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stevenlebeau



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I need help analyzing a Beatles song
      #329076 - 24/07/06 07:20 PM
Hi,

I've been trying to analyze the chord progression for the Beatles song "There's a Place" and there's one particular part of the song where I'm not sure how to describe what's happening harmonically.

This song is in F Major, and the chords of the verses (it's an AABA song) are all diatonic. However, in the bridge the chords go Dm G F A. I know the A (III) is really a V of VI, because it resolves to the Dm chord, but what about the G? Is that a secondary dominant (a V of V) even though it resolves to the tonic (F) instead of the dominant (C)?

-Steven

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DavidW



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #329101 - 24/07/06 08:08 PM
It might help to think G as the tonic major of Gminor. That would make a little more sense maybe


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Ian Stewart



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #329106 - 24/07/06 08:20 PM
The progression from the tonic minor to a major subdominant chord is very common in rock/pop music. I suppose you could say its from the Dorian mode. Think of the numerous Dave Gilmour guitar solos over this progression.
It may not be necessary to analyse chords in a traditional way because rock music came well after Debussy and Bartok who moved away from traditional harmonic relationships.

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IvanSC



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #333720 - 03/08/06 08:13 AM
I prefer to think of this sort of exercise as analising a song....

So many sheet music albums are done by keyboard players approaching guitar music like Mozart and agonising over whether a particular passage has X or Y chords in it, when most of the time the player just stuck a finger out and hit a passing note that `sounded good`, or even *made a mistake*.

I have the Beatle`s Complete (which isn`t by the way - where`s Love me do?) in keyboard/prgan version, also guitar version and they are actually transcribed differently in many cases! Too wierd.

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stevenlebeau



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #334606 - 04/08/06 09:53 PM
Quote noiseconjecture:

It may not be necessary to analyse chords in a traditional way because rock music came well after Debussy and Bartok who moved away from traditional harmonic relationships.




Except that when I hear something in a song that "works", I want to understand how it works. In the case of "There's A Place", I've learned what a II-I movement sounds like (in the context of that specific song).

You don't have to understand the rules of grammar to speak a language, but knowing those rules allows you greater flexibility of expression than rote imitation. (Then again, rote imitation has it's place too).

And as for the II-I, I've decided to treat it like a II-V-I without the V. It might be fun to try this with other scale degrees (maybe a VI-V or a III-ii or...)

-Steven

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Ian Stewart



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #334704 - 05/08/06 07:56 AM
Quote stevenlebeau:


You don't have to understand the rules of grammar to speak a language, but knowing those rules allows you greater flexibility of expression than rote imitation. (Then again, rote imitation has it's place too).





That statement is inherently wrong. The so called rules of harmony were developed retrospectively by Victorian theorists a few centuries after the harmonic system was developed, and at a time when when the harmonic language was changing. Like so many things in the U.K. we think Victorian and particularly Edwardian conventions are traditional when in fact they are relatively new.
Most pop music, jazz etc. does not follow either traditional harmonic practice or Victorian rules. In fact one of the things some of the classical music writers in the 60s said was that the Beatles used wrong harmony but made it sound correct. Because they are so much part of our culture now it is easily forgotten how leftfield they were at the time.
Victorian theory ( and that is what it is) would not allow many of the progressions found in rock music - unresolved 7ths, parallel 5ths, harmonony such as C - Bb - F in the key of C etc. The other reason you should be wary is you are applying a system of analysis to an idiom that comes from a different place so I believe you are using the wrong approach.
Victorian theory also largely works on the practice of harmony working towards resolution in the form of a cadence, this is just not the case in much rock/dance music where once a mood is set up it is maintained and strong cadences could interupt this mood. Much rock/dance also works on the culmulative effect of repeated riffs, chords, loops etc. which is outside the scope or experience of the theorists who formulated the rules.
Quote:

And as for the II-I, I've decided to treat it like a II-V-I without the V




Within the system of analysis you have decided to use you can't do this, II-V-I is a perfect cadence, almost sacred in this theoretical approach and to leave out the dominant is just not possible. This is a perfect case where such harmonic theory just doen't work.

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IvanSC



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #334706 - 05/08/06 08:03 AM
yeah - not a lot of V harmonies around in popular music pre Beatles was there, come to think of it. Can`t imagine Lennon and MacCartney listening to a lot of Gregorian chants, so we have to assume they just `did it.` Like I said.

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Ian Stewart



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: IvanSC]
      #334743 - 05/08/06 10:09 AM
Quote IvanSC:

yeah - not a lot of V harmonies around in popular music pre Beatles was there, come to think of it. Can`t imagine Lennon and MacCartney listening to a lot of Gregorian chants, so we have to assume they just `did it.` Like I said.




Gregorian chant preceded the Euoropean harmonic system which is credited to being developed by Rameau. John Lennon tried to get his voice to sound like Buddhist monks on occassion though.

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IvanSC



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #334752 - 05/08/06 10:32 AM
Wasn`t that more like the octave/unison effect you get with the Nichiren Shoju mob chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo?

