either side oI the F line.
The names oI the bass cleI lines GBDFA can be remembered by the phrase Good Boys Do Fine Always.

The Iour inner spaces ACEG by the phrases All Cows Eat Grass or All Cars Eat Gas.

The Alto Clef :: top

The alto clef is one oI a number that use the C clef symbol, so
named because the the clef symbol is centered on the horizontal
line associated with the note middle C.

Other Clefs
Soprano & Mezzo-Soprano CleIs :: Tenor CleI :: Baritone & Subbass CleIs :: French Violin CleI :: Octave CleIs :: IndeIinite Pitch CleI
The Score :: top
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We meet terms like 'letter', 'word', 'sentence', 'line', 'paragraph', 'page', 'chapter' and 'book' when considering structural elements that make
up a work oI literature. In prose writing these terms have nothing to do with the content.
In music we have terms that serve a similar Iunction; Ior example, 'note', 'bar', 'line', 'section', 'movement' and 'score'. A composer creates
a musical work, what we call a score, which has various structural elements. We will learn more about these terms as we progress through
our lessons.
Some teachers name groups oI notes according to the octave above or below middle C in which they lie. The convention is Iairly arbitrary
but can be useIul when considering how chords, that is groups oI notes played together, sound. Keeping the notes well spread apart
signiIicantly strengthens the eIIect oI a chord. We illustrate one naming convention below. Each note C is said to be in a diIIerent register.

Why Middle C? :: top
Why is middle C so named?
This interesting question was posed by a teacher in the United States oI America.
The naming oI the notes and position oI middle C arises Irom the way we set out our great staII. d'Arezzo called the Iirst line on the lower
staII by the Greek letter 'gamma'. The lowest note in the scale was called 'ut' and was placed on gamma. This Iirst note was soon called
'gamma ut', which contracted to 'gamut'. At some point, French musicians began reIerring to the whole scale (by then an octave) as the
'gamut', a typical example oI metonymy, the rhetorical or metaphorical substitution oI a one thing Ior another based on their association or
proximity. The term was next extended to reIer to the musical range oI an instrument or voice. By the seventeenth century 'gamut' was
Iurther generalized to mean an entire range oI any kind.
The note names 'ut, re, me, Ia, sol, la' are a series oI Latin syllables taken Irom the hymn Ut Queant Laxis Resonare Fibris which were
applied by Guido d'Arezzo to a system he developed in the eleventh century to aid the teaching oI sight-singing. This is explained in the
entry Ior Ut Queant Laxis Resonare Fibris in the Catholic Encyclopedia to which we have added extra inIormation.
Ut Queant Laxis Resonare Fibris is the Iirst line oI a hymn in honour oI St. John the Baptist. The Roman Breviary divides it into three parts
and assigns the Iirst, "Ut queant laxis", etc., to Vespers, the second, "Antra deserti teneris sub annis", to Matins, the third, "O nimis Ielix,
meritique celsi", to Lauds, oI the Ieast oI the Nativity oI St. John (24 June). With hymnologists generally, Dreves ascribes the authorship to
Paulus Diaconus (c. 774) and expresses surprise at the doubt oI Duemmler, Ior which he can see no reason. The hymn is written in Sapphic
stanzas, oI which the Iirst is Iamous in the history oI music Ior the reason that the notes oI the melody corresponding with the initial syllables
oI the six hemistichs are the Iirst six notes oI the diatonic scale oI C. This Iact led to the syllabic naming oI the notes as Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol,
La, as may be shown by capitalizing the initial syllables oI the hemistichs:

Guido oI Arezzo (Paris, c. 995 - Avellano, 1050), a Benedictine monk, showed his pupils an easier method oI determining the sounds oI the
scale than by the use oI the monochord. His method was that oI comparison oI a known melody with an unknown one which was to be
learned, and Ior this purpose he Irequently chose the well-known melody oI the Ut queant laxis. Against a common view oI musical writers,
Dom Pothier contends that Guido did not actually give these syllabic names to the notes, did not invent the hexachordal system, etc., but that
insensibly the comparison oI the melodies led to the syllabic naming. When a new name Ior the seventh, or leading, note oI our octave was
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desired, Erich Van der Putten suggested, in 1599, the syllabic BI oI labii, but a vast majority oI musical theorists supported the happier thought
oI the syllable SI, Iormed by the initial letters oI the two words oI the last line (SI because 1 and I were then both written I). UT has been
generally replaced by DO(H) - the use oI DO in place oI UT was proposed in 1673 by Giovanni Maria Bonocini - because oI the open sound
oI the latter. Durandus says that the hymn was composed by Paul the Deacon on a certain Holy Saturday when, having to chant the Exsultet Ior
the blessing oI the paschal candle, he Iound himselI suIIering Irom an unwonted hoarseness. Perhaps bethinking himselI oI the restoration oI
voice to the Iather oI the Baptist, he implored a similar help in the Iirst stanza. The melody has been Iound in a manuscript oI the tenth century,
applied to the words oI Horace's Ode to Phyllis, Est mihi nonum superantis annum.
In Italy, the ut was changed to do, being the Iirst syllable oI Dominus
si was much later changed to te by a Miss S. A. Glover and John Curwen so that each degree oI the scale would have a unique single letter
abreviation used Ior written notation. This was the start oI the movable doh method oI teaching which lasted in the UK Ior a hundred years
(see Tonic Sol-fa).
The sequence was applied to sequences oI six notes (e.g. C - D - E - F - G - A) called hexachords (Greek: hexa six, chorde string or
There are three hexachords starting on the notes 'g', 'c' and 'I'.
The note letter names oI the upward scale Irom 'gamma ut' then read
gamma, A, B, c d, e, I, g, a, b, c'. d'. e', I', g', a', b', c''. d'', e''
Having chosen the name oI the bottom note and deIined the sequence Irom there upwards, all the others Iollow. With a Iive line per stave
arrangement, the line between the staves in C, which, in medieval times, was called 'c sol Ia ut', is today called 'middle C'. Notes are named
Irom bottom to top - i.e. 'sol Ia ut' rather than 'ut Ia sol'. The extensions 'sol Ia ut' describe the position oI this particular c in the progression
oI hexachords, starting on 'gamma ut', then restarting a Iourth higher ('c Ia ut'), and Iinally starting a Iourth above that ('I Ia ut') aIter which
the sequence begins again on the g one octave above 'gamma'. In order to maintain the correct interval relationship within each hexachord,
that starting on 'I' has a 'b Ilat' (b rotundum) Ior 'Ia' while that starting on 'g' has a 'b natural' (b quadrum) Ior 'mi'. The hexachords on 'I', 'g'
and 'c' were termed 'soIt' (molle), 'hard' (durum) and 'natural' respectively. These mediaeval terms have persisted in German with the
naming oI keys, namely 'dur' (Ior major) and 'moll' (Ior minor), and the naming oI the notes 'b Ilat' and 'b natural' which are called 'b' and 'h'

As it happens, middle C, lies just about in the middle oI the standard piano keyboard and Ior this reason most pianists assume that the
description 'middle' is a reIerence to this accident oI piano manuIacture. The term 'middle' is applied only to the note 'c' and not to the
register wherein it lies.
Hexachords, Solmization, and Musica Ficta

Helmholtz Pitch Notation :: top
II you look at the note names below the stave in the example above, you will notice that the Iirst two note names aIter gamma are shown
capitalised (A and B), the next seven note names (Irom c to b) are in lower case, that the seven note names aIter that (Irom c' to b') have a
single prime ' (other writers may use superscript i), and the Iinal three note names (Irom c" to e") have a double prime '' (other writers may
use superscript ii). Helmholtz notation describes an octave in terms oI the note names starting Irom the note name 'c' (i.e. c, d, e, I, g, a, b)
and the octave description using upper and lower case and sometimes subscript or superscript prime or i.
The key to this notation, using 'i' rather than prime, is that
the Helmholtz scale always starts on a 'c';
B is the note immediately below c while b is the note immediately below ci;
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the different octaves are shown by the sequence: Cii, Ci, C, c, ci, cii, ciii;
sometimes Cii is written CCC and Ci written CC;
the note 'c' two ledger lines below the bass clef is C;
the note 'middle c' is ci
Helmholtz notation is widely used by scientists and doctors when discussing the scientiIic and medical aspects oI sound in relation to the
auditory system.
Hermann von Helmholtz

Scientific Pitch Notation :: top
There is a scientiIic notation used in the US to identiIy the same note names when placed in diIIerent octaves. This system begins by
naming the lowest 'c' on a grand piano C1 (alternatively written C1, C(1), C|1| or C1). All notes below C1 have their appropriate note name
Iollowed by the number 0. All the notes lying between C1 and the note 'c' one octave higher (which is written C2, C(2), C|2| or C2) will
have the appropriate note name Iollowed by the number 1. Each succeeding octave above that advances the number by one. On a standard
grand piano middle C will then be C4, C(4), C|4| or C4while the note 'a' whose pitch is set by one oI the international standards will be A4,
A(4), A|4| or A4.
C4 is equivalent to ci in Helmholtz notation. ScientiIic Pitch Notation has been used to name the notes in the MIDI chart below.
Many domestic pianos, electronic keyboards and the like have ranges smaller than that oI a Iull concert grand. These small range keyboards
are called 'short' keyboards. Counting the notes on a 'short' keyboard will not be an appropriate way oI working out the ScientiIic Pitch
names oI notes; Ior this reason, we Iavour Helmholtz notation (described immediately above).

MIDI :: top
The MIDI protocol is a music description language in binary Iorm. Each action oI musical perIormance is assigned a speciIic standardised
binary code or 'instruction'. Because MIDI was designed originally Ior keyboards many oI the actions are percussion oriented. To sound a
note in MIDI language you send a "Note On" message. Assigning that note a "velocity" determines how loud it plays. Other MIDI messages
include selecting which instrument to play, mixing and panning sounds, and controlling various aspects oI electronic musical instruments.
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Midi Resource Centre

Shape Note Notation :: top
This is an abridged version oI the inIormation on F. Ishmael 1. M. Stefanov-Wagner's site.
SolIege is a method oI ear-training which uses the assignment oI syllables to degrees oI the scale to assist a singer's memory oI pitch. In the
European hexachord (six note) system oI Ut - Re - Mi - Fa - Sol - La, codiIied by Guido d'Arezzo (990 - 1055) and used Ior hundreds oI
years, the six notes have to be overlapped when naming a Iull octave. For a Iull description go to the section on middle C.
There were rules to determine Irom which hexachord the syllable Ior a given note would be sung. The continental six-note Ut - Re - Mi was
simpliIied in England to the Iour-note system which you can see above by Iollowing the scale Irom C to C as Fa - Sol - La - Fa - Sol - La -
Mi - Fa. This is what the English colonists brought with them when they set sail Ior the New World, and upon which the early New
England singing masters based their lessons and developed their aids to reading
The Sternhold & Hopkins Psalter was Iirst printed in England in 1562 with melodies Ior 46 tunes. The printer John Windet thought that
solmization was a useIul enough aid in sight-singing that the tunes in his 1594 edition oI the Sternhold & Hopkins Psalter had initials Ior the
syllables (U R M F S L) printed beneath the notes. In the Iorward it was explained:
...I have caused a new print oI note to be made with letter to be joined to every note: whereby thou mayest know how to call every note by
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his right name, so that with a very little diligence thou mayest more easilie by the viewing oI these letters, come to the knowledge oI perIect
solIeying... the letters be these U Ior Ut, R Ior Re, M Ior My, F Ior Fa, S Ior Sol, L Ior La. Thus where you see any letter joyned by the
notes you may easilie call him by his right name, ...
Across the ocean and a century later at Boston in 1698 the ninth edition oI the Bay Psalme Book (printed since 1640 with texts only)
Ieatured the addition oI 13 two-part tunes, with Iour-note syllables indicated by letters printed beneath the staII. This is thought to be the
Iirst music printed in the New World.

Cambridge Short tune from the Bav Psalme Book, 1698,
melodv and bass, with mi-fa-sol-la letters printed beneath the staff.
The diamond shaped notes were standard musical
notation at that time.
Rev. John TuIts An Introduction to the Singing of Psalm-Tunes in a Plain & Easv Method Iirst appearing between 1714 and 1721 had the
Iurther innovation oI printing the initial letters (M-F-S-L) on the staII in place of the note-heads. Durations are indicated by the extra dots to
the right oI the letter - each dot doubles the length oI the note.

Westminster, in three parts with new notation bv John Tufts.
Printed in Boston. From the edition of 1727.
The Iirst book printed with shaped noteheads, using "patent notes" was the Easv Instructor, by Wm. Smith and Wm. Little in 1801. The
shapes used then are still in use to this day:
Fa , Sol , La , and Mi
Andrew Law's The Musical Primer oI 1803, used similar shaped notes but interchanged somewhat Irom the assignments oI Smith & Little
and without the customary Iive-line staII.

By 1815 in Boston the Iuguing tunes, shape-notes and the Ia-sol-la solmization that Iacilitated them had become (so the reIormers thought)
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obsolete and interest in them was maintained primarily to the Iar south and west.
In these parts oI the country though, the hymns and music were taken to heart and survive to this day. One such example is William
Walker's Southern Harmony, Iirst printed in New Haven in 1835, revised several times and there are those who still sing Irom a current
printing oI a Iacsimile editions oI the version oI 1854. Another is Benjamin Franklin White's Sacred Harp, Iirst published in 1844, most
recently revised in 1991. The Fasola tradition, which uses shape note notation, is one oI unaccompanied singing, that is, without any
assistance by instruments. Thus when singing shape-note hymns it is practice Iirst to "sing the notes", that is, to sing the Ia-sol-la syllables
corresponding to the shapes in the music beIore singing the text. This serves to set the tune in memory and enables persons to more easily
sight-read previously unseen or unheard music.
Tunes are sung in relative pitch, rather than at an absolute pitch derived Irom A440; reIerred to as " Pitch oI Convenience", a long standing
tradition as can be seen Irom directions Ior setting the Iirst Note Irom the Bay Psalm Book.
Further Information:
Shape-Note ntro
Norumbega Harmony
Sacred Harp

Tonic Sol-fa :: top
In 1840's England, J. S. Curwen (1816-1880) introduced a system, earlier developed by Sarah Glover (1785-1867) oI Norwich, which was
designed to help in the sight-reading oI music. The system was called the Tonic Sol-fa method. Curwen's method later incorporated French
time names (derived Irom Aime Paris's Langue de durees) and devised pitch hand signs which, in a modiIied Iorm, are Iamiliar to
contemporary music teachers as part oI the popular Kodaly method.
John Curwen was an English congregational minister and he had taught himselI to read music Irom a book by Sarah Glover that introduced
to him the idea oI Tonic Sol-fa. Religious and social ideals oI equality motivated him to create and promulgate an entire method oI teaching
based on this idea, Ior he believed that music should be the inheritance oI all classes and ages oI people. At considerable expense to himselI,
he published his own writings, which included a journal entitled Tonic Sol-fa Reporter and Maga:ine of Jocal Music for the People. AIter
1864 he resigned his ministry to devote most oI his time to what had become a true movement in mass music education. He and his son
John Spencer Curwen incorporated a publishing Iirm, J. Curwen & Sons, eventually adding Tonic Sol-Fa Agencv to its name. It became an
important publisher oI educational music. In 1869 John Curwen established the Tonic Sol-Fa College, which just over 100 years later
established the Curwen Institute in London. Though Curwen did not truly invent Tonic Sol-fa, he developed a distinct method oI applying it
in music education, one that included both rhythm and pitch. William McNaught , a devoted student oI the Tonic Sol-Ia Method, is said by
his son to have thought oI it as "musicianship oI the mind with the voice as its instrument."
You may remember that middle 'c' is named 'sol Ia ut' in medieval music theory (see above) and that the 'c' one octave above 'middle c' is
named 'sol Ia'. It is Irom these two syllables 'sol' and 'Ia' that the system derives its name and explains the presence oI the hyphen between
'sol' and 'Ia'. The essence oI the Curwen system is that the key-note (or tonic) is called 'doh'. It is Iollowed, in an ascending major scale, by
the notes 'ray', 'me', 'Iah', 'soh', 'lah', 'te' beIore returning to 'doh', one octave higher than the Iirst 'doh'. 'doh' is moveable - in other words, it
depends on the key in which the piece oI music is set, which note will be 'doh'. In Iact, 'doh' is always the key-note. This contrasts with the
continental system where 'doh' is immoveable and represents the note 'c' whatever the key in which the piece is set.
Curwen's note names are actually no more than an anglicised Iorm oI Guido d'Arezzo's nomenclature with 'doh' replacing 'ut' and the
addition oI 'te' Ior the seventh note oI the scale which is otherwise absent because d'Arezzo names only the six notes oI the hexachord.
An apparent disadvantage is a lack oI chromatic notes or any distinction between the same note but in diIIerent octaves. To address these
problems various schemes have been tried. For example, ticks, or diIIerent cases or print styles have been used to indicate diIIerent octaves.
For chromatic notes, when a line oI music is modulating, the possibilities are as Iollows:
For sharpened notes: de, re, fe, se and le (pronouced with a short vowel).
For flattened notes: ra, ma, la, ta (pronouced with a nasal "aw" sound).
So, Ior example, the minor sixth Irom doh would be la (pronouced law), as opposed to lah Ior the major sixth. Full chromaticism is not
needed, because a tune is normally re-notated into the new key, by re-positioning the doh, even iI the new key only lasts Ior a Iew bars.
Some, however, hold to the view that using Tonic Sol-fa with Iull chromaticism loses the advantages oI simplicity and readability.
You Can't Can Love Score of a song by Robert Service showing Tonic-Sol-fa notation above the vocal line
John Curwen and the Tonic Sol-fa Method
Emily Patton - A Pioneer in Tonic Sol-Fa in Nineteenth Century Japan
John Curwen Manuscripts
About Music Language - Jennifer Paull's interesting look at the non-standardisation of music notation in the world's classrooms

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Chapter 2 NOTES & RESTS
Duration :: top
Where the vertical position of a note on a staff or stave determines its pitch, its relative time vaIue or duration is denoted by
the particular sign chosen to represent it. This is the essence of proportionaI or mensuraI notation, first developed in the
11th century.
The coin & paper money you use to pay for goods & services are good examples of relative value. While in England 100 pence
= 1 pound and in the United States the cent and dollar are similarly related (100 cents = 1 dollar) in neither case do you know
the 'absolute' value of a currency or of its 'denominations'; for example, how many dollars = 1 pound. So it is with musical
'denominations'. The signs do not give duration in units of time, minutes or seconds. That must be given in other ways which
we describe in Iesson 5.

The Anatomy of a Note Sign :: top
n music the denomination of 'coinage' is the note or note sign. One can
use either term. Each note sign is a construct of three distinct parts. The
note-head, whose position on the stave actually sets its pitch, can be open
(white) or closed (black). For all notes except the breve and semi-breve,
each note has a stem and, for the notes of shorter time-value, a fIag or taiI
(one fIag for a quaver, two for a semiquaver, and so on). The stem can
rise from the note-head, in which case it lies on the right-hand side of the
note-head, or fall from the note-head, in which case it lies on the left hand
side of the note-head (see the two crotchets).
n either case, the fIag lies on the right-hand side of the stem (see the two

When placed on the stave, a note sign will be placed either on a line or on a space between the lines. The position indicates
the relative pitch of the note. f the note lies above or below the stave then it will lie on, above or below auxiliary lines called
Ieger or Iedger lines. This is illustrated below. Notice how the position of the note on the stave generally determines whether
the stem 'rises' or 'falls' from the note-head.

Chart of Note and Rest Signs :: top
f the notes are listed in decreasing time vaIue, longest to shortest, each is half the duration of the one immediately before it.
The table of 'denominations' below shows the note with the longest duration at the top and that with the shortest duration at the
Rests, periods of silence, are shown to the right of the note of equivalent duration.
English American talian French German Sign Rest
equal to
1 semibreve
whole note
(meaning square)

semibreve whole note semibreve
(meaning round)
Ganze Taktnote

minim half note
(meaning white)
Halbe Taktnote

crotchet quarter note
(meaning black)

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quaver eighth note croma
(meaning hook)

(meaning double

(meaning triple

quadruple hook)

rest rest pausa
Each line in the example below is a single bar (we meet bars in the next Iesson), with the same total time value as every other

Dotting and DoubIe-Dotting :: top
A dot, placed to the immediate right of the note-head, increases its time-vaIue by half;
thus a minim (which is equivalent to two crotchets) followed by a dot (which in this case
is equivalent to a further crotchet) is equivalent to three crotchets, while a dotted crotchet
is equivalent to three quavers and a dotted quaver is equivalent to three semiquavers. f
the notehead is located in a space, the dot is placed in that same space. f the notehead
is on a line, the dot is placed in the space just above the line. Exceptions sometimes
have to be made if several dotted notes share a single stem.

A second dot, placed to the immediate right of the first dot, increases the original
undotted time-vaIue by a further quarter. Another way of thinking about the second dot
is that it adds the note equivalent to half the note added by the first dot. So, for example,
a minim (equivalent to four quavers) followed by one dot (equivalent to two quavers)
followed by a second dot (equivalent to one quaver) is equivalent, in total, to seven

Dots after rests increase their time-vaIue in the same way as dots after notes.

Beams and Beaming :: top
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When notes with fIags lie together in groups they are often linked by one or more lines called beams. The number of beams
reflect the number of fIags each would have had when an individual note.
We illustrate below:
a group of four semiquavers, first unbeamed
and then beamed
a group of two quavers, first unbeamed and
then beamed

a group of one quaver and two semiquavers,
first unbeamed and then beamed

Notice how the beaming reflects the time vaIue of each note

Ties :: top
There are occasions when the duration of a note may not be easily accomplished using one of the note signs given above. f
the duration of a note is longer than a breve or when the addition of dots cannot provide the required duration, groups of
notes can be linked by one or more ties. Tied notes are treated as a single unbroken note whose duration is given by the
duration of the notes under the tie taken successively. This is illustrated in the example given below where a crotchet tied to a
quaver is equivalent to the dotted crotchet that follows. Note that the tie is always written so as to join the note-heads of two
notes. The beginning and end of the tie are on the same horizontal level, and the tie is placed between the note-heads
(without touching them). Rests are never tied.

Origin of Music Notation :: top
by John Howell, Virginia Tech Department of Music
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A. 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034
mail to John Howell
John Howell's Web Page
When Guido d'Arezzo invented chant notation on a staff in about 1025, the notes were drawn fully black. imagine that the
scribes cut their pens so as to give a broad stroke in one direction and a very narrow stroke in the other, because that's exactly
what the manuscripts look like. (Twentieth century music pens--both nibs and fountain pens--were designed exactly the same
When late 12th-early 13th century musicians at Notre Dame in Paris needed a way to indicate rhythmic values, they came up
with the six rhythmic modes. They used existing chant notation (all black notes) with only two note values, short and long (or
breve and longa), but in practice also needed a note value equal to a breve plus a longa. The rhythms were indicated not by
the appearance of the notes, but by the way they were joined together in multi-note ligatures.
When Franco of Cologne, about 50 years later, proposed a system of mensural notation ("measured" notation), his biggest
innovation was to assign specific values to specific note shapes. (The notes were still black.) The longa was a square black
note with a descending tail on the right. The breve was a square black note with no tail. He added a new note value, the
semibreve, which was a square note turned 45 degrees (which is to say a diamond-shaped note). He also added a new longer
note, the double longa, which was a rectangular note about twice the width of a longa with a descending tail on the right.
Since notation always seems to lag behind what musicians are actually doing and wanting to write down, what happened in the
next 150 years was that shorter and shorter note values were introduced to facilitate notating fast passages. As a result the
original breve became slower and slower in practice, and the original longa slower still. The notes were still black (except when
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 13 oI 169
they were red, but that's another discussion entirely!). By the early 16th century the longa is seldom seen except as the final
note of a piece, which is better notated in modern notation as a fermata rather than a note 16 bars long!

During the 15th century a major technological innovation came into use. Paper was invented. Or if not invented, it became
available at reasonable prices. nstead of the painstaking and labor-intensive business of preparing animal skin (vellum) for
manuscript use, paper could be made relatively inexpensively or even bought ready made. Only one problem for the music
scribes. Since paper is made of fibers, apparently the ink had a tendency to spread out along those fibers and look like a blob
instead of the nice, clean square note shape people were used to. That's when scribes started using outline notes (white
notation) instead of solid black notes.
Throughout the 16th century, when the first methods for printing music were being worked out, the same white notation using
the same square note shapes continued in use in the printed music. As a broad generalization would guess that the rounded
note shapes we are used to did not come into use until the 17th century, when engraving music on copper plates began to
replace printing from movable type.

AdditionaI Notes on The History of Music Notation
by Dr. Blood
n the ancient Greek, Oriental and Jewish traditions, ekphonetic notation was in use as early as 200 BC. This was actually a
system of grammatical accents indicating inflections in language or liturgical texts. Greek instrumental and vocal music was
notated using two different systems of letters. By the time Boethius (c. 470-525) was writing his five books on music theory, a
system using the first 15 letters of the alphabet was being used by the Romans. Neumes, symbols originally used to mark pitch
inflection in the Greek language, had been introduced into Gregorian chant, probably as early as the 6th century. Fragmentary
evidence indicates that neumes were in use by the 8th century. The system of neumes appears to have been used to jog the
memories of singers who had learned the chants by ear.
Black letter styles were a feature of most late Mediaeval hand-scribed manuscripts. Thick nibs scratching away on parchment
could not produce light airy forms; rather, and to avoid raising the pen too often from the page, the hand was crowded, filled
with numerous ligatures, often close to illegible and very black, even after a further refinement appeared in the 10th century,
heighted neumes arranged above and below a line, that made the intervals of the melody clearer.
n modern mensural notation the specific relative durations of notes are prescribed; for example, with crotchets, minims etc.
assembled into units called 'bars' or, in the U.S. 'measures'. Medieval chant notation does not specify such rhythmic values for
notes. n modern printing of medieval chant, usually four line staffs are used. n medieval manuscripts, however, there might be
no staff line, or between one and six lines per staff, where each line denotes a different voice. The failure of the neume system
to maintain consistency in the performance of religious chant, inspired Guido d'Arezzo, in the 12th century, to perfect a new
staff-based system of music notation.
Go here to see a Graduale [ref: Fol. 236. St. Gall, 1512. Wurttembergische Landesbibliothek, Cod. mus. .] - an example of
early sixteenth century notation.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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Guido indicated the pitch of certain lines on the stave using letters, and from that letter the pitch of the remaining lines and
spaces would follow. By the time the first book of music printed from moveable type appeared, Petrucci's 1501 Harmonice
musices odhecaton, bass and alto clefs identifying the note 'f' and the note 'c' respectively, symbols virtually identical to those
found in earlier manuscript, had become standard. Only where the cantus line was preceded by a c clef marking the bottom
line of the stave, would we use today a treble clef marking 'g' on the second line from the bottom of the stave. An example of
the Petrucci 'style' may be found on page 160 of A History of Western Music by Grout and Palisca (published by W.W.
As we have noted above, Guido also named the degrees of the scale using the initial syllables of the lines of a Latin hymn (ut,
re, mi, fa, sol, la). Originally used for teaching sight singing, these or their derivatives are also used in some languages for
naming absolute pitches.
While a staff of five lines was adopted in France for vocal music, one of six lines was used in taly. nstrumental music
employed staves of varying numbers of lines until the 16th century when the five-line staff became the standard. Signs for
chromatic alteration of tones appear almost from the beginning but did not assumed their present shapes until the end of the
17th century.
After a period during which printers sought to replicate features of handwritten manuscript in their choice of print face, a
process of standardisation took place and when new ideas in letter form design were adopted in one country, they became
commonplace elsewhere.
Those interested in the history of design and form in early printing, much of it unrelated to notation of music, may like to read
The AIphabet Abecedarium by Richard A. Firmage published in 2000 by Bloomsbury (SBN 0 7475 4757 2) - an earlier
edition appeared in 1993 published by David R. Godine, Boston, MA, USA.
The evolution of rhythmic notation took much longer than that for pitch. t would appear that prior to mensural notation the
length of notes would be determined by the ancient rules of proportional rhythm applied to the words accompanying the melody
(prosodic feet and proportions). By the tenth century notation was beginning to develop its own rules. We find, in the
anonymous Commemoratio brevis, some striking observations on the relative lengths of different notes.
"Breves must not be slower than is fitting for Breves; nor may Longs be distorted in erratic haste and be faster than is
appropriate for Longs .... All notes which are long must correspond rhythmically with those which are not long through their
proper inherent durations ... for the longer values consist of the shorter, and the shorter subsist in the longer, and in such a
fashion that one has always twice the duration of the other, neither more nor less ... for without question all music should be
strictly measured in the manner of prosody"
Mensural notation became a necessity as polyphony and, in particular, the motet developed. Time could no longer be elastic. A
single invariable time-unit became essential. At first, rhythmic modes were represented by certain patternings of neumes; later,
in his Ars cantus mensurabilis (c.1280), Franco of Cologne clearly indicated, for each note, its exact rhythmic length and
represented notes of long and short duration by particular specific neumes. n his system, the longer value was in principle
equal to three of the shorter values.
n the fourteenth century, Philippe de Vitry, author of Ars nova, expanded Franco's 3:1 system to allow duple divisions of the
long and short notes, i.e. a 2:1 system. At the various rhythmic levels of a given piece either relationship was implied, and a
system of signs and colored notes used to indentify which relationship was currently being used or being temporarily set aside.
By the fifteenth century numbers appeared with the appearance of fractions, which in time developed into our time signatures,
to mark when one proportionality of rhythmic values was temporarily being substituted for another. Bar lines, expression signs,
and, by the 17th century, the talian language became the standard language for tempo (e.g. allegro, andante, largo) and
dynamic (i.e. piano, forte, pp, ff) markings, particularly when used in their abbreviated form. German, French and English
composers sometimes indicated, at the top of the page, the mood or speed of a piece in their own language while employing
titles drawn from a wide range of languages.
With the adoption of equal temperament and the major and minor modes, key signatures indicating a major key or its relative
minor became conventional and assumed their present form during the baroque period.
Even so there could be the odd example where composers modified standard notation to meet specific needs.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 15 oI 169

This is a portion of the first movement of Partita V from Biber's collection of scordatura trios, Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa
diversimode accordata, a work in 7 movements for two violas d'amore and basso continuo, originally published in 1696; this is
a facsimile from the 1712 reprint. The tuning given is for 6 strings. The 9 line stave is Biber's way of extending the fingerings of
the ordinary 4 string viola to the viola d'amore. There is one other example of this 9 line stave notation surviving.
Those interested in hearing this Partitia by Biber we recommend the superb recording of the complete Harmonia Artificioso
Ariosa by The Rare Fruits Council on Auvidis France E 8572.
The Auvidis label is now part of Naive Classique.
Naive Classique
148 rue du Faubourg Poissonnire
75010 Paris

Tel: +33 (0)1 44 91 64 00
Fax: +33 (0)1 44 91 64 02
The advent of aleatory music has produced new notational systems, varying from piece to piece, indicating only approximate
pitch, duration, and dynamic relations. Notation for electronic music is still not standardized but generally uses traditional
reference symbols (staff and clef signs) in conjunction with specially adapted pitch and rhythm notation. Proportionate
(proportional) Notation, a graphic method of indicating durations, where instead of traditional notation, the horizontal spacing of
symbols represents the intended length of durations has been introduced to handle pulseless music and music in which
different and often complicated rhythms progress simultaneously at different speeds.
A downloadable pdf format file entitled The Written Notation of Medieval Music by Nigel Horne
The History of Mechanical Musical nstruments and Musical Notation

Links About Music Notation | top
Common music notation :: Shape notes :: About limitations and extensions of common music notation :: Accordions
:: Tablatures
Early western music notation :: Small letteral notation :: Non-western music notation

1. Common music notation
The Major Orchestra Librarians' Association Guidelines for Music Preparation
Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra Guidelines for Performance Materials
Suggestions for preparing orchestral scores and parts
Staff Notes Articles
The Notation of Time by James ngram.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 16 oI 169
nfothek about music notation and the physics of music.
Treblis Software's Music Notation Reference Guide
The Big Site of Music Notation and Engraving
Manual music engraving
Computing in Musicology including examples of music notation
The seven parameters of musical notation by Gary Daum
2. Shape notes
Shape notes are a special form of notehead (see also previous lesson>.
Several examples of Sacred Harp music notation.
3. About limitations and extensions of common music notation
Link to the Music Notation Modernization Association.
Symbolic Extensions and its Corruption of Music by Barton McLean (1981).
Meloz music tablature is a music notation proposal that is specifically designed keyboard instruments.
Dan Lindgren developed a new notation system, Nydana Notation, to simplify reading of keyboard instrument musical
The search for a notation index - Harold Barlow and Sam Morgenstern - by Niclas Fogwall
4. Accordions
European notation style described on
5. Tablatures
5.1. Diatonic accordions
Proposition d'une notation standard pour l'accordon diatonique.
museLi produces and prints diatonic accordion tablatures.
An explanation of the CADB system used in Brittany (Bretagne). CADB is the Collectif Accordon Diatonique de Bretagne
A comprehensive site about the rish button accordion
Trekharmonica muziek provides examples of another type of diatonic tablature.
5.2. Konzertina notation
Konzertina notation.
Chemnitzer Concertina Music Site
Chemnitzer concertina notation is explained at the Concertina Music Score Sample page.
5.3. Guitar Tablatures
Music Notation Guide
Guitar music theory including music notation
Guitar tablature proposal
5.4. Harmonica Tablature
Harmonica/Harp Tablature
6. Early Western Music Notation
Transcribing and Reading White Mensural Notation by raybro.
NEumed Unicode Manuscript Encoding Standard
The Neume Notation Project by Louis W. G. Barton
An Early Music Glossary.
Die ntervall-Chiffren-Schrift des Hermann von Altshausen by Wolfram Benz.
Gregorian Chant Notation
Gregorian Notation
7. Small Letteral Notation
Sister Betsy recorded the Music of Angels using a Shaker notational system known as small letteral notation.
8. Non-Western Music Notation
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 17 oI 169
Encyclopaedia Britannica's East Asian Arts - Music
Music in Our World describes music in many different world cultures.
Ethnomusicology Research Digest
Sargam Editor, an editor written in Java for notating North ndian Classical Music by John Rothfield.
8.1. ndian music notation
Books on ndian Classical Music & Dance
Musical notation in North ndia
8.2. African music
African music in based on equidistant scales with, for example, 5 or 7 steps. The rhythm can be described using a poly- or
hetero-metric based on elementary pulsation.
August Schmidhofer, in his article entitled African Music, does not discuss native African music notation but he does suggest
that some music cannot be described using only common music notation.
8.3. Arabian music notation
Arabian music includes complicated microtonal relationships that cannot be notated using common music notation. August
Schmidhofer discusses the scales and quarter tone approximation in Arabische Musik (maqam, wazn, taqsim, ud, tar, nuba,
Maqam books
8.4. Turkish music notation
Selections from Turkish Music
Traditional Art Music
Definition of makam and turkish koma accidentals
8.5. Chinese music notation states that there is no standard notation for Chinese music. The various methods
may be grouped under: pitch system, descriptive system, hand-and-finger system, Kung Ch'e system, rhythmic recitation and
numerical system.
C.C. Evans Chinese Music pages present the Guqin and its Music using Wen Zi Pu (Character Notation) and Jian Zi Pu
(Abbreviated Character Notation)
See also "Positions of the notes" on C.C. Evans chinese music pages
August Schmidhofer's article Chinese music (music theory, erhu, pipa, yangqin, guzheng, dizi, sheng, Peking-Opera)
considers Chinese scales and instruments but without notation.
8.6. Byzantine Music Notation
A Simple introduction to Byzantine musical notation.
Reading Psalmodia an introduction to Modern Byantine Musical notation.
EBYPES project web site on Byzantine chant notation typography contains a lot of related information
BYZWRTER is a system for writing Byzantine Music Notation.
Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae
8.7. Ancient Egyptian music notation
Coptic Music Web Site
8.8. ndonesian Music Notation
August Schmidhofer's article ndonesian Music (Gamelan, pelog and slendro, angklung, krontjong) examines ndonesian
scales and instruments but without notation.
8.9. Kinko Ryu shakuhachi notation
For examples of images
Music notation symbols for Macintosh and Windows from the comprehensive site.
John Singer provides a comprehensive Shakuhachi site.
8.10. Doumbek Notation
Doumbek notation and rhythm is described at Kamuran's Doumbek Rhythm Guide. This notation is used for doumbek
(dumbec, dumbek, dumbeq...) and related instruments such as the tabla, djembe and ashiko.
8.11. Okinawan Notation
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 18 oI 169
Glossary of terms for Okinawa performing arts.
8.12. Shamisen notation
When the shamisen accompanies a singer the fundamental pitch is set by the singer. Consequently, shamisen notation
indicates interval, or ma, rather than pitch.

Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 19 oI 169
Chapter 3 MEASURES and BARS
Bars and Bar-Lines :: top
Composers and performers find it helpful to 'parcel up' groups of notes into bars. n the United States a bar is called by it's old
English name, measure. Each bar contains a particular number of notes of a specified denomination and, all other things
being equal, successive bars each have the same temporal duration. The number of notes of a particular denomination that
make up one bar is indicated by the time signature. We will examine time signatures further in the lesson 4.
The end of each bar is marked usually with a single vertical line drawn from the top line to the bottom line of the staff or stave.
This line is called a bar-Iine.
As well as the single bar-Iine, you may also meet two other kinds of bar-Iine.
The thin doubIe bar-Iine (two thin lines) is used to mark sections within a piece of music. Sometimes, when the doubIe bar-
Iine is used to mark the beginning of a new section in the score, a letter or number may be placed above it.
The doubIe bar-Iine (a thin line followed by a thick line), is used to mark the very end of a piece of music or of a particular
movement within it.

n music scored for keyboard instruments, where the music lies across two staves, the upper indicating the notes to be played
by the right hand, the lower indicating the notes to be played by the left hand, bar-Iines are commonly drawn from the top of
the upper line on the upper staff to the bottom line on the lower staff. This is illustrated below.

Bar Numbers and Letters :: top
t is common practice, when a piece of music is extended, to number the bars either at the beginning of each line or
periodically - for example, by marking every fifth or every tenth bar. n this way, a group of musicians, performing from
individual parts, can easily start from points within the piece of music by going from a particular bar. You will see, from the first
example below, that the bar number is placed at the beginning of the bar just above the bar-Iine that marks the end of the
previous bar.

f only marking the first bar of every line, as in the second example, the bar number is placed at the very beginning of the

Bars and Ties :: top
Notes can be sustained over bar-Iines by linking them with ties. This is shown in the example below.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 20 oI 169

Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 21 oI 169

Time Signature/Meter Signature :: top
Where we divide time into various units of measurement (hours, minutes, seconds), so we divide music into beats. You can
think of the beat as the 'puIse' of the music. The association of music with 'dance' is central to much of Western music and
demonstrates how responsive we are to repetitive rhythmic patterns. Dancers require that dance music be regular. t should
neither speed up nor slow down. This is best achieved by imitating the dancers' steps in the rhythm of the musical line. The
shape or pattern of the step sequences finds itself reflected in the pattern of strong and weak beats in the accompanying
music. A march, for example, imitates the 'Ieft-right' pattern of the marchers' steps - the meter comprises two beats; the first
strong and the second weak. By convention, the first beat in a bar is usually the strongest.
Bar Pattern of Beats or Meter Pattern over Four Bars
1 beat
Strong 1: S | S | S | S |
2 beat
Strong Weak 2: S W | S W | S W | S W |
3 beat
Strong Medium Weak 3: S M W | S M W | S M W | S M W |
4 beat
Strong Weak Medium Weak 4: S W M W | S W M W | S W M W | S W M W
6 beat
Strong Medium Weak Strong Medium
6: S M W S M W | S M W S M W | S M W S M W
| S M W S M W
The regularity of the meter is imposed on the musical line by using a regular number of beats in each bar but we have to
choose which note sign is going to be the beat.
The time signature is a written as two numbers, one set above the other, usually placed immediately before the first note. The
upper number tell us the number of beats in a bar. The lower number tells us which note sign is to represent the beat.
Some examples are explained below.
Description Explanation
two beats in the bar
the beat is a semibreve (whole
a bar contains 2 times 1/1 (semibreve=a whole
three beats in the bar
the beat is a minim (half note)
a bar contains 3 times 1/2 (minim=a half note)
four beats in the bar
the beat is a crotchet (quarter note)
a bar contains 4 times 1/4 (crotchet=a quarter note)
six beats in the bar
the beat is a quaver (eighth note)
a bar contains 6 times 1/8 (quaver=an eighth note)
eleven beats in the bar
the beat is a semiquaver (sixteenth
a bar contains 11 times 1/16 (semiquaver=a
sixteenth note)
A bar may be made up of notes and/or rests. We give some examples below which demonstrate the use of notes and rests
to complete bars. n each case the total number of beats in a bar reflects that expected from the time signature.

CIick here to read about how we 'say' or 'vocalise' time signatures.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 22 oI 169
While time signatures have no particular connotations as time signatures, experience shows that certain signatures are
associated with particular musical forms.
Associated use
used very rarely, several times by Edward Elgar in several of his studies
cut time or alla breve, used for marches
used for polkas or marches
used for waltzes, minuets and scherzi
used for fast waltzes or marches
used for Dave Brubeck's Take Five and the original versions of the theme from
Mission:mpossible 1. t is also used in classical music by Gustav Holst in Mars from The
Planets; usually grouped as 3+2 or 2+3
used for Money by Pink Floyd, numerous Genesis songs and The Unsquare Dance by
Dave Brubeck

UnusuaI Time Signatures and Hypermeasures :: top
The second movement of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Pathetique, begins like a typical waltz, except for the
unusual feature of a five over four time signature broken into two plus three crotchet beats per bar.
Charles ves, in his 114 Songs published in 1922, employs a number of unusual time notations. n some cases, for example
songs no 21, 27 and 30, he uses no time signature at all, while in song no. 6 he marks a time signature of four and a half over
four. n song no. 37 there is no time signature or bar lines and the performer is directed to mark off the bars to suite his taste.
These effects demonstrate how composers have always tried to bend formal notation to produce novel effects. ves used this
particular set of songs to explore notation, harmony and the relationship between the artist, the music and the listener.
CharIes Ives : Postface to 114 Songs
(selections from "Postface To 114 Songs", Essays Before a Sonata, The Majority, and Other Writings)
. . . . Be that as it may, our theory has a name: it is, "the balance of values," or "the circle of sources" (in these days of
chameleon-like efficiency every whim must be classified under a scientific-sounding name to save it from investigation). t
stands something like this: that an interest in any art-activity from poetry to baseball is better, broadly speaking, if held as a part
of life, or of a life, than if it sets itself up as a whole -- a condition verging, perhaps, toward a monopoly or, possibly, a kind of
atrophy of the other important values, and hence reacting unfavorably upon itself. . . .
. . . To illustrate further (and to become more involved): if this interest, and everyone has it, is a component of the ordinary life,
if it is free primarily to play the part of the, or a, reflex, subconscious-expression, or something of that sort, in relation to some
fundamental share in the common work of the world, as things go, is it nearer to what nature intended it should be, than if, as
suggested above, it sets itself up as a whole -- not a dominant value only, but a complete one? f a fiddler or poet does nothing
all day long but enjoy the luxury and drudgery of fiddling or dreaming, with or without meals, does he or does he not, for this
reason, have anything valuable to express?--or is whatever he thinks he has to express less valuable than he thinks?
This is a question which each man must answer for himself. t depends, to a great extent, on what a man nails up on his
dashboard as "valuable." Does not the sinking back into the soft state of mind (or possibly a non-state of mind) that may accept
"art for art's sake" tend to shrink rather than toughen up the hitting muscles -- and incidentally those of the umpire or the
grandstand, if there be one? To quote from a book that is not read, "s not beauty in music too often confused with something
which lets the ears lie back in an easy-chair? Many sounds that we are used to do not bother us, and for that reason are we
not too easily inclined to call them beautiful?" . . .
Possibly the fondness for personal expression -- the kind in which self-indulgence dresses up and miscalls itself freedom --
may throw out a skin-deep arrangement, which is readily accepted at first as beautiful -- formulae that weaken rather than
toughen the musical-muscles. f a composer's conception of his art, its functions and ideals, even if sincere, coincides to such
an extent with these groove-colored permutations of tried-out progressions in expediency so that he can arrange them over
and over again to his delight -- has he or has he not been drugged with an overdose of habit-forming sounds? . . . .
Notation is but a means to an end. f the notation is formal nonsense then the composer's instructions will no longer have any
meaning. Our task as performer is to discover the notion behind the notation. The time signature four and a half over four may
be unusual but it is not nonsense. Using the information above, we realise that each bar will contain the equivalent of four
crotchets plus one quaver.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 23 oI 169
There is no reason why time signatures should not show more complicated groupings; for example, a group of four crotchets
followed by a group of five quavers repeated over several bars might be notated 4/4 + 5/8. Rhythmic patterns like this can be
found in Balkan folk dance music. Time signatures compounded from smaller units, for example 4/4 next to 3/4, appear in
music where the bars alternate, in this case with four and three crotchets in alternate bars.
That a time signature might relate to groups made up of more than one bar has led to the concept of a hypermeasure, where
the individual bars in a hypermeasure, perform the same rhythmic role as individual notes in a single measure or bar. The
example above, four over four plus three over four, is an example of a two bar hypermeasure while a twelve-bar blues is an
example of a twelve bar hypermeasure.

