Three Seconds of Theory | Singers Making it Through the Pandemic | Be Prepared for Your Performance

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A little music theory goes a long way.
Published: December 8, 2020

Three Seconds of Theory

What is the difference between a key and a chord?

Three notes, stacked in thirds. F major is F, A, and C.

Seven notes (a.k.a. a scale) around which a piece of music revolves. 

Alright, so that was two bite-sized bits of theory in six seconds! And you also need to know that a “key” tells you which note and which chord will feel like “home base.” In the key F major, both the note “F” and chord “F major” will give you a feeling of resolution when you hear them.

The song “We are Young” from 2012 by Fun, is in the key of F major. The main chords you hear in the song are F, Dm, Bb, F/C and C, which are made from different combinations of the seven notes in the F major scale. Take a second to go listen to the song, an be aware, that in this particular song, every single note you hear is one of those seven from the 

What you are hearing when you listen to that chorus, is that the F major chord starts us off on the lyric “Toni-i-i-i-i-ight.” Do you notice how it sounds stable, like being at home? Not only is the F major chord being played by the instruments, but the melody on the word “Tonight” uses the three notes of the F major chord! “Tonight” starts on F, then goes down to a C then hops between A – C -A.

That feeling of returning “home” goes away as the other chords take us on a journey through the chorus. The end of the chorus doesn’t give us the resolution of the F major chord and doesn’t feel like we have arrived. Do you hear how it feels like it’s leading somewhere? The feeling of resolution comes as the next verse begins and we return to the F major chord.

To learn more about music theory, upgrade to premium and take Kathy Alexander’s Lesson An Introduction to Interval Training

Singers Making it Through the Pandemic

Career-focused singers share about writing, collaborating and soul-searching during the pandemic in this article.

Be Prepared for Your Performance

Performances have become a whole different ball game now, with many singers performing for a video camera and a virtual audience. Nevertheless, the art of preparing for a performance hasn’t changed. Singer-Songwriter Jermaine Jones breaks down performance prep into practical tips in this lesson and shares his own ups and downs of the performing life. Jermaine talks about the importance of repetition when preparing for a performance.

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