Flirted with that a bit in the USA years ago and LOVED the sound of a large roomful of people doing that. Not sure about the philosophy underlying it though.

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Don Chishiotte
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #334814 - 05/08/06 01:43 PM
Quote stevenlebeau:

Quote noiseconjecture:

It may not be necessary to analyse chords in a traditional way because rock music came well after Debussy and Bartok who moved away from traditional harmonic relationships.




Except that when I hear something in a song that "works", I want to understand how it works. In the case of "There's A Place", I've learned what a II-I movement sounds like (in the context of that specific song).

You don't have to understand the rules of grammar to speak a language, but knowing those rules allows you greater flexibility of expression than rote imitation. (Then again, rote imitation has it's place too).

And as for the II-I, I've decided to treat it like a II-V-I without the V. It might be fun to try this with other scale degrees (maybe a VI-V or a III-ii or...)

-Steven





I agree with you Steven. We don't learn a system and then discard it because we will find a chord that at first appears unexplainable. The way you analize the chords stems from the classical traditional way ,and to me, too,that will always be one I'll stick to ( I am also still learning),because it is so much less vague than understanding harmony from a Berklee textbook. I tried both,but so far only the classical approach helped me the most.
I am not saying we shoud be stubborn into a system,only thet there is no need to throw it away,we only have to be flexible in our command of it,I think.
The G chord you refer to,could be viewed as stemming from Dorian as someone here pointed out (sorry I have a bad memory)
You could not possibly classify it as a secondary dominant because a secondary dominant progress a fourth upward,(in some rare cases could simulate a deceptive cadence,but it's easier here to discard the secondary dominant view because the root progresses a second down,not a fourth up).

The chord can be explained as deriving from Dorian,if you think of it as a chromatic chord of some kind....I too used to be very puzzled by these things,but now it's easier if I just think of parallel modes. Shoenberg (I know,big word,I just managed to study the first chapters of traditional harmony from his book)says that we can 'transplant' elements of something into something else ,or the elements of a mode into another mode.(I am recalling this in my own elementary way....he said in it a FAR more refined way!)
Therefore,we can take whatever chord from another mode and implant it into another. This technique is referred,in 'modern' technique as 'mixed modes'.

I personally think that a lot comes from classical theory,even jazz,or fusion. I mean,who came up first with modes or secondary dominants,Bach or Mancini?? I am not saying one is preferable to the other,or better.
Just that,I don't know,I agree with you,I want to learn the grammar so I can have a far greater command of my language,that is all.
It is better than always stumbling in the dark.
And of course my idea is to stick to what I learn and make it stronger,not throw it away just because a mere chord that at first I cannot 'explain' pops up.
I think we just need patience: if we do our work,our assignements,and try to improve our grammar (with practice rather than reading) then I think we will be able to explain away popular music as much as we want.

And as a last note...I always wonder why people say 'if you want to break the rules,you have first to know them'.
I believe that. Otherwise,one could break the rules if he or she has an incredible talent. I think Beatles were like that,they were incredibly creative and naive,and that is always great of course. But otherwise,for most people 'breaking the rules' will always be a fantasy,unless we know them first hand

Anyways....enough of my rantings

Edited by Don Chishiotte (05/08/06 01:46 PM)


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JoeB
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #338327 - 13/08/06 08:52 PM
Hmm - nice big angry debate around whether popular music can be analysed via traditional diatonic harmony theory. Love it! Here are my thoughts - and some more comments on the song itself.

Popular music - certainly the kind of popular music as practised by The Beatles - sticks to some fairly basic harmonic theory. It stays almost entirely in one key and has a heavy reliance on the 'I' chord. However, the strict application of literal diatonic theory (II-V-I, secondary dominants, Schenkerian analysis etc etc) often doesn't work in popular songs. Why? Because songs are often written by guitarists, who have a 'vertical harmonic brain' - i.e. they often perceive harmony as a series of chord 'backings' and don't particularly mind whether the chords have a key-signature-based relationship. Consequently popular music has an enormous number of non-diatonic changes, chosen because they sounded good, and because the songwriter had no reason to thinkn they were using 'wrong' theory. For a basic guitarist/songwriter, it's more ergononimically natural to play A major followed by G# major (e.g. as John Lennon does in the first two chords of 'I'm So Tired') than it is for them to play the more 'correct' A major followed by G#m7b7 (the diatonic version). Over the years these changes have become a language in themselves. So as a previous poster has said, chucking Victorian harmonic theory at popular songs doesn't work, because of the way many songwriters choose chords.

My personal favourite example of this phenomenon is the Undertones' Teenage Kicks - the song's D-major-down-to-Bm riff is an implicit attempt to play D followed by A/C# (A major in 1st inversion) followed by Bm (i.e. a diatonic descending bassline). But because the technique is basic, and the band (rightly) don't give a monkey's about harmonic theory (they were punks after all), guitarist brothers Damian & John O'Neill cheerfully move the D barre chord down a fret so the progression goes Dmajor-C#major-Bminor. Sounds great!