Mensuration :: top
Time signatures arose from mensuration, a system devised in the 13th century to govern rhythmic relationships in music.
Relationships between the duration of different notes were defined as follows:
The relationship between the longa and the breve was called the modus;
The relationship between the breve and the semibreve, the tempus;
The relationship between the semibreve and the minim, the prolatio;
These relationships could be either 3:1 (perfect) or 2:1 (imperfect). By adjusting these relationships and mixing them amongst
each other, many different divisions of time (just like modern time signatures) were constructed.
Mensuration - An ntroduction

Common Time & AIIa Breve/Cut Time :: top
n earlier times it was common practice only to indicate the number of beats in a bar. During the Middle Ages the concept of
perfection was related to the Holy Trinity. Triple metre, e.g. 3/4, or Tempus Perfectum was represented by a circle (according
to Pythagoras the sphere represents perfection). Tempus Imperfectus, i.e. 4/4, was represented by a half circle in the form of a
letter C. Duple metre, i.e. 2/2, was represented by a semicircle with a vertical line. The two latter symbols have remained in use
even if they now appear in a somewhat stylised form.
The first symbol is called 'common time', representing four crotchet beats in a bar. This is illustrated in the first example
The second symbol, similar to the first but crossed with a vertical line, is called aIIa breve (talian: according to the breve) or
cut time. t represents two minim beats in a bar. This is illustrated in the second example.

Again, bars can be made up of notes and/or rests.
Metrical Displacement and the Compound Measure in Eighteenth-Century Theory and Practice offers further information about
this topic as it applies to the eighteenth century.
Cut time as used in dance music or jazz generally means that the music is played twice as fast as you would ordinarily expect,
based on the notes. Where normally a crotchet would correspond to a beat, now the minim becomes the unit of counting.
Merengue music is usually notated in cut-time; each of the " one two" steps corresponds to a minim instead of a crotchet as
might have been expected.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 24 oI 169

Changing Time Signatures :: top
When the time signature of a piece remains unchanged it will only appear at the beginning of the first bar of the work.
However, if the composer wants to change the time signature during the piece, this takes place at the beginning of the bar
where the change is required, and the change remains in force until the end of the piece or until a further change is made. An
example of this is given below.

The WhoIe Bar Rest :: top
While, in general, every bar will contain the number of beats set by the time signature, in the form of beats, notes or both,
there are two occasions where a bar might appear to have an incorrect number of beats. The first of these is where a whoIe
bar rest, identical to the semibreve rest has been used. The time vaIue of a whoIe bar rest is set by the time signature.
This rest is illustrated below in four bars each with a different time signature.

IncompIete Bars :: top
The second occasion when a bar may not contain the expected number of beats occurs when the first beat of a work is not a
strong beat and so the first bar is incomplete. An opening that begins on a weak beat is called an anacrusis, a term derived
from poetry. An example of a weak beat opening is given below.

t is good practice to balance the incomplete bar at the beginning of the piece with a truncated or short bar at the end. The two
bars taken together should have the same number of beats as an inner bar. However, this is no more than a 'convention' and
nowadays it is often ignored.
Time signatures are considered further in Iesson 15.

Ametric Music :: top
One of the earliest needs for a methodical approach to musical notation arose from a desire to systematise religious chant.
Guido d'Arezzo was not the first to notice that an oral tradition where the learning of musical lines passed from teacher to pupil,
from choir director to choir member, would lead to the introduction of error and variation from the prescribed forms laid down in
Rome, but he was one of the first to suggest how this might be overcome. The rhythmic detail in chant follows from the words
and so a musical line with the words written above or below the notated line would suffice to guide the singer. There is no need
to add bar lines to show a regular underlying pulse because chant, on the whole, does not have any formal regularity. n
performance and conception the musical line is tied to the religious text and this is irregular.
n early consort music, interesting musical effects were produced by placing parts together where the juxtaposition of rhythm in
one line against a different rhythm in another made it impossible to bar both in any meaningful way. For the performer, the
absence of barlines actually makes the individual part easier to play and produces a greater freedom in the interpretation of the
musical line. n essence, the music is less 'vertical', less 'harmonic'; rather, it is more 'horizontal', more 'melodic'.
n the twentieth century, composers looked again to ametric music as a way of freeing musical expression from the repetitive
rhythmic patterns that the use of formal time signatures implies. Chant, which is generally unbarred, much of the consort music
from the 17th century, and more modern compositions, where barring is irregular or absent and the music has no rhythmic
regularity, is said to be ametric.
During the 1930s, Messiaen took rhythmic ideas from ndia (deci tala), ancient Greece and the Orient and developed ametricaI
rhythm, describing it in a treatise published in 1944. The techniques he used included augmented or diminished rhythms,
retrograde rhythms and poIyrhythm, also called cross-rhythm.
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Michael Ball writes about Messiaen and about his approach to rhythm:
"(As) teacher and lecturer at the Paris Conservatoire, he held classes in analysis, theory, aesthetics and rhythm but it wasn't
until 1966 that he was officially appointed Professor of Composition. Many famous 'names' passed through these classes
including Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, annis Xenakis, Alexander Goehr and later George Benjamin for whom
Messiaen had a particular fondness and admiration. Perhaps the one thing that rubbed off on all these composers was
Messiaen's avoidance of regular metre, citing it as artificial, relating to marches and more popular music. Messiaen supported
his argument by pointing out that in nature things are neither even nor regular. For example, the branches of a tree and the
waves of the sea are not even patterns. However, what is 'true' is 'natural resonance', and this 'true' phenomenon is what his
music is based on."
For other examples of ametric music examine Gregorian chant, 17th century consort music in facsimile (much was unbarred).
Ligeti's Atmosphres (1961) or Debussy's Prlude l'aprs-midi d'un faune.
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Chapter 5 - TEMPO

TabIe of Tempo Markings :: top
We mentioned in Iesson 2 that musical notation is an example of proportionaI notation. The relationship between notes and
rests is formalised but the duration or time vaIue of any particular note is unquantified. Until the invention of a mechanical
device called the metronome, the performance speed of a piece of music was indicated in three possible ways:
through the use of tempo marks, most commonly in talian;
by reference to particular dance forms whose general tempi would have been part of the common experience of musicians of
the time;
by the way the music was written down, in particular, the choice of note for the beat and/or the time signature employed.
The most common tempo related marks are listed below with, in some cases, suggestions as to the number of beat per minute
equivalent to those markings.
Tempo Markings Definition
Beats per
grave very slow and solemn
largo broad, very slow and dignified 42-66 bpm
larghetto less slow than largo
largamente broadly
adagio slow, but not as slow as largo 58-97 bpm
adagietto slow, but less slow than adagio
lento slow 52-108 bpm
lentamente slowly
a little slower than andante but sometimes a little faster than

andante moving along - walking pace 56-88 bpm
con moto with movement, or a certain quickness
moderato moderate speed 66-126 bpm
allegretto pretty lively
vivace quick and lively
allegro quick, lively and bright 84-144 bpm
presto very quick 100-152 bpm
rapido rapid
veloce with velocity, speedily
prestissimo very quick - as quickly as possible
ritardando, rit., ritard. getting gradually slower
rallentando, rall. getting gradually slower
accelerando, accel. getting steadily faster
dioppio movimento twice as fast
ritenuto, rit. or riten.
holding back tempo - sometimes suddenly taking a slower

a tempo returning to a previous tempo
tempo primo returning to tempo at beginning
lunga pausa a long pause
belebt animated
breit broad
breiter broader
geschwinder more rapid, swift
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grossem large, big
klagend lamenting
langsam slow
langsamer slower
mssig moderate
rasch quick
schnell fast
schneller faster
anim animated
grande large, great
grave slow, solemn, deep slow
gravement gravely, solemnly
lent slow
vif lively
vite fast
Pasquini, the talian violinist/composer who worked in England in about 1740-50, gave suggested tempi for the performance of
Corelli's Op. 6 No. 8, Concerto da chiesa in G minor fatto per la notte di Natale which have come down to us through a
publication of 1785 by the English publisher R. Bremner. These, too, offer guidance on the association between talian
markings and metronome marks for talian music written in the first half of the eighteenth century.
Tempo Markings Time Signature
Beats per
Grave C, common time, or alla breve 60 bpm
Largo - Pastoralle 12/8 70-80 bpm
Adagio C, common time 60 bpm
Allegro C, common time 110-115 bpm
Allegro C, common time 150-160 bpm
Allegro alla breve 120 bpm
Vivace 3/4 50-55 bpm
While it might seem useful to ascribe a particular metronome mark to each tempo mark, you will notice that there is a wide
variation associated with each mark and as Andantino demonstrates, not a little confusion. n general, these markings should
be used carefully. Very often, the style of the piece of music or the skill of the musician, dictates the range of tempi within which
a performance can be convincing and it is this, the 'conviction of the performance' which should be the judge, not rigorous
attention to particular tempo markings, which are guides more to 'mood' than to 'speed'.
Charles Rosen has written an illuminating article on the tempo sign Andante. We quote from it below.
Andante over the years was the most malleable, the most changeable of musical directions. t might almost seem to have
meant at different times all things to all men. Literally it signified simply "going". For a while, in the eighteenth century, it meant
"play straightforwardly" - that is, the piece was to be played cleanly in very strict time, and without any of the fancy French
stylistic manner of dotted rhythms (the French liked to play the rhythms unevenly, with a pronounced lilt). Handel's andantes in
the 1730s and 1740s seem to have been attached most often to pieces which needed a relatively brisk tempo. When he
wanted a slower andante, he wrote "Andante larghetto." When he wished the andante faster than his usual relatively quick
interpretation of the term, he even noted "Andante allegro" (for example, in Medoro's aria, Vorrei poetrii amar, at the opening of
the third act of Orlando). For Handel andante meant moving forward with a sense of pace and no lingering.
Mozart's employment of Andante was more moderate than Handel's but it was faster than is sometimes thought today. When
his sister mentioned an Adagio in one of his concertos, he corrected her firmly, remarking that all of his recent concertos had
andantes, not adagios (for a while in the middle of the eighteenth century, adagio meant not only "slow," but was an invitation
to the performer to add many ornaments). Andante was a favorite designation of Mozart, used many hundreds of times.
Musically, things slowed down in the nineteenth century. Symphonies and operas and quartets became longer; even longer
phrases became the rule. Andante, too, slowed, and the tempo mark now signified something more ruminative, more reflective.
The real puzzle - and this started in the late eighteenth century - is what is meant by molto andante (very andante) or pi
andante (more andante): was "more andante" faster or slower than "andante"? Beethoven was not sure and consulted others.
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Finally he decided that more andante was faster, but then he had to write out an explanation. He was explicit in the variation
finale of the Sonata in E Major Op. 109 : the fourth variation is marked "a little but less andante, that is, a little bit more adagio
than the theme".
n my experience, it is one of the most difficult tempos to set; even in the nineteenth century it implies that the listener should
not feel the tempo was either fast or slow, but nevertheless with a pace that does not have the bland and dawdling impression
of a moderato. Andante generally demands that the music look forward, and move without stumbling or impediment. t neither
lingers nor hurries.
Andante is basically a tempo today which signifies a free movement, continuously progressive, unconstrained and unforced.

Fermata, Fetura & Caesura :: top
The fermata sign, a semicircle containing a dot, is used to indicate a pause. This signifies that the note should be held longer
than its written value by an amount left to the player's discretion.

Sometimes the fermata may be followed by a pair of oblique lines, ||, lying through the top line of the staff. This is called a
fetura or caesura although some conductors may also call them tramIines, raiIroad tracks or a cut-off. We illustrate the sign

f the passage immediately following a fetura is to be played by a single instrument in free tempo, then it will be marked with
the words CoIIa voce (t.: with the voice) or CoIIa parte (t.: with the part) meaning that the accompanying instruments should
take their tempo from the solo voice or part. A horizontal line will extend above the whole passage to be treated thus.
n poetry, a caesura is a pause somewhere in the middle of a verse often marked with two vertical lines ||. Some lines of poetry
have strong (easily recognizable) caesurae, which usually coincide with punctuation, while others have weak ones.
Pope was able to keep his heroic couplets interesting by varying the position of the caesurae, as here:
Alas how changed! || What sudden horrors rise!
A naked lover || bound and bleeding lies!
Where, where was Eloise? || her voice, her hand,
Her poniard, || had opposed the dire command.

Dance Tempi :: top
f one wants to rely on a dance name to indicate tempo, you must remember that the same dance could have have been
danced at different tempi at different times in history. Sometimes, purely instrumental dance pieces have faster tempi than if
they were to be used to accompany dancing. This means that what we give below can only be general guidance to the
character of the more popular early dance forms.
Dance Name Expected Speed
AIman a heavy dance
in 1676 England: 'ayrey and Lively'
Bouree Quantz (eighteenth century): merry
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BransIe many different tempi, sometimes quick, sometimes slower
Chaconne Quantz (eighteenth century): played with majesty
Chichona in 1679 England: a Grave kind of Humour
in 1679 England: quick, 'full of Sprightfulness, and Vigour, Lively, Brisk and
Quantz (eighteenth century): played with majesty
GaIIiard in the 16th century it was lively and stirring
in 1676 England: it was grave and sober
the Italian Galliard is sometimes called a salterello
Gavotte Quantz (eighteenth century): more moderate than a Bouree
Gigue Quantz (eighteenth century): quick and merry, lightly
Ground in 1679 England: 'Slow Notes, very Grave and Stately'
Menuet in 1703 France: very merry dance originating from Poitou
in 1750 France: it is noble and elegant, moderate rather than fast
Marche Quantz (eighteenth century): played seriously
see Quantz (eighteenth century): similar to a Chaconne but a little quicker
Pavanne in 1507 London: a 'staide musicke'
in 1676 England: grave and sober
Rigaudon Quantz (eighteenth century): merry
Sarabande in 1679 England: Toyish, and Light
at the same time in France it was slow and pathetic
the sarabands of Handel and Bach are generally slow movements
Tambourin Quantz (eighteenth century): a little faster than a Bouree
Tattle de Moy in 1679 England: like a [quicker] Saraband only 't has more of Conceit in t
.. and Humour'
Early dance is a very specialist field and we recommend two pioneering books for further reference:
MabeI DoImetsch, Dances of England and France from 1450 to 1600 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul [1949])
MabeI DoImetsch, Dances of Spain and taly from 1400 to 1600 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul [1954])

Tempo through Notation :: top
n his nterpretation of Music of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Arnold Dolmetsch wrote:
The proper tempo of a piece of music can usually be discovered by an intelligent musician, if he is in sympathy with its style,
and possesses sufficient knowledge of the instrument for which it is written. But here agin we must guard against prejudices
and so-called tradition, for many a musician who would be sensitive enough to the tempo of modern music, will not hesitate at
committing the most glaring absurdity when old music is concerned.
Dolmetsch was writing early in the twentieth century when there was little knowledge about early music, early dance or of the
characteristics of the instruments on which it might have been played. Even today almost a hundred years later, many of us
have never danced a Pavan or Polka and a piece of music bearing such a title would have us none the wiser as to the way it
was danced nor how it might be performed.
A source of some confusion in the matter of tempo is the habit some modern editors have of replacing all the notes in a work
with notes half their time vaIue. Where the principaI beat might originally have been a minim, it is now rewritten as a crotchet.
This 'modernisation' of notation makes it impossible to use the fact that in the sixteenth century 'white music', that filled with
breves, semibreves and minims, was generally played much faster than 'black' music, that filled with crotchets, quavers and
There is good evidence from tutors published in the early eighteenth century that time signatures could indicate tempi. Some
are given in the table below. The two sources are 'The Compleat Flute Master' (London c.1700) and 'The Compleat Tutor for
the Violin by Mr. Dean' (London, 1707).
Time Signature
Expected Speed (Flute Master -
Expected Speed (Violin Master - 1707)
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Very slow motion Very solid or slow movement

Somewhat faster Quicker

Brisk and light Ayres
As quick again as the first, and are
called Retorted Time
occasionally shown with a large
number two crossed with a vertical line

Grave movement Much quicker

Fast, for Jiggs, Paspies, etc.

Much quicker
Here again, considering only two methods published within a few years of each other, there is a certain amount of
disagreement and it is a wise musician that uses this information carefully. Certainly, what evidence it provides can only be
applied very narrowly to music performed in London at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

Metronome Marks :: top
Ascribing accurate tempi to music was something many musicians sought. n his "Harmonie Universelle" published in 1636,
Mersenne gives the time value of a 'Minim' as that of a beat of the heart.
The first metronome was invented by tienne Louli in 1696. His device was rather tall; 2 metres high (almost 7 feet). A
number of mechanical improvements lead to the modern (spring-operated) portable metronome. These were carried out by
Ditrich Nikolaus Winkel (1780-1826) and Johann Nepomuk Maelzel (1772-1838). As they worked independently there was
some dispute as to had actually arrived first at the various technical improvements. n the end the better business-man,
Maelzel, made the metronome available to a larger public and, as a result, it is his name that figures in the famous tempo sign:
MM=120. MM is short for 'Maelzel's Metronome'.
Composers who insisted on their music being performed at exactly the right tempo welcomed the metronome because now
they could give an exact number of beats per minute (bpm). They supplied recommended metronome markings above the
published music so that everybody knew what they wanted.
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Unfortunately, we know that many of the early metronomes were inferior and did not always run reliabily. n other cases, the
editors or publishers added their own marks, without any regard to the opinion of the composer. These mechanical devices
have now been superceded by solid state electronic devices that are more reliable and much cheaper to manufacture.
Metronome marks should be treated just like any other tempo marking - as a guide, to be ignored if the result is impractical or
A Short History of Metronomes
Download Your Own Metronome

Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 32 oI 169

The Keyboard :: top

We have met all the symbols shown in the score detail above, except for the key signature, but music means nothing to most of
us until it has been translated into the sounds produced by a musical instrument.
Teachers of music theory recommend that you should master the rudiments of a musical instrument if you want to understand
why music is notated the way it is. n particular, if you wish to study harmony, you should consider learning an instrument
capable of playing harmony, for example, a plucked string instrument (guitar, lute, harp) or a keyboard instrument (piano,
organ). The structure of scales and chords becomes much clearer if you know your way around some kind of music keyboard.













A keyboard is made of keys that have been arranged in the pattern we have illustrated above. To make the pattern clearer, and
to show the way the pattern repeats, we have coloured all the notes 'C' yellow, and, in addition, marked 'middle C' with an
asterix. The pitch of any note is lower than that of all the keys to its right and higher than all those to its left. The white keys
bear the names of the letters of the alphabet (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) and are called 'naturals'. Thus, the key bearing the letter 'A'
plays the note 'A natural' on our keyboard. n normal speech, the description 'natural' may often be omitted and the note just
called 'A'.
We show below this pattern transcribed onto a stave. Note that the note 'middle C' has been written twice, once on each line.

So far we have named only the white keys, the notes we call 'natural'. The black notes take their names from the white keys
on either side on them. We have enlarged a portion of the keyboard, starting from 'middle C', to make this clearer. A black key
immediate to the right of a white key is said to be 'sharp' while a black key immediate to the left of a white key is said to be 'flat'.
Because every black key has a white key on either side of it, it bears two names. These are both shown on the diagram below.
C sharp and D flat are the same key and will produce the same note when played on a keyboard.

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Below we show this pattern transcribed onto a stave. t is an example of a scaIe (from the Latin scala meaning a ladder); in
this case, a chromatic scaIe. We have written the scaIe twice. On the upper stave we have used the natural sign for the white
keys and the sharp sign for the black keys. On the lower stave we have used the natural sign for the white keys and the flat
sign for the black keys.
t is a convention to use sharps when writing out a rising chromatic scaIe and flats when writing out a falling chromatic scaIe.
There are other ways of writing both rising and falling chromatic scaIes which we will consider in a later lesson.

The keyboard convention that naturals are faced in white and accidentals are faced in black was commonly reversed during the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Harpischord keyboards, for example, commonly have white (bone or ivory) sharps with
black (ebony) or yellow (boxwood) naturals. t was only with the introduction of the piano in the eighteenth century that the
current convention became widely established.
We have no evidence that the convention for colouring musical keyboards was arrived at with any of the angst involved in
choosing the colours for computer keyboards that the story below, first printed in the San Jose Mercury News, describes.
Designers of the new product realized lighter-colored keys would make the device look more like a
PC than the all-black keys of the 95LX did. Research subjects agreed. They also said the lighter
keys looked easier to use.
That perception, however, came at a cost: The same people also thought the black keys looked
more "powerful."
For calculator engineers who had always revered both power and appearance, the notion of
shipping a less potent-appearing device was unthinkable. t caused a huge amount of debate and
Many argued the company was foolish to deliberately design a product that appeared less powerful
than its predecessor. But others maintained raw power was not as important in computers as it was
in calculators, and said the entire division needed to reshape its thinking to the realities of a new
The light keys won.

Thoughts on Piano Keyboard Design :: top
This is taken from Piano Keys on
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f you've ever looked closely at a piano keyboard you may have noticed that the widths of the white keys are not all the same at
the back ends (where they pass between the black keys). Of course, if you think about it for a minute, it's clear they couldn't
possibly all be the same width, assuming the black keys are all identical (with non-zero width) and the white keys all have equal
widths at the front ends, because the only simultaneous solution of 3W=3w+2b and 4W=4w+3b is with b=0.
After realizing this started noticing different pianos and how they accommodate this little problem in linear programming. Let
W denote the widths of the white keys at the front, and let B denote the widths of the black keys. Then let a, b,..., g (assigned
to their musical equivalents) denote the widths of the white keys at the back. Assuming a perfect fit, it's impossible to have a =
b = ... = g. The best you can do is try to minimize the greatest difference between any two of these keys.
One crude approach would be to set d=g=a=(W-B) and b=c=e=f=(W-B/2), which gives a maximum difference of B/2 between
the widths of any two white keys (at the back ends). This isn't a very good solution, and 've never seen an actual keyboard
based on this pattern (although some cartoon pianos seems to have this pattern). A better solution is to set a=b=c=e=f=g=(W-
3B/4) and d=(W-B/2). With this arrangement, all but one of the white keys have the same width at the back end, and the
discrepancy of the "odd" key (the key of "d") is only B/4. Some actual keyboards (e.g., the Roland HP-70) use this pattern.
Another solution is to set c=d=e=f=b=(W-2B/3) and g=a=(W-5B/6), which results in a maximum discrepancy of just B/6. There
are several other combinations that give this same maximum discrepancy, and actual keyboards based on this pattern are not
f we set c=e=(W-5B/8) and a=b=d=f=g=(W-3B/4) we have a maximum discrepancy of only B/8, and quite a few actual pianos
use this pattern as well. However, the absolute optimum arrangement is to set c=d=e=(W-2B/3) and f=g=a=b=(W-3B/4), which
gives a maximum discrepancy of just B/12. This pattern is used on many keyboards, e.g. the Roland PC-100.
The "B/12 solution" is best possible, given that all the black keys are identical and all the white keys have equal widths at the
front ends. For practical manufacturing purposes this is probably the best approach. However, suppose we relax those
conditions and allow variations in the widths of the black keys and in the widths of the white keys at the front ends. All we
require is that the black keys (in total) are allocated 5/12 of the octave. On this basis, what is the optimum arrangement,
minimizing the maximum discrepancy between any two widths of the same type?
Let A, B,...G denote the front-end widths of the white keys, and let a#, c#, d#, f#, g# denote the widths of the black keys.
believe the optimum arrangement is given by dividing the octave into 878472 units, and then setting
f=g=a=b=72156 units c=d=e=74606 units discrepancy=2450

f#=g#=a#=72520 units c#=d#=74235 units discrepancy=1715

F=G=A=B=126546 units C=D=E=124096 units discrepancy=2450
The maximum discrepancy between any two widths of the same class is 1/29.88 of the width of the average black key, which is
less than half the discrepancy for the "B/12 solution".
The max discrepancy is 1/358.56 of the total octave for the white keys, and 1/512.22 for the black keys. Since an octave is
normally about 6.5 inches, the max discrepancy is about 0.0181 inches for the white keys and 0.0127 inches for the black keys.
(One peculiar fact about this optimum arrangement is that the median point of the octave, the boundary between f and f#, is
exactly 444444 units up from the start of the octave.)
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The Tone and Semitone :: top
Returning to the keyboard we introduced in the previous lesson, we now consider the difference in pitch between one key and
its neighbour.













f we count the number of keys between the key C with the asterix * (we call this middle C) and the key marked with a B that
lies just below the C above (i.e. to the right of) middle C we find that there are twelve keys (five black and seven white) that
match the twelve different notes on the stave below.

The difference in pitch (the pitch 'interval' or just intervaI), between a key and its immediate neighbour is called a semitone,
meaning 'haIf' a tone. Two semitones are equivalent to a 'whoIe' tone. Where there is no black key between them (for
example, between B and C) neighbouring white keys are a semitone interval apart. f there is a black key between them (for
example, between F and G) neighbouring white keys are a tone interval apart. n this case the black key (F sharp / G flat) is
the white key's immediate neighbour and the interval between the white key F and the black key, F sharp/ G flat, is a
This is shown clearly in the diagram below.

The Octave :: top
Sharpening or flattening the pitch of a note changes the pitch by a semitone, in the former case sharpening, increasing or
raising the pitch by a semitone and in the latter case flattening, reducing or lowering the pitch by a semitone. Raising the pitch
of a note by twelve semitones raises the pitch by one 'octave'. f the original note was C, the new note one octave higher will
also be called C. n a similar way, lowering the pitch by twelve semitones lowers the pitch by an 'octave'. You might wonder
why the word 'octave' which seems to have something to do with the Greek word for 'eight' (e.g. octogon - a shape with eight
sides) is used in this situation. f you count the number of white keys that lie across an octave - as, for example, C, D, E, F, G,
A, B and C again - you will see that there are eight, hence the word 'octave'.
Notice that the interval between each successive pair of notes on the two staves above is a semitone.

The Chromatic ScaIe :: top
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The succession of all twelve semitones in ascending or descending order is the chromatic scaIe.
The standard 'convention', which we have mentioned before, is that sharp signs are using for rising chromatic scales and flat
signs are used for falling chromatic scales.

We will return to this matter again in Iesson 11.

Microtones :: top
The quarter-tone is defined as that pitch which exists midway (48-50 cents or 2 Pythagorean commas) between any two
semitones (half-tones), with neither semitone predominating. A semitone is equal to 100 cents. The quarter-tone may be
considered a universal interval, like the tone and semitone, as it exists in numerous Eastern and Western musical cultures.
rish folk tunes, for example, sometimes feature the inclusion of 'half-sharp' notes, quarter tones mid-way between natural and
sharp. [ref: Peter Cooper, Mel Bay's Complete rish Fiddle Player, Mel Bay Publications, 1995]
Other divisions of the tone have their place in Eastern and Western musical cultures. The eighth-tone is measured at 24-25
cents (or, for example, in Turkish music a Pythagorean comma).
Quartertone Accidental Signs

3/4 tone flat

1/4 tone flat

1/4 tone sharp

3/4 tone sharp
While experimenting with his violin in 1895, Julian Carrillo discovered sixteenths of a tone, i.e., sixteen clearly different sounds
between the pitches of G and A emitted by the fourth violin string. Because there are six whole tones in conventional tuning to
the next octave, a musical scale made with sixteenths of each tone has 96 different notes or pitches. n contrast to this, the
scale made with half-tones has only 12 pitches.
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The Major ScaIe :: top
Lesson 25 details the origins of the Western scale.
This lesson concentrates on what a major scaIe is, and how starting from any of the twelve notes in the chromatic scaIe one
derives the twelve major scaIes.













Examine the keyboard again. Starting from the key marked middle C (that is, the key C with an asterisk), play the naturaIs (the
white keys) in ascending order, C, D, E, F, G, A, B and finish on the C above middle C. This sequence or row of eight notes is
the C major scale, the major scaIe in which the key-note is C. Music written using the notes of this scaIe is said to be 'in the
key of C'. The different notes are called the degrees of the scale such that the key note, C, is called the 'first degree of the
scale', D is the 'second degree of the scale', and so on.
The eight degrees of the scale may be numbered using 1 - 8 or Roman numerals - V or i - viii.
What makes this a major scaIe is the distinctive sequence of tones and semitones. f we write down the intervaIs between the
notes rather than the note names then the C major scale becomes tone-tone-semitone-tone-tone-tone-semitone, seven
intervaIs between eight notes.
f you play any other ascending row of eight consecutive naturaIs you will find many different sequences of intervaIs. C major
is the only major scaIe, that is a scale obeying the interval sequence tone-tone-semitone-tone-tone-tone-semitone, that
uses only the white keys.
The Tetrachord :: top
There is another way of looking at the major scaIe. t is derived from a pattern of four notes called the tetrachord (Greek:
tetra = four, chorde = string or note: originally from tetrachordon, an ancient Greek four-stringed instrument). The Greeks
applied the term to a falling sequence of four notes with the interval pattern tone - tone - semitone. Today we use the term to
mean a rising sequence of four notes using the interval pattern tone - tone - semitone. The word tetrachord can be applied to
the interval between the first and last note of the four note sequence as well as to all the notes in the sequence itself.
The C major scale is in fact two tetrachords, one after the other, separated by a tone. Thus:
C - tone - D - tone - E - semitone - F : the first tetrachord
G - tone - A - tone - B - semitone - C : the second tetrachord
The interval between F, the last note of the first tetrachord, and G, the first note of the second tetrachord, is a tone.

f we start on G, to produce the G major scale, the pattern will be
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 38 oI 169
G - tone - A - tone - B - semitone - C : the first tetrachord
D - tone - E - tone - F# - semitone - G : the second tetrachord
The interval between C, the last note of the first tetrachord, and D, the first note of the second tetrachord, is a tone.

The TweIve Major ScaIes :: top
We return to the chromatic scale starting on middle C which has been written twice: on the upper line with only naturals and
flats and on the lower line with only naturals and sharps. Both scales 'play' the same row of notes.

By convention the major scaIes are divided into three groups:
the 'sharp' keys of G, D, A, E, B, F sharp, C sharp - all the black keys use their 'sharp' names;
the 'natural' key of C - which uses only white keys;
the 'flat' keys of F, B fIat, E fIat, A fIat, D fIat, G fIat, D fIat - all the black keys use their 'flat' names;
the first seven degrees of a major or minor scale must have different 'letter' names
only naturals, sharps and flats may be used when notating major scales

Deriving Major ScaIes :: top
Using the distinctive major scaIe interval sequence, tone-tone-semitone-tone-tone-tone-semitone we can derive each of
the scales in turn. We have provided two 'worked examples' below.
Let us examine first one of the 'sharp' scaIes, the 'A major scaIe'.
Degree of Scale Note nterval to Add Resultant Note
1 A Tone B
2 B Tone C sharp
3 C sharp Semitone D
4 D Tone E
5 E Tone F sharp
6 F sharp Tone G sharp
7 G sharp Semitone A
Notice that we have used C sharp rather than D flat to avoid using D twice in the scale. Similarly F sharp and G sharp must be
chosen in preference to their enharmonic names G flat and A flat.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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We have laid out the A major scaIe on the trebIe cIef below, the upper line showing the notes themselves, missing only
superfluous naturaI signs, and the lower line showing how, by using a key signature, (the three sharps displayed on the left
hand side of the stave), the sharp signs are 'understood' and need not be displayed again within the score. You will notice that
the three sharp signs in the key signature mirror the three sharps in the scale on the upper line.

And now, let us derive one of the 'flat' scaIes, the 'E fIat major scaIe'.
Degree of Scale Note nterval to Add Resultant Note
1 E flat Tone F
2 F Tone G
3 G Semitone A flat
4 A flat Tone B flat
5 B flat Tone C
6 C Tone D
7 D Semitone E flat
Again we have chosen flat names rather than their enharmonic sharp names to satisfy the requirement than all note letter
names be different.
We have laid out the E fIat major scaIe on the trebIe cIef below, the upper line showing the notes themselves, missing only
superfluous naturaI signs, and the lower line showing how, by using a key signature, (the three flats displayed on the left
hand side of the stave), the flat signs are 'understood' and need not be displayed again within the score.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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The Key Signature :: top
n the previous lesson we touched upon a method for reducing the number of sharp and flat signs when writing music in a
particular key. Examine the row of notes in the key of A major. C, F and G are 'sharpened'. f the notes are written with no key
signature every 'sharpened' note must be marked with a 'sharp' sign. f we write the A major key signature (three sharps), at
the beginning of the stave, one no longer needs to place 'sharp' signs in front of these notes. The key signature applies to all
the relevent notes in every octave.

As well as simplifying the notation, the key signature tells us the key of the piece of music. The key signature appear on
every line of music immediately after the cIef sign. The time signature is written only on the first line, placed after the cIef sign
and key signature.

The bars have been numbered 'line by line'. This part is written for an oboe. On the first line the instrument name is written in
full, while on the other line(s) it is abbreviated.
As an aside, it is worth remembering that the concept of key signatures as we know it today developed in the latter part of the
18th century. Music from Baroque and earlier periods may be written with key signatures containing fewer sharps or flats than
we might expect. This is found particularly when the music is written in a minor key. One explanation is the association
between 'key signatures' and the use of 'major' and 'minor' keys. Before the end of the 18th century, composers still thought
musically in terms of modes which would, for a particular key note, tend to have different 'accidentals' to those we find in our
modern scales. Modes may contain intervals that are not pleasing to the ear. e.g. an augmented 4th between F and B. The
singers would alter these by flattening the B. Alterations such as these, were never written in the music but are an example of
musica ficta which means, literally, "feigned music".
What is Musica Ficta? - part of an article entitled Hexachords, solmization, and musica ficta

The CircIe of Fifths :: top
We now need to determine the key signature for each of the major keys. Of course, we could work out the note row for each
major key and so identify the number of sharps or flats in each key. There is, however, a shorthand way of remembering the
relationship between the key and the key signature using the circIe of fifths illustrated below.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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Place the note C in the twelve o'clock position on a clock face. Moving
clockwise, place the fifth degree of the C major scaIe, the note G, in the
one o'clock position. Again moving clockwise, place the fifth degree of the
G major scaIe, the note D, in the two o'clock position. Having done this
the necessary number of times you will have produced the sequence C,
G, D, A, E, B, F sharp and C sharp. The key signature for each key has
one sharp more than the key preceding it in the sequence. We have
marked the number of sharps for the first two sharp keys
Place the note C in the twelve o'clock position on a clock face. Moving
anti-clockwise, place the fourth degree of the C major scaIe, the note F,
in the eleven o'clock position. Again moving anti-clockwise, place the
fourth degree of the F major scaIe, the note B flat, in the ten o'clock
position. Having done this the necessary number of times you will have
produced the sequence C, F, B flat, E flat, A flat, D flat , G flat and C flat.
The key signature for each key has one flat more than the key
preceding it in the sequence. We have marked the number of flats for the
first two flat keys.
You may be wondering why, if we use a circIe of fifths, the flat keys are
found by taking the fourth degree of the major scaIe. n fact, the fourth
degree of the scale is the same note as you would get by moving a 'fifth'
down the major scaIe.
We illustrate below the sequence of key signatures that the circIe of fifths produces in each case - moving clockwise for the
sharp keys or anti-clockwise for the flat keys. The key name is confirmed by the minim appearing after each signature. The
order of the sharps or flats remains unchanged in each signature and each stave in a line of music will have the same key
signature adjusted for that line's particular cIef.
You may be wondering also why 'circle of fifths' - why not 'circle of fourths' or 'circle of thirds'. You may remember that in
Iesson 8 we introduced the Greek tetrachord, a row of four notes based on the interval sequence tone-tone-semitone.
The major scaIe of C is just two consecutive tetrachords:
C - tone - D - tone - E - semitone - F : the first tetrachord
G - tone - A - tone - B - semitone - C : the second tetrachord
Note that the first note in the first tetrachord is exactly one octave below the fourth note of the second tetrachord.
The second scaIe, starting on the key note G, starts from the first note of the second tetrachord of the C major scaIe, that is,
from the fifth degree. The two tetrachords for the G major scaIe are:
G - tone - A - tone - B - semitone - C : the first tetrachord
D - tone - E - tone - F sharp - semitone - G : the second tetrachord
The flat keys are 'constructed' by treating the first tetrachord of ones present scale as the second tetrachord of the key flatter
by one accidental to it.
The C tetrachords are:
C - tone - D - tone - E - semitone - F : the first tetrachord
G - tone - A - tone - B - semitone - C : the second tetrachord
So for the major scaIe of F major
C - tone - D - tone - E - semitone - F is the the second tetrachord
and, remembering that the last note of the second tetrachord is the first note of the first,
F - tone - G - tone - A - semitone - B fIat is the first tetrachord

The Order of AccidentaIs in The Key Signature :: top
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 42 oI 169
f you look at the sequence of steadily 'sharper' keys as one progresses
clockwise around the circle of fifths, starting with G major, then D major
and so on, you will find that the order of the sharps, read left to right in the
key signature, preserves the order in which the sharp accidentals first
appear; first F sharp (in G major), then C sharp (in D major), then G sharp
(in A major) and so on. Again, the order of the flats, again read from left to
right in the key signature, as they appear in the steadily 'flatter' keys as
one moves anti-clockwise around the circle of fifths, preserves the order
in which the flat accidentals first appear; first B flat (in F major), then E flat
(in B flat major), then A flat (in E flat major) and so on.
The advantage of a preserved order is that the last sharp or flat on the
right of the key signature, itself uniquely identifies the key of the work.
The performer does not need to confirm this by reading the other
accidentals in the key signature.
n the case of the sharp keys, the key, if it is a major key, is a semitone
above the last sharp in the key signature (e.g. if the last sharp is F sharp,
the key is G major); otherwise it is the relative minor, E minor.
For flat keys, the key, if it is a major key, is the last but one flat in the key-
signature (e.g. if the last but one flat is B flat, the key is B flat major);
otherwise it is its relative minor, G minor.
Obviously, in the case of one flat you just remember that this, if it is in a
major key, is F major; otherwise it is its relative minor, D minor. f there is
no accidental, the key, if it is in a major key, is C major; otherwise it is the
relative minor, A minor.
For more on relative minor keys see lesson 10: Relative & Parallel Major
& Minor.

Enharmonics :: top
We have already seen that note names may not be unique; for example, D flat and C sharp. The problem is even greater than
that. f you look again at the keyboard below you will appreciate that 'sharpening' and 'flattening' leads to other double named
notes. For example, B is also C flat, F is also E sharp. f you refer back to the circIe of fifths diagram above you will see that
the five, six and seven o'clock positions each has two key names. f you play the two scaIes on the keyboard, the sequence of
sounds will be the same for each pair of keys - the key pairs are enharmonic. Similarly with note names, E flat is
enharmonic to D sharp, A sharp is enharmonic to B flat.













You may be wondering why, if enharmonic keys are identical when played on a keyboard, composers don't just chose the key
with the fewer sharps or flats. t is only with the modern tuning system we call 'equal temperament' that the pairs of
enharmonic notes have the same pitch. n other tuning systems these two notes are actually different. C sharp, for example,
is slightly flatter than D flat.
Lesson 27 considers these matters in much greater detail.
We set out the enharmonic notes in the table below using (sharp), (double sharp), (flat), (double flat) or (natural)
n any column all the notes are the same pitch. n any column the notes are one semitone sharper than those in the column to
the left and one semitone flatter than those in the column to the right.
the numbers are in units of one semitone (e.g. C + 5 = C plus 5 semitones
= F)
C +
C +
C +
C +
C +
C +
C +
C +
C +
C +
C +
C +
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 43 oI 169















We can display the enharmonic relationships on a piano keyboard. This is shown below.

Using AccidentaIs :: top
We have assumed, until now, that pieces of music are written in various keys and that, once the right key signature has been
chosen, we never need to write sharp or flat signs. Actually, this could not be further from the truth. The introduction of notes
from the chromatic scaIe that are not part of the major scaIe, or moduIation, when the key changes, both add 'spice' to a
musical line and produce a change of 'mood'.
Generally, music starts and finishes in the same key and it is that key that will be indicated with the key signature. Notes that
do not lie in the scale of the key are called accidentaIs and these are marked in the score by using the three signs we have
met already, the natural, sharp and flat signs.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 44 oI 169
The rules for applying accidentaIs are simple to state today, but hundreds of years ago, the rules varied from composer to
composer, from country to country and could be said to be 'confused'. Modern editions of mediaeval and renaissance music
can disagree in their 'realisation' of accidentaIs, a situation made more difficult because the concept of key was changing from
older modes to newer major and minor keys.
So what are the modern rules for using 'accidentals'?

The sign is placed in front of
the note.
In some editions of early
music, accidentals may
appear above notes. In this
case, the accidental is an
editorial suggestion or
The note-accidentaI
combination 'names' the note
to be played: so, F sharp
means play F sharp, B natural
means play B natural and E flat
means play E flat whatever the
key signature. When there is
no accidentaI written, the
actual note to be played
depends on the key signature.

The sign applies only to the
line or space where it first
appears; if the same note
appears in another octave, or,
in the case, of multi-staves
scores on another stave, the
accidentaI must be restated
(see the high B natural).
Contrast this with the rule for
signs appearing in the key
signature which apply to all
relevant notes in any octave
on the stave.

When used, the accidentaI
applies only to the end of that
particular bar, or until another
accidentaI appears later in the
same bar on the same note on
the same line or space. The
first two B's are both B
naturals, the third B is marked
B flat.

There is one exception to the
'bar-Iine cancels the
accidentaI' rule. f the note
bearing the accidental is tied
into the next bar, the
accidentaI persists for that
note only; any note after the
end of the tie would have to be
marked again. Both the C's in
the second bar are C natural.

Where there might be any
doubt, precautionary marks
(sometimes called 'courtesy
accidentals') may be used -
accidentaIs, sometimes within
brackets, that confirm the
status of the note. The C in the
second bar would be C sharp
because the previous bar-Iine
ends the effect of the natural
sign. Even so, a precautionary
sharp sign has been used for
the C sharp in the second bar.

Changing Key :: top
There will be occasions when it is makes more sense to change the key signature than to rely only on accidentaIs. A new
key signature is applied from the beginning of a bar. f the new bar-Iine is at the beginning of the line, a cautionary sign, may
appear at the end of the previous line, after the last bar-Iine. We offer a trivial example to demonstrate both situations.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 45 oI 169

The first two bars are in G major, the second two are in C major and the last four bars return to G major.
Because the key signature for C major is normally 'empty' of sharp or flat signs, the 'change' of key is marked with a pattern of
natural signs that matches the pattern of sharps or flats in the previous key signature - in this case, one natural where before
there was the single sharp sign for G major.
The application of (sharp), (double sharp), (flat), (double flat) or (natural) sign to a note is called an infIection.
The table below sets out the names of the infIections in English, French, German and talian.

Notes and Keys in EngIish, French, German and ItaIian :: top
English French German talian
C Ut C Do
C double sharp Ut double-dise Cisis Do doppio diesis
C sharp Ut dise Cis Do diesis
C flat Ut bmol Ces Do bemolle
C double flat Ut double-bmol Ceses Do doppio bemolle
D R D Re
D double sharp R double-dise Disis Re doppio diesis
D sharp R dise Dis Re diesis
D flat R bmol Des Re bemolle
D double flat R double-bmol Deses Re doppio bemolle
E Mi E Mi
E double sharp Mi double-dise Eisis Mi doppio diesis
E sharp Mi dise Eis Mi diesis
E flat Mi bmol Es Mi bemolle
E double flat Mi double-bmol Eses Mi doppio bemolle
F Fa F Fa
F double sharp Fa double-dise Fisis Fa doppio diesis
F sharp Fa dise Fis Fa diesis
F flat Fa bmol Fes Fa bemolle
F double flat Fa double-bmol Feses Fa doppio bemolle
G Sol G Sol
G double sharp Sol double-dise Gisis Sol doppio diesis
G sharp Sol dise Gis Sol diesis
G flat Sol bmol Ges Sol bemolle
G double flat Sol double-bmol Geses Sol doppio bemolle
A La A La
A double sharp La double-dise Aisis La doppio diesis
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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A sharp La dise Ais La diesis
A flat La bmol As La bemolle
A double flat La double-bmol Ases La doppio bemolle
B Si H Si
B double sharp Si double-dise Hisis Si doppio diesis
B sharp Si dise His Si diesis
B flat Si bmol B Si bemolle
B double flat Si double-bmol Bes Si doppio bemolle
Sharp Dise Kreuz diesis
double sharp double dise Doppelkreuz doppio diesis
Flat Bmol Be bemolle
double flat double bmol Doppel-Be doppio bemolle
Natural Bcarre
Auflsungszeichen or
major (for keys and
majeur (for keys and
Dur (for keys); gross
(for intervals)
maggiore (for keys and
minor (for keys and
mineur (for keys and
Moll (for keys); klein
(for intervals)
minore (for keys and

Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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The NaturaI Minor ScaIe :: top
n Iesson 8 we first met the major scaIe. We are now going to look at another scaIe that is important in Western music. t is
called the naturaI minor scaIe. We have marked the notes A in pink on the keyboard below and our first naturaI minor scaIe
is going to begin on A.













