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Basic Music Theory

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Harper Office

The office is cheerful, the light reflecting off of whitewashed walls and ceiling.  A pattern mimicking musical notation in colors runs along the tops of the walls, shelf upon shelf rising from the floor to meet it.  Desks, cabinets and filing drawers are arranged about the room, workplaces for those whose job it is to keep the harpers and hall in order. The air is fresh, tangy with sea and hides and well-seasoned woods. The window looks out over Main Beach . Through the open window, you notice that  It is a spring afternoon. You see Sign-up Sheet for B'var's Orchestra and Staff  Tackboard here. Caramak and Jayla are here.

Amber Lightshine blinks in from ::between::! Amber Lightshine swoops up to a shelf to listen. If you're
 lucky, she might even sing for you.

Caramak grins.  "I use that a lot when I'm improvising...That or chromatics.  But really, those work the same way, pretty much.  Like if I wanted to get from C to Bb, I could play a C major chord, a B dominant seventh chord (B major triad with a flat seventh) and then Bb.  Or I could play C major F dominant seventh and Bb.  What makes those two chords, B and F, function the same, is the fact that the third of B, D# is the same as the seventh of F, Eb, and the third of F, A is the seventh of the F7 chord.  And those are what resolve, A to Bb, and Eb to D, to the root and third of Bb...


Amber Lightshine preens and thinks this is all very cool.

Jayla sits back and shakes her head and laughs.  "Are you sure I need /all/ this to be an effective performer?  But, I am still
 following you so far...so teach on!"


Caramak grins and shrugs.  "You can get by just playing by ear...But knowing what I'm doing ensures that even on my bad days I don't sound too awful..."

Jayla laughs.  "Okay....well, that's why I'm here...to learn from the best..."  She smiles broadly, her green eyes twinkling.

Caramak nods.  "Ok.  We haven't gotten to minor scales, really, yet.  Do you know the different types?"

Jayla shakes her head.  "No...basically most of my previous training dealt only with the major scales."

Caramak grins broadly.  "Then it's time you learned...Personally,  I think there's a whole lot more you can do with minor keys than major...Just in the fact that you can play any of the minor scales or minor modes...We'll get to modes in a minute.  But the most basic minor scale is 'natural minor', which is the same as a major scale started on the sixth note...So A natural minor has the same notes as C major."

Jayla laughs at Caramak.  "You're really enjoying this, aren't you."  She becomes serious again and listens attentively.  "Okay, go on..."

Caramak winks to Jayla.  "Darn right I am.  The other way to get a minor scale is to take the major scale and lower the third, sixth and seventh.  It produces the same effect, it's just a different way to think about it...Whichever way is easier, use."

Jayla says, "Okay...I understand..."

Caramak nods.  "Now, that's natural minor.  Harmonic minor is the same as natural minor, only with the seventh raised.  So G to G# in A minor.  Which is a rather unusual scale, in that it has not just whole steps and half steps, but a minor third between the sixth and seventh."  


Jayla nods.  "A harmonic minor would be one that you would use if you wanted a song to get someone's attention, wouldn't it...sorta create a mood or feeling so the song would be more memorable?  Such as something satirical?"

Amber Lightshine always uses harmonic minor.. or at least when the harpers around her are trying to play in major.

Caramak grins.  "I like harmonic minor, personally.  It's definitely a good way to get attention."

Jayla smiles and nods.  

Caramak says, "Anyway, there's one more common form of minor, and that's 'melodic' minor.  Which is /really/ odd, it's different going up and going down.  Going down, it's the same as natural minor.  But going up, the seventh and sixth are both raised again, so in A it'd be F# and G#..."

Jayla says, "Hmmm....is that something that you use very often?"

Caramak nods, "It's fairly common, actually.  The point of the different ascending and descending scales is that if you're resolving a phrase to the tonic, you want a half-step resolution from below, hence the raises seventh.  And the sixth raised as well to eliminate the minor third gap.  And when you want to resolve a phrase to the dominant, E in A minor, you want the half step resolution from above, so you want the F natural..."


Jayla nods her head.  "Okay, that makes sense... It goes back to what you told me at the first....you're bringing everything to a

Caramak nods.  "Exactly...But of course, it can't just be that simple...There are the modes, too.  For instance, if we go back to C major...The scale that starts on the second degree but has the same notes as C is called 'D dorian', and is a different type of minor scale..."

Jayla mutters to herself..."no, it can't be simple...."  She grins slightly and tries to get more comfortable as she listens...

Caramak nods. "So there are seven modes derived from the major...the first one is just a major scale, called the Ionian mode.  The second is Dorian, the third Phrygian, then Mixolydian, Lydian, Aeolian, and Locrian.  And these scales take their qualities from their triads.  So dorian, phrygian and aeolian are minor...Aeolian, I should also point out, is the same thing as natural minor, just under a different name."

Jayla grins at the different names.  "Okay...go on..."

Caramak considers.  Hm, where to go next...?  "That's a whole lot to absorb for one lesson, Jayla.  I could go on to all sorts of different types of chords and scales  that have no relation to major scales, to 7 flat 9 chords and stuff...But I'm a little worried about overloading you."

Jayla grins.  "Yes....you've given me plenty to remember for one day...I hope you can tell how much I've learned the next time you hear me play!"

Caramak grins.  "So do I...Getting fluent with all this stuff is a lot of work, and not often too much fun..."

Jayla looks up and smiles.  "Well, I don't know about you, but I use a glass of wine after this."

Caramak nods.  "So could I.  Mug or Cloudscraper?"

Jayla stands up and stretches, a little stiff from sitting on the floor.  "I think the Cloudscraper...I like the peaceful atmosphere in


Jayla walks out into the ballroom.
Caramak walks out into the ballroom.

Logfile from Amber Lightshine





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