So onward, to 'There's a Place'. This is a fascinating song, because the melody in all the AABA sections is ENTIRELY diatonic - it's all in F major. The rest of the time the band are simply substituting chords to make the song sound more interesting. G major is frequently used as a more angular alternative to G minor. I suppose you could argue that it acts as a IV chord of the D minor, of that it is a secondary dominant that resolves to the C, but to do so would be missing the point of how the song was written. It's not a series of diatonic changes leading logically to a V-I cadence - it's a series of one-bar backings that sound instinctively good to the songwriter over the given melody.

Dorian mode? Perhaps - there's an implicit root of Dm in the bridge, and the following G major chord certainly implies a (B natural) major 6th interval above that D, but again, the songwriter - and the listener - don't think modally. A lot of B******s is talked about the church modes when attempting to analyse popular music. You can crowbar the theory around the chords if you must, but in my opinion it's very hard to find genuine modal material in the Beatles' music (you need to dig out your Led Zep acoustic instrumentals for that!).

This is not to say that the Beatles were not harmonically sophisticated - they did incredibly clever things with chords, some of which actually contained nods towards 'traditional' ways of composing. The pivot-on-a-dime key change device that allows the bridge of 'Here There and Everywhere' to modulate to Bb (from G major) is masterful - and much loved by Schubert. But we need to be very wary of applying analysis tools developed for 'classical' music when trying to understand (particularly McCartney's) songwriting genius. We have to mangle the analysis tools so much that they can become ineffective.

Better, perhaps, to analyse Lennon/McCartney's works by discussing and acknowledging their astonishing use of prosody - the relationship of melodic direction and chord choice to lyric meaning.

[that tearing metallic noise in the background is the sound of a new can of worms being opened].

Joe
UK Songwriting Festival
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Don Chishiotte
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: JoeB]
      #338345 - 13/08/06 09:42 PM
the D major -Bminor progression and progressions like these,are throughly explained in classical harmony.
It could be easily seen as borrowed chord from the parallel minor. The vi of the parallel minor placed into the parallel major.
In classical music it is used to enrich a simple cadence V-I
with I-vi-I (second inversion)- V-I
I don't think that progressions like these are to be attributed to the Damian O'neill guy....he merely heard it and imitated that effect,in his own 'punky' way,whatever that means

I like many kinds of music,including popular music of course,but to say that it's progressions escape the classical theory,frankly makes me laugh.
Wagner and so many top composers learned from traditional classical harmony,yet classical harmony does not explain Paul Mc Cartney?
I don't mean to be pompous...but I think i would laugh if one has studied 10 years in a darn Conservatory and then when I ask 'what is that chord that Paul Mc Cartney uses' he would turn and say 'Oh well,you know,I can only explain classical progressions,but not McCartey,because HIS style does not fit into the classical view'
That would be ridicolous
That's what I think,at least...


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David EtheridgeModerator



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: Don Chishiotte]
      #338405 - 14/08/06 07:06 AM
Hi folks,
you'll find a full dissertation on this tune and everything else the Beatles did in:
Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles, by Dominic Pedler, Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-719-8167-1.
£29.95 and worth every penny and more for 791 pages of enthralling analysis and discussion.

Best wishes,
Dave.

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SunShineState



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #338544 - 14/08/06 01:06 PM
I think the thing you have to remember about Lennon and McCartney was that they started with little or no musical training, were pretty much self taught, and were "gut feel" players - they were influenced by lots of stuff they had heard - including dance band jazz etc in McCartney's case - and probably played some of it wrongly. I think they also tried specifically to sound different by inserting "wrong" chords etc - and its all this stuff that makes their music original and great. Added to this some of it was probably "corrected" a bit by George Martin too - who obviously was classically trained.

I think the Beatles music is beyond "analysis" by some strict right/wrong formula - thats what makes this and other great pop music great - I also personally think that the best pop/rock songs have been writen by people who cant read music and dont care, or at least in the earlier stages of learning their craft. Actually Lennon for example started writing on the piano specifically because it was an instrument he was unfamiliar with so that he could write stuff that would be different and more original than his guitar stuff - where he was becoming more and more familiar - and therefore more likely to fall into the trap of writing the "right" sequence! - nuff said I think


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Ian Stewart



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: SunShineState]
      #338559 - 14/08/06 01:26 PM
I also personally think that the best pop/rock songs have been writen by people who cant read music and dont care, or at least in the earlier stages of learning their craft.




That is not true in every case, Brian Wilson used to write the voices, bass parts etc. out as a score and Donald Fagen says in the latest SOS that he write out the pieno parts and sometimes the bass parts.

I would never say the Beatles' harmony is wrong, it is a different genre and follows different conventions. An example would be classical composers (e.g. Mozart and Haydn) who continually changed metre, tempo, key, major and minor, to prevent interest falling in the listener. Compare this with Philip Glass or dance composers where once the mood is set up it is sustained as change would interrupt it. Neither are wrong, it is just different. Unfortunately the Victorian theorists monopolise the analysis of harmony and popular musicians like the idea they are breaking rules. In my opinion both are wrong.

