Tutor profile: Annie S.
I'm having trouble remembering which nouns are masculine and which are feminine. Help!
Oh man, I remember struggling with that too! It's tricky to come from a language that doesn't have gendered nouns to learning one that does. There are a couple of things I've found helpful. First, look for common masculine and feminine endings on words. For example, many nouns that end in -t, -c, -isme, -eau, etc. are typically masculine. Nouns that end in -ette, -ion, -se, -rre, etc. are feminine. Another thing I've found helpful is to make a list of vocabulary words on flashcards that are color-coordinated according to their gender. That way, as you practice your vocabulary words, your brain is also associating them with a color that coordinates to the gender of the word. I hope that helps! Here's a resource if you want a good list of vocabulary words or common gendered endings: https://french.lovetoknow.com/Free_French_Noun_Gender_List
Subject: Music Theory
I'm confused. Can you please explain the difference between the augmented sixth chords to me?
You're not alone in wanting clarity on augmented sixth chords! This is a subject I've had to clarify for lots of students over the years. First of all, you'll want to make sure that what you're looking at is an augmented sixth chord. Keep in mind that the augmented sixth interval will need to be written as such - if it's written as a minor 7th interval, then it won't be functioning as an augmented sixth (for example, it would need to be written as C-A#, not C-Bb). Now, it doesn't necessarily need to be stacked as an augmented sixth per se - it could be written as A#-C instead of C-A#. Also, the other thing to look for is that the augmented sixth chord should resolve out to scale degree 5 in the key you're in when it gets to the next chord. For example, the C-A# should resolve out to octave B's in the next chord. Now, there are three different kinds of augmented sixth chords - Italian, French, and German. Italian augmented sixth chords are the simplest and are comprised of three notes - your augmented sixth interval and scale degree 1 of your home key. In this case, it would be C-E-A# as your chord. This one is the easiest to identify because there are only three notes! The French augmented sixth chord adds in scale degree 2. So, in the key of E that we've been working in, the French augmented 6th chord would be C-E-F#-A#. This are most easily identified by the fact that they have that major 2nd interval in there and therefore have some dissonance to them. The German augmented sixth chord can be a bit tricky. These most often happen in minor keys and add in the minor 3rd above scale degree 1. So in the case of the chord we've been working with, it would be C-E-G-A#. These would then most often resolve to a I chord over the 5th scale degree that would then to the V chord (depending on how you've learned this, you may know this as a V6/4-5/3). However, sometimes composers in the Romantic period liked to play with expectations and partway through the augmented sixth chord, would shift the A# to being written as a Bb. So now, instead of a German augmented sixth chord that would resolve to a V-I in the home key of E, you have C-E-G-Bb, which is a Mm7 chord that can function as a secondary dominant as V7 in the key of F major (the bII of the home key). Crazy! I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions about this!
When listening, I'm having trouble telling the difference between Classical and Romantic era music. Can you help me with what to listen for to tell the difference?
That's a great question! Telling the difference between a Classical composer like Mozart and a Romantic composer like Beethoven, particularly early Romantic music, can be a little tricky. In general, Classical composers will stay fairly well within the bounds of your home, or tonic, key. Some more adventurous composers may stray slightly (Mozart does this quite a bit), but they'll mostly stay inside the expected structures and key that you'd expect (if you have questions about what structures and expectations I'm talking about, let me know). Classical music in general stays a bit lighter, even if it's in a minor key, and tends to be more balanced in tone. In contrast, Romantic music can sometimes feel a little heavier. Composers in this era began to have access to instruments that had fuller and deeper tones, so that was reflected in the music. In addition, Romantic composers started to stray from a lot of the expectations and structures that Classical music adhered to. You'll often find that, even if there's a clear structure, Romantic music tends to stretch the limits of what can be considered being "in the home key" and will likely modulate to unlikely keys. Romantic music is known for being moodier and more unpredictable when you're listening to it. Let me know if this helps, or if you'd like me to expand more on what I mean by expectations in structure and tonality. For help in listening and delineating between the two eras of music, try listening to and comparing piano sonatas by Mozart and by Beethoven. Some of the early Beethoven works will be a little tricky to tell the difference, but keep in mind that Beethoven is really the link between Classical and Romantic music. A lot of his earlier pieces are more Classical in nature, but as you listen through the piano sonatas, you'll hear them transition into more of the Romantic era style.
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