Join Julian Velard for an in-depth discussion in this video Why music theory?, part of Music Theory for Songwriters: Harmony.
- Traditionally, the study of music theory is reserved for the worlds of classical and jazz music. There's also a line of thinking, that learning the way music works will somehow lessen one's capability for inspiration, and force a set of rules onto the songwriting process. Instead, I've found that rather than ruin the mystique of the process, music theory gives me a deeper insight into why certain songs sound good, or bad. Or perhaps, most importantly, why I like them. Music theory is a toolkit for songwriting, not a rulebook.
Just as you wouldn't try to build a house, without an understanding of architecture, learning the common practices of song construction can only help make you a better songwriter. Furthermore, by expanding your awareness of the vast harmonic palette at you disposal, it's my hope you'll be inspired to write new and exciting types of songs you never would have thought of before. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide the ways you want to use the tools of music theory. There is no right or wrong when it comes to songwriting. All that matters is what sounds good to you, and to the people listening to your song.
Music theory will help you not only understand how to write the types of songs you wanna write, it will show you techniques to better connect your song's message to the listener.
In this installment, musician Julian Velard digs into more intermediate-level music theory topics. Starting with minor scales, he shows examples of classic songs in minor keys, and then explores the modes of the diatonic scale (e.g., the mixolydian mode). Next, Julian dives into chords with 4 or more notes, covering 7th chords, chord extensions (e.g., 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths), suspended chords, diminished chords, augmented chords, and inversions. Finally, he covers key centers, modulations, pedal points, alternate bass notes, and polychords. At the end of each chapter, Julian explains the techniques shown within the context of his own original songs.
- Working in minor scales
- Using Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, and Mixolydian modes to write songs
- Extending chords
- Using 7th chords in a song
- Transposing a song
- Building different harmonies from a single melody