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SunShineState



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #338641 - 14/08/06 04:45 PM
I dont say all good music is made that way (although I think lots is)- but what I'm trying to point out is that great feeling of mystery you have when you are new to an instrument - it seems to offer limitless possibilities - i think you tend to limit yourself (however unconciously) when you know an intrument well - do know what I mean?

The previous post about the Undertones makes a similar point - well trained players would not have played the song that way and would have done something more "normal" and safe.


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Ian Stewart



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: SunShineState]
      #338711 - 14/08/06 06:52 PM
Quote SunShineState:

I dont say all good music is made that way (although I think lots is)- but what I'm trying to point out is that great feeling of mystery you have when you are new to an instrument - it seems to offer limitless possibilities - i think you tend to limit yourself (however unconciously) when you know an intrument well - do know what I mean?





I agree with that, in fact I always use Logic and was wondering if I should do some tracks with Ableton Live exactly for the reasons you stated.

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Don Chishiotte
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: SunShineState]
      #339066 - 15/08/06 01:42 PM
Quote SunShineState:

I think the thing you have to remember about Lennon and McCartney was that they started with little or no musical training, were pretty much self taught, and were "gut feel" players - they were influenced by lots of stuff they had heard - including dance band jazz etc in McCartney's case - and probably played some of it wrongly. I think they also tried specifically to sound different by inserting "wrong" chords etc - and its all this stuff that makes their music original and great. Added to this some of it was probably "corrected" a bit by George Martin too - who obviously was classically trained.

I think the Beatles music is beyond "analysis" by some strict right/wrong formula - thats what makes this and other great pop music great - I also personally think that the best pop/rock songs have been writen by people who cant read music and dont care, or at least in the earlier stages of learning their craft. Actually Lennon for example started writing on the piano specifically because it was an instrument he was unfamiliar with so that he could write stuff that would be different and more original than his guitar stuff - where he was becoming more and more familiar - and therefore more likely to fall into the trap of writing the "right" sequence! - nuff said I think





The problem is that many people do not really comprehend why the scales are there,why the chords are there,why a certain musical effect happen: they just assume that knowing theory will 'limit' your creativity,that 'analizying limits your talents'.
The truth is: these people know their bit of scales,but they are very limited in the effective use of that material.

In a word,they don't know much at all,because when you learned to play the minor scale in 1 position,you have,in fact learned next to nothing.
They also do not understand what they are learning,and also generally people are also very bad at teaching theory.

Also,the original question here was: do you know what that chord that Mc Cartney uses is?
And I add do you know why it sounds the way it sounds? Can you use it yourself on command?
Well,these questions are directed at me,really...I have no interest in asking other people,but I am asking the questions here anyways.

It all depends whether or not you are really happy at where you are. If you are,or don't care,you don't need to learn anything.


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Don Chishiotte
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: Don Chishiotte]
      #339201 - 15/08/06 06:00 PM
nevermind...seems like I am talking to myself


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JoeB
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: Don Chishiotte]
      #339238 - 15/08/06 07:41 PM
Quote:

The problem is that many people do not really comprehend why the scales are there,why the chords are there,why a certain musical effect happen: they just assume that knowing theory will 'limit' your creativity,that 'analizying limits your talents'...
...and also generally people are also very bad at teaching theory.






Agree with all this! Speaking as a music lecturer I have seen music theory, at every level of education, taught badly all too frequently. Most often this is due to attempts to teach it without aural context - as you say, not what a chord is, but how it sounds, and WHY.

Music theory unlocks understanding of all music, and the 'noble savage' argument that somehow learning it will 'limit creativity' is, in my view, simply a veil for laziness. Many of my own undergraduate songwriters have resisted learning their theory and then progressed to play and write derivative and predictable music as a result.

Popular musicians are, perhaps, spoilt by the guitar (as a guitarist myself hopefully I can say this!). It's easy to create passable chord changes with a basic amount of learning - let's say all the major and minor barre chords; the equivalent of grade V Rockschool, for example. That's fine as far as it goes, but making the leap beyond basic scale and chord shapes into detailed aural and harmonic understanding is very difficult for many people. So it's often easier simply to romanticise the process and suggest that you don't need the extra learning.

As has been suggested here, Lennon & McCartney DID know their theory; they had learned the chords of structures of hundreds of classic jazz standards and showtunes in the late 1950s. The fact that they learned it experientially - by listening to records and working them out - is irrelevant. They were, in the wider definition, experts in music theory.


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SunShineState



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #339483 - 16/08/06 10:47 AM
The original point of this thread was not whether learning theory is good but whether you can apply a strict template to analysing original pop songs - by the Beatles in this case - I personally don't think you can - there are bits and pieces borrowed from lots of styles, plus genuine original stuff.

I can't argue that its not good to learn theory - however I personally believe that there are very many great writers in the pop/rock world who are self taught and certainly not classically trained and that this has resulted in more successful, original and individualistic material.

I don't think many of the great black blues guitarists were classically trained either!


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Don Chishiotte
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: SunShineState]
      #339866 - 16/08/06 09:34 PM
Quote SunShineState:

The original point of this thread was not whether learning theory is good but whether you can apply a strict template to analysing original pop songs - by the Beatles in this case - I personally don't think you can - there are bits and pieces borrowed from lots of styles, plus genuine original stuff.

