Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/? about music theory


Hi Dr.Colin

Hope you've been having a good day.

What do these roman numeral mean in this picture at...

While your there I have my own videos for you to see.

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Hi Sterling,

Thanks for getting in touch.

The Roman numerals in the photo are one way of indicating the chords. This system is not used among professional musicians but it is popular in teaching and you'll find it in many theory books on music. It is used especially in teaching cadences, which are simple and very common changes from one chord to another.

Upper case letters (e.g. I, IV, V) are used for major chords while lower case letters (e.g. ii, iii, vii) are used for minor and sometimes diminished chords.

The number represents a chord built on each note of the scale. In the key of C major, it works like this:

I = tonic chord (e.g. the C chord in C major)
ii= super-tonic chord (e.g. the d minor chord in C major)
iii = mediant chord (e.g. the e minor chord in C major)
IV = sub-dominant chord (e.g. the F chord in C major)

and so on.

The I (tonic) chord could actually be any chord depending on the key. So for example, while a I chord in C major is the chord of C, a I chord in B flat major would be the chord of B flat.

In your photo, the key is B flat so a I chord would be B flat, a IV chord would be E flat and a V chord would be an F chord. When a figure 7 appears after the chord it simply indicates that the seventh note (counted from the bass note of the chord) is also present.

I hope this helps. You might also find this page useful:

If you think I can help further, feel free to get back to me.

Best wishes


Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting

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Dr Colin


I can answer questions from students of "classical" composing, arranging, notation problems and music theory, writing for instruments and voice and writing music for education. I can answer questions about orchestration but I do not cover questions about pop or rock music, pop song writing or electronic music.

I taught for many years in UK up to "A" level theory and composition. I have spent many years in music education, initially (like everyone else) as a teacher. Then I moved on to advisory work (teaching teachers!) and also lectured, giving many workshops for teachers in developing music education skills and techniques. For a time I worked as a teacher-lecturer at London University's Institute of Education and eventually worked full-time as a Music Education Adviser to schools in part of London, offering advice on music education and curriculum development.


I started composing music at the age 14 (it was mostly rubbish, since you asked) and now have a large number of compositions to credit as well as many publications, especially for instrumental music and choral music. I have also written several acclaimed works for large orchestra and choir. My work has been published particularly in the UK (under different names)(notably by Boosey & Hawkes, Novello, and Schott) but also in the USA and the Netherlands.

My music for elementary players (several publications) has been performed and broadcast worldwide. I am now retired from my previous job as Music Education Adviser. These days I spend most of my time composing and arranging. I am currently working on instrumental arrangements of world national anthems for my National Anthems website and also completing a suite of very easy piano solos and duets for elementary players. For many years I have used the music program "Finale" for all my music writing activities.

International Society for Music Education; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

"The Times" Educational Supplement; "Hi-Fi News and Record Review". For several years, I used to write for many of the state music education periodicals in the US and I also wrote several influential articles on instrumental music teaching for "Music Teacher" magazine in the UK. (UK).

PhD(Hons); MA(Hons); FLCM (compositon) ARCM, LMusTCL,(music diplomas)

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