Getting Started

Music is simply sound and silence spread across time.

This has been the case ever since Og and the Rock Hounds played The Caves of Altamira and drew pretty pictures on the walls.  Back when the term “clubbing” meant something entirely different than it does today.

So before embarking on your journey of discovery, I thought it best to explain a little about this site and what you’ll see.  Originally, this was all just a pile of notes I created while trying to learn pieces of the music theory puzzle.  I took that pile, stuffed it into a grinder and this is what came out.

A somewhat more coherent version of what I had originally written.

This page contains the following sections:

AUDIO SAMPLES

Throughout this site, I have included audio samples where I thought them helpful.  They were not professionally recorded and are a touch rough in spots, but they are more than passable and perform the function they were intended to perform – and that is to give you an idea of what a scale, mode, chord or interval actually sounds like.

THE ORDER OF THINGS

The main menu on this site suggests what I consider to be the best possible order in which to read the various pages.  You may of course read them in any order you wish, but this is the order that I felt was most important in understanding the various chunks of theory and since each section tends to build on information from previous sections, it made sense.

UPPERCASE & lowercase

I chose to use UPPERCASE text to highlight important music concepts throughout the website.  I did this because I wanted to reinforce the terms that are important to remember.  UPPERCASE and lowercase are also used when describing MAJOR and minor scale degrees as well as chord quality via Roman numerals.  When you see UPPERCASE Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII), they will refer to MAJOR chords.  When you see lowercase Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi, vii) they will refer to minor OR diminished chords.

SEEING RED

RED is the color of the “look at me, look at me!” crowd.  From the lady in red, to the middle-aged man tooling down the road in his red convertible, toupe flapping in the breeze, it’s the universal attention grabbing color.  Same applies to this site.

RED indicates some kind of importance or commonality.

FADED NOTES

When you see a graphic with notes that appear to be faded, those notes ARE NOT played but are included as a reference so you can see the influence they have on the half-tone INTERVAL counts.
c_major_triad_2
When you see a graphic with a BOXED outline of a note, those notes ARE significant in some way. In the above graphic, the notes that are outlined in red are the notes that represent the C MAJOR triad.

DIMINISHED SCALE DEGREES

All HEPTATONIC (diatonic) scales will include a DIMINISHED SCALE DEGREE.  In the various scale graphics, these are represented by a small circle just above and to the right of the Roman numeral representing the scale degree.
diminished-scale-degree
In the above graphic, the ii scale degree (b) is diminished.

MULTIPLE COLORS

If there are multiple colored boxes, that means that the notes with the same color are related.  In the following graphic, each color pair represents the finger positions for the MAJOR 3rd (M3) intervals of the C MAJOR scale.
c-major-thirds

DEGREES AND EXTENSIONS

It’s important to understand the difference between a scale degree and a degree extension as they relate to the various graphics on this website.  For the CHROMATIC scale, degrees start at 0 and go upward to 11.  For HEPTATONIC scales, degrees start on the ROOT/TONIC of the scale and are represented by Roman numerals starting with i or I and going through vii or VII.

UP FIRST, INTERVALS

I personally believe that most people start off on the wrong foot when it comes to music theory. Everyone seems to be enamored with scales instead of the mechanism that actually allows for their creation. With that in mind, click here to start your learning with intervals.