Tagged: music theory

Mapping Tonal Harmony in Music Education

Imagine an interactive harmony map that reveals the secrets of tonal harmony, where every harmonic function is placed coherently through-out the map, respecting the rules of tonality in such a way that any tonal song is in front of your eyes. You just need to discover it!

“If you study or teach harmony, Mapping Tonal Harmony is an app you must try.”


Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro is an interactive harmonic map, where you can study and listen to any function in any key played in 5-part harmony with impeccable voice leading, using standard classical or jazz voicings with chords and tensions.

The map detects standard cadences such as PAC (perfect authentic cadence), deceptive and alternatives cadences, bass lines, chord-scales and can show the map in chord notation or functional notation including inversions and pedal points.

The Map has seven levels of complexity from Diatonic Functions to Secondary Dominants to Blues and Modes to a Complete Map.

You can use Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro in Browse mode where you study by tapping on the different functions, identifying them and listening to the different harmonic progression you create in real time. Mapping Tonal Harmony will detect any standard cadences and important bass lines.

In Progressions mode you can load any of the many progressions included in the app, from simple cadences to jazz workouts to entire songs or create you own. You can also view them as chord changes, with standard notation or jazz notation, view them functional analysis or with jazz analysis using arrows and brackets or as chord scales. Or any combination of any two of them. It also plays the progression using 5-part harmony or as a play-along in different styles with rhythm section (piano, bass, drums) to practice improvisation and jazz standards.

In Audio mode you can load audio tracks from your iTunes Library and sync the harmonic progression with the track to view the analysis play in the map in real time while you listen to the song.

Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro is so vast that it would be impossible to list all the features in a short article. The best way to understand the power of the is application is by watching the demo videos provided by mDecks Music in their YouTube Channel.

For more information here’s a link to the app’s webpage:



The major scale in depth

The Major Scale is one of the most-often-used scales. We will take a look at this scale and its modes using Tessitura Pro by mDecks Music

If you rather watch a video here’s the entire explanation in our YouTube channel

The Major Scale = Ionian Scale

One of the main secrets of the Major Scale, which makes it so important in music, is the fact that it is built by stacking 6 consecutive Perfect Fifths

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As you can see bellow, the major scale is built with six consecutive perfect fifths. There are 7 notes in the scale (N 7) , 7 possible modes (M 7) and 12 possible transpositions (T 12). This scale does not present any transpositional symmetry. The Ionian scale is a source scale (S) since it is the most-often-used mode of this structure.


The intervalic components of this structure is:
Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half (W W H W W W H)
Remember that any major scale will follow this pattern.

The Ionian scale is composed by all major (or natural) intervals:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7


In the key of C the scale has all the natural notes
C, D, E, F, G, A, B


We can modulate in Tessitura Pro to any key by turning the outside wheel
So here’s the F Major scale or F Ionian which has 1 flat (Bb)


The Bb Major scale: two flats (Bb and Eb)

and so on…

The main chord is a major 7th chord and the chord tones are 1, 3, 5, and 7
the tensions are 9 11 and 13. Other triads that apply to this scale are:
the Csus2, the Csus4 and the C triad


Let’s view all the modes in the Major scale.
Here are the seven modes, sorted by mode number:
1. Ionian
2. Dorian
3. Phrygian
4. Lydian
5. Mixolydian
6. Aeolian
7. Locrian



Next I will give you a few exercises to practice and learn the Ionian scale.

In each exercise we will be modulating by perfect fifths clockwise around the circle of fifths.

If you are a beginner, or you’ve never practiced the Ionian scale let’s start by practicing the first 4 notes in the scale.

In Tessitura Pro is as simple as loading the “Ostinato to practice first 4 notes” and enable the next-key auto bottom. Let’s start with a slow tempo. 120 is fine, and play eighth-notes.

Here’s the pattern in the key of C:


Tessitura Pro will automatically load the key of F next


and so on… until we get back to the key of C

Next, I suggest you practice the last 4 notes of the scale.

With these first two exercises you only have to concentrate in 4 notes of the scale at a time and you are also practicing the two tetrachords of the Ionian scale.

Ok, so now you can practice the entire scale up and down in one octave, in all keys around the circle of fifths




Finally you can practice the scale in two octaves…



and so on…

If you’ve made it this far then you’ll have a pretty good grasp of the Ionian scale.

Now, you can take it to the next level. There are plenty different patterns you should practice. Tessitura Pro comes loaded with hundreds of patterns and you should practice as many as possible, you may also create your own.
I suggest that in every practice session you choose a different pattern. Study the concept and then attempt at playing the entire pattern around the circle of fifths.

For example:
Load an ascending ladder pattern where you skip up and step down.
Remember all the notes belong to the Ionian scale in the current key and you are skipping one note up and stepping down for an entire octave.

Here it is…


Then in F

Then Bb, and so on…

If you practice a different pattern every day you will get to know the Ionian Scale at a master’s level in no time.

Enjoy and happy practice!!!

mDecks Ear Training 1: Intervals, Triads and Sevenths

mDecks Ear Training 1 for iPad

Can you hear and identify all intervals, triads and sevenths? Can you find the right one in a group of up to six different ones?

Can you identify them in context, embedded in the background music?

mDecks Ear Training will develop you musical ear by using a different and new approach. You will learn how a musical element sounds (alone and in context) by searching for them.

mDecks Ear Training 1 focuses on Intervals, Triads and Sevenths

A set of circles containing musical elements in a class (interval, triad, rhythm, melody, etc) will be shown on the screen. You will have to listen to them and decide which one contains (or creates) the requested musical element.

Elements will be presented alone and in context: In advanced stages you will have to find the circle that makes the requested element when combined with the background music!

mDecks Ear Training will guide your study step by step, increasing the level’s difficulty as your hearing improves from Beginner to Master level.

There are 6 Stages, each stage contains 6 Levels: Listen&Learn, Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, Master, and each level contains a set of exercises that you will need to conquer to access the next one. More than 120 sets of exercises!

In each exercises the app detects how well you are performing to guide you through the entire set of levels and stages. Once you’ve finished the entire app you will be a Master at recognizing intervals, triads and sevenths

Stages in mDecks Ear Training 1:
Stage 1: Intervals (melodically up, melodically down, harmonically)
Stage 2: Intervals in Context (several soundtracks at different levels in all keys)
Stage 3: Triads (melodically up, melodically down, harmonically)
Stage 4: Triads in Context (several soundtracks at different levels in all keys)
Stage 5: Seventh Chords (melodically up, melodically down, harmonically)
Stage 6: Sevenths in Context (several soundtracks at different levels in all keys)

Study Modes:
Guided Study Mode: The app controls the levels availability based on your progress
Free Study Mode: You can play any stage and level freely.

Two Play modes: You may choose between to play modes
1. Drag over: you listen to the sounds behind the circles by dragging a play button over them and then tap to make your choice.
2. Tap & Hold: you listen by tapping and holding on a circle and you make your choice by double tapping.

Endurance Mode on/off: The next exercises starts immediately after.

Music Notation on/off: You may enable music notation (when available) if you want to recognize musical elements using prefect pitch (if you have it) and/or music theory (by recognizing the requested item from the staff)

Wave String: You may view the signature wave of an interval, triad or seventh if you want to use a visual input as an aid in memorizing the sound.

Volume Balance: control between the background music (context) and the sound behind the circles.

Statistics: A record of your performance is kept in the stats panel (one for the free mode and one for the guided mode)