Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

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Roca Da Burn
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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by Roca Da Burn » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:14 am

Hey scutheotaku,

I found the Computermusic Issues 183 and 182 pretty helpful for exactly the requirement of understanding progressions, and / or beeing able to construct good sounding ones by yourself.
http://www.musicradar.com/computermusic ... ack-issues

Topics in those Issues are "Melody Unchained: Crafting great melodies" and "Strike a Chord: Make great chord sequences"
both with tutorial videos... These tutorials helped me a lot in understanding the whole thing 8)

if you have an ipad use the Newsstand Editions, pretty useful in the studio...

regards

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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by bicarbone » Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:05 am

scutheotaku wrote:As I understand it, Dim7 chords can often be used as substitutions for dominant sevenths, e.g. C7 can be substituted for Cdim7.
Actually C7 – C7(b9) would be more exact – can be substituted for C#dim7. So in your chord progression Cdim7 is a substitution for B7, or B7(b9).
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ian_halsall
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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by ian_halsall » Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:08 am

try and explain this:

why are major chords happy and minor chords unhappy?

Let me know

beatmunga
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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by beatmunga » Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:20 am

ian_halsall wrote:try and explain this:

why are major chords happy and minor chords unhappy?

Let me know
Nice to think that it's some mysterious universal resonance in our brainwaves, instigated by certain mathematical relationships between overlapping frequencies.

However, I seem to recall that it is as mundane as being cultural. In other words, not everyone in the world agrees on what is a happy or sad chord. It depends on what they've grown up with.

(Apologies for the man in the pub punditry - probably talking out my arse.)
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luddy
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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by luddy » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:28 pm

>> Dm7 - Bdim7 - A#maj7 - Am7 - Cdim7

couple things to notice. the first three chords are roughly speaking a Dm triad with a descending bassline: Dm - Dm/B - Dm/Bb

The Cdim7 wants (strongly) to resolve to something, like Gm7. That gives the overall progression a turn like Dm7 - Am7 - Gm7, something like that. In other words, it's a progression that's kind of "going somewhere", which makes it interesting.

There's really no magic formula to these things. There are lots and lots of interesting chord progressions, and they sound nice because ... they sound nice! :mrgreen:

-Luddy

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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by ian_halsall » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:41 pm

You see that kind of "it's like that because it's like that" argument is never going to satisfy me.

Maybe it's cultural or maybe it's built into the brain's desire to seek patterns and make sense of things - the ratios of frequencies are not random of course - or maybe it's because we copy birds or something.

But "it is what it is" is just a record by Rhythim is Rhythim and not an answer to a question.

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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by yur2die4 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:02 pm

Major third interval in relation to the fundamental's pitch class shows up pretty early in the harmonic series. Therefore that interval is highly consonant.

A minor interval shows up next, but it is in relation to that major third. And ends up being part of a major chord. Major chords are hidden in saw waves :P

Minor is a bit more complex. Complexity needs to be resolved. A bit like dropping toothpicks on the floor. If we were to line them all up single file. Things would just seem more pleasant haha

We've grown to appreciate complexity. We love when something feels a little wrong. We relate to it quite well. Therefore even a minor, or an extremely dissonant chord can sound reassuring to us. We know that one day, our minds will be resolved either within the piece, or another.
Last edited by yur2die4 on Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

beatmunga
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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by beatmunga » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:34 pm

ian_halsall wrote:But "it is what it is" is just a record by Rhythim is Rhythim and not an answer to a question.
What a tune that is.
yur2die4 wrote:We've grown to appreciate complexity. We love when something feels a little wrong. We relate to it quite well. Therefore even a minor, or an extremely dissonant chord can sound reassuring to us. We know that one day, out minds will be resolved either within they piece, or another.
I'm fascinated by them chords what are the same as a minor but you add a fourth note 10 semitones above the root key (minor 7th is it?). They are happy and sad at the same time. If you are high, they make you higher, if you are feeling introspective, they have complexity. Never slash your wrists/horror film though, nor cheesily triumphant.

"Last Rhythm" is a perfect example. I'm sure that there's a fair few in Chic productions too. Love 'em.
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stringtapper
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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by stringtapper » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:49 pm

Fully diminished seventh chords do often substitute for dominant sevenths, but not spelled from the same root.

You can think of a diminished seventh chord as a dominant b9 chord without its root:

C-E-G-Bb = C7
C-E-G-Bb-Db = C7b9
_-E-G-Bb-Db = Eº7


The progression the OP is asking about is mostly a lot of non-functional motion. Typical of modern chord progressions, the choice of chords is more based on voice-leading than any functional relationship between the chords themselves.

