Interval exercises

If I asked you to measure the distance between two objects, you could reply with a variety of valid responses- Feet and inches Meters Paces Cubits Smoots (Anyone from MIT?) Well, the same can go for the aural distance between two notes- A number of pitches Several notches Steps and skips These musical units of […]

Music, the Arts, and Ideas – Leonard Meyer (1967)

Earlier this summer, I finished reading Meyer’s Music the Arts and Ideas.  Now Leonard Meyer is no slouch in the field of music theory—his classic text Emotion and Meaning in Music (1956) has been endlessly cited for convincing music theorists that there might actually be something to *gasp* empirical descriptions of musical works!  Of course, […]

First-time arrangements, Third Installment

~I wholeheartedly support all kinds of research that you can do before putting notes to a page. Steal ideas! Save yourself time! Don’t reinvent the wheel with every new arrangement, especially if you’re cutting your teeth for the first time. ~Ostinatos, or repeated bits of music, make teaching and retaining a lot easier…so you should […]

Fusioncappella

It’s just been stuck in my head lately. Nota, the winners of NBC’s The Sing Off, did an amazing fusion that’s been lodged in my brain of Jay Sean’s “Down”. Watch this: If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it’s missing. […]

Pitch! It exists!

Not only does pitch exist, it’s part of the trifecta of all music (the other brothers Timbre and Rhythm will have their day). Sound is a giant pitch. Not just one, but lots of pitches. Big pitches, small pitches, pitches you can pick out in a crowd, and pitches that don’t sound like a pitch […]

Staff, clefs, notes, and rests

To start off the Music Theory section of SmarterMusic, I’ve written the first article in the Fundamentals land: Staffs, Clefs, Notes, and Rests. It is a brief introduction to the most basic music symbols and how they tell us neat things. If you have no music training or you chose to drift into a coma […]

Arranging Walk-Through: Happy Birthday

In this article, we’ll be going through the motions of arranging a song. Instead of looking at a completed arrangement, we’ll walk through every step of the process to show how an a cappella arrangement evolves and is finally completed. Today, the tune is Happy Birthday, that old standby of yore. Read more…

Non-Traditional Notation

If you went back in time with only your computer, it’s saved internet cache, and a love for a cappella, how would you teach an arrangement if music notation hadn’t been invented? Well, if you’re Guido of Arezzo, you’ll just invent notation and that will be that…or you could utilize some non-traditional notation techniques. Fortunately, […]

Arranging for Co-Ed Groups: Range and Voicing

Boys and girls, high and low, with every voice specialized like a well-run machine…ahh. Hopefully the group you’re arranging for is already balanced in terms of boys and girls, but make sure you know when you’re making a custom arrangement. It would blow if you wrote a SSAATTB part for a group that has no […]

Guitar From the Ground Up

Guitar is wicked cool. You know it in your bones; I know you do. You’ve grown up watching MTV rock stars shimmy and gyrate in that post-Elvis mold. You’ve seen the old videos of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix in their heydays coaxing lava from Stratocasters. You’ve seen Bob Dylan’s woody box of protest songs […]