Both my husband and son have some musical talent. Me, not so much. They can both read and play music, and both have also written some of their own music from time to time. My son is thinking about going to college for music, which will include courses on music theory. I’d never even heard of tetra chords, so maybe I should consider reading more articles like this one sent to me by Jen, so I don’t feel completely in the dark if he starts a discussion about music at the dinner table.
Most people sing the melody of songs without paying attention to the harmony. When they listen to music, they enjoy the harmony because it is pleasing to the ear. It is the harmony that complements the melody that actually turns sounds into music.
In the Western world, our scale is made up of two tetra chords. These are sequences of three whole steps and one half step. These notes are used to compose melodies. We use other notes that sound harmonious with these notes so that the song becomes pleasing to the ear.
In the process of creating pleasing sounds through these types of chords, composers discovered major chords were the most pleasing (major chords are known for their hopeful, triumphant vibes). These major chords were built on the first, fourth and fifth scale steps. We notice in the various categories of music that harmonies are made of those three chords.
Understanding music theory helps us to understand the progression of music. Moving from the Classical to Romantic to Modern shows not only a difference in style but also in the use of chord structures. Comparing the chords used by Mozart with Aaron Copland’s reveals the inclusion of many dissonant sounds that are pleasing to the ear. Further, we see this progression in nearly every music genre. Major chords are replaced as dissonant sounds are added. At first, many people rejected them, but the more people listened, the more they accepted the new sounds.
In the 1970s Country music began changing their standard as Kenny Rogers, Barbara Mandell and others recorded crossover songs so that country music would share in the pop market. These changes required new harmonies and new styles to attract new listeners, and Country began to be one of the leading genres using major chords and similar song structures.
Since we usually have more listeners than musicians, an understanding of music theory is essential for listeners. You can learn more from Jennifer V. and other music professionals in your area. The most significant thing for listeners to remember is to listen to the best artists who play their music in tune. Those composers who have chosen the best harmonious notes want them played so that the composition conveys its musical message.