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Music Theory and Composition - Article Series

Music Theory and Composition
Welcome Everyone!

For the past year and a half I have been working on many articles about music theory, from a composer's perspective, for my Official Blog. So far there are 105 articles which have been completed and posted which are available for you to peruse at your leisure. Whether that be as a refresher to support your existing music knowledge or to support your current education about music theory and music composition. Either way you are free to come and enjoy the multimedia presentations there.

The articles focus on music theory and composition and they are presented in full length, featuring various graphics and sound files to demonstrate the various ideas within these topics. Feel free to stop by my blog if you are so inclined.Three series of articles are available so far. The first series content is shown below. I'll amend this post shortly to reflect the current articles.

The Acoustics of Music Article Series

The nine parts of the article series Acoustics of Music will help to set into place a solid foundation based upon principals of acoustics setting the foundation for proceeding to discover scales in music and it puts us on the pathway for discovering the complete tonal system. They are collectively the first “section” if you will, in the overall article series titled Scales in Music - A Tonal System for understanding scales in music and the foundations for music composition, which is the main purpose of this series of articles as a whole.

Series Introduction – Part 1 - This is the Introduction to the article series.

Audible Range of Human Hearing – Part 2 – is a basis point, human hearing. Without the ability to hear sound creating music and enjoying music must be done through another modality than through hearing. We will explore the two main limiting factors that become our strengths in music composition and in our enjoyment of music.

Acoustic Principals – Frequencies – Part 3 – begins with a closer look into one of the main principals of acoustics, frequency. This principal provides a strong foundation for understanding sound and it establishes a means for the discovery of how musical scales are created.

Chart of Frequencies – Part 4 – is an extension of Part 3. It includes a really cool chart showing all of the frequencies in each of eight octaves of sound. Within this article you will also discover the commonalities and the differences between the frequencies or notes used in music.

Fast Fourier Transform – Part 5 – For those not knowledgeable about this interesting technological tool, this introduction certainly will allow you to not only become familiar with it in a basic sense but it will help you to understand how sound engineers actually work with sound frequencies and their waveforms to “tweak” the characteristics of sound. The article demonstrates a unique comparison of frequencies.

Acoustic Principals – Amplitude – Part 6 – describes the principal of amplitude or the principal of loudness as related to sound and presents another very cool tool that assists in
engineering sound.

Acoustic Principals – Overtones – Part 7 – adds more information about the overtones within the sound spectrum beyond that included in the article Basic Characteristics of Sound. You will also discover the harmonic relationships of the sounds produced on a guitar string as well as the basic methods of producing sound on various musical instruments.

Conclusion – Part 8 – concludes this series which focuses on acoustics of music. Includes a brief summary and additional comments.

Glossary – Part 9 – defines some of the important words used within this series to help in your understanding of the language of music and music making.

Other Article Series'

The second series is titled; Music Theory Section - Level 1. The entire series of articles in this section are currently posted. There are a total of thirteen articles in the series.

The third series is titled; Music Theory Section - Level 2. Ten articles in this series are currently posted. The total number of article or parts has not yet been determined.

Feel free to stop in whenever you have time to study more about music and/or to refresh your knowledge of music theory and composition. Also feel free to let anyone you may know who might gain from this information discover where to find it.


Don Rath Jr

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Comment by Don Rath Jr on January 23, 2011 at 8:19pm

Hi Shawn,

First, thank you for your comment!

It's wonderful that you are using the practice of quartal harmony in your string quartet. I'd like to hear the work if it is posted anywhere. Please let me know if it is available online.

Secondly, many composers use quartal harmony in today's music. You will find it used a lot in jazz by such artists/composers as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and many more. In Latin American music, Rock music as well as modern classical, opera and other music genres,  it's use is also frequently found so I am not certain what you are saying here. Can you clarify? So, again, please clarify your comment or your question. Thanks!

Further, for a quick reference - if you take a moment to review the Wikipedia article on quartal harmony alone, there are many references to modern music composer's use of quartal and quintal harmony. This article also includes a very nice explanation of quartal harmony for those seeking a basic understanding of it as well as references to many artists and composers using this form of harmonic expression.

Again, thanks for your comment and I look forward to hearing your string quartet.

Comment by Shawn Smith on January 23, 2011 at 7:20pm
I have recently employed the quartal harmony in a string quartet I'm composing. It seems few composers use this harmony anymore.




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