Monday, April 27, 2015

My First Harmonic Analysis

We have tried our hand at basic composition. Melodies, different meters, basic harmonies, we are on our way. Today we are going to explore the process of analysis. What is going on inside a composition. Our focus initially will be on understanding harmonic progression.

Sample Harmonic Analysis

Today we are going to look at a piece by J.S. Bach and see what we hear...

Bach Piece

Friday, April 17, 2015

Learn the Rules so You Can Break Them Part II: Deconstructing Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach is often considered the father of Western music and his compositions form the backbone of our understanding and analysis of music. (Yes, you can blame him for music theory...)
We have been talking about learning the rules before you break the rules. We have even taken some Bach melodies and created variations of our own design.
Today, we will take this excerpt from Bach (which closely aligns to the "rules" of composition) and see what sounds we get when we experiment. We will come back to this example later and consider the analysis of what Bach has written, but for now let's have fun with it.
This piece is written in 4-part texture.

Soprano-top line, Alto-second line, Tenor-top line in bass clef, Bass- bottom line in bass clef.

See what happens when you alter any or all of the lines to create something new from Bach.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Learn The Rules So you Know How to Break Them...

We discussed "the rules" of writing a melody (or at least some of the "suggested" rules) in class.

  • Your key should be reflected in your choice of notes
  • The tonic (or naming note of the key) should play a prominent role in your melody (ie. it may begin and/or end the melody)
  • The dominant (the 5th note of the scale) will also be prominently featured throughout the melody
Additional "rules" of melody writing might include:
  • repetition of the tonic and dominant notes help establish the key
  • Placing tonic and dominants on strong beats (like beat one)
Check out this observant blogger and composer as he deconstructs a familiar melody in relationship to some of the "rules" discussed above.

Look back at the most recent melody you composed in this post. Think about the key signature and the chords involved. Does the melody take advantage of the features of that key? Does it adhere to traditional "rules" of melody writing ("rules" discussed in this class, in this post, and through reading the linked blogger post above)?

Edit your melody to try and bring it in line with these rules.

Do you like the transformed/ edited version?

Composers often agonize over a single note choice or rhythmic element. Take a moment to agonize...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Work flow and Student feedback

I am interested in giving you guys open, transparent, constructive and meaningful feedback on your work. I don't think Google classroom is offering those opportunities. To that end I am looking to try out Kaizena, which, on first perusal, seems to offer those possibilities.
Today we are going to try and make this work for our class and content.
Kaizena is designed to give and receive feedback and since I strongly believe that assessment should be a conversation and not a spreadsheet the feedback is the important thing.

First we need to start with a sample of your work.

Here is a link to a shared PDF file from my Google 

This link should open up a view only key signature assessment. You will need to Save a copy of this in your own google drive (I would recommend you create a folder with a label such as Harmony and Theory Work).
You will complete the work and save your results in your created Google folder.

When you are finished with your work, you will request feedback from me through Kaizena. I have included a link to my feedback request page on the classroom blog (under the links section).
You can also use this link: Request Feedback from Mr. Trombley

You will need to agree to permissions and fill out a bit of information...
Well here is a video to demonstrate what to do...

Ideally, when everything is set properly, we should be able to have a meaning back and forth about your work.

For our purposes today, you will drop your key signature work into the dropbox labeled: HT Key Signature Assessment  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Melody Writing

Hello! I'd like us to have a go at melody writing today. This is a bit of an exercise in theory training masked in creativity (always good to have those two things working together).

I have written out a rather basic accompaniment and you folks will be charged with writing an awesome melody to go with it.

In class we will discuss how modes can be helpful in navigating note choice, though that may be something you don't want to think too much about when your creativity takes over. We'll see what side wins out...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Common Practice Progressions and Composition

Much of what we study are rules based on the common practice of composers throughout the centuries. If a musical trend becomes noticeable, it often transformed into a "Common Practice Rule." These rules are the basis for much of music theory.
When we start to look at harmonic function (chords and their use), we will notice patterns of chord use that appear over and over again in all styles of music.

The "Common Practice" chart of chord progressions is often represented like this:

This chart represents chord progression tendencies.

You might read this chart as, "A I chord can go anywhere, but a iii chord generally moves to a vi which generally moves to either a ii or IV which very often leads to a V or a viio which might move to a iii but more often moves to a I."

A general rule is that IV chords (we often call these subdominants or pre dominants) like to move to a V chord. They really like it. They do it all the time. Because a ii chord shares two common tones with a IV chord, they are often interchanged because they have a similar sound. Likewise, The V chord wants very badly to move to a I chord which you will hear when you start building progressions. The V chord contains the 7th note of the scale (we call this the leading tone) and it is drawn like a moth to the flame to the I. The viio chord has two notes in common with the V chord and that is why we sometimes will use them interchangeably (though not without some considerations that we will get to later).

Of course if all composition simply followed this chart there would not be much innovation and variety in music. This is a guideline that demonstrates tendencies that occur often in music.

Here is a video that was shared with from Mr. Eschelbacher me which takes an example of a common chord progression (one that fits the above chart quite nicely) and demonstrates how it gets used all the time...

His "Ice Cream Changes" are the chord progression I-vi-IV-V-I
Check out how that conveniently fits our common chord chart...

**Your challenge is to create two (2) songs in Garageband. One that follows the rules of common chord progressions (chart above) and one that tries to break those rules whenever possible. What do you think about the results?**