Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast
Results 16 to 30 of 36

Thread: Theory absolute or possible guidelines ?

  1. #16
    Senior Member Richannes Wrahms's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    1,884
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Composition learning usually starts with harmonisation of melodies and writing countermelodies.

  2. Likes Roger Knox liked this post
  3. #17
    New Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
    Posts
    12
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BachIsBest View Post
    However, using the specific tonal system the 18th century Europeans came up with, rather than making music more in the style of India or even Renaissance era modality, is probably to some extent arbitrary.

    I don't want this to go off-topic into yet another atonal-tonal debate so I just want to explicitly note that none of this means that there aren't other non-tonality based ways of making sounds that people may classify as music and enjoy.
    As of now (without having learned anything to refute that notion, that is), I'm quite convinced that this is hardwired too - major and "harmonic"/melodic minor (as opposed to "natural"), due to the major-key dominant and the 7# note, sound decisive, "defined", and convey the sense of "standing firmly on the ground";

    whereas natural minor and the other modes tend to sound more like they're hovering in the air, the 5-1 resolution sounds "flatter", more like a comma and less like a full-stop;

    seems like that sort of hovering sound was simply not as favored between early baroque and late 19th century, and that was the reason for that "tonal paradigm"?




    As for "reading music", isn't it true that it would be a lot easier with sensible notation system structured more like a keyboard? The standard notation system doesn't even acknowledge octaves, and makes learning to read it artificially difficult; the only thing that's even worse is guitar tabs. Probably would be a walk in the park otherwise (even to those already used to the standard one, if it looked sufficiently different), although I haven't tried it yet.

  4. #18
    New Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
    Posts
    12
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by chihwahli View Post
    Learning Music theory and someone said something like: "to compose we have to forget theory.."

    There are many rules like ending at Tonic. Why? Is this Tonic not bashed into our brain after many many years and we just get used to it so much that it sounds off / strange if it does not end at Tonic?

    Is it actually possible to compose music without any theory, just by ear? but by doing so , a composer might find the wrath of theory purists not?

    So, what's your thoughts about theory strictly or by ear? or an combination of both?
    For starters, obviously every possible convention and then some have already been defied and broken 100+ years ago, and any such attempts at gatekeeping by "theory purists" (specifically those holding on to 19th century ideals - probably a niche even in their own field) wouldn't have any real power over you;
    certainly not on the internet where you can just publish anything without going through any 3rd party at all.

    It's strange how, on various "theory" related forums (or the subreddit too), there are frequently questions like this, inquiring about the constraints of (common practice, tonal) theory and what it means to "defy" those - the people asking such questions, are probably very aware of the limitless freedoms of the 20th century and especially the internet age, however probably aren't currently thinking about that while asking the question? Idk, it's strange.



    Either way,
    1) I'm not aware of any findings suggesting that the way we perceive sounds and harmonies etc. aren't largely "hardwired"; for all I know, they are.

    So it "ending in tonic" is naturally perceived as "affirmative", as conveying some kind of sentence with a full-stop or an exclamation mark, etc.;
    if you don't end in tonic, say you just play a Dominant 7th chord and let it hover in the air, without any implication of it having to "resolve", then it's just gonna sound trippy and surreal; like typical "impressionism", which I believe was the movement that first did away with this notion that everything has to "resolve", and is known for its trippy surreal character.

    In that particular case, the effect stems from the fact that the Dominant 7th (i.e. like gbd'f') is made up out of a major chord and a diminished chord - and that if it's played in the "tonal resolution" context (esp. the most basic one, in this case in C major), it sounds like a spiced up (G) major chord;
    whereas if you play it without "resolution", impressionist style, then it'll start sounding like a "major colored" diminished chord.



    2) I think with a sufficient computing power in your brain (incl. good aural imagination/memory), one should be able to compose anything, without the crutches of either "studying theory" or visual notation of any kind;

    in practice, how achievable such a brain power is, I don't really know as of now. Probably more exception that norm?

