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#2016124 - 01/17/13 12:50 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
Allard Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/12
Posts: 326
Loc: Netherlands
You're welcome smile

In the Netherlands we just sing "happy birthday" in English, though I remember a Dutch version from elementary school that basically just repeated the Dutch word for congratulations.
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#2016131 - 01/17/13 01:01 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: Mark...]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Mark...
Lets also talk about stems up vs down please.

Good idea. For anyone reading, think for a moment: what do you know about stems up and stems down? Have you noticed stems pointing in different directions in your music?

.

.

.

OK, now that you've thought about this a bit, here's the basic rule:

  • Notes on the third line or below are written with stems down.
  • Notes above the third line are written with stems up.


Here's the first refinement of the basic rule:

  • If there is a chord with some notes on or below the third line, and some notes above, then the stem goes in a visually pleasing direction. Look at the chord in measure 8 of Happy Birthday 1 as an example. (I suspect engravers have some precise guidelines for this -- MuseScore must have rules programmed into it -- but I don't know what they are.)


There are other refinements for more complicated music with runs of connected notes, or multiple voices, or indications for hands playing in the opposite clef, and so on. If anyone wants to fill those in here, please do. If you can link to a score showing an example, that would be great. Or we can wait until we meet examples in the music we're analyzing. Even if we talk about them now, I'll try to remember to point it out again when we meet them in future pieces.
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#2016136 - 01/17/13 01:18 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Stems are up when the notes are on the middle line of the staff or lower and down for notes on the middle line of the staff or higher.

The stems can also be used to distinguish voices if more than one voice is played on the one staff, stems up for upper voices, stem down for lower voices.

Tempo indications are not a requirement. The absence of tempo markings is not an issue. Even if the composer states the exact bpm or duration, in hh:mm:ss, of a piece it is only an indication. Always, always, the performer has precedence on tempo.

The notes before the first measure are the anacrusis, pickup, pick-up, upbeat or up-beat. The influence of the anacrusis on the length of the last measure is contentious. Traditionalists would prefer the length of the anacrusis to be removed from the last measure but modernists prefer the last measure to be a full one. You should be aware of both conventions but the older is dying in the face of modern scoring software.

I have no comment on the chords and inversions used.

I would prefer no fingering marks in any music not intended to teach fingering to the student. One of the first things I do when I start a new piece is remove any fingering marks that were clearly not geared for my hands and are going to interfere with my own choices.

If they're supplied by the composer and not the editor I will, of course, give them due respect. And then obliterate them. smile
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#2016137 - 01/17/13 01:19 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
keystring Offline
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Re: stems when some notes are above and others below the line in a chord:

There are definite rules. Generally you go by which note is the farthest away from the middle line, and this determines stem direction. The chord in measure 8 illustrates this. The lowest note in the bass chord is C, in the space just below the middle line. The highest note is middle C, which is far above the middle line. Therefore the stem is pointing down.

For notes sitting directly on the middle line, the stem can point up or down, and it's a toss-up, but the default I learned is that in general the default is "down". You consider the line as a whole. If everything else is pointing up, then the solution suggests itself. A lot of the rules in music are common sense. smile


Edited by keystring (01/17/13 04:48 PM)

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#2016145 - 01/17/13 01:33 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: zrtf90]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
I would prefer no fingering marks in any music not intended to teach fingering to the student. One of the first things I do when I start a new piece is remove any fingering marks that were clearly not geared for my hands and are going to interfere with my own choices.

I am always learning about fingering! I appreciate fingering in a score, and I always try it first. Even if it feels awkward I try to feel if it's better than the alternatives I come up with. That's because the fingering in the scores I get often has elegant solutions that I like better than what I come up with. On the other hand, I feel perfectly free to change the fingering if, after trying it, it really doesn't work for me, or if my choice seems about as good as what the score shows, but I like my choice better for whatever reason.

Here is Happy Birthday with fairly exhaustive right-hand fingering. When a fingering isn't shown, play the note with the same finger you used the last time. In measure 5, I have shown Allard's fingering as an alternate in parentheses. Actually I often play yet another fingering in measures 5 and 6: G E C B A as 5 3 2 1 2. I'll give Allard's fingering a try later when I can get to the piano. Try these out and see what you think, or if you like yet another way.