Starting from the key marked A below middle C (that is, the key C with an asterisk), play the naturaIs (the white keys) in
ascending order, A, B, C, D, E, F, G and finish on the A above middle C. This sequence or row of eight notes is the A naturaI
minor scaIe, the naturaI minor scaIe in which the key-note is A. Music written using the notes of this scaIe is said to be 'in
the key of A minor'. As in major scales, each note must bear a different 'letter' name and the different notes are called the
degrees of the scale. The key note is called the 'first degree of the scale', B is the 'second degree of the scale', and so on.
What makes this a naturaI minor scaIe is the distinctive sequence of tones and semitones. f we write down the intervaIs
between the notes rather than the key names then the A minor scale is tone-semitone-tone-tone-semitone-tone-tone,
seven intervaIs between eight notes.
f you play any other ascending row of eight consecutive naturaIs you will find many different sequences of intervaIs but A
minor is the only naturaI minor scaIe using only the white keys. We illustrate this scale below.

DoubIe Sharps & FIats :: top
When discussing the pattern of intervals characteristic to major scales we noted that each note of the scale must have a
different 'letter' name. Similarly, in minor scales the same convention must be followed. However, with minor scaIes we will
have to incorporate the additional concept of scale modification by 'raising' or 'lowering' notes. Musicians like to preserve the
sense of 'key' in the notation and so, when a note already sharpened by the key signature is to be 'raised' or sharpened
further, we use the double sharp sign .

n a similar way, a 'flat' note 'lowered' further, is marked with a double flat sign .
A double sharp, or double flat, raises, or lowers, the pitch of the note a full tone above the note with no accidentaI. So, F
double sharp is enharmonic to G natural. Both signs follow the standard rules for accidentaIs. These signs will be considered
further when we discuss intervals in Iesson 12.

Harmonic Minor :: top
To satisfy the harmonic requirements of music written in minor keys, in particular that they preserve some of the harmonic
characteristics associated with major scales, our naturaI minor scaIe has to be modified. f you look at a major scaIe you will
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 48 oI 169
remember that the seventh degree, the Ieading note is only a semitone below the tonic. The term Ieading note is a good
description of the way it works harmonically. The Ieading note draws or 'leads' you to the tonic above. The reason for this will
become clearer once we examine chords and cadences in a later lesson. Looking again at our minor scaIe you will see that
the Ieading note is a tone below the tonic above it - this weakens its harmonic effect as a 'leading' note. The problem is
overcome by sharpening the leading note, changing G to G sharp, so that the row is now A, B, C, D, E, F, G sharp, A and the
interval sequence becomes tone-semitone-tone-tone-semitone-tone and a haIf-semitone.

This scale is called the harmonic minor and is the same up and down.
A common question is 'why is the harmonic minor scale so named?'. To understand chord names and numbering you may
wish to preview lesson 16. f the dominant (V) is to lead back to the tonic, usually by using a dominant 7th, the dominant
chord must be a major chord. The 3rd of the minor scale must be raised (to form a major 3rd) to produce the tritone, (see
lesson 12 - the tritone), that unsettles the dominant 7th thereby providing the pull back to the tonic. n the G7 chord, G-B-D-F,
the tritone lies between B and F. f the 3rd of the dominant chord was to remain flat (the interval remaining a minor 3rd) there
would be no tritone and the V chord would not have a dominant pull leading back to the tonic (). n fact, the Gm7 chord, G-
Bb-D-F, has a perfect fifth between Bb and F which effectively stabilizes the dominant chord.

MeIodic Minor :: top
The modification leading to the harmonic minor scale produces one peculiar feature. The interval between the sixth and
seventh degrees of the scale is now a tone and a haIf which is uncomfortably wide when writing melody. t would be better if
we could widen the interval between the fifth and sixth degrees, from a semitone to a tone, and narrow the interval between
the sixth and seventh degrees, to a tone. The row then becomes A, B, C, D, E, F sharp, G sharp, A and the interval sequence
becomes tone-semitone-tone-tone-tone-tone-semitone. Did you notice that this is just the major scaIe on A, but with a
flattened third (C sharp in the major scaIe, C natural in our new minor scaIe)?

What distinguishes the new meIodic minor scaIe from the harmonic minor scaIe in the previous section is that the scaIe is
not the same down as it is up. When a melody moves down the scale from the tonic to the leading note below it it does not
matter whether the interval is a tone or a semitone. This only matters when the melody moves up, from the leading note to the
tonic. ndeed, the 'pull' from the flattened sixth to the dominant (the fifth) is of greater importance. The falling meIodic minor
scaIe in the key of A minor is the rising natural minor scale we introduced at the top of the page but in reverse. The falling
meIodic minor scaIe is A, G, F, E, D, C, B, A.
The falling scale can also be thought of as the rising scale but with a flattened sixth and seventh.

ReIative & ParaIIeI Major & Minor :: top
Starting on different key notes we can work out the note rows for all twelve harmonic minor and meIodic minor scaIes. We
find that in each case there is a minor key with the same key signature as a corresponding major key. These are set out in
the table below.
Key signature Major Key Minor Key
no sharps or flats C major a minor
1 sharp G major e minor
2 sharps D major b minor
3 sharps A major f sharp minor
4 sharps E major c sharp minor
5 sharps B major g sharp minor
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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6 sharps F sharp major d sharp minor
7 sharps C sharp major a sharp minor
1 flat F major d minor
2 flats B flat major g minor
3 flats E flat major c minor
4 flats A flat major f minor
5 flats D flat major b flat minor
6 flats G flat major e flat minor
7 flats C flat major a flat minor
The progression of increasing sharp keys has a standard upward 'shift' of a perfect fifth, i.e. seven semitones. So G is a fifth
above C and F sharp is a fifth above B natural. The progression of increasingly flat keys has a standard upward 'shift' of a
perfect fourth, i.e. five semitones, although this is actually arrived at by 'shifting' downwards a perfect fifth, i.e. seven
semitones. n the diatonic scale 7 and 5 are called 'complementary' because they total to 12, the number of semitones in the
perfect octave. The interval from C to F is a fourth, as is the interval from D flat to G flat.
f you take the keys with the same letter name and add the number of accidentals in the two key signatures, the result is always
7. So the 'accidental' numbers for A major, 3 sharps, and A flat major, 4 flats, total 7. This is also true with the minor keys. This
provides a welcome 'rule of thumb' when trying to remember the number of accidentals in the more sharp or flat key signatures.

When trying to remember the accidentals themselves for major keys observe that the key name of sharp keys is one semitone
above the last applied sharp accidental. So in G major, the accidental is a semitone lower F sharp. n D major, the accidentals
are F sharp and then C sharp, the latter a semitone below D. For the flat keys, the key name is the last but one applied
accidental. So B flat major has two flats, B flat and then E flat, the earlier naming the key. This makes it easy to read the key of
a piece of music from the accidental. Be careful though that you are in a major key and not in a minor key.
t is a 'convention' widely used to show the key-notes of minor keys in lower case and those of major keys in upper case or
capital letters.
Because the key signatures for A flat major and f minor are identical, f minor is said to be the reIative minor to A flat major
and A flat major is said to be the reIative major to f minor. However, this 'relationship' is specious. The real 'relatives' are the
pairs of keys with the same key note - for example, A flat major and a flat minor. These are called paraIIeI keys. The pair can
also be termed tonic major and tonic minor to indicate the common tonic or key note.
n baroque dance suites, dances may occur in pairs, i.e. two minuets or two gavottes, where one is written in the major key and
the other is written in the minor key with the same key note. n such cases, the composer may ask the performer to repeat the
first of the pair, placing the second between two performances of the first.

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The Diatonic ScaIe :: top
ntervals between notes that form the scaIe of a particular key are said to be diatonic. This applies to major and minor
scaIes. Notes that are not part of these scales are said to be chromatic - those notes are chromatic notes.
Let us look at a few examples.
n the key of C the notes D, E flat, E, F, G, A flat, A, B flat and B are diatonic because they appear in one or more of the major,
natural minor, melodic minor or harmonic minor scales. n this key, any other note will be chromatic.
When examining the relationship between notes, the key is a vital element. n the key of C, D sharp will be a chromatic note.
However, in the key of E, both C and D sharp are diatonic because both appear in the scale of E harmonic minor.
We have more to say on this in the next Iesson.
Do not confuse chromatic notes with chromatic scaIes. We have already met the chromatic scaIe, one example of a
symmetrical scale, those constructed from a repeating pattern of intervals (in this case, a semitone). Some notes of a
chromatic scaIe are chromatic to the key note (in this case the first note) while others are diatonic. We will meet other
symmetrical scales in Iesson 25.
The terms diatonic and chromatic can be extended to any groups of notes, musical phrases, scale passages, chords and
harmonies as we shall find later. What is important is that diatonic passage tends to have a sense of key about them. When
chromatic notes are introduced, the sense of key is generally weakened.
The Chromatic ScaIe :: top
The problem with the chromatic scale is that there is no widely used notational 'convention' and problems occur when
chromatic scaIe progressions occur within pieces of music in different keys. There is no universal notation that remains
unvaried as one moves from key to key. Composers have been strikingly inconsistent in this area. t has been left to music
theorists to offer various suggestions but these have been ignored by composers.
Two types of chromatic scaIe have been suggested the harmonic and the meIodic.
The Harmonic Chromatic ScaIe :: top
The harmonic chromatic scaIe is the same whether rising or falling and includes all the notes in the major, harmonic minor
or meIodic minor scaIes plus flattened second and sharpened fourth degrees. This leads to a single fifth, single tonic key-
note, single octave key-note and pairs of every other degree. This means that the notation of a harmonic chromatic scaIe
varies according to the key signature.
We give an example below - the harmonic chromatic scaIe in C.

To listen to the harmonic chromatic scaIe in C press the play button displayed below.
The MeIodic Chromatic ScaIe :: top
The meIodic chromatic scaIe is more problematic because there is a general lack of agreement as to how they should be
written. As with any chromatic scale, the interval between successive notes is a semitone. The way the notes are written,
however, is left to personal taste. For this reason we have given no example. n every case, the ascending and descending
versions are different (for example, the rising scale might be written with naturals and sharps while the falling scale is written
with naturals and flats) and they will vary according to whether the key is major or minor. The main notes are still drawn from
all the notes of the major and both minor scaIes. To find the remaining notes, the only clear rule is that no note name should
be used more than twice in succession and the first, fifth and eighth degrees can be repeated.
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Chapter 12 - INTERVALS
Degrees of the ScaIe :: top













n Iesson 8 we first mentioned the degrees of the scale. f we take the major scaIe of C, the key note C is called the 'first
degree of the scale', D is the 'second degree of the scale', and so on. f we move to another key note, the note row will be
composed of different notes but the relationship between the notes in the row will remain unchanged.
The 'degrees of the scale' have their own names.
Degree Name - Definition
1 or First Tonic - the key note
2 or Second Supertonic - the note above the tonic
3 or Third Mediant - the note between the tonic and dominant (the middle of a 5th counting up from the tonic)
4 or Fourth Subdominant - the note a perfect fifth below the tonic
5 or Fifth Dominant - the note a perfect fifth above tonic
6 or Sixth
Submediant - the note between the tonic and subdominant (the middle of a 5th counting down from
the tonic)
7 or
Leading Note - the note a semitone (half step) below the tonic, leads to tonic
8 or Eighth Tonic - the key note
The Latin prefixes super-, meaning 'above' and sub-, meaning 'below' feature prominently in the naming of the degrees of the
scale. The dominant is a fifth above the tonic while the subdominant is a fifth below the tonic. So, for example, when C is the
tonic, a 5th above the tonic is G (dominant) and the note a 5th below the tonic is F.

Similarly, for the mediant, except that it is a 3rd above and below the tonic rather than a fifth. The 7th degree of the scale (the
Leading Note) is also known as the subtonic, which happens to be a 2nd below the tonic while the supertonic is a 2nd above
the tonic.

MeIodic & Harmonic IntervaIs :: top
We could consider the note row in terms of 'intervals' rather than 'degrees'. n a crude sense we have already done this when
we found that the major scaIe is made up of the 'interval' sequence tone-tone-semitone-tone-tone-tone-semitone. What we
have not done, however, is consider the interval between the key note and each of the other notes of the scaIe, whether
played in sequence, called a meIodic intervaI or when played as two notes together to produce a harmonic intervaI. t is
important to realise that when we calculate intervals we treat the lower note as being fixed and the upper note being variable.
n the case of a meIodic intervaI this is true whether the upper precede the lower note or the lower precedes the upper in the

Unisons and Octaves :: top
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f we imagine a second note sounding at the same time as the key-note, we could ask ourselves what is the interval between
them? The simplest interval we can consider is the interval between two identical notes - e.g. C and C. The interval is called
the unison, the perfect unison or the perfect prime. We can also say that the notes are 'in unison'. The interval from C to C
sharp is called the augmented unison or the augmented prime - 'unison' because the note names are the same (both C's),
'augmented' because the interval is one semitone greater than a 'perfect' unison; the interval from C to C flat is called the
diminished unison or the diminished prime. Although C flat sounds 'lower' than C, the two notes are both C's and therefore
the interval remains a variety of unison. f we now consider the interval between our key-note C and any other C, we would
say that the interval is one, two three or more octaves depending on which C is the upper note; for example, the eighth degree
of the scale is one octave above the key-note.

Diatonic IntervaIs :: top
What we call the simple intervals, we illustrate below. n each case the key-note is middle C. On the first line, each degree of
an ascending C major scale except the first is placed over the key-note, middle C. We show the names of the intervals below
the line. All intervals that are not perfect (unison, fourth, fifth and octave) are called 'major', i.e. forming part of the major scale.
n the second line (note the change of key signature) we have set out the harmonic minor scaIe of C minor above middle C.
Only two intervals are different from those on the first line - the third (C to E flat - note the key signature) and the sixth (C to A
flat - again, note the key signature). Each of these two upper notes is lower by one semitone than that in the major scale in line
1. For this reason the intervals are said to be 'minor'. Lines 3 and 4 (also with a three flat key signature) are the ascending and
descending meIodic minor scaIes. Only the minor seventh is new - the upper note is one semitone lower than that in the
major scale - and the interval is said to be 'minor'. The perfect intervaIs remain unchanged as one moves from the major to
either of the minor scales.

f the key note is changed and the proper scales, major, harmonic minor and melodic minor, are set out as above, the
sequence of intervals would remain the same for each scale. t is the sequence of intervals that characterises the three scales
and these are unchanged as the key-note is changed.

Chromatic IntervaIs :: top
All the intervals we discussed in the previous section are diatonic because the notes involved belong to one of the major or
minor scales; all intervals involving notes that do not belong to one of these scales are called chromatic. For example, the
interval 'C to C#' is chromatic because C and C# cannot belong to the same scale - remember the rule, when writing major or
minor scales, each degree of the scale must have a different note name. The interval 'C to D flat' is diatonic because these
two notes do occur in several scales.
f a major or perfect interval is widened by sharpening the upper note a further semitone the interval is said to be augmented.
f a minor or perfect interval is narrowed by flattening the upper note a further semitone the interval is said to be diminished.
Perfect intervals and major/minor intervals behave slightly differently when 'sharpened' or 'flattened' as the table below

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sharpen one semitone - move up
augmented augmented


flatten one semitone - move down

The rules for naming intervals are given below.
1 ntervals are named from note to note, in the key of the lower note, and from the lower note. For example,
intervals from C to G double flat, G flat, G, G sharp or G double sharp are all fifths because C to G is a fifth. They
are, in order: double diminished fifth, diminished fifth, perfect fifth, augmented fifth, double augmented fifth. f the
G double sharp is written as an A (its enharmonic equivalent) the interval is now a sixth - because the interval C
to A is a sixth; in fact it is a major sixth.
2 The sequence for perfect intervals (unisons, octaves, fourths and fifths) is double diminished - diminished - perfect
- augmented - double augmented as the interval to the key-note is increasingly widened.
3 The sequence for major and minor intervals (seconds, thirds, sixths and sevenths) is double diminished -
diminished - minor - major - augmented - double augmented as the interval to the key-note is increasingly
t is important to understand that we are talking about the way theorists notate intervals. They are not interested in the 'sound'
of the 'interval', only in the way is 'looks' on the page. For example, the interval 'C to G' is a perfect fifth while the interval 'C to A
double flat' is a diminished sixth, but to the listener, the two intervals played on a modern piano, sound identical. Many
'intervals' have enharmonic equivalents but, for the sake of consistency, theorists stick to naming rules that distinguish between
them. f you 'heard' them without reference to a score, rather than 'read' them from the page, many of the more exotic interval
name distinctions would be quite irrelevent.
The collective name quaIity is given to the terms major, minor, augmented, diminished and perfect.
The Tritone :: top
Before passing on to compound intervals, we should examine one particular interval called the tritone, an interval made up of
three whole tones (six semitones), the only interval that is the same as its inverse. n early music theory this interval was
avoided. The entry for "tritone" in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians traces the tradition of this interval as the
"devil in music" (diabolus in musica) to mediaeval times and J. J. Fux (1725), in his famous counterpoint treatise Gradus ad
Parnassum, gives the traditional rule against a direct melodic leap of a tritone under the more general axiom Mi contra fa
diabolus est diabolus in musica.
However, the story is more complicated. n 1357, Johannes Boen classified the tritone as a consonantia per accidens, i.e. a
'consonance by circumstance'. Specifically, he finds either the tritone or the diminished fourth acceptable when it is
accompanied by a lower minor third, e.g. e-g-c#, and likewise for the diminished fourth d-f#-bb. The perfect fourth is likewise in
this category of "situational consonance" (to use a modern expression) when accompanied by an octave and lower fifth, e.g. d-
Tritones in early music: Were they always prohibited? by Margo SchuIter.
The summary above is drawn from her article.
Compound IntervaIs :: top
ntervals continue beyond the octave. They are named 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and so on. ntervals beyond the octave are called
compound intervaIs. A major 12th, which is an octave plus a fifth can be called a 'compound perfect 5th'. Note that because
the octave note is included in both intervals, the intervals do not obey the rules of arithmetical addition. Normal arithmetic tells
us that 8 + 5 = 13 but the arithmetic of intervals shows us that 8ve + 5th = 12th. This is because the note at the top of the 8ve
is repeated as the note at the bottom of the 5th. We only need to include it once in the compound interval of a 12th.
Compound intervaIs can have all the qualities (diminished, minor, major, augmented, perfect) we have already met with
smaller intervals.
8ve plus 2nd (octave plus second) 9th not in triad - see extended chords
8ve plus 3rd (octave plus third) 10th harmonically like a 3rd of a triad
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8ve plus 4th (octave plus fourth) 11th not in triad - see extended chords
8ve plus 5th (octave plus fifth) 12th harmonically like a 5th of a triad
8ve plus 6th (octave plus sixth) 13th not in triad - see extended chords
8ve plus 7th (octave plus seventh) 14th
harmonically like a 7th - see sevenths and
seventh chords
ntervals beyond the thirteenth are of use only to theorists.
TabIe of IntervaIs :: top
The following table lists the names of the most common intervals by number of semitones (half steps) in the interval. The
quality of the intervals is shown by P for perfect, M for major, m for minor, d for diminished and A for augmented.
nterval in
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
nterval P1 m2 M2 m3 M3 P4 d5 P5 m6 M6 m7 M7 P8
d2 A1 d3 A2 d4 A3 A4 d6 A5 d7 A6 d8 A7
You should remember that diminished intervals may be denoted by d, dim. or
. Augmented intervals can be denoted by A,
Aug. or
Everything written above is fine when one is using scales based on 12 divisions of the octave, a scale built on combinations of
tones (whole steps) and semitones (half-steps). The common Western musical scales are of this type. f you want to notate
scales with a greater number of divisions and incorporating microtones, the naming protocol becomes very complicated. This
problem is discussed in the two references given below.
A Note on the Naming of Musical ntervals by David C Keenan, 29-Nov-1999 last updated 3-Nov-2001,
ntervals in 31 Note Equal Temperament by Graham Breed
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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Inversion of IntervaIs :: top
When discussing intervals, their degree (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) and their quality (diminished, minor, major, etc.), we stressed the
importance of working from the lower note and treating it like a key-note, so that all intervals are relative to the key-note.
However, there will be occasions when particular dispositions of notes can be considered as inversions. For example, if two
melodic lines are placed one above the other and the parts 'cross' so that some notes of the upper part (A) which generally lie
above those of the lower part (B) now lie below those of part (B), we might want to discuss the intervals as being inverted. The
chart below summarises the way this is done.

We can summarise the general rules for 'renaming' intervals that have been inverted.
1 a 2nd becomes a 7th, a 3rd becomes a 6th, and so on
2 perfect intervals remain perfect
3 major intervals becomes minor intervals
4 minor intervals becomes major intervals
5 augmented intervals becomes diminished intervals
6 diminished intervals become augmented intervals

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Chapter 14 OTHER CLEFS
Soprano & Mezzo-Soprano CIefs :: top
We begin by reminding you of the position of the three clefs that we met first in lesson 1. They are the trebIe, bass and aIto

The treble clef marks the G above middle C on the second line from the bottom of the five line stave, the alto clef marks middle
C as the centre line on the five line stave, and the bass clef marks the F below middle C as the second line from the top of the
five line stave.
Notation in any field should be intuitive, clear and easy to follow. As we have already noticed, once the musical line goes above
or below the five lines of the stave we have to use Ieger lines to mark their pitch. t is easy enough to read at speed one or two
Ieger lines but the performer is prone to greater and greater error the further one moves away from the stave. Also, the greater
the space taken by each musical line to accommodate large numbers of Ieger lines the more inefficient in terms of spce the
notation becomes. The introduction of cIef signs allowed composers to set the music mainly within the five lines and four
spaces of a stave. Changes of cIef within the musical line could also accommodate passages that might otherwise call for a lot
of Ieger lines. Vocal lines, in particular, while narrow in range, were more economically notated by using special cIefs. We
have already met the alto cIef which is a C cIef (i.e. a cIef that sets the note middle C). t was used formerly for the alto voice
but today it is most commonly found in music for the viola. The soprano clef, setting middle C on the bottom line of the five line
stave, and the mezzo-soprano clef, setting middle C on the second from the bottom line of the five line stave, were two other
'vocal' clefs.

Tenor CIef :: top
For the tenor voice, the tenor clef was employed although today it is more commonly found in music for the larger tenor and
bass viols, some brass instruments (e.g. tenor trombone) and when playing higher notes on the violoncello or bass. The clef is
also required for playing much of the bassoon repertoire (thanks to Christopher Rosevear for e-mailing us about this). Some of
the instruments mentioned are: cello, bassoon, bass and trombone. The tenor clef is used to avoid excessive leger lines when
notating very high passages for instruments that normally have their parts written in bass clef.
n this clef middle C is placed on the second line from the top of the five line stave.

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Baritone & Subbass CIefs :: top
The bass clef, an F clef, also has two varients called the baritone and subbass clefs.
The baritone cIef sets F below middle F on the 3rd line of a five line stave, while the subbass cIef sets the F below middle C
on the 5th line of the five line stave.

French VioIin CIef :: top
n the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a special clef was used for violin music, particularly that published in France. For
this reason it is known as the 'French Violin Clef' although it was even more commonly used for flute music. Being a G cIef
rather than a C cIef, it sets the position of the G above middle C - in this case, on the bottom line of the five line stave.

Octave CIefs :: top
Even with the freedom to move C, G and even F cIefs around on the five line stave, you will find occasions when the musical
line is still too high or too low to fit neatly onto the five line stave. A useful device that overcomes this problem is one that
moves the musical line up or down an octave. The music is read as though at one octave but sounds either an octave higher or
an octave lower than it is written. This can be done with any of the three cIef signs (the C, F and G), placed in any position on
the stave. We have illustrated two, using the treble G cIef. The first, with a small figure 8 placed above the cIef sign, tells us
that the music will sound one octave higher than it is written. The second, with a small figure 8 placed below the cIef sign, tells
us that the music will sound one octave lower than it is written. The first cIef is commonly used to notate music for the descant
(or soprano) recorder. The boxed text below each stave confirms the sounding pitch of the G marked beside the stave.

t should be mentioned that while the use of these kind of cIef signs is 'good practice' many editions ignore the additional figure
8 and use the plain sign without the figure 8 which is then 'understood'.
Another 'octave down' clef is shown below although it is rarely seen today except in old editions.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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Indefinite Pitch CIef :: top
Where the pitch of notes is indeterminate as with untuned percussion special clef signs are used. We illustrate them below.

With percussion writing you will find composers using staves with anything from one to five lines. Single lines will refer to a
named individual percussion instrument while multiple line staves will assign specific instruments to various lines which makes
it easier for percussionists to play many instruments at the same time, for example, drummers playing on drum kits which
include cymbals, side drums and bass drum, all in use at the same time.
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SimpIe & Compound Time :: top
We had a preliminary look at time signatures in Iesson 4.
A great deal of music, particularly that from the Western musical tradition, has an underlying puIse or beat. Think of the beat
as something 'you tap your foot to' when you are listening to a piece of music. Bar-Iines and time signatures are used to
make the underlying rhythm, the pattern of beats of differing weight (strong, medium, weak), clearer to the performer. So, for
example, a bouree which has four beats in a bar starts on the last beat; the gavotte, also written with four beat in a bar, starts
on the third beat. Neither of these, unclear where bar-Iines are absent, would not be clearer with bar-Iines written into the
Sometimes time signatures might mislead the performer and we have adopted a 'convention' about how different time
signatures relate to particular underlying rhythmic structures. This illustrated by the three scores below. Two of these are the
same piece of music written in two different ways.

This score is in 'three'; we have marked the three beats with dotted bar-Iines. The beat is a crotchet and the time signature
tells us that there are three crotchets in each bar. This is an example of simpIe time; the main beat can be divided into two
inner beats, in this case quavers.

This score is written in six but 'felt' in two; we have marked the pulse with dotted bar-Iines. The beat is actually a dotted
crotchet but the beat is divided into three quavers. Therefore, each bar contains six quavers. This is an example of compound
time; the main beat can be divided into three inner beats, in this case quavers.

The third score has a compound time signature. A performer would be confused - should the piece be in two or in three. f
the piece is to be played 'three in a bar' then it should be notated in three, as it was in the first example.
We can list various time signatures as simpIe time signatures or compound time signatures.
Beats per Bar
Time Signature
Time Signature
dotted crochet
dotted crotchet
dotted crotchet

Uneven/AsymmetricaI Time :: top
The formal distinction between simple and compound time becomes blurred particularly in the folk music of central Europe and
Asia Minor where the pattern of dances steps is complex. Time signatures in which the number of notes in the bar is odd (i.e. 5,
7, 9, 11, 13, 15, etc.) are common. The uneven numbers break down into shorter inner groups of either simple or compound
rhythms. So 5 will break down into a group of 2 followed by a group of 3 or, alternatively, a group of 3 followed by a group of 2.
This pattern may change from bar to bar. A good editor will note the inner groups clearly so that the performer can quickly
ascertain how the internal rhythmic forms should be accented by placing strong beats at the beginning of each of the inner
groupings. Jazz and folk-inspired classical music makes use of uneven time signatures and is the richer for it.
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TripIets :: top
There will be occasions when using a simpIe time signature one wants to subdivide a beat into three. The triplet notation lets
you to do this.

To listen to this piece, called TripIets, press the play button displayed below. The tripIe notation has been shown in two ways -
one, with the number 3 over the group of three quavers; the other, with a bracket as well as the number. The three quavers are
played in the time of two quavers, in other words the three quavers divide a crotchet into three equal parts. We read the
notation as meaning 'three notes in the time of two'. Any note can be divided in this way. For example, three crotchets can
be played in the time of a minim. Any of the three notes can be a rest or can itself be combined with other notes or broken up
into shorter notes.
Why not listen to two examples of the tripIet rhythm used to great effect. The first is a ten bar extract from AIbinoni's
Concerto for Two Oboes and Strings.
Notice, in particular, when the tripIet rhythm is being played against the quaver rhythm in another line in bars 4, 5 and 6.
Here you will Iind notes tied into and between triplets, triplets containing rests and triplets
with minims as well as crotchets.
DupIets :: top
Where tripIets are used in simpIe time to divide beatsinto three parts. dupIets are used in compound time to divide beats
into two parts. The notation is very similar except that the number 2 appears above the group which is shorthand for 'two notes
in the time of three'.
We give an example below.
Other-Iets :: top
The division of notes into smaller notes using tripIets and dupIets can be extended to irregular groups of even larger number.
Again, like in so much else, there are 'notational' conventions for writing such grouping and these are listed below. As with
tripIets the groupings can include rests and notes of different value. The 'convention' tells us the total time vaIue of the group
as written and as pIayed.
rregular Divisions in Simple Time
3 notes are written in the time of 2 of the same note
example: 3 quavers in the time of 2 quavers.
5, 6 and 7 notes are written in the time of 4 of the same note
example: 5 quavers in the time of 4 quavers.
9, 10, 11, 13 and 15 notes are written in the time of 8 of the same note
example: 13 quavers in the time of 8 quavers.
rregular Divisions in Compound Time
2 notes are written in the time of 3 of the same note
example: 2 quavers in the time of 3 quavers.
4 notes are written in the time of 3 of the same note but also in the time of 3 beats of
double the time value.
example: 4 quavers in the time of 3 quavers; but sometimes 4 semiquavers in the time of 3
The irregular division of compound time is rare and notational 'conventions' are fluid. Simple time division is much more
common and this has given time for composers and music publishers to follow and keep to a set of 'notational conventions'.

Grouping Notes and Rests :: top
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 61 oI 169
t would be useful to set out the standard 'conventions' for notating music written in simpIe or compound time.
Simple Time
1 Avoid or minimise ties.
f the beat is a crotchet:
beam quavers through the whole of the bar in 2 or 3 crotchets per bar;
if the signature is 4 crotchets per bar, divide the beaming into two groups, separating the
second beat from the third.
f the beat is a crotchet:
semiquavers are beamed into crotchet groups;
demisemiquavers are beamed into half quaver groups.
Keep rests to a minimum but make clear the rhythmic structure of the bar, just as with
notes (see above).
5 Beaming can continue over rests although this is best used only over a single beat.
Compound Time
Avoid or minimise ties but try to preserve internal rhythmic structure by not using notation
that misleads the eye. For example, in 6 the internal structure of the compound time
signature is 2 not 3; in 12, 4 not 6.
f the beat is a dotted crotchet:
beam quavers through the whole of the bar in 1 dotted crotchet per bar;
if the signature is 2, 3 or 4 dotted crotchets per bar, divide the beaming into groups of
dotted crotchets.
f the beat is a dotted crotchet:
semiquavers are beamed into dotted crotchet groups;
demisemiquavers are beamed into quaver or dotted crotchet groups.
Keep rests to a minimum but make clear the rhythmic structure of the bar, just as with
notes (see above).
A dotted crotchet rest can be shown as a crotchet rest follow by a quaver rest but should
not be shown as a quaver rest follow by a crotchet rest. A quaver note followed by two
quaver rests should be shown as such but two quaver rests followed by a quaver note is
best shown as a crochet rest followed by a quaver note.

How We 'Say' Time Signatures :: top
n England we name time signatures as follows:
Three crotchets (quarter notes) in a bar (measure) is called "three-four" time - it is an example of simple triple time;
Four minims (half notes) in a bar (measure) is called "four-two" time - it is an example of simple quadruple time;
Six quavers (eighth notes) in a bar (measure) is called "six-eight time" - it is an example of compound duple time.

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Chapter 16 TRIADS & CHORDS

Concord & Discord :: top
The difference between what we would call music and what we would regard as noise is a matter of personal taste. We might
use words like concordant and discordant to distinguish the acceptable from the unacceptable. Musical theorists have a
particular technical use for the two words concord and discord when applied to 'harmony', the sound of three or more notes
played simultaneously. We have always been aware of 'tunes' or 'melodies' but what distinguishes Western music from that of
many other cultures, is the development of 'harmony' either through the interweaving of other musical lines around and about
the 'melody line' (what we call 'counterpoint') or by supporting the 'melody line' with a progression of 'chords', groups of notes
sounding simultaneously.
Some harmonic intervaIs have a 'sweeter' sound than others - we call them concords. The perfect concords are the
unison, the 5th, the inverse of the 5th (the 4th), and the octave. The imperfect concords are the major 3rd, minor 3rd and their
respective inverses, the minor 6th and major 6th. All the remaining intervals as termed discords with one, the augmented 4th,
having its own name, the tritone (meaning 'three tones'; the interval is six semitones wide - e.g. c to f#). Mediaeval theorists
considered this interval so unpleasant that it was strictly forbidden and known as the diabolus in musica.
At this point we should draw attention to what Descartes, the French philosopher, writing, on the 4th March 1630 to his friend
Marin Mersenne, has to say about 'sweetness' in music:
"... it is one thing to say that one consonance is sweeter than another, another thing to say it is more pleasing. Everyone knows
that honey is sweeter than olives, yet many would prefer to eat olives, not honey. Thus, everyone knows that the fifth is
sweeter than the fourth, the fourth sweeter than the major third, this in turn sweeter than the minor third. Yet there are places in
which the minor third is more pleasing than the fifth; others indeed, where a dissonance is more pleasing than a consonance."
We have already mentioned how the 'leading note' in a major scale 'pulls' the melodic line towards the tonic, one semitone
higher. Chords too, give a sense of movement to a melody. When the intervals are concords the chord feels stable. Chords
with discords call out to be 'resolved' as individual notes move up or down to form concords. For this reason we must
understand that a chord may have both a form and a function. We will consider this further when we discuss progressions.

Triads :: top
We examined intervaIs in an earlier lesson. ntervals are always made up of two notes. We now want to discuss 'chords' and,
particularly, chords made up of three notes chosen in a particular way. These 'chords' are called triads. The triad is made up of
the root, which is the lowest note in the chord, together with the 3rd and 5th above it. f the root is one of the degrees of a
major or minor scale then the triads are given roman numerals or names identifying that degree, in the following way:
(tonic triad), (supertonic triad), (mediant triad), V (subdominant triad), V (dominant triad), V (submediant triad), V
(leading note triad)
The tonic (), subdominant (V) and dominant (V) triads are called primary, the remainder are called secondary.

n addition, the triads are classified according to the quaIity of the 3rd or 5th; i.e. whether diminished (for 3rd or 5th), major (for
3rd), minor (for 3rd) or augmented (for 3rd or 5th).
Major triad (unmarked or marked 'ma'): major 3rd with a perfect 5th
Minor triad (marked 'mi' or numbered with lower case roman numeral): minor 3rd with a perfect 5th
Augmented triad (marked + or 'aug'): major 3rd with an augmented 5th
Diminished triad (marked

or 'dim'): minor 3rd and a diminished 5th

The notes in a triad can be arranged so that the root is no longer the lowest note of the three. f the 3rd is the lowest note, the
triad is said to be a 'first inversion' (using roman notation, denoted by an additional 'b'; e.g. 'Vb') and when the 5th is the lowest
note, the triad is said to be a 'second inversion' (using roman notation, denoted by an additional 'c'; e.g. 'Vc'). For
completeness, the root position may be denoted by an additional 'a'.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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Triads where all the notes lie in positions closest to the other notes in the chord, are said to be in 'close' position, otherwise
the triads are said to be in 'open' position.
Let us now summarise the triad harmonisation of the major and natural minor scales using numbered chords:

Notice the sign in front of , V and V in the minor scale. The minor scale is named 'relative' to the major scale on the same
key-note. The use of accidental signs in front of numbered chords should be understood to refer to 'raising' or 'lowering' notes
in the chord and not necessarily the use of a 'sharp' or 'flat' sign to achieve this. So a 'sharpened' B flat becomes B natural, i.e.
'raised' or 'sharpened' by a semitone.
Let us finish by listening to each of these types of triad.

Diatonic Triads :: top
One question that has been asked about triads is 'what is the strict meaning of diatonic triad?'
When, earlier, we discussed the difference between chromatic and diatonic notes we pointed out that notes in the major and
minor scales of a particular key note are diatonic while those that do not appear in these scales are 'chromatic' (see lesson 11
- the diatonic scale). So in the key of C, E natural and E flat are diatonic but E sharp is chromatic.
A triad is a chord with three notes and three intervaIs. When written in its close root position - the lowest note is the root - the
lowest and the middle notes are an intervaI of a third apart and the middle to the highest notes are an intervaI of a third
apart. The intervaI between the lowest and the highest notes is a fifth. So, a triad, written in its close root position, is formed
from two thirds placed within a fifth.
The root functions as the key note when determining whether or not the other two notes in the triad are diatonic or chromatic
and therefore whether the triad is diatonic or not. f the root is C and the triad is [C - E - G] or [C - E flat - G], then the triads
are diatonic, because E, E flat and G all appear in scales on C. The triads [C - E - G sharp] and [C - E flat - G flat] are not
diatonic because neither G sharp nor G flat appear in the major or minor scales on C.

Chords :: top
Chords can exist in isolation but Western music uses them in progression. We need to understand how they relate to one
another. This becomes increasingly important as our chords are made up of a greater number of notes. We need to distinguish
'close' and 'open' harmonies (as with triads), chords where notes are repeated at different pitches, and chords where 'extra'
notes are included (i.e. 7th, 9th, etc.). As we increase the number of different notes we find that the same arrangement of
notes can be 'named' in more than one way and there are many more possible 'inversions'.
Diatonic triads to which a seventh is added are called 'diatonic 7th' chords and are marked
. For example, V
a, from which the
'a' is usually omitted, i.e. V
, is a dominant 7th in root position while V
d is a dominant 7th, fourth inversion.
The 3rd above the root of the dominant chord in minor keys (which is the 7th degree or leading note of the scale) is always
raised a semitone. Let us finish by summarising the harmonisation in sevenths of the major scale using numbered chords:

( 5)
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, as we saw above, is shorthand for 'diminished';

and the harmonisation in sevenths of the natural minor scale using numbered chords:
( 5) IIIma

These points are examined in greater detail in lesson 17.

Chords in Jazz :: top
Practical chord notation can be much simpler than that used by musical theorists because far fewer chord patterns are met in
real life than can be imagined by the fevered mind of an academic.
n jazz, the root of the triad is named with a capital letter, with the addition of 'm' meaning minor (major being understood), '+'
or 'aug' if augmented and 'o' or 'dim' if diminished. The 3rd and 5th of the triad can be easily deduced so that it is only
necessary to identify additional notes with small numbers.
Thus in Cmaj
the major 7th has been added to the triad C, E and G, while in C
it is the minor 7th that has been added to the
triad C, E and G.
The performer is free to indulge in melodic and harmonic extemporisation and for this reason jazz notation is not prescriptive -
rather it is descriptive of general ideas that might arise from the shape of a melody or from a chord progression. We will return
again to these points in lesson 17.

Broken & Spread Chords :: top
Chords do not have to be played as solid 'blocks' of sound. The performer can spread the chords out into a succession of notes
each of which forms the original chord but which are now turned into a 'harmonic' melody. This was a device used often in the
seventheenth and eighteenth centuries. The excerpt below produces animation from a sequence of broken chords over a
repeated D root in the bass. The bass D is placed high in the chord so that the chords are actually being heard successively in
the tenor line in root position, as a first inversion, then a second inversion and finally in root position again an octave higher.
This excerpt is from a work for recorders in The DoImetsch Library.
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Page 65 oI 169
Seventh Chords :: top
n the previous lesson we introduced the nomenclature used to identify different chords. We met terms such as major, minor,
augmented, diminished, dominant, dominant seventh, and so forth. These names are part of a system that defines the
quality of chords by how various intervals of a third are built one upon another.
There is one aspect of chord naming that causes many people considerable problems. Music theory sometimes names chords
according to how they are constructed - one might call this the structuraI approach. However, it can also name chords
according to the role they play in a particular harmonic progression - one might call that the functionaI approach. A student of
music theory should be familiar with both approaches so that you can appreciate the benefits of understanding what chords are
as well as what they do.
This point is particularly important because different publishers work within different naming traditions and can use different
naming styles: East Coast, West Coast, Nashville and so on.
n this lesson we are going to introduce more 'exotic' chords, show how they may be notated and how they might be used.
We discussed earlier the chord numbering of each degree of the C major scale harmonised in sevenths. Let us look at these
chords again in greater detail. To hear these chords press the play button in the bar below.

The first and fourth are major seventh chords, the second, third and sixth are minor seventh chords, the fifth is a dominant
seventh chord while the last, the seventh, is called a minor seventh fIat five chord.
The harmonised natural minor scale in sevenths is shown below. To hear these chords press the play button in the bar below.

The four chord types we met with the harmonisation of the major scale in sevenths occur again but in a different order.
We summarise below the seventh chords that arise from harmonising major, natural, melodic and harmonic minor scales.
Chord Name Triad Seventh Abbreviation Other Comments
Dominant Seventh major minor Mm7
The most common type of 7th chord having the
simplest name, just the number 7 added to the
root letter.
For example: C7, F7, E7 all indicate dominant
7th chords.
Major Seventh major major MM7
Named with the abbreviation Ma7
For example: CMa7, EMa7, F#Ma7 indicate
major 7th chords.
The abbreviation M7 may also be used. For
example: CM7
Minor Seventh minor minor mm7
Named with the addition of mi7 or -7 to the letter
For example: Cmi7, Gmi7, Dmi7 all indicate
minor 7th chords.
C-7, D-7, A-7 may also be used.
Diminished Seventh diminished diminished dd7 Named with the small raised circle and a 7.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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(also called Fully Diminished
For example: C7, B7, and D7 all indicate a
fully diminished 7th chord.
Half Diminished Seventh
(also called Minor Seventh Flat Five)
diminished minor dm7
The name relates them to the minor 7th, but with
a lowered or flattened 5th.
For example: Cmi7(b5), Ami7(b5) indicate half
diminished chords.
Note: Sometimes half diminished is indicted by a
small circle with a slash through it. This symbol
is more common in roman numeral analysis
than chord names.
Augmented Triad, Major Seventh
(also called Augmented Seventh)
augmented major aM7
Minor Triad, Major Seventh
(also called Minor Major Seventh)
minor major mM7
We also summarise the degree of the scale where each type of seventh chord occurs.

Natural Minor
Harmonic Minor
Melodic Minor
Dominant 7th. V V V V, V
Major 7th. , V , V V
Minor 7th. , , V , V, V V
Diminished 7th. V
Half Diminished 7th.
Minor 7th Flat 5
V V, V
Augmented 7th
Augmented Triad, Major

Minor Triad, Major Seventh
One area of confusion when naming or identifying seventh chords is the use of the term dominant seventh chord. f you look
at the table above summarising the degree of the scale where each type of seventh chord occurs, you will see that the
dominant seventh need not lie only on the Vth degree of the scale, the degree we call the dominant. ndeed, in the natural
minor scale, the dominant seventh chord lies on the Vth degree not on the Vth degree. The point to remember is that the
dominant seventh chord is any chord formed by adding a minor seventh to a major triad. Remember too that the chord's note
name is determined by its root note. So the chord G A B F is written G7 because the root note is G. G A B is a major triad and
F is the minor seventh above G. This chord, therefore, is a dominant seventh chord. n the key of C major, the notes G B D F
form a seventh chord on the Vth degree, i.e. a dominant seventh on the dominant of the scale. This is also true for the C minor
natural and C minor melodic scales. However, the same notes, G A B F, are a G7 chord and a dominant seventh on the fourth
(Vth) degree of the D melodic minor scale. For completeness, we note finally that the notes G A B F are also a G7 chord and a
dominant seventh on the seventh (Vth) degree of the A natural minor scale.
One useful convention for naming any seventh chord is:
root pitch Ietter, then triad quaIity, then seventh quaIity
For example, an Ab Major Minor 7 chord. The first term (Ab) tells us the root of the chord. The second term (Major) identifies
the quality of the triad that forms the lower three notes of the seventh chord. The third term (Minor) identifies the quality of the
interval of the seventh formed between the root and the seventh.
Long Name Examples Short or Abbreviated Name(s) Chord Notes (root to seventh)
F Major Major 7 FM7, FMaj7, F Major 7 F A C E
F Major Minor 7 F7, also called Dominant 7 F A C Eb
F Minor Major 7 FmM7 F Ab C E
F Minor Minor 7 Fm7, Fmin7, F minor 7 F Ab C Eb
F Diminished Major 7 FdM7 F Ab Cb E
F Diminished Minor 7 F7, Fm7b5 F Ab Cb Eb
F Augmented Major 7 F+M7, FM7#5 F A C# E
F Augmented Minor 7 F+7, F7#5 F A C# Eb
F Diminished 7 F7, Fdim7 F Ab Cb Ebb

Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 67 oI 169
Inverted Chords :: top
While it is easier to number chords assuming that they are in root position and that the notes above the root complete a close
triad or chord, in practice, musicians arrange their chords in a wide variety of ways and we must consider how these might be
described. Even if the chord is in root position, whether the third or the fifth lie lower and which notes are repeated are both
important to the chord's sound. The vertical order of the notes in a chord is called its 'voicing'.
We looked at this point earlier but now we want to consider how inverted chords are notated in popular music. We give some
examples below which you can hear using the play bar below the score.

