Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

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Tone Deft
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Re: Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

Post by Tone Deft » Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:31 pm

theory for me is a map I pull out every once in a while when things aren't making sense or I'm not sure where to do. what could this next chord be? why does this chord sound weird? what scale am I playing? or I can just noodle around by knowing what scales and chords go well together. sometimes I find that a song that goes against theory but sounds great, oh well.
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AceLuby
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Re: Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

Post by AceLuby » Thu Jul 14, 2011 7:05 pm

Tone Deft wrote:theory for me is a map I pull out every once in a while when things aren't making sense or I'm not sure where to do. what could this next chord be? why does this chord sound weird? what scale am I playing? or I can just noodle around by knowing what scales and chords go well together. sometimes I find that a song that goes against theory but sounds great, oh well.
If you know 'the rules' you know when you're breaking them. Breaking them can be very pleasing to the ears, one of my favorite songs is a I-II-IV-V progression.
levimoniz wrote:yes i'm a hypocrite and not intelligent

stringtapper
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Re: Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

Post by stringtapper » Thu Jul 14, 2011 7:28 pm

AceLuby wrote:If you know 'the rules' you know when you're breaking them. Breaking them can be very pleasing to the ears, one of my favorite songs is a I-II-IV-V progression.
Well… you have to go back to around before Rameau for that progression to be "breaking the rules."

Down by 5th, down by 3rd, and up by step are the most common root movements in the classical literature from about the 18th century on. In fundamental bass theory that progression has a root movement up by third (II-IV), which is permissible and explained as a retrogression through elision. Of course modern music theory would explain the II and IV chords as merely being substitutes for each other and representing a larger "predominant" motion to the V.

Now a progression like this:

I-v-bVII-IV*

Is "breaking the rules."

*The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
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crumhorn
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Re: Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

Post by crumhorn » Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:13 pm

Theory does not equal Rules.

Theory helps you to understand and think about what you're doing and allows you to predict what things will sound like before you hear them.

Rules aren't necessarily a bad thing, but they are often a substitute for creativity I feel. Any working musician needs to know the rules (plus tricks and common practices) associated with the musical genre they are working in. But there is no single "correct" way to approach music and there are no "incorrect" approaches either. IMO

But there are certain inescapable facts. More like laws of nature than man made rules of conduct. Why do certain notes harmonize and others seem to clash? Why do certain melodic and harmonic movements increase the sense of tension and others seem to release it? These are the type of interesting questions that Music theory can help you with.

It also provides a common language for musicians to write down and communicate their ideas.

Scale and Chord presets in Live are just like colours in an artist's palette. The theory helps you understand how to select and combine them to achieve the effect you want.
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stringtapper
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Re: Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

Post by stringtapper » Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:47 pm

crumhorn wrote:Theory does not equal Rules.

Theory helps you to understand and think about what you're doing and allows you to predict what things will sound like before you hear them.

Rules aren't necessarily a bad thing, but they are often a substitute for creativity I feel. Any working musician needs to know the rules (plus tricks and common practices) associated with the musical genre they are working in. But there is no single "correct" way to approach music and there are no "incorrect" approaches either. IMO

But there are certain inescapable facts. More like laws of nature than man made rules of conduct. Why do certain notes harmonize and others seem to clash? Why do certain melodic and harmonic movements increase the sense of tension and others seem to release it? These are the type of interesting questions that Music theory can help you with.

It also provides a common language for musicians to write down and communicate their ideas.
If you want to be a real stickler about defining it, music theory is really just the result of observations of musical practice. A music theorist didn't write down all the rules and then tell all the composers to start composing by them. Practice comes first, and theory attempts to describe it.

Yes the diatonic system seems very magical and like some force of nature to us looking back; its a codified system we can rely on to create a wide array of musical sounds. But it wasn't always codified and it took a loooooooooong time for it to get there. People were making music long before the major/minor tonal system was in use. And consequently musicians were using the tonal system before music theorists wrote all of its "rule" down. Theorists have historically (a) observed past and current musical practice, (b) documented said practice (with varying degrees of accuracy), (c) fought with other theorists about past and current practice, (d) fought with other theorists about how these young composers are breaking all of the rules and how "barbaric" it is! That cycle has continued in similar fashion from around the time of Gaffurius (16th century). Moses didn't go up on the mountain and bring back the "Diatonic Harmony" tablet along with the Ten Commandments. The story of how tonal harmony came to be is a much longer and crooked path.

The question of why some things sound "better" is a very complex one and not nearly as simple as such phenomena being "inescapable facts." The research on the topic reaches from cultural and ethnomusicological studies to hardcore acoustics, psychoacoustics, and physiological studies.
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Tone Deft
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Re: Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

Post by Tone Deft » Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:45 pm

AceLuby wrote:
Tone Deft wrote:theory for me is a map I pull out every once in a while when things aren't making sense or I'm not sure where to do. what could this next chord be? why does this chord sound weird? what scale am I playing? or I can just noodle around by knowing what scales and chords go well together. sometimes I find that a song that goes against theory but sounds great, oh well.
If you know 'the rules' you know when you're breaking them. Breaking them can be very pleasing to the ears, one of my favorite songs is a I-II-IV-V progression.
I was learning songs from Arcade Fire's Suburbs album (f-ing amazing), track 1 is capo on 2, C-Am-E-G. oh, relative minors in C. wait, that should be an Em not an E but the E sounds better on guitar. it 'violates' theory but sounds better. maybe I'm overlooking the context of the progression, maybe something else in the orchestration fills in the minor tonality, don't know.
In my life
Why do I smile
At people who I'd much rather kick in the eye?
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i3igTripplets
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Re: Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

