basically theory: “notation”| music

basically theory: “notation”| music

“Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play”

That quote is the hardest thing you’ll have to think about in this post. Honestly.

The word theory is misleading. You would think you’re about to read a post full of long words, intespersed with complicated equations. But you’d be wrong.

Theory in this instance literally just means “understanding“. See, a lot less scary, huh?

A lot of music teachers don’t seem to get that though – for us students, theory seems over-complex and well, boring. So I (not a music teacher – better make that clear) decided that I would sum up some of the basic stuff without all the long words, here on this blog.

I probably should reiterate – I’m NOT a music teacher. I’m just a student who can relate to the struggle of learning music theory.

There are many benefits to taking a look at some theory, even if you’re not learning an instrument – but I’ll go into more detail in another time. So without further ado, let’s get started!


1. a series or system of written symbols used to represent numbers, amounts, or elements in something such as music or mathematics.

As the definition says, in music we use symbols to represent different sounds. These are known as “notes“.

Some Science-y Stuff (i.e. the boring bit I feel obligated to include):

Sounds are made by instruments (like the piano or voice) that create vibrations. These vibrations travel to us, through the air, as “sound waves” at different “frequencies” (rates). If a note vibrates faster (has a high frequency) the note will sound “high” – known as a “high pitched note” (think BeeGees). The slower – the lower (or deeper) the pitch (think George Ezra).

Pitch is, therefore, the difference in the rate at which a note vibrates .

We place them at different heights on something called a “stave” to represent their pitch. The higher the pitch, the higher they are on the stave. I’ll go into more detail about staves another time, but just think of them as the set of lines we write the notes on.

To make life easier, we give these notes names. Usually the first seven notes of the alphabet are used: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Once we get to G, it goes back to A again, and so on.

keyboard labeled

The second A is an octave above the first, meaning it is eight notes higher than the first. This is shown on a stave like this:

a to a

I’ve written this in Treble Clef – the symbol used to show the pitch of the notes. There are actually four main clefs (confusingly enough) used for different pitch ranges (instruments, basically). Again, I’ll go into more detail another time.

The length of time the note is played for is shown by the different “sticks” on the note. Here’s an easy way to remember note lengths:

note pyramid

(Yes, I did make this on paint…)
I’ve put the American names in blue and the British names in black – I’d personally choose to learn the American names, just because it makes remembering their length a lot easier, but you don’t need to worry too much about that.

As you can see, the value of the note (how long it’s played for) is halved down the pyramid.

These lengths are then used in relation to how many beats are in the bar.

For example:if I have four crotchets (quarter notes) in a bar,  I will need four crotchets (quarter notes) to fill it up (as ¼ + ¼ + ¼ + ¼ = {4/4} = 1).  Alternatively, I could use eight quavers (eighth notes) (1/8+1/8+1/8+1/8+1/8+1/8+1/8+1/8 = {8/8 = 4/4} =1), two minims (half notes) (½ + ½ = 1) or just one semibreve (whole note) (1=1).

total bar length

Don’t worry too much about the note names for now (C C C E), I’ll talk in more detail another time.

Take a look at the crotchets though: you may have noticed they’ve turned on their head (that’s because of their placement on the stave – again, next time dw) and there’s also four of them – then a line. This means that the four crotchets have filled up the bar (no more notes can fit in, literally).

This is also “coincidentally” 😉 the same as the opening four notes for Faded by Alan Walker (roughly 2 secs on recording).

I think that’s enough for one day – don’t you? So just to recap, today, we’ve covered:

  • What are notes?
  • Frequency and Pitch
  • Staves
  • Note Names
  • Note lengths

(*o*) CONGRATS you literally just learnt how to read notation in 500 words! (*o*)

Image result for achievement unlocked

I hope you find this useful – and you feel a little more brainy when it comes to music.

If you “enjoyed” this – or found it helpful, should I say, leave a like to let me know!
Also, feel free to leave any questions about this below – or please tell me if I’ve missed something out…

Share this with your notation-novice-friends below!

Thanks for reading, and see you next time,
M x

@theyoungculture |

Anthems For The Forgotten Youth: An Interview with Mister Sanders | music

Anthems For The Forgotten Youth: An Interview with Mister Sanders | music


Is emerging artist, Mister Sanders the voice of the forgotten generation we’ve all been searching for? In this exclusive interview for The Young Culture, we find out.