I would finger the chords as 531, except for the first chord in measure 7 which I would play as 521, and the final chord in measure 8 which I would play as either 5421 or 5321 (not sure which, until I can get to the piano and try them under my fingers. I think I have a standard way I do this, but I can't remember which it is).
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#2016163 - 01/17/13 02:08 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
sinophilia Offline

Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 944
Loc: Italy
The chord inversion topic might be interesting here. We could talk about 1st and 2nd inversions and how to identify them from the position of the root note.

Then... I always wonder what is the reason behind using chords with more than 3 notes. I often see 4- or 5-notes chords and octaves in the final measure as you did here, I guess it sounds better and you can stress the fact that you're moving back to the "home pitch" (tonic)?
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Martha Argerich... is an incarnation of the artistic metaphor of the "eternal feminine" that draws us upward. (Sergio Sablich)

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#2016169 - 01/17/13 02:19 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
keystring Offline
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About Stems:

You are going to see two conventions going on, which might be confusing if you only know the set of rules that was just talked about. When you have one voice in the RH and one voice or chords in the LH, then the rules are what PianoStudent88 has set out: notes above the middle line will have stems going down, and vice versa.

However, sometimes music will have two or more voices in the RH or LH. Think of an alto and soprano singer both sharing the treble clef. There isn't always a singer - sometimes a composer simply wants to bring out different "voices". In that case, the "singer" (voice) that is higher will have stems pointing up, and the "singer" (voice) that is lower will have stems pointing down, regardless of where the note heads are.

To illustrate this stem convention, I've taken the liberty of adding an alto singer to P88's arrangement. Here the "soprano" line has up-stems, and the "alto" line has down-stems. If you see this kind of stemming in music, that's what's going on. The chords are the same, but I've done some inversions which makes it easier to fit in the lower notes. I have primitive software which won't let me do things either, so I'm afraid it's written by hand.



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#2016184 - 01/17/13 02:46 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
Allard Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/12
Posts: 326
Loc: Netherlands
Here's a recording!

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Nobuo Uematsu - Aerith's Theme (Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections)

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#2016200 - 01/17/13 03:27 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Allard, thanks for the recording.

keystring, thanks for the two-voice example.

sinophilia, we'll definitely talk about inversions later but I don't want to say much about them yet until we meet more of them in the scores we're looking at, and people feel comfortable with root position chords. Thanks for bringing them up as a good topic. What do others think? Inversions now, or can they wait?
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#2016223 - 01/17/13 04:08 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
keystring Offline
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Posts: 11572
Loc: Canada
My view is coloured by my own background. I did rudiments before ever doing analysis. To me, understanding chords, intervals etc. feels a bit like understanding the alphabet and phonics being part of reading a novel and discussing its meaning or structure. You have already used inverted chords. It seems essential to be able to recognize chords in order to identify them in music. I could possibly put something together similar to what we had in RCM rudiments.

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#2016240 - 01/17/13 04:37 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
keystring Offline
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Loc: Canada
CHORDS - Inversions - basic

The most basic chords we learn are major and minor chords, which are triads in "root position". Probably everyone here has learned them that way. In my diagram, the first two chords in the RH are in root position, and the chord in the bass clef is in root position. Every chord in that diagram is some version of a C major triad (chord).

In root position, when the notes are as close together as possible, the chord looks like a snowman. Either the notes are all on adjacent spaces, or on adjacent lines. Letter names skip: C(D)E(F)G = CEG. The lowest note is the "root" and we identify the chord by the root. This chord, CEG is a C chord. Because C to E is a major third, it is a C major chord.

If the middle note (E) is on the bottom as in the 3rd chord of the first measure, then this is known as "first inversion". In letter chord notation it's written as C/E which means "C major chord with E on the bottom".

If the middle note (G) is on the bottom as in the last chord of the first measure, then this is known as "second inversion". In letter chord notation it's written as C/G which means "C major chord with G on the bottom".

The important thing for what we are doing is to realize that any chord that has the notes C,E and G, and only those notes, is the C major chord. It doesn't matter what order the notes are in, or how many of each note you see - it's a C major chord.

