19. Summing up everything so far
There has been 18 episodes before this one and we talked about a lot of things. Actually we may have talked about pretty much everything I wanted to talk about when I started this series.
And, of all those things, I feel like it can be difficult sometimes to see how they all combine, how it is all connected.
So today I'd like to sum up a lot of things we saw in this series, showing how they relate, and put everything on one page, that can make a useful document for composing.
The finished document will be available as a free download, which you can find in the freebies section on my website.
So let's sum things up shall we?
To begin, Everything on this document will be based on the key of C. That's probably the easiest , because everything seems to be based on the C major scale, and it's easy to visualise on a piano keyboard as it is all the white keys. But to help you use other tonalities, there will be other pages for these other tonalities.
At the top of the page, let's start with a reminder of all the intervals in the scale. If you know the root note of your tonality is C, you can see the function of all the other notes, with their corresponding interval in this table.
For example, if the root note is C, a E would be a major 3rd, because it is 2 whole tones above C.
And 4 whole tones above the root note could be either an augmented fifth or a minor 6th, depending if you consider it a G (G#), the fifth note of the scale, or a A (Ab), the 6th note of the scale.
So in the same way you could find all the other intervals you might need, up to the 13th.
(We saw all these intervals in the video about 7th chords.)
Under that, let's put the C major scale.
(If you wonder how the major and minor scale are built, it is all explained in the 4th episode about scales and modes.)
We can then add a list of all the chords for all the degrees of the major scale. From the Ist degree to the VIIth degree. that's Major, minor, minor, Major, Major, minor and diminished.
So the first degree of the C major scale is a C major chord, the IInd degree would be a D minor chord, the IIIrd degree would be a E minor chord, etc..
This gives you all the chords you can use within this C major scale.
If you use another major scale, you can replace these notes by the notes of you scale, so it would be all in the tonality you're using. The type of chords for each degree won't change.
But as I said earlier, there will be other pages to help you use other tonalities.
(To know how to build major, minor, diminished or augmented chords, it is all explained in the episode about triads.)
In the last row I'll also add the 7th chords for each degree, so if you want to use 7th chords for your song, you could know what type of 7th chord you could use for every degree.
The Ist degree would be a major 7th chord, the 2nd degree would be a minor 7th chord, etc...
(We saw how to build those in the episode about 7th chords. It also in this episode that we talked about all the intervals you have at the top of the page.)
Under that, let's add the same table for the minor scales: natural, harmonic and melodic.
So if you're using a C minor scale, you can use these instead.
It's worth noting that the harmonic minor scale is a bit special as it contains a different type of 7th chord on each degree: from the Ist degree to the VIIth degree, it goes mM7, ø7, aug, m7, 7, M7 and o7.
(To know how these natural, harmonic and melodic minor scales are built, this is in the episode about the dominant chords.)
But just so it's said here, the difference between the harmonic minor and the natural minor is that the 7th note of the harmonic minor scales is raised by a semi tone compared to the natural minor scale.
And the melodic minor scale have both the 6th and 7th notes raised by a semi-tone compared to the natural minor scale. The melodic minor scale is like a major scale but with a third that is minor.
You could use these 3 minor scales in one composition, they are very close to one another, they are basically 3 variations of the same scale.
Now to use these chords more easily, you have a list of different cadences here.
Cadences are like recognisable chord progressions that are very useful. It's like the punctuation in a sentence.
First you have the authentic cadence V to I, often prepared by a II or a IV, and the plagal cadence IV to I, which are both conclusive cadences that reinforce the tonality you are in.
Then the half cadence that finishes a musical sentence on the V, it often goes from the I to the V that is like a question that needs to be answered.
And then the deceptive cadence that begins like an authentic cadence but then at the last minute go to another degree instead of the I, it often goes for the VI.
(More details on those in the episode about cadences.)
Then let's add more exotic cadences that can be useful.
We can add the tritone substitution, which replaces the degree V in an authentic cadence by a bII. So it goes from bII to I.
This chord is often a major chord or a dominant 7 chord.
(You can see it in the episode about borrowings and substitutions.)
We can also add the napolitan sixth, which is very similar. It is also a bII but that replaces a chord of the IInd or IVth degree, a subdominant chord. So it's often seen before an authentic cadence.
Then we can add the Faurean cadence which is a half cadence that is prepared by IV in a dominant 7 form.
(You can see these two last chords in the first episode about special chords.)
And lastly there is the andalusian cadence which is not really a cadence, it's more of a chord progression that is supposed to be played in loop, but just in case you'd like to try it as a regular cadence, there it is.
(To have more details on that, you'll find it in the 2nd episode about special chords and chord progressions.)
If I ever talk about other cadences in future episodes, I'll update this document as well. So if you're watching this in the future and you see that other cadences have been added, you'll surely find an episode explaining it in the playlist of music theory in 5 minutes
CIRCLE OF FIFTHS
Now, at some point in your composition, you may want to modulate to another tonality
To help you do that, you have here a circle of fifths. With this you can know all the notes of every major and natural minor scales, and you can see what tonalities close to the one you're using.
In the C major scale that is at the top, all the notes are natural (no sharp and no flat note), and it's the same for the A natural minor scale, which is its relative.
Then every step you go clockwise adds a sharp note in the scale. These sharp notes always appear in the same order: F C G D A E B.
And then every step you take anti-clockwise adds a flat note to the scale, and these flat notes appear in the opposite order: B E A D G C F.
