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Thread: Music Theory

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    Default Music Theory

    Big confession guys. I know nothing about music theory, I don't play an instrument. (I was raised by philistines).

    I've been wanting to learn music theory for years to better understand various pieces (I'm so clueless I didn't realize that the main tune to the Prelude to Act Three of Tristan was... the four notes indicating Tristan that began at the very beginning of the act one prelude, I had to learn that from the Bernstein video) and participate in discussions and threads like "guess the composition". However, I'm intimidated.

    What's the learning curve? On average, how many hours do I have to study before I can get to the level in which I can identify stuff like that and understand counterpoint and half diminished 7ths and stuff like that? Good enough to make the kind of critiques made here, on how a recording deviates from the score. I'm a quick learner, how fast do people who are fast at this stuff learn? How many hours of studying am I looking at before I can follow Wagner's score while I listen to Meistersinger?
    Last edited by brianwalker; Sep-20-2012 at 13:39.

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    Senior Member Kopachris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    Big confession guys. I know nothing about music theory, I don't play an instrument. (I was raised by philistines).

    I've been wanting to learn music theory for years to better understand various pieces (I'm so clueless I didn't realize that the main tune to the Prelude to Act Three of Tristan was... the four notes indicating Tristan that began at the very beginning of the act one prelude, I had to learn that from the Bernstein video) and participate in discussions and threads like "guess the composition". However, I'm intimidated.

    What's the learning curve? On average, how many hours do I have to study before I can get to the level in which I can identify stuff like that and understand counterpoint and half diminished 7ths and stuff like that? Good enough to make the kind of critiques made here, on how a recording deviates from the score. I'm a quick learner, how fast do people who are fast at this stuff learn? How many hours of studying am I looking at before I can follow Wagner's score while I listen to Meistersinger?
    I don't know what the average is, but it took me about ten hours a week for eight months, and I still have plenty of gaps in my knowledge, particularly around ear training.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kopachris View Post
    I don't know what the average is, but it took me about ten hours a week for eight months, and I still have plenty of gaps in my knowledge, particularly around ear training.
    What are the gaps in your knowledge?

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    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    What are the gaps in your knowledge?
    Mostly ear training (as I mentioned), but there are a few chords I'm not too familiar with, and I generally haven't practiced anything I've learned. I also pretty much ignored specific rules for voice leading and species counterpoint and went with a more general "do whatever sounds good" rule. I'm pretty good on form, though, and I can follow a recording with a piece of sheet music.

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    Senior Member Chrythes's Avatar
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    Do you follow a recording with a sheet of music by reading the notes, or by understanding that the note you see is the note being played right now, but don't necessarily recognize it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrythes View Post
    Do you follow a recording with a sheet of music by reading the notes, or by understanding that the note you see is the note being played right now, but don't necessarily recognize it?
    I don't do the former because I can't do the latter. It's like trying to follow an audiobook with the paper book but you can't read or is dyslexic.

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrythes View Post
    Do you follow a recording with a sheet of music by reading the notes, or by understanding that the note you see is the note being played right now, but don't necessarily recognize it?
    I think it depends the piece to some extent, and starting out its a bit of both, as one gets better one can keep up with more notes at a time etc.

    For myself once I learned a musical instrument and to read music it became very easy to quickly identify sections that deviate from what is notated. But following a score with a symphony, is a little different than a solo instrument piece.

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    Senior Member Arsakes's Avatar
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    I know there are many music theories made by Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Liszt, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Cage etc.
    About reading and writing music I'm sadly illiterate. I just know where are the notes on Keyboard/Piano but I don't know anything about the Sheet. If I just find my damn keyboard!

    I've come here to learn about composers and classic music. I'm a careless reader and writer (that's why I may edit my post everytime or forget to write something.) so sorry for misunderstandings I've caused.