The second measure shows some random arrangements of the C major chord. When I taught theory, the book introduced these "open chords" late, and it was disorienting, because people will associate chords with the shapes of the first measure. That's why I think it is important to know from the very beginning that the chord is what it is if it contains all the notes of that chord in any order.

Clear as mud? Questions?


Edited by keystring (01/17/13 04:37 PM)

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#2016324 - 01/17/13 08:18 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
No nibbles on my Happy Birthday 1 questions? Even to say "huh?! I can't even begin to answer these questions!?!"

I am worried that I may have started with the wrong approach. I'll give it another 12 hours or so to see if the original approach is workable (by seeing if/what anyone posts). If not, I'll re-start from a different angle, starting with information instead of questions.
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#2016343 - 01/17/13 09:07 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
Valencia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 244

2. Time signature: What is the time signature? What does that mean?

3/4 time--3 quarter beats per measure. (what is another name for a quarter beat...a crochet? or a quaver??)

3. Key: What key is this in? How do you know?

I would guess C major, because it has no sharps or flats, and I happen to remember that C major has no sharps or flats. is that the only key with no sharps or flats?

4. Melody: What phrases (smaller groups) does the melody divide into? Where would you put slight pauses in playing it? Where is the climax? Would you play any parts of it louder or softer?

If I didn't already know the sound of this piece, I'm not sure i would know how to determine this. Looking at the score, I might think that the half notes in the right hand indicate the end of a phrase just because it's a longer note than the notes before it. (but would i have said that if i didn't already know the song? I'm not sure...). I don't know how you would determine the climax of the piece just through the score....


5. Harmony: What are the names of the chords in each measure? For this initial piece, just consider the notes in the bass clef. (Later on we'll ask about the notes in the treble clef too.) What is the first chord? What is the last chord?

No idea about this question! Except that I see keystring's post relates to this so I'll will go back and study that. smile

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#2016414 - 01/17/13 11:15 PM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
JF Playing Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/07/13
Posts: 4
Loc: Calgary/Canada
Analysis! A great Idea to really get it! (Theory) Count me in. Reading what we have to far is quite enlightening. I will contribute as I can being quite inexperienced.
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Playing since: Jan 2013 ( But had a few years playing as a kid. )

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#2016461 - 01/18/13 01:45 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
Allard Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/12
Posts: 326
Loc: Netherlands
Key: C major. There are no sharps or flats. Chords are all major. The final note is a C and the final chord is C major with a closing C added.

Melody: there are lyrics, so naturally each sentence would be a phrase. You can also clearly make out the pattern of each phrase: two eighth notes, three quarter notes and one half note, which is oddly split up in the third phrase. Otherwise the piece is highly patterned.

Harmony: keystring explains how you can recognise the chords. In this piece: C, G, G, C, C, F, C, G, C. The C chord in measure 7 is an inversion, since the G is lowest. The final C chord has another C added and will sound quite pleasing when played arpeggio (low C first, then quickly adding each next note until all five notes sound).

Playing: Happy Birthday is not very fast and even with the left hand changes quite playable. Noteworthy (har har) points are the octave stretch between measure 4 and 5, the following descent from high G to middle A, the high C chord clashing with the right hand just having played the G, and the final chord switch in only one beat. Those with small hands might have trouble with the final C chord; just play CEG instead, or play the chord arpeggio.
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Nobuo Uematsu - Aerith's Theme (Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections)

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#2016471 - 01/18/13 02:24 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
sinophilia Offline

Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 944
Loc: Italy
Thank you keystring! I have a little thing to add.

A useful method to see whether a chord is in 1st or 2nd inversion and identify the root (without having to remember or work out all three notes of each chord), is to check the intervals:
1) a chord in root position is made up of 2 equal intervals = 2 thirds (which can be major or minor but that's another matter), and the root note is the bottom one
2) an inverted chord is made up of 2 intervals of different length:
- 1st inversion: third + fourth = root note is the top one
- 2nd inversion: fourth + third = root note is the middle one
This makes it easy to visualize inversions when you see the notes on the staff. They look different, as in keystring's example (first measure). The pattern, from bottom to top, is short-short (root position), short-long (1st inversion), long-short (2nd inversion).

Of course I'm talking about 3-note chords (triads), haven't gone into larger chords yet...