So for example in F major, this is one step anti-clockwise, so it has one flat note, and this note is B, because it's the first flat note to appear. So the scale of F major would be F G A Bb C D E.
You can then use the table from earlier to know that the first degree, the F chord, would be a major chord, or a M7 chord, the second degree, the G chord would be a minor chord or a m7 chord, etc...
If you take D minor, it's the same, one step anti-clockwise, so one flat note, Bb, and the scale is D E F G A Bb C.
You can then put these notes in the table of the natural minor scale to know what kind of chord is on each degree.
And from there you can find the notes of the harmonic and melodic minor scales that you can put in their respective table if you want to use them.
(You can have more detail on the circle of fifths on the episode dedicated to it).
You can also use this circle of fifth to know what is the dominant chord of each chord, and use that to switch from a tonality to another.
For exemple, a D chord is good to go to a tonality of G, a G chord is good to go to a tonality of C, a C chord is good to go to a tonality of F, etc...
(You can see more on how to use that in the episode about modulations.)
Another thing to add to this page are modes: Ionian, Dorian, phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, aeolian and locrian. With the corresponding series of intervals that build each one next to them.
One mnemonic sentence to remember the order of these modes can be "I Don't Punch Like Mohammed A-Li". I thought that'd might be useful so, there it is.
Once again I've put them all as C scales as I thought it would be more useful to compare them, this is C Ionian, which is the C major scale, then C Dorian, C phrygian, C Lydian, C Mixolydian, C Aeolian which is the C natural minor scale, and C Locrian.
(If you want to know more about modes and how this is all built, it is in the episode about scales and modes)
One last thing I want to add to this page is a table of the secondary dominants.
At any point in you composition, you can add the Vth degree of any chord to then go to that chord, that's a secondary dominant. And that's a good way to add notes that are not originally in the scale you're using.
So on the first line are the chords of the C major scale, and on the second line are the Vth degrees of each of those chords.
So you could use a A7 chord to go to a D chord, or a C7 chord to go to a F chord for example.
The four next lines are the four notes that make this secondary dominant chords: the tonic, the third, the fifth and the seventh.
See if you're using a A7 chord to go to a D chord, the A7 would be made of A, C#, E and G. So you will be using a C# that is normally not in the C major scale.
ALTERED Vth DEGREE
As a bonus, I also added a chart of different types of chord you could substitute for a Vth degree.
Here is the dominant 7 chord, the type of chord we normally use with a Vth degree in a cadence, with the example of a G7 chord, which is the Vth degree in the C major scale, that will use the notes G, B, D and F. So it doesn't use any note external to the C major scale.
Now you could substitute any of these other chords for this G7.
For example, G diminished 7th would use a Bb and a Db which are external to the C major scale.
(If you want more details about that, it is in the episode about borrowings and substitutions.)
And that'll wrap up this first page. I know that may be a lot of informations if you're discovering it for the first time, but everything should be explained in the series of episodes.
The eleven following pages are essentially the same, but based on different root notes. So you wouldn't have to transpose this whole page to any tonality, they're all already done.
Now the next page will be all about rhythm.
First let's put the equivalence of the different notations, a whole note being divided in 2 half notes, that are divided in 2 quarter notes etc... I'm not sure if that is really useful once you know it but it looks cool.
And we can put the same diagram with the equivalent symbols for the silences.
Then we can break down all the ways you could divide 1 beat into four 16th notes.
I'm actually using a system of squares that are filled or empty. So these would look like the midi blocks in your DAW, and they can be any type of note: quarter notes, 8th notes, 16th notes...
We can then number them so we could easily create rhythm by picking numbers at random.
These can make good building blocks to come up with hopefully interesting rhythms.
Let's also do it with triplets so we would have both binary and ternary rhythms.
(More details on how we can divide time in the first episode about rhythm.)
Now to use these notes and rhythms in a more diverse ways, we can write down different time signatures with and indication of where are the strong beats in each one. The strong beats are the round notes.
And the weak beats are the crosses.
These are just indications of where we put the strong beats most of the time. This is by no mean a prescription of what you should do all the time.
But the main principle here is that you can divide these time signatures into groupings of 2 or 3 notes, the first note of each grouping then becomes a strong beat.
(You can have more information about time signatures In its dedicated episode there.)
The last pages of this document are kind of the annexes, here I listed a lot of different scales that you can try if you want to change from the major or minor scales.
They are all listed by modes, so for example, this first table starts with the harmonic minor scale on the first row.
Then the second row is its second mode. Meaning it's a scale that uses the exact same notes but starting on the second note.
Then the third row is the third mode, with the same notes but starting on the third note.
The fourth row is the fourth mode, etc...
Then I transposed all these scales to a key of C, so they all begin with the same note. Because I guessed it would be easier to compare them, or to find a scale in particular if you already know the notes you want to use.
I did this for a lot of different scales, so you would have a lot to play with. But as you can see, for some of them I didn't find any corresponding name.
This document may be updated in the future, so if you know the name of any of these missing scales, or if you'd like to see other elements on this document, you can tell me in the comments.
These last pages is kind of a bonus, as we didn't really see these modes in particular in the series.
But there you have them so you can try them.
(If you're still not sure about modes, you can watch the episode about scales and modes, these are built with the same principles.)
I didnt include the chords of each degree of these scales as i wanted to limit visual clusters on these pages, but if you want to know how to find the chords that go with each scales, the episode about triads can help you do that.
I made this document downloadable as a pdf file with an easy to print version, so you could have it near you when you're composing.
The link is in Freebies section of my website.