  5. #19
    Senior Member Luchesi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    2,376
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by YusufeVirdayyLmao View Post
    As of now (without having learned anything to refute that notion, that is), I'm quite convinced that this is hardwired too - major and "harmonic"/melodic minor (as opposed to "natural"), due to the major-key dominant and the 7# note, sound decisive, "defined", and convey the sense of "standing firmly on the ground";

    whereas natural minor and the other modes tend to sound more like they're hovering in the air, the 5-1 resolution sounds "flatter", more like a comma and less like a full-stop;

    seems like that sort of hovering sound was simply not as favored between early baroque and late 19th century, and that was the reason for that "tonal paradigm"?




    As for "reading music", isn't it true that it would be a lot easier with sensible notation system structured more like a keyboard? The standard notation system doesn't even acknowledge octaves, and makes learning to read it artificially difficult; the only thing that's even worse is guitar tabs. Probably would be a walk in the park otherwise (even to those already used to the standard one, if it looked sufficiently different), although I haven't tried it yet.
    Look into it, but I don't think there's a better system than what kids are taught today. I used to believe that there was, and all I had to do was to find it, among the two new, well-received notational systems back then. One's visual and one's numerical. The problem is, we generally don't know how good the current system is, until we switch to something else.
    Albert Einstein, "I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.

  6. Likes Roger Knox liked this post
  7. #20
    New Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
    Posts
    12
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Luchesi View Post
    Look into it, but I don't think there's a better system than what kids are taught today. I used to believe that there was, and all I had to do was to find it, among the two new, well-received notational systems back then. One's visual and one's numerical. The problem is, we generally don't know how good the current system is, until we switch to something else.
    Hm, what other system (or 2 of them?) are you referring to, is that sth one can look up?

    The type I was talking about would also be "visual" and not look too different from the established one; haven't really looked into such attempts or tried anything myself though, as of now.

  8. #21
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    5,530
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by YusufeVirdayyLmao View Post
    It's strange how, on various "theory" related forums (or the subreddit too), there are frequently questions like this, inquiring about the constraints of (common practice, tonal) theory and what it means to "defy" those - the people asking such questions, are probably very aware of the limitless freedoms of the 20th century and especially the internet age, however probably aren't currently thinking about that while asking the question? Idk, it's strange.
    The people asking those questions are usually theory dropouts or people who know or suspect they should have studied more theory but failed to do so. In either case they generally don't understand what's important to learn from studying common practice harmony and counterpoint — that is, voice-leading and the art of writing independent lines motivated by harmonic progression. Because they don't comprehend what the objective of theory study is they get worked up about constraining rules and defiance of rules. It's not about rules, it's about basic principles underlying 500 years of western art music.

    Quote Originally Posted by YusufeVirdayyLmao View Post
    So it "ending in tonic" is naturally perceived as "affirmative", as conveying some kind of sentence with a full-stop or an exclamation mark, etc.;
    if you don't end in tonic, say you just play a Dominant 7th chord and let it hover in the air, without any implication of it having to "resolve", then it's just gonna sound trippy and surreal; like typical "impressionism", which I believe was the movement that first did away with this notion that everything has to "resolve", and is known for its trippy surreal character.

    In that particular case, the effect stems from the fact that the Dominant 7th (i.e. like gbd'f') is made up out of a major chord and a diminished chord - and that if it's played in the "tonal resolution" context (esp. the most basic one, in this case in C major), it sounds like a spiced up (G) major chord;
    whereas if you play it without "resolution", impressionist style, then it'll start sounding like a "major colored" diminished chord.
    Impressionists don't use dominant seventh chords that way. You must be thinking of the blues.


    Quote Originally Posted by YusufeVirdayyLmao View Post
    I think with a sufficient computing power in your brain (incl. good aural imagination/memory), one should be able to compose anything, without the crutches of either "studying theory" or visual notation of any kind;

    in practice, how achievable such a brain power is, I don't really know as of now. Probably more exception that norm?
    Crutches? Don't be silly. That's like saying a painter shouldn't need the crutch of learning how to draw or a novelist shouldn't be constrained by learning basic grammar.