Post by i3igTripplets » Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:59 pm

Tone Deft wrote:
AceLuby wrote:
Tone Deft wrote:theory for me is a map I pull out every once in a while when things aren't making sense or I'm not sure where to do. what could this next chord be? why does this chord sound weird? what scale am I playing? or I can just noodle around by knowing what scales and chords go well together. sometimes I find that a song that goes against theory but sounds great, oh well.
If you know 'the rules' you know when you're breaking them. Breaking them can be very pleasing to the ears, one of my favorite songs is a I-II-IV-V progression.
I was learning songs from Arcade Fire's Suburbs album (f-ing amazing), track 1 is capo on 2, C-Am-E-G. oh, relative minors in C. wait, that should be an Em not an E but the E sounds better on guitar. it 'violates' theory but sounds better. maybe I'm overlooking the context of the progression, maybe something else in the orchestration fills in the minor tonality, don't know.
Or you are out of tune? :D
Thanks for telling me to study music theory years back, by the way - I actually started looking into the stuff and it's truly awesome right from the start.

I am still reading it, but the book Music Theory for Computer Musicians is pretty straightforward laymens terms stuff. I recommend that for anyone whose afraid to broach the subject.

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Re: Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

Post by Gaetano CAPUANO » Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:07 am

there is no replacing a working knowledge of music theory.
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AceLuby
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Re: Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

Post by AceLuby » Fri Jul 15, 2011 1:30 pm

stringtapper wrote:
AceLuby wrote:If you know 'the rules' you know when you're breaking them. Breaking them can be very pleasing to the ears, one of my favorite songs is a I-II-IV-V progression.
Well… you have to go back to around before Rameau for that progression to be "breaking the rules."

Down by 5th, down by 3rd, and up by step are the most common root movements in the classical literature from about the 18th century on. In fundamental bass theory that progression has a root movement up by third (II-IV), which is permissible and explained as a retrogression through elision. Of course modern music theory would explain the II and IV chords as merely being substitutes for each other and representing a larger "predominant" motion to the V.

Now a progression like this:

I-v-bVII-IV*

Is "breaking the rules."

*The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
By 'breaking the rules' I simply meant that the II chord should really be a ii chord, but it fits well in this context. It was just a simple example that doesn't 'fit' into basic diatonic modes.
levimoniz wrote:yes i'm a hypocrite and not intelligent

stringtapper
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Re: Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

Post by stringtapper » Fri Jul 15, 2011 4:26 pm

AceLuby wrote:
stringtapper wrote:
AceLuby wrote:
By 'breaking the rules' I simply meant that the II chord should really be a ii chord, but it fits well in this context. It was just a simple example that doesn't 'fit' into basic diatonic modes.
Didn't know you were using the case=quality roman numeral system, but it doesn't matter because the major II is functioning as the secondary dominant V/V with an interruption of the IV in between. Nothing you won't find in tonal harmony of the 19th century and a well-established usage according to "the rules."
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cramos241
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Re: Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

Post by cramos241 » Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:41 pm

stringtapper wrote:
AceLuby wrote:If you know 'the rules' you know when you're breaking them. Breaking them can be very pleasing to the ears, one of my favorite songs is a I-II-IV-V progression.
Well… you have to go back to around before Rameau for that progression to be "breaking the rules."

Down by 5th, down by 3rd, and up by step are the most common root movements in the classical literature from about the 18th century on. In fundamental bass theory that progression has a root movement up by third (II-IV), which is permissible and explained as a retrogression through elision. Of course modern music theory would explain the II and IV chords as merely being substitutes for each other and representing a larger "predominant" motion to the V.

Now a progression like this:

I-v-bVII-IV*

Is "breaking the rules."

*The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
ooooooh holla back if you down the 18th century counter-point! love me some theory.

to the dude asking if he should learn that ish or not. i think it boils down to this: its not about whether or not you need it to produce a good song. there are producers out there that without theory knowledge are makin killer tracks. i feel this might hinder your general workflow or maybe cause chord progression ideas to be a little lacking after a while but nevertheless, you should just be learning that theory cause ultimately you want to excel at your art. dont you wanna do more than just "get by" musically speaking?


Gaetano CAPUANO
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Re: Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

Post by Gaetano CAPUANO » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:07 pm

Yeah thats what it sounds like when Ste Urkel raps LOLOLOLLZZZZ lil B
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Gaetano CAPUANO
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Re: Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

Post by Gaetano CAPUANO » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:11 pm

that was too fun man. That little dudes got some funny tracks man! LOL

But one question, is the free lil Wayne song serious? That one bumps hard, cant tell.
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Machinesworking
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Re: Why do I need music theory when I have "Scale" and "Chord"?

Post by Machinesworking » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:20 pm

I'm not interested in the scale tool, I think if you want to play music in formal keys, you should learn music theory, the only advantage to not knowing theory is happy accidents and lack of self consciousness about stepping outside the rules, though it comes at the cost of expediency and it will take you forever to develop your sound. Plus it's very possible you'll just be doing regular scales anyway, so you would have benefited from knowing theory.

With all that said, even if you're interested in breaking the "rules" etc. only roughly half the people who've changed music in a big way are untrained, so it makes little difference in the evolution of music either way.

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