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Note Progression Theory

The Un-orthodox Way.

Music Theory for all
30th Nov-09

The Note Progression Theory

The Un-orthodox Way …

Music is a universal language, a

language of complex yet simple human emotions.
Emotions that can’t be defined but that can be felt. A
perfect music is an excellent blend of arts and science
that work together to create a language of expression.
The Arts behind this magnificent creation is very hard or
impossible to explain but the science behind it can be
explained on the grounds of empiricism.

Music may be defined to be a combination of

several notes that are aligned in a perfect and systematic
manner of intervals, crescendos with or without
accompaniment and etc, and that when processed in a
timely manner produces sounds and harmonics of what is
generally termed as music. Please not that this view on
music is suitable only when one looks at music through
an empirical observation.
This book tries to explain to students of music the
complications behind the functional structure of music
namely the note progressions and variable scales and its
implications in a “Very Simplified Manner” and for this
very reason only it may be in an Un-Orthodox Way....

Reason Behind:
The reason behind writing this short
book on the concerned criteria is to help those who want
to learn about note progressions, structures, scales and
its practicability in a very simple and easy method as
possible without much knowhow on Music Theory. This
initiative of mine was because of the problem that I faced
while was doing my graduate courses on Music. The
problem that I faced was in understanding the Music
Theory, to be more specific on the Note Progressions, the
structure of various scales and the way to recall it in time
of need. Later, i found the same problem that my
students were facing.

About The Book:

The book is written under the basis
of “Western Classical Music”; and the method and
knowledge that the book seeks to provide may be applied
universally in all genres and sub-genres of classical as
well as contemporary music i.e. classical, Alt-Rock,
country etc. The book provides a very simple approach in
understanding Note Progression Theory and various
Scales mostly applicable on practical grounds. This book
is provided free of cost because of my personal belief
that “music is a Divine Boon for us and hence it cannot
and should not be priced”. Please, do note that my view
is personal and may be in variance with that of others
that I respect. The book provides several charts, figures
and examples that will ease and facilitate the concerned
in understanding note progressions and various scales.
The language used, is made as simple as possible for
readers ease.

Before we begin, I assert that the
concerned is aware of the basics of music theory like
knowing the seven major notes and have some basic
ideas about accompaniment. So with this minimal
prerequisite let’s begin.

The Fundamentals:
As we all know, a 1-Octave melody (melody-combination of
several notes) includes 7 notes. (Octave-a set of melody) as
shown in Fig-1.
In Fig-1, the root note (root note- a prime note that forms the
basis of a chord or scale) is taken as note C-major.
with the increase in an octave of a note or a melody there
will also be an increase in the pitch of the note or the
melody and vice-versa. This phenomenon is illustrated in

However in between these major notes there are half-

notes or semitones, but all Major notes do not have their
semitones as illustrated in Fig-3.
Thus chromatically there are 12 notes as shown in Fg-3.
The Notes that are marked (#) means that it is a sharp
note. (#-Sharp Note- is a note that is a pitch higher than its
natural pitch). But note E
and B, does not have any semi-
tones. Thus in a chromatic melody consisting of 12 tones
there would be increment or decrement in its pitch
equivalent with the increase or decrease in its octave.
Now let us assume that in a chromatically manner, from
note C to D, there are 3 notes as shown in Fig-4.
Let us now assume that the values of all major notes in 1-
chromatic octave with note C, as the Root Note be [0], a
zero in color Blue- as shown in Fig-5.

In view of Fig-5, if we count the difference from first Major

note i.e. C to another note D, taking note C to be Zero
(0); the difference would be two (2) as shown in Fig-6.
Now, in a full chromatic scale with note C, as the Root
note; if we count the difference between two Major notes
from beginning till the end of a complete chromatic
octave, it will be as illustrated in Fig-7.