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    Basic theory and form are not that hard. Unless your planning on really getting into music you don't need most of what a music major would need to be able to enjoy music. There are alot of basic music theory books out there that could help you. Start at your local library. If you want more then it will take some time and study. How long depends on how deep you want to go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drpraetorus View Post
    Basic theory and form are not that hard. Unless your planning on really getting into music you don't need most of what a music major would need to be able to enjoy music. There are alot of basic music theory books out there that could help you. Start at your local library. If you want more then it will take some time and study. How long depends on how deep you want to go.
    Which books would you recommend? I want to start on three or four of the best.

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    I should have quoted Kopachris, as my post was for him. I was just wondering if it's possible to reach the level of actually reading the score while understanding most of the notes in 8 months, while studying 10 hours a week!

    Because listening and following the "symbols" but not the actual notes is not that difficult (at least not with the extremely hard pieces anyway).

    Brianwalker, you can also start with this website -
    http://www.teoria.com/

    It's got some basic theory tutorials and exercises.
    Last edited by Chrythes; Sep-21-2012 at 09:46.

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    Senior Member Kopachris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrythes View Post
    I should have quoted Kopachris, as my post was for him. I was just wondering if it's possible to reach the level of actually reading the score while understanding most of the notes in 8 months, while studying 10 hours a week!

    Because listening and following the "symbols" but not the actual notes is not that difficult (at least not with the extremely hard pieces anyway).
    I guess it depends on what level of "understanding most of the notes" you mean. Could you clarify?

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrythes View Post
    I should have quoted Kopachris, as my post was for him. I was just wondering if it's possible to reach the level of actually reading the score while understanding most of the notes in 8 months, while studying 10 hours a week!

    Because listening and following the "symbols" but not the actual notes is not that difficult (at least not with the extremely hard pieces anyway).

    Brianwalker, you can also start with this website -
    http://www.teoria.com/

    It's got some basic theory tutorials and exercises.
    Yes right after I posted I realized I probably didn't totally understand your question, as I remembered from previous posts that you also read music.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    Which books would you recommend? I want to start on three or four of the best.
    It has been a long time since I checked out student theory books. The computer has made a big difference in teaching and learning theory, as most other topics. If you are starting from a level of knowing very little, something like this would be worth staring with

    http://www.textbooks.com/ISBN/978020...BUZOTMAACOKK2B

    If you know how to read music already and know the basics like major/minor, scales etc. then this would be more in your area.

    http://www.textbooks.com/ISBN/978013...BUZOTMAACOKK2B

    This one would be too advanced even for some college students

    http://www.textbooks.com/ISBN/978019...BUZOTMAACOKK2B

    This one is worth checking out, if you like these books

    http://www.textbooks.com/BooksDescri...BUZOTMAACOKK2B

    Another good basic course

    http://www.textbooks.com/ISBN/978013...BUZOTMAACOKK2B

    This is a good source.

    http://www.textbooks.com/ISBN/978007...BUZOTMAACOKK2B

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    Senior Member drpraetorus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
    Which books would you recommend? I want to start on three or four of the best.
    It has been a long time since I checked out student theory books. The computer has made a big difference in teaching and learning theory, as most other topics. If you are starting from a level of knowing very little, something like this would be worth staring with

    http://www.textbooks.com/ISBN/978020...BUZOTMAACOKK2B

    If you know how to read music already and know the basics like major/minor, scales etc. then this would be more in your area.

    http://www.textbooks.com/ISBN/978013...BUZOTMAACOKK2B

    This one would be too advanced even for some college students

    http://www.textbooks.com/ISBN/978019...BUZOTMAACOKK2B

    This one is worth checking out, if you like these books

    http://www.textbooks.com/BooksDescri...BUZOTMAACOKK2B

    Another good basic course

    http://www.textbooks.com/ISBN/978013...BUZOTMAACOKK2B

    This is a good source.

    http://www.textbooks.com/ISBN/978007...BUZOTMAACOKK2B

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