I can't argue that its not good to learn theory - however I personally believe that there are very many great writers in the pop/rock world who are self taught and certainly not classically trained and that this has resulted in more successful, original and individualistic material.

I don't think many of the great black blues guitarists were classically trained either!





Of course not. I respect Black blues guitarists ,but they can only play one thing in one way. It's good for some people,but not for everybody. I like BB King's music,but I cannot listen to it for more than 5 minutes.
Clearly,if you want to play blues,you don't need to know harmony. If you want to play like they do,at least.

But if you want harmony,and you'll go by feel,then good luck my friend.
By the way,BB King does not know chords. He only plays single notes. Is it good? Bad? I don't know,only he can decide that,it's not up to me to decide about him...I can only decide for me.

You also say ' there are very many great writers in the pop/rock world who are self taught and certainly not classically trained and that this has resulted in more successful, original and individualistic material.'

Who says that they were more original or individualistic? This is just local folklore. Have you heard and compared 2 different Paul Mc Cartneys,the trained version and the actual version? I am not saying it would have been better one way or the other,but you imply that you do know.

What 'more successful' means? Spice Girls were very successful too.

I also think there is some confusion at what 'trained' means.
You don't have to go to a teacher to learn what you want to learn. Paganini was self taught too ,not just Mc Cartney.

To me,training is simply to learn what you what to learn,pure and simple. It's up to the individual to do whatever it takes to learn.No one will do it for him.

I have also been a guitarist for years,and at the time I wanted to learn a great vibrato. Someone said to me 'you can learn your vibrato,but no one will tell you how to write a song'.
This guy was just an idiot,because 2 years later he complained to me that someone told him 'man,your vibrato is really sh....' and he felt bad about it.

So there.....it's easy to go 'this is good and this is bad'. Only if you have done both you can really tell,and you should try it for yourself and not let yourself slip too easily in laziness.

By the way,the same idiot that told me his rubbish about how bad is for a musician to want to learn a great vibrato,years later told me,upon hearing me learning 'The Flight of the Bumblebee' from a Stetina book,that ''it's easy,it's all played on one string''.

I mean,he did not ever learn even the first 3 notes,and he already knew that it's all played on one string! Just because IT LOOKED so.
Some people are just so stupid

Of course I am not attacking anyone here,but I am just saying that ASSUMING things without trying them,never,ever,works.
And trying would only be the first step,because trying does not mean succeeding,does it.

So you see,we can really go on for weeks and speculate about Mc Cartney etc.
I love Beatles,and I listened to them always with great interest.

But the problem still remains: what was that chord,why it sounds like that,and whether you can use it or not.
The focus on that has been lost from the start,by circumventing the problem and finding excuses.
This player,that player,this case and that case,feel vs. theory,and blah blah blah.....
All this is speculation,and nothing can be learned from it.
It's just self-entertainment.
That is my own interpretation of it,at least.



Edited by Don Chishiotte (16/08/06 09:53 PM)


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Don Chishiotte
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: Don Chishiotte]
      #339902 - 16/08/06 10:31 PM
it seems that I am going blah blah too much also


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SunShineState



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #339938 - 16/08/06 11:53 PM
let me try to explain it like this :-

its like the chicken and the egg - first someone created some great music - then they devised a way of writing it down using dots and lines... (by the way if digital recording had been available would they have bothered to create the dots?? but that's another discussion for another day).

So people spend a lot of time and effort learning the dots and playing versions of other peoples music (again we all know that some of the stuff that people play can't be represented 100% by the dots - so then it's called interpretation I think..) We then have a situation where millions of people learn the theory and play other peoples songs to a variety of competancies - from beginner to vituoso - this is fine, but then we notice a very few people make some great music (and maybe a lot of money too if they are lucky) and we find that this small group have often broken lots of rules, and often can't read music at all (horror of horrors!)

I have been a gigging musician for about 30 years, and in that time I've been a songwriter too - so I am aware from personnal experience that some trade offs happen - when you have been playing for a long time you get better technically, but you also lose the spark of originality you had when you were young, naive and less accomplished musically - being technically well taught, experienced and accomplished does not = being ripe for creating great music IMHO - certainly not in the rock/pop genre. I find the funniest thing is when a "good musician" plays a Beatles song (or any other) and corrects it to the "proper" way of playing - rather than really playing what was actually played in the song (see the previous post about the undertones as an example) - this to me is what this thread was s'posed to be about - "how can I apply my preconceived rigid template about what is right or wrong" to an original and possibly random piece of work - b**l*cks to that I say viva originallity - the masses - and especially serious musos always criticise successful pop music - and point out its musical inadequacies while totally missing the point - successful stuff has a spark of something that you can't write out, analyse or legislate for - its tougher than you think to create this stuff, if you are so clever go ahead and better even the Spice Girls track record - and that's a challenge!!


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Don Chishiotte
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: SunShineState]
      #339966 - 17/08/06 01:53 AM
It seems that the more we talk,the less we understand each other.

