Tonality for the Win

Playing the TwinNote note and interval identification game (on the practice page) was not always that musically pleasing…  until now.  When playing on the “all notes” setting (naturals, sharps, and flats) the notes used to be selected at random from the set of all twelve notes of the chromatic scale.  Needless to say, the result would sound quite atonal.  Before these changes, you would actually hear a tone row as in Schoenberg’s twelve-tone technique, where each note of the chromatic scale appeared once before any of them appeared a second time. Which is good if you like that kind of music.

However, this was out of expedience rather than aesthetic choice (with all due respect to atonal music). Since tonal music is more common and generally more pleasing to most ears, now a key is chosen at random and then the notes are selected semi-randomly from that key.  Then, in the interest of covering all the notes, after a number of notes are played the key modulates to a new key (also chosen semi-randomly) that introduces three to five new notes that were not in the previous key.  In this way one is always playing a series of notes from a given key.  (For an extra challenge, see if you can hear when the key changes.)

Intervals also used to be chosen at random without regard to tonality, and this produced even more of a clamorous and atonal result. Now a key is chosen at random when the game starts, and the the notes that make up each interval always belong to that key.  For intervals the key does not modulate but remains the same until the game ends.  The overall effect is even more dramatic than with single notes, offering a much more musical sound (at least according to the traditional tonal standards of musicality).

While these changes make playing the game more musically pleasing, they also make it more effective since you are practicing the typical melodic and harmonic patterns that are found in tonal music rather than merely random series of notes and intervals. In short, they not only make the game more enjoyable, they make it more educational as well.

Posted on by Paul Morris | Permalink.