#1February 18th, 2010 · 05:31 PM
102 threads / 59 songs
204 posts
Lesson 14: Analysis
Let's take a look at he second arrangement from the Mary Had a Little Lamb (solutions can be heard here: http://forum.bandamp.com/Audio_Review/7860.html) exercise and see if we can make some sense of it. Here it is:

| E D C D | E E E -       | D D D - | E E E - |
|Am / F    | C  / C#dim | Dm/Dm7| E / Eaug / E7 |

| E D C D | E E E E | D D E D   | C |
|Am / F    | C  / Am | Dm/E /E7| Am|

Using the roman numeral notation, we can better analyze the progression. In that notation the progression is (in A minor):

| i / VI | III / iii#o | iv / iv7 | V / V+ / V7 |
| i / VI | III / i | iv / V / V7 | i |

Remember the function of each chord as well:

Tonic function: I, iii, vi

    Think stability. These are the chords we start with and end with. All other chords function to get to or from tonic chords.

Subdominant function: ii, IV, vi

    These chords lead into dominant chords or other subdominant chords. We use them to smoothen and elongate the passage from a tonic chord to a dominant chord. Often we also use them to move to tonic chords, usually to prolong a phrase or as an introduction.

Dominant function: iii, V, viio

    These chords move to the tonic, they are volatile and tense. By adding notes to a chord that are dissonant we destabilize the chord and make it more tense. One particularly effective way of making these chords more intense is to add the dominant 7th. Doing so to the V chord creates a tritone between the 3rd and 7th of the chord which is particularly dissonant.

So denoting T (tonic), S (subdominant), and D (dominant) let's take another look.

| T / S | T / D* | S* / S | D |
| T / S | T / T | S / D | T |

First let me explain why the * is there. The iii#o chord (C#dim) does not have a function described above, but it functions as a dominant chord in this progression because it precedes a chord to which it is dominant, namely Dm. In the key of D, the C#dim chord has dominant function. We are using this chord to lead into the next chord, so on some level, the D minor has tonic function relative to the C#dim. This particular chord change (from a major chord to a diminished chord a semitone above) is common because it is effective and easy to use. If we take any major triad and sharpen the root of the chord by a semitone the triad becomes diminished.

This is a bit more advanced but for those who are daring, let's look at a possible voice leading for this kind of chord change. Using 4 voices:

C      A
G      F
E      D
C C# D

We can see two things in this voice leading. The first is oblique motion in the upper 3 voices (i.e. the bass moves but the top 3 voices don't). The second is a tritone resolution between the bass and the 3rd voice (the C# and the G) These notes form a diminished 5th which is resolved by both voices moving in contrary motion by a semitone.
Here every voice but the top one is moving by step. If we wanted to smoothen the top voice we could use iii#o7 instead (here the seventh is a diminished seventh). This would look like:

C  Bb A
G      F
E      D
C C# D

We could also use a half-diminished seventh which would look like:

C  B  A
G      F
E      D
C C# D

(If all this is over your head right now don't worry. Hopefully we'll get to all this stuff sooner or later)

Notice as well that we've noted the III chord as having tonic function. In minor in particular, the III chord is special because it is the relative major of the tonic chord. Roughly speaking, in A minor the C major chord can usually be used as a substitute for the tonic, Am. That's how it's being used here.

We can also note two cadences in this example. The first is a half cadence at measure 4. The progression stops on the dominant chord. This has a similar effect to a comma in a sentence.

The second cadence is an authentic cadence at the last two measures of the song. The authentic cadence has a similar effect to a period. It tells us that the phrase is over.
#2February 18th, 2010 · 06:01 PM
116 threads / 54 songs
1,531 posts
I remember all this from college... well, not exactly (it's been over a year since I left it) but I guess if I ever would like to recall it I'd visit your threads.
Now, at this time of my life I just try to forget what I learned when I'm writing a song. Hate start thinking in rules when I'm creating art.
But we all appreciate this!

             > Iszil
#3February 19th, 2010 · 11:46 AM
368 threads / 186 songs
3,307 posts
United Kingdom
Keep up the good work DTF
#4February 20th, 2010 · 11:41 AM
144 threads / 25 songs
1,880 posts
United States of America
great job on this. Keep it coming.  So far you haven't lost me yet.   This is a great refresher.
#5February 20th, 2010 · 12:48 PM
102 threads / 59 songs
204 posts
Thanks for the remarks, it's good to know someone's finding this helpful. This is all largely a refresher for me too. If anyone's reading this though and knows rhythm pretty well I'd love to get a lesson on rhythm in here I just don't know it too well myself and don't want to make glaring mistakes.
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