Note that in each line the chord is the same but progresses through a series of inversions.
On the first line the chord is C major, in root, first and second inversion.
On the second line the chord is a major seventh chord on C in root, first, second and third inversion.
t is actually not good practice to place 'ma' after a major chord. A C major chord should be written C; a C minor chord would
be written Cmi. This allows you to add further major intervals to a major chord as, for example, Cma7, which means a C major
chord with a major 7th - the 'ma' used as a qualifier for the '7' and not for the 'C' where it is understood.

SIash Chords :: top
From the example above you will see that inverted chords can be shown using the notation chord tye, (named or numbered),
then a slash /, then the name (or number) of the bass note, i.e. the note at the bottom of the played chord. This is called 'slash'
For example:
C/E indicates a C major triad with E in the bass, that is a first inversion triad.
Dm/A indicates a D minor triad with A in the bass, that is a second inversion triad.
E7/D indicates E dominant 7th chord with D in the bass, that is in third inversion.
Sometimes you might see numerals used to indicate inversion, D6 for example. This usage is borrowed from roman numeral
analysis symbols. n chord names, numbers are usually used to indicate "added tone" chords; i.e. D6 might mean D major triad
with the added pitch B.
Slash Chords
notation: first: named or numered chord; second: a slash /; third: numbered or
named bass note
for example: C7/E = C major 7th with an E in the bass, in other words first inversion
C major 7th chord
The whole subject of chord notation is covered more fully in Iesson 30
Dansm's Guitar Chord Theory - Slash Chords
Slash Chords for the Guitar
Exploring Slash Chords for Pianists
nteresting Chords for Pianists

Extended Chords (9th, 11th, 13th) :: top
We discussed extended intervals, or extensions, in an earlier lesson. How might we notate the addition of extensions to a
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Page 68 oI 169
The first point to make is that extensions of the tenth and twelve are just thirds and fifths plus an octave. The extensions of real
interest are the ninth, eleventh and thirteenth. The chords are named for the extension; so, ninth chords, eleventh chords and
thirteenth chords. The extensions are added to seventh chords, the quality and function of which is preserved. Thus, a
dominant chord with an added ninth remains a dominant chord.
For those who find the naming of extended chords rather baffling, remember that it is assumed that ninths are added to
seventh chords to produce ninth chords, that eleventh and ninths are both added to seventh chords to produce eleventh chords
and that thirteenths, elevenths and ninths are all added to seventh chords to give thirteenth chords. So if one calls a chord an
eleventh it is assumed that the ninth and eleventh are present and that there is a seventh chord present too.
The quality of the chord is determined by the seventh and the greatest extension names the chord. Thus, a major thirteenth
chord will be a major seventh chord plus a ninth and a thirteenth, while a dominant ninth is a dominant seventh chord plus a
There are a few practical rules about building extended chords. We list these below.
Ninth Chords major ninth is added to all possible seventh chords.
Ninth Chords
Chopin used the addition of an augmented ninth to a dominant seventh in his piano
We illustrate the four ninth chords on C all in root position; in order they are
major ninth (9)
minor ninth (9)
dominant ninth (9) and
minor ninth fIat five (9).
Use the play bar below to listen to them.

add sharpened eleventh to major ninth and dominant ninth chords: sharp 11
add perfect eleventh to minor ninth and minor ninth flat five chords: naturaI 11
We illustrate the four eleventh chords on C all in root position; in order they are
major eIeventh ( 11)
minor eIeventh (11)
dominant eIeventh ( 11) and
minor eIeventh fIat five (11).

if the third is missing then adding an eleventh produces a 'suspended fourth' chord:
sus4 or sus
it is a common mistake to misuse the dominant 11th chord for the dominant 9th
sus4 chord

Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 69 oI 169
major thirteenth is added to the eleventh chords given above
if, to relieve the texture, the eleventh is missing the chord remains a 13th;
if, however, the eleventh is present but altered, this must be shown in the name of
the chord

SpeciaI Chords :: top
We have collected below a number of other chords that feature in modern popular music.
Power Chords Where one wants neutrality as to whether a chord is major or minor, you can
leave out the third. A chord made up only of the key-note and its fifth (maybe
plus octaves up or down) is called a power chord. t is written as the (Ietter
name of the chord) together with the number 5: e.g. G5.
f the third in a chord is changed to a fourth the chord feels as though it is waiting
for the fourth to resolve back to the third. This feeling of suspension gives the
chord its name, a suspended fourth chord. We have already pointed out in the
table above that sometimes suspended fourth chords are mistakenly called
eleventh chords.
Add2 Chords f a second is added to a major or minor triad or to a power chord the chord is
called an add2 chord. A figure 2 is added to the end of the chord name, with a
slash in the case of a power chord.
Augmented &
Diminished Fifth
The fifth is often raised (augmented) or lowered (diminished) in major triads and
dominant seventh chords.
Sixth Chords f a major sixth is added to a major or minor triad the chord is called a sixth
chord. The chord name is followed by a figure 6.
Augmented Sixth
The German augmented 6th chord is derived from the raised subdominant,
whereas the Swiss augmented 6th chord is derived from the raised supertonic
chord. Both chords resolve to the key's dominant chord by way of the I 6-4 chord
(to avoid parallel 5ths). The progression is: German aug. 6th (or Swiss aug. 6th)
to I 6-4 chord to V chord.
The English augmented 6th differs from the German augmented 6th in its
'spelling'. This is why the English augmented 6th is sometimes known as the
misspelled German, Swiss or doubly augmented fourth.
The German augmented 6th chord is 'spelled' (1-3-5-sharp6), whereas the
English augmented 6th chord is 'spelled' (1-3-double sharp4-sharp6). The two
chords are actually enharmonic because double sharp 4 and 5 are
enharmonically equivalent.
The perfect fifth of the German augmented 6th chord is preferred in a major key
when going to the I 6-4 because the approach to the 3rd of the tonic appears as
an ascending minor second and not an ascending augmented unison.
Note: while the talian augmented 6th has no fifth, in the German the fifth is
perfect, while in the French it is flattened.
'Augmented' Sixth
The talian Sixth chord is formed on the fourth degree of the scale, generally
used in first inversion. ts root is raised creating an augmented sixth interval with
the bass. Augmented sixth chords function by resolving the dissonance of the
augmented sixth outward to the octave
'Augmented' Sixth
The French sixth is formed on the second degree of the scale. t is a seventh
chord, generally in its second inversion. ts third is raised in order to build an
augmented sixth interval with the bass. (see also above)
'Augmented' Sixth
The German sixth chord is built on the fourth degree of the scale. t is a seventh
chord generally used in its first inversion. ts root is raised in order to create an
augmented sixth interval with the bass. (see also two above)
Six/Nine Chords f both a major sixth and a major ninth are added to a major or minor triad the
chord is called a 6/9 chord. A six/nine chord is shown as the chord name
followed by 6/9.
Polychords A polychord is one triad placed above another, often used by keyboard players
where each hand plays a different triad. The standard notation is to place one
chord name above a horizontal line with the second chord name below the line.

Naming Chords :: top
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 70 oI 169
Supertonic min3 maj3 4
5 + 6 V7 maj7
maj9 11
Chord as
Chord as named Chord notes
Two Note Chord
C5 C power chord C G
Three Note Chord (Triad)
Cm 5 or C
or C dim
C minor flat 5 or C diminished
Cm or Cmi C minor triad
C 5
C major flat 5 triad
C C or C major triad C E G
C+ C augmented triad
Csus4 or Csus C suspended 4th triad C F G
Four Note Chord
Cmi2 C minor add 2
C2 C major add 2 C D E G
Cdim or C
or C
7 C diminished seventh
Cm7 5 or Cmi7 5 or

C half diminished seventh
Cm6 or Cmi6 C minor sixth
Cm7 or Cmi7 C minor seventh
C6 C sixth C E G A
C7 or V7 C seventh or dominant seventh
Cmaj7 C major 7th C E G B
C7+ or C+7 C augmented 7th
Five Note Chord
Cm6/9 or Cmi6/9 C minor six ninth
Cm9 or Cmi9 C minor ninth
C7 9
C seven flat ninth
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C9 C ninth
C7 9
C seven sharp ninth
Cmaj9 C major ninth C E G B D
C6/7 C six seventh
C6/9 C six ninth C E G A D
C7 9+ or C+7 9
C seven flat nine augmented
C9+ or C+9 C ninth augmented
C7 9+ or C+7 9
C seven sharp ninth augmented
C9sus4 or C9sus C ninth suspended 4th
Six Note Chord
Cm11 or Cmi11 C minor eleventh
C7 9 9
C seven flat ninth sharp ninth
C7 9 11
C seven flat ninth sharp eleventh
C9 11
C ninth sharp eleventh
Cmaj9 11
C major ninth sharp eleventh
C7 9 9+ or C+7 9 9
C seven flat ninth sharp ninth augmented
C7 9 11+ or C+7 9
C seven flat ninth sharp eleventh augmented
Seven Note Chord
Cm13 C minor thirteenth
C13 11 9
C thirteenth sharp eleventh flat nine or C
dominant thirteenth C E G B D F A
C13 11 or C13
C thirteenth sharp eleventh or C thirteenth or C
dominant thirteenth C E G B D F A
Cmaj13 or Cma13 11
C major thirteenth sharp eleventh or C major
thirteenth C E G B D F A
C13sus4 or C13sus C thirteenth suspended fourth
Added or missing notes can also by identified by writing (add, then the note, then ) or writing (no, then the note, then ). The
bracket convention is discussed further in lesson 30 where we also introduce a number of other special chords. Chord notation
is not well standardised and you will need to correctly recognise all notational forms even those that we would not recommend.
Chords Types for Guitarists

Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 72 oI 169
Figured Bass :: top
Basso Continuo
n the sixteenth century accompaniments were played on a number of musical instruments; organs, harps, lutes, chittaroni,
viols or combinations of these. Sometimes the parts were fully written out but often they were simple enough for the
accompanying player to fill in over a bass line using block harmony and working just from the full score.
By the seventeenth century, the practice of accompanying upon the Thorough Bass, where the accompanist might add a
varying degree of ornamentation to a simple bass line, the nature and degree depending on the occasion, meant that it was no
longer possible nor indeed helpful to write out every last note; to do so would have restricted the freedom that a well-trained
accompanist had, and expected to have, in order to display his extemporising skills.
Even so, the accompanist was expected to observe the rhythmic and harmonic structure of the musical line and, for this
reason, a form of 'harmonic shorthand' was developed that provided just enough information to extemporise an
accompaniment but without making the part over-restrictive. This 'harmonic shorthand' is called 'figured bass' or 'thorough
bass'. The first example, taken from Syntagma Musicum (1619) by Michael Praetorius, is one he gives and the realisation
below it is his own. You will see that more has been 'added' than just bare block chords.

This realisation is not particularly inspired. Arnold Dolmetsch, who quotes it in his book "The nterpretation of Music of the
Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries" in a chapter entitled 'Thorough Bass', makes the comment "it would not get a high
number of points in a musical examination". The main reason for showing it at all is that not only are the harmonies of the
'figured bass' realised but additional counterpoint is also added freely, a testament to what would have been expected from a
keyboard player of the time.
Arnold Dolmetsch tells us about Francesco Geminiani, a popular talian-born violinist who worked in London at the same time
as Handel.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 73 oI 169
Sir John Hawkins, in his History of Music, reports that when Geminiani was asked to play some of his violin sonatas before
King George , he intimated a wish that Handel might accompany him on the harpsichord, which was granted. We can assume
that Handel's realisations would not have been far removed from Geminiani's own.

When Geminiani came to write his two volume work "The art of Accompaniment, or A new and well digested method to learn to
perform the Thorough Bass on the Harpsichord with Propriety and Elegence.", Op. 11, he gave several examples of how a
passage of figured bass might be realised. The range of possible realisations was explained by the need to accompany
different instruments or the voice (each requiring a different approach) or to 'liven up' a less well written work. We reproduce
below Geminiani's own examples; one figured bass line which he has realised in four different ways.
Figured Bass :: top
Playing from Figured Bass by Clifford Bartlett
The general rules applied to figured bass are given below. t should be remembered that the figures give the contents of a
chord and not their position on the stave. Thus a 5 3 chord, a chord in root position can be written in many different
arrangements. The only restriction is that the bass note is the lowest note in the chord. Any note given by the figuration,
including the bass note, can be repeated in the chord and the 3rd can lie below or above the 5th.
or no numbers at all

root position chord: 3rd and 5th to the written note as bass
or 6

first inversion chord: 3rd and 6th to the written note as bass
second inversion chord: 4th and 6th to the written note as bass
accidental under note
5 3 root position
accidental applied to the 3rd
line through a number raise the note in that position one chromatic semitone
accidental under
apply accidental to 3rd and add note given by number to written note as
accidental beside single
may be placed before
or after
6 means
; apply accidental to 3rd

accidental beside
may be placed before
or after
apply accidental to the note given by the number
horizontal line after a
note represented by the preceding figure is to be held
7 or 8 or 9
7th or 8th or 9th added to root position chord
short for 7 5 3 or 8 5 3 or 9 5 3
7th chord, first inversion
short for 6 5 3 : third is understood
7th chord, second inversion
short for 6 4 3 : sixth is understood
7th chord, third inversion
short for 6 4 2 : sixth is understood
Accidentals are used to signify where notes are to be raised or lowered a semitone in pitch from the scale of the key-note.
One must watch for notational errors and 'non-standard' notation in both early and modern editions. We have given above the
figurings most commonly met in 'early' music.
Baroque composers seldom marked every place where harmony might be wanted - indeed, one has to be very careful not to
interpret the absence of a mark as always being a 5/3 chord, even though, more often than not, this will be the case. At all
times, a keyboard player should make a tasteful realisation, a point made with great clarity by Geminiani.
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t will perhaps be said, that the following Examples are arbitrary Compositions on the Bass; and it may be asked how this
arbitrary manner of accompanying can agree with the ntention and Stile of all sorts of Compositions. Moreover, a fine Singer
or Player, when he finds himself accompanied in this Manner, will perhaps complain that he is interrupted, and the Beauties of
his Performance thereby obscured and deprived of their Effect. To this answer that a good Accompanyer ought to possess
the Faculty of playing all sorts of Basses in different Manner, so as to be able, on proper occasions, to enliven the Composition,
and delight the Singer or Player. But he is to exercise this Faculty with Judgment, Taste, and Discretion, agreeable to the Stile
of the Composition, and the Manner and ntention of the Performer. f an Accompanyer thinks nothing else but the satisfying of
his own Whim and Caprice, he may perhaps be said to play well, but will certainly be said to accompany ill.
The example below (one supplied with the Sibelius score writing program) shows how a good modern realisation adds
considerably to the musical interest in a piece of music. n particular, note the way that neighbouring chords are 'voiced' (that
is, their notes are arranged) to produce interesting polyphonic detail within the keyboard accompaniment.

Naming Chords With Roman NumeraIs :: top
We saw earlier that the degrees of the scale may be named using Roman numerals. This convention is widely used in theory
books and we should spend a little time examining the conventions adopted in this form of 'figured bass'. Straight away, it
should be pointed out that much is common between Roman numeraI figuring and the early form of figured bass set out
A chord name should tell us what a chord is; a Roman numeral should tell us what the chord does. n other words, a Roman
numeral is contextual (based on key) while a chord name is not.
The triad C - E - G can always be named C (C major) whatever the context or key. But it would be I in the key of C, or IV in the
key of G, or V/V in the key of Bb.
The seventh chord, B - D - F - Ab, can always be named B7 regardless of the tonal context. But it might function as a vii7 in
the key of C, vii7/V in the key of F, and a host of other chords in a host of other keys. Of course, depending on context, the
same chord might be a passing chord or some other type of nonfunctional sonority, for which a Roman numeral label would be
inaccurate and misleading. n that case, the chord name alone, B7, would be the appropriate and best label.
The quality of the chord is shown by whether the Roman numeral is upper or lower case. Upper case identifies a major or
augmented chord while lower case identifies a minor or diminished chord. With seventh chords, the case of the Roman
numeral is determine by the quality of the triad to which the seventh has been added.
Figured bass, with or without Roman numerals, identifies the notes above the actual bass note by the interval between that
note and the actual bass note. Do not make the mistake of working from the chord root, which may not always be the bass note
(e.g. with inversions)
Root position triads are left unmarked; the first inversion triad has only a 6 usually, not the
3. Augmented chords are marked
with a plus (+) sign and an upper case Roman numeral, e.g. I+. Diminished chords are marked with the degree () sign and a
lower case Roman numeral, e.g. vii. nversions are always indicated when using Roman numeral notation.
For the seventh chord and its inversions the Roman numeral convention is: root position - V
; first inversion - V
5; second
inversion - V
3; and third inversion - V
Roman numerals can be used to indicated non-diatonic chords notes too. f the diatonic note is lowered or raised by a
semitone (half step) a flat or sharp is written in front of the figure. A slash may be used in place of a sharp. f the root of the
chord is raised or lowered a sharp or flat will be placed in front of the relevant Roman numeral.
f the chord is non-diatonic, in other words in does not arise from the key of the work, accidentals may not always be
necessary. A minor tonic triad in a major key will be shown with i. The flat third is shown by the case of the numeral. Similarly,
the major triad on the third scale degree (e.g. E major triad in C major) is simply labeled III again the upper case showing that
the third has been sharpened.
When comparing Roman numeral notation with the fingured bass set out in an previous section of this lesson, notice that in the
absence of Roman numerals, accidentals must be shown. Thus, the minor tonic triad in a major key, i with a Roman numeral,
would be marked with a flat sign in figured bass, the flat sign referring to lowered third in the triad. Occasionally, 'courtesy
accidentals' are used to reinforce information already indicated by the case of the Roman numeral under the chord. Other
accidentals may be used to show that a note is 'raised' (using a sharp) or 'lowered' (using a flat) when there is actually no sharp
or flat in the chord. So, for example, a II
4 chord which might have no sharp in the chord indicates that a normally occurring flat
has been sharpened to a natural.
When there is a change of key it is not unusual to see the chord names in the new key on a second level under the staff. The
name of the new key will be clearly marked and also on any subsequent staff. t is not unusual to show the Roman numeral
appropriate to both the original and the new key, one above the other during the modulation sequence, or one a particular pivot
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Particular chords, some of which we will meet later, are also specifically indicated by their own letters; thus N
for a Neapolitan
sixth, It.
for an talian sixth, Fr.
or F
for a French sixth, Ger.
or G
for a German sixth, and so on.
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Transposition at the Octave :: top
f the notes of a melody are written each an octave higher or an octave lower, the melody is said to have been transposed up
or down an octave. Transposing up or down one or more octaves is the simplest form of transposition because all the notes
retain their original note names. Accidentals retain the same form and the key signature is unchanged, subject only to the
modification necessary should one write the transposed melody in another clef.

The same melody is written on four lines. Each melody is one octave lower than that on the line above.

Transposing into another Key :: top
A piece of music can be transposed up or down any interval, not only multiples of the octave. n such a case the key signature
will change. We give examples below where the key signatures have not been changed and then, below, each line rewritten
with the correct key signature.

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These examples hide the most difficult aspect of transposition which is how to handle accidentals. Sometimes the accidental is
changed and sometimes it is not. When we discussed the conventions of notating diatonic and chromatic scales we found that
there we had to chose between a number of enharmonically equivalent ways of writing certain notes. dentical choices face us
when transposing accidentals. The rule is that the intervals in the original melody will be preserved in the transposed form.
The examples below are in G and F minor respectively. Notice how in the first bar, the sharpened 7th in G minor, F sharp,
becomes the sharpened 7th in F minor, E natural and how in the second bar, the sharpened 4th in G minor, C sharp, becomes
the sharpened 4th in F minor, B natural - in each case the conventional notation for each key.

Transposing Instruments :: top
by John Howell
Virginia Tech Department of Music
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A. 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034
email John Howell
Totally ignoring clefs and transposed music, how do we decide what "key" a woodwind instrument is in?
The logical answer, it seems to me, is that we name the key of the instrument for the note produced with 7 fingers down. That
certainly applies to recorders, to shawms and oboes of all sizes and periods, to all saxophones, and to all clarinets (as long as
we specify that it's the 7-finger note in the upper register). t's irrelevant in speaking of the Rankett or bassoon, because the
part is always in bass clef, concert pitch, but in fact the modern bassoon and the bass curtal and baroque bassoon are in F (the
7-finger note) and indeed do use the equivalent of bass recorder fingering.
A number of instruments have extension keys to reach lower notes than the 7-finger one, but we don't change our terminology
because of that.
But what if an instrument only has 6 finger holes? ('m ignoring the thumb hole, which some instruments have and others don't.)
The renaissance and baroque flutes have only six holes, while the modern flute (beginning rather early in the 19th century) has
7 and sometimes 8. Standard model cornetti have 6 finger holes, as believe the low cornetti including lyzarden and serpent
do. So, do we name the key of the instruments as the lowest sounding (6-finger) note, or the note that would be produced if the
instrument did have 7 holes?
The answer is that we are marvelously inconsistent! The baroque flute is often referred to as a flute in D, but when an
extension and a key were added, the same flute, playing at the same pitch, then became a flute in C. The standard cornetto is
almost always referred to as being in A (the 6-finger note) and the cornettino as being in D (the 6-finger note).
Since play and teach a number of historic woodwinds, use a terminology that as a practical matter makes it easier for
students to understand the relationships among instruments. So the baroque flute is "in C without a low C." This makes perfect
sense to a modern flutist because on both instruments the 6-finger note is D and the 3-finger note is G.
Similarly the cornetto is "in G (as were most renaissance alto woodwinds) without the low G," and the cornettino "in C without
the low C." (Of course if you start talking about the rish 6-hole whistle the situation becomes completely confused, because the
"natural scale" of a 6-hole whistle in D is a D scale, and one can argue that the same applies (and it does) to the early flutes!)
So, to return to the land of serpents, does calling a serpent "in D" or "in C" refer to the 6-finger note or to the theoretical 7-finger
see also Lesson 26 - How to Write Parts for Transposing Instruments
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Anacrusis :: top
Rhythm is defined as the way in which one or more unaccented beats are grouped in relation to an accented one.
The five basic rhythmic groupings include:
iamb (unstressed/stressed)
anapest (unstressed/unstressed/stressed)
trochee (stressed/unstressed)
dactyl (stressed/unstressed/unstressed)
amphibrach (unstressed/stressed/unstressed)
Taken from poetry, the term 'anacrusis' refers to one or two unstressed syllables at the beginning of a line that are unnecessary
to the metre. n music, this is represented by a short or 'incomplete' bar at the beginning of a piece generally, but not always,
matched by a short 'incomplete' bar at the end so that the total number of beats in the first and last incomplete bars equals a
full bar. We give an example below - the first sounding beat is the weakest in a three beat bar, i.e. the third, while the second
beat of the piece is the first beat in the first full bar and is strong. Anacrusis is also called 'pick-up' or 'up-beat'.

Syncopation :: top
The position of notes in a bar show their relative rhythmic strengths. However, occasionally, the rhythmic pattern wanted does
not fit the rhythmic pattern shown by the barring. One says that the rhythm is 'off the beat' or syncopated. Examples of this are
common in popular music including jazz, but it does occur in music of all ages. We have given a good example of syncopation
below. Note, in particular, the theme played by pianist's right hand (the upper line of the piano part). The theme is 'off the beat'
for much of the time, i.e. it is syncopated. The 'effect' is notated using ties. A crucial feature of syncopation is that there should
be a strong sense of the beat 'off which' the theme is being played. This is provided by the percussion and bass guitar lines.
There is a second type of syncopation, where the strong beat is replaced by a silence.
Dotting & DoubIe Dotting :: top
Throughout this Music Theory OnIine method we have made the point that musical notation is an attempt to record details of
live performance (e.g. high baroque French music, much of it written by composers who were also great performers) or to
guide a performer to how a work might be performed in the future. Whether performers today want to consider themselves
bound artistically by this guidance is a matter for them for, as T. S. Eliot points out, "each generation, like each individual,
brings to the contemplation of art its own categories of appreciation, makes its own demands upon art, and has its own uses for
n any situation one starts with the score and applies 'rules' to turn a set of 'mechanical' instructions into a living performance.
For example, 'what works for the audience' might be a good rule if the performer want to make a living from playing music to
the paying public.
We know, from the writings of early musicians, that the marks on the page are not sufficient to tell us how the music was
played at the time it was written. Couperin tells us 'we write differently from what we play'. n effect, we have to find out the real
meaning behind each of the instructions we see on the page. The meaning may not be the same as that behind the same mark
written several centuries later. This is why people study contemporaneous texts and related evidence. Of course, what they
examine are 'historical accidents', material lucky enough to survive to the present day. We do not know that these sources are
reliable, that they are accurate, that, in the case of opinions, they were widely held views and not just an individual's prejudices.
This is why we try to examine as many as we can, to compare and contrast, to get a feel for the 'width' or 'breadth' of opinion at
the time. To take the position that all is uncertainty and prejudice does not help us decide what we might do with the music we
have in front of us if we believe that music is a medium through which a composer speaks to an audience. f we are interested
in what the composer meant by what he wrote and in communicating something of it to an audience, we are forced to take
generaI evidence complete with its uncertainties and turn it into the specific occasion, the performance itself. To say that the
composer speaks to the audience through his music, as Arnold Dolmetsch suggested, may be taking things rather too far, but
we have to recognise that we are playing a particular piece by a particular composer and that as the music informs and inspires
us, the performers, so we should be informing and inspiring the audience that listens to us.
There is an even more fundamental problem. Even if we had perfect evidence about eighteenth century performance practice,
would this be relevent to a performance we were going to give next week? Can we really give anything but 'modern'
Our position is that we have to understand the intentions of the composer the best way we can even though we may not
actually follow them. This is because the intentions of the composer interest us, not because they bind us. f some of these
intentions can be discovered only by understanding original instruments then we should examine and play upon them.
Dotting and double dotting is an example where exactly what is written is not exactly what is played. The interposition of a
silence between a dotted note and its shorter companion (see our example below) and the delaying of the shorter note is a
feature of what we now call 'French Overture' style. ts effect is to strengthen the strong beats in the bar. This is not only
applied to the music of French composers - the French style travelled across Europe and composers made it part of their
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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musical palette. Later, by the time we move towards Mozart, the silence is removed and the movement is altogether more
graceful and less 'jerky'. Prior to the eighteenth century its use is open to question.

gaI & ingaI :: top
n matters of rhythm, music from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries appears to have followed a different convention to
that normally adopted today. For example, today we commonly use compound time signatures. n the eighteenth century,
composers would often write in simple time but they expected their music to be played as though written in compound time or,
as we would say today, 'swung'. We provide one example of this below.

We are not giving a full explanation of when and how this is to be applied - that you can find discussed in books like The
Interpretation of Music of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries by Arnold Dolmetsch.

HemioIa, HemioIia or Cross-rhythm :: top
When, in music, two lines having respectively 2 and 3 beats in a bar overlay one another, as in the example below, the terms
hemioIa, hemioIia or cross-rhythm may be employed to describe it.

The term hemioIa (from the Greek, 'one-and-a-half') may also be used where, in a triple time rhythm, two bars are arranged to
have three beats where the middle beat is tied across the bar-line; so, for example, in a piece in 3/4, two bars are made up of
three minims.
n early music, this term hemioIa meant the ratio of 3:2, employed musically in two senses: the ratio of the perfect fifth, whose
musical value is 3:2, and the rhythmic relation of three notes in the time of two, i.e. the triplet. n the Baroque era hemioIa was
used in dance music in the sense that it denoted the articulation of two measures of triple meter as if they were three measures
of duple meter, a rhythmic device much used in cadential progressions. n later music, especially Viennese waltzes the use of
hemioIa was common, in the sense of playing duplets in one part of the music, over which another part of the music is playing
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To summarise the terminology:

More on Handel and the Hemiola: Overlapping Hemiolas by Channan Willner

Swing :: top
What we have said above about equality and inequality can be applied to much contemporary popular music. The most
common rhythm, called the 'eight-note triplet shuffle', is found in blues, jazz and swing music. t is sometimes called 'rolled
8ths'. We illustrate it below.

n music made up of a mixture of minims, crotchets, semiquavers, triplets, hemiolas and quavers, only the quavers are 'swung'.
The other note values are played strictly 'in time'.
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SIur & Phrase :: top
n Iesson 4 we discussed the way in which beats can vary in strength and how, through a suitable choice of time signature,
the composer can make clear the rhythmic structure, formed by a particular pattern of strong, medium and weak beats. On
many musical instruments there are limits to the strength of a beat, if all one can do is to blow, bang or scrape more or less
enthusiastically. Wind-instruments blown hard play sharp and the tone is coarsened. The same instruments blown too gently
will tend to play flat or not at all. However, a performance in which all the notes are equally loud or soft is immeasurably duller
than one where there is dynamic variety.
The dynamic detail can be in the note's strength when it starts, whether or not it is preceded or followed by a silence, the note's
length and the mean strength of the note while it sounds. All these can be determined with suitable notation and we will look at
each of these in turn.
Music, like written prose, tends to be made up of short sequences we call phrases. Consider Swift's 'A satirical Elegy on the
Death of a late Famous General' (1772) - actually, on the death of Marlborough, the victor at Blenheim - in which each line is a
single phrase.
But what of what, his friends may say,
He had those honours in his day,
True to his profit and his pride,
He made them weep before he dy'd.
Each line expresses a single idea which is the fundamental characteristic of a phrase. Of course, the choice of phrase length is
not 'set in stone'. One might 'feel' that a more natural phrase length here is the pairing of lines (1 with 2, 3 with 4). This freedom
to feel poetry in various different ways occurs too in music and phrasing is a matter best left to the performer to communicate to
the listener as he (or she) thinks best. We will return to this point when discussing the setting of words to music where the
phrasing of the words tends to find its mirror in the shaping of the musical line.
The desire of editors and composers to make their intentions clear down to the very last detail has meant that phrasing is
shown through the use of large sweeping 'slur-like' lines called 'phrase marks'. Slurs, which tend to embrace a smaller number
of notes, help to shape the musical line even within broader phrasing marks and performers must be able to distinguish
between them. On wind instruments, all the notes under the slur except for the first, are untongued, the breath flowing
continuously while the fingers move. On stringed instruments, the equivalent effect is achieved by using a single sweep of the
bow for each slur or phrase. On keyboard instruments the notes are played legato (smoothly) and with a light touch.
The slur removes the attack from the start of each note under it except for the first so providing a contrast in strength, a
dynamic variety, between the first and the later notes. f slurring is to be effective, or indeed a distinction made between
different phrases, the performer must avoid playing unslurred notes too smoothly. Pre-nineteenth century music was played in
a more detached manner than we associate, say, with the repertoire of the late-Romantic. The advantages of a detached
manner when playing in a large acoustically resonant building become clear. When the notes 'ring on' around the room, the
harmonies overlap instead of flowing neatly one into the other. Slurring, in such surroundings, would obsure the line, and so the
performer has to be able to adjust the performance to the demands made by the surroundings by ignoring slur and phrase
marks that may be redundant.

SIurs are distinguishable from ties, which we met in Iesson 2, because ties only link together notes of identical pitch (e.g. B to
B) while slurs never link together notes of identical pitch.

Tenuto & Staccato :: top
The idea that music can be 'smoothed out' using slurs can be reduced to just a single note, which if normally played in a
detached manner, would now need to be held for its full written value. This mark, a small horizontal line over or below the note
head, is called a tenuto mark. f the use of tenuto is extended the composer may place the word tenuto in the score rather than
pedantically marking every note.
The reverse, i.e. the shortening of a note by replacing part of its time value with a period of silence, is called staccato, a sign
introduced into music in the late eighteenth century. This is marked with a small dot (for staccato) or a horizontal line and dot
(for mezzo staccato), or a single 'quotation mark' or 'wedge' (for staccatissimo). Staccato means no more than sustaining the
note, so marked, for only half its written length, replacing the other half with a period of silence. Some players mistakenly
strengthen the shorter note in the belief that staccato is used to make a note rhythmically 'stronger' when it is actually used to
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make it 'weaker'. Mezzo staccato means hold the note for three quarters of its time value, while staccatissimo means hold the
note for one quarter of its time value.
We give a number of examples below.

SIurs & Staccato :: top
When used under a slur, the staccato mark will have a slightly modified effect depending on the 'weight' of the note within the
slur were it to have no staccato mark. f a note is slurred in pairs, the effect is to sustain the first but slightly lift the second. The
staccato mark, therefore, on either or both, must be seen to modify this relationship under the slur, so that if both carry staccato
marks, the first note remains slightly longer than the second but the notes are now slightly detached from each other, the slur is
therefore 'broken'.
f the music is from the baroque period and the piece is slow and in a French style where you might expected to play the
shortest notes, say the quavers, ingal then if some quavers have staccato marks over them and a slur above the staccato
marks then those quavers are to be played evenly, i.e. gal. See Iesson 20 for more information about gal and ingal.

Variety of Accents :: top
An accent serves various purposes; as
1. a stress or special emphasis on a beat to mark its position in the bar;
2. a mark in the written music indicating an accent of which there are five basic types: staccato accents,
staccatissimo accents, normal accents, strong accents, and legato accents with several combinations
3. the principle of regularly recurring stresses which serve to give rhythm to the music.
Percussive Accents (1-4)
Pressure Accent

Staccato Staccatissimo
Legato Accent
Light Accents
Medium Accents
Accent Name Description
Staccato Accent short and separated from the following note
Staccatissimo Accent an exaggerated short duration of the note
Strong Accent generally meant for attacks at loud dynamic
levels of forte or louder
Normal Accent moderately sharp attack that can be used at
any dynamic level from pianissimo to
Legato Accent this can be used at any dynamic level and is
a slight stress without a noticable attack and
held to the full duration of the note
Combined Accents (1-8)
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Strong &
Legato &
NormaI &
Strong Accents Medium Accents
Accent Name Description
Strong & Staccato
very percussive and shorter duration than notated
Strong & Legato
very percussive while retaining full duration of
Strong &
strongest percussive attack possible with an
exaggerated short duration
Legato & Staccato
stressed and moderately short, separated from next
Legato and
stressed and quite short
Normal & Staccato
moderately percussive and short
Normal & Legato
moderately percussive with full note duration
Normal &
moderately percussive with short note duration

ArticuIation on Stringed Instruments :: top
We summarise below information about articulation and accent as applied to stringed instruments.
String players will apply bowing marks to indicate where the bow is to move up or down. The "up-bow" mark looks like a V and
the "down-bow" mark like a square missing its bottom side.
The modern bow-hold has the bow held between the tips of the fingers and thumb with the palm of the hand facing down
towards the floor. "Up" means start at the tip. "Down" means start at the frog which is where your right hand is. On most
modern stringed instruments the "down-bow" is stronger than the "up-bow", this due mainly to the greater weight or downward
force the player can apply with the bow to the string with the heel (near the frog) as opposed to the tip.
However, on the viol, where the bow is held differently, effectively lying in the palm of the hand with the palm facing upwards,
the "up-bow" is stronger than the "down-bow" and the bow action will be reversed.
The freedom to bow without a change in direction, for example on long sustained notes, is more limited on the cello and
double-bass than on the violin or viola because cello and double-bass bows are shorter. Where many notes are played under a
single bow stroke, the player will mark the part with a slur. Because the "up" and "down" strokes have different strengths, it is
natural to want to use the stronger stroke for strong beats and the weaker stroke for weaker beats. On modern stringed
instruments, the performer naturally plays an upbeat with an "up-bow" unless indicated otherwise. On the viol, the same upbeat
would be played with a "down-bow".
String players use a number of bowing terms which we list below.
Bowing Terms Description
On-the-string Bowings
Detach separate bows for each note. This type of
bowing is used when there are no slur
markings over the notes
Legato player plays smoothly according to bowings
indicated by the slur marks
Martel (Fr.); Martellato (t.);
Marcato (t.)
notes are played with accented force, literally
"hammered. t indicates a fast, well-
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articulated, heavy, separate stroke,
resembling a sforzando, or pressed accent.
The indication for this may be dots, accents,
arrowhead accents, or marks
Lour (or Portato, piqu) bow motion is legato, but with slight
separation of the notes. t is performed with
several notes in one bow direction, each note
receiving a gentle "push to separate it
Staccato (each note is
1. separate bow - notes are played
separated and with separate bows for each
2. slurred - consecutive notes are played
separated, but with one bow direction
Off-the-string Bowings
Spiccato (or saltando) 1. deliberate - usually in slow passages,
player bounces the bow in a deliberate
manner to give an interesting effect
2. spontaneous - (sautill). The speed of the
passage causes the player to instinctively
create a bouncing motion with the bow.
Sometimes described as "an uncontrolled
3. slurred spiccato (staccato volante, flying
staccato) - similar to slurred staccato except
that the bow bounces on the string to create
the separation of the pitches. nstead of
reversing direction for each note as in
ordinary spiccato, the bow picks up a series
of short notes, usually on an up-bow
Jet (ricochet) the bouncing motion of the bow creates 2 to
6 or even more rapid notes. This is usually
with a downward bow motion, but up-bows
are occasionally used as well. The cello and
double bass can only execute about 3
consecutive notes, maybe 4, because of the
shorter bow that is used.

Dot & Wedge in CIavichord Music :: top
Paul Simmonds, the English clavichordist, wrote to the Clavichord Discussion List about the use of the 'dot' and the 'wedge' in
clavichord playing:
"D.G. Trk's 'Clavierschule' is a good source for clear explanations. He sometimes takes CPE to task for being unclear. There
is an English translation by Raymond Haggh, University of Nebraska Press, 1982, which fear is out of print, but libraries
should have it, or you may be able to get a second hand copy. A facsimile is available from Brenreiter if your German is up to
Briefly, Trk says that there is little difference between the dot and the wedge, except that 'some would like to indicate by the
stroke that a shorter staccato be played than that indicated by the dot'. Trk says that an accent is not implied by this, but that
one hears all detached notes played loudly by some players. still wonder about Mthel's use of the wedge, as he often uses it
on the first note of a slurred group (if anyone has any thoughts on this would like to hear them - maybe Mthel did imply an
accent with his use of the wedge).
E.W. Wolf (1785) is also a good source for information on dtach, agreeing by and large with Trk (English translation by
Christopher Hogwood in CPE Bach Studies, ed. Stephen Clark, Clarenden Press 1988). Wolf also makes no distinction
between the dot and the dash and describes in detail how and where the dtach should be performed. This source is in
general an excellent short guide to 18th century clavichord playing. American colleagues could take a look at the original in the
Library of Congress. Marpurg also gives either the dot or wedge for staccato (Abstossen) making no apparent distiction
between the two."

PedaIIing on the Piano :: top
C.P.E. Bach commented that if his lessons published in his Versuch ber die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen (Berlin, 1753)
were to be played on a harpsichord with more than one keyboard, "one keeps to one manual for such changes of forte and
piano as occur on single notes; one changes manual only when entire passages are differentiated by forte and piano. The
discomfort is not present at the clavichord; on that instrument one can express all sorts of forte and piano as clearly and purely
as on just about any other instrument."
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 85 oI 169
The problem of fixed dynamics on the harpsichord, the principal domestic keyboard instrument, became even greater as the
idea of dynamic expression or Affekt in music became increasingly important in music of the late baroque. For some early
keyboard makers, the solution lay in changing the material of the plectrum, that part of the harpsichord directly in contact with
the string.
M. Trouflaut writing in 1773 describes Pascal Taskin's invention, the peau de buffle.
"A thousand means of enlarging, embellishing and improving harpsochords were thought up, but no one reached the goal
towards which they could have striven, namely, to vary the tone as nature and taste suggest to those of a delicate ear and a
sensitive hearing ...
Through his insight, M. Paschal Taskin surmounted the difficulties which had stood in the way of his predecessors ...
Of the three rows of jacks in a harpsichord he chose one in which he used pieces of buffalo leather as plectra ...
The effect of the leather on the strings of the instrument was to create sensuous, velvety sounds. These one could vary at will
by exerting more or less pressure at the keyboard, obtaining rich, full and soothing sounds ....
Does one require passionate, tender or dying sounds? The buffle obeys the pressure of the finger; it no longer plucks but
caresses the string. The touch, just the touch of the clavecinist is enough to create these charming shadings without changing
either keyboard or stop ...
dare to add with confidence that the harpsichord with the peau de buffle is very much superior to the Piano-forte."
The Piano-forte moved on, picking up ideas from other instruments on the way. Two German makers, Franz Jakob Spth (died
1752) and his son-in-law Christoph Friedrich Schmahl (1739-1814), made an instrument called the Tangentenflgel in which
small staves of wood, moving vertically like a harpsichord jack, struck rather than plucked the strings. By striking the keys more
forcefully, the volume of sound produced could be increased so the instrument had some dynamic possibilities. Later pairs
replaced individual strings and a pedal mechanism allowed the player to vary the volume by changing whether the staves
struck one or both of the strings. Other pedals raised dampers, to let the sound ring on even after the key had been released
by the player, or were used to reproduce the 'harp' effect found on harpsichords when extra damping is given to the strings to
produce a pizzicato.
These then were the early uses to which keyboard makers put pedals in order to increase the dynamic and tonal capabilites of
their instruments. We know that Mozart thought highly of Spth's Tangentenflgel before he became acquainted with the Piano
forte of Johann Andreas Stein (1728-92), one of the finest maker of organs, harpsichords, clavichords and pianos of the 18th
century. Stein's instruments incorporated levers operated by the player's knee rather than by the player's feet. Stein's daughter
Nannete, and her husband Andreas Streicher, established one of the most important Viennese piano-making firms. t was the
Streicher's personal friendship with Beethoven that encouraged Beethoven to use the Streicher instruments even after he
came into contact with instruments made by Erard, one made for Haydn in 1801 and the second given to Beethoven himself in
August 1803. By this time all pianos were fitted with foot operated pedals and the knee lever had passed into history.

Grand Piano (1796) | more information...
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Piano designed by John Broadwood and Son, English, active 1795-
Cameos and medallions designed by Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795)
Case decoration by Thomas Sheraton (1751-1806)
Veneered case of satinwood, tulipwood, and purpleheart with
Wedgwood cameos and medallions
Piano: 97 7/8 x 43 7/8 x 35 7/8 in. (248.7 x 111.5 x 91.2 cm)
Detail of lilac Wedgwood medallion: c. 3 in. across (7.6 cm)
George Alfred Cluett Collection, given by Florence Cluett Chambers
Acquired in 1985
The article below is taken from The Pedal and Pedalling on the Modern Piano and from a number of other resources about
pedalling on the piano.
Upon inspection, the modern concert grand piano will confront you with three piston-like contraptions that extend downwards
from the main body of the instrument.
Don't panic.
Contrary to the misguided belief of many a first-time observer, the correct operation of these 'pedals' does not involve the
synchronized use of three limbs. The simultaneous operation of a clutch, brake, and accelerator would probably cause just as
much damage.
So What Do They Do?
Quite simply, a piano pedal is a lever capable of a short 'down-up' movement and is operated by the foot.
Each of the three
pedals has a different function. The right-most, when depressed, moves a damping mechanism away from the strings inside
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 86 oI 169
the piano, thus allowing any notes played to have their full duration even though the finger(s) have been removed from the
keys. For this reason it is known as the sustain pedal but, as the most important and frequently used of the three, is more
simply referred to as....the pedal.
A (ThankfuIIy) Brief History of the PedaI
t was introduced by the Englishman John Broadwood (of Broadwood Pianos fame) in 1784.
Before John came along however, the position of the damping mechanism was regulated by a device placed directly under the
keyboard. Naturally, the use of this particular pedalling facility was somewhat restrictive, as it could only be operated by the
player's knee - altogether a marketing ploy aimed at either child prodigies such as Mozart, or midgets.
Once repositioned though, the pedal became all the rage. Mozart was the first composer to use the odd pedal marking here
and there, but it was in fact Beethoven who, through meticulous indications in his piano works, considered the effect of the
pedal to be an integral part of his sound world. The composers of the subsequent 'Romantic' era followed his train of thought,
using the pedal imaginatively in order to expand the piano's tonal palette. Some even paused to leave meaningful quotations
for the sake of posterity, as did Anton Rubinstein when he romanticized about the pedal being 'the soul of the piano'. Busoni
waxed lyrical about 'the moonlight streaming down a landscape'. The great Franz Liszt even said that, without the pedal, the
piano would be some kind of hackbrett. (What?!)

The piano music of Debussy and Ravel would be unimaginable without the use of the pedal, as it allowed them to translate into
musical terms the aesthetics of their painter-counterparts: the mpressionists. The importance of the sustain pedal to the
exploration of the resonances and sonorities of the piano has remained so ever since.

