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Author Topic: Music theory question  (Read 2207 times)

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Offline Floyd

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Music theory question
« on: Feb 02, 2004, 06:31:39 PM »
I have seen computer programs that will add chords to a melody.  Does anybody know what the rules would be for doing this.  I have searched the web for this many times but have never been able to find anything on it.

Offline Mark Cordova

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Re:Music theory question
« Reply #1 on: Feb 02, 2004, 09:59:01 PM »
Floyd, I want to answer this but I could only give you my both untrained and beginners perspective. That surely would make things worse on you. ;)

Offline Floyd

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Re:Music theory question
« Reply #2 on: Feb 02, 2004, 10:01:39 PM »
Things could not be worse so go ahead and try to confuse me (it's my natural state anyway)

Offline Mark Cordova

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Re:Music theory question
« Reply #3 on: Feb 02, 2004, 10:36:36 PM »
Really Bro. I'll put my 2 cent's in later. Let's let our experts have a crack at it. Maybe MR-java can give it a whirl. He's a very good guitarist. There's also Arnold and our buddy Steve.

Offline Steve_W

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Re:Music theory question
« Reply #4 on: Feb 03, 2004, 08:46:18 PM »
This is an interesting question!  For me adding chords is fairly intuitive, and usually done with guitar in hand, so I'm trying to think through what I do and whether or not a computer could do it.  

First thing is to figure out the key or mode of the tune by analyzing the melody and identifying the scale used (I think BarFly can do this much).  Once the program knows the mode, I'd expect it would have some sort of lookup table that tells it what chords are most common in that mode.  Then the program would probably go through the tune measure by measure or note group by note group and analyze what notes are used and attempt to match them with a chord from the expected group.  I'm not sure how you'd implement this, maybe some sort of statistical analysis that looked at the relative frequency (i.e. how often they occur and for how long) of the pitches in a note group (but how do you tell it how big a group to look at?  Maybe start with a measure and then break it down into groups if that didn't work?)?  

You'd also have to deal with accidentals; there could be chords that aren't in your expected group, so you'd need something that told the program to look at other chords if note group analysis indicated the most likely chord isn't one that's in the common chord group!  You might want something that tells the program which chords are likely to follow other chords for a particular key.  Maybe you'd also want to keep a history for the tune, for example if a certain chord sequence showed up early in the tune, the program might expect to see it again later so give those chords a little more weight in deciding what to use later on in the tune if it's not obvious from the notes.  

Also it would be nice to have some sort of "genre filter"; for example if you tell the program what kind of tune it's analyzing, it chooses chords that are more appropriate for that style of music (example:  if I'm accompanying Irish music I expect I'm not going to use many chords, and most of them will be simple major or minor ones.  If I'm doing jazz, anything goes).

However, remember that there's an art to accompaniment; often there are several different chords that will fit a particular sequence, and it takes trial and error, and a sense of what sounds better.  To me the best accompanists are those that come up with something that fits the tune perfectly yet is unexpected.  IMO there's no way a software program will be able to do that! -Steve
« Last Edit: Feb 03, 2004, 08:46:55 PM by Steve_W »

Offline mr-java

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Re:Music theory question
« Reply #5 on: Feb 03, 2004, 09:07:28 PM »
As far as automating the chord process via computer, I'm at a loss.  (And I'm supposed to be a huge computer nerd.)  I don't know of any software that takes a melody and figures out changes for it.

Basically, though, there are a lot of song forms, but mostly it's all the same stuff slightly altered.  In rock and country, you'll notice that everything is related Chord wise to the I-IV-V (i.e. C-F-G) With possibly a minor II or VI thrown in.

Beyond that, you may find some transitional chords and possibly that the the bridge or chorus chooses to start off of the root.

Many guitar players try to think more in positional chord set than in specific chords.  These simple relationships and song forms AABABCAB-type info, are all important skills in song and lyrical composition.

Music challenge: Play C-Am-F-G and figure out how many songs you can sing to it.
Answer: A lot

So there aren't many "new" chord changes.  Just innovative melodies, arrangements,  and lyrics.

Also, when composing songs, the primary instrument of composition can greatly effect the outcome of the song.  For instance, if you write at the piano, you're usually going to end up with something far different than if you sat down with your guitar.

Since I'm still a fiddlin' n00b, I haven't written anything via fiddle.  That being said, I probably wouldn't compose "songs" on this instrument anyway, but that's more a component of guitar, bass, or piano being more accomp.-type instruments I am familiar with.  I imagine that my fiddle may inspire a melody or phrase that evolves into a song, though.

Besides, why let the computer have all the fun?

But it's an interesting question.  I'll put pen to paper and see if there's some bit o' code in my brain for this.  It'd be much easier to generate random arrangements to compse to han the other way around, btw.
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. - TM

 




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