[ Please note that the explanation provided by Fig-7, is

“Very Important”, thus it is very important for the
concerned to clearly understand and embody the idea
that Fig-7 seeks to provide. ]
Fig-7 highlights 12 chromatic notes, altogether 7-Major
and 5-Minor notes. The zero in blue color (0) is
designated only to the major notes. 0 is the starting point
of any Major note. Note C is designated the value 0,
since it is a major note. C-major is counted as 0, C# as 1
and D-major as 2. Hence from C-major to D-major, the
count goes like; 1-2-3 successively through notes C - C# -
D. But since D-major is a major note, note-D is again
counted as 0 and from D to the next major note .i.e. E,
the count goes-1-2-3- likewiseD-D#-E. Now note-E and
note-F being major notes are designated as 0
respectively, and one notable thing is that in between E
and F, there is no Sharp note hence both the notes are
designated as 0, and the count goes 0 - 0 likewise E-F.
Following the last end of the scale in Fig-7, note-B is not
but may be designated with 0 as ones like.

A closer analysis of Fig-7 will yield the following

generalization shown in Fig-8.

The notes from CB in Fig-8 are all major notes. Note-

C is designated with 0 and the rest of the major notes
with Black color. Now a question may be raised as to why,
D- being a major note is not designated with 0 as done
with note C.? In this respect, note-D is attributed with
the number that is in continuation with 0 which starts
with note-C and the count goes C - C# - D likewise 0-1-
2. Now, D being a major note is counted as 0 and thus
note-E gets the number 2 i.e. D- D# -E likewise 0-1-2.
Next, note-E is attributed with number 0 and since in
between note E and F, the count goes, 0 for note-E and
-1 for note-F. This same pattern of counting and
numbering is followed till note-B. This explains the
generalizations made in Fig-8.

The Musical Equation

Now after understanding, arranging and analyzing the

nature of all the notes, the next step will be to proceed
towards the method of understanding and using a very
simple but yet quick and precise “Musical Equation”. Now
don’t scratch your head worrying about this Musical
Equation, because the equation is as simply as a 4th
Grade math equation. Enough said; now here is the
equation as shown in Fig-9.

In Fig-9, X- denotes the Root Note that can be any of the

12 chromatic notes. For example, if you want to find out
the notes comprising F# Minor Scale, then the root note,
that is F# Minor, would take the place of X as shown in


Similarly if you wanted to find out the notes comprising

D Major Scale, then note D Major would take the place
of X as shown in Fig-11.

The six Roman Numbers form I to VI enclosed within the

brackets denotes the six “Unknown Notes” that comprise
the scale of the Root Note. For example; if you wanted to
find out the notes in anF# Major Scale, then F# Major
being the Root note will take the place of X, and the
remaining six unknown notes of the F# Major Scale is
represented by the Roman Numbers from I to VI as
shown in Fig-12.

The numbers in green indicate the total number of notes

in a scale of any note. Thus a complete C Major scale in
the Musical Equation Diagram would look like the one as
shown in Fig-13.
Now you are supposing what the numbers in Red color
i.e. 0-2-2-1-2-2-2 represent. But in the first place,
what are these numbers in Red..? Well these numbers in
Red represent the Differences between major notes from
the root note of C Major Scale as shown and explained in
Fig-7 and Fig-8.

NOTE - The numbers shown in Fig-7 and Fig-8 are in

Black color, but don’t be confused because the numbers
shown in Fig-7, Fig-8 and Fig-9 are the same, just the
color of the numbers have been changed from Black to
Red so as to highlight their importance more.

Thus in a nutshell, the ‘Musical Equation’ shown in Fig-9

is made up of basically; X- which is the root note of the
scale that you want to find out, the Roman Numbers
indicate the unknown note of the scale of which X is the
Root note. The numbers in the Red color represent the
differences between all major notes in the scale of C
Major. Lastly, the numbers in Green represent the total
number of notes in a scale including the Root note. Well
now you have fully understood composition of Musical
Equation and the equation diagram i.e. Fig-9.
The next step would be the practical application of the
equation with the help of the diagram i.e. Fig-9.

Practical Application

Musical Equation:

Find the notes comprising a E Major Scale.?

Step-1)Let X be the root note i.e. E Major. Then the

diagram would appear as shown in Fig-14.
Now the Value of I in Fig-14 is 2 and E is 0. Step-2)Now
count from E which has the value of 0 to I which has
value of 2; The count wil be as shown in Fig-15.

