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Thread: 'Essential' or useful Music Theory for amateurs to enhance enjoyment of music?.

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    Default 'Essential' or useful Music Theory for amateurs to enhance enjoyment of music?.

    For those who don't play, compose or conduct are there elements of music theory / musicology which are useful to enhance enjoyment of music?
    What aspects of music theory are "essential" to hold one's own (blag it) in a discussion of music with people who know what they are talking about?

    As school though I played and was taught an instrument I was taught no musical theory other than monkey read monkey play and the blues scale. Nothing in general music class either.
    I met a music teacher a few months back and speaking of my absolute lack of music theory knowledge they said they do teach everyone some things such as 'The 8 elements of music'
    They taught us nothing about form, types of ensembles which are of definite interest when buying recorded music, modals, history.
    What else did they not teach us?

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    Senior Member Richannes Wrahms's Avatar
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    I'd say the most general recognisable thing is probably form.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Learning to recognise motifs may enhance your appreciation. You could then follow their development and transformations in a sonata or symphony as it progresses.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Sep-16-2021 at 14:17.

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Being able to identify whether a note is higher or lower than the preceding note! I have had fun with friends when I have played a note on the flute then another note and asked them if the second note was higher or lower. I was amazed at how many of them had a poor or non-existent sense of pitch and couldn’t be accurate every time. They all enjoyed music but weren’t big fans and had negligible collections. Maybe a few CDs of popular music. I imagine there might be a connection.
    Last edited by Barbebleu; Sep-16-2021 at 16:36.
    "...it is said that first your heart sings, then you play. I think if it is not like that, then it is only just combination of notes, isn't it? " - Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Master of the Sitar.

    ‘When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!‘

    ‘It will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end!’

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbebleu View Post
    Being able to identify whether a note is higher or lower than the preceding note! I have had fun with friends when I have played a note on the flute then another note and asked them if the second note was higher or lower. I was amazed at how many of them had a poor or non-existent sense of pitch and couldn’t be accurate every time. They all enjoyed music but weren’t big fans and had negligible collections. Maybe a few CDs of popular music. I imagine there might be a connection.
    Relative pitch?

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankE View Post
    Relative pitch?
    Just so. xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    "...it is said that first your heart sings, then you play. I think if it is not like that, then it is only just combination of notes, isn't it? " - Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Master of the Sitar.

    ‘When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!‘

    ‘It will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end!’

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    Senior Member mbhaub's Avatar
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    I believe that a person can thoroughly enjoy classical without any training - I know I did. And there are clearly things that improve one's appreciation: knowledge of the instruments, for example. Peter and the Wolf isn't popular without reason - it achieves its goal beautifully. So does Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.

    Knowledge of form really helps, too. It lets a novice learn the terrain of a work. A working knowledge of music history and the styles really helps, too. But knowing things like how "the composer modulates to the subdominant key" is useless - I don't know any musicians who talk that way. But one thing to not do: don't ever try to bluff your way around a discussion of music with pros unless you really know your stuff. Just shut up, listen, and learn. Learn from the experts. Of course, that old saying always is in the back of my mind: The Experts Usually Aren't.
    "It is surprising how easily one can become used to bad music" - F. Mendelssohn

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    Senior Member pianozach's Avatar
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    I learned to play piano without any formal training in music theory. What I knew of music theory was the bare minimum needed to learn and play music flawlessly.

    I've acquired a great bunch of music theory, some being a Music Major in college, but most of it was through experience.

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