(I apologize if my English is not clear enough)
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Diana & Wally - Yamaha W110BW
Martha Argerich... is an incarnation of the artistic metaphor of the "eternal feminine" that draws us upward. (Sergio Sablich)

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#2016473 - 01/18/13 02:29 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
JohnSprung Offline
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Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1253
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88

Yes, I would much rather have left those rests out, but I couldn't figure out how to do that in MuseScore. Anyone know how to do that?


Yes: Left click on the undesired rest (or whatever other item), then right click. A menu appears from which you can choose "Set Invisible" or some such thing having to do with "Invisible".

On the screen, the offending item is grayed out to a light gray so you can find it again and make it visible if you need to later. But it doesn't print out on paper.

There's a MuseScore forum like this that's full of helpful answers, and people who know the kinks and tricks.
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Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
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#2016474 - 01/18/13 02:34 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
sinophilia Offline

Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 944
Loc: Italy
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88

5. Harmony: What are the names of the chords in each measure? For this initial piece, just consider the notes in the bass clef. (Later on we'll ask about the notes in the treble clef too.) What is the first chord? What is the last chord?


Chords are:
C - G - G - C
C - F - C - G - C

According to position of the chords on the C scale (since the song is in C), the progression is:
I - V - V - I
I - IV - I - V - I

The first and last chords are both C as you're supposed to go back to the tonic (1st note of the scale) at the end. The final chord is actually the one that helps more with identifying the key signature, while the first one could have been a different one.
_________________________
Diana & Wally - Yamaha W110BW
Martha Argerich... is an incarnation of the artistic metaphor of the "eternal feminine" that draws us upward. (Sergio Sablich)

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#2016475 - 01/18/13 02:37 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1253
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
-- MuseScore must have rules programmed into it -- but I don't know what they are.)


In addition to the ones you list, MuseScore puts the stems of different voices in opposite directions. And there must be a few more rules programmed into it. If you don't like the direction it puts a stem, click on the stem to select it, then hit the "x" key to flip it the other way. "x" also works on pretty much any other flippable item, like ties and slurs.

I take my stems as they come most of the time, but do flip them if it looks better because of chord symbols, lyrics, or other items being overwritten or too close.
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2016480 - 01/18/13 02:56 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: JohnSprung]
Cassiesmom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/12
Posts: 55
Loc: Mid Atlantic, US.
I'll definitely be following along and would be open to any level piece for analysis.-not sure I can add much yet though. The Chord Inversion explanation from Keystring was super helpful.

I like Malkin's suggestion to post a new thread for each new piece we begin.

Hey..I do have a question. Valencia noted that she only knew where the climax was because she knows the piece.. ditto for me (at least I'm assuming it starts 1/2 way through measure 6 till the end(ish)?)... can you elaborate on what is meant by the climax ?..how to find-especially in a longer song. (and why do I need to be concerned/aware of where it is?) is it one definitive moment in a piece or in a longer piece are their numerous climaxes, like for each section?. and is it subjective to each perfomer/listener or a universal accepted section?..

sorry.. I suspect I'm getting bogged down in the tiny details.

I'm back to the piano after a long time and some of the vocabulary is surprisingly unfamiliar when I think about what things really mean. When you learn as a child I think you can understand quickly without over thinking like we do as adults.

oh and I had no idea there was a rule about the stem direction. I can tell I'll learn a lot here. !

.
Thanks for the thread (and invite) PS88 smile
Regards,
c.

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#2016495 - 01/18/13 03:15 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1253
Loc: Reseda, California
OK, I got "Lili Marlene" together for this thread, here's my first attempt at attaching files....


Nope, the file uploader is broken yet again.

Anyhow, I have it in .MSCZ, .XML, and .PDF, but none of them have URL's. (There's a picture attachment button, but it demands an URL.)

I'll post them as soon as someone tells me how to make it work.



