Tonal Trends Pop Music Theory for Songwriters

Songwriting and Music Theory Vlog youtube-icon twitter-icon facebook guitarate guitar curriculum

Guitarist looking for something to play or teach? Visit our other site:

Get Updates:

Click Here for a List of the latest Songwriting and Music Theory Vlogs

"Spotter Smarts" Intro Video


Hi, and welcome to the Spotter Smarts Blog Page. This is the blog where we tackle the Musical Concepts you need to know, if you want to be able to talk about the Tonal Trends that you spot—at least talk about them in a way that most people can grasp.


OK, vlogs on this page are most likely going to be about one of the Five main aspects of Music making. Let’s talk about these five aspects:


1) The first one most people talk about is “Melody.” That deals with notes played one after another. Scales are something that help us understand melodies, arpeggios too; other words associated with melody are: tune, phrase, riff, line, lick, ditty, and tessitura. “Harry Potter and the Steps of Wholehalf” is an example of a blog dealing with melody.


2) Another aspect is ‘Harmony,’ which deals with the tonality of notes played all together at the same time. Words used in describing notes played at the same time are ‘chord, interval, consonance and dissonance, and the ‘changes’ of a song. The “Chordisthenics” videos are vlogs concerned with harmony.


3) Next is Rhythmic Concepts--or, the rate at which you play music in the space-time-continuum—oh, incidentally, the word "Rhythm" is a killer Hangman word, because after people have guessed all the vowels they’re all just like Ah! You can’t have a word without vowels, and you’re like, haha! Yeah I can! Anyways, rhythmic words like “beat, measure, meter, pattern, tempo, pulse, swing, and time signature” can help you master all the rat-a-tat-tats and be-bop-baloobas. The vlogs: “Chop-a-Beats and Meter Mayhem, and BPMnemonics,” are all blogs about Rhythmic things.


4) "Song Form”, or how you fit musical ideas together, is another topic for exploration. See, most songs can be divided up into sections. Some terms that deal with song form are Verse, Chorus, Bridges, Intros and Outros, or just using letter names like A-B-C-D&E section; that works fine too. “Have You Seen the Bridge” is a Vlog about Song Form.


5) And then last, we can also talk about, and blog about, Musical Expression Concepts and subtleties, like ‘loud and soft’ or ‘Fortissimo/Pianissimo’; Analogue Sound vs. Digital Sound; accent concepts like ‘Legato verses Staccato’—that means like long and smooth vs. short and sharp—stuff like that, anything that changes the Sound or the Feel of notes that would otherwise look the same on Staff Paper. Also, ‘Genres’: like Funk, Jazz, Classical, Folk, Latin, Rock, and lots more can also fit into this idea of Expression in Music. I haven’t really made any videos in this vein just yet, but I will, probably soon, no worries.


So there you go, 5 groupings, and I also want to say—don’t worry if you’re all like “Fortissimo-gato-Whuut? Dude--this stuff sounds like a whole other language! Why’s it got to be so complicated to talk about songs and spot tonal trends? I hate you Music Theory!!!”


Well, that’s OK, I mean you're right, Music Talk does sometimes use words from other languages, but it also uses a lot of English words too, in ways you might not understand right away.


But I mean, do you know what a “First Down” is, or a “Nickel Defense?” What about “Mashed Potato,” or “The Twist,” or the “Tootsie Roll.” Those words are all words people use "outside" of Football and Dance moves—but also "specifically" for Football and Dance. See? So, again, don’t worry too much: if you’re new to music talk, it’s going to take a little time to get the hang of the lingo and concepts. But just like football or dance, the more you get into it, the more you get it.


It’s like, people say the best way to learn French is to go to France—so you go there and you just jump in; you immerse yourself. And by the end of the first week you can do things like order your coffee, or like: where’s the bathroom? The next week, you’re asking for directions and catching the taxis, and then pretty soon, you’re like—discussing how revolutionary Voltaire’s anti-Biblicism was in “Candide” with like some French Girl in the Latin Quarter. No Problem, see! All you had to do was have some faith that if you hung around, and stuck with it a little bit, you’d pick it up. So yeah, what I’m saying is: you should hang around a little bit!


Also though, there’s lots of other places to hang out with music theory stuff on the net. Spotter Smarts is just one ‘France’ in like a hundred Frances around the interwebs. Check out the Spotter Soulmates page for some of my favorites. Alright, well, thanks for watching, make sure to get on all our social media stuff, and I hope you like the Videos!