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Article - 'The principles of Music Theory' by roberts126

An item about Graphics/Audio posted on Aug 9, 2003

Blurb

Excellent article concerning making music for your game.

Body

A good prerequisite for this tut is The Basics of Music Writing Part 1

Music Theory...

The entire music spectrum is spelled out with the first seven letters of the alphabet:

A B C D E F G

There is also a sharp(#) and a flat(b) in between every note except B & C and E & F:

A A#/Bb B C C#/Db D D#/Eb E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab

If you noticed the in between A and B there is A# and Bb...these are the same notes just spelled differently. The same is true for all of the other sharp/flat combinations in the spectrum. This entire range of notes is also known as the chromatic scale. If you move from one note to the very next one that is what is called is a Half step, and if you move from one note and skip one that is called a whole step.

Ex.

A to A#/Bb is a half step
A to B is a whole step

There is only a half step between B & C and E & F.

Major Scale Theory

Most scales are made up of a series of eight notes out of the chromatic scale. The example that I'll use is the C Major Scale, which is:

C D E F G A B C

The reason that this is a C Major Scale is because the first note in the scale is C. This first note in a scale is called the ROOT note.

If you look at the notes of the C Major Scale in relation to the chromatic scale, you may notice a pattern of whole and half steps.

The pattern is Whole Step, Whole Step, Half Step, Whole Step, Whole Step, Whole Step, Half Step or (W W H W W W H).

So you could start on any note and proceed with this pattern and end up with the major scale for that note.

Ex. A B C# D E F# G# A
W W H W W W H

I've found the easiest way to do this is by writing out the chromatic scale starting with the root note and going until your write that note again. Then go back and circle the root note and circle each note that falls in line with the pattern. That would give you your major scale.

Then next thing that I'll talk about is that chords that can be derived from a scale. To build a chord start with the first note in a scale and then play the third and fifth notes in the scale.

Ex.

C D E F G A B C
|___|___|---------> This is the C Major Chord

C D E F G A B C
|___|___|---> This is the F Major Chord

C D E F G A B C D
|___|___|-> This is the G Major Chord

You can use these three chords in conjunction with the C Major Scale and create and rhythm, melody, and harmony lines.

Of course there are other chords that can be used but they don't blend as well as the Major Chords & Major Scale Combination.

Ex.

C D E F G A B C
|___|___|-----------> This is the D Minor Chord

C D E F G A B C
|___|___|---------> This is the E Minor Chord

C D E F G A B C D E
|___|___|---> This is the A Minor Chord

C D E F G A B C D E F
|___|___|-> This is the B Diminished Chord

These chords can be used to make the darker, more menacing tones useful in major battle sequences or final battles.

You may have also noticed a pattern in relation the chords in the major scale, and that pattern is:

Major Chord, Minor Chord, Minor Chord, Major Chord, Major Chord, Minor Chord, and Diminished Chord

Like I said you can use these chords but you may have to mess around with the harmony lines to make a solid sound.

I hope this tut is of help...I’ll make on discussing minor theory next which like I said earlier is where your dark sounding tones come from.

If you have any questions email me at robertscg@mail.com