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 […]

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 […]

First-Time Arranging Suggestions, Part Deux

As far as first-time arranging tips, I’d advise against taking the basses too low.  Even if they have a solid low E, the chords will ring better with the basses up the octave, and they’ll sing better, too!  The same goes for the low F and frequently the low G as well. If you’re stuck […]

First-Time Arranging Advice

A reader wrote in requesting some pointers on arranging for his high school a cappella group, and I thought I’d post a few here: advice for writing your FIRST arrangement.  These tips do not necessarily apply to ALL arrangements and are not general rules, but are good ways to make sure nothing goes too haywire […]

Beethoven Played on Period Instruments

One of the biggest issues of this ossified study of hundred-some year old music is that our university students are being taught that Beethoven, for instance, is forever… or at least his music is.  We play them wonderful excerpts recorded on Steinway 9-footers of his Sonatae, and it never occurs to the young initiates that […]

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, […]