• What “States And Capitals” Have To Do With Music

    in Piano,Theory

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    I know you’re probably wondering what states and capital cities have to do with music.

    Well, I came across a post on The Secret Link Between Chess and Music (by our Founder) some years back and since then, I’ve seen several links between music and life.

    In HearandPlay 101 – Introduction to Chords, Jermaine Griggs (my role model and teacher) inspired me when he depicted these twelve notes as a universe and each key as a planet. My perspective is similar to that.

    In this lesson, you’ll see contrasts between musical and geographical items such as Country vs Octave, State vs Tonic, Cities vs Scale Tones, etc.

    Laugh and Learn!!!

    Octave vs Country

    A country is a region that is identified as a distinct entity in political geography.

    The Octave can be seen as a country because it is a distinct entity – encompassing 12 pitch classes. Below is the map of a familiar country (octave) somewhere in the world (of music).


    Within this country, you can see states (tonics), cities (scale tones) and capital cities (dominants). If you can’t, then that’s what you’re here to figure out – read on! For the rest of this post, we’ll use the word country and octave interchangeably.

    Tonic vs State

    A state is an organized political community under one country.

    Having 24 keys in an octave (12 Major and 12 Minor keys) with each key as a tonic, organized within the octave can be compared to having 24 states in a country – 12 Major States and 12 Minor States.

    When we are in C Major, we are in the state of C:

    When we are in D Major, we are in the state of D:

    When we are in G Major, we are in the state of G:

    (I believe you have a clear picture of where I’m going.)

    Even though there are 24 states, they can be categorized into parallel states and relative states.

    There are twelve parallel states and twelve related states (24 in the country).

    Table of Parallel States

    State

    Parallel State

    C Major

    C Minor

    D Major

    D Minor

    D Major

    D Minor

    E Major

    E Minor

    E Major

    E Minor

    F Major

    F Minor

    G Major

    G Minor

    G Major

    G Minor

    A Major

    A Minor

    A Major

    A Minor

    B Major

    B Minor

    B Major

    B Minor

     

    Table of Relative States

    State

    Relative State

    C Major

    A Minor

    D Major

    B Minor

    D Major

    B Minor

    E Major

    C Minor

    E Major

    C Minor

    F Major

    D Minor

    G Major

    E Minor

    G Major

    E Minor

    A Major

    F Minor

    A Major

    F Minor

    B Major

    G Minor

    B Major

    G Minor

     

    For more information on how relative major and minor keys work, click here

    Scale Tones vs Cities

    Just like the states in your country, states on the keyboard have cities. There are seven cities in every state across the country. Below are the seven cities in the C Major State:

    These seven cities have their political (musical) significance. Their names in numerical order are:

    • Tonic
    • Super-tonic
    • Mediant
    • Sub-dominant
    • Dominant
    • Sub-mediant
    • Sub-Tonic

    You’re probably feeling like taking a trip through the cities (scale tones) in the state (key) of C Major. Well, there are routes that can take you to every city (scale tone) in the state (key).

    For example, to get to the tonic, you’ll have to take off at the super-tonic airport (second city), land temporarily on the dominant (fifth city), then head towards the tonic.

    This flight is called “Air 2-5-1” (pronounced “two five one”… the “air” part is a joke, by the way). I’m sure you’ve made several trips to the state via flight “2-5-1.” If you want to know more about 2-5-1 routes, click here to access this GPS service FREE of charge.

    Dominant vs Capital Cities

    Now, let me ask you some direct questions.

    “States have capital cities right?”

    “Have you ever tried to learn the capital city of any or all of the states on the piano?”

    Among the cities (scale tones), there’s a capital city that stands out from the rest. The capital city of a state (key) in music is the Dominant.

    Before we modulate (travel) to any key (state), whether related or foreign, most times, the pivot chord that connects us from the key (state) that we are in to the key (state) that we are going into is the capital city (or dominant).

    To get into most states (keys), you need to get to its dominant (capital city) first. When you get to the capital city, it’s easier to see vehicles (chord progressions) that will take you to other cities (scale tones) within the state (key). This happens a lot in music.

    Parallel States (keys) are states (keys) that share the same capital city (dominant). Below is a table of parallel states (keys) and their Capital cities (dominants).

    State

    Parallel State

    Capital City

    C Major

    C Minor

    G

    D Major

    D Minor

    A

    D Major

    D Minor

    A

    E Major

    E Minor

    B

    E Major

    E Minor

    B

    F Major

    F Minor

    C

    G Major

    G Minor

    D

    G Major

    G Minor

    D

    A Major

    A Minor

    E

    A Major

    A Minor

    E

    B Major

    B Minor

    F

    B Major

    B Minor

    F

    Knowledge of these Parallel states (keys), their cities (scale tones) and capital cities (dominants) is of the greatest importance.

    So, what really happens when we’re listening to songs?

    When we hear most songs, by ear, we are able to find the Major or minor key and play because our brain feeds us with something like this once we find out that a piece of music is in F.

    Country – Octave

    State – F

    Cities – F G A B C D E F

    Capital CityC

    There are also situations where the data will have more fields:

    Country – Octave

    State – F Minor (relative to A Major)

    Cities – F G A B C D E F

    Capital CityC

    Interstate Trip – G Minor

    Route – 1-4-5-1

    From the GPS data, this song is based on a chord progression in F minor. 1-4-5-1 means F to Bb to C and back to F. It’s also clear that weather conditions and timezone will be similar to what we experience in the state of A.

    The Importance of Trips and Tours

    The more you move around the state (from city to city), the more familiar you get with the state. The 2-5-1 trip will take us to the state through the capital city and the super tonic.

    This article should encourage my friends out there who are residents in one state and have preferred to electronically travel (transpose button) around the country. It’s time to leave your comfort zone and “physically” go into other states.

    The economy (technical demands) may be different, however, you can always adapt after a while. Remember that in this country (Octave), all the states (Keys) have the same number of cities (scale tones). The difference may be in terms of time zone (key-signature), economy (technical demands) and other factors.

    However, as you begin to understand the economic, social and even religious relationships between parallel and relative states, moving from one state to another becomes a lot easier.

    I know you cracked up at one point or the other. The descriptions here are to deeply inspire you. They are not to be used formally. Thanks for laughing and learning.

    P.S.

    What will you offer to have a professional tutor (who can play anything in any key) help you take those familiar chords from your key of residence to other keys at your privacy and convenience?

    “Song Tutor works around the clock… never charges by the hour… never says ‘time’s up.'”

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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