I am NOT being preconceived,YOU are being. I am NOT for rigidness,it is YOU that are being rigid,because you assume that whoever studies theory is just some dumb people with no imagination whatsoever.
I DO NOT think that being able to write music is what makes you a great musician...but man do you even KNOW why written music is there at all??

Or do you think that some dumb people just 'draw dots' because they want to kill some time?

I have NEVER thought that creating good songs is anything less difficult,or less worthy,or whatever, than anything else.Why do you think that I am ridiculizing pop music? I listen to it all the time. I listen to zillions of different types of music. I am VERY open minded,not the opposite as you suggest.There is good pop music and bad pop music just like anything,but I am not against it at all!

These are ALL your assumptions,your false beliefs,or the ones that were instilled upon you.
What I want to learn,is something that WILL GIVE me freedom,NOT something that takes it away from me.

What you fail to understand is that there are 'millions' (your words,not mine) of people that study this and that (are there,really?),but I say there are FEW that use it to their advantage. I am not going to repeat the same things...You are happy at were you are? Great.
I am not. You are happy at listening some blues.
I am not.
To you 'success' represent commercial success? Great. I have a different view for it. Neither is better or worse,the original question here was : do-you-know-what-that-chord-is?
Can-you-use-it?

My efforts and study enable me to see that chord very clearly,I understand it's function there,I can sing it,I can think it,I can definitely feel it.
So please don't tell me I am doing the wrong thing by analizyng it the classical way,because it's pure [Email]cr@p[/Email]
Peace...


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Don Chishiotte
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: SunShineState]
      #339967 - 17/08/06 02:01 AM
Just a last thing...Spice Girls....ah ah
Man I respect Lee Hooker or people like that but definitely I think that if you really hold Spice Girls to be a 'challenge',there is no amount of training for you that would be able to offer you anything. Try to put some lipstick and making your hair a bit more fizzling


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SunShineState



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #340078 - 17/08/06 09:04 AM


I think you're still missing the point - the thread asks:-

"I'm not sure how to describe what's happening harmonically.
This song is in F Major, and the chords of the verses (it's an AABA song) are all diatonic. However, in the bridge the chords go Dm G F A. I know the A (III) is really a V of VI, because it resolves to the Dm chord, but what about the G? Is that a secondary dominant (a V of V) even though it resolves to the tonic (F) instead of the dominant (C)?"

My point is that a songwriter has a blank canvas and is able to write exactly what he wants - the music does not have to conform to any rules about harmony, the songwriter can go off in any direction he wishes, and doesn't have to obey any rules. As it happens "There's a place" is a fairly simple early period Beatles song, which is reasonably conventional I think, but I am as a point of principle objecting to everything being analysed to the nth degree.

You talk about understanding the chord used - if this post said "what is that chord in the middle 8?" that would be fair enough, but it doesn't - its about the STRUCTURE of the song and is IMHO attempting to classify it into some template or formula.

I then went on to make a secondary point about how wonderful music is often made by people who are far from the peak of their musical ability (technically speaking) - the Beatles and McCartney are a perfect example of this - the early Beatles performances were of a pretty average covers band IMO - albeit one that had loads of enthusiasm and character, then something like 1965-69 represents the golden period I am talking about - where they were learning fast about music and recording, experimenting and creating their masterpieces, after the split of the Beatles McCartney released some good solo albums but more recent ones have got to my ears progressively more uninspiring - although he is surely now a more accomplished musician.
Just to make this a perfect example of what I'm talking about McCartney recreated a couple of Beatles songs on one of his 1980's solo albums - and they sound like a covers band playing them - all technically perfect, but losing all the spark and edge of the originals.

If you don't understand or agree with what I'm talking about - hey no problem- but I truly believe great pop music often comes from the imagination and wonderment of people who don't fully understand and certainly haven't mastered their instrument, and that conversely people who can play extremely well often produce boring and uninspiring music without any edge.

I am of course talking about the pop/rock genre here - classical music may be entirely different - I have no knowledge of that.

Changing the subject slightly you say:

“Of course not. I respect Black blues guitarists ,but they can only play one thing in one way. It's good for some people,but not for everybody. I like BB King's music,but I cannot listen to it for more than 5 minutes.
Clearly,if you want to play blues,you don't need to know harmony. If you want to play like they do,at least.
But if you want harmony,and you'll go by feel,then good luck my friend.
By the way,BB King does not know chords. He only plays single notes. Is it good? Bad? I don't know,only he can decide that,it's not up to me to decide about him...I can only decide for me.”

You seem dismissive of genres that seem in your opinion to be too simple? The whole point about the blues is that it takes a simple framework 2-3 chords that everyone uses and challenges people to create great performances and feeling over this apparently limited structure – also great lyrics too maybe – in pop/rock/blues music the lyrical content is often as important as the music. Then the bit about only playing single notes – I don’t recall any sax playing a chord! Are you saying that because the instrument has 6 strings the rules say they have to play all of them all the time? In fact the point about the electric guitar is that it let players play solos that could be heard for the first time – and many of these players – including Hendrix – emulated sax solos originally.

