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Thread: Books on Music Theory?

  1. #1
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    Default Books on Music Theory?

    Hello,

    I want to start composing my own Baroque music after Vivaldi. Unfortunately I don't know a lot of Music theory - especially chord progressions. I don't even know what A7 stands for in the key of C major. I need a book that focuses on Baroque counterpoint/harmony etc. Any suggestions? Not too simple - I have grade 5 music theory ABRSM but my knowledge stops there.

    I like to fiddle around on Sibelius. Here's something quick I came up with - I feel so limited and frustrated that my ideas can't come to full fruition. I have an idea then it must be simplified because of my poor knowledge of chord progressions. I won't compose a piece simply by trial and error anymore.

    I want to get the level of some of the early Vivaldi Concerti for Strings - La Stravaganza/Armonico etc is way beyond me. I believe if I have the basics in functional harmony then I can compose credible Vivaldi string concertos (his more 'simpler' works at least).

    Here's a 5 minute fiddle around on Sibelius using my own ideas. The piece begins in C major then I attempt to modulate but it all goes to pot! Hence my need for a good musical foundation to base my ideas on
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by Vivaldi; Aug-30-2013 at 00:06.

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    Senior Member Kopachris's Avatar
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    Check Walter Piston's series of books to start with: Harmony, Counterpoint, and Orchestration. If you're interested in Baroque music, it may also be prudent to read something strict about species counterpoint. It's hard to go wrong with Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum.

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    Senior Member Ondine's Avatar
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    Percy A. Scholes, 'The Listeners History of Music', Oxford University Press.

    An excellent book. Even when it seems to be of history it is analytically supported with music theoretical elements.

    I don't know if Hermann Grabner's treatise of music theory has been translated to English. If so, it is an excellent text. His original title: Allgemeine Musiklehre.
    'Small is Beautiful...'
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    English isn't my mother language... please be patient.

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    Senior Member Ramako's Avatar
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    I would agree with kopa, but suggest to just go for Piston's Harmony, and Fux's Gradus.

    If you want something more period, you could try Rameau's Harmony instead of Piston's, though I must confess I haven't read it. Piston gives you things you won't need you see.

    Also get scores of Vivaldi and analyse them at the same time as reading these texts. They will give you the tools, but the existing works will show you how to use them.
    Last edited by Ramako; Aug-30-2013 at 09:26.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramako View Post
    I would agree with kopa, but suggest to just go for Piston's Harmony, and Fux's Gradus.

    If you want something more period, you could try Rameau's Harmony instead of Piston's, though I must confess I haven't read it. Piston gives you things you won't need you see.

    Also get scores of Vivaldi and analyse them at the same time as reading these texts. They will give you the tools, but the existing works will show you how to use them.
    Thank you all for your guidance. I am now compelled to reciprocate with analogous insight first: Do not discern yourself with my efforts for I am a novice circumventing my exorbitant deficit in musical theory. That being said, I hear a plethora of fertile Baroque pastiche imprisoned within my mind. It's musical nuances receptive to the smallest of environmental stimuli. Should any key befit this Pedagogical lock then I trust it is to be found in the art of musical theory - as opposed to a schematic of many permutations.

    That aside, I was advised by an anonymous countenance whose analogous insight would rival some of the conventional zeitgeist among us:

    Vivaldi allow me to assist you; If you wish to become a French chef, would you come here asking for a treatise on fundamental chemistry? After all, it's just chemistry - at one level.
    I'm suggesting you'd benefit more from a cookbook than a period table. Counterpoint is far too focused and mechanical a field to answer the need you are expressing here, although it is not unrelated to the question.. I hope that clarifies it.


    With that in mind, I shall analyse chord progressions of Vivaldi concerti although I require a treatise on functional harmony - the mechanics of which lie beyond immediate knowledge. Do you know of a site where I can access (for free) some Vivaldi concerti for my analysis? I shall pay homage to the edifice of il Prete Rosso by leaving nothing but a vestige of extraneous design in my compositions.

    I was also advised to 'discard' Vivaldi and opt for the Bach:

    Before you buy Fix or anything Else, discard Vivaldi and listen tO Bach, his fugues especially - 2 hours or more a day för a Month or so

    How dare this miscreant spout such vagaries. Discarding Vivaldi would be akin to meticulously placing cyanide particles inside my ear - the technicalities and ramifications of which I have no particular interest in - or any other malevolent vagary for that matter.

    As for Bach, him and I do not share a musical relationship for reasons I shall not expound here. Although I admire his audacious productivity - rather like myself in that sense, no?

    For now I have found a pedagogical relic for your eyes to discern:

    http://anima-veneziana.narod.ru/Talb...ical_style.pdf

    It is a ripe offering that will propel my understanding to no end.

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    I'd recommend learning basic music theory first, get to about grade 5 ish, then go through Fux' Gradus ad parnassum, i'd also advise getting a lot of sheet music on Bach's french and english suites and sight read them daily if you play piano

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    Senior Member violadude's Avatar
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    I know a few other people on this forum who are going to say something like this, so I'll just say it before they do.

    Just wondering, why do you want to compose Vivaldi's music when you could be composing your own music?

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    Senior Member brianvds's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by violadude View Post
    I know a few other people on this forum who are going to say something like this, so I'll just say it before they do.

    Just wondering, why do you want to compose Vivaldi's music when you could be composing your own music?
    Well, Vivaldi is cool. We could do with another 500 concertos by him. :-)

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    Senior Member violadude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianvds View Post
    We could do with another 500 concertos by him. :-)
    Maybe you could.

    Don't get me wrong, I like Vivaldi well enough but I think there is already plenty of him to go around.

    Anyway, I'm not trying to discourage the OP but just give him (her?) some perspective from someone with some experience in composing. Take it from me, it's fine to have certain models and run from there, but composing is a lot less frustrating and convoluted when you give up worrying about emulating a certain composer to a T and just run with your own ideas.

    At this early stage of composition, it hardly even matters if your ideas are good or bad, it's just about trying things out. You just have to be able to recognize whether or not they are good or bad at the end of the day and go from there.

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    Senior Member science's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianvds View Post
    Well, Vivaldi is cool. We could do with another 500 concertos by him. :-)
    I'm gonna guess we already do.
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

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    Senior Member QuietGuy's Avatar
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    I agree with Kopachris. Piston's books are what I learned from. Those and awful lot of practice.

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