Music Theory
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Music Theory feature articles

  • Modulating to neighbor, distant and chromatic keys
    learning

    Modulating to neighbor, distant and chromatic keys - Harmony Basics - Part 20

    08/15/16

    In the previous articles we saw how you can modulate towards other keys, mainly using pivot chords to guarantee a smooth transition. So, now that we've seen how to modulate, it would be nice to know where you can modulate to, right?

  • Using II-V-I and pivot chords
    learning

    Using II-V-I and pivot chords - Harmony Basics - Part 19

    07/18/16

    In the previous article we saw how to use cadences to modulate to a different key. However, regardless of whether you use a cadence or not, a seamless modulation relies on the so-called pivot chords.

  • The Role of Cadence and Characteristic Notes in Modulation
    learning

    The Role of Cadence and Characteristic Notes in Modulat… - Harmony Basics - Part 18

    06/28/16

    It's not uncommon for a composer/songwriter to feel the need to leave the original key of the song he's writing and go explore some other ones. There are many reasons for that: to change the mood (i.e. the key!) of the song, to catch the attention of the listener, to create surprises, etc. And this is where the principle of modulation, which we wi…

  • Modulate It!
    learning

    Modulate It! - Harmony Basics - Part 17

    05/17/16

    In the previous articles... Yes, I know I often begin my articles this way but it's simply because I like things to make sense chronologically.

  • Relative Chord and Tonal Exchange Substitutions
    learning

    Relative Chord and Tonal Exchange Substitutions - Harmony Basics - Part 16

    04/19/16

    This time around, we'll look at two additional ways to substitute chords: Relative chord and tonal exchange substitutions. But before we do that, I want to complete the previous article and finish discussing dominant chord substitutions.

  • Tritone Substitution and Secondary Dominants
    learning

    Tritone Substitution and Secondary Dominants - Harmony Basics - Part 15

    04/04/16

    In this installment, we'll continue exploring chord substitutions with two new forms based on the dominant function.

  • Chord Substitutions
    learning

    Chord Substitutions - Harmony Basics - Part 14

    03/29/16

    In the previous two articles I took a brief detour from the somewhat theoretical tone of this series to show you some specific examples of harmonic chord progressions that are easy to understand and widely used. But if you want to get off the beaten path, we'll need to dive back into the theory.

  • More Chord Progressions
    learning

    More Chord Progressions - Harmony Basics - Part 13

    03/22/16

    In the previous article I introduced you to some of the most popular cadences and chord progressions. But there are still some left!

  • Chord Progressions
    learning

    Chord Progressions - Harmony Basics - Part 12

    03/08/16

    In the last article, we saw how chords have a natural tendency towards other chords depending on their degree in the key of the song where they are currently been employed.

  • Leading the Way
    learning

    Leading the Way - Harmony Basics - Part 11

    02/14/16

    In the previous articles we looked at how cadences work and how the fifth degree of a scale tends towards the first degree (yes, I know I've been repeating this every article). But, regardless of cadence, chords show a natural tendency to lead to other chords. If you know the different attractions between chords, you can easily and quickly build a…