Music Theory – 0027

This hot chick called Teeny Bikini asked if I’m just going to permanently make this a Music Theory blog or am I going to do what I have been here and thoroughly explore a topic and then move on to the next thing. I think I’m going to stick with the music bit for a long long time, but not exclusively. Music has been a serious recurrent theme throughout my life so there will be a lot about song writing going forward. Really the music theory is bringing people up to speed toward talking about various aspects of writing music and that will likely be my main hobby for the rest of my life.

Today I want to start a few sessions on a piece of music I’ve recently written called “Finding Diane”.

This piece, a piano solo at least for the moment, was inspired by a novel in progress called “Pieces of the Circle“. Basically, it is a grown-up woman writing a fictional yet somewhat autobiographical novel trying to warn girls growing up not to get involved in abusive relationships. The rough chapters I’ve read speak to me directly, like here is what your wife/girlfriend feels when you behave in certain ways. It is powerful stuff. This whole thing was in the back of my mind when I started picking out notes on the piano. The first day I wrote the intro, the second day I wrote a verse and chorus, and the third day I wrote an ending. Then a week or two later I worked out a middle section. Since the novel is trying to break a cycle of abuse, breaking a circle, I thought I would make the piece into a rondo.

A rondo has a number of variations but basically the form is:

A – B – A – C – A – B – A

The A, B, and C, are all sections of music. The A section that keeps coming back around is a recurrent theme. Today I want to play just the intro for you:

And here is the score for this introductory passage:


First off, notice how in measure seven of the bass clef how the clef is temporarily changed to a treble clef and then back to a bass clef. That is one of many things that NotePad will not do. You can purchase up several levels until you have the full version that I have if you want that magical power, but I intend to keep it so you don’t have to. This is a watch and learn mini-series, not something I hope you will enter yourself.

All that is happening in these initial eight measures is that I am going back and forth between A Minor and G Major. The chords for the key of A Minor are the same as for the key of C Major except they start with A instead of C. The two major chords are still F and G. The key of A Minor is said to be the relative minor of the key of C Major because their scales and chords are all the same notes. The first two measures are A Minor and follow a pattern upwards and falls a little after reaching the top. All those notes are from the A Minor chord, A – C – E, but I also add a B note for color (actually I mishit a note and then decided I liked it). In the second two measures we do the exact same thing except with a G Major chord, same pattern exactly using the notes, G – B – D, and adding the note A to follow the same pattern relative to the G Major chord.

The fourth and fifth measures are exactly the same as the first and second measures. The final two measures of this intro are again G Major and exclusively use notes of the G Major chord.

In the last half of the final measure pictured, an E7 chord is used as the “V” (E – G# – B – D) going to “i” in order to start the Verse or the A-Section. In minor keys it is common to alter the Minor v chord and make it a Major V chord instead because it provides the half step, the G# to A in this key because it is a more powerful movement.

So this intro is essentially just two chords in the key of A Minor going back and forth between the A Minor and G Major chords, changing every two measures. I use a lot of the keyboard, but it is just two chords.

Forgive me for introducing this before we examine the concept of a minor key. Take this as a field trip where you are being introduced to new things that will not be on the test until we cover it step-by-step sometime in the future. This piece of music is on my mind and I’m working on making a finished project so you are stuck with this for a few days.

[Special note: I did not expect that video to expand into the entire 600 pixel width that this blog theme uses. That is why the video is blurry: I recorded it with my iPhone in portrait orientation to match the length of the keyboard and then cropped it thinner still in editing. I will keep this in mind for future videos. I recorded the piano audio separately and then stitched the audio and video together.]

18 thoughts on “Music Theory – 0027

    • I don’t have control over that. I uploaded an MP4 file and then WordPress alters it before putting it in the player. The video plays fine on my iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4GS, iPad 3, and Mac Pro early 2009 model. What is the problem, if any? You can also download the video by clicking on it and then a “Share” tab opens. When you click on a download option a new window or tab opens and from there if you right click on the video you can then save it to your computer. That share option does not work on my iOS devices even though the video will play. You can do the same thing with the pictures where you left click on it, it opens in a new tab or window, and then you can right click on the image and you can download it. Unfortunately you cannot do that with songs in the music players. Anyone who would like any of those will have to ask me to e-mail one or more of those to them which I will do except for the “Hallelujah” song (I don’t have permission).

