Glossary

We use our own set of vocabulary in the materials. The collection below explains our terms and abbreviations.

Are you missing anything which is not listed below? If so, please let us know!

Whenever you see any two (or more) numbers which are connected via a ‘+’ symbol like 1+2, 5+3, or 2+2 then this always describes a vertical structure from bottom to top!

Pick your starting note and move up chromatically until you reach the first number, that’s your second note. From here, go up chromatically again until you hit on the second number.

4+3 stands for a major triad in the position of the 5th.
3+4 stands for a minor triad in the position of the 5th.

ANT = Anticipation

In the example below, we anticipate the note C from the second bar by letting our top voice move from scale tone -3 to 2.

CA = Chromatic Alteration

CAs only make sense when working with scale tones. Be aware that CA always brings you off a scale because it is an alteration of a scale tone so that it falls outside that scale. Below, we show the PC of scale tones 2 and 5, together with CA 5 to 5+.

CH = Close Harmony

Whenever we play all the tones of a vertical structure within one octave, we call this close harmony. The opposite of close harmony is open harmony.

CP = Creative Pool

The ‘Creative Pool’ is part of our Academy’s philosophy. The CP is infinite and all around us. By connecting to the CP (via interval techniques), we become receivers of creativity.

Nobody owns creativity! We simply learn how to plug into that pool so that we become more creative and free.

CT = Changing Tone

A CT is part of Line Movement. It moves in one direction (either upwards or downwards), changes its direction and DOES NOT come back to the same note where it started from.

The ending note may be higher or lower in pitch than the starting note. In the example below, we show the movement of scale tone 5 going to scale tone 6. In the context of triads over an RC 5, this creates a changing tone.

DPT = Diatonic Passing Tone

A DPT is part of Line Movement and helps you to bridge over a gap in a line. DPTs always walk on scale tones only. The example below shows a DPT that goes from scale tone 5 to 6. See how it connects to the following Ab over the bar line?

Equivalents are structures that maintain the same distance in chromatic steps between all notes involved.

Equivalents very often appear as vertical structures and contain 3 or 4 parts (like 1+1, 2+2, 3+3+3, 4+4, and so on) but they also work horizontally.

All of our RCs (the ‘Circle of Fifths’ included) belong to the family of equivalents as well.

Faux scales don’t exist in traditional theory. They describe a selection of notes which are located within the octave. Faux scales behave the same as regular scales but may vary in the number and positions of the scale tones included.

The term ‘Harmonic Weight’ refers to the shortest distance between two neighboring root tones. You might want to put one of the notes in an octave position to see the closest distance more quickly. So, the physical movement in the bass can differ from the direction of the harmonic weight.

Here’s an example: The physical movement goes down from Bb to C. That’s a movement of 10 chromatic steps downwards. However, that’s not the shortest distance between those two notes. The shortest distance is not 10 down, but 2 up. So, the harmonic weight moves upwards, even if the physical movement goes downwards.

The chromatic distance of the harmonic weight cannot be larger than 6!

HF: Horizontal Formula

The HF describes a line in chromatic distances. This formula helps us recognize patterns and even expand on musical material. We introduce the HF very early on as it appears in simple chord progressions (over RCs) and also connects to String Theory.

It’s a very powerful tool for composition.

IC: Interval Combination

We use pure numbers to describe intervals, such as 2, 3, 4, and so on. When we create vertical structures, we stack intervals on top of each other. Hence, ICs consist of at least two numbers that are connected via a ‘+’ symbol.

Here are some examples of ICs.

3-part ICs: 1+3, 3+4, 4+2, 5+2, and so on …

4-part ICs: 2+1+3, 1+3+4, 2+4+2, 2+5+2, and so on …

Lines can be written on a scale using scale tones or completely free using all of the twelve tones available. As long as you know your point of reference, you may also switch between the two options.

You can also create your own set of tones for a line. This goes into defining ‘faux scales’.

Line Movement embraces all kinds of techniques that we can apply to create a line between two given tones.

Here are some examples: DPT, LT, CA, CT, RT, ANT, SUS

LT = Leading Tone

Leading Tones move into the following note by either 1 or 2 from any direction. An LT always feels more connected to the next bar, and to achieve this, we need to leap over (at least) one scale tone before we bring in the LT.

Main ICs are unique interval combinations. By looking at the main ICs only, we remove all overlap of vertical structures when PC is applied.

The main ICs become incredibly useful in the advanced part of the Composition Course as they remove all duplicates if the same vertical structure in other positions. They also connect to String Theory when you transform their vertical appearance to a horizontal line.

The Matrix of Ear Training is part of the Basic Course and shows all 4p-structures that are available to us.

