In this unit, we were able to learn about the structures of pop songs and how they are created. We studied and figured that most pop songs have similar/same chord structures, inversions, melodies, and etc made by chord progressions and the key of the song.
First, we learned the basic about chords, triads. Triads are chords using 3 notes played at the same time or played one by one being like an arpeggio. Triads can change between majors and minors but generally are very similar. Major chords intervals are 4 and 5 if the root is 1. On the other hand, the interval of minor chords are 3 and 5 if the root is 1.
Second in the unit, another important part is we learned about chord progressions in different keys. There are 7 types of chord types based on one key (usually used in pop music). If a root note of a key is I, the 7 types are Tonic (I) (root note) , Supertonic (ii), Mediant (iii), Subdominant(IV), Dominant(V), Submediant(vi), Leading note(vii). Out of the 7 different types, the most commonly used notes/chords are, Tonic (I), Subdominant (IV), Dominant (V) chords. As I said before, this is the major interval and it matches very well with each other. These are mostly used in major songs. On the other hand in minor pop songs, the chords/notes often used are, Tonic (I), Mediant (iii), and Dominant (V). As I said, in minor songs, (I),(iii),(V) has really good combination so it is good to combine these 3 notes.
Third, we learned about “How” and “when” to use inversions. This was the most important and main topic in our unit. When using inversions, you basically change the root note, however keeping the notes of the chords the same. For example in the C chord, from the bottom it is C,E,G but if you invert the chord, you can change it to E,G,C (read from the bottom) and this is still the same chord, except the root has changed. We use inversions in songs so the song moves on smoothly and the player can play the music easier. For example if you had to change from a C to a G, players “might” miss the note so you can invert the ‘G’ (G,B,D) to a (D,G,B) and by this, C->G change will be easier and have a better flow. (The best way to connnect chords is to make the root note close to the next root note. By this, you wouldn’t have to move your hand a lot and you can use different piano techniques easier.)
Last, we learned about how to compose and make new interesting melodies by using the notes in a certain chord that you are supposed to play. We learned that making melody in a song you need to use notes from the chord and key to create a simple tune for the chorus and have a more complex note phrases for the verses.
Working in Groups
I enjoyed working with my group because I got to collaborate with my friends and it was easier to discuss about the music we make than talking to other people. However one problem was that both of my partners were not very strong with music so it was a little bit hard to teach my partners. However they learned very quick and it was actually a little bit fun to teach people music. Two problems occurred, one, I did/wrote most of the music and maybe I could have given my partners a chance to write the music. Second, when we tried to talk about the music, we kind of got off-topic. We tried to be on task but sometimes it didn’t work out well. Generally we were working well as a group with less conflicts and issues.
In music, we made a song using different chords of the key that we chose for our song. We were supposed to use 4 different chords, (I), (IV), (V), and (vi) position from our chosen key and compose 2 verses and 3 choruses. The parts we had to include was a bass, melody, and chords. By putting these three together, we could make a good song. For the key, we chose C because it is easy and since we had 2 people not strong with music, we chose a key that doesn’t have a # or a b. Anyways, since our key was a C, the chords we used were C major, F major, G major, and A minor. We started off with playing on the keyboard. All group members first memorized the chords and which notes are used in the chords and made their own original melody for practice. After some time, we started on our real song. The bass line we used a guitar bass for it. The guitar bass was very simple and we just had to play the root note of the chord that was playing. I taught the bass man how to play each note (C,F,G,A) on the bass and he got it very quick and all he had to do was to memorize the order of the notes. For the chords, my other partner had to know the inversions and this took a while to understand. I taught him how the inversions should be ordered and most of all, he wasn’t sure of which notes are in which chords so I had to teach him the notes in each chord as well. The good thing was after a few lessons, he mastered it and was able to play it smoothly. One problem was that he was using incorrect fingering and if this was fixed, he could have had a better performance. I did the melody and I wrote this at home thinking about the combination of the high pitch and low pitch and the inversions of the chords.
Me at home practice the melody that matched with the chords and the chords person during practice did a good job with good tempo and accuracy and the bass man had good tempo as well. We were ready and confident but in the real performance, the chords man made a mistake in the tempo completely and changed the beat from being 4 beats in a phrase to 1 beat per phrase. Because of this, the melody and the bass got confused and we failed at the performance. Overall our practices and making was great but in the real performance I think we lost to the pressure and made a mistake and became really fast playing.
This is our song
Some improvements for next time is that I think I should let others participate in creating the song more and learning how to compose songs. This time, I rushed and made the song and most of the time practiced our song. Maybe next time, I can teach others or learn from others the rules and tips for composing a new song. Another thing we can improve on is practicing different types of piano techniques. This time, I only focused on playing the correct notes but as I said, we made a big mistake in the rhythm and beat so from next time, I think I can do the tempo and beat practice with my partners so we have less errors.
In this unit, I learned that making pop music is very hard and it isn’t as easy as it seems. I learned the advanced version of triad inversions and overall, the most important thing I learned was that in a song, every part/instrument has to be synchronized and well collaborated to make a good piece of music.