Edited by JohnSprung (01/18/13 03:23 AM)
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2016506 - 01/18/13 03:37 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: keystring]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1253
Loc: Reseda, California
The slash chord notation is used to specify inversions, but also to add any bottom note you want. For instance, Cm6/B would be a dissonant chord consisting of a plain old Cm6 in root position with the B below it added. Cm6/F would have F on the bottom, then G, A, C, and Eb. I believe that would be called a second inversion of the Cm6, with the F added below it. Of course, these super wierd dissonant chords are only used very rarely.
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2016529 - 01/18/13 05:26 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: JohnSprung]
dire tonic Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1162
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: JohnSprung
The slash chord notation is used to specify inversions, but also to add any bottom note you want. For instance, Cm6/B would be a dissonant chord consisting of a plain old Cm6 in root position with the B below it added. Cm6/F would have F on the bottom, then G, A, C, and Eb. I believe that would be called a second inversion of the Cm6, with the F added below it. Of course, these super wierd dissonant chords are only used very rarely.



Cm6/F = F9, an everyday chord for many.


The Cm6/B might sound weird when you first play the Cm6 only adding the the B bass note afterwards but a lot depends on context. If you resolve it to Em (E note at top) it begins to make some sense. If further, before resolving, you drop the G note to a passing F# note it becomes quite familiar.

I think it's important to 'mess around' with chords. Experimentation leads to some of the most valuable insights, often a chain reaction of understanding.

Can anyone think of an experiment which flows from the Cm6/B observation above?

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#2016546 - 01/18/13 07:04 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
Greener Offline

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014


Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1166
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By: JohnSprung

I'll post them as soon as someone tells me how to make it work.

Hi John, if you have a box account (box.com) or simalar (box is free to set up) you can upload it there and the share button will provide a link. Or, email it to me and I'll post it.
Originally Posted By: JohnSprung
The slash chord notation is used to specify inversions, but also to add any bottom note you want. For instance, Cm6/B would be a dissonant chord consisting of a plain old Cm6 in root position with the B below it added. Cm6/F would have F on the bottom, then G, A, C, and Eb
...

Yes, kinda. But there is no B in a Cm6, so I would want to call this something else. Similarly Cm6/F ... there is no F in a Cm6, and I would want to account for it in the chord name. As Diretonic has mentioned, F9 would work better smile
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#2016579 - 01/18/13 08:43 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: malkin]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: malkin
What do you think about starting a new thread with each new piece or group of pieces? It can be intimidating for people to jump in on a thread with 87 pages of history.
This issue is being discussed in the 'other' analysis thread.

The number of pages doesn't seem to have deterred the pepole on the Alfred's threads. And no-one is expected to have to trawl through so many pages before asking a question again. It's never been a problem on any of the ABF threads that I've read.

On the other hand, keeping the the discussions together makes it easier to trawl though many pages on one thread than many pages of thread topics looking for a particular piece.

It would be no great hardship for someone active on the thread to update an index whenever a new piece was started to append dates and pieces/topics covered. This way new arrivals would see an indexed post every other page or so detailing what has been covered and the dates where the salient topics begin.
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#2016583 - 01/18/13 08:55 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: JohnSprung]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: JohnSprung
Nope, the file uploader is broken yet again.

Odd. It was working for me yesterday, several times.

When you do manage to upload them, if you link them just as links instead of inline images, that will keep the pagewidth from exploding horizontally, which can make the thread hard to read.
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Ebaug(maj7)

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#2016590 - 01/18/13 09:16 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
We might hold off on Lili Marlene until we've finished Happy Birthday and started on the Burgmüller.

I have something to say on Happy Birthday.

_________________________
Richard

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#2016597 - 01/18/13 09:33 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: Cassiesmom]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Cassiesmom
Hey..I do have a question. Valencia noted that she only knew where the climax was because she knows the piece.. ditto for me (at least I'm assuming it starts 1/2 way through measure 6 till the end(ish)?)... can you elaborate on what is meant by the climax ?..how to find-especially in a longer song. (and why do I need to be concerned/aware of where it is?) is it one definitive moment in a piece or in a longer piece are their numerous climaxes, like for each section?. and is it subjective to each perfomer/listener or a universal accepted section?..

sorry.. I suspect I'm getting bogged down in the tiny details.

Welcome, Cassiesmom. Glad you've joined us. No, I don't think these are tiny details at all. Excellent questions.

I don't have good rules I can articulate for finding the climax in any piece, but sometimes it might be at the highest note in a piece, or at the loudest point, or at the most discordant harmony. I learned to think about climax from Richard (zrtf90), so he might have some more ideas on this.

As we work with more pieces, we'll find out more about how to find the climax, I think.