  1. Hmm, I haven’t got the Adobe Flash installed on the Mac. If I try to watch the video from my RSS reader (NetNewswire) then the box where the video is shown turns white and I get a ‘missing plugin’ message.

    If I open the page in Safari it works fine so I’ll have to do that from now on.

      • So I didn’t get to watch the video until NOW. I am in awe. Of course I know nothing about the musical end of things except to admire and appreciate your talent. I loved what you said about my story. I love that it resonates at all with you. Especially since I know that it was a rough start in trying to relate and read! Only you knows how much the word you said could possibly mean. I know you think that I just like the sugar coating but I like the constructive stuff too. Especially if you can see past the rough parts and see some “powerful stuff” what more could I ask?? Thank you for your patience! Is it corny to say that I see a bit of Mr. Holland’s Opus in you?

    • Mr. Hollands Opus? I just looked it up and the gist sounds like me. I just tried to download it and failed. I’ll try YouTube and if that fails I’ll try our local video rental place tomorrow.

      I’m glad you like my understanding of your novel. I do get it and I don’t think it is just for girls. I do need to take the time to read more of it.

      Sadly I won’t be able to do any more videos of it while I continue the mini-series about it, but I will continue along the same lines. One for the verse, the chorus, and then the middle section. I’m about to start writing about the verse in a few minutes. The brief recording is finished as is a picture of that part of the score for those following and trying to understand what on earth I’m talking about. I think once I have the camera I might start a series on piano lessons, but I’m not sure. I’m feeling all this out and trying to produce a better product. This is a great place to do that.

        Can’t believe you have never heard of it!!! I think that you and Cathy would especially love this movie… rent it on netflix or whatever with a bowl of popcorn and have a date night! It is about a man who has a dream about being a composer who ends up being a teacher just to support his ambitions… he is played by Richard Dreyfus. Are you sure you have NEVER heard of it? Anyway, he is a serious no nonsense guy but slowly because he is such a good teacher, he becomes very loved… it is a little political because of budget cuts… popular around the time when a lot of fine arts programs began being cut. Worth your time! 😉

      • Okay so I was so determined to have you just see my heart in the synopsis of that movie that I failed to read what you said about my book at first. (At least I always come back and do take the time to read!) smile…
        I feel kind of like the scarecrow and Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz where when the hot air balloon was leaving with the wizard and Dorothy in it… she is saying goodbye to everyone and turns to the scarecrow and says… “I think that I will miss you most of all”
        I think that in the end, the hard time you have given me on my book…. means more than all the compliments and what you say matters most of all in the scheme of things cuz I know you are’nt full of BS…you say what you think and though it may be hard to hear at first… I do come around and re-visit the issues pertaining to your critques. You are right… you once said something about the sugar coaters… This blog is not a hard core writer’s review place. I have seen how ruthless some of the poetry ones I have gone to have been on other people’s poems…
        So thank you. Just wanted you to know that your opinion matters to me and it is not wasted. And the compliments… well, they mean even more because I know you just don’t dish them out… hence; why the movie resonates with me so much when I think of what kind of a teacher you truly are. I am sure your students learn from you. As I have.

      • You make me blush. We have purchased “Mr. Holland’s Opus” from Amazon and await its arrival. It looks like a wonderful story and I can’t wait to see it.

    • I can open the YouTube videos, but I tried to download the entire movie from . . . questionable sources and it didn’t work out. It’s complicated. I very much want to watch it so I will find a way. I don’t want to bother with Netflix.

  2. Aha! I notice the score that you posted here is the same as the one that I thought was going to be for that marvellous ending before I looked at it! I knew it wasn’t right (and way too short) for what you were playing. At least I have the beginning now. I am so enjoying this Jim. Can’t wait for it all to unfold and to hear the final song. Can I offer one of my daughters to sing it? Diane?

    • That will be a little ways off. I’m going to need a break from this once I get it recorded. I don’t have a singer so my first reaction is yes. I will have to redo the song to suit words and a singer, or so I assume. Any way I can hear her voice? Then there is the “real” Diane who should have a say, I suppose.

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