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Thread: Instruments thread?

  1. #1

    Default Instruments thread?

    Yo. I'm learning to play the piano by simply learning to play some songs and watching some videos. I have a question. What are the point of chords? I ask becuase I've noticed that I can play the same melody with "stripped down" notes. Like instead of a chord progression, I can simply play a single note in each chord triad and get the same basic melody. Is there also a general term for this phenomenon?
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    Chords are basically just notes that sound good together; their basic purpose is to enrich and add depth to the sound. You'll notice that when you play two notes that are one or a half step apart on the staff the sound dissonant, but notes that are two steps apart often go together much better.

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  3. #3

    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    Maybe the terms you're looking for are melody vs. harmony? I don't know; it's such a basic concept that shouldn't be hard to intuitively hear even without music knowledge. A barebones melody does not compare to a harmonized melody with chords and such.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    Sometimes one or two note changes in a chord make all the difference in the emotion and feeling of a song. Old video, but this demonstrates it.
    Spoiler:
    Chords are like the landscape of a painting while the melody takes centre stage. They enhance the melody and help communicate the emotions the artist is trying to convey. Slight changes or additions or subtractions will change that message. Off the top of my head, I can think of Sail to the Moon by Radiohead which starts off with some great chords that begin to tell the story, it has a serene, ethereal feel to them where you can almost picture the lake, the sunset, the sailboat with just a hint of a bittersweet feeling etc. TL;DR - EMOTIONS.
    Last edited by Femme; July 8th, 2016 at 02:29 AM.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    thx for the responses But lol, I know what chords are and what they do. So basically, they just add depth and richness to the song for emotion? I was overthinking it because I usually just tend to play the main melody stripped down without using triads. anyway, I might come back with more questions
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Instruments thread?

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  7. #7

    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    So I'm learning the piano. I know how C major and c minor scales work. But I don't get how C sharp scales work when it comes to degrees. Like, for C major, you start with C as the tonic (1), and then F as the subdominant (4), and G as the dominant (5), and C being the octave (8). Which means that you have to find the third, which is E, and you get a C major chord (CEG). For minor, you simply go a halftonic/halfstep back and hit E flat. But when you use a C# scale, it doesn't follow the rule of full tonics and all that. For instance: The 1, 2, and 3 follow tonic steps, but between the 3 and the 4, their is only a semi-tonic step - and this is in a major scale. Is it because F is technically supposed to be E#, thus explaining it? But even then, wouldn't E# to F# still just be a semi-tonic step, since E# is just F. Is it worth even knowing this stuff? I have sounds in my head but bringing it down to an instrument is important, so I'm assuming music theory is important to learn since it could help with figuring out which note to use, and since it could help with creating new songs from scratch.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    Not sure what you mean. When you go from the C to C# scale, you're just shifting every single note up a half-step. In any key you'll get identical relationships between the notes of a scale. In C major you have a half-step between the 3rd and 4th note (E and F), which is exactly the same as the half-step between F and F# in a C# major scale.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    At this point, I'm trying to figure out how to play a song in your head by ear.

    I have melodies in my head, but trying to translate them to written musical notes (I use a piano) is a pain. Will utilizing tonics/circle of fifths help? I'm getting used to dominant tones, subdominant, the 1,4,5 based on the C scale. But I'm very rudimentary on this. And many famous songwriters apparently aren't that fluent in music theory anyway - not that I'm using it as an excuse.

    Anyone have advice on how to get melodies from your head to an instrument (preferrably piano)?
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShinigamiKing View Post
    At this point, I'm trying to figure out how to play a song in your head by ear.

    I have melodies in my head, but trying to translate them to written musical notes (I use a piano) is a pain. Will utilizing tonics/circle of fifths help? I'm getting used to dominant tones, subdominant, the 1,4,5 based on the C scale. But I'm very rudimentary on this. And many famous songwriters apparently aren't that fluent in music theory anyway - not that I'm using it as an excuse.

