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Country Vocals Lessons: Speaking The Language of Music - Vocabulary

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Okay, part one of
speaking the language of music.
We're gonna have a lot of vocabulary.
We've already used a lot of vocabulary
just in the first lessons that we've
done so far.
And we're going to add to that
vocabulary and use it a lot more and
in more depth as the course goes on.
So let's make sure that we're all on the
same page using the same words, the same
vocabulary, and that we understand
those words to mean the same thing.
Making sure that we're
communicating clearly.
So we're gonna talk about
the meanings of several words
here having to do with sound and
pitch and melody.
And we're gonna define those so
that we're all on the same page
about what these words mean.
I really like this process
because it kind of
deconstructs some of the words
that we use all the time.
And sometimes we don't really think
about how accurately we're using them.
So hopefully by the end of this lesson,
you'll have a really crystal clear
understanding of specifically
what some of these words that
we use everyday as singers mean.
So we're gonna start with pitch.
As singers we talk about
pitch all the time.
We sing a particular pitch.
We're looking for a particular pitch.
We're singing a pitch in
relation to another pitch or
a pitch that's in harmony
with another pitch.
Basically pitch is a perception,
something we perceive
to define a sound related to the frequency
of the sound wave oscillation.
How fast or how slow the sound waves
are moving, that's how we define pitch.
So we're going to demonstrate the
definition of pitch using the keyboard.
And having Ian, the magic sounds
engineer who's got a tone generator
which can generate tones
at different frequencies.
To show the correlation between
the note on the keyboard,
the note that you sing, and
the pitch in frequency.
Frequency is the unit
that we use to define
how fast or
how slow a sound wave is oscillating.
Slower oscillations produce lower pitch,
higher frequency,
faster oscillations create higher pitch.
So this note on the keyboard.
[SOUND] You've already identified
the notes on the piano keyboard.
[SOUND] This is the A above middle C.
[SOUND] You can sing it,
you can play it, you can hear.
[SOUND] Now, Ian's going to generate
a tone [SOUND] at this frequency,
which happens to be 440 hertz,
or 440 cycles per second.
[SOUND] So you hear the tone.
That tone is 440 hertz.
[SOUND] That corresponds to this note
on the keyboard, an A above middle C.
[SOUND] The next note we're gonna play on
the keyboard is one whole step up from A,
440 hertz A, the A above middle C.
A whole step up from A is the note B.
[SOUND] That's the B above middle C.
The frequency in hertz of B is 493.9, so
it's a little faster,
a little higher frequency than 440 A.
[SOUND] This is 493.9, [SOUND] and
Ian's gonna play that with
the tone generator so
you can hear [SOUND] the pure oscillation,
the sine wave oscillation at 493.9 hertz.
[SOUND] So that pitch,
what we perceive that sound to be related
to the frequency of the oscillation
is a little higher than A, 440.
The next note up from
there is a half step up.
We're gonna play a half step
up from B above middle C.
And now we're gonna play the C
that's an octave above middle C.
[SOUND] And Ian is playing
with the tone generator now,
this frequency, 523.2 hertz.
[SOUND] Again,
a little bit higher than B.
So now you have a demonstration
of the relationship
between the pitch and the frequency.
So those are actually
interchangeable words.
You can talk about a frequency
[SOUND] of 440 hertz.
[SOUND] That's the note A.
You can talk about the frequency
of [SOUND] C being 523.2 hertz,
but of course we don't
wanna talk about numbers.
We wanna talk about notes and pitch.
So we describe it as the note C.
[SOUND] Okay, so now you know the
relationship between pitch and frequency.
[SOUND] Pitch is [SOUND] how high or low,
where in the spectrum of
frequencies that we can hear.
Human beings can only hear from 20 hertz,
which is way down like subwoofers,
below subwoofer tones, to 20,000 hertz.
Anything above 20,000 hertz,
human beings can't even hear.
That's the tones that
only dogs can respond to.
So that's the relationship
between pitch and frequency.
Now we string pitches
together in a particular
order to create a melody.
So when we talk about a melody,
we're talking about a succession or
a series of single pitches that we
perceive as one single entity, and melody,
the word melody comes from the ancient
Greek word melos, which means song.
Melody, inherent in the word,
we associate it with something singable.
A melody is how we define
the singable line of a song.
that melody is [SOUND].
We would define melody as the series
of pitches that I just played
Let's go back to
Mary had a little lamb.
Here's the melody.
Those are the pitches that make
up the melody to Mary Had a Little Lamb.
Now, we happen to be playing that melody
in this particular key.
This is identified as E
flat because all of the melody notes,
all of the notes associated with that song
Come out of the E flat scale.
And, if all the notes in a melody land in,
or around,
the notes of a particular scale, we
call that the key that the melody is in.
So that melody as I played it just then.
Is in E flat.
We can move that key and
play that melody in a different key.
So if I wanted to move it from E
flat to C I would play the melody.
It's the same relationship
of pitches but in a different scale,
in a different series of notes.
Here it is in E flat.
Here it is in G.