In Happy Birthday, I think the climax is on "birth-" on the first note of m.5. I think that because of how I sing it. But once I've identified that from how I sing it, I notice that it is also the highest note of the piece. And other people might sing it differently, emphasizing something else as the climax.

By climax, I mean... hmmm, what do I mean? The most-emphasized part, the most dramatic part, the part the piece builds towards and then relaxes away from... something like that.

I think there can be multiple climaxes in a piece. Perhaps one would be bigger than the others. Rachmaninoff, AIUI, felt that there should be just one climax in a piece. At least, he follows this principle in his liturgical choral work, the Vespers. But he wouldn't have had to articulate that as a principle he followed unless others were putting in multiple climaxes smile . In the shorter pieces we'll probably mostly be working with, I expect we'll probably also find only one climax per piece, but I wouldn't put that down as a hard and fast rule.

I think where the climax is is open to interpretation, so different people might find the climax (or multiple climaxes) in different places. However since I think there are musical principles underlying how you determine the climax, it's something that can be discussed and perhaps swaying people to a different point of view.

There's an example in Bach's Prelude in C Major where Richard thinks the climax is one place (highest note in the second half of the piece), and I think it's a measure earlier (most discordant harmony). Richard probably thinks I'm wronger than a wrong thing is wrong, but I hold to my position. Our difference is rooted in that Richard analyses the Prelude mostly in melodic terms, and I analyse it mostly in harmonic terms.

Climax is important because it tells you where a piece is building towards, and where the piece is ebbing away from. Once you've identified the climax, you can look for ways to emphasize the climax, whether with dynamics, or accents, or articulation (staccato, legato, etc.), or pedaling, or tempo (perhaps slowing down, or speeding up), etc. Or it can go the other way: the composer might give you all those indications, and from them you realize musically why they're there: they're pointing out the climax. Then they become meaningful indications, and not just "oh the composer says slow down and get louder here, I wonder why".
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2016601 - 01/18/13 09:40 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
Allard Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/12
Posts: 326
Loc: Netherlands
In that light, I would argue for placing the climax on our birthday boy here. The first three phrases are ascending in pitch, with a higher "to" in the second phrase and a higher "birth-" in the third. This leads to the molto ritardando where you sing the person's name and hold for emphasis. The fourth phrase brings us down to the closing C.
_________________________
David Lanz - Dream of the Forgotten Child
Nobuo Uematsu - Aerith's Theme (Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections)

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#2016608 - 01/18/13 09:49 AM Re: Starting out with analysis, all invited [Re: PianoStudent88]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Overview
From the answers so far it is apparent the much has been and can be taken for granted, overlooked, or misunderstood not just about music and the theory behind it but about the notation system as well. How useful it is to have a thread like this where we can catch up on details that need to be shelved while we start to learn this instrument.

Time signature
Explicitly, the 3/4 means there are three beats to the bar, each the length of a quarter note or crotchet. It is unfortunate that the American system names the notes on their proportion to a measure of common time and the English system on their proportion to the length of a breve, a note no longer used but is twice the length, hence the semibreve is a whole note.

Implicitly, 3/4 means that the first beat is stronger than the next two. When a crotchet is split in two the second quaver, in this song the second syllable of ‘Happy’, doesn’t fall on a beat and so is weaker still.

Key signature
Here there are no sharps or flats in the key signature. The key signature always points to one of two keys, one major and one minor. We use the harmony of the final notes as primary evidence and the initial harmony as a secondary guide to key and here we have C major in both last and first measures.

Melody
This is a well known song and its phrases are easily recognised. But how do we find the phrases in unfamiliar music? The last notes of a phrase form a cadence. We will cover cadences in more detail at some stage but they are frequently occurring progressions of melody or harmony that have the same effect as inflexion in speech and punctuation in text.
What is a climax and where is it? In normal speech every sentence has a climax to avoid us speaking in a monotone. Most words even have their own accentuation. ‘Musicology’ has its own climax on the antepenultimate syllable, musi-COL-ogy, in English but on the final syllable in French (actually it is said without accent in French but to the English ear that makes it sound like the accent occurs at the end). It is the high point in the emotion or emphasis of the sentence. In music every phrase has a climax, every section has a climax and the piece as a whole has a climax. Where it occurs is up to the performer. If it’s not there the performance sounds dull and flat. If it occurs in an unconventional place it gives the tune a ‘foreign’ accent. It is said that Chopin’s Mazurkas cannot be correctly played without being able to speak Polish.
The climax in each of the first two phrases of the song is likely to be on ‘Birth’, the first downbeat of the phrase. If I were playing this as a wordless piece of music I would seriously consider the penultimate note in each of these phrase.
The main climax of the song is most likely to be on the dedicatee’s name in the third phrase but, again, as a wordless piece of music I would consider the octave G at the start of the phrase the most beautiful sound of the song from which the last two phrases climb down.