    Anyone have advice on how to get melodies from your head to an instrument (preferrably piano)?
    Probably practice. But if you were learning to play an instrument from a teacher things might come a little easier, since this is all music theory stuff. Then again, I only learned this in a classroom setting in high school and wouldn't dare to try learning it on my own, since this stuff can get as complicated as math.
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    Quote Originally Posted by Femme View Post
    Probably practice. But if you were learning to play an instrument from a teacher things might come a little easier, since this is all music theory stuff. Then again, I only learned this in a classroom setting in high school and wouldn't dare to try learning it on my own, since this stuff can get as complicated as math.
    Damn. So I should just play around with tonic scales and stuff?
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    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShinigamiKing View Post
    Damn. So I should just play around with tonic scales and stuff?
    I'm defffffinately not qualified to give recommendations :P but I think having a teacher is always a good idea. Perhaps other musicians here at AP can give better advice, sorry x_x
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    Okay, so I learned that being able to play by ear is "relative ear".

    I'm still getting used to learning how to recognize how far a tone/interval is from another when I'm listening to a melody, without it being an endless trial and error.

    People say that learning the 12 major scales makes this process easier. It's weird though, because whenever I play songs, I usually use single keys; I never use chords. Are chords really necessary? Or are they just done for the harmonic/enriching effect?
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    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShinigamiKing View Post
    Okay, so I learned that being able to play by ear is "relative ear".

    I'm still getting used to learning how to recognize how far a tone/interval is from another when I'm listening to a melody, without it being an endless trial and error.

    People say that learning the 12 major scales makes this process easier. It's weird though, because whenever I play songs, I usually use single keys; I never use chords. Are chords really necessary? Or are they just done for the harmonic/enriching effect?
    I think you're confusing Melody vs. Harmony.

    The melody is the main part of a song that mostly has one set of notes, like if you sang "Twinkle twinkle little star". That is the melody.

    The harmony is chords or other notes that go along with and complement the melody. Like if you were singing Bohemian Rhapsody's "Is this the real life" the top bars is the melody, so thats B flat, B flat, B flat, B flat. The bottom two are the harmony which complement the melody.

    So yes, if you want to learn the melody you would play one set of notes, but to play the song fully, yes, you need to play the chords, or else you're just playing the melody.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    Quote Originally Posted by Femme View Post
    I think you're confusing Melody vs. Harmony.

    The melody is the main part of a song that mostly has one set of notes, like if you sang "Twinkle twinkle little star". That is the melody.

    The harmony is chords or other notes that go along with and complement the melody. Like if you were singing Bohemian Rhapsody's "Is this the real life" the top bars is the melody, so thats B flat, B flat, B flat, B flat. The bottom two are the harmony which complement the melody.

    So yes, if you want to learn the melody you would play one set of notes, but to play the song fully, yes, you need to play the chords, or else you're just playing the melody.
    Thanks for clearing that up.

    That being said, do you know how to find the interval distances easier then?
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShinigamiKing View Post
    Thanks for clearing that up.

    That being said, do you know how to find the interval distances easier then?
    What do you mean by interval distances?
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  17. #17

    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    Quote Originally Posted by Femme View Post
    What do you mean by interval distances?
    Figuring out how far a tone is from another (e.g. trying to figure out d is the next note after b, or if it's d#).


    Basically, is there an easier path to getting a good relative ear?
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShinigamiKing View Post
    Figuring out how far a tone is from another (e.g. trying to figure out d is the next note after b, or if it's d#).


    Basically, is there an easier path to getting a good relative ear?
    Not sure about that, but to be honest, I feel like you should be concentrating on the basics before you get to playing by ear. Master the basics of piano first, then do the other stuff later.
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    We have a piano in my house. I really should practice more . . . .

  20. #20

    Default Re: Instruments thread?

    Quote Originally Posted by Femme View Post
    Not sure about that, but to be honest, I feel like you should be concentrating on the basics before you get to playing by ear. Master the basics of piano first, then do the other stuff later.
    Which basics do you mean?

    I'm not really interested in even learning to play with both hands right now, so much as I want to know how to translate melodies in my head onto the machine - unless it's recommended otherwise.
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