So now you've got pitch,
you've got melody, you've got key,
now we're gonna talk about octave.
You can play any pitch
in multiple octaves.
It will have different frequencies.
The lower frequency notes will have
a lower octave, will be in a lower octave.
Higher oscillations, higher frequencies,
higher pitches will be in a higher octave.
But this is an A.
Here was our 440 hertz A.
Up here.
The A above middle C.
You can play that A an octave down.
Here's the A below middle C
And it has a lower frequency.
A lower frequency, still, is
two below middle C.
That's A, two below middle C.
Here's an even lower A.
Double basses and other instruments
can go even below that frequency.
If it goes below 20 hertz you
won't be able to hear it.
Here are the high octaves.
that's the pitch A being
played in different octaves.
We can only sing.
Most human beings can only sing in two,
possibly three,
some freakazoid voices like
Mariah Carey can sing in four octaves.
Natural limitations of our instruments.
So now you've got pitch,
melody, key, octave.
Now let's talk a little bit about tone.
The frequency content of the note or
a pitch will be the same every time
you play that pitch or sing that pitch.
But the tone has to do with the color, or
the texture,
the perceived quality of that pitch.
Ian's gonna play A 440 again,
using the sound of a sine wave.
Now that gives a very pure, clean tone.
[SOUND] Here's the pitch A.
440, and
here is the tone created with a sine wave.
It's a very simple wave oscillation.
It's like you're getting a hearing test.
That's usually the shape of
a sound wave that they use when
you're getting a hearing test.
So that's called a sine wave.
And it's a very simple tone,
a very uncomplicated tone.
Here is a different shape of a sound
wave called a sawtooth wave.
It's the same pitch.
It's the same frequency.
It's [SOUND] 440 hertz, but
it's a sine wave that
has a different shape.
So listen to the quality or the tone
of this sawtooth wave at 440 hertz.
[SOUND] Hear the difference?
How it's got this kind of [SOUND]
almost buzzy sound to it?
[SOUND] That's because
the shape of the oscillation,
the shape of the sound wave,
is in a sawtooth instead of a sine.
A sine is a perfectly smooth curve.
A sawtooth, as you can imagine,
is shaped like this.
Now here's an example of the same pitch,
440 hertz,
with what's called a square wave.
A wave that's shaped [SOUND] like that.
[SOUND] Not quite as
buzzy as the sawtooth but
not as pure and smooth as the sine wave.
Thank you Ian.
So that just gives you a little
taste of the elements that go
into what we perceive as and
describe as tone.
So I can give you an example
of that with my voice.
I've tried to give
a very round, pure,
clean tone vocally.
But I can color my tone at the same pitch
by shaping the inside of my mouth and
putting a little more pressure on my vocal
chords to change the tone or
the color of that same note.
So I've tried to introduce
a little bit more of the color of
the sawtooth or the square wave.
I'm not thinking sawtooth or square wave.
I'm thinking about just brightening and
giving it a little more edge,
kind of thinning out,
making it less round and pure.
So I use different language than
a scientist would use in describing
the sine wave or the square tooth, but
we're talking about the same
thing because it's the color or
quality of the different
wave forms that are part
of the sound that make it
have a different tone.
And it's the reason an oboe has
a different tone from a viola.
Although they're playing the same notes.
So that gives you a good overview
of the first set of our vocabulary.
Pitch, melody, key, octave, and tone.
We are going to round out our definitions
of the vocabulary that we're gonna be
using a lot here with the last two terms,
that have to do with beat,
rhythm, not pitch related,
not frequency related, but beat related.
And we're gonna start with the word meter.
Meter is the pattern of stresses and
accents that provide what we
perceive as the beat, or the pulse.
We all intuitively know
how to make a beat.
We feel it, again, it's one of those
primal, instinctual human abilities.
Before we could ever talk to each other,
we were communicating with beats,
with drums.
Indigenous cultures across the planet
always have used drums to communicate and
beats to communicate,
so this is stuff that comes
really naturally to human beings.
We're gonna start with the word meter and
we're gonna demonstrate it by creating
a beat at a particular beats per minute.
So how many beats happen
in a unit of time?
All of these vocabulary words
that we're using in this section,
all have to do with time.
What's happening in
a particular amount of time.
So when we're talking about beats and
meter and rhythm,
we are talking about events that happen
in a particular time or a spans of time.
They're all time related.
So we're gonna start by
listening to a beats that
is happening at 120 beats per minute.
That means that you will hear an event,
a sound event at
regular intervals that happened
120 times every 60 seconds.
Ian's gonna demonstrate.
[SOUND] You immediately wanna dance.
Pro Tools and
many other sound and composition,
garage band, many of the beat generators
default to 120 beats per minute.
It is such a common beat,
it's on every dance
floor you've ever been on,
who let the dogs out?
[SOUND] That's 120 beats per minute.
Every dance club song, most of them,
you will feel that pulse at
120 beats every 60 seconds.
Now, we're gonna listen to a beat that
is half that number of beats per minute.
This is a beat that's happening
at 60 beats per minute.
[SOUND] So that's half as many
beats per minute, great.