At about the same time as Debussy and Ravel's creative use of the sustain pedal, Ragtime pianists in New Orleans were
finding it handy for holding on to an 'oom' while they got to a 'pah'.
OK, So How Does It HeIp?
The late Hungarian-born pianist Louis Kentner believed that proper use of the sustain pedal constitutes about half of what we
call 'good tone' on the piano. A pianist with a 'good tone', in other words, is able to produce a pleasing sound with the
instrument. What he/she does with their right foot is just as important as what they do with their hands the individual ways of
using the sustain pedal differ so greatly from artist to artist even if they may share the same level of pianistic skill, or indeed
even the same piano!
So Why Is This?
n a word: timing. One can employ the sustain pedal in three different ways in relation to how one produces a sound on the
keyboard. The pedal may be used:
Before the sound (known as anticipated pedalling)
Simultaneously with the sound; or
After the sound. (known as syncopated pedalling)
Timing plays an especially crucial role
when this type of pedalling is to help produce piano-playing of good clarity, and it is the
vital time-lapse between key-depression and pedal-depression throughout a simple sequence of chords which controls this
clarity. Get it wrong, and the sounds of one chord will ooze inevitably into the next, creating the musical equivalent of a water-
logged fruit trifle.
What About The Other Two?
A long time ago, certain over-zealous American piano makers appalled discerning music lovers by enriching their pianos with
pedals that operated attached cymbals, drums and rude-sounding wind machines. Mercifully, history saw to it that these
contraptions fell bumpily by the wayside. The only additional pedals that have remained until today are the una corda and
sostenuto pedals.
The Una Corda PedaI
t is probably worth mentioning at this point that not all pianos have three pedals. The majority of grand pianos possess indeed
all three, but others (including the small 'upright' pianos) offer two pedals which will be the sustain and una corda types. The
latter, and left-most, controls a mechanism which works in two different ways depending on the type of piano. n grand pianos,
the depression of this pedal will move the whole set of 'hammers' (the small mallet-like things wrapped up in felt) very slightly
sideways so as to leave unstruck one out of every three strings for each note, hence the name una corda, talian for 'one

On upright pianos, the whole set of hammers is moved closer to the strings so that the force of their blow is diminished. The
resulting sound in both cases, upon depression of a key, is a somewhat muted sound and consequently this pedal also bears
the name: the soft pedal.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 87 oI 169
And FinaIIy the Doohickey in the MiddIe
Back to grand pianos. Located in between the soft and sustain pedals is a handy little gadget that can offer hours of
amusement (well, alright, maybe only a few minutes until you figure out what it does.). ntroduced by Steinway and perfected in
1874, it is known as the sostenuto pedal and enables the pianist to make (within limits) a selection as to the notes he/she
wishes to sustain. n order to ensure success, it can only be depressed after the keys themselves have been depressed. The
process is as follows:
Choose a note or chord that you want to sustain
Play it
While the key(s) is/are depressed, press down on the sostenuto pedal with your left foot
Let go of the note(s)
See how they still sound! but....that's not all.
While these notes still sound you can play any other notes on the piano, and they WLL NOT sustain.
OK Then, Does It Have A UsefuI Purpose?
Well, 'm told that the sostenuto pedal is absolutely vital for accompanying vocalists in the Flenderyap Songs of the Brumtypipe
People by the late Grong composer Hulkan M.Ruden Voos . Apart from that, certain solo piano compositions by
contemporary earth composers require the occasional dab of third pedal....
What's With These Confusing Names?
Misnomers abound when discussing the piano and its pedals. For starters, the sustain pedal also bears the confusing name of
loud pedal, even though it is also used for soft passages.
f we're going to be really pedantic, the use of the term 'sustain' is also dubious the undamped vibration of a string is, in reality,
it's natural state, and since the sustain pedal curtails the length of this natural state (i.e. shortening the tone instead of
lengthening it), it's actually doing the absolute opposite of sustaining anything. ( sense may have just lost you?) Perhaps it
should simply and more universally be known as the damper pedal?
The una corda or 'one string' pedal doesn't, in actual fact, make each hammer strike only one string out of three more
precisely, it makes every hammer AVOD a string, each one striking the remaining two strings out of three.?
And finally, regarding the middle pedal (just to make you wish you'd never visited this entry):
sostenuto is talian for 'sustain'.
The Right Way To Do It
Just so that your pedal technique is au fait: Keep your heel on the ground when using the pedal, and move it with the tip of you
toe so that your whole foot acts as a pivot, so to speak. This is essential for good control, and to being able to vary the depth to
which the pedal is depressed, an aspect that also has influence upon the clarity of sound produced.
The Wrong Way To Do It
Don't kick it.
Don't use it to beat time.
Don't use it for ragtime foot-stomping (get a fiddle-player to stomp for you).
The Squeaky PedaI
There is nothing quite as infuriating as a noisy pedal, or worse: one that, just like a lonely mouse, squeaks whenever
depressed (pardon the pun). Usual form is to administer a little lubricant directly, or call a piano technician. All the mouse will
need is a little love and attention.


foot-operated levers also exist on kettledrums, pipe organs, harpsichords, harps, and sewing machines of the prehistoric


German for 'chopping board' - [comment by Dr. Blood: actually Hackbrett is the German name for the hammered


A bit of acoustics jargon here: The harmonics of the strings sounded are enriched by the sympathetic resonance of those
derived from other freely vibrating strings, resulting in a fuller sound, or what most simply describe as a 'glow' to the tone
of the instrument. This is of course an exclusively acoustical phenomenon - if you've ever wondered why the 'piano'
sound on a synthesizer doesn't sound like the real McCoy, this is the reason.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 88 oI 169


specially especially crucial in concert halls when there is a high 'reverberation component' (a little more technical fodder
for you 'acoustics aficionados' out there)


the modern piano has one string for a few of the lowest notes, two for the middle register notes, and three strings for the
highest notes, on account of the decrease in resonance of the shorter strings.

The PedaI in Practice
Although it was Beethoven who first made significant use of the pedal in performance and in his piano compositions it was
pieces like the piano nocturne or "night piece", a form inherited from the rish composer John Field (1782-1837) and to which
Frdric Chopin (1810-1849) brought the melodic inspiration he drew from talian opera ( particularly Bellini) and his own
unique harmonic idiom, where the possibilities provided by the pedal were to be fully explored. The graceful melody of the D-
flat major Nocturne Op. 27, no. 2, 1835, stated three times enhanced by thirds, sixths, fioriaturas (written embellishments) and
intense chromaticism, uses surprising harmonic changes to add to the passionate climax; the subtle pedalling effects of the
coda point towards the pianistic colours of Debussy.
The art of pedalling was something Debussy felt strongly about as Eberhardt Klemm mentions in Claude Debussy - Piano
Works, Vol. 5: tudes : Concluding Remarks
"Debussy's piano style of composition demands a cessation of damping spreading over bars, i.e. a depressing of the right
pedal (sometimes indicated by several suspended short ties.) This does not mean that the sounds should be blurred. Thus
Debussy warns against misuse of the pedal "which is mostly a means of covering up a technical deficiency." He does of course
demand a finely differentiated pedal technique of the greatest virtuosity. Many a skilful pianist, who finds a hand free, will in
some places silently depress keys and change pedals briefly in order thereby to exclude the continued vibration of disturbing
tones. "The art of pedalling is a kind of breathing", wrote Debussy to Jacques Durand (1st September 1915). "This is what
observed in the case of Liszt when he permitted me to listen to him during his stay in Rome."
n exceptional cases Debussy prescribes the use of the left pedal (Fr. pdale douce, pdale sourde or sourdine) or even of
both pedals (les 2 Ped., les deux pdales). The fascination of the shift of keyboard and mechanics, which occurs in all degrees
of volume (thus also in forte) in Debussy and still more in Ravel, consists in the alteration of the tonal colour. We do not,
however, need to follow these instructions, if the shift occasions a too meagre and dull-sounding effect, as is the case with
some older pianos. "
John Tilbury discussing the piano music of Cornelius Cardew remarks that the pedal is being used to modulate piano tone. The
precise aspects of sonority and resonance are sometimes indicated - in February Pieces, for example, where subtle
modifications in the timbral quality of sustained sounds are introduced as they decay, the harmonics being altered after the
initial attack through use of pedalling and of silently depressed keys. This goes straight to the heart of the characteristic
resonance of the piano and the way it is actually heard and the role the pedal plays in the instrument's tonal and timbral
The DigitaI Piano and PedaIIing
Dr. Virginia Houser, Kansas State University, in her article entitled Do you want an elementary student to have a digital
keyboard for home practice? admits that digital keyboards have come a long, long way in recent years. Their sounds are
amazingly close to that of a piano; after all, many use actual sound samples from acoustic grand pianos. They stay in tune.
They are portable. They generally cost less than a piano. The most expensive ones offer touch-sensitive (also called velocity-
sensitive) and weighted wooden keys quite similar to an acoustic piano. Digital pianos have one to three pedals which simulate
those on an acoustic. They can also be equipped with headphones which allow private practice. Most even offer instrumental
sounds and percussion effects which titillate many students. Even with all the digital pluses, however, she prefer a student's
primary practice instrument be a piano. Because of all those marvelous inner mechanical workings, the performer must engage
with the instrument to create sound and effects in a way not possible on a digital instrument. There is also an unreproducible,
resonant amplification resulting from vibrating strings and wood. Last but not least, subtleties in pedalling are all but impossible
with an electronic instrument."

TabIe of Dynamic Markings :: top
We set out below signs and marks that set or change the dynamic level during a piece of music. n some case, the dynamic
level is related to the mood; in other cases the mark is much more direct.
Table of Dynamic Markings
ff fortissimo : very loud
f forte : loud
mf mezzo forte : moderately loud
mp mezzo piano : moderately soft
p piano : soft
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 89 oI 169
pp pianissimo : very soft
also ffff, fff, ppp, pppp for greater dynamic range
fp forte immediately dropping to piano
crescendo, cresc. increasingly powerful
decrescendo, decresc. decreasingly powerful
diminuendo. dim. decreasingly powerful
hairpin signs are also used
narrow to wide for crescendo; wide to
narrow for diminuendo
marcato, marc. marked or emphasised
sf, sfz sforzato, sforzando : forced
sforzato or sforzando immediately
dropping to piano
fz forza, forzando : forced, sudden accent
calando decreasing tone and speed
incalzando increasing speed and tone
con sordino (sordini) with the mute(s)
dolcissimo, dolciss. very gently, very sweetly
leggiero light, delicate
mancando, morendo,
perdendosi, smorzando
waning, dying away
martellato hammered out
mezza voce, sotto voce in an undertone
risvegliato with increased animation
senza sordini without mutes
strepitoso noisy, boisterous
tacet it is silent
tutta forza as loud as possible
una corda use the soft pedal on the piano

TabIe of GeneraI MusicaI Markings :: top
We set out below a list of general musical markings that are commonly found in published music. Some may be included in
tables elsewhere in the Online Music Theory.
Table of General Musical Markings
(talian) for, at, in, etc.
a capella (talian) for choral music without accompaniment
a capriccio (talian) in a humorous manner
(talian) gradually getting faster
ad libitum (talian) at the performer's liberty
affectuoso (talian) affectionate, with tender warmth
agitato (talian) agitated, excited
alla (talian) in the style of
alla breve
(talian) the half note (minim) rather than the quarter
note (crotchet) takes the beat
allargando (talian) growing broader
amabile (talian) sweet, amiable, lovable
amoroso (talian) loving
ancora (talian) again
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 90 oI 169
animato (talian) with spirit
a piacere (talian) at the performer's discretion
appassionato (talian) impassioned
arioso (talian) a short solo in the style of an air
(talian) the notes of a chord are played in succession
rather than simultaneously
assai (talian) very
ben, bene (talian) well
brillante (talian) with brilliance or vivacity
(talian) a passage for solo instrument in free,
improvisatory style
calando (talian) diminishing in dynamic and speed
cambiare (talian) to change
cantabile (talian) in a singing style
chiuso (talian) stopped, in horn playing
col, colla (talian) with the
come (talian) like, as
comodo (talian) comfortable, easy
con (talian) with
con brio (talian) with brilliance or vivacity
con dolore (talian) with sorrow
con forza (talian) with force or strength
con fuoco (talian) with fire
con giusto (talian) with taste, fitting mood and tempo
con passione (talian) with passion
con spirito (talian) with spirit
coro (talian) chorus
crescendo (talian) gradually get louder
dal (talian) from the
decrescendo (talian) gradually get softer
deciso (talian) with decision
delicato (talian) delicately
diminuendo (talian) gradually get softer
dolce (talian) sweetly
dolente (talian) doleful, sorrowful
doppio movimento (talian) double the preceeding speed
e, ed (talian) and
e poi (talian) and then
espressivo (talian) expressive
facilimente (talian) easily, without strain
feroce (talian) ferocious
fine (talian) end, close
furioso (talian) furiously
giocoso (talian) gay, playful
grandioso (talian) grandly
grazioso (talian) graceful
il, la (talian) the
impetuoso (talian) in an energetic manner
lacrimoso (talian) tearfully
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 91 oI 169
lamentoso (talian) in a mournful style
largamente (talian) in a dignified manner
legato (talian) smoothly
leggioro (talian) light and graceful
lusingando (talian) alluring, flattering
ma (talian) but
maestoso (talian) majestically
mancando (talian) dying away
marcato (talian) emphasized
(talian) hammered stroke played with very short bows
at the point
marziale (talian) march-like
meno (talian) less
meno mosso (talian) less movement, slower
mesto (talian) mournful, sad
mezzo (talian) half
misterioso (talian) mysteriously
molto (talian) much, very
morendo (talian) dying away and becoming slower
nobilimente (talian) nobly
non (talian) not
ossia (talian) or
parlando (talian) singing in speaking style
parlante (talian) singing in speaking style
pateticamente (talian) pathetically
perdendosi (talian) dying away and becoming slower
pesante (talian) heavy, weighting
piacevole (talian) agreeable
piangevole (talian) plaintively
piu (talian) more
pizzicato (talian) pluck the string with the finger
placidamente (talian) peacefully
pochetto (talian) very little
poco (talian) little, a little
poco a poco (talian) little by little
poi (talian) then
pomposo (talian) pompous
quasi (talian) almost
rallentando (rall.) (talian) gradually getting slower
religioso (talian) with devotion
replica (talian) repeat
risoluto (talian) resolutely
ritardando (rit.) (talian) gradually getting slower
ritenuto (riten.) (talian) suddenly slower, held back
ritmico (talian) rhythmical
rubato (talian) robbed time, speeding up and slowing down
scherzando (talian) playfully
secco (talian) dry, short
sempre (talian) always
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 92 oI 169
semplice (talian) simple
senza (talian) without
serioso (talian) serious
simili (talian) the same
sino al (talian) up to the..
slargando (talian) broadening
slentando (talian) getting slower
smorzando (talian) smother dynamic to nothing
soave (talian) suave, gentle
solennemente (talian) solemnly
sombre (talian) dark, somber
sonore (talian) sound with full tone
sordino (talian) mute
sostenuto (talian) sustained
sotto voce (talian) with a barely audible sound
spiccato (talian) with a light bouncing motion of the bow
spiritosso (talian) lively, with spirit
staccato (talian) detached, short
stentando (talian) delaying, retarding
strepitoso (talian) noisy
stringendo (talian) quickening
subito (talian) suddenly
sul (talian) on the..
suono (talian) sound, tone
tanto (talian) so much
tempo primo (talian) return to original time
tempo rubato (talian) robbed time
teneramente (talian) tenderly
tenuto (talian) held, sustained
tessitura (talian) average range of a vocal part
tosto (talian) rather
tranquillo (talian) tranquil, quiet, calm
(talian) a quick reiteration of the same tone on a string
tristement (talian) sadly
troppo (talian) too much
tutti (talian) all
un poco (talian) a little
vibrato (talian) slight change of pitch on same note
vigoroso (talian) vigorous, strong
vivo (talian) lively
aber (German) but
ausdruckswoll (German) with expression
beruhigen (German) to calm, to quiet
bewegt (German) agitated
bewegter (German) more agitated
daher (German) from there
dmpfer (German) mute
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 93 oI 169
drngen (German) pressing on
einleiten (German) to lead into
erschtterung (German) a violent shaking, deep emotion
etwas (German) somewhat, rather
flchtig (German) fleeting, transient
frei (German) free
ganz (German) entirely, altogether
gebrochen (German) broken
gedehnt (German) held back
gemchlich (German) comfortable
geschlagen (German) struck
gesprochen (German) spoken
gesteigert (German) intensified
(German) stopped note by placing the hand in the bell
of the horn
gewhnlich (German) usual, customary
gleichmssig (German) equal, symmetrical
hauptstimme (German) most important voice in the phrase
halbe (German) half
halt (German) stop, hold
hauptzeitmass (German) original tempo
heftiger (German) more passionate, violent
hervortretend (German) prominently
hrbar (German) audible
immer (German) always
klangvoll (German) sonorous, full-sounding
klingen lassen (German) allow to sound
krftig (German) strong, forceful
kurz (German) short
lebhaft (German) lively
leidenschaftlich (German) passionate
mit (German) with
(German) the second most important voice in the
nehmen (German) to take
neue (German) new
nicht (German) non, not
noch (German) still, yet
ohne (German) without
pltzlich (German) suddenly
ruhig (German) calm
schleppend (German) dragging
schon (German) already
schwerer (German) heavier, more difficult
schwermtig (German) dejected, sad
sehr (German) very
sprechstimme (German) speaking voice
trauernd (German) mournfully
bertnend (German) drowning out
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unterbrechung (German) interruption, suspension
verhalten (German) restrained, held back
verklingen lassen (German) let die away
verzweiflungsvoll (German) full of despair
vorwrts (German) forward, onward
weg (German) away, beyond
wieder (German) again
wie oben (German) as above, as before
zart (German) tenderly, delicately
ziemlich (German) suitable, fitting
zurckhaltend (German) slowing in speed
(German) return to..
bien (French) very, well
come (French) like
dtach (French) detached
doux (French) soft, light
echoton (French) with an echo
clatant (French) sparkling, brilliant
encore (French) again
en dehors (French) outside, emphasized
en fuse (French) dissolving in
et (French) and
fois (French) times, as in number of
laissez vibrer (French) let vibrate
li (French) tied
main (French) hand (droite right; gauche left)
marqu (French) marked, with emphasis
pause (French) pause, rest
peu (French) little
plus (French) more
sans (French) without
seulement (French) only
sombre (French) somber, dark
son (French) sound
sourdine (French) mute
soutenu (French) held, sustained
sur (French) over, on
trs (French) very
tristement (French) sadly
unison (unis.) (French) same pitches played by several instruments

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Perfect Cadence :: top
The end of a phrase, called a cadence or, in jazz, a turnaround, is often a point where the music seems to pause, hesitate or
stop. f you were singing the line or playing it on a wind instrument you might breathe here. The interruption in the music's flow
may result from the shape of the melodic line, or, more commonly, from a particular sequence of chords associated with the
melody. Some writers describe a cadence as a point when the underlying tension in a moving line of music relaxes but this is
quite simplistic as sometimes a cadence can derive its 'effect' from relaxation postponed.
We have already described how, by writing in a certain way, composers will give a piece a strong sense of key. When
describing triads and chords, we mentioned that some triads and some chords are more 'stable' than others. 'Unstable' chords
and triads want to resolve to more stable ones. The most 'stable' chord will be the tonic chord and so any sequence ending
with the tonic chord will seem to have reached a 'completion' while those ending on other chords will seem still to be
This is the fundamental difference between the perfect and pIagaI cadences (where both end on the tonic chord and are
called, collectively, authentic cadences) and the other two, the interrupted and imperfect, which do not.
Let us look at the fundamentals of a perfect cadence, also called the fuII cIose.
The perfect cadence gets its power from two particular note sequences.
the bass line moves from the dominant (fifth) to the tonic (key note) - in C major or C minor, from G to C;
if the bass moves down from dominant to tonic the effect is stronger than when the bass moves up from dominant to tonic;
if the bass moves up from dominant to tonic and then drops an octave to the lower tonic, the effect is strengthened again;
the treble line, or at least a treble line, moves from the leading note to the tonic - in C major or C minor, from B natural to C;
the effect is strongest if the 'leading note' to 'tonic' movement is part of the melody.
To summarize, the perfect cadence is always authentic - it uses a V - I or V - i progression, where both triads are in root
position, and the tonic note of the scale is in the highest part. This is the most decisive cadence and the I (i) chord is felt to be
very conclusive. ts strongest version is in the extended cadence IV - Ic - V - I, which is commonly used as the final ending in
long pieces of music. The perfect cadence can be seen as analogous to a full-stop.
Writers notate this sequence V - I or V - i.

There is a second sequence of chords that incorporates both the features we mentioned above and this uses a dominant 7th in
place of the dominant chord above. This makes the dominant, which is only 'slightly' unstable and therefore only weakly drawn
towards the tonic, more dissonant because the 7th and therefore in greater need of resolution - the dominant 7th chord is more
'unstable' than the dominant chord.
n the key of C major or C minor, the dominant 7th is the minor 7th in the key of G major, F natural. The F natural wants to
resolve to E in C major or to E flat in C minor.

When the perfect cadence ends a piece of music both the dominant and tonic chords should be in root position. Note that we
don't say must as some writers of theory books do. Composers like to break the rules! However the chord sequence is
generally most effective when both chords are in root position.
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When the cadence occurs in the middle of a piece, there is no need to use it in its 'strongest' form. Either chord may be
inverted - even both - and whether the dominant has a 7th or not. Notes in both chords can be doubled although it is better not
to double the 7th in the dominant chord.

PIagaI Cadence :: top
The plagal or church cadence replaces the dominant, or dominant 7th chord, with a subdominant chord, that is a chord on the
4th. The effect is weaker than in the perfect cadence but was popular in music of the 16th century. Certainly, both the perfect
and plagal cadences, give a feeling of closure when used at the end of pieces of music. The absence of the leading note in the
subdominant chord makes it weaker than the dominant chord as a preparation for the tonic chord.
The plagal cadence is usually defined as one whose penult is IV and whose final is I (or whose penult is iv and whose final is
Some theorists have widened its definition to include cadences whose penult is on the subdominant (flat) side of the tonic e.g.
ii - I.
The term is best used to describe cadences in which the penult contains the tonic degree. The only triads which contain the
tonic degree (except for I and i) are IV, iv, VI and vi. The vi triad is not found as the penult in any effective cadence and so it
can be ignored.
This gives the following endings: IV - I, iv - i, iv - I, IV - i, VI - i.
All of these cadences have a penult which can also harmonise the tonic note. This is why the plagal cadence is sometimes
called the "Amen cadence" because of its use at the end of hymns.
The plagal cadence is frequently used after a perfect cadence, because it is not as tonally decisive as the perfect cadence.

To listen to these four plagal cadences press the play button displayed below.
Imperfect Cadence :: top
Both the perfect and plagal cadence end on the tonic chord. The imperfect cadence ends on the dominant chord which can be
approached from any other chord, the most common being I, II, IV or VI.
The imperfect cadence is also always authentic, but now the triads are not in root position, and/or the tonic is not in the highest
part. When the tonic note is not in the highest part, it slightly weakens the decisiveness of the conclusion.
When the V is inverted, it weakens the decisiveness and strength of the progression.
When the I (i) is inverted, it weakens the conclusiveness of the tonic to a much greater degree. Although the key centre is
strongly established by this progression, it does not provide a proper sense of conclusion because the inversions of the triads
are not, in themselves, stable entities. Such a cadence is often used where a perfect cadence would seem overly emphatic - it
does not check the flow of the music too severely. This type of cadence is perhaps analogous to a comma.
We give examples of each below.

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Interrupted/Deceptive Cadence :: top
The expectation that a dominant chord moves to a tonic chord, thus producing a perfect cadence, is very strong. For this
reason, if a dominant chord is followed by any other chord, the feeling is one of 'interruption'. So an interrupted cadence is a
dominant chord followed by any chord except the tonic.
Sometimes the term 'deceptive' is used to describe these progressions. The two terms, 'deceptive' and 'interrupted' are
generally considered to be synonymous, but to make a distinction between them, we give a clearer definition for two similar,
but different, types of cadential progression. These cadences are the same as the authentic, except that instead of resolving
from V to I (i) they resolve to another chord. The effect of this progression is dependent on the chord to which they resolve.
When V resolves to vi it sounds like a very effective resolution because vi is able to function as a genuine tonic - i.e. as a chord
of rest and resolution. n this way this cadence is genuinely deceptive - the ear is expecting something, but it is given
something else which has such a similar function that it is not easily detected - the ear is fooled.
There are other chords which may be deemed to be deceptive finals - IVb and I
are good examples. The IV is usually used in
its first inversion and sounds similar to vi. I
sounds like I but it has a different function - as a dominant seventh it cannot
function as an effective tonic (in common practice tonal harmony) and seeks resolution to a triad a fifth below. Due to their
similarity to genuine tonics both these chords have been introduced deceptively. Any other chords which bear similarity to the
genuine tonics of I, i and vi, can be introduced deceptively.
When the V chord resolves to a chord which bears no relation to a true tonic, the cadence can be described as interrupted. t
sounds like a normal cadence, but it suddenly changes tack and instead of resolving it moves to a completely different place.
The cadence has been interrupted.
There is no distinction made between the interrupted and deceptive cadences in conventional music theory; they are simply
synonyms and either will be chosen at the behest of the author.
We give some examples below.

The 'Six Four' Cadence :: top
There are clearly a considerable number of possible cadences not included in the four discussed above. The 'six-four' cadence
or VI - IV cadence, is interesting and we illustrate it below

Feminine Endings :: top
Cadences are normally found where the second chord is rhythmically stronger than the first. When the first chord is stronger
than the second, the cadence is called 'feminine'. Music from the period of Haydn and Mozart used the progression Ic-V, i.e.
second inversion tonic chord to dominant chord, so often that one might call it 'characteristic' and is sometimes called a 'half'
cadence. t should be noted that this pattern produces two chords with the same bass note in both chords.
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To listen to a feminine ending press the play button displayed below.
When thinking of music in terms of phrases (we discussed phrases Iesson 21) then one meets phrases of two types:
antecedent and consequent. Sometimes these are called respectively 'question' and 'answer' and occur one after the other.
The antecedent, or 'questioning' phrase is the first musical statement. t usually ends with a half cadence, the feminine ending
we discussed above, or an imperfect cadence. The phrase pauses momentarily on the half cadence or imperfect cadence, but
it has the need to continue so the musical thought can be completed.
The completion is provided by the consequent phrase, an 'answering' phrase. t occurs after the antecedent phrase. The
consequent phrase usually ends with a perfect cadence (authentic or plagal).
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Introduction :: top
Arnold Dolmetsch, in his book Interpretation of Music of the Seventeenth and Eighteen Centuries published in 1915, was
one of the first to understand that the performer was expected to add ornamentation to the performance of what today we call
"early music". Ornamentation is integral to performance and to miss it out makes as much sense as leaving out any of the
written notes. ndeed, a study of original sources indicates to what degree performers were expected to 'expand upon' what
was written, either through careful preparation or 'on the spur of the moment'.
To quote from C.P.E. Bach's "Versuch ber die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen" (Berlin, 1753):
t is not likely that anybody could question the necessity of ornaments. They are found everywhere in music, and are not only
useful, but indispensable. They connect the notes; they give them life. They emphasise them, and besides giving accent and
meaning they render them grateful; they illustrate the sentiments, be they sad or merry, and take an important part in the
general effect. They give to the player an opportunity to show off his technical skill and powers of expression. A mediocre
composition can be made attractive by their aid, and the best melody without them may seem obscure and meaningless.
J. S. Bach, C.P.E.'s father, has left us a table of ornaments, which he prepared for one of his other sons, Wilhelm Friedemann
Bach, and which is applicable to his own music.

C. P. E. Bach wrote his father's obituary:
While a student in Lneburg, my father had the opportunity to listen to a band kept by the Duke of Celle, consisting for the most
part of Frenchmen; thus he acquired a thorough grounding in the French taste, which in those regions was something quite
The infatuation in German courts with the French style is summed up by Christian Thomasius in his Von Nachahmung der
Franzsen of 1687:
French clothes, French food, French furniture, French customs, French sins, French illnesses are generally in vogue.
So using an 'historically informed' approach, one's application of the correct style of ornamentation to a particular piece of
music requires an appreciation of the subtleties involved in considering what was appropriate at the time the work was
composed and performed including where a German composer might want to create something 'French' or a Frenchman
something 'talian'.
The problem, for today's performer, is that ornamentation is one of those elements where notation varies from period to period
and from country to country, indeed varied with the taste of the person writing about it. Some composers would have expected
the performer to add to the ornamentation noted in the score. Others, and Franois Couperin must be counted amongst them,
expected the performer to observe only what was written.
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am always astonished, after the pains have taken to indicate the appropriate ornaments for my pieces, to hear people who
have learnt them without heeding my instructions. Such negligence is unpardonable, the more so as it is no arbitrary matter to
put in any ornament one wishes. therefore declare that my pieces must be performed just as have marked them, and that
they will never make much of an impression on people of real discernment if all that have indicated is not obeyed to the letter,
without adding or taking way anything.
Franois Couperin - preface to Book of Pices de Clavecin
For this reason, ornamentation must be treated as part of a wider field called Interpretation which includes matters such as
tempo, rhythm, instrumentation and, of course, style. t might involve some understanding of the role of music and of musicians
in society at the time when the music was originally written and when it was originally performed, including the expectations of
the composer, performer and audience at any particular period and place.
On a purely technical level, he must understand how ornamentation enhances the rhythmic, harmonic and melodic detail of the
music. Ornamentation is more like the fruit in a fruit cake than the icing on top of it. Take off the icing and you still have a fruit
cake - remove the fruit, and you have not.
Thanks to books by Dolmetsch, Donington (The nterpretation of Early Music; pub. Faber - rev. version 1974) and others, as
well as the labours of good editors, we have modern editions in which the original ornamentation is clearly marked and fully
explained and additions are indicated as suggestions. Our problem can often be reduced to reading the symbols on the score
and applying them correctly during the performance.
For this reason, we have kept this discussion of ornamentation to a basic level. We would refer those interested in gaining a
deeper understanding to the fascinating books by Arnold Dolmetsch and by Dolmetsch's student, Robert Donington, or to the
many other excellent surveys of this field.
Baroque Ornamentation by Ronald Roseman
Ornamentation in Giuseppe Tartini's Trait des Agrments by Connie Sunday
Early Baroque Violin Practice (1520-1650) by Connie Sunday
Baroque Ornamentation: An ntroduction by Rebecca Schalk Nagel
Ornamentation in the Bassoon Music of Vivaldi and Mozart by David J. Ross
Baroque Vocal Ornamentation - The Elaborate Pearls of the Voice
mprovised Ornamentation in Solo nstrumental Literature of the German Late Baroque by Eugenia Earle
The Music of the Sean-Ns by Toms Canainn
The Sound of Medieval Song: Ornamentation and Vocal Style According to the Treatises by Timothy J. McGee
Ornamentation in Spanish Music of the 17th Century by Dr. Esther Morales Caadas
Baroque Ornaments
talian Baroque Ornamentation - a pdf format file
Apollo Brass Guide to Renaissance Ornamentation compiled and edited by Brian Kay
Bach's ornamentation table by Aileen McCallum
Ornamentation in South ndian Music and the Violin by Gordon N. Swift
Bach's Unaccompanied String Music: A New (Old) Approach to Stylistic and diomatic Transcription for the Guitar by Stanley
Poetry and Music
Music of the Baroque Era - with reference to baroque opera
Ornamentation in Persian Classical Music
Ornamentation in ndian Classical Music
Early European Music
Ornamentation in Kabuki
Learning to Play rish Flute - including books on ornamentation
Spur of the Moment - from
Ornamention and American ndian Courting Flute
Capering to the lascivious lute: the delights of Authenticity by Peter Hoar

Grace Notes :: top
n the seventeenth century the word 'grace' was applied to a number of 'ornaments' including the appogiatura (from an talian
word meaning 'to lean') and the acciaccatura (from an talian verb acciaccare meaning 'to crush'). The acciaccatura is very
short (literally 'crushed'), is played on the beat together with, or imperceptably before, the principal note before being released.
t is generally written as a small quaver with a stroke through its flag and lies in front of the principal note. This notation is
symbolic - the grace note is not counted in the time value count for the bar.
As a form of appoggiatura, the 'grace note' is played either just before the beat resolving speedily to the principal note which is
itself on the beat, or is played on the beat but resolves speedily to the principal note which is accented. This is an example of a
very short appoggiatura. n all three cases the 'grace note' is short.
We give the three examples below.
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Some authors include a number of other note patterns under the heading of grace notes; for instance, a sequence of two or
more notes played very quickly as a link from one principal note to the next. Apart from the requirement to play them as quickly
as possible, there was no 'hard and fast' rule as to whether these 'passing' grace note sequences were to be played on or
before the beat. Sometimes composers make their intentions clear with written instructions or supplementary marks (this is
particularly true once we start looking at music of the twentieth century) but the performer should be aware that in any area
'taste' is as good a guide as 'evidence'.
Georg Muffat, a German who had been one of Lully's musicians, insisted on the "importance of using with good judgment of
the nice manners and proper grace notes which make the harmony brilliant as so many precious stones ... (and) that from them
depends a peculiar sweetness, vigour and beauty." After which he tells about the current mistakes, which are the omission, the
impropriety, the excess and the unskillfulness, adding, "for which one ought to be so assiduous in the making of these precious
ornaments of music."
Mozart would often write an acciaccatura when he wanted a normal, as opposed to, a very short appoggiatura.
Before the nineteenth century, there was tremendous freedom in how these matters could be notated or, in practice, how the
performer might realise them. Many composers supplemented editions of their music with 'a table of ornaments' but this might
only be applicable to that particular edition. n eighteenth century France, the composers were invariably brilliant performers
and the pieces were expected to display this. The decoration that a performer applied freely in performance could be very
difficult to notate accurately on the page.
A note about notating ornaments: if the auxiliary notes in an ornament include accidentals, for instance a C sharp in the key of
G major, this is shown by writing an accidental, in this case a sharp sign, above or below the ornament sign. n the case of an F
natural in the key of G major, the sign would be a natural.

Appoggiaturas :: top
The appoggiatura was widely used in 'early music'. We have met the very short form when discussing grace notes above and
in this section we want to concentrate on the rule, set out by C.P.E. Bach, which covers the majority of occasions when it is
the appoggiatura is written symbolically as a small crotchet or quaver;
the symbol is ignored when summing the time values in the bar;
the symbol lies to the left of, and is shown slurred to the principal note;
the appoggiatura is always played on the beat - the principal follows;
the duration of the appoggiatura is determined by the note value of the principal note;
for an undotted principal note, the appoggiatura takes half its value - the principal takes the remainder;
for a dotted principal note, the appoggiatura takes two thirds its value - the principal takes the remainder;
the appoggiatura often formalises the practice of 'freely filling-in thirds' in melodic lines;
the partition rule for appoggiaturas may occasionally change as rhythmic or harmonic considerations indicate.
We give two examples below.

t is common to see a small slur linking the appoggiatura symbol to the principal note that follows it. Whether or not one actually
slurs the two notes in performance is determined by the style you want. n other words, the slur is symbolic and not mandatory.
Quantz wrote that:
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Short appoggiaturas .. must be touched very briefly and softly, as though, so to speak, only in passing .. those must not be
held, especially in a slow tempo; otherwise they will sound as if they are expressed with regular notes .. This, however, would
be contrary not only to the intention of the composer, but to the French style of playing, to which these appoggiaturas owe their
origin. The little notes belong in the time of the notes preceding them, and hence must not, as in the second example, fall in the
time of those that follow them.
Edward Reilly, the translator of the English version of Quantz's treatise, concludes that Quantz's statement regarding the
French style of playing to which these appoggiaturas owe their origin:
... strongly suggests that pre-beat placement in this rhythmic figure was not uncommon, at least in the school of eighteenth-
century flute performance: Judging from Quantz's insistence that the performance of passing appoggiaturas in the time of the
preceding note is part of the French style of playing, he probably heard them performed in that manner, at least by flute
players, during his visits to Paris in 1726 and1727. Furthermore, recall Bach's own admission that his on-beat rule was
frequently ignored by performers of his day when he declares, "This observation (i.e., on-beat placement) grows in importance
the more it is neglected".
And so, yet again, one has to accept contradictory evidence and make sure that one follows the guidance that best fits your
musical intention.
The appogigiatura takes on the role of a musical 'sigh' when we come to the music of Mozart. This is examined further in
Mozart's musical language in The Marriage of Figaro.
n some nineteenth century music, the appoggiatura symbol is used when an acciaccatura is what is meant.

Turns :: top
We illustrate the turn below.

The general shape of the turn is clear - the note above, the note itself, the note below, then the note itself again - and the two
examples are a good guide to how the turn is normally played. The rhythmic shape of the sequence, whether all the notes have
the same time value or some are extended or shortened, and its overall duration depends on the context in which ornament is
being used. n his 'Versuch', C.P.E. Bach spends twelve pages and gives seventy examples not included in those twelve
pages, discussing the the turn. Suffice it to say, this is a 'free' ornament; the shape of the note sequence is followed, but all
else is up to the performer and the occasion.

TriIIs :: top
Fewer ornaments give performers more problems than trills. Maybe this is because there are many different kinds of trill, each
right for a particular situation.
A trill may have anything up to three parts: a preparation, a shake and a termination.
the preparation is a long or short appoggiatura always played on the beat;
in early music, the appoggiatura is aIways the note above the written note;
in modern music, the appoggiatura is generally the written or principal note;
a short appoggiatura is as long as the individual notes in the shake;
a long appoggiatura is one half of an undotted principal, two thirds of a dotted principal;
the appoggiatura is slurred to the shake which follows;
the shake begins on the note above the written note and finishes on the written note;
the notes of a shake should be as short as is comfortable for the player;
if the termination is a turn, it is slurred to the shake;
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if the termination is a single note, it is separated from the shake;
cadential trills, those at the end of sections, normally have long appoggiaturas.
The trill may be reduced to a shake alone or it may have no termination. We give some examples below.

Very rarely, the appoggiatura of a trill is actually written into the melodic line as a separated note. This becomes clear when
one examines the harmonic progression in the accompanying parts. f the harmony indicates that the previous note, although
the same pitch as the appoggiatura, is not the appoggiatura of the trill following, then the player has to repeat the note when
playing the appoggiatura to avoid starting the trill on the wrong note. We give such an example below in which the second line
is what is written, the top line is what is understood by what is written and the third line is what is actually played.

The term 'trill' is also applied in phonetics. t is a consonant produced with one articulator held close to another so that a flow of
air sets up a regular vibration. E.g. the 'rr' of Spanish burro, meaning 'donkey', is a IinguaI trill, with vibration of the tip of the
tongue, or specifically a dental trill, articulated in the dental position of articulation. UvuIar trills, with vibration of the uvula
against the back of the tongue, are possible, though not usual, for example the 'r' in French. n such cases the pitch of the
sound is constant, unlike the trill in music.
TriIIs - This advice on trilling is WRONG - trilling to an upper note is only generally correct in music written after the late-
The Story of a TriII

Mordents :: top
The symbol for the shake is sometimes confused with the symbol for the mordent, the latter first appearing in Chambonnires'
Book of Pieces" (1670). t should be pointed out that although some commentators suggest the ornament is basically a
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French invention, ornamentation identical to the mordent is referred to earlier by Playford, Thomas Mace and Christopher
Simpson in England and by Nicolaus Ammerbach, in his "Orgel - oder nstrument - Tablatur" (1571).
n music written before the nineteenth century the mordent (written as a shake sign crossed by a vertical line) is a sequence of
three notes (the written note, the note below and returning to the written note). This is sometimes called a 'lower' or 'inverted'
mordent to distinguish it from the nineteenth century ornament (written as a shake sign) called the 'upper' mordent or mordent,
also a sequence of three notes (the written note, the note above and back to the written note). These are both illustrated below.

Vibrato :: top
We have chosen to include vibrato in this section because, in modern day performances of 'early music', vibrato seems to
cause performers so many problems. t is clear from instruction books from the period that there were mechanical 'vibrato-like'
ornaments such as fIattement, battement and bebung. Stops on some early organs included a 'vibrato effect' indicating that
the 'effect' could be extended, maybe even lasting throughout a whole movement. 'Vibrato' is the slight and quick wavering of
pitch about a mean, which we use almost without thinking, whether playing or singing, to add lustre to our tone. f the pitch
change is small and its frequency great enough, the ear no longer perceives a series of different notes, but only a change in
timbre or tone-colour. There are, according to Robert Donington, good acoustic as well as historical reasons for including
vibrato in proper moderation.
Recent researches put the time-span after which it is possible for our own faculties to perceive a new aural event as such, and
not merely as an undifferentiated continuation, at about one-twentieth to one-eighteenth of a second. Any absolutely unvarying
persistence of the same aural signal beyond this time-span rapidly fatigues that band of fibres in the basilar membrane of the
ear which is involved in detecting it: there is then a subjective decline both in the volume and in the colorfulness of the sound
perceived. t seems to go a little dead on us; and this is the acoustic consideration which makes vibrato a natural rather than an
artificial recourse on melodic instruments. The vibrato just mitigates that deadening persistence.
Dr. Valerie Flook writing in The Recorder Magazine (Winter 2002) comments:
Production of a constant air flow at the mouth is probably an impossibility. n my experience (a physicist teaching physiology)
subjects attempting to breathe out at a constant rate (usually by following a trace defining the flow as a visible signal) even
after training, produce something which oscillates slightly. am sure expert wind players can do better than the average
respiratory physiologist but in fact the respiratory system is almost designed to oscillate. Controlled expiration is achieved by
controlling the activity of antagonistic respiratory muscles and these are continuously "hunting". The relative roles of the
antagonistic musicles change as lung volume changes. n addition, a muscle mass contracts not by all the motor units being
active at once but by a number of units contracting. A muscle fibre is either contracted or it is not; graduated muscle activity is
by contraction of appropriate numbers of fibres. Contracted fibres "tire", use up metabolic substrates and other fibres take over;
so even within a small part of a muscle there is continuously changing activity. Given this complexity it would be surprising if a
constant flow, to within the equivalent of 1 cent (1% of a semitone) could be achieved.
We use vibrato almost without thought and it is taught as an important aspect of modern instrumental and vocal technique. The
principal reason that vibrato is perceptible as a constant in the vocal tone of modern singing is because of the greater air
pressure used. When there is a change in air pressure or in the size of the air stream, the larynx will automatically respond
differently. Using a lower pressure (compared to modern operatic singing) avoids the need to control vibrato through
mechanical suppression in the vocal tract. Seventeenth-century singing -- whether French or talian -- is not achieved by taking
a modern production and "straightening" the sound. f you try to suppress vibrato without changing the air pressure, you will
have to use some kind of constriction in the vocal tract. Such constriction can lead to unnecessary tension and fatigue. This
can understandably alarm voice teachers when their students start "straightening" their sounds for singing early music. Using a
laryngeal set-up that is unconstricted, with a breath pressure that will allow for vibrato to be used at the singer's discretion, is a
common denominator between talian and French singing in the seventeenth century; what differs is the variable versus steady
state air stream. Vibrato would have been consciously added by the singer when desired and was not a natural by-product of
the voice production.
There are two different ways of producing vibrato, one produced with breath pressure and the other produced in the throat.
Both types of vibrato mechanism were used during the seventeenth century. The different mechanisms produce a difference in
sound for these two types of vibrato -- somewhat subtle, a test for the sound fidelity of this new technology. The French would
most likely have used a throat-produced vibrato, a mechanism very similar to their trill technique, in order not to disturb their
steady air stream. The talians most likely used a breath-produced vibrato as their norm, since they were using a variable air
stream already, with throat vibrato reserved perhaps for more special effects. No seventeenth-century source addresses this
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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issue, although Johann Adam Hiller in the late 18th century regarded throat vibrato as the more difficult of the two types of
vibrato. This suggests that the 18th-century talo-Germanic School used throat vibrato less often than breath vibrato.
n the 1960s, and despite a lot of contrary evidence, many influential early music specialists believed that vibrato was never
used except as an occasional ornament. The period when this point of view might be taken has been extended, over the last
decade or so, to include what we call the 'mid-romantic', the music of Brahms and early Mahler, for instance. This has inspired
a lot of dry, rather dull performances that find an audience that 'feels' it is 'early' because it is not what they believe to be
'modern', that is, to include the use of 'vibrato'. The fatal circularity in this argument should be obvious. n the minds of some,
'early music' is an 'antidote' to the more poisonous aspects of modern performance which include the early music performing
tradition established by Dolmetsch, Donington and their pupils in and after the late 1800s but 'en passant' a performing tradition
stretching back to when this music was still wet on the page.
Many modern commentators have questioned the basis of what we call 'early music' and you are recommended to read the
work of those who have carefully re-examined the premise that underpins the modern practice of 'early music'. n addition, we
have provided a number of interesting links to web site where vibrato is discussed and which show that even today there is no
Text and Act by Richard Taruskin
Use of Vibrato in Baroque Vocal Music
Vibrato and Tremulo on the Recorder
Vibrato in Classical String Technique
Vibrato: some historical notes for string players
PSO clarinetist votes 'no' on vibrato for classical works
nteresting comments about vibrato in musical performance
Why you shouldn't use vibrato
An ntroduction to Singing Technique and a Short History of the Countertenor by Daniel Taylor - includes a discussion of
Can Blacks Play Klezmer? Authenticity in American Ethnic Musical Expression - problems with authenticity

Arpeggiation :: top
n a previous lesson we discussed broken and spread chords. Accompanists, whether performing on keyboard, plucked
stringed or certain bowed stringed instruments, would take the formal chord structure and extemporise series of arpeggios -
played in a 'harp-like manner'. This technique later became common in music written for the piano for which a special symbol
was introduced. The chord to be arpeggiated might lie on one stave or across both staves and ocassionally the arpeggiation
should be played from the top of the chord to the bass, in which case a downward pointing arrow would be placed bside the
special symbol, a vertical wavy line.

