Tag: fundamentals

Cantus Firmus, Part I

This module explores the basics of composing a cantus firmus. The cantus firmus is a melody that forms the basis for polyphonic music and other musical textures that employ strict counterpoint, including specifies counterpoint exercises. The cantus firmus must exhibit certain musical qualities to be considered “well-formed,” including smoothness, motion, and variety. We’ll use the […]

Key Signatures

This module explores the relationship between keys and key signatures. In musical notation, different musical keys are represented by patterns of sharps and flats on the staff called key signatures. The relationship between keys and key signatures is illustrated through a diagram called the circle of fifths: In the circle of fifths above, major keys […]

Skips and Steps and Style (and Chords)

This module builds on the previous Skips and Steps and Style module. In the previous module, we counted the skips and steps in Maple Leaf Rag, a piano composition by Scott Joplin from the late nineteenth century. Here’s a summary of our work so far (see the previous module for the code for the count_skipstep […]

Skips and Steps and Style

This module explores the prevalence of melodic skips and styles in different styles of music. It builds directly on the techniques covered in the Skips and Steps module. In the previous module, we established that melodic steps are significantly more prevalent than skips in the Kyrie of the Pope Marcellus Mass: While in the previous […]

Skips and Steps

The module introduces the concept of melodic skips and steps. Skips and steps refer to the distance, or interval, between two notes in a melody. Most melodies are made up of a combination of steps (short distances or small intervals) and skips (large distances or wide intervals). Many musical traditions exhibit a consistent preference for […]