    Your frogs make me shudder with intolerable loathing and I shall be miserable for the rest of my life remembering them.
    — Mikhail Bulgakov, The Fatal Eggs

    When a true genius appears on the earth, you may know him by this sign, that all of the dunces are in confederacy against him.
    — Jonathan Swift

  9. #22
    New Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
    Posts
    12
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    Impressionists don't use dominant seventh chords that way. You must be thinking of the blues.
    I haven't (consciously/attentively) heard either for a while, and not that sure about either genre's borders either (and with impressionism, as I understand, there generally aren't any defined ones to begin with - the 2 composers most associated with it having rejected the label).

    I was thinking of a particular passage from Ondine based around the Ab79 chord, however from memory that may have been an augmented/wholetone one instead, or a combination; and some other few things based around a 79 chord and in mixolydian mode, however I can't remember which that was, so touche I suppose lol;

    Jeux d'eau begins with a major 7th chord and uses that one as the center, so that's a comparable example (just a different 7th chord - however an even more dissonant one).


    As for blues, are you talking about the 135 - 146 - 157 - 146 - 135 sequence? In that case, the dom7th is kinda supposed to carry tension and resolve into the major chord(s) though, from what I understand.




    The people asking those questions are usually theory dropouts or people who know or suspect they should have studied more theory but failed to do so. In either case they generally don't understand what's important to learn from studying common practice harmony and counterpoint — that is, voice-leading and the art of writing independent lines motivated by harmonic progression. Because they don't comprehend what the objective of theory study is they get worked up about constraining rules and defiance of rules. It's not about rules, it's about basic principles underlying 500 years of western art music.
    "Rules" and "principles" sound kinda synonymous; one could say it's more about the ways humans perceive sounds, and the theory laying out the discoveries about that in an organized fashion.

    Either way we're just talking about posters who either think of these "principles" as prescriptive, or think not following them will get them blocked from every possible platform (and not just the local, limited ones controlled by those ominous authority figures they have in mind - probably their schools or certain academic circles they're involved in?) or something along those lines.

    Did some of them drop out somewhere? I'm sure some did lol




    Crutches? Don't be silly. That's like saying a painter shouldn't need the crutch of learning how to draw or a novelist shouldn't be constrained by learning basic grammar.
    Language, along with its grammar, spelling/pronunciation, and just the very meaning of the word themselves, is entirely "invented" - even though it starts feeling natural and primal when sufficiently absorbed by the brain (to such an extent that, e.g., a "wrong word order" feels wrong and awkward even though it's in fact a correct word order in some other language), it's not actually natural and primal the way music is fundamentally;

    and my point was just that someone with a sufficiently high intellect can quickly figure out stuff about music, or perspective in drawing etc., that others may need to be "taught" about;
    however depending on the definition of "theory", one could say that what that person is figuring out, is still that same "theory" (as long as it's something conscious and organized, that is).

  10. #23
    Senior Member Enthalpy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Posts
    390
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    These aren't the same:
    • Learning to play music
    • Learning music theory
    • Learning composition

    And I stand by what I wrote: J-S Bach and Eugène Ysaÿe had not learned composition.

    ==========

    A problem with (European) music theory is that it applies only to pop music. With dominant, tonic and so on, you can write rock'n roll. This is what untrained ears expect and are happy with.

    But you can't analyse more elaborate music with that theory. It fails at J-S Bach's music, 300 years old. Even the Badinerie contains modulations not foreseen in textbooks. Chromatic passages abound in the violin sonatas and partitas.

    Or already John Dowland's music, a century earlier than J-S Bach.

    So, no, music theory isn't absolute - it doesn't even apply often, even in baroque music, and far less in romantic and more recent music. It isn't even a very useful guideline.