In the advanced section of the Composition Course, we use that matrix for composition and orchestration. In that context, we refer to this 4p-matrix as the “Matrix of Intervals”. The Matrix of Intervals is limited to the Main ICs while the Matrix of Ear Training shows all possible structures, including duplicates in other positions.

The Matrix of Intervals generally embraces the Main ICs of all 4p-structures. We use that matrix for composition and orchestration.

In addition to the Matrix of Intervals (4p), we also organize all 3p-structures into matrices and call them M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, and M6. Those 3p-matrices appear at the beginning of the second half of the Composition Course (the “TNO series”), which deals with pure interval theory.

The Matrix of Modes is a visual organization of the 7 Church Modes and how they connect to other 7-tone scales emotionally. We introduce the Matrix of Modes in the early lessons of the Composition Course, which deal with line writing.

The Matrix of Modes helps us find functional scale changes, scale pairs, or even scale reflections. You can also use this matrix for form and structure in composition.

The Matrix of Triads is part of the Composition Course and connects seamlessly to the Diatonic world.

It organizes all major and minor triads efficiently so that the composer may focus on the emotional results while following the technique.

Furthermore, the Matrix of Triads opens up the door to subjects like Chord Complexity or Extended Root Tones which we also discuss in the Composition Course.

OH = Open Harmony

Whenever the tones we play spread over a wider distance than one octave, we call this open harmony. The opposite of open harmony is close harmony.

OTS = Overtone Series

The Overtone Series is a simple observation from nature and therefore, a fundamental part of how we structure music and sound. Our ears got so used to its sound that it is an essential part of our musical culture.

The OTS shows you things like the strength of intervals, how to create strong or weak vertical structures, or how to organize dissonance in different registers.

At our Academy, we go into in-depth explanations about how to use the OTS in composition and orchestration most effectively.

The OTS Modes are derived from the most prominent scale that we can find in the Overtone Series. That is the Lydian Dominant scale.

The Lydian Dominant is our first OTS Mode, just like the Ionian often is referred to as the mother scale of the Church Modes. Here are the seven OTS Modes:

Lydian Dominant, Melodic Minor, Melodic Dominant, Gypsie Minor, Aeolian/-5, Lydian Augmented, Altered Scale

Inside the membership, we have lots of in-depth material about how to use the OTS Modes most practically. We also go into how to connect them back to the Church Modes so that all materials become available to us.

PC = Position Change

PC refers to ‘what is on top’ in a vertical structure. In its purest form, it describes the different positions of a vertical structure, but it also appears in the context of voice-leading.

We also use variations of PC, like “OH-PC” (open harmony-PC) or “Component-PC”. These are compositional tools that help us open particular registers for other lines to move through. That’s the basis of transparency in the process of orchestration.

RC = Root Cycle

Root Cycles are a sequence of bass notes which appear in equal distances. The most popular RC is the ‘Circle of Fifths’. In total, five RCs are ascending and five descending.

The RC6 is unique in that it has no direction. If you went up six chromatic steps from your starting note, then you get to the same which is located six steps below your starting note. So, the direction doesn’t matter.

Please note that we don’t have any bigger RC than six as it would only change the direction: RC 7 ascending = RC 5 descending.

RP = Root Progression

A root progression consists of unequal distances between the bass notes. A combination of fragments from RCs can create an RP. When it comes to neighboring bass notes, always make sure you determine the smallest distance between the two adjacent bass notes as this gives you the direction of the ‘harmonic weight’!

RT = Returning Tone

An RT is part of line movement. It starts from one note into any direction, changes its direction, and comes back to the starting note! Essentially, RTs create little loops.

Scaling refers to multiplying numbers that describe the distances (horizontally or vertically) between two notes.

You might choose the factor of this operation, but in most cases, a factor x2 or x3 makes the most sense musically. Here are some quick examples of scaling with the factor x2.

1+2 => 2+4
4+3 => 8+6
4+4 => 8+8

String Theory is a subject from the later part of the Composition Course. It explains the intervallic approach of line writing and therefore, connects the world of interval theory back to the Diatonic system.

TNO = The Nature Of …

When we talk about the TNO series, this refers to the second half of the Composition Course in which we go through all the intervals and ICs and explore their emotional and functional nature.

SUS = Suspension

Using suspension to delay the resolution to a chord structure is a common thing in music. We can apply this technique to all of the chord tones involved.

X = Crossing (of Parts)

The crossing of parts (or voices) happens in two ways.

1) One part physically moves over another one. Imagine the soprano voice move down and below the alto voice. This would have created an X.

2) When a part moves over the octave position of another part, we also create an X. We basically move from close harmony into open harmony (and vice versa).

The technique of crossing voices is a rapid method and time-safer when it comes to creating a second part out of your first one. We get very in-depth on this technique in the line writing section of the Composition Course.