Analyzing Music

Using Me-Me-Ha-Me-Fo-Sty-Co method:

Me-Ma-Ha-Me-Fo-Sty-Co is an acronym which is used in IB music to help remember how to analyze music.

The acronym has 6 parts, which are:

Medium - instrumentation and voicing

Questions to ask

Classification of mediums

Melody - main musical ideas

Questions to ask

Harmony - chordal movement

Basic Vocab


There are many different ways to think about how triads are formed. One way is by counting the intervals between each note in the triad (or stacking them, like a snowman):

Major triad

minor triad

augmented driad

diminished triad

Intervals can also be thought of as how the major triad is modified:

types of chords

7th chords

Chord extensions are chords with more than three tones in them. 7th chords are the most common, and there are 5 important types of them:

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Other chord extensions include 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths, but they are most common to jazz.


The base of a chord does not have to be the same as the root. Root = the note the chord is based on; base = the lowest note of the chord. Sometimes, the root and the base are the same, but when it's not, the chord is called an inversion.

For example, a C maj chord can be spelled E, C, G, and still be considered a C major chord. What it is is an inversion, or a chord where the root is not the lowest note. 

There are 4 different types of inversions (usually):


Root, 1st, and 2nd inversions can have 7ths on top

Bass Position Symbols (BPS)---Used during roman numeral analysis to tell what inversion a chord is in. Also known as figured bass during the Baroque era. Notation is as follows:

For triads:

For 7ths:

Diatonic triads

Diatonic triads are the triads within the key/scale. In a scale, these chords are classified by whether they are major, minor, or diminished. Major chords are notated by capital roman numerals (I, V, etc), minor chords with lower case roman numerals (ii, iii, etc), and diminished with lower case as well, notated with a o (viio).

In a major scale, the diatonic triads are as follows:

In a natural minor scale, they are:

Diatonic chords in major and minor keys

Note: V and vii are often modified to remain major and diminished, respectively, to keep the pull to the i chord. This is why the melodic and harmonic minor scales are sometimes used, as they keep that pull in place.

Functional Harmony

As mentioned above, the minor scale is often modified to keep the pull to the i chord. This is because, in Western harmony, certain chords play certain roles. The V and the viio often serve to lead into or resolve to the I, while the v and VII do not. This is called functional harmony, as each chord has a function within the scale.

There are three common roles chords can serve: subdominant, dominant, and tonic. The subdominant resolves to the dominant, the dominant resolves to the tonic, and the tonic serves as the home base, the resting point for the harmonic motion. Using roman numeral analysis, chordal motion in a major key is described below:

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cadence serves as musical punctuation, a sign that a section is done. There are 5 main types to be aware of:

perfect and imperfect authentic cadences


How to identify the meter of a piece

Questions to ask

Form - Structure and development

Common forms:

Style - Character and genre

Certain stylistic elements can place a piece in a particular genre/era---Easiest to look at is texture

Classification of texture:

One piece can include more than one type of texture, like Scherzo from Schubert’s piano sonata in B major D575.


Questions to ask:


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