***The "ask the light-bulb question" thread***

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by bzytzo, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. bzytzo


    Jan 21, 2013
    When I started studying music theory I'd be going well for a while before I read one sentence or saw something that threw me off and left me depressed and moping around dank cellars envying rats and spiders.

    Perhaps everyone studying theory experiences this kind of thing, so I thought a thread specifically for clearing up these blips of confusion might be handy.

    As an example, I used to get notation and go through it, writing the note name letters above the notes in pencil. If the notation was in A major, I'd be dismayed to see notes there which weren't in the key. Back then there was no internet and I had nobody I could ask to help me with my confusion. Buying books was of no use because I didn't know enough to be able to track down the right book. I therefore read everything in the local library - no joy. I now realize those books were pretty lame :).

    So ask away and chip in if you can help out!
  2. Isn't that the purpose of the entire General Instruction forum to begin with?
  3. bzytzo


    Jan 21, 2013
    I was thinking of those little niggly things which don't quite add up, no matter how much thought is given to it. That one question on one little point, rather than a discussion of the whole subject.

    It could also be a place to talk about one's own light-bulb moment/moments when something suddenly became astoundingly clear. Too late to change the thread title though.

    One of my bulb moments was when I realized that chords were generally made up from the odd-numbered notes in a scale. A batch of such tales of revelation in one place might be helpful to some, I thought.

    Regarding the example I gave of my own frustration in the past, I've never seen anything in a web music forum which directly asks: Why does a piece of music sometimes contain notes not in the key scale?

    Perhaps there are people studying theory who haven't got to the point where they're aware that this happens. Perhaps some lack the confidence to enter into a full-scale forum discussion on what seems quite advanced stuff.

    You are right in what you wrote, but maybe questions/revelations will come in and spark something interesting and helpful.
  4. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012

    Chords are generally made up from stacked thirds. Maybe you're saying this in less specific terms.

    It's called chromaticism. You see it less often than discussions on diatonicism because it's more involved, and most self-taught musicians willfully box themselves into the world of scales and modes when the reality is that the vast, vast, vast majority of music exists beyond that box.

    For example, assume we're in the saddest of all keys (D minor), and we see a G#. Somebody who knows what's up will realize that A is being tonicized. A person that does not know anything about functional harmony will try to find a name for whatever they rationalize is the new "scale".
  5. bzytzo


    Jan 21, 2013
    Cool points!

    Music isn't scales, in the same way a car isn't a car parts shop :).

    (Yes, less specifically, I guess, regarding your first sentence)

  6. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    For me the 'light bulb' moment came when I realized that it was music that determined the theory, and not the other way around. In other words, the 'rules' of music theory came about as a way explaining what has already been done.
  7. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Chords are not just made up of the odd numbers from a scale, but also the even numbers, too, but in stacked thirds as mentioned above (but when referring to a chord we do use the odd numbers a lot, like 13579, etc., as far as explaining the function of notes in a chord).

    Thought I'd turn that light bulb on.