Hey guys. our final project for our a.p. music theory class is that we have to write a short song. it has to be 12 measures long and uses chords I, IV, and V. we also have to do another 12 measure song, same as the last one, except in a minor key. i have no idea where to start. it anyone could give me some help i would really appreciate it.

p.s. the reason i have no idea what to do is because my teacher is a joke. he basically didn't teach us anything.

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look it up on the internet
are their any more requirements? such as time signitures or key signitures different parts etc
well, if its 12 bars and uses I, IV, and V then maybe a blues thing might be a good starting point
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p.s. the reason i have no idea what to do is because my teacher is a joke. he basically didn't teach us anything.

C major key

I C maj
IV Fmaj
V G7

C minor key

I C min
IV F min
V G min

Do you understand why the chords are what they are?
^ Woi, great way to recommend an F on a theory final.
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Choose a key.
From that derive what the three ground note are (for I, IV and V).
Write them down over your 12 measures in a rithme you like. The only illegal combination is V followed by a IV. If you don't want to use inversions, don't write doubles.

Next choose how to write your first 4-note chord: Terts (third?), Quint (fifth?) or Octave. Wide or Close. Do you know how to do that?

Next write your progressions according to these rules:
I followed by IV or V followed by I: One note remains the same, the other two rise a secund.
IV followed by I or I followed by V: One note remains the same, the other two drop a secund.
IV followed by V: All notes drop to next note in chord.
V followed by IV: not allowed (as far as I know at least).

Make sure that each new chord exists in your key.

End your song in a I octave. This sounds most as an ending.

Try to make a middle (around measure 6) ending on a V.

I'm not sure all this is clear. English is not my native language and I'm getting this all from memory. If you want I can check my notes tonight. Post what you have and I will comment on it tonight or tomorrow.

Best of luck to you.
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^ Woi, great way to recommend an F on a theory final.

'a.p music' theory class. Oh right, must be an American term. Not familiar with that so wouldn't even know what 'grade' he's in. Is that what you guys call it? Wasn't sure how advanced this project/exam thing was meant to be.
It's pretty basic stuff... as in using a dominant V in minor kind of basic. You know, one of the very first things you learn in -any- theory class.
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C minor key

I C min
IV F min
V G min
Do you understand why the chords are what they are?

Wouldn't the ending motion make more sense as a V7-i (G7-Cm)?

EDIT: Looking above, I guess the answer is yes.
^ In C harmonic minor the V would be G7 yes. Sorry, a bit misleading. But TS, are you getting all this? = ]
Quote by mdc
^ In C harmonic minor the V would be G7 yes. Sorry, a bit misleading. But TS, are you getting all this? = ]

C harmonic minor is not a key. The V7-i provides a much stronger resolution than the v-i that you gave. In fact, a v is not really all that common in a minor key, the V sounds more resolved.
Quote by :-D
Wouldn't the ending motion make more sense as a V7-i (G7-Cm)?

EDIT: Looking above, I guess the answer is yes.

I thought the T/S was asking for the very basic simple triad progressions for major and minor keys which is why I typed a G min triad as the V in C minor. Just didn't want to confuse him with the G7.

I do agree with you though that it creates a much stronger resolve.

How about a i-vi-ii-V progression in for a minor key?
Quote by Withakay
Choose a key.
From that derive what the three ground note are (for I, IV and V).
Write them down over your 12 measures in a rithme you like. The only illegal combination is V followed by a IV. If you don't want to use inversions, don't write doubles.

Next choose how to write your first 4-note chord: Terts (third?), Quint (fifth?) or Octave. Wide or Close. Do you know how to do that?

Next write your progressions according to these rules:
I followed by IV or V followed by I: One note remains the same, the other two rise a secund.
IV followed by I or I followed by V: One note remains the same, the other two drop a secund.
IV followed by V: All notes drop to next note in chord.
V followed by IV: not allowed (as far as I know at least).

Make sure that each new chord exists in your key.

End your song in a I octave. This sounds most as an ending.

Try to make a middle (around measure 6) ending on a V.

I'm not sure all this is clear. English is not my native language and I'm getting this all from memory. If you want I can check my notes tonight. Post what you have and I will comment on it tonight or tomorrow.

Best of luck to you.

thanks man. that seems to be the best way i've seen to understand it. i haven't started on anything yet because it's due next wednesday, i really just wanted to get a basis for it right now. the only thing i didn't get withakay was the terts, quints, and octives that you said. we only have to use triads, i'm not sure about 4 note chords. he didn't really specify anything else; just 12 measures, I IV V chord progression, and do one major and one minor key.

mdc...A.P. stands for Advanced Placement, and I am a junior in high school. I see what you all are saying about the progressions and such. even though it's called an "a.p." class it's not at all. i don't even understand some of the things you said because our teacher neglected to teach us. he just gives us a worksheet every day then sits in his office.

