Get Sound Basics of Music Theory

Article excerpt

Byline: Joseph Szadkowski, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Guitar lessons, self-study and a college course on song construction never quite provided me, even remotely, with the skills needed to master creating and understanding music. I wish I had known a Ricci Adams back then.

This ambitious college student combined his knowledge of computer programming with a passion for music. While still in high school, he set up a cyber-stop to help enlighten individuals, like me, about the finer points of creating soothing and dissonant sounds, at the same time reinforcing their newfound knowledge.

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Creator: Ricci Adams, of Taylorville, Ill., who is a junior at Milliken University in Decatur, Ill., developed the Web site during his senior year of high school. He has updated and maintained it for three years.

Creator quotable: "I created because I believe animation and visualization is the only way to learn music theory. My generation is one of visual learning and short attention spans. We can't be expected to memorize archaic formulas. We need to see theory take place on the keyboard, to visualize both the chromatic and diatonic systems," Mr. Adams says.

Word from the Webwise: With the help of Macromedia's interactive Web site design program, Mr. Adams has given students confounded by clefs, chords and compound meter a way to astound their teachers with a new level of musical analysis.

Viewers who are teenagers or older will benefit most from the site's animated simulations, which give a "no-nonsense" approach to the dissection of music at almost all levels. Through 34 detailed lessons, 10 training modules and three utilities, visitors will find a mixture of text, nomenclature, clickable quizzes and sounds to hone ears and brains into thinking about the world of song.

A wide range of lessons is offered using a piano keyboard for reference, beginning with simple note identification and gradually working up a ladder of difficulty to encompass such topics as composition using minor scales, stringing together chords, writing intervals on a staff and using diatonic triads.

Each lesson comes packaged in a rectangular box with a "click here" arrow moving students through the flowing pages. The presentations always get to the point quickly, and a handy drop-down menu allows visitors to replay or move on to the next topic. …