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Thread: Roman numerals are for amateurs!

  1. #46
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gargamel View Post
    Need to know these roman numerals to compose good tunes? I don't think Irving Berlin did.
    Bach, Mozart and Beethoven did not know Roman numerals

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    Senior Member Luchesi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    Bach, Mozart and Beethoven did not know Roman numerals
    True. Tell us what they did.
    Albert Einstein, "I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.

  3. #48
    Senior Member Luchesi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by composingmusic;2195854[B
    ]It's definitely possible to write good music without knowing theory,[/B] but theory helps one be aware of what they're doing. Roman numerals are helpful in this, as are other theoretical tools (depending on what one is doing, and used with discretion of course).
    Tell us how you would do it.

    And can you improvise without using the Roman numerals?
    Albert Einstein, "I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.

  4. #49
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luchesi View Post
    True. Tell us what they did.
    Figured bass, schema and part writing rules

  5. #50
    Senior Member Red Terror's Avatar
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    Not a fan of the Romans; they liked children (a little too much) and broke wind in public without ever apologizing.
    Last edited by Red Terror; Jan-11-2022 at 17:54.

  6. #51
    Senior Member Luchesi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    Figured bass, schema and part writing rules
    Thanks, that is what I thought. That's what it looks like to me in the scores, but my question in the past (I've tried) has been what do you start with? Bass? Or bass with the parts above it forming a recognized group of notes we see in music over and over?

    'Seems very difficult. My friend composes choir pieces like that (3 or 4 voices moving along). I'll stick with my various favorite progressions as starting points and guidance. ...because they're inspiring in among themselves, so to speak, with the same endless combinations but easier to put into words to share with others.
    Albert Einstein, "I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.

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  8. #52
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luchesi View Post
    Thanks, that is what I thought. That's what it looks like to me in the scores, but my question in the past (I've tried) has been what do you start with? Bass? Or bass with the parts above it forming a recognized group of notes we see in music over and over?

    'Seems very difficult. My friend composes choir pieces like that (3 or 4 voices moving along). I'll stick with my various favorite progressions as starting points and guidance. ...because they're inspiring in among themselves, so to speak, with the same endless combinations but easier to put into words to share with others.
    The rule of the octave is the starting point then learning some basic schemas like the Romenesca and Prinner, been kind of a Renaissance in rediscovering 18th century pedagogy

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    Senior Member Luchesi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    The rule of the octave is the starting point then learning some basic schemas like the Romenesca and Prinner, been kind of a Renaissance in rediscovering 18th century pedagogy
    Thanks. This is the same problem across the centuries, so why not use the codification reduced down to the familiar numerals and then add the minor (and major) thirds for the ninths, elevenths and thirteenths? It seems to me that progress has been made, so I use it. I know it's been 'played with' by jazz explorers (flattenings), but what they have done to gain popular appeal is obvious. We don't have to sound like that.
    Albert Einstein, "I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.

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  11. #54
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luchesi View Post
    Thanks. This is the same problem across the centuries, so why not use the codification reduced down to the familiar numerals and then add the minor (and major) thirds for the ninths, elevenths and thirteenths? It seems to me that progress has been made, so I use it. I know it's been 'played with' by jazz explorers (flattenings), but what they have done to gain popular appeal is obvious. We don't have to sound like that.
    Its too reductionist to be helpful in creating music - like learning spelling but not grammar. Not really progress, players in the old methods were great improvisers, something modern classical players brought up on this ‘progress’ are generally worthless at. The old methods are building blocks of a language that results in being able to do things like improvise fugues

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I'm giving this thread X/X.

  13. #56
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    Its too reductionist to be helpful in creating music - like learning spelling but not grammar. Not really progress, players in the old methods were great improvisers, something modern classical players brought up on this ‘progress’ are generally worthless at. The old methods are building blocks of a language that results in being able to do things like improvise fugues
    For whom? Anyone not picking up tonal grammar from using Roman numeral analysis has to be either inattentive or a dolt.