Mister Sanders is clearly much more than just your average MC. London born-and-bred rapper and producer, Ryan Sanders, is here to teach the world a lesson about the real lives of the forgotten millennials. An uphill battle, you might say, after glancing at the latest headlines – it seems that real people are at the bottom of every politician’s priority – but Mister Sanders is here to change that.

“I just found a new way to communicate through lyrics,”

“I just found a new way to communicate through lyrics,” he tells me modestly, when I ask him why he decided to pursue a career in the music industry. As a listener, you very much get that impression: music is a way of making his voice heard. Sanders used to write short stories as a child and wanted to be a writer throughout primary school, but found rap aged fourteen, and he was converted – “It was more of something that happened naturally, when you’re a teenager I think you change what you’re into a lot of the time and around 13/14 I fell into music… music was more of a cool way to use my writing”. Hemingway or Eminem, tough one?

Sanders is still very much the storyteller though. One of his most popular tracks, Tight Rope, tells the story of Tyler, a young man forced to make the decision between a criminal record or confessing his underhand dealings and betraying his so-called-friends. Tyler is the protagonist of many happenings on our capital’s streets, and Ryan confirms this, telling me “being from London you see a lot of shit growing up, and I was always observant to the consequences of your actions… I would always find myself being the one trying to talk sense into someone going down a wrong path”. Tight Rope is very much a parable with the aim “to make people aware”, as Ryan puts it, of what the reality is in this world.

I ask Ryan if he feels the Tylers of this world are being failed by the system, and he agrees, saying “I do feel many people of my generation are failed by the system and don’t know where their place in the world is, including myself”. Ryan’s latest track, Vote for Me, is an anthem for disheartened millennials. He voices the anger, suppressed by the media, at the seemingly unfair squeeze on Generation Y. “I don’t know about you or your readers but everyone around me and everyone on Facebook were all thinking the same thing”, he tells me in reference to the irony of recent politics. “I’m no politician but I think I have something to say here,” Ryan says, and even if you don’t agree with what he says, most people would concede that Ryan is more clued up than most of our politicians at the moment.

“I think my music is educational in some ways… I am trying to convey a message”

It’s fair to say that Ryan is not afraid to go where many artists in the charts wouldn’t dare. You definitely wouldn’t see a track like Vote For Me in Ed Sheeran’s catalogue. Everything about Mister Sanders demands respect – which is exactly what Ryan intends. He has carefully thought through every detail, evident in his choice of stage name. “I liked the name because it’s like a teacher’s name,” he tells me when asked what the inspiration behind the name was. “I think my music is educational in some ways… I am trying to convey a message”. With tracks like Tight Rope, and Vote For Me, Ryan proves that he is so much more than just an MC spouting mindless words for the money – and there’s a lesson we can all take from that.

Like Dizzee Rascal, Ryan has followed the traditional route established by the first wave of Grime MCs, taking the radio first. His recent performances on BBC 1Xtra, GRM Daily and SBTV to name a few and recent collaborations with Abstract and Mastermind in LA are very much a suggestion as to what is to come for Mister Sanders. But what does the near future hold for Ryan? “As for right now, I’m shooting a video for Vote For Me this Sunday (08/10), I’m promoting that song but I am looking to drop a lot of new music, and also put on some events in the new year – all around there’s a lot coming so stay tuned!”

Find Mister Sanders on Social Media:

Twitter – @mistersandersuk

SoundCloud – mistersandersuk

YouTube – esstarmusic

Instagram – mistersandersuk

Bandcamp – mistersandersuk

Thanks for reading, and hope you enjoyed this feature! Leave a like if you’d like to see more like this, and if you would like to be a featured artist, email me at:

See you next time,
M x

@theyoungculture |

top10: anison {アニソン}|weekly

top10: anison {アニソン}|weekly


It’s not what you’re thinking. Really.

It’s hard to explain to people here, that you’re into anime. Normally, you can expect questions like: isn’t that just for kids? what like that Spirited Away thing? or even, it’s all just misogynistic hentai for weirdos, isn’t it?

No, no, no and no.

Yes, there are animes for kids, and Spirited Away is a great film, but it’s certainly not all just fantasy and hentai – anime is so much more… so much more….

(*intelectual break…*) Take Attack on Titan for example. It’s definitely not misogynistic hentai. This coming-of-age drama values friendship and duty, arguably more moral than a lot of Western dramas at the moment *cough Doctor Foster cough*.

As I’ve just begun my descent down this bottomless pit of cute eyes and beautiful people, I thought I’d share with you some themes from anime I’m loving at the moment*. I’m relatively new to the world (more like multiverse) of anime, so I’d love to know what animes you’re watching at the moment or themes you love in the comments! Or if you’re new to anime, like me – here are some great ones to get you started!

(*dw, spoiler free*)

10. Shoppai Namida – Shougo Sakamoto (The Royal Tutor)

This is the theme from The Royal Tutor, an anime about the struggles of a young man enlisted to tutor four, young, German Princes to be suitable to inheirit the throne. I’ve just started this anime – so don’t judge me for picking something weird or anything like that. Okay, so, this theme doesn’t really have immense insight into the anime or clever levels, but it’s just so light-hearted that it’s worth a listen on that basis alone. It’s very catchy, and sounds a little like a demo track, but is super kawaii ✧・゚: *✧・゚:* and a great place to start if you’re just getting into anison.

Image result for anime

9. 91 Days – TK (91 Days)

91 Days is set in prohibition America, and follows Angelo Lagusa in his quest to avenge the death of his family in a mafia dispute. This is expansive theme is perfect for this anime, providing a dramatic opening to this film like anime. It feels quite western in parts, which matches the setting of this anime, but keeps a firm hold of it’s true genre. TK’s raspy and rogue vocals (can vocals be “rogue” – idk, you know what I mean) are perfect for this mafia epic. This combines with the heavy and pensive backing to form a wonderful intro to this drama.

8. Clockwork Quick and Lightning Slow – Oomori Riutu/Julia Shortreed (The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting A Star)

I’ve just finished this prequel – Those Awaiting A Star, from The Ancient Magus’ Bride series. The premise is a little strange – it centres on a girl called Chise Hatori, bought by a mysterious sorcerer, Elias to be his apprentice and future wife. The prequel was largely self-contained though, and in it, we are told about Chise’s troubled childhood and how she comes to meet a mysterious librarian Riichi Miura. It becomes a little strange if you think about it too much, so I’d advise you to relax and allow yourself to be taken away by this future-classic of an anime.

The theme is in two parts really – the classical, orchestral theme and the alt/electronica theme. The orchestral part is mainly designed to accompany the credits, so let’s skip to the main section. There is a lullaby quality to this slightly disconcerting theme, which is largely to the use of cadences. The minimalist vocals feel almost ethereal, but are soft and soothing – the perfect match for this anime.


7. No Game No Life – Wakabayashi Mitsuru (No Game No Life)

I actually fell in love with a piano cover of this (check it out {here}), but the full version has to be one of anime’s great themes. As you might have guessed, this anime is about gamers and follows brother-and-sister-duo, Sora and Shiro, who game under the legendary username Kuuhaku. They recieve a mysterious challenge which throws them into a “gaming world”, where everything is settled through… well, gaming.

On first listen, you might think this is your stereotypcial anime theme – delicate piano embeded in a big pop anthem. Listen closer though, and you’ll realise that this is not an anime theme – this is a gaming theme. All the components for a great gaming theme are cleverly interwoven into the anison genre – just think about that unusually active piano, or the EDM style pace, or even the “big finale” structure to this piece, for example – this is far more Mario Kart than Tokyo Ghoul.

6. L’s Theme {Lのテーマ Eru no Tēma} – Yoshihisa Hirano + Hideki Taniuchi (Death Note)

This theme is definitely reminiscent of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells (or the theme from The Exorcist to you and me), but is given a 00s upgrade to form the theme for the brilliant detective, L, from the popular anime, Death Note. It explores the complexities of L’s character primarily in the piano but the intricate bassline is reflective of his determination to prove the identity of Kira (the killer). The guitar breakdown dates this piece a little, but this is still one of anime’s great themes.

