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Thread: The whole circle of keys thing

  1. #1
    Member Azathoth's Avatar
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    Default The whole circle of keys thing

    I don't get it. The way I learn music theory is kind of stupid. I have this book. I do a 1/2-page lesson on the subject that includes a worksheet. Then I never review the theory again. Ever. So I've kind of been able to fake it in my lessons, but I don't really understand what I'm doing. I've been asking my teacher but since he's not a native English speaker it can be a bit difficult to communicate. He's fluent, but it makes things tricky.

    Why is it that F major has a flat, but G major has a sharp?

    In ascending order (and in increasing number of sharps) the key signatures are: C G D A E B, right? So here's a stupid question. What are the sharps? I know F is first, then C. What's after that?

    How does it work with the flats? I know you start with B.

    I reviewed my stupid little lesson ten times today, and now I still don't know it and I'm more frustrated than before.

    Also, more stuff I'm supposed to understand that I don't:

    This week I'm supposed to write Roman numerals under parts of a piece I'm learning.* How the hell am I supposed to know what to write? I've asked my teacher and have gotten nothing from it. He's a great teacher in general, but I think the language barrier is kind of subtly screwing us here. I get that they're chord changes, but I only have a fuzzy idea of what to do after that.

    How do you invert a chord? I've gotten lucky when I've tried to copy what my teacher does but if you told me to play an inverted D major chord, I wouldn't be able to.

    What is close position?

    What is fast time and slow time?

    What is the difference between a major and a perfect interval? I know that prime-4th-5th-octave are perfect and 2nd-3rd-6th-7th are major, but what's the difference? And did I mentally reverse that?

    In the last month or so I've managed to forget everything I'd previously memorized. I knew all of this. Then I got busier. Then I was in a musical (and I hate musicals) and so for the last three weeks have been getting about six hours of constantly interrupted sleep per night. This hasn't been helping my mood, or my memory. Also, while I used to be able to practice for 20-40 minutes a day, I'm now lucky if I can get in 90 minutes a week. I can sight-read well and have no problem with technique or memorizing songs, but if I can't apply the theory I'm doubly screwed. It doesn't help that my theory book has no connection with my main book -it's more advanced- so I'm learning two completely disparate methods.

    It's 1:25 right now, and my lesson is at 2:15. I'm not expecting to understand anything this week, but I'd like it if next week I'd be able to enjoy my lessons again.

    *I have the first book of Hal Leonard Adult Piano Adventures as my main book. My theory is Master Theory. My technique is the Hal Leonard kiddie adaptation of The Virtuoso Pianist, though I also happen to own TVP and sometimes screw around with it when I get bored. I have a book of duets called My Favorite Duet album, arranged by Maxwell Eckstein. None of these books tie in with each other so it also gets frustrating when I have to go from practicing Brahms to finishing up some infuriatingly simplistic and cheesy Kum Ba Yah thing I was only assigned because I missed the last note when the lesson ended.

    Sorry about excessive cynicism. In my defense, I'm a sleep-deprived teenager.
    Weep not for little Leonie,
    Abducted by a French marquis!
    Though loss of honor was a wrench
    Just think how it's improved her French.

  2. #2
    Senior Member BuddhaBandit's Avatar
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    Here's some help from the Bandit:

    Sharp cycle: start with F# (key of G Major), then C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B# (for C# Major)
    Flat Cycle: start with Bb (for F major), then Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb (for Cb Major)

    Roman numerals designate "generic" chords. In any key, the major chord of the tonic is I, of the supertonic is II, the median, III, etc. Minor chords are usually designated by lowercase roman numerals, e.g. iii.

    For example: in the key of C major, a C major chord is I, a G major chord is V, an A minor chord is vi, and an F7 chord is IV7.

    Chord inversions are when you rearrange the notes in a chord. For example: a G major triad is composed of the notes G, B, and D, arranged as GBD. A G-major chord in first inversion is BDG, and in second inversion is DGB. The number of possible inversions is, clearly, the number of notes in the chord minus 1.

    Closed position is when you group chord notes together "densely", like (in the G-major example above), playing GBD together in the right hand. Open position, by contrast, is when you play the notes more "spread out"; e.g. playing D and B in the bass and a G in the treble.

    Fast time/slow can either refer to the time signature or the tempo. To which are you referring here?

    A perfect fourth/fifth/octave is called "perfect" because 1) these are the most consonant intervals in music, and 2) when they are inverted, they are still perfect (a perfect fourth, for example, inverts to a perfect fifth). A major interval does not necessarily invert to another major interval.

    Hope this helps.

    -BB
    Take a look at the Bandit's blog, Americana Avenue.

  3. #3
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    A major interval does not necessarily invert to another major interval.
    When does a major interval invert to another major? :S

    Why is it that F major has a flat, but G major has a sharp?
    This is so that each interval of a scale is the same, no matter which not you start on.

    For example(s):
    C Major has C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. The intervals Between these note are (Tone = 'T', Semitone = 'S'), (c-d)TTSTTTS.

    If we where to start on F, and go along the white keys of the keyboard we would have: F-G-A-B-C-D-E-F. The intervals between these notes are TTTSTTS. If you look, the pattern of intervals between the white note scale starting on F and the white note scale starting on C. To make them the same, we would have to have: F-G-A-Bb-C-D-E-F. The intervals between this is TTSTTTS, making it the same as the C Major scale we started with. It is the same reason for G Major, F#Major and Eb Major.

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    Senior Member BuddhaBandit's Avatar
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    Quote:
    A major interval does not necessarily invert to another major interval.
    When does a major interval invert to another major? :S
    I don't believe it ever does, but just in case I was missing something, I didn't want to say "never" (never say never!)

    As for the F/G question, if the F major scale had an A# instead of a Bb, the note relationships that Yagan described wouldn't hold (i.e. the scale would be T 1.5T S etc.)
    Take a look at the Bandit's blog, Americana Avenue.

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    Senior Member Oneiros's Avatar
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    check out musictheory.net for some fairly good lessons and resources.

    there are many different levels of musicianship - if you don't want to turn professional, and can't stand the theory, leave it alone. it's not a necessary part of enjoying or appreciating music on a personal level.

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