TonalityGUIDE - basic tonal music theory and analysis for undergraduates
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Chords and Scales
introduction diatonic scales triads diatonic chords chromatic chords embellished chords

The Reference Guide and the ToolKIT are designed to be used together to help cement your knowledge of how tonal music works.

Much of the reference guide is organised into different types of chord progressions, but it presumes some understanding of voice-leading. It is important that you look at the substantial introduction to this subject before browsing around the rest of site:

Understanding Voice-leading

As well as reading the more general Introduction to Tonality, you will probably need to look at the way in which chords and voice-leading are labelled in TonalityGUIDE - a mixture of Roman numerals and figured bass.

Chord Identification

Why Scales?
Historically, Western music has been discussed largely in terms of interacting melodic lines. While the progressions of chords that are the result of these interactions have always been extremely important (particularly the concept of consonant and dissonant combinations), the first treatises on harmony as it is commonly taught today did not appear until the eighteenth century.

A variety of different scales were employed by Western musicians up to around 1600, when major and minor started to predominate. These two scales are part of a group of so-called church modes that began to be codified some time in the ninth century. The church modes each have a note (sometimes called the final) on which pieces written using them tend to end. The idea of having a chord towards which the music gravitates became increasingly important in music after 1600.

When we say a piece is 'in a key', we mean that a particular note and chord lies at the centre of gravity of the music. As discussed in the Introduction to Tonality, this sense comes from the hierarchical relationships established between notes and chords constructed from major or minor scales. These relationships are only meaningful in the context of the tonal music that has created them, but this section of the reference guide explains the organisation of the pitches of the scale on which they are ultimately based.

The Tonality GUIDE tonal music analysis tool kit
information and orientation as you browse around
chord identification
understanding voice-leading
style awareness

© Copyright Thomas Pankhurst

TonalityGUIDE - Tonal Harmony and Voiceleading - Table of Contents