Image result for l death note

5.Guren no Yumiya – Linked Horizon (Attack On Titan)

I’ve already told you why I’m loving this series at the moment – admittedly, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do – so no spoilers please!

This theme tells you everything you really need to know about anime  – big, beautiful and brilliant. The key changes are what really sets this theme apart – as the key and tempo shift up a gear the theme gets more and more frantic, submerging you completely in the drama. The “Seid ihr das Essen? Nein, wir sind der Jäger!” from just the first few seconds will be stuck in your head for weeks. Although the majority of this theme is in – you guessed it – Japanese, the first lyrics are in German to hint at the story’s setting, which is just one of the many clever sides to this track.

4.Yuri On Ice – 梅林太郎 {Taro Umebayashi} (YURI On Ice!!!)

This is possibly one of the …stranger?… animes I’ve watched, but the soundtrack from it is a masterpiece – that, I think everyone can agree on. This anime goes exactly where the fans want it to… and further. Yes, subtlety is lost somewhere during episode 1, but Yuri On Ice will play with all your emotions during the course of the series. This theme is decievingly simple – pianists who’ve attempted this (and failed, like me) will know exactly what I’m talking about. We’re told in the series that this track is meant to reflect Yuri, the protagonist, and his career as an ice skater. This piece is a rollercoaster – playing with your heartstrings with every drop. Umbayashi’s triumph is the fact that it not only compliments what is going on during the dance, but is a brilliant reflection of the highs and lows of protagonist’s story. Just hearing this piece will motivate you to pick yourself up after every low to try again (…that was surpisingly profound…).

Related image

3. Re:Re – Asian Kung Fu Generation (Erased/Boku Dake ga Inai Machi)

This track is from the titles of Erased, a drama about an anime artist, Satoru, who is able to travel back in time to change events which allows him to explore his mysterious past. As one of the first animes I watched, this theme has a special place in my heart, but it also stands out as being one of the few full-on indie themes from anime. Even if this wasn’t from a great anime, this song would definitely still be worth a listen. It has all the components that make a great indie track – a killer guitar riff, a pounding drumline, and 00s Kaiser-Chiefs-style vocals. If, like me, you’re into the whole 00s indie scene, this theme will be a welcome throwback to the golden days of indie.

2. History Maker – Dean Fujioka (YURI on Ice!!!)

I honestly am trying to be unbiased.

I’ve already talked a lot about YURI, so will try to keep this short. Similar to the track, Yuri On Ice, it does mirror Yuri’s development, but what I really love about this theme is how it seemlessly transitions between both classical and dubstep.  By combining the two genres, it not only ties it in with the theme of skating, but gives this track a depth, sometimes lost in anison. It hints at the hardship the skaters face in trying to achieve their dreams, particularly in the more serious classical parts, yet the dubstep echoes the euphoria of achieving them. This changing between genres also cleverly ties into the theme of instabilty, which is more explicit in the soaring, scales in the strings – the highs of winning are astronomical, but whatever goes up must go down – take Victor’s story for example – yes, I did just pretend there’s some other level to Yuri on Ice!!! amongst all that bishonen and Victuri. Combined with the lyrics, I can garuntee this will be the most uplifiting anthem of a song you’ll hear all day.

1. Unravel – TK (Tokyo Ghoul)

I have to admit, I’ve only seen parts of Tokyo Ghoul – fake fan ik – but this theme stands alone very well. The acapella opening is beautiful, with falsetto vocals by TK, from rock trio, Ling Tosite Sigure. For the first 30 seconds, you’d be forgiven for relating this to Ellie Goulding’s Starry Eyes, but the big rock break-down shatters that thought completly. This theme seemlessly moves through genres, whilst remaining beautifully intricate and effortlessly graceful.

+ if you’ve got a minute listen to this piano cover {here}

Image result for tokyo ghoul

Honorable Mentions: Hello Sleepwalkers (Noragami), Boku Ni Invitation (Shirokuma Cafe) and SCREEN mode (Bungou Stray Dogs)

So those were my top10 tracks from anime! As I mentioned before, let me know yours in the comments, and if you’re new to all this, tell me what you think if you try any of these animes! Thanks for sticking around til the end, this was a long post I know – so without wishing to make it any longer – I’ll sign off!