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Last edited by rockguitarist65 at May 14, 2008,
Quote by rockguitarist65
the only thing i didn't get withakay was the terts, quints, and octives that you said. we only have to use triads, i'm not sure about 4 note chords.
Apparently a "terts" is what you guys call a third. A "quint" is a fifth and I guess you know what an octave is.
We make exercices in 4 voices that simulate an amateur choir. (A bass, a tenor, an alt and a soprano voice). Where triads are combinations of two thirds (minor or major), in a 4 voice chord one of the voices is doubled 1 or sometimes 2 octaves higher. (The four voices are not always third-separated either. The top three voices are a third separated in close notations and two thirds separated in wide notation).

If you have to use triads, I guess you have to stack minor and major thirds. That is more along the lines what mdc and :-D are talking about. It seems a bit limited to me. Your melody is completely fixed by the base notes. Tomorrow evening I have my weekly harmony class. I'll ask the teacher if there is more freedom than I think. I'll get back to you during the weekend.

Quote by rockguitarist65
i don't even understand some of the things you said because our teacher neglected to teach us. he just gives us a worksheet every day then sits in his office.
That's fooked-up. This is probably one of the few classes that should be interesting and it is wasted by a third-rank teacher. Do you keep this slacker next year too? I didn't even know you guys have harmony in high-school.
Quote by Withakay
That's fooked-up. This is probably one of the few classes that should be interesting and it is wasted by a third-rank teacher. Do you keep this slacker next year too? I didn't even know you guys have harmony in high-school.

No, i only have him this year. my music theory class is only a one year course. our teacher is the band director and he also teaches guitar tech and music appreciation (both classes are a joke too, i'm pretty good at guitar though so that was really easy). i hate to say it, but he makes me not want to learn theory. he's pissed me off with all of his **** and annoyed me to no end. this thread isn't about him though...so back to the point.

i'm working on it now but i don't have much. i'm going for a blues base, maybe in the key of G or C. other than that i'm screwed.

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Member of The Who fan club.
I spoke to my harmony teacher yesterday evening. Apparently triads and 4 voice choir composing is not that far apart. Where in a choir song one of the notes (often the ground note) is repeated in one of the top three voices, for guitar you can do the same for as much as three voices. A six note triad is a combination of six notes out of a base-selection of three.
Quote by rockguitarist65
i'm working on it now but i don't have much. i'm going for a blues base, maybe in the key of G or C. other than that i'm screwed.
I don't know what are typical blues keys, but I suppose you write for guitar, right?

You'll also have to choose whether to play in major or minor key. C major is the easiest. None of the notes in that key are flat or sharp. Your three ground notes (I, IV and V) are C, F and G.

C major's direct counterpart is A minor. The ground notes are A, D and E, and the 7th note in a minor scale is always increased (except in some specific cases, but lets not go into that). So you always use G#. The other notes, just as in C major, are unmodified.

Now to build your basic triads, you take each ground note and stack two notes on top of it, each separated by a third. So, basic triad I in C major gets you C E G. (This is a major chord because the interval between C and E is a major third and between E and G is minor third. But that's not really important right now).

Do the same for IV: F A C, and for V: G B D.
(Continued)
Now, these three notes need not be played strictly a third appart. Some notes can be played one or even two octaves lower or higher. That's what I meant with close and wide notation. You can mix up the notes, as long as you use the basic three.

In a 4 voice choir all the composer (mostly) needs to check is whether the notes are within the singers' voice range. But for the guitar this is a bit trickier. Certain notes can't be played together, because for instance you'd have to play them on the same string at the same time, or stretch your fingers too much.

Since I'm not a guitarist yet (I know, shame on me) I can't help you much with that. But guitar chords are standardized. And it's that what mdc was talking about earlier. Here are some tools to find specific chords:
http://www.all-guitar-chords.com/
http://www.chordbook.com/guitarchords.php

Just make sure to pick chords that are built with notes from your key, and if you have to stick to your triads, that are combinations of the three basic notes in each of the I, IV and V triads.

A final trick is to play out your combinations. If you're any good, you should be able to hear when something is amiss.

This post has gotten so long that I had to split it in two parts. I better stop here. So, make your basic choices and try out some stuff. Get back to me with your results. And to anyone else out there, I'd appreciate your comments. I still have a lot to learn too.
Some rules for basic voice leading: try to make the motion between chords as smooth as possible. Move by step whenever possible, thirds or more only if you must. Avoid two voices a fifth apart moving parallel to each other. Example: alto on a c and soprano on a g, then alto d and sporano a. Parallel fourths are ok though, so if the notes were swapped (g to a alto and c to d soprano), it would be ok. Avoid parallel octaves too.
The seventh scale degree should move to the tonic unless descending stepwise from the tonic. So in C Major the b moves to c unless it's moving c-b-a-g.
Good luck! I'd stay online and answer questions if I could, but I have to get back to writing for my theory final. Ours has to be at least 32 bars and is a bit more in-depth, but mine's turning out more like a whole movement, and it's due Monday At this rate I'm screwed...
Let us know how it turns out!
So, to both rockguitarist65 and Nightfyre:

how did it go?
You're terribly lucky. I had to practically write a symphony for my Theory class final.
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