Music theory help?

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Lazos
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by Lazos » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:51 pm

MPGK wrote:
Lazos wrote:btw, for beginner students in Western common practice theory, D sharp and E flat should be exactly (enharmonically) the same (just like on a piano or guitar). It would be too confusing (IMHO) to start talking about historical tunings, comma/cent deviations and the like for a beginner.
That's exactly what I mean by learning the wrong way.
Sure, they sound the same on guitar and piano and in the absolute abstract, but in fact they are two completely different things. It would actually be MUCH MORE confusing NOT to teach students the difference, and these are fundamental basics and have absolutely nothing to do with "historical tunings" or deviations of any kind - though, in fact, on a violin, a D sharp sounds different than an E flat.

e.g., in a C minor chord, this note would be the third: 1-2-3 - C-D-E. Add the flat given by the key you're in, and you're good to go. Ta-dah, it's an E flat. It's really that easy. Calling it a D sharp would be like calling your own mother "grandma's daughter". It's the same thing, but it's overly complicated - plus, it could also mean your aunt.

I don't know how often I had to explain this to students because they learned it wrong. And as a result, they end up confused and frustrated when faced with more complicated harmonic or melodic issues.
Ah, what you are talking about is pure Western THEORY. I think I misunderstood where your emphasis lay.

I understand calling the third in a C minor chord a "D sharp" is wrong. That is basic theory and this might explain better for some why they are different in a theoretical sense: Because early on, students are taught when learning the musical staff that one cannot have both flats and sharps in the given key signature. AND (though not often stated explicitly) scales need to have visual appeal on the staff. You can't have your third of the scale appearing on the space reserved for the second degree with just an accidental modifying it. This is why when you write the C minor scale, the third is E flat and not D sharp.

Now, Saying that a D sharp and an E flat sound different on a violin means you are NOT playing in 12-tone equal temperament. They actually ARE different in other systems such as traditional Turkish music, for instance. But in 12-tone equal temperament they are indeed the same. Thus the term "enharmonic".

MPGK
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by MPGK » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:31 am

Lazos wrote:
MPGK wrote:
Lazos wrote:btw, for beginner students in Western common practice theory, D sharp and E flat should be exactly (enharmonically) the same (just like on a piano or guitar). It would be too confusing (IMHO) to start talking about historical tunings, comma/cent deviations and the like for a beginner.
That's exactly what I mean by learning the wrong way.
Sure, they sound the same on guitar and piano and in the absolute abstract, but in fact they are two completely different things. It would actually be MUCH MORE confusing NOT to teach students the difference, and these are fundamental basics and have absolutely nothing to do with "historical tunings" or deviations of any kind - though, in fact, on a violin, a D sharp sounds different than an E flat.

e.g., in a C minor chord, this note would be the third: 1-2-3 - C-D-E. Add the flat given by the key you're in, and you're good to go. Ta-dah, it's an E flat. It's really that easy. Calling it a D sharp would be like calling your own mother "grandma's daughter". It's the same thing, but it's overly complicated - plus, it could also mean your aunt.

I don't know how often I had to explain this to students because they learned it wrong. And as a result, they end up confused and frustrated when faced with more complicated harmonic or melodic issues.
Ah, what you are talking about is pure Western THEORY. I think I misunderstood where your emphasis lay.

I understand calling the third in a C minor chord a "D sharp" is wrong. That is basic theory and this might explain better for some why they are different in a theoretical sense: Because early on, students are taught when learning the musical staff that one cannot have both flats and sharps in the given key signature. AND (though not often stated explicitly) scales need to have visual appeal on the staff. You can't have your third of the scale appearing on the space reserved for the second degree with just an accidental modifying it. This is why when you write the C minor scale, the third is E flat and not D sharp.

