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Old 03-25-2007, 09:20 PM   #1
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The Please Explain Musical Terminology thread

I love music there's no doubt about it. But I'm not very musical per se. I don't play any instruments and in college I took a history of rock and roll class and I was the only one to not fully understand the concept of 4/4 time or 3/4 etc...

But thanks to this board I finally figured out what a "bridge" was last year. That being said I'd like to learn more.

What exactly is a "riff"? Is it a particular guitar sequence or is it rather what is commonly known as a guitar solo.

Does "melody" refer to the overall rythmn of a song or can a song have more than one melody? Or is the rythmn altogether something else?

What's a chord, exactly?

Another question: Does someone necessarily have to be a musician to understand this terminology or can anyway more or less learn what they mean?

There's more of course, but I just can't think of any right now. It's a little embarassing to admit that I don't know any of these terms. But I hope to gain a better understanding of what people are talking about in here!
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Old 03-25-2007, 09:36 PM   #2
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A riff is a particular guitar melody that is characteristically short and often repeated throughout a song. Sort of like a vocal hook, or a particular catchy melody, only for an instrument, most often a guitar.

Which brings us to melody. Melody is the series of pitched in the music. Meaning the specific notes, of how "high" or "low" each note is. A melody is nothing more than a series of pitches and the rhythms associated with each note. The rhythm is related to the length or duration of any note for any particular instrument or voice. So yes, melody and rhythm are tied closely to one another, but are not the same thing.

A chord is a collection of notes (at least 3) that when played at the same time create a specific harmonic tone. Which basically means a root note, say a 'C' and a number of pitches above the 'C'. There are different classifications of chords, such a minor, major, diminished, etc. Each of those has to do with the specfic notes that make up the chord. For example, a 'C Major' chord is a 'C', an 'E' and a 'G' notes played at the same time.

And no, of course you don't have to be a musician to understand this. It all comes with a certain fundamental level of music knowledge of course, so you already know a little bit more about music hopefully. But by no means do you have to know how to play an instrument or sing to have a basic understanding of these concepts and terms.

Hope that helps a little.
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Old 03-25-2007, 09:57 PM   #3
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think "smoke on the water"

the famous sequence of notes you are now singing "duh-duh-duhhhh......du-du-du-duhhhh" is the riff

the words you are singing "we all came out to montreaux......" etc is the melody
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Old 03-25-2007, 11:07 PM   #4
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Aw, I thought I was going to get to define things like "andante" and "largo" and "poco a poco ritardando" in this thread.
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Old 03-25-2007, 11:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by corianderstem
Aw, I thought I was going to get to define things like "andante" and "largo" and "poco a poco ritardando" in this thread.
We can be depressed music nerds together then
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Old 03-25-2007, 11:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by corianderstem
Aw, I thought I was going to get to define things like "andante" and "largo" and "poco a poco ritardando" in this thread.
Then ask for it.
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Old 03-25-2007, 11:58 PM   #7
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I don't have to ask - I already know!

I thought the original poster was going to ask about those kinds of musical terms, not rock and roll stuff.
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Old 03-26-2007, 05:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by corianderstem
I don't have to ask - I already know!

I thought the original poster was going to ask about those kinds of musical terms, not rock and roll stuff.
so you just wanted to brag
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Old 03-26-2007, 10:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by corianderstem
I don't have to ask - I already know!

I thought the original poster was going to ask about those kinds of musical terms, not rock and roll stuff.
Well perhaps my thread title could have been a little more clearer.

In any case thanks for the replies. I just found it a little confusing when people would talk about this or that aspect of any particular song.

I take it that "andante" and "largo" and "poco a poco ritardando" are terms used in classical music?
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Old 03-26-2007, 10:16 AM   #10
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Originally posted by BonoManiac
I take it that "andante" and "largo" and "poco a poco ritardando" are terms used in classical music?
I'm pretty sure "poco a poco ritardando" is a #3 on the Taco Bell menu...
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Old 03-26-2007, 10:49 AM   #11
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Old 03-26-2007, 11:32 AM   #12
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It means "slow down, little by little."

I'm not bragging. I just had many years of studying music, I have to put it to use somewhere! I'm certainly not using it in my office job.
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Old 03-26-2007, 03:15 PM   #13
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Some nerds are new nerds or visiting nerds that need to know what the real nerds know.

I don't know all the terms that you know.

define away!
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