Divisions :: top
The musical form, Theme and Variations, has its origins in a musical form known as 'Divisions' or in Spanish Diferencias, which
can be translated as "differences". Some of earliest examples come from the 16th century, e.g. by Luis de Narvez. A simple
theme would be extended through formal ornamentation and free extemporisation becoming melodically more convoluted and
extended. n earlier times, these variations would be written down only in teaching methods. Divisioning was in music of the
fifteenth and sixteenth century what we hear in modern jazz - variation for the purpose of developing or displaying technical or
musical prowess.
Ornamentation and Divisions

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Chapter 24 - REPEATS
Repeated Notes :: top

We set out above some examples of signs used to represent repeated notes. The upper line shows the notation itself and the
lower line shows what each sign represents. The time value shown by the note-head tells us how much time we have to play
the repeated notes. The time value of the repeated note will be either an undotted quaver, semiquaver, demisemiquaver or
shorter, depending on the number of strokes across the stem. The number of repeated notes is the ratio of the time value of
the note head to the time value of the repeated note. f the note does not have a stem (e.g. a semibreve) then the strokes lie
below the note-head.

bar 1 : a standard crotchet;
bar 2 : two repeated quavers (one strokes=one flag) in the time of one crotchet;
bar 3 : four repeated semiquavers (two strokes=two flags) in the time of one crotchet;
bar 4 : eight repeated demisemiquavers (three strokes=three flags) in the time of one crotchet;
bar 5 : three repeated quavers in the time of one dotted crotchet;
bar 6 : four repeated quavers in the time of one minim;
bar 7 : two repeated semiquavers in the time of one quaver beamed to another two repeated semiquavers in the time of one

Repeated Groups :: top
Where the pattern to be repeated is a pair of notes a certain interval apart, rather than individual notes as in the examples
above, the strokes are used, in effect, like beams. The duration of the pattern is given by the time value of first of the pair of
notes. The second note, marked with identical duration, confirms the pattern interval.

bar 1 : sixteen semiquavers (two strokes=two flags) in the time of one semibreve;
bar 2 : twelve semiquavers (two strokes=two flags) in the time of one dotted minim;
bar 3 : eight semiquavers (two strokes=two flags) in the time of one minim;
bar 4 : four semiquavers (two strokes=two flags) in the time of one crotchet.
Composers may use this notation when they want a tremolo effect. f the use of semiquavers (16th notes) in music that is too
slow does not produce a convincing effect, shorter notes, demisemiquavers (32nd notes), would be used and the composer
would indicate this by using three strokes instead of two.
When larger groups of notes or chords are repeated, strokes are placed between the second and fourth lines of the stave.
We give some examples below.

Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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bar 1 : repeated chords - a single oblique stroke, one single stroke per chord whatever its note vaIue;
bar 2 : repeated semiquaver pattern - two oblique strokes (two strokes=two flags) - if quavers, one stroke; if demisemiquavers,
three strokes;
bar 3 : repeated pattern of mixed notes - two oblique strokes within two dots.

Repeated Bars :: top
When individual bars are to be repeated, the composer may use a single oblique stroke between two dots in the bar or bars
following. f a short passage of two or three bars is to be repeated then the phrase itself might be highlighted with a line with
square ends lying above the bar and the word bis in the middle of the line. We illustrate both of these below.

Repeated WhoIe Bar Rests :: top
Whole bar rests can be collected together and the number of consecutive whole bar rest shown by a single rest sign over
which the number is written. f this sequence of rests included section ending then it is good practice to collect them within each
section and separate the sections with a double bar made up of two thin vertical lines.

Repeated Sections :: top
The most common device for repeating sections is the repeat mark which we show below - a pair of lines, one thick and the
other thin, with two, or sometime four dots, which are placed to the left of the thiner line if an 'end repeat' or to the right of the
thinner line if a 'begin repeat'. Notice that if the first section repeated lies at the beginning of the piece no 'begin repeat' sign is
needed but for sections lying within the piece the composermust mark both the beginning and end of the section.

f the piece starts with a 'short' bar (the piece below is in 4 but has only 2 beats in the first bar) and the composer wants the
piece repeated from the beginning, the first repeat mark lies in the middle of a bar so that the time value of the opening 'short'
bar taken with the time value of the 'shortened' bar immediately before the repeat mark totals the time value of a whole bar.
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Sometimes the last Iew bars oI a passage to be repeated may be altered when played a second
time. To make this clear, 'Iirst time' and 'second time' marks can be placed over the relevent
bars; as shown below. The 'second time' mark is open to the right because it leads to new
Da Capo :: top
Sometimes instructions are given that mean one repeats different sections from different places. For this a number of talian
instructions are used which we summarise below.
nstruction Meaning What You Must Do
D.C. aI Fine
D.C. (da capo) = from the
Fine = end
Go back to the beginning
and end at Fine
D.C. aI Coda
D.C. (da capo) = from the
Coda = tail
Go back to the beginning
and play to the coda
sign, then skip to and
play the Coda
D.S. aI Fine
D.S. (del segno) = from the
Fine = end
Go back to the sign and
end at Fine
D.S. aI Coda
D.S. (del segno) = from the
Coda = tail
Go back to the sign and
play to the coda sign,
then skip to and play the
Sign - Segno looks like

Coda Sign looks like

Minuet & Trio :: top
t is a 'convention' that when playing a minuet followed by a trio section, the minuet is played a second time after the end of the
trio section but without any sectional repeats. This is sometimes called 'A-B-A' structure, i.e. A, the minuet, B, the trio section, A
the minuet repeated. A similar 'convention' is adopted with paired movements in early eighteenth century dance suites, for
example, a pair of minuets. The second minuet is played between two performances of the first, the second performance
played without sectional repeats.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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Origin of Diatonic and Chromatic ScaIes :: top
We owe our concept of scale and temperament to the ancient Greeks. The ancient Greek music theoretician, Aristoxenus of
Tarantum (4th century B.C.), wrote about the origin of the diatonic scale:
"We can establish that the diatonic is the first (proton) and the oldest (presbyteron); this is the type that the human voice
naturally finds" (Harmonic Elements , cited by Haik-Vantoura in her Les 150 Psaumes dans leurs melodies antiques, p. T-51).
The chromatic scale, which may be derived from the diatonic scale, was also ancient. Aristoxenus' view is that its origins "go
back into the night of time". He also cited "mixed" scales of the "diatonic-chromatic" genre (a modern example being our
"harmonic minor"), as did Plutarch (De musica, chapter 33). Many of these ideas may indeed have originated with the
Babylonians. This topic is covered in much greater detail in the thesis referenced below.
The Greeks studied the relationship between string length and pitch with an instrument called the monochord. ts base was a
resonating box, over which a single string was stretched. With one end secured by a hitch pin, the string passed over a fixed
bar or nut, across a moveable bridge, over a second fixed bar, finally secured at its other end by an adjustable tuning peg.
Using the moveable bridge to divide the string into two lengths set to different ratios, they could study the relationship between
string lengths and interval.

We believe that Pythagoras (born on Samos in 582 BC) first demonstrated that two strings, the ratio of their lengths being 2:1,
produced an interval of an octave and that the shorter string produced the higher note. There is no written evidence from
Pythagoras himself. The earliest documented use of the monochord in this way was by Euclid in about 300 BC.
He also discovered that the interval of a perfect fifth was associated with the ratio 3:2, and that the octave could be completed
with a second interval, a perfect fourth, associated with the ratio 4:3. He demonstrated this by multiplying 3:2 by 4:3 giving 2:1,
the ratio for an octave. This system was extended by introducing a tone, the difference between a perfect fifth and a perfect
fourth, with the ratio 9:8. Using the fact that a perfect fourth is made up of two tones plus one semitone, the ratio for the
semitone was calculated to be 256:243. Unfortunately, already we have a problem. Two semitones, each set to the ratio
256:243 do not quite make a tone with ratio 9:8.
The association of musical harmony with ratios of small integers would have commended itself to early Greek philosopher-
mathematicians who believed that all numbers were either integer or rational (i.e. a rational number can be written as the ratio
of two integers) until it was proved that the square root of two is irrational. The shock was all the greater because one can
construct a line of irrational length. The square root of two is the length of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle whose other
sides are each of unit length.
What we know of Greek music indicates that the lyre was one of their most important instruments. There is little evidence that it
performed a harmonic role; rather, it seems to have been used to play melody. The early lyre had three strings but, by the
seventh century BC, a fourth string had been added. The four strings were most probably tuned to the notes of a Dorian
tetrachord (intervals: tone, tone, semitone), the four notes encompassing a perfect fourth. Relying on vague, even contradictory
evidence, we believe that Pythagoras, or Lichaon of Samos, increased the number of strings to eight, joining two Dorian
tetrachords with a tone between them to produce what today we call the major scale (intervals: [tone, tone, semitone], tone,
[tone, tone, semitone]), the top and bottom strings being one octave apart. This eight-stringed instrument was called the
kithara, from which we get the words 'cittern' and 'guitar'.
Terpander: The nvention of Music in the Orientalizing Period - by John Curtis Franklin

Modes :: top
By choosing different starting points on this interval-pattern to form a sequence of eight consecutive notes, the Greeks
established scales or 'modes'. We picture seven modes below although it should be stressed that not all of these 'modes' were
actually used by the Greeks but have been added later by mainly medieval musical theorists.
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Today we apply the term 'mode' to fourteen different 'scales. The first eight were established during the medieval era to help
classify existing Gregorian chants. These are the so-called Church modes. A further four were added in 1547 by Glareanus.
Much later two more were added for completeness. Today, modes have given way to our major-minor system of tonality.
Modes come in pairs, authentic and plagal, terms that describe the position in the scale of a particular note, called the finaIis or
finaI. When the finaI is the lowest note in the scale, the scale is said to be authentic. When the finaI is the fourth note in the
scale, the mode is said to be plagal and its name is preceded by the prefix hypo, meaning 'under'. The finaI is shown below in
bIue. The scales shown in the score above are all authentic modes.
The modal scales set out below use only the white keys on the piano. Each starts on a different degree of the scale. The
original eight where we also show the tenor, repercussio or reciting tone (marked in red) together with the four of Glareanus
are set out with the characteristic sequence of intervals S = semitone and T = tone:
Church Modes according to the late ninth century text ALIA MUSICA which mis-
applied original Greek names
I Dorian: authentic
D E F G A B C D :
minor mode
II Hypodorian: plagal A B C D E F G A
III Phrygian: authentic
E F G A B C D E :
minor mode
IV Hypophrygian: plagal B C D E F G A B
V Lydian: authentic F G A B C D E F TTTSTTS
VI Hypolydian: plagal C D E F G A B C
VII Mixolydian: authentic G A B C D E F G TTSTTST
VIII Hypomixolydian: plagal D E F G A B C D
Modes introduced in the sixteenth century by Swiss theorist Glareanus (1488-
IX Aeolian: authentic
A B C D E F G A :
minor mode
X Hypoaeolian: plagal E F G A B C D E
XI onian: authentic C D E F G A B C TTSTTTS
XII Hypoionian: plagal G A B C D E F G
Originally rejected by Glareanus because it lacked a perfect fifth above and a
perfect fourth below
XIII Locrian: authentic
B C D E F G A B :
minor mode
XIV Hypolocrian: plagal F G A B C D E F
The tenor is a fifth above the finaI in the authentic modes and a third below the tenor in the authentic mode when placed in
the plagal mode.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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When the tenor would have been the note B it is raised to C.
The Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian and Locrian modes are minor modes because in each case the interval between the first and
third degree is a minor third.
All these modal scales are in effect the same sequence but starting from different notes. The 'colour' of each mode is
determined by its sequence of intervals, whole- and half-steps, tones and semitones. Modes are pitch-insensitive; in other
words, although our examples have been based on the white notes on a piano, modes can start from any note. What is
important is that the required sequence of tones and semitones be preserved in each mode.
Historically, the scale or mode was generally the full range of a chant. There are examples where an extra note above or below
the scale was added, and even where chants include notes not in the tone row of a particular mode, what today we would call
'accidentals'. Like so many 'rules' in music theory, there is some disparity between theory and practice.
The association of these particular Greek names with particular modes appears to have taken place during the medieval
period. Certainly Boethius (c. 480- c. 524) associated names differently to each scale. Most modern modal theory, however,
uses the names we have given in the chart above. The onian mode has become our major scale and the Aeolian mode our
natural minor scale. For those interested in when the modal system gave way to our modern major-minor key system, we
recommend the article entitled When did modal music give way to the modern key system?.
The series of fourteen modes can be found for any 'key'. The examples above are all based on the key of C and are derived
from the C major scaIe: C D E F G A B C. By modulating to another key, say D major, the modes will now be various
sequences based on the scale of D major: D E F# G A B C# D. Each mode will start on its own degree of the scale; so for
example, the authentic form of the Locrian mode will start on the seventh degree (C#) and the sequence will be: C# D E F# G
A B C#.
The modes above have been derived from major scales. When using a minor scale as the basis for a sequence of modes, the
results are somewhat different because the successive interval sequences are now different.
The names of the modes we find for each degree of the scale also change. Let us consider modes formed when the basic
scale is the harmonic minor. Here S = semitone, T = tone, and U = three semitones:
Modes based on the C Harmonic Minor scale
Dorian 2b 5b: D Eb F G Ab B C D STTSUST
onian augmented: Eb F G Ab B C D Eb TTSUSTS
Lydian minor: F G Ab B C D Eb F TSUSTST
Mixolydian 6b 9b: G Ab B C D Eb F G SUSTSTT
Aeolian harmonic: Ab B C D Eb F G Ab USTSTTS
Superlocrian diminished: B C D Eb F G Ab B STSTTSU
Hypoionian: C D Eb F G Ab B C TSTTSUS
The modal names have precise meanings. For example, the mode on the second degree of the minor harmonic scale, the
Dorian 2b 5b, is similar to the Dorian mode in the major scale that carries the same root, where the second (2b) and the fifth
degrees (5b) are lowered by a half-step. The Superlocrian (sometimes written Super-locrian) is a Locrian mode where the 4th
has been flattened. t is identical to the 4th mode of the Lydian Dominant scale. The name Lydian Dominant is given to a scale
containing the notes of a dominant seventh chord plus a raised fourth - this last is a characteristic of the Lydian mode. The
raised fourth is actually the only difference between this scale and the Mixolydian mode. The raised fourth is less dissonant
than the natural fourth when played over an ordinary dominant seventh chord. For this reason the Lydian Dominant scale is
often preferred to the Mixolydian mode when played over any dominant seventh chord, unless the natural fourth is explicitly
specified, as in a sus chord. The Lydian Dominant scale is always preferred if the raised fourth is explicitly specified, for
example in a dominant seventh sharp eleven chord. The raised fourth is enharmonic with the lowered fifth; for this reason this
chord may be notated 7b5 rather than 7#11. However, the notation 7b5 is often reserved to indicate a different scale, such as
the diminished scale or the whole tone scale. The sound of the raised fourth - or, enharmonically, the flat fifth, which is how
most musicians referred to it - is characteristic of bebop (about which see bebop below).
Unfortunately, once one begins 'naming' modes with altered notes, for example when establishing the modes derived from
minor scales, one finds a bewildering choice of names for any particular sequence of notes. The names we have given to the
sequences immediately above and below are suggestions only. You should be aware that other writers may use other names.
Happily, the sequences themselves do not change, nor the chords that will be associated with them.
When the scale is the melodic minor scale the modes are as follows.
Modes based on the C Melodic Minor scale
Dorian 2b: D Eb F G A B C D STTTTST
Lydian augmented: Eb F G A B C D Eb TTTTSTS
Lydian 7b: F G A B C D Eb F TTTSTST
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Mixolydian 6b: G A B C D Eb F G TTSTSTT
Aeolian 5b: A B C D Eb F G A TSTSTTT
Superlocrian: B C D Eb F G A B STSTTTT
Hypoionian: C D Eb F G A B C TSTTTTS
Later we will look at some of the ways practical musicians tried to bend the science of 'natural' scales to reality. t is worth
pointing out, however, that music did not have to wait for science in order to become a significant preoccupation of
communities around the globe and that, in many parts of the world, scales far more complicated than the 12 semitone scale
have been readily adopted, including the use of quarter tones and other microtonal intervals. The Greeks could tune and play
the lyre many centuries before the birth of Christ but the mathematical solution to the problem of the vibrating string was not
published until 1759, by J.L Lagrange (1736-1813).
Modes can start on any note of the major scale starting on any key-note so long as the intervals between the succeeding
notes preserves that which is the source of each mode's 'colour'. The formula for writing modes set out below.
Find the major scale upon which the mode is to be constructed
G Lydian, for example, is constructed on the fourth degree of the scale of D major, i.e. starts on G;
'colour' is Lydian
The mode is written with the same key signature as the major scale from which it is derived
G Lydian, for example, is written with the key signature of D major i.e. two sharps
f one builds all the modes from the same keynote C the results are as follows:
Notes Scale pattern Key signature Major/Minor scale description</TD< TR>
onian C D E F G A B 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 major scale
Dorian C D Eb F G A Bb 1 2 -3 4 5 6 -7 Bb Eb natural minor scale with a raised sixth note.
Phrygian C Db Eb F G Ab Bb 1 -2 -3 4 5 -6 7 Bb Eb Ab Db natural minor scale with a lowered second
Lydian C D E F# G A B 1 2 3 +4 5 6 7 F# major scale with a raised fourth
Mixolydian C D E F G A Bb 1 2 3 4 5 6 -7 Bb major scale with a lowered seventh
Aeolian C D Eb F G Ab Bb 1 2 -3 4 5 -6 -7 Bb Eb Ab natural minor scale
C Db
Eb F Gb Ab Bb
1 -2 -3 4 -5 -6 -
Bb Eb Ab Db
natural minor scale with lowered second and
The significance of modes in music lies both in their harmonic and melodic character. The C major scale, for example, contains
the four notes of the C major 7th chord - the notes C, E, G, B natural - as well as the four notes of the D minor 7th - the notes
D, F, A, C. The modes are each related to particular chords.
Grouped according to sound (also other suggested chords)
onian Tonic Major Seventh : Ima
(also: C, C6/9, C6)
Lydian Subdominant Major Seventh : IVma
(also: C6/9, D/C, G/C)
Dorian Supertonic Minor Seventh : IImi
(also: Cmin, Cmin6)
Phrygian Mediant Minor Seventh : IIImi
(also: Cmin, Db/C, Ab/C,
Aeolian Submediant Minor Seventh : VImi
(also: Cmin, Ab/C, Fmin/C)
Mixolydian Dominant Seventh : V
(also: C13, Csus4, Bb/C, F/C, Gmin/C)
Locrian Minor Seventh Flat Five : VIImi
(fIat 5) (also: Gb/C, Db/C )
Because the same chords may occur in different modes and keys, thinking 'modally' gives the improviser scope to use different
modal patterns over common chords each with a different key centre but each pattern related harmonically to the same chord.
This is a powerful influence on much modern popular music and takes the composer beyond the more limited world of diatonic
major and minor scales.
The player may want to sharpen or flatten notes in a major scale to give a more 'modal' feel to a sequence, as for eaxmple in
the Lydian dominant, which we met earlier, - or the Lydian fIat seven as it is sometime named.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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The minor scale-mode chord associations are as follows:
Mode Name Grouped according to sound
Hypoionian Tonic Minor Seventh : Imi

Dorian flat 2 flat 5 Supertonic Minor Seventh Flat 5 : IImi
(fIat 5)
Dorian flat 2 Supertonic Minor Seventh: IImi

onian augmented Mediant Major Seventh Sharp 5 : IIIm
(sharp 5)
Lydian augmented Mediant Major Seventh Sharp 5 : IIIm
(sharp 5)
Lydian minor Subdominant Minor Major Seventh : IVmi

Lydian flat 7 Subdominant Major Minor Seventh : IVmi

Mixolydian flat 6 flat 9 Dominant Seventh : V

Mixolydian flat 6 Dominant Seventh : V

Aeolian harmonic Submediant Major Seventh : VIm

Aeolian flat 5 Submediant Minor Seventh Flat 5 : VIm
(fIat 5)
Superlocrian diminished Diminished Seventh : VII dim
Superlocrian Minor Seventh Flat 5 : VIIm
(fIat 5)
Philippe Varlet ( writes some interesting remarks about the role of Scales in rish folk music:
The most common scaIes are major and minor. One starts with a major 3rd (D to F# for instance), the other with a minor 3rd
(D to F natural). These scales are made of whole- and half-steps, with in particular a 1/2 step between the 7th note (called
"leading tone") and the tonic or "home note."
For instance, D major:
Note: D E F# G A B C# D
interval: whole whole half whole whole whole half
n rish instrumental music, the minor scaIe is very rare, the major scaIe is the most common. However, rish tunes are also
built on modes of the major scaIe. The modes are given Greek names in reference to old Greek and medieval music theory,
but are also called mode 1, 2, 5, 6 (these are the ones found in rish music) depending on which note of the major scaIe they
start on.
For instance, using the D major scale:
Modes commonly found in rish Folk
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Major (onian, mode 1) D E F# G A B C#
Dorian (mode 2) E F# G A B C# D
Mixolydian (mode 5) A B C# D E F# G
Aeolian (mode 6) B C# D E F# G A
The Dorian and AeoIian modes sound minor because they start with a minor 3rd, like the minor scaIe--however, they do not
have a leading tone. The Dorian mode is by far the more common of the two. f you hear an rish tune that sounds minor, it is
likely to be in Dorian. To make sure, listen to the 6th note, it is a 1/2 step (semitone) higher in Dorian than it is in AeoIian. For
instance, E Dorian (see above) has C#, while E AeoIian would have all the same note except for C natural.
The MixoIydian mode sounds major, but also doesn't have a leading tone. Sometimes, it is described as having a flat 7th note,
because it is a 1/2 step (semitone) lower than a leading tone would be in the major scaIe.
Another important characteristic of how these modes are used are their harmonic implications. That is, the tunes are built
around certain chords, and these sets of chords vary with each mode.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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Major (mode 1) tunes are usually built primarily around the I-IV-V chords, the three major chords of any given major key. n D
Major for instance, the chords would be D Maj, G Maj, and A Maj.
Tunes in other modes are typically built around two chords only, which are a step (one tone) apart. Dorian and AeoIian
(modes 2 and 6) will have a minor "home" chord and a major "contrast" chord a step below. MixoIydian (mode 5) tunes will
have two major chords.
For instance, for modes of the D Major scale:
E Dorian E minor and D Major
A Mixolydian A Major and G Major
B Aeolian B minor and A Major
This is a very basic scheme, but it's a good start for an accompanist who has never heard a tune before and who can spot
these chords and build from there.
You can apply this to other scales. The other most common major scaIe in rish instrumental music is G major, with associated
modes: A Dorian, D Mixolydian, and E Aeolian. And so on.

Jazz ScaIes :: top
The jazz scales can be thought of in the same way as modes: a set of scales starting on different degrees of an underlying
scale that use only the notes of that scale. n the case of modes the underlying scale is the onian or major scale.
The jazz scales are based on an underlying ascending melodic minor scale; each scale starts on different degree of the
ascending melodic minor scale. We met the Jazz scales earlier when discussing the modes based on the melodic minor scale
but we show them again.
Jazz Scales based on the C Melodic Minor
Dorian 2b: D Eb F G A B C D STTTTST
Lydian augmented (Lydian 5#) Eb F G A B C D Eb TTTTSTS
Lydian 7b (Myxolydian 4#) F G A B C D Eb F TTTSTST
Mixolydian 6b: G A B C D Eb F G TTSTSTT
Aeolian 5b (Minor 5b): A B C D Eb F G A TSTSTTT
(Locrian 4b or Diminished Whole Tone)
Hypoionian C D Eb F G A B C TSTTTTS

You will see that we have offered a few more 'alternative' names for the scales which you may meet in other music theory

BIues :: top
Music of certain genres have developed around certain chordal patterns and related scales. The blues scale supposedly has its
roots in African American music dating back to the days of slavery, but the exact origins of its modern incarnation are unknown.
Blues music uses the 'blues scale' which we show below.

The blues scale is neither a minor nor a major scale but the internal dissonances provide the 'colour' that one associates with
blues music - the 'blue' notes are the minor third and the 'flat five'.
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You should note the unusual naming of the fourth note of this scale - really an augmented 4th or diminished 5th - called the
'fIat five'.
n vocal music, the second degree of the scale is often sung somewhere between an Eb and an E. n instrumental music,
various techniques are employed to achieve the same effect, such as stretching the string while playing an Eb on a stringed
instrument, lipping down an E on a wind instrument, or striking both the Eb and E simultaneously on a keyboard instrument.
The flatted seventh and fifth also are not always sung or played exactly on the notated pitch.
Variations on the blues scale that include the natural third, fifth, or seventh can be used as well. Also, note that if the flatted fifth
is omitted, the resultant scale is the minor pentatonic scale which we consider below. The minor pentatonic scale can thus be
used as a substitute for the blues scale, and vice versa.
The beauty of the blues scale is that it can be played over an entire blues progression with no real avoid notes. f you try
playing lines based on this usage, for instance, a C blues scale over a C
chord, you get instant positive feedback, since almost
everything you can do sounds good. This unfortunately leads many players to overuse the scale, and to run out of interesting
ideas quickly. One way to introduce added interest when using the blues scale is to use any special effects at your disposal to
vary your sound. This can include honking and screaming for saxophonists, growling for brass players, or using clusters on the
Many draw attention to characteristic rhythms associated with 'blues' music. n fact, the best-known rhythm, called the 'eight-
note triplet shuffle', is found also in jazz and swing. This rhythm is illustrated below.

Blues music is more than just scale and rhythm. We will discuss the formal structure of blues music in our forthcoming essay
entitled "Form in Music".
Jazz is a broad term with many sub-categories and fusion styles. Maybe it would be more accurate to apply the name to the
type of audience it attracts rather than the type of music being played. Jazz harmony often chooses as its foundation a 12-bar
Here is an example of simple 12-bar blues:
C F C C F F C C G7 F C G7
This can be harmonised using the main major modes, the scales you get when you play the same note row (for example, the
scale of C major), and start in on a different note (when played from D to D, you get the Dorian Mode). The major modes in a
harmonised C major scale are shown below.
Chord Start/End Note Mode Tonality Played over
1 C to C Ionian Major Major or M7 chord
2 D to D Dorian Minor Minor or m7
3 E to E Phrigian Minor Minor
4 F to F Lydian Major Maj7
5 G to G Mixolydian Major Dominant 7, 13 or 9
6 A to A Aeolian Minor Minor
7 B to B Locrian Minor7b5 m7b5 or diminished
From the choice of chord one picks a particular scale, and vice versa; this mutual association gives jazz harmony chords and
scales not found in other styles of music. We offer a jazz 12-bar to give an idea of what is possible.
Bb13 Eb9 Bb13
Eb9 Edim Dm7 G7b9 Cm7 F7#9
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Modes can also be derived from melodic minor scales. One particularly interesting example is the seventh mode of the melodic
minor scale, one that starts and ends on the seventh note of the scale (for example, with C melodic minor, we play from B to B,
the superlocrian mode). ts distinctive sound is heard in many jazz pieces and is main use is over an altered dominant seventh
chord. For example, in the sequence above, it would be used on the last, G7#9, chord, and also the two G7b9 and F7#9
chords. n each case respectively, we use G superlocrian and F superlocrian. Applying the scales to the appropriate chords,
and we produce the required harmony.


Bebop ScaIes :: top
The major bebop scale is a major scale with an added raised fifth or lowered sixth.
The C major bebop scale is shown below:

This scale can be used over major seventh or major seventh augmented chords. The C major bebop scale can also be used as
a bridge between chords in a progression like Cmaj
: Bm
(fIat 5) : E
: Am ; i.e. the same scale can be played over the entire
progression. Another way of looking at this is to say that we are playing the C major bebop scale itself over the Cmaj
playing its eighth mode over the Bm
(fIat 5) chord, playing its third mode over the E
chord, and playing its seventh mode over
the Am chord. These modes closely resembly the major, locrian, altered and minor scales respectively. Note that we are using
the C major bebop scale over a ii-V-i progression in A minor. n general, we can use the major bebop scale in any given key
over a ii-V-i progression in the relative minor to that key.
Other bebop scales include the dominant bebop scale, which is similar to the mixolydian mode but with an additional major
The C dominant bebop scale is shown below:

This scale can be used over dominant seventh chords. The major seventh is not really an avoid note if you use it as a passing
tone between the C and Bb. t also serves as the raised fourth in the Fmaj
chord that is likely to follow the C
There is also the minor bebop scale, which is a dorian scale with an added raised third.
The C minor bebop scale is shown below:

This scale can be used over minor seventh chords, and is often used in minor key blues progressions to give more of a
dominant seventh feel to the chords.

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Pentatonic ScaIes :: top
Found in many ancient cultures, the pentatonic scale is used widely in jazz, blues, rock and classical music. The 'pentatonic'
scales can be major or minor.
n the pentatonic major scale only the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 8th degrees of the major scale are used.
n the pentatonic minor scale only the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th degrees of the natural minor scale are used.

You should note that in neither scale is the interval between two successive notes less than a tone.

The 'Minor Key' ProbIem :: top
You may already have been wondering why, if Western music can live with one major scale, it has felt it necessary to define
three minor scales, the natural, harmonic and melodic. We have aready seen the melodic deficiency in the natural minor scale,
namely the absence of a true 'leading note'. The harmonic and melodic scales address this problem by 'sharpening' or 'raising'
the seventh in addition to making other changes to the natural minor scale. This was discussed in Iesson 10.
From a harmonic point of view, the 'sharpened' seventh turns the dominant chord from minor (Vmi) to major (Vma) increasing
the feeling of 'suspension' from the dominant and increasing the 'pressure' on the dominant to 'resolve' to the tonic minor.
Notice that the 'pressure' arises from the dominant and not from the tonic. The tonic can be major or minor but the 'feeling'
remains. Occasionally 'fashion' led composers to favour the tonic major chord over the minor tonic at the end of a piece in a
minor key. The tonic major chord was then called the Tierce de Picardie.

Sharpening the seventh of the minor scale on the dominant seventh also modifies the character of the dominant 7th - tonic
cadence (V
-Imi). The sharpening heightens the 'need to resolve' although the cadence is not as 'strong' as when resolving to
the tonic major. This is because the interval of a tone between F, the dominant 7th, and E flat in the tonic minor chord has a
weaker feeling of 'suspension' than the interval of a semitone between F and E natural in the tonic major chord.

The sharpened seventh affects other chords too. Let us harmonise the natural minor scale, with a sharpened 7th, first with
diatonic triads and then with sevenths.
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The chord to look at carefully is that on the seventh degree of the scale. f the scale had been the harmonic minor, the A flat
would have been 'raised' to an A natural. We have three possible chords on the seventh of the minor scale to consider: that on
the natural seventh of the natural minor, that on the sharpened seventh of the harmonic minor (now no longer part of the
natural minor scale) and the true diminished 7th on B natural. We illustrate and number all three below.

This example shows the care one must take when numbering chords. n particular, if the seventh had been a natural then in
the 'half diminished' chord it would have become a flat and in the 'diminished' chord it would have become a double flat, so that
the chord 'looks' right on the page. One should, by now, begin to understand why notation not only tells us about the 'melodic'
form of the music but clarifies the 'harmonic' structure too, at least if the standard notational 'conventions' are followed.
Sharpening the seventh has one last interesting effect on the tonic minor chord. The minor 3rd combined with the major 7th is
the origin of its name, the minor/major seventh. t may be used in chordal progressions in both major and minor keys.
We leave further discussion of minor chords until Iesson 31 entitled Key Centres.

AItered Chords :: top
Any chord, whether major, minor, augmented or seventh, can be 'modified' or 'altered' thereby changing its character or
'colour'. n particular, with the dominant seventh which is wholly characterised by three notes, the root, major third and minor
seventh, the fifth, ninth, eleventh and thirteenth may be altered. Raising or lowering by a semitone the notes of the chord and
its extensions may change its dissonance. This increases the 'tension' of the chord and increases the sense of release as one
moves to a less dissonant chord, for example the tonic. Care must be taken that these aItered chords are correctly numbered
and we will look at a few examples to show how this is done.
The standard way of writing altered seventh chords is to identify the quality of the chord (i.e.whether major, minor or dominant)
and then add the modified note in brackets. f more than one note is altered both are shown, one above the other in one pair of
brackets, with the widest interval at the top. f the fifth has been raised then the usual symbol (+ for augmented) appears before
the 7.
So: A9( 11) represents a ninth chord on A with the root, a major 3rd, a perfect 5th, a flattened 7th, a major ninth and a
sharpened 11th;
while A 9( 11) represents a ninth chord on A with the root, a major 3rd, a perfect 5th, a flattened 7th, a major ninth and a
sharpened 11th.
represents a seventh chord on G, with the root, major 3rd, diminished 5th, minor 7th and minor 9th.
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The main purpose of alternating chords is to increase the effectiveness in a progression. We have seen already how a
dominant seventh is more effective than a dominant in a perfect cadence. The examples below show how altered fifths, ninths,
elevenths and thirteens can work - listened to the top note of each chord in each example.

NeapoIitan Sixth :: top
One 'named' altered chord is the NeapoIitan Sixth which is the first inversion of a major chord on the flatten (sometimes
described as 'lowered') supertonic, the second degree of the major and minor scales used. t is commonly used to reach the
dominant chord or the tonic chord in second inversion when performing a cadence.
n the key of C the flattened (or 'lowered') supertonic is D flat, the major chord would be D flat, F and A flat. The first inversion
has F in the bass. t is very occasionally used in root position. n either form, it is the most common way of modulating down a
When using a Neapolitan sixth in major keys, its fifth should be lowered in order to create the same chord accidentals as in the
minor key.
The examples illustrated below are in D minor and F major.
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One striking use of the Neapolitan Sixth chord occurs in the Andante of Schubert's Symphony in C major. Schumann praised
this particular passage in his review published in Neue Zeitschrift fr Musik (1840).
The alternating dominant chords on C, F and D resolve via a Neapolitan Sixth to the principal theme heard on the oboe in bar

SymmetricaI ScaIes :: top
t is a small matter to construct scales that contain the notes of altered chords. Set out horizontally the notes of any particular
chord and complete the scale by filling in any gaps. Dominant chords are the most common base for such scales. We will leave
further discussion of these 'altered scales' until our lesson on key centres.
There are, however, a number of scales that we can look at now, namely those built up from a repeating pattern of intervals.
We have already seen one such scale, the chromatic scale in Iesson 11.
With a repeating whole tone, we build the WhoIe Tone ScaIe.

The intervals are constant so that any of the six notes could be nominated the tonic. The scale includes notes that could
function as root, major third, and the seventh of a dominant 7th plus a ninth. The scale can therefore be thought of as the
'altered' scale of a dominant ninth chord with an augmented fifth (i.e. a V+9 chord).
Another pattern alternates tone and semitone intervals producing the Diminished ScaIe.
f the pattern is tone-semitone one gets the chord scale of a diminished seventh chord also known as the Octatonic ScaIe,
much used by Stravinsky.

f the pattern is semitone-tone one gets a Dominant Diminished ScaIe, the chord scale for functioning dominant chords with
altered ninths and natural fifths.
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We will return to these matters in Lesson 31.

TabIe of UsefuI ScaIes :: top
The scales below are described in terms of the intervals between successive notes. M2 is a Major second, or a whole step. m2
is a minor second, or a half step. A2 is an Augmented second, equivalent to a step and a half. d3 is a diminished third,
equivalent to a whole step, (but requiring a skip in a letter name). m3 is a minor third, equivalent to a step and a half, (but
requiring a skip in a letter name). ntervals other than M2 or m2 are highlighted.
Table of Useful Scales - (legend: m = minor; M = major; A = augmented)
Major (onian) | more ... M2,M2,m2,M2,M2,M2,m2
Natural Minor (Aeolian) | more ... M2,m2,M2,M2,m2,M2,M2
Ascending Minor M2,m2,M2,M2,M2,M2,m2
Harmonic Minor M2,m2,M2,M2,m2,A2,m2
Dorian | more ... M2,m2,M2,M2,M2,m2,M2
Phrygian | more ... m2,M2,M2,M2,m2,M2,M2
Lydian | more ... M2,M2,M2,m2,M2,M2,m2
Mixolydian | more ... M2,M2,m2,M2,M2,m2,M2
Locrian| more ... m2,M2,M2,m2,M2,M2,M2
Whole Tone | more ...
n the Whole Tone Scale the diminished third interval
can be placed anywhere in the scale although it must
appear at least once.

Bebop Major | more ...

Bebop Dominant | more ...

Bebop Minor | more ...

Pentatonic Major | more ... M2,M2,m3,M2,m3
Pentatonic Minor | more ... m3,M2,M2,m3,M2
This scale was invented by Verdi and first used in his
Ave Maria of 1897

Neapolitan m2,M2,M2,M2,M2,M2,m2
Neapolitan Minor m2,M2,M2,M2,m2,A2,m2
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Hungarian Minor M2,m2,A2,m2,m2,A2,m2
Diminished, Octatonic or
'Whole-tone, Half-tone, Whole-tone' Scale
There is no naming convention for this scale; we give
an alternative 'spelling' in the text above; see
symmetrical scales.

Other Eight Note Scales
Jewish (Adonai MaIakh): 1 b2 2 b3 4 5 6 b7
Eight Tone Spanish: 1 b2 #2 3 4 b5 b6 b7
Jewish (Magen Abot): 1 b2 #2 3 b5 b6 #6 7
AIgerian: 1 2 b3 4 #4 5 b6 7
Japanese (Ichikosucho): 1 2 3 4 #4 5 6 7
One could "create" any scale using 8-tones and these
8-tone scales would be called Synthetic ScaIes.
There are a myriad of different synthetic 8-tone scales.

Armenian Scales
The Hijaz scale: A, Bb, C#, D, E, F, G, A.
The Cushak scale: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A.
The Rast scale : G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G.
The Nihavend scale: G, A, Bb, C, D, Eb, F#, G.
There are many other scales with semi-tones and
quarter tones

Dominant Diminished m2,M2,m2,M2,m2,M2,m2,M2

Non-Harmonic Notes :: top
Not all notes in a piece of harmony have anything to do with a particular chord or chord progression. These are called non-
harmonic notes or non-essentiaI notes.
Non-Harmonic or Non-Essential Notes
Passing Notes notes that pass by a tone or semitone between chord notes.
notes that leave and return to the same chord note by a tone or semitone.
a note that is approached by leap, but resolves to a chord note by a tone or
semitone - the resolution often in the opposite direction to the leap.
Escape Note
the opposite of an appoggiatura, being approached by a tone or semitone and
resolving to a chord note by a leap.
a note that is held over, that is approached by itself, and resolved to the chord note
by a tone or semitone after the chord is played.
the chord note arrives before the chord is played. t is usually approached by tone
or semitone.
Pedal Note a repeating note or note held over while the harmony changes.
Auxiliary Note a note that relates to a chord note but may not be a neighbouring note.
two notes, one that leaves the chord note by a tone or semitone, then leaps to the
next non-harmonic note by skipping over the chord note, before resolving to the
same chord note by a tone or semitone.
Note: the term appoggiatura defined above is a description for a non-harmonic note, and should not be confused with an
appoggiatura used as an ornament which is discussed in Iesson 23.
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InstrumentaI EnsembIes :: top
There are conventions that you should observe when laying out music in full score or as
individual parts. Some have been mentioned earlier.
all staves have a clef sign followed by a key signature;
a time signature is only shown in the first bar of the work;
if the time signature changes while the piece is in progress it does so at the beginning of a
each line of a score should be marked with the name of the instrument playing it;
with single parts, the instrument need only be marked at the top of the page;
braces group the lines for instruments like the piano (2 lines), organ (2 or 3 lines) or harp (2
in orchestral scores braces group lines played by the same or related instruments - e.g.
flute(s) and piccolo;
bar-lines are drawn through the instruments belonging to the same section;
to conserve space, instruments of the same kind may be placed on the same line;
solo parts in concertos are always place immediately above the strings;
nowadays choral lines also appear just above the strings;
two dark oblique lines may be placed between each line of the stave in full score;
parts for instruments, not required for extended periods, may be removed from the full score;
the parts must include sufficient multi-bar rests during such periods.
We have illustrated, on the right hand side of this page, a full or open score for orchestra
showing the standard layout which, reading from the top of the page, is:
wind - brass - percussion - harp - piano - strings.
SoIos & Parts :: top
Performers are generally happier to read from their own part and do not need to work from a full
or open score. t is not unusual, in complex works, to include cues from other parts in the
playing part, particular when there are extended periods of silence. These extracts will be
printed using a smaller type face, placed on or above the playing line. Performers sometimes
add further cues by hand (using a pencil) where these give confidence during a performance.
Short, condensed or close scores are those with a smaller number of staves than in the full or
open score. Each staff bears one or more lines, each line often identifiable because the note
tails for a particular line are set up or down throughout the piece. An example of a condensed
format is the reduction of a four-staff string quartet score to a two-staff 'treble and bass' piano-
like form.
f, as an exercie, you are asked to expand a close score back to its full or open form, remember
to adopt the usual layout for the instruments required; transposing parts if the instruments
require them and the correct clef (alto clef for viola, tenor clef for tenor voice, and so on) where
Keyboards :: top
We have illustrated the layout for a SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) choir with a three line
organ part (2 line keyboard part - 1 line pedal part). When vocal lines include 'spoken' rather
than sung text, the untuned percussion symbol, the note-head is a small x.

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Percussion :: top
Tuned percussion parts use a five line stave. Some instruments, e.g. marimbas and harps, use
a keyboard layout. Untuned percussion (the four lines at the top of the score below) may use
the five line stave with standard note-heads (where each line or space refers to a different
untuned percussion instrument in a set) or a single line with a special clef sign and note heads
in the form of small x's, a symbol used to show a note of no predetermined pitch on one
particular untuned percussion instrument.

How to Write Parts for Transposing Instruments :: top
n many modern works, transposing instruments, that is those where the player reads one note but produces a different note,
may be written, in the score, as they are heard rather than as they are read. The individual parts, however, would still be set
out with the standard transposition. By notating the whole score at concert pitch, give or take octave transpositions, it is much
easier to 'see' the harmonic and melodic detail. Pre-20th century scores are written with the transposing parts as they are read.
Transposed parts are commonly used for brass and some woodwind instruments.
These are some examples of transposing instruments:
Bb trumpet
French horn (F)
Alto saxophone (Eb)
Tenor saxophone (Bb)
Cor anglais (F)
Bb clarinet
A clarinet
Before writing for a transposing instrument you need to know its key, any octave shifts in the transposition and the clef the
player expects to read.
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One example shows their advantage. Clarinets come in different sizes but all have the same fingering system. f a player reads
a part that prompts for the fingering rather than for the note, changing between instruments is much easier. So what happens is
this. All clarinet parts read as though the bottom note is C. This is the note both a B flat and an A clarinet player will read.
However, the former produces a B flat while the latter produces an A. f the part is transposed relative to instruments that play
what they read, the correct note is heard. The same convention is used by brass players so that, as one moves from one
member of the brass instrument family to another, one is using only one note read - fingering convention. The way the part is
transposed takes care of the fingering - note heard relationship.
So, what is the correct recipe? Let us consider a part written for B flat trumpet.
The Bb trumpet transposes a whole tone above concert pitch. So we assume we begin with a playing pitch part in the full score
and we want to produce a playing part for the trumpeter.
Transpose the key signature up a tone above concert pitch.
Eb concert transposes up to F
C concert transposes up to D
D concert transposes up to E
and so on ....
One can write out a table to help keep track of the correct adjustment.
Concert key Eb F G A Bb C D Eb
Transposes up to F G A Bb C D E F
We can examine another example, the baritone saxophone which is scored in the full score in bass clef but whose extracted
part is transposed up a diatonic 13th (diatonic 6th and an octave) to the treble clef.
First one raises the part in the bass clef by one octave, then by a further 6th and final converts the final line into treble clef. As
with the trumpet part above, it helps to set out a table showing the concert key and the note up to which it must be transposed.
Concert key C D E F G A B C
Transposes up to A B C# D E F# G# A
Let us summarise what we have said above by showing below an example of how a chord might be written in a score and what
notes the listener would actually hear in each case. The only non-transposing instruments are the flute and the oboe.
As written in the score

As heard by the Iistener

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Sounding Range of OrchestraI Instruments :: top
We show the approximate sounding ranges of the main orchestral instruments below.

We have provide more complete information in Iesson 29.
You will find examples of transposing parts in the scores listed under instrumentaI ensembIes.

SampIe Scores :: top
These scores show the range of material that can be set in score and played back using the Scorch plug-in.
Music for Jazz Orchestra - Sketches by James Humberstone (1998)
Fanfare 2000
Caminhada by Carlos Oliviera
Concerto for Orchestra by David Eccott
Maximum Underground by Stephen Taylor
Orchestral Rock by Cliff Turner
Fantoches by Claude Debussy arranged for clarinet and string orchestra by David Stowell
Brass Odyssey for brass band by Derek Bourgeois
Roller Coaster for windband by Derek Bourgeois
A Dorset Celebration for orchestra by Derek Bourgeois
Red Dragon for windband by Derek Bourgeois
Green Dragon for windband by Derek Bourgeois
Biffo's March for windband by Derek Bourgeois
Exterior by F.T. Nordensten
Metro Gnome by Derek Bourgeois
Prelude and Fugue No. 1 by Glen Shannon
Laughing Stock by Francisco del Gil Valencia
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Flute Piece by Chris Walker
The Minute Waltz by F. Chopin
Deuxime Arabesque by C. Debussy
Dolmetsch Library e-Music Scores
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Pitch :: top
We reproduce below Ellis' famous table entitled History of MusicaI Pitch which demonstrates the various pitches used at
different times in different places.
Why did pitch vary so much even at the same period in history?
One obvious answer is that there was no universal pitch standard. For musicians, the pitch at which they played was
determined by where they were employed. f they performed in a band, an orchestra, at court, in the opera house or in a church
they would have experienced many different working pitches. For stringed and keyboard instruments the solution was to retune
the instrument. Wind and brass players, however, were faced with very real difficulties which could only be overcome by
purchasing completely new instruments when moving from place to place, venue to venue. Once the Hotteterre family had
redesigned woodwind instruments to be made in sections rather than in a single piece, transverse flutes could be made with
extra sections which, if longer, lowered or, if shorter, raised the pitch of the instrument. An adjustable plug in the head section
was used to correct the tuning and speaking properties of the flute as the middle sections were exchanged. Brass instruments
also had extra crooks, small lengths of tubing called corps de rchange, which could be applied to the instruments to change
their pitch.
Quite apart from the problems of starting at the same pitch, there was also the reality of playing together as the ambient
temperature changed. f the ambient temperature rises, the pitch of stringed instruments, like harpsichords, lutes and violins,
drop, while that of wind and brass instruments rise. Played together, the two groups move in opposite directions and what
might start out well enough would soon become increasingly strained particularly if the instruments were being played in small
concert halls, theatres or opera houses. Churches were less of a problem because they tended to remain cool whatever the
weather outside. Wind and brass players may have suffered a lower status than stringed and keyboard instrumentalist because
of their constant struggle to remain in tune with their fellow musicians and the difficulty they might face when moving from one
employer to another, that of differing pitches. For similar reasons, the instruments of even the finest wind-instrument makers
tended to travel less widely than those of the finest stringed or keyboard instrument builders.
Sir John Hawkins, writing in 1776, tells us that the tuning fork, originally called the 'pitch-fork', was invented in 1711, by John
Shore, a trumpeter in the band of Queen Anne. t provided the first and, until the advent of electronic meters, the most
trustworthy pitch-carrier, and was in every way superior to the 'pitch-pipe' about which the French philosopher Jean-Jacques
Rousseau, writing in 1764, noted "the impossibility of being certain of the same sound in two places at the same time".
Today, we tune our instruments to one of the recognised pitch standards. The most widely used standard, first proposed at the
Stuttgart conference of 1838, but not properly established until 1938 in Britain and in 1939 by the SO, is A=440 Hz. Hz. is an
abbreviation of the name of the German physicist, Heinrich Hertz, and is a unit of frequency equivalent to one cycle per
second. Sound is a wave associated with the transmission of mechanical energy through a supporting medium. t can be
shown experimentally that sound cannot travel through a vacuum. The energy available in a sound wave disturbs the medium
in a periodic manner. Periodicity is important if a sound wave is to carry information. n air, the disturbance propagates as the
successive compression and decompression (the latter sometimes called rarefaction) of small regions in the medium. f we
generate a pure note and place a detector (our ear, for example) at a point in the surrounding medium, a distance from the
source, the number of compression-decompression sequences arriving at the detector during a chosen time interval is called
the frequency. The time interval between successive maximal compressions is called the period. The product of the frequency
and the wavelength is the velocity.
You are probably aware that the speed of sound is far lower than the speed of light. When, in the middle of a thunder storm,
the flash of lightning is followed, noticeably later, by a clap of thunder, we take ever more comfort the greater the delay. At
ground level and at 0 C. the speed of sound is approximately 331.5 metres per second. The wavelength of the note we call
A=440Hz. proves to be about 753 mm (about 30 inches). t has long been established, and was described thus by Rayleigh,
"that within certain wide limits the velocity of sound is independent, or at least very nearly independent, of its intensity, and also
of its pitch (that is, its rate of vibration)". n general terms this must be the case otherwise how could music remain coherent
even when it has travelled some considerable distance from performer to listener.
The credit for the first correct published account of the vibration of strings is usually given to Marin Mersenne (1588-1648)
although Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) published a remarkable discussion of the vibration of bodies in 1638, derived from his
study of the pendulum and of the relationship between pendulum length and frequency of vibration. Although this appeared two
years after Mersenne published his "Harmonicorum Liber", Galilei's discoveries pre-date those of Mersenne. Wallis (1616-
1703) and Joseph Sauveur (1653-1716) noticed that along a vibrating string there are points where there is no motion and
others where the movement is particularly violent. Sauveur coined the term 'node' for the former and 'loop' for the latter,
although, today, we use the term 'antinode' instead of 'loop' and also suggested the terms 'fundamental' and 'harmonic', applied
to frequencies that are integer multiples of a particular frequency. n the discussions that follow, we have adopted the
convention that the fundamental is the first harmonic although, in some books, the first harmonic is the name given to the
second, not the first, note in the harmonic series. By the 16th-century, it was clear that the interval relationships between notes,
applied to the frequencies of those notes, was identical to the ratios discovered by the Greek from their study of the sounding
length of vibrating strings.
We have prepared an article entitled the Physics of MusicaI Instruments - A Brief History to which you may wish to refer for
further details on this topic.
Our appreciation of pitch stability has changed as some instrument notorious for their pitch and tuning instability have been
replaced with instruments that are much more stable. For example, modern electronic instruments are almost entirely
insensitive to changes in ambient temperature, while even the humble modern piano, with its full metal frame, is a much more
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 129 oI 169
stable platform than the half metal half wood framed pianos made three quarters of a century ago, or than the harpsichords,
clavichords and spinets made three centuries earlier. Similarly, the relative uniformity of pitch standards around the world,
makes it much easier for the modern musician to travel and perform abroad.

'History of MusicaI Pitch' - a tabIe prepared by Mr. A. J. EIIis and pubIished in 1880 (with additions from Iater
pubIications) :: top
units, Hertz or Hz, are equivalent to vibrations per second;
the c'' is calculated from a' using equal temperament;
if another note was originally measured this has been converted to a' using equal temperament;
all pitches assume an ambient temperature of 59 Fahrenheit (31.1 centigrade).
(in Hertz)
(in Hertz)
Place Date Description
376.3 447.5 Lille, France
Pitch taken by Delezenne from an old dilapidated organ of
l'Hospice Comtesse
378.8 450.5 Paris, France 1766
Pitch calculated from data given by Dom Bdos in L'Art du Facteur
380.0 451.9 Heidelberg, Germany 1511 Pitch calculated from data given by Arnold Schlick
392.2 469.1 St. Petersburg, Russia 1739 Euler's clavichord
395.8 470.7 Versailles, France 1789 Organ of the palace chapel
398.0 473.3 Berlin, Germany 1775
Pitch estimated from a flute described by Jean Henri Lambert in
Observations sur les Fltes, pub. Acadmie Royal des Sciences,
400.0 475.7 Paris, France c. 1756
Pitch estimated from a flute made by T Lot, one of the five 'matres
constructeurs' of wind-instruments in Paris, France
401.3 477.8 Paris, France 1648 Mersenne's Spinet
404.0 480.4 Paris, France 1699 Paris Opera A
405.8 482.6 Paris, France 1713 Sauveur's calculation
407.9 485.0 Hamburg, Germany 1762 Organ of St. Michael's Church, Hamburg
409.0 486.4 Paris, France 1783 Tuning fork of Pascal Taskin, court tuner
415.5 494.1 Dresden, Germany 1722 Organ of St. Sophia
419.6 499.0 Seville, Spain
1785 &
Organ of Seville cathedral
421.6 501.3 Vienna, Austria 1780 supposed to be Mozart's pitch
422.5 502.4 London, England 1751 Handel's tuning fork
423.5 503.6 London, England 1711 an existing tuning fork of John Shore
425.5 506.0 Paris, France 1829 Pianoforte at the Paris Opera
427.6 508.5 Paris, France 1823 Opra Comique
430.8 536.4 Paris, France 1830 Opera pitch as related by Drouet, the celebrated French flautist
432.0 513.7 Brussels, Belgium 1876 Proposed pitch standard
435.0 517.3 Paris, France 1859
The French 'Diapason Normal' although the mean of several forks
set to this pitch lies slightly higher at a' = 435.4 which is equivalent
to c'' = 517.8
437.0 519.7
Paris and Toulouse,
1836 &
The earlier was the pitch of the talian Opera in Paris, the later that
of the Conservatoire in Toulouse
440.0 523.25 Paris, France 1829 Orchestral pitch of the Paris Opera
440.0 523.25 Stuttgart, Germany 1838
Proposed pitch standard, Stuttgart congress (actually a' = 440.2
when corrected to table temperature); also Scheibler's standard.
441.0 524.4 Rome, taly
Pitch calculated from a flute made by Biglioni and possibly brought
from Rome by J. J. Quantz when he left Rome in 1725
444.0 528.0 London, England 1860
Standard intended for the Society of Arts - (however a fork set to
this standard by J.H. Griesbach has a measured pitch of a' =
445.7, equivalent to a c'' = 530.1)
444.5 528.6 Madrid, Spain 1858 Theatre Royale, Madrid
444.5 528.6 London, England c. 1810 Pitch of a flute made by Henry Potter
444.6 528.7 London, England 1877 Organ in St. Paul's Cathedral
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 130 oI 169
444.8 528.9
Turin, Weimer,
1859 Measurements made for the French Commission
445.7 530.1 London, England 1860 see 440.0 above
446.0 530.4
Paris, France; Dresden
and Pesth, Germany,
Pleyel's Piano taken by Delezenne and the pitches at the Opera
houses of Dresden and Pesth
447.11 531.7 London, England 1845
Pitch calculated from a fork said to be at the pitch of the Royal
Philharmonic Society
448.0 532.8 Hamburg, Germany
1839 &
448.0 532.8 Paris, France 1854 Opra Comique
448.0 532.8 Paris, France 1858 Grand Opra
448.0 532.8 Lige, Belgium 1859 Conservatoire
450.0 535.1 London, England
1850 to
An average of the pitches of London orchestras during this period
450.5 536.7 Lille, France
1848 &
Lille Opera, measured during performance
451.0 536.3 Brussels, Belgium 1879 Pitch standard proposed for the Begian Army
451.5 536.9 St. Petersburg, Russia 1858 Opera
451.7 537.2 Milan, taly 1867 La Scala Opera
451.8 537.3 Berlin, Germany 1859 Opera
451.9 537.4 London, England 1878 British Army Regulations
452.0 537.5 Lille, France 1859 Conservatoire
452.0 537.5 London, England 1889
Official Pitch at the 'nventions' Exhibition in 1885 - the highest
pitch used intentionally by English orchestras up to 1890
452.5 538.2 London, England
1846 to
Mean pitch of the Philharmonic Band under Costa
453.3 539.0 London, England
Pitch calculated from a flute made by Rudall and Rose possibly as
early as 1827
454.7 540.8 London, England 1874
Fork representing the highest pitch adopted for Philharmonic
454.7 540.8 London, England 1879 Steinway's English pitch; also Messrs. Bryceson's pitch
455.3 541.5 London, England 1879 Messrs. Erard's pitch
455.5 541.7 Brussels, Belgium 1859 Band of the Guides
456.1 542.4 London, England 1857 Fork set to the French Society of Pianoforte Makers
457.2 543.7 New York, USA 1879 Pitch used by Messrs. Steinway in America
457.6 544.2 Vienna, Austria c. 1640 Great Franciscan organ
461.0 548.3 London, England
Actual pitch of a flute said to be tuned to a' = 453.3
474.1 563.8 Durham, England 1683 Cathedral Organ by Bernhardt Smith
474.1 563.8 London, England 1708 Organ of the Chapel Royal by Bernhardt Smith
480.8 571.8 Hamburg, Germany
1543 &
Organ at the church of St. Catherine
484.1 575.7 Lbeck, Germany 1878 Cathedral, small organ
489.2 581.8 Hamburg, Germany
1688 &
Organ at the church of St. Jacob
505.6 601.4 Paris, France 1636 Mersenne's church pitch
506.9 602.9 Halberstadt, Germany 1361 Cathedral Organ
567.6 675.2 Paris, France 1636 Mersenne's chamber pitch
570.7 678.7 Germany 1619
Pitch called Kammerton (chamber pitch) by Praetorius; also called
North German church pitch

Harmonic Series :: top
Sauveur, following on from work, published in 1673, by two Oxford men, William Noble and Thomas Pigot, noted that a
vibrating string produces sounds corresponding to several of its harmonics at the same time. The dynamical explanation for
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 131 oI 169
this was first published in 1755 by Daniel Bernouilli (1700-1782). He described how a vibrating string can sustain a multitude of
simple harmonic oscillations. We call this the 'superposition principle'.
The harmonics are multiples of the fundamental frequency. So for a string with a fundamental frequency of 440Hz., that is fixed
at both ends, the harmonics are integral multiples of 440Hz.; i.e. 440Hz. (1 times 440Hz.), 880Hz. (2 times 440Hz.), 1320Hz. (3
times 440Hz.), 1760Hz. (4 times 440Hz.) and so on. The first 15 harmonics are given below, their frequencies set out in the
second column. The third column, headed 'normalized', is the result of dividing the frequency of the harmonic by powers of 2
(transposing the sound down one octave for each power of 2) so that it lies within a single octave (between 440Hz. and
800Hz.). The nearest note in the chromatic scale on A is given in column 4 while the column headed % shows how close the
normalized frequency is to the frequency of the nearest equi-tempered note diatonic to A.
Harmonic Frequency Normalized Note name
Closeness in
1 440Hz. 440Hz A 100%
2 880Hz. 440Hz A 100%
3 1320Hz. 660Hz E 100%
4 1760Hz. 440Hz A 100%
5 2200Hz. 550Hz C# 99%
6 2640Hz. 660Hz E 100%
7 3080Hz. 770Hz G 98%
8 3520Hz. 440Hz A 100%
9 3960Hz. 495Hz B 100%
10 4400Hz. 550Hz C# 99%
11 4840Hz. 605Hz D 103%
12 5280Hz. 660Hz E 100%
13 5720Hz. 715Hz F# 97%
14 6160Hz. 770Hz G 98%
15 6600Hz. 825Hz G# 99%
We can extract a complete diatonic scale on A from the first 15 harmonics. The D is somewhat sharp while the F#, in particular,
is very flat. t would not be impractical to tune a stringed instrument to play diatonic melodies in the key of A using this scale.
You will see that the perfect fifth appears in this harmonic series as the third harmonic. The ratio of the frequencies of the third
and second harmonic is 1320:880 which is 3:2. However the fourth, the note D, which should have a frequency in ratio to A of
4:3 (1.33333), actually comes out as 1.375. A more serious problem is the absence of an interval one could call a tone or a
semitone. The Greeks defined their tone as the difference between a perfect fifth and a perfect fourth, but the fourth is not
perfect in this scale. There is no way of deriving chromatic scales either by starting from A or by starting from another note,
say, the perfect fifth, E.

Pythagorean Series :: top
Can the perfect fifth, one of the three intervals (octave, fifth, and fourth) which have been considered to be consonant
throughout history by essentially all cultures, form a logical base for building a chromatic scale; for example, one starting from
the note C? Such a sequence would progress as follows:
C G D A E B F# C# G# D# A# F C
f one applies the ratio 3:2 twelve times to 440 and normalizes the result by dividing by powers of 2 the result is sharp by a ratio
called the Pythagorean comma 524288:531441. This scheme unfortunately substitutes one problem for another. Here, the third
and the octave are both too large.
Pythagorean intervals and their derivations
nterval Ratio Derivation Cents*
Unison 1:1 Unison 1:1 0.00
Minor Second 256:243 Octave - Major Seventh 90.22
Major Second 9:8 (3:2)^2 203.91
Minor Third 32:27 Octave - Major Third 294.13
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 132 oI 169
Major Third 81:64 (3:2)^4 407.82
Fourth 4:3 Octave - Fifth 498.04
Augmented Fourth 729:512 (3:2)^6 611.73
Fifth 3:2 (3:2)^1 701.96
Minor Sixth 128:81 Octave - Major Third 792.18
Major Sixth 27:16 (3:2)^3 905.87
Minor Seventh 16:9 Octave - Major Second 996.09
Major Seventh 243:128 (3:2)^5 1109.78
Octave 2:1 Octave 2:1 1200.00
* The cent is a unit equal to 1/100 of an equally tempered semitone or 1/1200 of an octave. A pure
octave (2:1) is precisely 1200 cents.
A number of proposals were adopted to 'improve' this scale.
For instance, the Greek major tone, represented by the ratio 9:8 could be married to the semitone, represented by the ratio
256:243 and a scale of five whole tones plus two semitones could be formed. Now the octave is exact but the thirds are still
sharp and, because the sharps and flats are not enharmonic, there are problems when changing key.
Another solution employed a pure fourth (4:3) and set the octave as a pure fourth above a perfect fifth, before using the ratio
9:8 to fill in the remaining tones. The remaining semitones were chosen on the basis of taste. Unfortunately, the third is still
A further solution was to slightly narrow the fifth in every or in only some of the notes arising from the circle of fifths, so
absorbing the comma of Pythagoras. This kind of solution made it possible to move from one key to any other and formed the
basis of the well-tempered system promoted in 1722 and again in 1724 when Bach published his "Well-Tempered Clavier". The
series of keyboard preludes and fugues was written as much to show the characteristic colour of different keys as to
demonstrate that, using this tuning system, a composer was no longer prevented from exploring every minor and major key.
HistoricaI Temperaments are considered in more detail at the end of this lesson.

Meantone ScaIe :: top
Sometimes called the mesotonic scale, the meantone (also written mean-tone) scale was particularly favoured by organists
and explains why organ music from the period 1500 to the 19th century was written in a relatively small number of keys, those
that this scale favoured. The earliest complete description was published by Salinas in 1577, in the book 'De Musica libri
How was it set?
Based on C, the method relied on using the first five notes from the circle of fifths from C, namely C, G, D, A, E and setting a
pure third between C-E by narrowing the fifths by a small amount - from a ratio of 3:2 to a ratio of 2.99:2. D, the note between
C and E was set so that the ratio between D and C was identical to that between E and D, so placing D in the mean position
between C and E, hence the scale's name. What happened after this to complete the chromatic scale introduced a number of
variants which only the more studious of our readers are likely to pursue. Suffice it to point out that the results generally work
well in the keys C, G, D, F and B flat but outside these serious problems arise and composers writing for this system avoided
keys more distant from C.
Pietro Aron's description of meantone tuning which appeared in the early 16th century is the best known. All but one of the
fifths are flattened from the pure 3:2 ratio by 1/4 of the syntonic comma. The remaining fifth ends up being sharp by 1 3/4 of the
syntonic comma (the wolf). The syntonic comma is the ratio 9/8 divided by 10/9, which is the ratio between a pure C-D interval
and a pure D-E interval. n a pure harmonic series starting at CCC (bottom C on a 16' voice), middle C is 8 times the
fundamental, middle D is 9 times the fundamental, and middle E is 10 times the fundamental. The result of this procedure is a
scale with 8 pure major 3rds and 4 diminished 4ths. But there were other meantone procedures known in the 16th and 17th
centuries, especially by 2/7th comma, in which the *minor* 3rds are pure and the major 3rds beat, and 1/3rd comma. n the the
mid-18th century, several instrument-makers and theoreticians used a 1/6th comma meantone temperament, particularly
Gottfried Silbermann and Vallotti. A bizarre fact is that equal temperament is really meantone by 1/12th comma, that is every
fifth is narrowed by 1/12 of the syntonic comma and the interval between C - D and between D and E are equal. So, all the
modern pianos you have ever heard are in meantone temperament!

EquaI Temperament :: top
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 133 oI 169
t must have been brave man who pointed out to a world wedded to centuries of mean, natural and Pythagorean tuning, that a
scale could be formed using a universal ratio for a semitone such that successive application of this ratio generated the notes
of a chromatic scale before completing the octave with its harmonic ratio of 2:1, and that using such a system one might play in
tune in any key. This universal ratio is the twelfth root of 2.
This tuning system found favour amongst lutenists who, having tuned the instrument's strings to different notes, could fret each
at an identical point from the nut to produce parallel equi-tempered scales something that would be impossible using any other
temperament. Unfortunately, as Nicola Vicentino, the inventor of the archicembalo with six rows of keys that enabled six
different versions of any scale to be performed complete with temperamental adjustment, observed, this produced horrible
clashes between the lute tuned to an equi-tempered scale performed with a keyboard tuned using mean-tone temperament.
At the time, keyboard players found the equi-tempered scale more 'sour' than the other systems in the five keys commonly
used, and because most composers worked only in a limited number of keys the benefits to be had from the equi-tempered
system in more distant keys were not at all obvious. This probably helped delay its acceptance until such time as enough 'new'
ears had become used to it, or enough composers had explored more distant keys with it in mind.
t is still surprising that the system may have been known in Europe as early as the fifteenth century (some have suggested
that equal temperament was first explained by Chu Tsai-y in a paper entitled A New Account of the Science of the Pitch Pipes
published in 1584). Certainly, by the early 1600s, European musical theorists had a good understanding of its advantages.
Today we take it and its convenience for granted.
The equi-tempered system cannot be derived from rational relationships because the twelfth root of 2, like the square root of 2,
is irrational.
The theoretical equal temperament frequencies for the A=440Hz. tuning pitch are:
Tuning Pitch: A=440Hz.
A 27.50Hz. 55.00Hz. 110.00Hz. 220.00Hz. 440.00Hz. 880.00Hz. 1760.00Hz. 3520.00Hz.
A# 29.13Hz. 58.27Hz. 116.54Hz. 233.08Hz. 466.16Hz. 932.32Hz. 1864.65Hz. 3729.31Hz.
B 30.86Hz. 61.73Hz. 123.47Hz. 246.94Hz. 493.88Hz. 987.76Hz. 1975.53Hz. 3951.06Hz.
C 32.70Hz. 65.40Hz. 130.81Hz. 261.62Hz. 523.25Hz. 1046.50Hz. 2093.00Hz. 4186.00Hz.
C# 34.64Hz. 69.29Hz. 138.59Hz. 277.18Hz. 554.36Hz. 1108.73Hz. 2217.46Hz.
D 36.70Hz. 73.41Hz. 146.83Hz. 293.66Hz. 587.33Hz. 1174.65Hz. 2349.31Hz.
D# 38.89Hz. 77.78Hz. 155.56Hz. 311.12Hz. 622.25Hz. 1244.50Hz. 2489.01Hz.
E 41.20Hz. 82.40Hz. 164.81Hz. 329.62Hz. 659.25Hz. 1318.51Hz. 2637.02Hz.
F 43.65Hz. 87.30Hz. 174.61Hz. 349.22Hz. 698.45Hz. 1396.91Hz. 2793.82Hz.
F# 46.24Hz. 92.49Hz. 184.99Hz. 369.99Hz. 739.98Hz. 1479.97Hz. 2959.95Hz.
G 48.99Hz. 97.99Hz. 195.99Hz. 391.99Hz. 783.99Hz. 1567.98Hz. 3135.96Hz.
G# 51.91Hz. 103.82Hz. 207.65Hz. 415.30Hz. 830.60Hz. 1661.21Hz. 3322.43Hz.

Just Intonation :: top
The natural or harmonic scale is being explored again in the twentieth century through the work of Harry Partch, Lou Harrison
and others who, with the advantages of modern technology, have sought to explore musical systems that were abandoned
more for their practical limitations than for their aesthetic benefits. One only has to consider the complexity of a piano built to
perform music based on a microtonal system, or remind ourselves of Nicola Vicentino's archicembalo, instruments that have
been made and played, to appreciate that the equi-tempered scale brings with it certain advantages. t is undeniable, though,
that just intonation should be explored in a more formal manner and recommend readers wishing to do this go to The Just
Intonation Network (check out the references listed below)
Below, for the reference of tuning enthusiasts, is KyIe Gann's Anatomy of An Octave, which contains all pitches that meet
any one of the following six criteria:
All ratios between whole numbers 32 and lower
All ratios between 31-limit numbers up to 64 (31-limit meaning that the numbers contain no prime-number factors larger than
Harmonics up to 128 (each whole number divided by the closest inferior power of 2)
All ratios between 11-limit numbers up to 128
All ratios between 5-limit numbers up to 1024
Certain historically important ratios such as the schisma and Pythagorean comma
The table is similar to, but much briefer than, that found in Alain Danielou's encyclopedic but long out-of-print Comparative
TabIe of MusicaI IntervaIs.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 134 oI 169
nterval Ratio Cents equivalent nterval Name (if any)
1/1 0.000 tonic
32805/32768 1.954 schisma (3 to the 8th/2 to the 12th x 5/8)
126/125 13.795
121/120 14.367
100/99 17.399
99/98 17.576
81/80 21.506 syntonic comma
531441/524288 23.460 Pythagorean comma (3 to the 12th/2 to the 19th)
65/64 26.841 65th harmonic
64/63 27.264
63/62 27.700
58/57 30.109
57/56 30.642
56/55 31.194 Ptolemy's enharmonic
55/54 31.768
52/51 33.618
51/50 34.284
50/49 34.977
49/48 35.698
46/45 38.052 inferior quarter-tone (Ptolemy)
45/44 38.907
128/125 41.059 diminished second (16/15 x 24/25)
525/512 43.408 enharmonic diesis (Avicenna)
40/39 43.831
39/38 44.970 superior quarter-tone (Eratosthenes)
77/75 45.561
36/35 48.770 superior quarter-tone (Archytas)
250/243 49.166
35/34 50.184 E.T. 1/4-tone approximation
34/33 51.682
33/32 53.273 33rd harmonic
32/31 54.964 inferior quarter-tone (Didymus)
125/121 56.305
31/30 56.767 superior quarter-tone (Didymus)
30/29 58.692
29/28 60.751
57/55 61.836
28/27 62.961 inferior quarter-tone (Archytas)
80/77 66.170
27/26 65.337
26/25 67.900 1/3-tone (Avicenna)
51/49 69.261
126/121 70.100
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 135 oI 169
25/24 70.672 minor 5-limit half-step
24/23 73.681
117/112 75.612
23/22 76.956
67/64 79.307 67th harmonic
22/21 80.537 hard 1/2-step (Ptolemy, Avicenna, Safiud)
21/20 84.467
81/77 87.676
20/19 88.801
256/243 90.225 Pythagorean half-step
58/55 91.946
135/128 92.179 limma ascendant
96/91 92.601
19/18 93.603
55/52 97.107
128/121 97.364
18/17 98.955 E.T. half-step approximation
2 to the 1/12th 100.000 equal-tempered half-step
35/33 101.867
52/49 102.880
86/81 103.698
17/16 104.955 overtone half-step
33/31 108.237
49/46 109.381
16/15 111.731 major 5-limit half-step
31/29 115.458
77/72 116.234
15/14 119.443 Cowell just half-step
29/27 123.712
14/13 128.298
69/64 130.229 69th harmonic
55/51 130.726
27/25 133.238 alternate Renaissance half-step
121/112 133.810
13/12 138.573 3/4-tone (Avicenna)
64/59 140.828
38/35 142.373
63/58 143.159
88/81 143.498
25/23 144.353
62/57 145.568
135/124 147.145
49/45 147.433
12/11 150.637 undecimal "median" 1/2-step
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 136 oI 169
59/54 153.307
35/32 155.140 35th harmonic
23/21 157.493
57/52 158.940
34/31 159.920
800/729 160.897
56/51 161.916
11/10 165.004
54/49 168.219
32/29 170.423
21/19 173.268
31/28 176.210
567/512 176.646
51/46 178.642
71/64 179.697 71st harmonic
10/9 182.404 minor whole-tone
49/40 186.340
39/35 187.343
29/26 189.050
125/112 190.115
48/43 190.437
19/17 192.558
160/143 194.468
28/25 196.198
121/108 196.771
55/49 199.987
2 to the 1/6th 200.000 equal-tempered whole-tone
64/57 200.532
9/8 203.910 major whole-tone
62/55 207.404
44/39 208.843
35/31 210.104
26/23 212.253
112/99 213.598
17/15 216.687
25/22 221.309
58/51 222.667
256/225 222.463
33/29 223.696
729/640 225.416
57/50 226.840
73/64 227.789 73rd harmonic
8/7 231.174 septimal whole-tone
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 137 oI 169
63/55 235.104
55/48 235.685
39/34 237.527
225/196 238.886
31/27 239.171
147/128 239.607
169/147 241.449
23/20 241.961
2187/1900 243.547
38/33 244.240
144/125 244.969 diminished third (6/5 x 24/25)
121/105 245.541
15/13 247.741
52/45 250.313
37/32 251.344 37th harmonic
81/70 252.680
125/108 253.076
22/19 253.805
51/44 255.602
196/169 256.596 consonant interval (Avicenna)
29/25 256.950
36/31 258.874
93/80 260.679
57/49 261.816
64/55 262.368
7/6 266.871 septimal minor third
90/77 270.080
75/64 274.582 augmented second (9/8 x 25/24)
34/29 275.378
88/75 276.736
27/23 277.591
20/17 281.358
33/28 284.447
46/39 285.802
13/11 289.210
58/49 291.925
45/38 292.721
32/27 294.135 Pythagorean minor third
19/16 297.513 overtone minor third
2 to the 1/4th 300.000 equal-tempered minor third
25/21 301.847
31/26 304.508
105/88 305.777
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 138 oI 169
55/46 309.368
6/5 315.641 5-limit minor third
77/64 320.144 77th harmonic
35/29 325.562
29/24 327.622
75/62 329.550
98/81 329.832
121/100 330.008
23/19 330.761
63/52 332.208
40/33 333.041
17/14 336.130
243/200 337.148
62/51 338.125
28/23 340.552
39/32 342.483 39th harmonic
128/105 342.905
8000/6561 343.304
11/9 347.408 undecimal "median" third
60/49 350.617
49/40 351.351
38/31 352.477
27/22 354.547
16/13 359.472
79/64 364.537 79th harmonic
100/81 364.807
121/98 364.984
21/17 365.826
99/80 368.914
26/21 369.747
57/46 371.194
31/25 372.408
36/29 374.333
56/45 378.602
96/77 381.811
8192/6561 384.360 Pythagorean "schismatic" third
5/4 386.314 5-limit major third
64/51 393.090
49/39 395.183
44/35 396.192
39/31 397.447
34/27 399.090
2 to the 1/3rd 400.000 equal-tempered major third
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 139 oI 169
63/50 400.108
121/96 400.681
29/23 401.303
125/99 403.713
24/19 404.442
512/405 405.866
62/49 407.384
81/64 407.820 Pythagorean major third
19/15 409.244
33/26 412.745
80/63 413.578
14/11 417.508
51/40 420.612
125/98 421.289
23/18 424.364
32/25 427.373 diminished fourth
41/32 429.062 41st harmonic
50/39 430.160
77/60 431.875
9/7 435.084 septimal major third
58/45 439.353
49/38 440.154
40/31 441.278
31/24 443.081
1323/1024 443.517
128/99 444.772
22/17 446.363
57/44 448.150
162/125 448.879
35/27 449.275
83/64 450.047 83rd harmonic
100/77 452.484
13/10 454.214
125/96 456.986 augmented third (5/4 x 25/24)
30/23 459.994
64/49 462.348
98/75 463.069
17/13 464.428
72/55 466.278
55/42 466.867
38/29 467.936
21/16 470.781 septimal fourth
46/35 473.152
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 140 oI 169
25/19 475.114
320/243 476.539
29/22 478.259
675/512 478.492
33/25 480.646
45/34 485.286
85/64 491.269 85th harmonic
4/3 498.045 perfect fourth
2 to the 5/12ths 500.000 equal-tempered perfect fourth
75/56 505.757
51/38 509.415
43/32 511.518 43rd harmonic
121/90 512.412
39/29 512.905
35/26 514.612
66/49 515.621
31/23 516.761
27/20 519.551
23/17 523.319
42/31 525.745
19/14 528.687
110/81 529.812
87/64 531.532 87th harmonic
34/25 532.328
49/36 533.761
15/11 536.951
512/375 539.104
26/19 543.015
63/46 544.462
48/35 546.835
1000/729 547.211
11/8 551.318 undecimal tritone (11th harmonic)
62/45 554.812
40/29 556.737
29/21 558.796
112/81 561.006
18/13 563.382
25/18 568.717 augmented fourth (4/3 x 25/24)
89/64 570.880 89th harmonic
32/23 571.726
39/28 573.657
46/33 575.022
88/63 578.582
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 141 oI 169
7/5 582.512 septimal tritone
108/77 585.721
1024/729 588.270 low Pythagorean tritone
45/32 590.224 high 5-limit tritone
38/27 591.648
31/22 593.718
55/39 595.170
24/17 597.000
Square root of 2 600.000 equal-tempered tritone
99/70 600.088
17/12 603.000
44/31 606.304
125/88 607.623
27/19 608.352
91/64 609.354 91st harmonic
64/45 609.776 low 5-limit tritone
729/512 611.730 high Pythagorean tritone
57/40 613.154
77/54 614.279
10/7 617.488 septimal tritone
63/44 621.418
33/23 624.999
56/39 626.343
23/16 628.274 23rd harmonic
36/25 631.283 diminished fifth (3/2 x 24/25)
121/84 631.855
49/34 632.719
13/9 636.618
81/56 638.994
55/38 640.141
42/29 641.204
29/20 643.263
45/31 645.211
93/64 646.991 93rd harmonic
16/11 648.682
51/35 651.794
729/500 652.789
35/24 653.185
19/13 656.985
375/256 660.896
22/15 663.049
47/32 665.507 47th harmonic
72/49 666.258
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 142 oI 169
25/17 667.672
81/55 670.188
28/19 671.313
31/21 674.255
189/128 674.691
34/23 676.681
40/27 680.449 dissonant "wolf" 5-limit fifth
46/31 683.263
95/64 683.827 95th harmonic
49/33 684.403
52/35 685.412
58/39 687.095
125/84 688.160
112/75 694.243
121/81 694.816
2 to the 7/12ths 700.000 equal-tempered perfect fifth
3/2 701.955 perfect fifth
121/80 716.322
50/33 719.380
97/64 719.895 97th harmonic
1024/675 721.508
44/29 721.766
243/160 723.461
38/25 724.886
35/23 726.865
32/21 729.219
29/19 732.064
84/55 733.149
55/36 733.748
26/17 735.572
75/49 736.931
49/32 737.652 49th harmonic
23/15 740.006
192/125 743.014 diminished sixth (8/5 x 24/25)
20/13 745.786
77/50 747.516
54/35 750.752
125/81 751.121
17/11 753.637
99/64 755.228 99th harmonic
48/31 756.946
31/20 758.722
45/29 760.674
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 143 oI 169
14/9 764.916 septimal minor sixth
120/77 768.125
39/25 769.855
25/16 772.627 augmented fifth
36/23 775.636
11/7 782.492 undecimal minor sixth
63/40 786.422
52/33 787.283
101/64 789.854 101st harmonic
30/19 790.756
128/81 792.180 Pythagorean minor sixth
49/31 792.644
405/256 794.134
19/12 795.558
46/29 798.726
100/63 799.892
2 to the 2/3rds 800.000 equal-tempered minor sixth
27/17 800.910
62/39 802.553
35/22 803.822
51/32 806.910 51st harmonic
8/5 813.686 5-limit minor sixth
6561/4096 815.640 Pythagorean "schismatic" sixth
77/48 818.189
45/28 821.427
103/64 823.801 103rd harmonic
29/18 825.667
50/31 827.600
121/75 828.053
21/13 830.253
55/34 832.706
34/21 834.175
81/50 835.193
125/77 838.797
13/8 840.528 overtone sixth
57/35 844.328
44/27 845.483
31/19 847.523
80/49 848.662
49/30 849.413
18/11 852.592 undecimal "median" sixth
105/64 857.095 105th harmonic
64/39 857.517
23/14 859.448
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 144 oI 169
51/31 861.905
400/243 862.852
28/17 863.870
33/20 866.959
38/23 869.239
81/49 870.168
48/29 872.409
53/32 873.505 53rd harmonic
58/35 874.438
63/38 875.223
128/77 879.856
107/64 889.760 107th harmonic
5/3 884.359 5-limit major sixth
57/34 894.513
52/31 895.524
42/25 898.153
121/72 898.726
2 to the 3/4ths 900.000 equal-tempered major sixth
32/19 902.487
27/16 905.865 Pythagorean major sixth
49/29 908.107
22/13 910.790
39/23 914.208
56/33 915.553
17/10 918.641
109/64 921.821 109th harmonic
46/27 922.442
75/44 923.264
29/17 924.622
128/75 925.418 diminished seventh (16/9 x 24/25)
77/45 929.920
12/7 933.129 septimal major sixth
55/32 937.632 55th harmonic
31/18 941.126
441/256 941.562
50/29 943.084
19/11 946.195
216/125 946.924
121/70 947.496
45/26 949.730
26/15 952.259
111/64 953.299 111th harmonic
125/72 955.031 augmented sixth (5/3 x 25/24)
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 145 oI 169
33/19 955.760
40/23 958.039
54/31 960.864
96/55 964.323
110/63 964.896
7/4 968.826 septimal minor seventh
58/33 976.304
225/128 976.537
51/29 977.368
44/25 978.725
30/17 983.313
113/64 984.215 113th harmonic
99/56 986.402
23/13 987.747
62/35 989.896
39/22 991.165
55/31 992.631
16/9 996.090 Pythagorean small min. seventh
57/32 999.468 57th harmonic
2 to the 5/6ths 1000.000 equal-tempered minor seventh
98/55 1000.020
25/14 1003.802
34/19 1007.442
52/29 1010.986
88/49 1013.666
115/64 1014.588 115th harmonic
9/5 1017.596 5-limit large minor seventh
56/31 1023.790
38/21 1026.732
29/16 1029.577 29th harmonic
49/27 1031.823
20/11 1034.996
51/28 1038.121
729/400 1039.103
31/17 1040.080
42/23 1042.507
117/64 1044.438 117th harmonic
64/35 1044.860
4000/2187 1045.266
11/6 1049.363 undecimal "median" seventh
90/49 1052.572
57/31 1054.432
46/25 1055.684
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 146 oI 169
81/44 1056.502
35/19 1057.627
59/32 1059.172 59th harmonic
24/13 1061.427
50/27 1066.772
63/34 1067.780
13/7 1071.702
119/64 1073.781 119th harmonic
54/29 1076.326
28/15 1080.557
58/31 1084.542
15/8 1088.269 5-limit major seventh
62/33 1091.763
32/17 1095.045
49/26 1097.163
66/35 1098.133
2 to the 11/12ths 1100.000 equal-tempered major seventh
17/9 1101.045
121/64 1102.636 121st harmonic
125/66 1105.668
36/19 1106.397
256/135 1107.821
55/29 1108.094
243/128 1109.775 Pythagorean major seventh
19/10 1111.199
40/21 1115.533
61/32 1116.885 61st harmonic
21/11 1119.463
44/23 1123.084
23/12 1126.319
48/25 1129.338
121/63 1129.900
123/64 1131.017 123rd harmonic
25/13 1132.100
77/40 1133.830
52/27 1134.703
27/14 1137.039 septimal major seventh
56/29 1139.249
29/15 1141.308
60/31 1143.233
31/16 1145.036 31st harmonic
64/33 1146.727
33/17 1148.318
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 147 oI 169
243/125 1150.834
35/19 1151.230
39/20 1156.169
125/64 1158.941 augmented seventh (15/8 x 25/24)
88/45 1161.094
45/23 1161.991
96/49 1164.303
49/25 1165.066
51/26 1166.424
108/55 1168.233
55/28 1168.847
57/29 1169.891
63/32 1172.736 63rd harmonic
160/81 1178.494
99/50 1182.601
125/63 1186.205
127/64 1186.422 127th harmonic
2/1 1200.000 octave

HistoricaI Temperaments :: top
Prior to the almost universal adoption of the equal temperament system of tuning where the interval between successive
semitones is a constant and the ratio for the octave is set at 2:1, musicians and theorists produced numerous solutions for
bending the natural Pythagorean scale to practical use. That this was an impossible task, particularly if one wished to modulate
to all the possible major or minor scales, was demonstrated time and again by composers such as Willaert who used their
works to demonstrate the shortcomings of any of the temperaments then in use. Written in four parts, the vocal work Quid non
ebrietas, starts on the key note before taking the singers through a sequence of perfect fifths that, if they use Pythagorean
tuning based on perfect fifths, leaves them sharp by the Pythagorean comma when they return to the key note at the end of the
piece. f the singers choose instead to use just intonation, they reach the end flat to the desired key note. Of course, most of
these problems could be ignored so long as composers chose to remain reasonably close to the key in which the work started.
Composers like Willaerts, Nicola Vicentino and Carlo Gesualdo pushed the boundaries of temperament so hard that special
instruments had to be invented to handle the complexities of tempered scales as key notes changed. Vicentino invented the
archicembalo with its six rows of keys. He also inspired Fabio Colonna's sambuca in which the octave was divided into thirty-
one parts.
The temperaments we set out below were commonly used before the widespread introduction of equal temperament. Each
was an attempt to rid the 'so-called' natural scale of its problems under modulation. We give some information below about the
common 'historical temperaments' used when setting keyboard instruments for historically informed performance.
Dating back to 500 BC, this simple scale creates eleven pure fifths around the circle, leaving the entire Pythagorean comma
between G# and Eb There are four pure major thirds at B-D#, F#-A#, Db-F, and Ab-C, but these are not particularly useful. The
remainder are quite harsh.
Arnout Van Zwolle (1400-1466) modified the Pythagorean scale by placing the comma between B and F#. This moved the
thirds to D-F#, A-C#, E-G#, and B-Eb, which were more useful. This gives pure major triads on D, A and E.
The best known of the old scales (see more below), this scale emphasizes pure thirds by making the fifths narrow. t was
certainly in use by the end of the 15th century, if not earlier. t has the greatest number of pure triads of any of the scales on
this disk. All whole steps are equally spaced, one half of a major third apart. t also has a very prominent "wolf" between G#
and Eb. f the circle is extended down to Ab, the pitch is very different from the G#, Some baroque keyboards had a split pair of
black keys that allowed the musician to choose G# or Ab.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 148 oI 169
An excellent survey on the use of split keys on organs and other early keyboard instruments entitled Organs with SpIit Keys
or Added Keys fewer than 17 tones per octave (but more than 12) has been prepared by bo Ortgies of the Gteborg
Organ Art Center. We have reprinted this in our e-monograph series.
Organ builder Gottfried Silbermann (1678-1734) tried several variants to narrow the "wolf" and make his instruments useable in
more keys. None of the intervals of these two scales are pure.
Jean Phillipe Rameau. (1683-1764) modified the meantone scale to provide three pure fifths. This very pleasant scale almost
completely eliminates the harsh "wolf" of the meantone while preserving most of its pure harmony.
Organ builder and mathematician Andreas Werkmeister (1645-1706) devoted much of his life to the study of temperament and
suggested many. different scales. The best known of these are included on this disk. His goal was to place the best thirds in
those keys with the fewest incidentals. t is very likely that Bach (l685-1750) wrote his famous "Well-tempered Klavier" pieces
for one of these temperaments.
Composer and music theorist Johann Philipp Kirnberger (1721-1783) suggested several temperaments. The two scales here
offer a large number of pure fifths. The first has pure thirds at C-E, G-B, and D-F# but the fifths at D-A and A-E are somewhat
harsh. Kirnberger later proposed an alternate scale with smoother fifths, but only one pure third at C-E.
ITALIAN 18th Century
One of the many variations commonly in use in the 18th century that emphasized a pure third at C-E and distributed the "wolf"
around the circle of fifths. There is only one pure interval in this scale.
This scale is so common in the 20th century that many musicians and instrument makers tend not to know that there are
alternatives. Dividing the Pythagorean comma equally around the circle of fifths is not a recent idea. Equal temperament was
probably known in the 1700s or earlier, but was not considered a satisfactory scale due to the impurity of all intervals. n the
late 18th and 19th centuries, composers increasingly explored modulation to many different keys. They found that most
temperaments were unsatisfactory because of the significant tonal changes involved in changing keys. The equal-tempered
scale was begrudgingly recognized as an acceptable compromise that worked equally well in every key. t is only through over
a century of dominance that this scale has become the one that we are accustomed to - the scale that sounds "in tune" to us
today. t is actually one type of 'meantone' tuning because the third lies exactly midway between the root and the fifth.
Table from Alternate Temperaments: Theory and Philosophy by Terry Blackburn and calculated from a = 440 Hz.