    And I say: good thing that the great composers didn't care. It contributed to make their music interesting.
    In Brittany, it rains only on idiots.
    You just write French exactly like you spell it. Very simple!
    In the Navy, one must salute everything that moves and paint the rest.
    I wish so dearly Mozart were still alive! And his music already dead.

  11. #24
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    1,143
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Enthalpy View Post
    These aren't the same:
    • Learning to play music
    • Learning music theory
    • Learning composition

    And I stand by what I wrote: J-S Bach and Eugène Ysaÿe had not learned composition.

    ==========

    A problem with (European) music theory is that it applies only to pop music. With dominant, tonic and so on, you can write rock'n roll. This is what untrained ears expect and are happy with.

    But you can't analyse more elaborate music with that theory. It fails at J-S Bach's music, 300 years old. Even the Badinerie contains modulations not foreseen in textbooks. Chromatic passages abound in the violin sonatas and partitas.

    Or already John Dowland's music, a century earlier than J-S Bach.

    So, no, music theory isn't absolute - it doesn't even apply often, even in baroque music, and far less in romantic and more recent music. It isn't even a very useful guideline.

    And I say: good thing that the great composers didn't care. It contributed to make their music interesting.

    Makes me wonder what exactly is your conception of music theory

  12. Likes Roger Knox liked this post
  13. #25
    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    1,988
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    5

    Default

    Enthalpy, I'm guessing you have not studied composition because your assessment of music theory doesn't seem to take into account what learning it can do for an aspiring composer and their development (musicians too for that matter).

    I believe your assessment is incorrect in several ways, not least because music theories' constructs have much flexibility once the initial purposes are absorbed. With imagination and lateral thinking, theory has the potential to inspire and support fantasy that goes far beyond any foundational application.

    The subtle and sometimes not so subtle relationship between technique or theory (I tend to make no practical distinction between the two), and its application in actual composing is quite reasonably not often understood given its esoteric and elusive nature. Sometimes even composers don't quite understand how things managed to end up on the manuscript - there's a mystery to it as well.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Nov-18-2021 at 16:22.

  14. Likes Roger Knox, Luchesi liked this post
  15. #26
    Senior Member Tikoo Tuba's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Posts
    582
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Theory is an answer to what is musical purpose.

  16. #27
    Senior Member Luchesi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    2,376
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Yes, the more you use music theory the more you wonder how something else could replace it. For example in my case, I don't have a very good ear so most of what I do while improvising is exploring the logic behind music theory, perhaps from where I left off last time, -- in other words it's a different approach to music (and difficult to explain).
    Albert Einstein, "I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.

  17. #28
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    8,740
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Music theory is fine and can be helpful, but is not necessary to be a good composer, and I say this as someone with a degree in Music Theory & Composition. It is far more important to have curiosity, imagination, and discipline, all working towards developing an individual voice.

    The difference is comparable to learning to read and learning to think critically.

  18. Likes fluteman liked this post
  19. #29
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    3,015
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    Music theory is fine and can be helpful, but is not necessary to be a good composer, and I say this as someone with a degree in Music Theory & Composition. It is far more important to have curiosity, imagination, and discipline, all working towards developing an individual voice.

    The difference is comparable to learning to read and learning to think critically.
    Two examples of musicians who almost couldn't read music at all are Sir Paul McCartney and Luciano Pavarotti. I suspect that if either one of them absolutely had to read a musical score to do what they wanted to do, they could have figured it out. But it wasn't an integral part of their musical activities.

  20. #30
    Senior Member Luchesi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    2,376
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    Music theory is fine and can be helpful, but is not necessary to be a good composer, and I say this as someone with a degree in Music Theory & Composition. It is far more important to have curiosity, imagination, and discipline, all working towards developing an individual voice.

    The difference is comparable to learning to read and learning to think critically.
    What do you use in its place? Rote memory? I try to memorize clever transitions more and more, and I guess that's what self-taught explorers do (more than I do). I've never met a pianist who rigidly memorized, or played in a group totally by ear. There are some. And accompanying is different.
    Albert Einstein, "I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.

Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •