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Music Theory articles

  • Using II-V-I and pivot chords

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


    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

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


    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!

    Modulate It! - Harmony Basics - Part 17


    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

    Relative Chord and Tonal Exchange Substitutions - Harmony Basics - Part 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

    Tritone Substitution and Secondary Dominants - Harmony Basics - Part 15


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

  • Chord Substitutions

    Chord Substitutions - Harmony Basics - Part 14


    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

    More Chord Progressions - Harmony Basics - Part 13


    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

    Chord Progressions - Harmony Basics - Part 12


    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

    Leading the Way - Harmony Basics - Part 11


    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…

  • Harmonic Rhythm

    Harmonic Rhythm - Harmony Basics - Part 10


    Today, we will discuss one of the most important aspects in music, namely rhythm.