    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

  14. #57
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    For whom? Anyone not picking up tonal grammar from using Roman numeral analysis has to be either inattentive or a dolt.
    would just refer you back to the video in the OP

  15. #58
    Member Doublestring's Avatar
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    The most important is to recognize the three basic functions: tonic, dominant and subdominant, or T, D and S. The Roman numerals follow out of that:

    T = I or VI or III
    D = V or VII
    S = IV or II

    Then there are the chords with chromatic changes. They are usually secondary dominants, which can be explained as mini-modulations. Other chromatic chords can be explained as modal elements.

    Figured bass has a practical meaning, meant to accompany Baroque music and as a basis for improvisation. Functional analysis has a theoretical meaning. It helps to understand how harmony works. So the two aren't opposites, they just serve a different purpose: one more practical; the other more theoretical.

  16. #59
    Senior Member Luchesi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doublestring View Post
    The most important is to recognize the three basic functions: tonic, dominant and subdominant, or T, D and S. The Roman numerals follow out of that:

    T = I or VI or III
    D = V or VII
    S = IV or II

    Then there are the chords with chromatic changes. They are usually secondary dominants, which can be explained as mini-modulations. Other chromatic chords can be explained as modal elements.

    Figured bass has a practical meaning, meant to accompany Baroque music and as a basis for improvisation. Functional analysis has a theoretical meaning. It helps to understand how harmony works. So the two aren't opposites, they just serve a different purpose: one more practical; the other more theoretical.
    Yes, thanks. As a player and an improviser (even in my amateurish jazz stylings) I need to know where I am at every moment, for confidence. So I use the short-hands and the many elaborated symbols I'm accustomed to. For me, it's a matter of the whole being greater than all the tiny parts (within the amount of time I want to spend on pure sounds).
    Last edited by Luchesi; Jan-21-2022 at 04:45.
    Albert Einstein, "I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.

  17. #60
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Reading a new book by Derek Remes analyzing the WTC preludes using figured bass (thoroughbass) and he explains at the beginning why he avoids functional analysis and roman numerals:

    https://derekremes.com/publications/

    I generally avoid or minimize three other types of abstraction. First, inversional equivalence—that
    staple of modern harmonic theories—is largely unnecessary here. One reason is that theories involving the
    progression of chordal roots played almost no role in Bach’s circle. Instead, Bach seems to have focused on the
    sounding bassline, specifically the scale degree of the bass, as evidenced, among other things, by Kayser’s
    analyses mentioned above. Exceptions, however, are Heinichen and C. P. E. Bach’s concepts of Exchange of 31
    Resolution and Exchange of Harmony (see Question 8), which involve inversional equivalence, yet without a
    generative chordal root, as in modern harmonic theories. Thus, any chord may be considered the starting
    position from which others are measured, yet the intervals between chordal roots remain irrelevant.

    As mentioned already, a second type of abstraction I wish to avoid, or at least attenuate, is prolongational
    equivalence. A prolongation occurs when a harmonic progression (or an entire piece) can be understood to
    perpetuate a single chord. However, as said before, this concept can easily lead to a conflation of chord and key.
    Thus, while large-scale prolongation is certainly of some analytical interest, it of little use for practical
    musicians. This excludes an understanding of pedal points or how neighbor, passing, and suspended tones can
    ornament an underlying harmony at the small scale, however, which I consider essential in the present context.

    The third and final kind of abstraction that I generally disregard is functional equivalence. The theory of
    harmonic functions posits that all chords can be assigned a tonic, dominant, or subdominant function. But just
    as a color photograph is generally impoverished by reducing it to the three primary colors of red, yellow, and
    blue, so too does functional harmonic analysis often impoverish our understanding of a piece of music. Like
    prolongation, functional analysis oversimplifies by positing too many similarities between dissimilar things.
    That is, functional equivalence is the byproduct of an excess of abstraction that has its analytical applications,
    but which is of less interest to historically oriented practitioners
    .

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