c 262.37
c# 276.40
d 295.16
d# 310.95
e 327.96
f 349.82
f# 368.95
g 393.55
g# 414.60
a 440.00
a# 466.43
b 491.93
c 524.73











c 260.74
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 149 oI 169
c# 278.44
d 293.33
d# 309.03
e 330.00
f 347.65
f# 371.25
g 391.11
g# 417.66
a 440.00
a# 463.54
b 495.00
c 521.48









Information on Temperaments :: top
Temperament by Stuart sacoff published Faber and Faber (originally by Alfred Knopf)
Tuning and Temperament by J. Murray Barbour published Michigan State College Press
Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics by Arthur H. Benade published Dover Publications
The Structure of Recognizable Diatonic Tunings by Easley Blackwood published Princeton University Press
Treatise on Harpsichord Tuning by Jean Denis published Cambridge University Press
Tuning: Containing the Perfection of Eighteenth-Century Temperament, the Lost Art of Nineteenth-Century Temperament
and the Science of Equal Temperament by Owen H. Jorgensen published Michigan State University Press
Lutes, Viols and Temperaments by Mark Lindley published Cambridge University Press
Intervals, Scales and Temperaments by Lt. S. Lloyd and Hugh Boyle published MacDonald, London
Musical Temperaments by Erich Neuwirth published Springer Verlag
Musicalische Temperatur by Andreas Werckmeister published Diapason Press
Understanding Temperaments by Pierre Lewis from which the references and comments below have been taken
A very complete bibliography by Manuel Op de Coul
Other tuning-related weblocations by Stichting Huygens-Fokker
Also: WannaLearn, OpenHere
A very thorough, well-researched and clear discussion of Pythagoras's tuning by Margo Schulter, also with very complete
discussion of later temperaments: a must-read for anyone seriously interested in tunings and temperaments (esp. for the
medieval period)
Bach's musical temperament - by Dr. Kellner
Temperament: A Beginner's Guide by Stephen Bicknell: less technical, with a lot more on historical perspective, and with
some suggestions for CDs
Temperament, a beginner's guide by Stephen Bicknell (also here) -- update of above?
Comparison of temperaments by Andrew Purdam (also here)
Alternate Temperaments: Theory and Philosophy by Terry Blackburn (also here)
History of Tuning and Temperament by Howard Stoess
Historical Tunings on the Modern Historical Concert Grand by Edward Foote
The Meantone temperament home page
Meantone and Temperament in Bach's Time by Daniel Pyle, adapted by Ben Chi
Meantone Temperaments by Graham Breed, also other pages, e.g. Graham's microtonal software
Lucy tuning by Charles Lucy (see some notes below)
Just intonation network
Definitions of tuning terms by Joseph L. Monzo
Just intonation by Kyle Gann, also An ntroduction to Historical Tunings by Kyle Gann
Applet on temperaments by Keith Griffin
Tuning/temperament S/W compiled by Nicholas S. Lander
Fred Nachbaur's MD tempering utilities
Keyboard temperament analyzer/calculator by Bradley Lehman
12-tone equal temperament and 72-tone equal temperament
Justesse a cappella . la renaissance par Yves Ouvrard, Jean-Pierre Vidal, Olivier Bettens
The Mathematics of Tuning and Temperament by David Bartlett
Algorithms for Mapping Diatonic Keyboard Tunings and Temperaments by Kenneth P. Scholtz
Ear Training
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 150 oI 169

Timbre/Tone CoIour :: top
All musical instrument have acoustical properties determined by their form and material of construction. Musical instruments
require intervention from an actuator (or performer) to provide the energy that will initiate the production of sound. Sound is a
form of mechanical energy that requires a medium through which to propagate or travel. A sound travels from a source,
through a medium to a detector. For us the detector is the human ear. f the sound is to be considered musical with a specific
pitch or tone quality, rather than just 'noise', the mechanical energy has to radiate from the instrument as regular disturbances,
what we call 'periodic' vibrations. The vibrator producing fluctuations, oscillations, pulsations or undulations (these terms are all
equivalent) will be different on different instruments and the initiation and resonance may arise from two separate processes.
We say that the sound producing system has two parts - the initiator and the resonator.
Examples of initiators:
1. String - violin, guitar, piano, psaltry, harp
2. Reed - clarinet, oboe, bassoon, English horn.
3. Lips - trumpet, trombone, French horn, tuba.
4. Membrane - drum, tambourine
5. Wood - wood block, xylophone.
6. Metal - bells, cymbals.
7. Electronic instruments - speakers that can produce vibrations
Examples of resonators:
1. Wooden box which may be hollow or solid - violin, guitar, piano (sounding board)
2. Tubing - (brass, silver, wood, pipe-like) - trumpet, trombone, French, horn, flugel horn, tuba,
3. Chest, oral, nasal and throat cavities - human voice.
4. Electronic instruments - amplifier, tuned circuits.
The character of the sound each instrument produces is, therefore, partly due to vibrations associated with the process of
initiation and partly due to the characteristic vibrations that are generated by the resonator, initially sustained but usually
decaying once energy is no longer supplied to the system. f, on a stringed instrument, the bow is continuously drawn across a
string, the instrument is described as being in continuous-control mode; i.e. onset - sustain. f, however, on the same
instrument, a string is plucked with a finger, the instrument is then said to be in envelope-based mode; i.e. onset - sustain -
decay. n general and when the process of initiation is mechanical and occurs over a relatively short time, short relative to the
persistance of the resonance response that follows, a note has a clear starting or 'onset' sound (arising from the initiator) which
is distinguishable from the sound that follows (that arising from the resonator). For example, the 'tonguing' sound that begins
notes produced on wind-instruments is distinguishable from the sustained resonance associated with the remainder of the
note. The percussive initiation of a note produced on a piano, the sound of the hammer striking the string, is distinguishable
from the sound that rings on should you keep the piano key depressed for any length of time. The mechanical processes
involved in sound production on musical instruments include plucking or bowing (on violin, viola, cello string bass, harpsichord),
blowing (on clarinet, oboe, trumpet, trombone, recorder, voice) or striking (on drums, piano, clavichord, xylophone). t has been
found that if the onset is removed from recordings of sounding musical instruments it become much more difficult to distinguish
one from another. External factors, too, can influence 'timbre' - for example, if an instrument moves in a room relative to the
To summarise, timbre is the spectrotemporal pattern of a generated sound indicating the way the energy in the system is
distributed between different harmonics or frequency components and the way that distribution is changing over time.
The instruments of the orchestra, viewed as mechancial systems, can be classified in the following manner:
1. Strings
1. Bowed: Violin, viola, cello, double bass.
2. Plucked: Violin, viola, cello, double bass, lute, harp, citern, sitar, shamisen, mandolin,
3. Hammered: Zither, dulcimer, psaltry, also bowed.
4. Struck: Piano, clavichord.
2. Woodwinds - blown
1. Flute - recorder
2. Single reeds - clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophone.
3. Double reeds - oboe, bassoon, contra bassoon, crumhorn.
3. Brass - blown
1. Cornet
2. Trumpet.
3. French horn.
4. Trombone.
5. Flugel horn.
6. Tuba.
4. Percussion - struck
1. Tuned
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 151 oI 169
1. Bells, chimes
2. Glockenspiel
3. Xylophone, vibraphone, marimba
4. Timpani
2. Untuned
1. Bass and snare drums
2. Cymbals
3. Tam-tam
4. Gong
5. Claves, maracas, bongos, tambourine, whip, triangle, woodblock, bells.
Examine Timbre

Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
Page 152 oI 169

UsefuI References:
History of The Lute
Chitarrone, Theorbo and Archlute by Robert Spencer

Some Guitar History
The Guitar pre 1650
Historical Figures in Jazz Guitar
History of The Electric Guitar
A Brief History of the Bass Guitar
The History of the Touch Guitar
A Short History of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar (Ki Ho'alu)
Some Steel Guitar History
Online Pop-up Guitar Chord Chart from
Guitar Chord Finder
Online Pop-up Ukulele Chord Finder from Sheep Entertainment
Guitar Tuning Resource
Alisdair MacRae Birch's Guitar Resources

Crossroads Guitar Lessons, Tabs & Chords
Crossroads online guitar tabs and guitar lessons conducts streaming instruction for advanced or beginning guitar students; try
our free lessons before you purchase!

Reading Chord Charts :: top
A guitar chord chart displays the notes in a chord by associating them with finger positions on the guitar neck. The index finger
is numbered 1 through to the little finger which is numbered 4. The thumb is denoted T.
Sometimes fingering, as such are not given at all. The chord chart may be no more than a series of dots on a grid showing
where strings are stopped and where strings are open, i.e. unstopped. Unstopped strings may be marked with an X or an O
above the chart.
We have imported links to Phillip J. Facoline's UItimate Guitar Chord Chart Web Page
Click on the page number below to view the respective page of the chord chart.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14
Click here to view the chord chart in PDF format.
Click here to download the chord chart in Postscript format.

Writing Notes :: top
While most guitarists will and can read from standard musical notation, others may more commonly use tablature, a notational
system that describes how the fingers are placed on the strings and frets of the instrument. This was common notation for lute
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On the upper 'Guitar' line you will see a combination of standard notation, chord numbers and chord charts, while the lower
'Bass Guitar' line is set out in tablature form. Here, on the lower line, the tail/flag combination tells us the note's time-value and
the line and the number on it tells us on which string (line) and fret (number) the player's finger should be placed. Chords
notated in tablature will be a vertical column of numbers (fret positions) one on each line (string).

The Origins of TabIature Notation :: top
Tablature (as it applies to lutes and viols) shows locations rather than specific pitches. t allows retuning of the instrument
(scordatura), and makes reading chords much simpler. While it is possible to transcribe tablature into staff notation, the music
usually makes much less sense, and may be much more difficult to read, especially when using a non-standard tuning. But
there is a vast amount of music in tablature, and it is well worth the effort to learn it.
We have taken the following extract from Reading Lute TabIature by Conrad Leviston.
n standard lute tablature, each stave has six lines, representing the six courses of a lute. A course is a group of strings tuned
to the same note. The course of highest pitch appears at the top, and that of lowest appears at the bottom, hence:
On each of these lines are placed letters to represent notes. f you are required to play an open D string, for instance, a small
"a" will be placed on the appropriate line. For a note with the finger on the first fret, a "b", a note on the second fret, a "c", etc.
The only exception to this is that no "j" is used, as it was considered to be more or less the same as "i". So:
would represent a Gm chord, and in normal guitar tuning would be an E chord.
f a seventh course were used its symbol would appear below the sixth (funny that). f an eighth were used, it would appear in
the same place, but with a line above it. Similarly a ninth course note would have two lines above it.
The only other thing to be said about this notation is that the symbol # does not mean sharp. t does in fact represent a trill. The
exact form of the trill is not known, but it did appear to have a specific meaning. Generally, one just trills from the note in the
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scale above the note in question.
Timing is fairly straight forward. A semi-breve is represented by a stick, with a tail pointing to the left (/|), a minim by a simple
stick (|), a crotchet by a stick with a tail pointing to the right (|\), a quaver by a stick with two tails pointing to the right, and so on.
The duration of a note is determined by the time indicator above it. f there is no time indicator above a note, its duration is
equal to that of the last note. For notes that last one and a half times as long as normal, a dot is added to the side of the time
indicator, as in normal sheet music.
There are two major variations of this form of tablature. Firstly, letters being replaced by numbers. This leads to the system
used in modern guitar tablature, and has the elegant advantage of "0" representing an open fret.
Secondly, the tablature may be written upside down. This system is more logical, in that you are essentially looking at the
mirror image of your instrument. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, do not find it as natural to play.
Different areas used different notations at different times, but in general, the French and English used the above system (often
refered to as French tablature), the talians used the above system, with the second change, and the Spanish used both
changes. German Tablature is completely different all together.
German tablature although more difficult to read, was nonetheless popular owing to its efficient use of paper. Here are set out
instructions for reading this tablature. Once you have acquired the knowledge required to interpret it, however, suggest you
use it to translate it into a more palatable form, such as French, as it is not simple to read off quickly.
German tablature was designed by Conrad Paumann (1410-73) for a lute of five courses. Conrad Paumann was a German
organist, blind from birth. n 1440 he became an organist in his native city, and in 1451 entered the service of the Dukes of
Bavaria. As a performer on many instruments he won great renown, which became international with a visit to the Mantua court
in 1470; both the Duke of Milan and the King of Aragon desired his services but he declined, fearing reprisals by competing
talian organists. His compositions include a few songs and organ pieces, and a treatise of 1452 (Fundamentum organisandi)
copied into the last pages of the Locheimer Liederbuch. This elucidates the embellishment of chant in keyboard style, and
contains sensitive arrangements of chants and secular melodies.
When six courses became more common on the lute the tablature was adapted to make it possible to indicate notes on the
extra string. This is not an ideal system, as will be seen later.
The system starts by giving the values 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 to the open strings, with lowest toned string (usually C) being 1. The
strings first frets are given the values a, b, c, d and e in the same manner as before. The strings second frets are given the
values f, g, h, i and k (i and j are deemed too similar in most alphabet based tablatures). Following this method (with a German
alphabet), we end up with:
5 |--e--|--k--|--p--|--v--|--9--|- G
| | | | | |
4 |--d--|--i--|--o--|--t--|--7--|- D
| | | | | |
3 |--c--|--h--|--n--|--s--|--z--|- A
| | | | | |
2 |--b--|--g--|--m--|--r--|--y--|- F
| | | | | |
1 |--a--|--f--|--l--|--q--|--x--|- C

Note the presence of 7 and 9. These are the most common characters for these positions, but by no means universal. They are
often referred to as "et" and "con". Beyond the fifth fret, the lettering sequence is repeated, however, to distinguish these letters
from those before, a bar is added above, hence:
_ _ _ _
5 |--e--|--k--|--p--|--v--|--9--|--e--|--k--|--p--|--v--|- G
| | | | | | _ | _ | _ | _ |
4 |--d--|--i--|--o--|--t--|--7--|--d--|--i--|--o--|--t--|- D
| | | | | | _ | _ | _ | _ |
3 |--c--|--h--|--n--|--s--|--z--|--c--|--h--|--n--|--s--|- A
| | | | | | _ | _ | _ | _ |
2 |--b--|--g--|--m--|--r--|--y--|--b--|--g--|--m--|--r--|- F
| | | | | | _ | _ | _ | _ |
1 |--a--|--f--|--l--|--q--|--x--|--a--|--f--|--l--|--q--|- C

n theory, a simple C chord (assuming the tuning indicated above) would be displayed thus:
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Usually, however, there are only three notes represented at a time in German tablature. This means that the score takes up
much less room than would otherwise be the case. Time indicators are the same as in other tablatures.
With the advent of the sixth course German tablature had to be modified. Rather than completely overhauling the system, the
standard solution was to represent each fret on the sixth course by a capital letter. The sixth course played open was usually
represented by a "1" with a cross through it (represented here by "+"). The entire six courses would therefore be:
5 |--e--|--k--|--p--|--v--|--9--|--e--|--k--|--p--|--v--|- G
| | | | | | _ | _ | _ | _ |
4 |--d--|--i--|--o--|--t--|--7--|--d--|--i--|--o--|--t--|- D
| | | | | | _ | _ | _ | _ |
3 |--c--|--h--|--n--|--s--|--z--|--c--|--h--|--n--|--s--|- A
| | | | | | _ | _ | _ | _ |
2 |--b--|--g--|--m--|--r--|--y--|--b--|--g--|--m--|--r--|- F
| | | | | | _ | _ | _ | _ |
1 |--a--|--f--|--l--|--q--|--x--|--a--|--f--|--l--|--q--|- C
| | | | | | | | | |
+ |--A--|--B--|--C--|--D--|--E--|--F--|--G--|--H--|--I--|- G
To illustrate this with a practical example we have extracted the material below from an online method for the Portuguese
Guitarra by Ron Fernndez.
We show first the tuning of the 12 strings on a Portuguese Guitarra, a system called the Lisboa tuning.

The strings are set in courses - each course being a pair of strings set to the unison or one octave apart. For this reason the
player needs only consider the six courses.

To notate a scale the tablature shows the six courses as the six horizontal lines below the normal stave. The numbers refer to
the fret positions or fingerings for playing each note in turn; 0 indicates an open string.
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To show how the notation works in practice we reproduce two lines from an arrangement of Fado Menor em Re.

Writing Chords :: top
We list below all the standard chord symbols, names, component notes and chord formulae.
There is an excellent pop-up chord chart for guitar on the web site.
Chords Names Notes (bottom up) FormuIa
C C major C, E, G major 3rd, perfect fifth
Cmi C minor C, E flat, G minor 3rd, perfect fifth
C+ C augmented C, E, G sharp major 3rd, augmented fifth
C diminished C, E flat, G flat minor 3rd, diminished fifth
Csus C suspended fourth C, F, G suspended 4th, perfect fifth
Triads with AdditionaI Notes
C6 C major sixth C, E, G, A C plus major sixth
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Cmi6 C minor sixth C, E flat, G, A Cmi plus major sixth
C6/9 C major six-nine C, E, G, A, D C plus major sixth and major ninth
Cmi6/9 C minor six-nine C, E flat, G, A, D
Cmi plus major sixth and major
C2 C major add two C, D, E, G C plus major second
Cmi2 C minor add two C, D, E flat, G Cmin plus major second
Seventh Chords
Cma7 C major seventh C, E, G, B C plus major seventh
Cmi7 C minor seventh C, E flat, G, B flat Cmi plus minor seventh
C7 C dominant seventh C, E, G, B flat C plus minor seventh
C+7 C dom. seventh augmented fifth C, E, G sharp, B flat C+ plus minor seventh
7 C diminish seventh C, E flat, G flat, B double flat C
plus diminished seventh
Cmi7(fIat5) C minor seventh (flat five) C, E flat, G flat, B flat Cmi
plus minor seventh
Cmi(ma7) C minor (major seventh) C, E flat, G, B Cmi plus major seventh
C7sus C seventh suspended fourth C, F, G, B flat Csus plus minor seventh
Extended Chords - not aII the Iower extension notes need be voiced
Cma9 C major ninth C, E, G, B, D C7 plus major ninth
Cmi9 C minor ninth C, E flat, G, B flat, D Cmi7 plus major ninth
C9 C dominant ninth C, E, G, B flat, D C7 plus major ninth
C+9 C dominant ninth augmented fifth C, E, G sharp, B flat, D C+7 plus major ninth
Cmi9(fIat5) C minor ninth (flat five) C, E flat, G flat, B flat, D Cmi9 with flat five
C9sus C ninth suspended fourth C, F, G flat, B flat, D C9 with suspended fourth
Cmi11 C minor eleventh C, E flat, G, B flat, D, F Cmi9 plus eleventh
Cmi11(fIat5) C minor eleventh (flat five) C, E flat, G flat, B flat, D, F Cmi9(fIat5) plus eleventh
Cma13 C major thirteenth C, E, G, B, D, F Cma11 plus major thirteenth
C13 C dominant thirteenth C, E, G, B flat, D, F, A
C11 plus eleventh and major
C13sus C thirteenth suspended fourth C, F, G, B flat, D, F, A C13 with suspended fourth
AItered Chords
Cma9(fIat5) C major ninth (flat five) C, E, G flat, B, D Cma9 with a flat fifth
Cma13(sharp11) C major thirteenth (sharp eleven) C, E, G, B, D sharp, F Cma13 with sharp eleventh
C7(fIat9) C dominant seventh (flat nine) C, E, G, B flat, D flat C7 plus minor ninth
C dom. ninth (flat thirteen/sharp
C, E, G, B flat, D, F sharp, A
C9 plus sharp eleven and flat
C dom. thirteenth (sharp eleven/flat
C, E, G, B flat, D flat, F sharp,
C13 with sharp eleven and flat nine
C+7(sharp9) C augmented seventh (sharp nine) C, E, G sharp, B flat, D sharp C+7 with sharp nine
Other Chords
C5 C power chord C G C with no third
C5/2 C5 add 2 C, D, G C with no third and a second
C/D slash C over D D, C, E, G C plus D in bass
polychord C over D D, F sharp, A, C, E, G C over D
Players will come across other names, in some case chords misnamed, or not numbered in the 'conventional' way. We have
collected some of these in the chart of 'named' chords in lesson 17. We recommend that you study the chart above, rather than
that in lesson 17, for the convention we recommend.

SpeciaI Effects :: top
The guitar's large range of special effects can be notated on standard stave notation and in tablature. We give a summary of
the most common, each with a short description.
Arpeggios or spread chords, are notated in the same way as on a keyboard instrument, and are played 'up' the chord from the
lowest note.
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The pitch of a note can be changed while it sounds by sliding the finger on the fret before or after plucking or picking it so that
its pitch alters down a fret or two if bending before sounding, up a fret or two if bending after sounding, or up and then back
down again if bending after sounding. The sign is a curved arrow pointing up for an 'up' bend or down for a 'down' bend.
f the fret finger slides from one note up to a second note where the second note is not resounded, or the note is struck while
the finger is sliding, these are called slides rather than bends. The difference is that bends occur during notes, while slides
happen between notes. Slides are shown by a line lying between two notes and the letters sI. placed above the line.
f the fret finger touches the string lightly and the string is then plucked 'belllike' high naturaI harmonics are produced. A
similar result is produced when with a string, fretted in the normal way, is lightly touched over a fret by one of the plucking hand
fingers while a second finger plucks the string. These are called artificiaI harmonics. A harmonic is shown with a diamond
notehead and, in tablature, both fret positions are shown on the same line (corresponding to the two fingers on the same
Muted playing, where the fret hand lies on the strings and the plucking hand strikes the string is shown by using the percussion
symbol, an x for the note head, while the palm mute effect, where the plucking hand touches the strings just ahead of the
bridge to dampen the sound, is shown by writting P.M. over the staff or tablature line.
Three or four oblique lines written across the tail of a note is called tremoIo. The note is played repeatedly as quickly as
possible. f, instead, the fret finger is rolled back and forth rapidly the effect is called vibrato. t is marked with a wavy horizontal
above the stave which shows the duration of the effect.

Voicing Chords :: top
Alisdair MacRae Birch, a New York based guitar teacher, points out that because a guitar has only six strings and a guitarist
five fingers, some chords have to be adapted, in particular by leaving out internal voicings or notes. For example, a major 9th
chord might be played by using a major 7th chord with the root raised by a whole tone to produce the 9th. The root is missing
from the chord, and this modification is called 'rootless voicing'.
Major 7th Voiced : 7-3-5-1
Major 9th Voiced : 7-3-5-9
Why can the guitarist get away with missing out the root? The root of a chord can be implied by other notes, mainly the third
and seventh. So the root may be implied rather than played. Many guitar players are habit-bound playing root-position chords
and think it necessary to play every note in every chord. n fact, to make the art of chord melody playing more musical, the
main consideration must be the melody. f the addition of the third and seventh of the chord is sufficient and rhythmically
appropriate there is no need for the root.
n the common ii-V-I progression, the seventh of each chord moves chromatically to the third of the next chord. These notes
and the way they move from seventh to third make the progression clear.
The term 'rootless voicing' is also used when the root of a chord is left out in a keyboard part because it is being played on
another instrument, for example a bass guitar, or on the organ pedal board. n a jazz combo the pianist never plays the root
note of the chord otherwise he would be duplicating the bass players job of laying down the root harmonies. Jazz keyboard
players like Bill Evans frequently use rootless voicings because by leaving out the root in the voicing, the chordal harmony is
given a more ambiguous flavour opening the door to more interesting harmonic possibilities.
The fact that notes can be implied and need not be played is one of the basic features of the jazz written by Duke Ellington,
one of the greatest of jazz composers. By opening up the texture and thereby increasing the harmonic ambiguity, Ellington had
invented the device to open up a completely new and highly influential style of jazz music - he had found the "Divine
The '9 for 1' Substitution
Rootless Voicing For Jazz
Jazz Tools - go to: Piano Voicings
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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Finding New Voicings Through nversion
Two For The Price Of One - which discusses rootless voicing for guitarists
"nside" Voicings: Life between the E's
Pleasing the Ear
The Bill Evans Memorial Library
Ellington's piano: A Long Way by Riccardo Scivales - read, in particular, section 5. Towards the "Divine Simplicity"
Master Class by Andy LaVerne studies Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight" including some examples of rootless voicing

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Chapter 31 KEY CENTRES
Major Keys :: top
Popular music has a strong sense of key - pre-renaissance, late nineteenth and early twentieth century classical music often
does not, being polytonal (many keys) or atonal (no key). The analysis of a piece of music to determine its key is related to the
way it 'sounds' and to this alone. f the notation leads you to 'see' the music in one key, but the sound tells quite another story,
the notation is deficient. This is why we have stressed the need to follow a 'convention', a 'set of rules', directed towards
reproducing on the page what you will 'hear' when the music is performed. There are occasions when these 'conventions' may
be pushed to their limit but in most cases the 'convention' represents 'best practice'.
n the previous lesson we examined music notation for the guitar. f we are using only chord charts and chord numbering, we
will be unaware of the key. There is no key signature. f we can 'hear' the chords in our head before we 'play' them. something
well-trained and experienced musicians do as a matter of course, then this might point to the key. However, in the absence of
this kind of 'cue' we can use the fact that particular groups of chords will be more likely in one key than another. The chords
themselves can be an excellent pointer to finding the key centre, the key at that point in the piece. Of course, it is the tonic
chord, not the tonic note, that establishes the key centre.
The best method for finding the key centre of a progression of chords is to list possible keys to which each chord can belong.
Dominant seventh chords V7 of one particular key D7 -> G
Major seventh chords Ima7 of one key or IVma7 of a second key Gma7 ->G, D
Minor seventh chords IImi7 of one key, the IIImi7 of a second key or VImi7 of a third key Ami7 -> G, F, C
The dominant seventh is a very strong pointer to the probable key centre because the V7-I progression is so common. f that
key is one to which all chords belong, then the relationship can be made clearer by writing the chord function for each chord in
the best-fit key, that is writing the appropriate Roman numeral for each chord.
The tonal effect of different keys can be illustrated by returning the our earlier construct 'the circle of fifths'. This time we
consider not keys but individual notes. n the clockwise direction the notes are each the dominant of the note before while in
the anti-clockwise direction each note is the subdominant of the note before.

f we consider scales on C, you will see that only the F lies in the descending fifth, subdominant, anti-clockwise direction from
C, the key note, while every other note G, D, A, E and B lies in the ascending fifth, 'dominant', clock-wise direction. This
predominantly 'dominant' colour is the source of the major scale's strong sense of completeness. This is related to notes that
arise from the natural harmonic series.
On the other hand, the natural minor scale on C is predominantly 'sub-dominant' with only D and G lying on the 'dominant' side,
the remaining notes E flat, F, A flat, B flat lying on the sub-dominant side. The tonic minor chord is less effective as a final
chord than its major equivalent which explains the reason why the 'tierce de Picardie', a major chord ending a piece of music in
a minor key, became attractive.

Minor Keys :: top
The same rules can be used to identify minor key centres but so often is the natural minor scale and its harmonies altered to
produce more effective melodic and harmonic progressions that relationships become blurred. By substituting a major triad for
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the minor triad in the Vmi chord (raising the seventh of the natural minor scale by a semitone) or by adding a seventh to give a
dominant seventh chord, the 'leading' note is returned to the minor scale. This we have already discussed earlier in Iesson 10.
Find a dominant seventh chord
with a minor chord a tone above
the dominant seventh chord is VII7
the minor seventh chord is Imi7
Find a dominant seventh chord
with a minor seventh chord a fifth below
the dominant seventh chord is V7
the minor seventh chord is Imi7
f there is a minor seven flat five chord
it will most often be a II
chord in the natural minor scale
very occasionally it might be a VII
in a major key
f there is a diminished seventh chord
it will often resolve upwards to the tonic, the key note
however, there are exceptions
n modern music our acceptance of dissonance is far broader than say a a couple of centuries ago. This has always been the
case. When Bach harmonised century old chorales for performance in St. Thomas' in Leipzig, members of the town council
attacked him for making the music too dissonant and complex. Today, when we hear the same chorale harmonisations we find
it hard to understand what all the fuss was about.
So, the sharpened seventh may be used to the accompanying a melody in which the seventh remains unaltered or major/minor
chords can be used to add 'spice' to a chord progression.

Before leaving the discussion of chords and minor keys we should take a glance at a special form of the melodic minor scale
where the upward scale remains the same when played downward. The sixth and seventh degrees of the scale are not
'flattened' when the scale is played downward. We illustrate the scale, called the 'jazz meIodic minor' below.

Triad Progressions :: top
Triads are nothing like as 'closely' related to keys as chords and, in particular, dominant sevenths. dentifying key centres from
triads is really a matter of trial and error. One is trying to find a I chord. Listening to the piece of music should help - almost all
music ends on a I chord. Otherwise, place the triads in a particular harmonised scale order and check whether all the triads fit
the chosen scale. f any triads do not fit the scale, try again, starting with a different note.

Modes :: top
Modes - our introduction to this topic in lesson 25
A Brief ntroduction to Modes in Early and Traditional European Music
Music Scales - an excellent summary of the way scales are 'built' and the relationships between them.
Second Hand Music - music, noise and silence
Greek Liturgical modes
We have already shown how particular chords can be associated with particular modal scales. One can think of the modal
scale as being made up of chord notes infilled with scaIe notes. f the model scale is played over its related scale, sometimes
one feels a unity between them, such as with the C major scale (also the onian modal scale) over the Cma7 chord below.
Music Theory by Dr. Brian Blood
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This is not the case when playing the onian modal scale over the Dmi7 chord which you can see and hear below. The scale is
based on C while the chord is based on D - two competing key centres

Shifting the scale up a tone to the dorian mode returns us to a well associated chord and scale.

The point to make clear is that each of these chords and all these scales actually formed from a single set of seven notes, and
yet, some scales feel better with some chords than with others. Each mode has a clear tonaI centre.
Modes offer a rich variety of 'associations' between chords and scales that are difficult to explain but far easier to hear. The
musician should experiment for him or herself to find where certain relationships appear to work well, while others have little or
nothing to offer. Music where the chords move too quickly to establish a sense of key can, instead, could use the 'harmonic'
associations of scale passages to provide an alternative means of establishing a sense of 'key'. One good example of this is
using the C Phrigian mode over a C major triad to give a hint of Spanish flamenco.

The Dorian mode of of particular interest because of its similarity to the natural, melodic and harmonic minor scales. We
illustrate the four scales below.
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Let us now harmonize each scale and number each triad.

The change from a diminished to a minor second 'softens' the chord making it much more pleasant in chord progressions.
Even so, the similarities between the four scales are greater than the differences.

Combining Major and Minor Keys :: top
The strong association between related major and minor chords makes it difficult to determine at any particular point which
scale a chord is functioning. The minor seventh fIat five was identified above as being a VII chord in major keys and a II
chord in minor keys. Even the dominant seventh-tonic progression (V-I) may not be what it seems. The musician that uses his
or her ears, will be able to distinguish what on the page appears unclear. So, always play progressions before deciding
whether what you think you 'see' is, in fact, what is there!

ModaI Interchange :: top
Parallel major and minor keys, e.g. C major and C minor, which share the same key note contrast with relative major and
minor keys, e.g. C major and A minor, which share the same key signature. n classical music theory, the diatonic major and
minor scales and the harmonies associated with them are called the major and minor modes which should not be confused
with the Greek, jazz or church modes, onian, Dorian, Phrygian, etc., mentioned in an earlier section.
By drawing chords from both related major and minor keys we get what is called ModaI Interchange. We can use this idea to
analyse chords where the piece is in a major key and minor chords have been 'borrowed' from the parallel minor, Alternatively
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with a piece in a minor key we may find chords 'borrowed' from the parallel major. Using our ears we can usually distinguish
betwen the two cases.
f we take C major, chords that do not belong to the C major scale are to be treated as 'alterations'. We also show the scale
harmonisation of the Dorian mode.
Scale Step I IImi IIImi IV V VImi VII

Major Scale C Dmi Emi F G Ami B

Parallel Natural
Minor Scale
Cmi D

Fmi Gmi
Natural Minor
numbered in
Major Key Centre
Imi II

IVmi Vmi
Dorian Scale Imi IImi

f we now take C minor, chords that do not belong to the C minor scale are to be treated as 'alterations'. We again include the
scale harmonisation of the Dorian mode.
Scale Step Imi II

IVmi Vmi
Natural Minor Scale Cmi D

Fmi Gmi
Parallel Major
C Dmi Emi F G Ami B

Major Chords
numbered in
Natural Minor Key
I IImi

Dorian Scale Imi IImi

Some of the 'altered' chords, that is those 'borrowed' from the parallel scale, are identical to those found in the harmonised
Dorian model. Similarly, some of the 'altered' chords occur in the harmonised harmonic minor scale, showing yet again, the
similarities between all the minor scales and the Dorian mode. As to which scale one considers the most 'fundamental' and
therefore the one upon which all minor key harmonic analysis should be based, different authorities take different positions.
Musicians, on the other hand, just need an explanation that helps them play the music, and what we have offered above does
do this.

Using Dominants :: top
n diatonic major and minor progressions the dominant seventh provides a strong pointer to the key centre. Some other
harmonic 'systems' are not so obliging. The harmonised 'blues' scale has three dominant seventh chords, I, IV and V. Yet,
when listening to 'blues' music, there is in no sense a feeling that there are three competing key centres. Rather. the tonic
chord provides as strong a sense of key as it does in major or minor keys. One might say that only one of the dominant
sevenths is 'true', the others being 'false'. 'True' and 'false' are not a good choice of words because all three are real dominant
sevenths satisfying the proper chord formula. A better way of describing them is to look at the 'pull' one feels when these
dominant sevenths are played. The V7 chord in the key of the piece will 'pull' us to the tonic, the I chord. This was the chord
progression we suggested g1ves us the best pointer in diatonic harmony to the key centre.
The question we have to answer is, 'where do the other dominant sevenths pull us?'

The A7 chord is a dominant seventh pulling us towards the following Dmi chord. The Dmi chord does not signify a new key
centre. The key centre remains C major. Therefore we call the A7 a 'secondary dominant', because it is acting as the V7 to a
chord, in this case the IImi chord, which is not the tonic chord. ts full functional name is V7/II or 'five seven of two'. Secondary
dominants may preceed major and minor keys chords except for the two dissonant diminished chords, VI
in major keys, and
in minor keys, neither of which provides an acceptable resolution for the dominant seventh chord.
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Where a V7 chord does properly anticipate a chord then it is called a 'functioning dominant'. f, however, the harmony is meant
to mislead, and the chords following are not a proper resolution of the V7, then the dominant seventh is said to be non-
functioning. Listen to a progression before deciding which type of V7 one is looking at.
A functioning dominant seventh, which because of the disonant 'tritone' between the major third and minor seventh, wants to
resolve to a tonic chord, may be replaced with a dominant seventh chord with its root a diminished fifth, a 'tritone', away. This
substitute chord shares the same tritone as the original dominant seventh. This is called 'flat five' or 'tritone' substitution. We
illustrate the two progressions below.

The most obvious change between these two progressions, and in practice the most important, is in the bass line which now
becomes a falling chromatic line while the upper notes remain the same. The substitute chord is a fIatII7, called a 'flat two
seven'. ndeed, all functioning secondary dominants and dominant sevenths in minor keys, that resolve to their tonic, may
undergo 'flat five substitution' which leads to the characteristic falling chromatic bassline. The functional names and numbers
must show their relationship to the chord to which they resolve, whether the tonic I or the resolution chord of a secondary

Diminished Seventh Chords :: top
The diminished seventh chord has one particularly interesting property; the interval between successive notes is a minor third.
As a result any note may be the root and the chord then have four different names. Within the diatonic system, the diminished
seventh in the VII
7 chord. Outside a diatonic setting, the chords structure allows it to function in many other ways, two of
which we describe below.

n the first both the first inversion V7 and the root position VII
7 chords resolve to the tonic I chord. While the diminished
seventh chord exists within the harmonic minor scale, it can also be used in a major key setting and it is said then to be
'substituting' for the dominant seventh. Whichever of the four notes lies in the bass, the diminished seventh, will successfully
substitute for the dominant seventh because in all four variants the leading note is present and it is this that 'resolves' by
moving to the tonic in the final I chord.
Dominant seventh substitution can also occur when the dominant seventh chord is acting as a secondary dominant.

n the key of C major, the two diminished seventh chords are acting as secondary dominant seventh substitutes to the minor
chords of D, II and E, III. For this reason the functional numbering becomes VII
7/II and VII
7/III respectively and their names
are 'seven diminished of two' and 'seven diminished of three'.
n both cases one of the notes of the diminished chord will be the leading note of the chord that follows it. f none of the notes
of the diminished chord is the leading note of the chord following the diminished seventh functions as a passing chord and not
as a dominant substitute.
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MeIodic Substitution :: top
Just as harmonies can be substituted below diatonic melodies, so melodies can be modified so that they mirror the substitute
'altered' chords which do not 'properly' fit the harmonised key centre scale. This option increases the opportunities available to
the improviser.

Reharmonisation :: top
Chordal and melodic substitution is met so often in modern popular music that one needs a clear understanding of how to
number them and of how to identify their function. When chords in a progression are replaced by alternatives from the same
harmonised scale, the procedure is called 'diatonic substitution' and the whole exchange process is called 'reharmonisation'.
The substitution entails replacing a chord with a particular function with another chord that has the same function.
We summarise the chord family relationships below.
Chord FamiIy RoIe or Purpose
I tonic family temporary or permanent resting chord
IImi subdominant family in major keys move away from tonic

subdominant family in minor keys
first inversion fIatVII triad often replaces II

move away from tonic
fIatIII tonic family in minor keys temporary or permanent resting chord
IIImi tonic family in major keys temporary or permanent resting chord
IVmi subdominant family in minor keys move away from tonic
IV subdominant family in major keys move away from tonic
Vmi dominant family in minor keys move towards tonic
dominant family in major keys
also in raised 7th minor keys
move towards tonic
fIatVI tonic family in minor keys temporary or permanent resting chord
VImi tonic family in major keys temporary or permanent resting chord
fIatVII dominant family in minor keys move towards tonic

dominant family in major keys
also in raised 7th minor keys
first inversion V triad often replaces VII

move towards tonic

ModuIation :: top
We have spent a lot of time trying to show how exotic chords changes, during which there is no real sense that the key centre
has shifted, can be correctly numbered or named. Even so, there are times when the key centre does change and this we call
'modulation'. The chord naming convention expects that up to the point of modulation all chords will be numbered in relation to
the original key centre, but that from the point of modulation, the chords will be numbered in relation to the new key centre.
For the practical musician, the question is, when and where does modulation take place.
n some pieces the change can be from chord to chord, what is called 'direct modulation'. n other cases, the music might pass
through a chord that is common to both keys, the chord acting as a link or 'pivot'. Unsurprisingly, this is called 'pivot chord
modulation'. There is no need to change the key signature when a piece modulates, although this can sometimes happen.
However, it is not unusual in a piece where there has been a change of key, to find it modulate back to its original key so
ending in the same key as it began.
To summarise:
Phrase ModuIation
Phrase modulation is a change of key centre at the juncture of two phrases, so that the first
phrase ends in one key, and the next phrase begins in another.
Static ModuIation n static modulation the key centre can change anywhere, not just between two phrases.
Pivot Chord ModuIation
When a chord functions diatonically in two different keys and this property is exploited so that
before the chord the piece is in one key and after the chord the piece is in another, this is pivot
chord modulation.
SequentiaI ModuIation Where a sequence during which several keys might be visited for one or two beats at a time,
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such is an example of sequential modulation.
One measure of the proximity of one key to another when considering modulation is the number of notes their scales have in
common. For the scales of C major and the natural minor on a (which have the same notes are are therefore treated as being
the same) the relationships may be summarised as follows.
Minor keys
on the fIat side
Major keys
on the fIat side
Number of notes in common
with C major or the naturaI minor on a
Major keys
on the sharp side
Minor keys
on the sharp side
d minor F major 6 G major e minor
g minor B flat major 5 D major b minor
c minor E flat major 4 A major f sharp minor
f minor A flat major 3 E major c sharp minor
b flat minor D flat major 2 B major g sharp minor
e flat minor G flat major 1 F sharp major d sharp minor
Chords use only a few notes from any scale. This allows composers to exploit the intrinsic ambiguity that chords have in that
they can function diatonically in more than one key. This offers an effective way of modulating using the pivot chord principle
where a single chord can be found in both the key from which one is modulating and in the key to which one wishes to
modulate. Parallel major and minor keys (for example, C major and c minor) which have only four notes in common, happen to
share a common tonic and dominant chord and seem harmonically more closely related than the measure based on the
number of shared notes might lead one to expect. Modulation is easily achieved by using the common dominant chord as a
A further ambiguity arises from the way chords may be written in different keys. Chords can be rewritten enharmonically. For
example, the dominant seventh (C-E-G-B flat) can be written as an augmented sixth (C-E-G-A sharp). This modulation is more
effective if the fifth is unvoiced in the chord. Another example is the augmented triad (C-E-G sharp) which can be reinterpreted
(A flat-C-E) or (E-G sharp-B sharp). A similar enharmonic reinterpretation is available with the diminished seventh chord (C-E
flat-G flat-B double flat).
This topic is explained more fully in Andrew Milne's web page, part of The Tone Centre, entitled Modulation.
For those interested in reading further on this topic we recommend Arnold Schoenberg's Structural Functions of Harmony (first
published in 1954).
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More Than Drums :: top
ndeterminate pitch percussion parts are written on staves that may have anything from one to five lines.

On the five line stave shown above each line and each space is ascribed to a different percussion instrument. Different effects
may also be indicated by a range of note heads, x, standard, open diamond, closed diamond, +, filled triangle, etc. For our
purposes here we are going to use our own convention, very similar to that used by other writers, which is as follows:
Position nstrument
1 leger-line
above staff
Space above top
x note head: closed hi-hat
open diamond note head: open hi-hat
Top line ride cymbal
Top space small tom-tom
2nd line from top
2nd space from
top space
snare drum
Middle line small suspended cymbal
3rd space from
top space
large tom-tom
4th line from top
large suspended cymbal
Bottom space bass drum
Bottom line high bongo
Space below
bottom line
electric snare
1 leger-line
below staff
low bongo
We give an exmple of a standard drum pattern below.

Rhythmic Patterns :: top
This pattern is an 8th feel pattern, also called a disco pattern. There are many books offering written-out drum patterns which
aspiring drummers will need to have at their 'finger tips'. This lesson is not about the art of drumming and so we give only a few
common patterns. The disco pattern is a fairly sedate four-in-a-bar, with the hi-hat providing the quaver or 8th note feel.
ntroducing more notes into the beat is one way of increasing the tension in the drum line without necessarily increasing the
speed of the basic pulse. We illustrate this below.
The 'fizz' generated by the hi-hat cymbals can be made even more effective by playing a continuous semiquaver (16th note)
line (this is called variously 16ths feel or motown) over a number of different drum patterns. We illustrate this with eight bars,
each two a different drum pattern, but all suffused with the hi-hat semiquavers (16th notes).
Shuffle patterns 'swing' the rhythm as the following examples demonstrate. Notice how the third and fourth examples are 'half-
time' patterns, the basic beat dropping from 4 in a bar to 2 in a bar.

The Importance of Tempo :: top
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This is but one example oI how patterns have a very diIIerent Ieel depending on the speed oI
the underlying pulse. This becomes very important when considering drum patterns to dance
rhythms like the beguine, the bossanova, the mambo, the paso doble, the rhumba, the samba
and waltz. Some oI these have a very narrow range oI acceptable tempi while others, like the
rhumba, are robust enough to work Ior a wide range oI speeds.
The Bass Guitar :: top
By concentrating on the drum line some important rhythmic details can be overlooked. While in some situations the bass guitar
line matches the drum line, in other cases it becomes an additional detail in the rhythmic line. The rhumba is a perfect example
and we show below a rhythm line without bass and then the same line but with a standard bass guitar line.
Modern bass guitar playing has developed greatly over the last twenty years with exciting new sounds. This is a subject better
explored at specialist bass guitar web sites. We would however include an example taken from lesson 30 in which the bass
guitar line is clearly performing a role more commonly undertaken by the drummer.