We start our journey with a single note.
It’s a nice note to start with, and this note will serve as a solid foundation for everything that we do going forward. We will call this foundation the Root Note. The Root Note will be our foundation, our center of gravity, our home base. A single note by itself is not really all that interesting, however, as there is only so much we can do with one note (although maybe more than you might expect). Why don’t we add another one?
C Perfect 5th Vibes
As we listen to the combination of these two notes together it creates a new feeling in us. One of strength and stability. What we have created with this combination of notes is a Harmony that called a Perfect 5th. While it does indeed sound strong and stable, it can also become a little bit boring without a little bit of color and character. That’s where our next note will come in handy.
C Major Triad Vibes
Now we’re starting to get somewhere. This combination of notes will tend to sound a little bit warmer, a little bit happier, a little bit friendlier. Our Harmony is starting to elicit a strong mood in our minds as we listen to it as well. This particular combination of notes is what we commonly refer to as a Major Triad. It adds three notes together into a cohesive harmony. At this point we could even begin to think about adding something more to our piece.
Namely, a Melody.
C Major Scale Vibes
The new thing that we are hearing is a Melody that is created by using a Major Scale. We call it a Major Scale because all the notes in the scale are either a Major or Perfect Interval from the root note. An Interval is a way of understanding the relationship between two notes, and we express intervals with Qualities.
This whole thing is starting to sound a bit too happy, however, which might not be reflecting our current mood. But we can easily alter the music to reflect our change in feelings but altering only one note in the Harmony.
C and Eb and G Vibes
Now that’s more like it. We lowered the E down to Eb, and that changed our harmony from sounding warm and happy to cold and sad. By doing this we have changed our Major Triad into a Minor Triad. This may appear to be a small change, but it has a big impact on how the harmony feels to us. Since we have changed the feel of the Harmony, we should probably also change the feel of the Melody as well. We can do this by changing out scale from Major to Minor, and alter any notes that would need to so as to fit within this new scale.
C Minor Scale Vibes
So, by simply changing one note in our harmony, and a few notes in our scale, we are able to completely change the mood of the piece that we are creating to elicit a much different emotional response in us and our audiece. This ability to alter the mood of our music to suit our feelings at any given moment is truly a superpower of the Musical Language and imbues us with the ability to elicit a similar response in our audience.
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