Now, Saying that a D sharp and an E flat sound different on a violin means you are NOT playing in 12-tone equal temperament. They actually ARE different in other systems such as traditional Turkish music, for instance. But in 12-tone equal temperament they are indeed the same. Thus the term "enharmonic".
This is not about pure theory. It's a very practical way of thinking and the only reasonable and responsible way of teaching, you might agree.
And yes, I am actually speaking about Western music. Ask any professional string player, be it Violin, Cello or Double Bass - an E flat is played and therefore sounds different than its enharmonic equivalent D sharp. And that's the point where you stop thinking about temperaments and deviations and theory and let your fingers and ears do the work.

thefinger
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by thefinger » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:46 am

mersault wrote: Beethoven was one of the biggest, most badass musical rebels EVER (not only for his time, but for years to come as well) - and he knew a few things about music theory.
not to mention he was at the time considered one of the best keyboard talents around.

and he basically broke into the scene by stealing other people's music. ha. how is that for a rebel? but then he could back it up wth even better music of his own.
Last edited by thefinger on Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

thefinger
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by thefinger » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:49 am

do you mean in context to the other notes MPGK??, i eventually got to a point where i stopped even really thinking about the alphabetical pitch classes so much and starting thinking about things more in numerical degrees from the tonic.

mersault
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by mersault » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:11 am

MPGK wrote:and he basically broke into the scene by stealing other people's music. ha. how is that for a rebel? but then he could back it up wth even better music of his own.
I have to respectfully disagree - yes, he became known as a young prodigy playing many already existing works (as did Mozart and many others before him), but his fame grew largely around his skills of improvisation (which we will unfortunately NEVER be able to hear!) True, his early works emulated Mozart and Haydn, but all composers/songwriters reflect their influences. His earliest original pieces were always highly regarded as well - and never considered "hack." ...and his late pieces WOW - forget it - NEXT LEVEL!!!...

so sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread - just something very dear to me.
thefinger wrote:do you mean in context to the other notes MPGK??, i eventually got to a point where i stopped even really thinking about the alphabetical pitch classes so much and starting thinking about things more in numerical degrees from the tonic.


I would say that you're on the right track - that way of thinking makes absolute sense and is very practical!!! I'm not an expert on this, but I do teach music for a living - though not a ton of theory.

JamieinNC
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by JamieinNC » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:54 am

Tell me about it. I played op. 101 in graduate school and it was crazy.

Quick question...I've taken every theory course known to man through college, but wonder (from the second or third post) what exactly is an "augmented dominant seventh chord?" There is very little I don't understand about music theory and must admit this one threw me for a loop.

Here's my rationale. "Augmented" would suggest that the base triad under the seventh would be augmented, which would render the chord as NOT being a dominant seventh any further. Or, the fifth of the chord above the octave is raised while keeping the internal fifth perfect, which doesn't quite sound too good. So which is it?

Jamie

thefinger
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by thefinger » Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:24 am

mersault wrote:
MPGK wrote:and he basically broke into the scene by stealing other people's music. ha. how is that for a rebel? but then he could back it up wth even better music of his own.
I have to respectfully disagree - yes, he became known as a young prodigy playing many already existing works (as did Mozart and many others before him), but his fame grew largely around his skills of improvisation (which we will unfortunately NEVER be able to hear!) True, his early works emulated Mozart and Haydn, but all composers/songwriters reflect their influences. His earliest original pieces were always highly regarded as well - and never considered "hack." ...and his late pieces WOW - forget it - NEXT LEVEL!!!...

so sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread - just something very dear to me.
thefinger wrote:do you mean in context to the other notes MPGK??, i eventually got to a point where i stopped even really thinking about the alphabetical pitch classes so much and starting thinking about things more in numerical degrees from the tonic.


I would say that you're on the right track - that way of thinking makes absolute sense and is very practical!!! I'm not an expert on this, but I do teach music for a living - though not a ton of theory.

well i had a hell of a theory teacher who was unexpectedly goal oriented. i wouldn't quite say "boot camp" but i learned a ton and i'm super glad she pushed me the way she did.

so im very thankful for any music teacher who takes their job seriously.

as for the beethoven thing, i watched like a five hour marathon of a documentary on him on Netflix and they were describing how he had gone to "the elders" in Vienna (or some other such artistic institution, forget exactly what they were called) to be assigned a teacher, and had been so caught up with the journey to austria that he was unprepared and played soembody else's music claiming it was his own. either way, take it with a grain of salt because it essentially doesnt matter - the man was a genius.