Then you get into:-

“I am NOT being preconceived,YOU are being. I am NOT for rigidness,it is YOU that are being rigid,because you assume that whoever studies theory is just some dumb people with no imagination whatsoever.
I DO NOT think that being able to write music is what makes you a great musician...but man do you even KNOW why written music is there at all??”

and “These are ALL your assumptions,your false beliefs,or the ones that were instilled upon you.”

Which I think is a little unnecessary agressive, nowhere have I stated that learning music is bad, or for “dumb” people etc – these are words you are putting into my mouth, however for the record this is my opinion (again mainly relating to the pop/rock genre):-

There are some people who can only play with the dots in front of them, slavish rely on these and can play almost nothing without them – I’ll call these the Readers for a minute, then there are those who can’t read but can play “by ear” we’ll call these the Buskers – then there are those who can do both, they are both Buskers and Readers.
Now its obvious that the third way is the best of all worlds – to be able to read the dots where necessary but also busk and improvise without them too is ideal. However if I were asked to choose between only the other two I would go for the Busker every time! The point here is that the Readers have often (not always) just learned to play other peoples music parrot fashion, they don't develop a feel or sound of their own, and in my experience this has limited their creativity. On the other hand the Buskers - are self taught (often from listening to records) and devolop their natural talents that can be written down as dots later if required - the chicken and egg again. I know this may be contentious but this is my real life experience.

At the risk of repeating myself my key point (and its only my opinion) is that too much analysis is bad if you want to produce creative and original music, the sense of being “lost” and baffled by your instrument can lead you into imaginative directions – finding great “new chords” for example – we all know that nothing will be really new and that someone will slap a classification on it – but that’s missing the point. Conversely I still maintain that the more you know (technically) the more likely you are to tread well worn patterns and “safe” repetitions – however unconsciously.

You don’t have to agree with me – but do you understand where I’m coming from at least? And by the way disagreement and debate is a healthy thing in my opinion – that doesn’t have to descend into aggression.

Cheers


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Studio Support Gnome
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: SunShineState]
      #340084 - 17/08/06 09:14 AM
you lot DO realise they shoot musicologists if they break a leg don't you?

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Mike Senior
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: SunShineState]
      #340086 - 17/08/06 09:15 AM
Quote SunShineState:

The previous post about the Undertones makes a similar point - well trained players would not have played the song that way and would have done something more "normal" and safe.




This kind of thing makes my blood boil. How dare you insinuate that a trained musician would have been any more likely to make the Undertones sound 'normal' and 'safe' than an untrained one. In what way is Stravinsky's Rite of Spring normal? In what way is the serial music of Schoenberg (as much as I dislike most of it) safe? Both of these were informed by rigourous personal musical training and a profound theoretical understanding of music.
There are a lot of musicians who deal in cliches, and I'm not any more of a fan of them than you appear to be, but the trained ones are certainly no more guilty than the untrained ones in this department.
I think I'll stop before I start swearing...

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SunShineState



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #340092 - 17/08/06 09:23 AM
(Adopts scouse accent) Calm down- calm down !! What ever happened to healthy debate and differences of opinion?

And more to the point when we are talking specifically about pop/rock why does everyone have to keep making classical references? It would be much more interesting and informative to compare say a well trained pop writer with a self taught one? Wouldn't it?

Cheers


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SunShineState



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: Don Chishiotte]
      #340133 - 17/08/06 10:13 AM
Quote Don Chishiotte:

Just a last thing...Spice Girls....ah ah
Man I respect Lee Hooker or people like that but definitely I think that if you really hold Spice Girls to be a 'challenge',there is no amount of training for you that would be able to offer you anything. Try to put some lipstick and making your hair a bit more fizzling





Just one more thing -you introduced the Spice Girls to this debate - as an item of scorn I think. I have no love for the Spice Girls at all, but this raises some interesting points.

Firstly, they were undeniably successful - in terms of commercial success and earnings, but also because this means their music was heard by millions of people on a global scale.

Secondly, they are an illustration of the fact that pop/rock music is not just music - its a popular artform that includes music, lyrical content, image and how you look, packaging, relationship to current popular culture etc, etc. And this was just as true for the Beatles as it was for the Spice Girls. So achieving success in this artform involves a lot more than just music, and explains why it is actually very hard to get to the top in this idiom.

Now whether we like the Spice Girls or not, I believe they wrote at least some of their own songs, and I'm sure they worked extremely hard rehearsing, learning dance routines etc -all things important to their success in their chosen medium. So I do think its sad when so called "serious musos" feel the need to rubbish this success - let alone whole genres like blues guitar.

As to Mike's post - I find the "how dare you..." stuff very sad too - can't we dare to say what we want on a great forum that allows free speech and debate??

There seems to be an intolerance of other peoples opinions here, and also a complete missunderstanding of the fact that the Beatles played certain chords because they found them with their fingers - and liked the sound of them - and certainly did not debate whether "Is that a secondary dominant (a V of V)" Is that so hard to understand? I think it's great! And the Beatles had quite a bit of success too!!