Therefore from the above Fig-15, I is F#, then the

Musical Equation Figure would look like as shown in Fig-

Step-3) [Changing the Value]-Now as you remember, the

value of every known note becomes 0 as in Fig-16, note
E which was also the root note of the E Major scale. But
now since the value of (Roman Number) I has been
obtained as F#, therefore F# will now have the value of
0 not 2 since the value of I is now known.
Note- This trend of changing of values of the
known notes will continue till all the notes in the
desired scale are obtained.

Hence after obtaining the first note of the E major scale,

which is F#, the Diagram will look as shown in Fig-17.

Step-4)Now since II has the value of 2, count from the

value of F# which is 0 to II which has the value of 2,
and the count would look as shown in Fig-18.
And likewise counting from F# to II, we get the following

shown in Fig-19.
Now if we put the newly obtained note in our Musical
Equation, then the diagram would look as in Fig-20.

Now since the value of II has been obtained, thus the

initial value of II which was 2 has been changed to 0.
Step-5) Now since the value of III is1, thus you have to
count one (1) step forward from G# which has the value
of 0 to III. Counting likewise the diagram would look like
as shown in Fig-21.
Following the results obtained in Fig-21, the whole
Musical Diagram would look like as in Fig-22.

Step-6) Now since the value of I is known, which is note

A, therefore A has now obtained the new value 0. Next,
the unknown note IV has of 2. So from A, count two
(2) steps forward to unknown note IV. Fig-23 will reveal
the results of the counting.
Now after obtaining the note of II which is B, the value
of B which was earlier 2 will now change to 0 since now
it is known. Then the diagram will look as in Fig-24.

Now the final task is to find out the unknown notes

corresponding to V VI. Step-5) The value of B is 0
and the value of next unknown note after it (V) is 2.
Hence from B count two (2) notes forward to the
unknown note V
And you will get as shown in Fig-25.

Now the value of the V has come to be known as C#,

and thus the value of C# has now changed to 0. Step-6)
Now from C# count two (2) notes forward to the
unknown note VI since the unknown note has the value
of 2. When count for, it will look like in Fig-26.
Now at last you finally have the complete set of notes in
an E Major scale, a result of the usage of Musical
Equation. A complete result of our task is shown in Fig-27.


Find the notes in a G Major Scale.?

Musical Equation Diagram.

Step-1. The Root Not, G will take the place of X, then
the Figure would look like in Fig-A.

Step-2. Now from G I the note difference is of two

(2), so counting two notes forward from note G to I we
get the results in Fig-B.
So the value of I
A. Now since the value of I is known
as A. therefore the value of A will be changed from 2 to
0. Then the incomplete Musical Equation Figure would
look as in Fig-C.

Step-3. Now the difference from A having value 0 to II

having a value of 2 is two (2). Thus counting forward
from A to II, we get the unknown note shown in Fig-D.
Now the value of II is obtained as B and then the value
of B will change to 0. Similarly the difference from B to
III is (1) since the value of III is1. Hence counting one
(1) step forward From B to III, we get the result shown
in Fig-E.

Hence we get the value of III as C as shown in

Fig-E. Now similarly to find the value of unknown note IV
we have to count two (2) step further from note C, since
the value of the unknown note IV is 2 and in doing so
we get note D as shown in Fig-F.
Next; the value of unknown note V is 2, so
we have to count (2) counts further from note D, and in
doing so we get the unknown V note to be note E
counting likewise D - D# - E. Now the V note of the
G Major scale has come to be known as note E. Similarly
the next and the last unknown note VI of the G Major
scale has the note value of 2. Hence counting (2) steps
further from note E we get F# likewise counting E - F -
F#. Finally after all these computations, we get all the
notes in a G Major scale as shown in Fig-G.
Thus applying the Musical Equation theory, we
have finally achieved the answers we were looking for. But as
you know “Perfection Demands Practice”, hence in order to
bring fluency in computing the Musical Equation theory, not
in paper but in your mind-
One must practice its usage; First in Paper and then in one’s
mind. Try to solve the notes of all the Major Scales in your
mind and believe me when I say this, “Within a day you will
know all the notes of all the scales.
then forward his/her interest at my e-mail address below; . Further any, interest, suggestions
or criticisms are heartily welcomed on the same address.
And finally;
hank You for reading…..
Copy Rights ® rests with the Author.