A minor can work as a rough tonal center. It starts on the iv chord (Dm7), the Bº7 (B-D-F-Ab) can be enharmonically reinterpreted as a G#º (G#-B-D-F) in first inversion (6/5), which can function as the leading tone chord of A. But the A#maj7 chord sort of intervenes as a passing sonority, prolonging the resolution from the º7 chord to the Am7. Then we get the Cº7 which doesn't have a clear functional relationship to the key. Assuming that the progression loops, the progression from Cº7 to Dm7 is what is known as a common tone resolution, or a non-dominant resolution of the º7 chord. In other words the chord C-Eb-Gb-Bbb shares two common tones with the chord D-F-A-C, with the Bbb enharmonically respelled as A. This resolution isn't that strong because there are two common tones. The strongest types of common tone resolutions of diminished seventh chords are when there is only one common tone and the other three chord tones move.

ian_halsall wrote:try and explain this:

why are major chords happy and minor chords unhappy?

Let me know
Completely off topic but I'll have a go.

In the strictest sense descriptions such as "happy" and "sad" are subjective and it's hard to really apply science to them. As beatmunga said, different cultures will describe different sounds using different terms, so there is definitely a cultural aspect to this problem. In other words major chords aren't happy, and minor chords aren't unhappy, at least not to everyone, so the entire question is based on a biased assumption.

That said, what yur2die4 said about the overtone series does get closer to the matter of why some intervals sound more dissonant to some people than others (it's still not universal), and measurement of dissonance seems to coincide with the kinds of "major=happy/minor=sad" descriptions that people in the West tend to give to certain sounds. The mostly has to do with the upper partials of complex tones and how they interfere with the upper partials of other sounding pitches. If two sounding tones have upper partials that are related by simple ratios such as those found in the lower harmonics of the overtone series then those two sounds will often be considered "concordant" by the listener. If the partials are related by more complex ratios then interference occurs which is often described as a "discord." This phenomena has been studied since at least the 19th century by the likes of Helmholtz so we know there is a pretty solid basis for this model of why some things sound consonant and others sound dissonant.

But when we try to put a qualitative meaning to these terms "consonant" and "dissonant" we lose the plot pretty quickly. Qualitative binaries such as "good/bad" and "happy/sad" are not necessarily imposed by the acoustic and psychoacoustic properties of the sounds themselves. They are descriptions that we as human put on them, and they are often influenced by culture and environment.
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beatmunga
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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by beatmunga » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:39 pm

stringtapper wrote: Qualitative binaries such as "good/bad" and "happy/sad" are not necessarily imposed by the acoustic and psychoacoustic properties of the sounds themselves. They are descriptions that we as human put on them, and they are often influenced by culture and environment.
Well said.

Much the same could be said of music generally - scientists cannot prove it exists. It is just how certain human brains interpret certain auditory stimuli. Like all art, it is in the brain of the beholder, and to any good scientist that makes it off limits for investigation.

Still... it would be brilliant if they could surprise us with hard evidence that certain combinations of audible frequencies have a universal influence on human brain patterns, perhaps stimulating automatic physical responses such as fear or euphoria. They haven't yet, as far as I know - but it would be fascinating if they did. It could take music back to being the natural scientific sibling of maths and cosmology that it used to be during the Renaissance - something that had genuinely profound mysteries to be unlocked, rather than the entertaining curiosity it is today.
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ian_halsall
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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by ian_halsall » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:55 pm

My questions were meant to be a joke.

Like trying to explain what makes great music in the first place is almost defeating the purpose - isn't it supposed to be transcendental?

Otherwise we'd all be knocking out sonatas all over the place.

Doesn't stop us trying to understand it though...

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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by beatmunga » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:02 pm

ian_halsall wrote:My questions were meant to be a joke.
Yeah, well, I knew that all along... and anyway I was only joking too so haha the joke is on you.
mendeldrive wrote:NOBODY designs their own sounds... There is ZERO point in reinventing the wheel.

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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by ian_halsall » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:24 pm

haha - I knew you would say that

crumhorn
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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by crumhorn » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:41 am

Having played through those chords a few times, the only way I can make sense of them is as a transitional passage leading to a new key. To me it coluld resolve to E minor or G at any point but keeps skirting around it.

Personally I think a lot (by no means all) of the emotional power of music comes from it's similarity to patterns of intonation in speach or from similarity to the sounds of nature.

there's nothing quite like the sound of a bald minor third for creating a sense of impending doom. Just think of WW2 air raid sirens. for me it has a primal quality, like the howling of wild creatures in the night.
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Re: Question for music theory fans - chord progression analysis

Post by ttilberg » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:04 pm

Sorry to distract from an excellent thread; as a former music theory student, I appreciate the respect that goes into this stuff.

However.

Doesn't reading tonal theory sound like Bridge games in the newspaper? :)
ny times wrote:In the auction South upgraded his hand to a two-no-trump opening, because of his good five-card suit. North transferred into spades, then offered a choice of games. When South passed, Peter Fredin from Sweden (West) made a penalty double, which was passed out.

West led the heart ace and continued with a second heart.

South won with dummy’s king and played a club to his king. West took that trick and continued with a third heart to declarer’s queen. South cashed his diamond ace and club queen, then played a club to dummy’s jack. What had he learned?
People who aren't versed in music theory probably read this thread similar to how I read this card game.
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