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Thread: Where do I go to learn more about harmony and theory?

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    Default Where do I go to learn more about harmony and theory?

    I'm really good with the basics of music theory, but I want to learn more in depth things, searching on the internet about things like how to write better songs, comes up with only lyrics. I don't care about writing lyrics, I want to learn more about how chords and melody work together? Specifically for classical music.

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    Two useful sites

    Dolmetsch

    Liver Hope Tonality Guide

    You should be searching for things like "Common practice tonality"
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    I don't want to just limit myself to tonality. Thanks though!

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    A basic grounding in common practice harmony and counterpoint is really necessary for understanding how classical music works. Any complete college education would include a course on Renaissance polyphony and 20th century techniques as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahlerian View Post
    A basic grounding in common practice harmony and counterpoint is really necessary for understanding how classical music works. Any complete college education would include a course on Renaissance polyphony and 20th century techniques as well.
    Yes I'd agree with this. Understanding how Classical tonality works is a cornerstone of music theory regardless of what kind of orchestral music you want to write. Once you have that knowledge and background learnt, you can then learn about how those rules of harmony were broken and how tonality expanded and broke down.

    Where are you based? I'm in the UK, and here there are many adult education classes for learning the principles of counterpoint and harmony. That would be the quickest way, than reading books. I say this because it isn't just about knowledge, it's also a skill that requires guided practice so going on a short course will involve practice as well as being taught theory.

    Unfortunately, there is a lack of good books for self learning this kind of thing as it is generally best to do with a teacher.

    Have a look at this:

    http://www.artofcomposing.com/composing-resources

    and this:

    http://www.artofcomposing.com/voice-...d-counterpoint
    Last edited by Rik1; Oct-28-2015 at 14:11.

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    So... The only way to learn about this stuff is to spend $500+ on a college course? Sorry don't have that kind of money. Guess I will remain ignorant.

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    Get some jazz materials, like the Aebersold "How to Learn Tunes" and this will tell you a lot about how songs are constructed, especially since jazz standards are frequently great tin-pan-alley classics by Porter, Rogers & Hammerstein, etc.

    To get stylings, listen to & learn good songs you like by ear. Have a piano always ready, and a space for practicing always ready. Be able to pop in a CD, and sit down at your instrument. Have a "studio" set up.

    How do I get to Carnegie Hall?
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Oct-30-2015 at 00:32.

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    Once you know the basics, there's no better way to learn more than by analysing scores and seeing how composers "do it". Find passages that seem interesting harmonically, then see how they were composed. Focus on public domain composers and those whose scores are available in some nearby library.

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    Don't know why I haven't tried that. I've got loads of piano scores (I'm a pianist) plus a few others I got because I like collecting musical scores.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Manok View Post
    I'm really good with the basics of music theory, but I want to learn more in depth things, searching on the internet about things like how to write better songs, comes up with only lyrics. I don't care about writing lyrics, I want to learn more about how chords and melody work together? Specifically for classical music.
    Bach chorales: go to Amazon and invest a small amount of money in the Riemenschneider 371 Harmonized Chorales. Study them for the basic insights into how chords and melody work together.
    Here is the link to your enlightenment:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/371-Harmoniz...+Bach+chorales
    Last edited by Poppy Popsicle; Oct-30-2015 at 20:37.

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    Get a teacher. You'll never learn the ins and outs on your own unless you are exceptionally gifted.
    "God," asked Adam, "why did you make Eve so beautiful?"
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    Get a teacher. You'll never learn the ins and outs on your own unless you are exceptionally gifted.
    Maybe not exceptionally gifted, but certainly determined, passionate, and understanding exactly what you don't know and how to remedy it. I've taught myself everything I know about harmony and counterpoint (a constant work in progress, of course). It has been very difficult and laborious, and there have been many nights where I sat up reading the same page over and over again, trying to wrap my head around some aspect of modulation or tonality, but ultimately it paid off and now I don't consciously think of those things anymore.

    However, this is only really necessary if you want to compose formal classical music... if you just want to have some fun in Sibelius or write casual songs on guitar or piano, you're probably just better off finding some free online guides, watching Youtube videos, or just experimenting yourself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Manok View Post
    So... The only way to learn about this stuff is to spend $500+ on a college course? Sorry don't have that kind of money. Guess I will remain ignorant.
    Well in the UK, those types of classes usually cost a fraction of that so I'm sorry if that isn't the case where you are. That is very unfortunate and contributes to preventing access to this kind of skill sadly. but maybe there are theory teachers out there that can help (in the same way that there are instrument teachers).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chordalrock View Post
    Once you know the basics, there's no better way to learn more than by analysing scores and seeing how composers "do it". Find passages that seem interesting harmonically, then see how they were composed. Focus on public domain composers and those whose scores are available in some nearby library.
    Yes that's also a great idea once you have an understanding of exactly what you are looking at which you may well do. No harm in giving it a go and see how it goes.

    The thing is, as the poster above says it is perfectly possible to learn all this yourself through reading about counterpoint, harmony etc, analysing scores and reading books but it may take a long time. Doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, but getting some tuition help might not cost that much and may be a whole lot quicker. These suggestions have come about because you mentioned looking for help with Classical composition. But, maybe you don't need that kind of depth really?
    Last edited by Rik1; Nov-10-2015 at 11:53.

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    A great exercise would be to take a few simple piano pieces. Then transpose them to all the other keys. Find the relationship between functions by yourself, then go ahead an read any of the recommended books where they will put names to concepts you have already discovered. Remember every single harmonic rule in music, tonal or non-tonal has been extracted from previous musical works (except probably schoenber's atonality that was a conceptualized intelectually from the beginning)

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