Now, we're gonna listen to something
that's kinda in between those.
We heard 120 beats per minute.
We heard 60 beats per minute.
Now, we're gonna listen to one that's
about half way in between that,
93 beats per minute.
[SOUND] So you can hear how these
beats are functioning in time,
we could sit there and
count exactly how many beats,
how many of those sounds happen
in the span of 60 seconds,
and that would give us
our beats per minute.
So meter is a particular way of organizing
a beat into a pattern of its own.
So the pattern of stresses and
accents that create what
we define as meter,
when we stress a particular
beat [SOUND] and
then have softer beats after,
[SOUND], so I just did four beats,
one loud one, [SOUND] and
three soft ones [SOUND].
Now, when I put them in
an equal amount of time,
so that there's an equal amount of
space between each beat,
then I get [SOUND].
So I've stressed the first of
each set of four beats and
softened the following three.
So I get an accent [SOUND] hey, [SOUND].
That is an example of a meter, I have
created a pattern where the first beat is
stressed and the following three, an equal
amounts of time, are not stressed.
And that gives me a meter
of four beats to a measure.
We would call one set a measure.
And because it's repeated [SOUND] so
there's our four beat pattern.
We're accenting the first,
softening the next three.
But those four beats are all
happening at regular intervals.
So we have four beats in a set or
we would divide that set
into what we call measures.
That would be one measure.
One, two, three, four.
So when we write the meter,
we would put the four on the top.
Meter is written in a number above and
a number below like this,
and because we have four beats to a set,
one, two, three, four,
one, two, three, four,
we would put a four as a top number.
The bottom number, because we are dividing
the measure into four equal parts
where each beat is a quarter
of the measure, we're using quarter
notes to describe that beat and
that's what the bottom
number's associated with.
So we've got four beats to a measure,
four beats to a set,
that's the top four, the bottom four
tells us that we've got quarter notes
as our unit that we're using to count.
So one, two, three, four,
one, two, three, four,
so that's a four/four meter,
a pattern of stresses and soft
accents that create the perception
of a repeated beat or pulse.
You can also have what
we call a waltz meter.
That would be a meter with
only three beats in each set.
One, two, three, one, two,
three, one, two, three.
So you can hear that the first beat
the one is accented a little harder.
One, two, three, one and
the second three beats are so
so that would be a meter called three,
four where the top numbers are three
because we have three beats to each set or
each measure.
And we are using quarter notes, again,
to define [SOUND] the beats
[SOUND] in that pattern, one,
two, three, one, two,
three, one two three.
So that is meter.
So we have established
we've heard varying beats.
120 beats per minute,
60 beats per minute, 93 beats per minute.
And talked about how that creates a meter,
a perception, of a beat happening
at regular intervals in time.
The next term we're gonna
talk about is tempo.
And that relates directly to how many
beats per minute are we talking about.
So the tempo is faster
at 120 beats per minute.
More beats per minute means faster tempo.
It's twice as fast a tempo
than 60 beats per minute.
So when we talk about tempo,
we're talking about how fast or
how slow, specifically,
how many beats per minute.
That's how we measure tempo,
how many beats per minute are happening.
120 beats per minute
would be a fast tempo.
Higher than 120 would be brisk.
[SOUND] Like fast bluegrass,
that would be a really brisk tempo.
A ballad like Somewhere Over the Rainbow,
very slow tempo.
So that's tempo.
Now, rhythm, it's funny,
I was looking up what the actual
definition of rhythm is and
it's all over the place.
It's very difficult to define rhythm.
It's not difficult to understand
it because, again, it's primal.
We get it, we gravitate to rhythm
naturally, we create rhythm naturally.
And we look for
rhythm very naturally, instinctively.
We are always trying to
find patterns of rhythm.
We look for it in the seasons,
we look for it in speech, and
we especially look for it in music.
So the rhythm is what we talk about
when we are talking about the specific
pattern of sound and
space between sounds as
they happen over time.
Again, these are time-related terms.
So a rhythm can only happen in time, and
we create a rhythm by creating a pattern
of sound and space between the sounds.
So here's our meter.
[SOUND] Two, three, four,
one, two, three four.
One, two, three, four.
That's the pulse, or
the beat that we have going.
That's the meter that we're in.
It's a four-four.
[SOUND] Now, we can write a rhythm or
create a rhythm inside that meter.
But for it to make sense to us and have a
pattern, we have to keep it in that time.
So, [SOUND] so I just created
a rhythm inside within
that four-four meter.
And there are ways to notate rhythm
using symbols that show us how long or
short the beat itself is in relation
to the space in between the beats.
And here's an example of a rhythm,
written out.
This is the rhythm that I just played.
[SOUND] This is what it
looks like written out.
[SOUND] So you can notate rhythm.
When you combine the notation of pitch and
rhythm together,
then you've got written music.
And you can read and
write music, and everything that you're
writing has all the information that
someone needs in order to reproduce it
with a musical instrument or their voice.
So now we're using, hopefully, the same
vocabulary and we're gonna move on and
actually put them to work.