See you next time,

M x

@theyoungculture |

*I’ve focused on mainly anime series for this top10, but love the films (I might do a Studio Ghibli top10 in the forseeable future).

top10: tracks from TV| weekly

top10: tracks from TV| weekly

Winter is coming (heheh) so that means the return of good TV again. Here are my top10 favourite themes from a range of TV (and streaming) genres. I didn’t pick these based on the show, but coincidentially they’re all definitely worth a watch. Let me know your favourite themes in the comments!

1.I’ll Be There For You (*👏👏👏👏👏*) – The Rembrandts (FRIENDS)

Genre: Pop

Friends fans: I bet that you can’t get through this without clapping – let me know how you get on 😉

This is quite literally the perfect theme for this series: nothing says “FRIENDS” quite like the Beach Boys style harmonies and that bright, bouncy bass line which reminds you of the intro umbrellas immediately. I live in hope they make a “revisit” episode in the future, but for now, this theme will always be slightly tinged with sadness for me that we will probably never see Chandler, Phoebe, Ross, Rachel, Joey or Monica ever again…

2. Hollow Talk – The Choir of Young Believers (Bron/Broen/The Bridge)

Genre: Alt, Indie

This haunting theme is from the Scandi-noir series The Bridge. If you’ve not seen it – I recommend not watching it in the dark, alone (like I did)… I still get the chills just thinking about it. The uneasy feeling you get watching this epic drama is translated cleverly into Hollow Talk through the dischordance between the screaming string parts and pulsating piano. Three minutes in comes the drop and it’s definitely worth the wait, bringing in echoing vocals that will reverberate in your mind for days.

3. Theme from Stranger Things – Kyle Dixon / S U R V I V E (Stranger Things) {+ check out the C418 remix}

Genre: Electronica

Everyone’s obsessed with Stranger Things atm so I’m sorry for adding to the barrage of social media about this show – but the theme is a wonder in itself. The synth sound that was everywhere in the eighties has been revamped for this theme, giving it a subtle futuristic feel.

Give the C418 (composer of the Minecraft music) remix a listen – it really pushes that pounding bass line to the forefront and takes the whole concept a lot further than the one minute title track could ever do. If you’re into the Weeknd, give flipboitamidle5 ‘s mashup a listen – you won’t be disappointed, Starboy and Stranger Things are a match made in heaven.

4. Hawaii Five-O – The Ventures (Hawaii Five-O…)

Genre: Classic Rock, Northern Soul

I garuntee as soon as you hear this you’ll recognise it. The infamous theme from Hawaii Five-O is in a league of its own when it comes to theme songs. The brass section makes this track taking the main melody line, but the whole track screams 20th Century cop drama. The drum/percussion section is easily overlooked with the big brass part stealing the limelight, but it’s equally important in creating the atmosphere.

5. The Walking Dead – Bear McCrearry (The Walking Dead… really was that so hard to guess?)

Genre: Neo-classical

I have to admit, I gave up on the Walking Dead at about S4, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that this is one of the best themes from TV at the moment. Although it repeats the same pattern for pretty much the whole theme, there’s something distinctly haunting about the string part. Tremelos are always chilling but combined with the use of dynamics and the modulation, this string part is killer. It has just a hint of urgency about it that the bass enhances, that easily evokes the feeling that a walker could spring out at any moment.

6. Game of Thrones – Ramin Djawadi (Game Of Thrones… now this is getting predictable)

Genre: Neo-classical

This theme manages to somehow be both brooding and ominous, yet delicate and intricate. The strings sing out over the heavy, dark percussion section and cello/bass part. The length is intensely frustrating for GoT fans like myself and the repetition does nothing to help this, but it’s a beautifully composed piece nonetheless, combining the light and dark, complex themes of the series all within two minutes.

7. The Game Is On – David Arnold + Michael Price (Sherlock)

Genre: Neo-classical

Can we just take a moment to think of the Sherlock fans at this difficult time? No more Sherlock for another 2 years!! To tide you over this dry patch, here’s one of the most famous themes from the BBC’s Sherlock. This track feels a little like the music they play in games, and you can imagine it repeating over and over as you try to complete that difficult level, which is why it’s the perfect track for this modern remake of Sherlock.

8. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – Quincy Jones (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air)

Genre: Will Smith 😉

Now this is the story all about how…

I’m sure we’ve all wasted a little bit of time trying to learn this theme. I apologise for getting it stuck in your head for the next month – but this list wouldn’t be complete without it. Every part of this track feels like the nineties – bright, bouncy and alive. If tie-dye had a sound it would be the bass part of this track, which is somehow vivid and colourful, yet effortlessly cool.

9. Jessica – The Allman Brothers Band (Top Gear)

Genre: Classic Rock

The actual song sounds a little different to the track you’ll hear on Top Gear – they killed the acoustic “vibe” (I still hate that word) to make it more industrial, which in someways kills the track a little. This track just feel like being on the road in dustbowl-route-66 America, surrounded by beautiful landscapes.  Yes, the guitar part is the main feature, but the piano and bass line give this track life. Rant over. In spite of that, I couldn’t imagine a better theme for the BBC’s Top Gear.

10. Pop Looks (/Goes) Bach – Sam Fonteyn (Ski Sunday Theme)

Genre: Classical

Pop Looks Bach is the timeless theme from the UK’s longest running sports show, Ski Sunday. This track has seen all the new crazes come and go, and held fast throughout,  earning it a very special place in every Brit’s heart. For nerds (like me): this track is a major key, rework of Bach’s Fugue in D. It’s so light and fluffy though, you wouldn’t think you’re actually listening something so classical.

Honorable Mentions (themes from): Mad Men, House of Cards, True Detective, Lewis, and Frasier

Thanks for taking a look at my favourite themes from TV, but what themes bring back good memories, or get stuck in your head? Let me know below!

See you soon,
M x

life|Unique Blogger Award

life|Unique Blogger Award


The lovely Eni from ( has nominated me for the Unique Blogger Award – thank you Eni! I’m looking forward to answering your questions – let’s get started!


1. Thank your nominee

2. Answer the questions that your nominator left for you

3. Nominate 5-10 people (and let them know)

4. Set questions for your nominees to answer

Qs from Eni:

1.Why did you decide to start blogging?

I wanted to connect with other people to talk music. I love reading magazines/blogs like NME and Pitchfork, and I thought that’s something I’d like to do, so I set up this blog!

2. What’s one thing that always makes you smile?

As this is a music blog (kinda) I feel like I should say You Can Call Me Al. I love the music video – something about it is so childish, which makes me smile every time. It’s a really catchy and uplifting song too.

3. What are three of your favourite things and why? (Movies, food, clothes, songs, anything!)

As I just did a song, I’ll do food, a movie, and clothing.

I adore peas – I know that’s weird but I just love peas.

My favourite movie flicks between The Great Gatsby (2013) and The Breakfast Club; the Great Gatsby just beacause it’s an incredible piece of cinema by Baz Lurhman – everything about is just so atmospheric you can almost smell the wealth, and The Breakfast Club because you feel so immersed in the storyline and intouch with the characters it’s almost like you’re a part of it. Cheeky promo, but I did a top10 tracks from movies – check that out {here}!

You’ll always find me in my favourite scarf for most of the year – it has to get pretty hot before I’ll force myself to wear something else.

4. Are you excited or apprehensive about the future?

Hm,  apprehensive, just because I have a lot of exams ahead of me, and going to university or not, then learning how to do adult-y stuff…

… help me.

5. What are a couple blogs you really like right now? (I’m always looking for more haha!)

Check out my nominees!


unique-blogger-awardKat – musings of a teenage girl

Raquel – Lipstick Decay

Jennifer – jennifergrieve

Louise – louloumuicblog


I love these blogs – they’re all so unique and their authors always have something really interesting to say. Nominees: please don’t feel like you have to take part, but if you do let me know!

Qs for nominees:

  1. What advice would you give your teenage/younger self?
  2. What are you most grateful for?
  3. If you could speak another language fluently, what language would you pick + why?
  4. If you could only take one album with you to a desert island (real essential, ik), which would you take?
  5. Do you have any regrets about your blog?

Thanks again, Eni, I loved answering your questions!

See you next time,
M x