Lazos
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by Lazos » Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:17 am

MPGK wrote: This is not about pure theory. It's a very practical way of thinking and the only reasonable and responsible way of teaching, you might agree.
And yes, I am actually speaking about Western music. Ask any professional string player, be it Violin, Cello or Double Bass - an E flat is played and therefore sounds different than its enharmonic equivalent D sharp. And that's the point where you stop thinking about temperaments and deviations and theory and let your fingers and ears do the work.
Sure, I agree, man. I AM a professional string player (yayl? tanbur), and I often move my frets around or simply disregard the frets altogether to make sure a particular scale or tune I'm playing sound good and right to me and with the other musicians I'm playing with.

MPGK
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by MPGK » Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:24 am

mersault wrote:
MPGK wrote:and he basically broke into the scene by stealing other people's music. ha. how is that for a rebel? but then he could back it up wth even better music of his own.
I have to respectfully disagree [...]
HEY! I didn't write that!! :P
Lazos wrote:Sure, I agree, man. I AM a professional string player (yayl? tanbur), and I often move my frets around or simply disregard the frets altogether to make sure a particular scale or tune I'm playing sound good and right to me and with the other musicians I'm playing with.
Haha, I was talking about classical Western strings, but I get it.
thefinger wrote:do you mean in context to the other notes MPGK??, i eventually got to a point where i stopped even really thinking about the alphabetical pitch classes so much and starting thinking about things more in numerical degrees from the tonic.
Of course you can move to the abstract and start talking about functions and intervals. The advantage of functional thinking is that you can transpose and reflect easier, also I don't hear absolute pitches, but I hear relative pitches very well, which is far more important. If I think in a certain key or in functions and intervals heavily depends on the situation. And often it's best to do both.
JamieinNC wrote:Quick question...I've taken every theory course known to man through college, but wonder (from the second or third post) what exactly is an "augmented dominant seventh chord?" There is very little I don't understand about music theory and must admit this one threw me for a loop.

Here's my rationale. "Augmented" would suggest that the base triad under the seventh would be augmented, which would render the chord as NOT being a dominant seventh any further. Or, the fifth of the chord above the octave is raised while keeping the internal fifth perfect, which doesn't quite sound too good. So which is it?
Ah, that's a jazz thing. What I meant was an augmented triad with a minor seven. Most of the time, it's written down like this: X7(#5).
The difference to adding a b13 (here we go again, enharmonics) is that the augmented fifth replaces the fifth of the triad.
The chord still has dominant function and the minor 7 is actually often omitted when playing or arranging as it is not necessary for the inner suspense of the chord.
You can play dominant scales with a b13 over those (HM5, altered dominant) or go with the corresponding wholetone scale, which sounds neat-o. Great for film scores!

evon
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by evon » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:30 pm

Tone Deft wrote:^very good point. the basic 5 note pentatonic scale can be incredibly versatile.

the freedom of stepping into a band situation and being able to jam along with scales is an amazing experience. Band In A Box was an incredible tool for me to learn the fretboard, it's well past time I did that with the keyboard.
I knew that there was something in common why we tend to disagree so much. Actually, my experience is similar, I started out in a singing group, then bought a guitar, left my job shortly afterwards, did some recording studio sessions, played in a few reggae bands. Still couldn't find the musical freedom I was after. Got computer literate, ended up online found a DAW called Multitrack Studio and many years after..here I am.

I am a singer first(believe it or not), guitar is my second nature, and I have been helping myself on the keyboards for sometime now but I doubt whether it will become second nature like the guits.

The other noteworthy development in my music was the oportunity of living around a very recognized musical guru and benefitting from observing first hand the discipline that goes into making music. Even more than the theory of music, it is the reward that comes from the discipline that is gratifying. It is like a complete circle. The benefits that come from the love of music includes even ones personal health and well being..it is complete.

Anyway I think I should stop now, and I apologize for the rambling, just got caught in my memories and the feeling of being able to contribute something that might be of some help to the OP at least.

The point is though (I have to finish), the music theory questions will be answered as you grow musically, learning is dynamic and not linear, my advise is to just get the basics (or rudiments), I believe the rest will fall in place.
fe real!

Jimmyprice
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by Jimmyprice » Tue Jul 13, 2010 1:13 am

thanks so much for all the comments really helpful!

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