Harmony
We have identified the chords of the song as being the tonic, C major, the dominant, G major and the subdominant, F major. The dominant gives us an unsettled feeling and longs to return to the tonic with drop of a fifth in the root and the leading note rising a semitone. The subdominant is a softer version. It is also a fifth away from the tonic, but it rises a fifth rather than falls a fifth and there is no leading note effect so it’s not simply an inverse version of the same thing.

Despite its apparent simplicity there's a lot going on in this song. Music depends very much on repetition, sequence and alteration of its core components, rhythm, melody and harmony. This song encapsulates what makes music work.

The first line sets up the home or tonic key of C and the basic rhythm of the piece, (di-di dum, dum, dum, dah) and lands on the dominant G. The melody lands on the leading note, B and wants to return to C. We would rather the melody had gone from B to C but this turn of events has created tension in the very first line. We need this tension released and so we have an expectation of more to come. The music is driving forward.

The second line repeats the rhythm and sets us up to expect a repeat of the first line but instead it jumps up to D and returns to C. This is very uplifting and releases the tension created in the first line. We're much happier now and are back home again on the tonic chord but the song is not over. The descent from D to C (2-1) on its own does not satisfy us. Had the fourth note, 'day', occurred on E instead of G, the descent 3-2-1 would have satisfied us but now we are left feeling a little empty. We still need more.

The start of the third line raises our expectation of yet another repeat but that would be too predictable and boring at this stage. We couldn't tolerate that and need a change. Then we unexpectedly jump up a whole octave here. Wow, what a pleasant surprise! The song reaches its climax, staying in tonic harmony but on the dominant note, G, and then descending gently though the tonic triad toward the end of the line and then...

Oh dear, we're thrown into disarray again as we land on a stunning appoggiatura, B, over the subdominant chord, F. An appoggiatura, apart from being a long grace note (as opposed to the short acciaccatura) is a non-chord note creating a dissonance that needs to be resolved. The chord notes in F major are F-A-C. The B in the melody is therefore a non-chord note that resolves to A on the next beat. Most appoggiaturas occur on the second, fourth or seventh tone.
As well as the harmonic carpet being pulled from under our feet we also have to contend with the change in rhythm on this line (di-di dum, dum, dum, dee, dum) and the melodic shape (consecutive descending notes). There is a natural pause here as the B falls to A and we catch our breath from the aftermath. We are crying out for relief!

And relief comes with the fourth line, harking back to the climactic G we just heard, with a leap to F and heralding a glorious stepwise sequence back from the dominant to the tonic C, here interrupted only by a breathing note C between the E and D (which could also have repeated the E). The rhythm and melodic shape has also been restored. No wonder this is one of the most recognisable songs in the English language!

This is essentially what music is all about; creating tension by a move away from tonic, usually to the dominant, and releasing that tension by a resolution back to tonic via either a stepwise descent, normally from the fifth, 5-4-3-2-1, or the third, 3-2-1, or via the leading note 7-8 or 5-6-7-8.

The form of this song we call AABA and it recurs frequently in Western music. It is simple, satisfying and logical. It is amenable to tremendous elaboration and forms the basic underlying form of such mighty works as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Rhythm
Of the three elements rhythm is the most important. We can change or remove the melody and it can still be recognised as music. We can change or remove the harmony and it would still be recognised as music. But that rhythm makes music on its own:

di-di dum, dum, dum, dah
di-di dum, dum, dum, dah
di-di dum, dum, dum, dee, dum
di-di dum, dum, dum, dah


Don't learn to play and then try to count while you're playing. Learn to count, feel the rhythm and then learn to play while counting.
_________________________
Richard

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