Peace


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feline1
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #340136 - 17/08/06 10:15 AM
Erm, just to clarify the Undertones thing:
On 'Teenage Kicks', if you listen carefully to the blend of John & Damien O'Neill's guitars thrashing around, you'll hear that they often play both D major AND D minor on that chord (ie there's a F natural and an F# in there).

Which is even wronger
(And Damien's twin-string bends in the solo are even mentaler)

And, yes, I myself would pretty adamantly take the view that if you'd given that to your typical 'classically trained' person, they wouldn't play it like that, because they'd complain it was "wrong".
In fact, I remember play a cover of Teenage Kicks in a band or two when I was at school, and that's PRECISELY what the irritating git who was doing A-level music and played in the school orchestra always said.

Personally my fave blend of demented mentalness with theoretical rigour remains Van der Graaf Generator

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~~~ A weasel hath not such a deal of spleen as you are tossed with! www.feline1.co.uk ~~~


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feline1
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: Mike Senior]
      #340140 - 17/08/06 10:19 AM
Quote Mike Senior:

In what way is the serial music of Schoenberg (as much as I dislike most of it) safe? Both of these were informed by rigourous personal musical training and a profound theoretical understanding of music.




It's "safe" in the sense that it's safe to say no-one ever listens to it for pleasure. Cos it's crap. Because it's the product of anal music theorising, rather than a valid aesthetic which engages with anything existing outside Schoenberg's ringpiece.
One cannot prove this, but it is nonetheless a scientific fact. I can state this categorically, without ever having listened to any of it.

Whereas, TEENAGE KICKS is clawws!
You see, it wasn't his glasses: it's his horrible face!

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SunShineState



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #340150 - 17/08/06 10:29 AM
I joined this thread cos I genuinely thought it was an interesting debate - what I find really interesting now is that it seems to be getting polarised into the classical camp and the pop camp.

We are afterall supposed to be debating a pop song which is in the pop camp domain - yet the classical camp want to apply their theories to it in some self righteous way - this doesn't seem far away from saying "classical music is the only true pure music and pop is just some limited bastard offspring of it" or is it just me??


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Mike Senior
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: SunShineState]
      #340153 - 17/08/06 10:31 AM
Quote SunShineState:

As to Mike's post - I find the "how dare you..." stuff very sad too - can't we dare to say what we want on a great forum that allows free speech and debate??




It was a figure of speech, expressing my incredulity at the breadth of your generalisation. If I were trying to stifle your free speech, I'd have tried to remove your post.

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SunShineState



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: Mike Senior]
      #340180 - 17/08/06 10:56 AM
Quote Mike Senior:

Quote SunShineState:

As to Mike's post - I find the "how dare you..." stuff very sad too - can't we dare to say what we want on a great forum that allows free speech and debate??




It was a figure of speech, expressing my incredulity at the breadth of your generalisation.




Quite a strong and accusatory figure of speech though! How would you feel if I had said how dare you classical fans dare to try to reduce a Beatles song to mathematics!!

Quote:

If I were trying to stifle your free speech, I'd have tried to remove your post.




That would be a really enlightened thing to do wouldn't it.


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R. Spisketts



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: SunShineState]
      #340186 - 17/08/06 11:00 AM
Quote SunShineState:

I truly believe great pop music often comes from the imagination and wonderment of people who don't fully understand and certainly haven't mastered their instrument, and that conversely people who can play extremely well often produce boring and uninspiring music without any edge.




So what? The exact opposite can also be true. And all points in between.

Quote SunShineState:

my key point (and its only my opinion) is that too much analysis is bad if you want to produce creative and original music




You shouldn't be dogmatic, there's no right or wrong way. Do whatever turns you on - and that includes analysing Beatles songs. Or sitting up all night learning Albert King licks by ear. Hopefully your creative energy will bring *whatever* tools you have to bear when the time comes to perform or write.

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Michael B
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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #340196 - 17/08/06 11:12 AM
One of the best threads on musicality I've read.

In my humble opinion - the anti-theorist camp seems to be ignorant of one point. Music theory isn't intended to be prescriptive - it is descriptive, in so much that it attemps to identify accepted patterns and structures. Just in the same way that a 'foot' as a unit of measurement consists, of twelve inches. Tahat being said, an inch in Japan is shorter than the Imperial standard, and a gallon in the USA is smaller in volume than the Imperial measure.

What a person then does with whatever rules is up to him/her. So the rules of harmony might state that F anf #F played together are a clash - that doesn't meant that the rules of harmony demand that the combination cannot be used.

If I throw a brick through a window - the rule of physics(or whatever) describe the state of the window as being broken, not that breaking the window is 'wrong' it all depends on the context - I may have broken the window in order to rescue someone from a fire.

But life demands that we have rules in order to avoid chaos, although chaos is sometimes welcome and indeed a satisfactory element to be factored into an event. But without agreed rules and procedures in harmony for example. If a guitarist wrote a tune and decided that the notes C, E, G were the root, 3rd and 5th of the D major chord, the other participants would be confused and not able to contribute in a predictable fashion - they could of course just let rip and call it free form Jazz - and there's nothing wrong with that.

Although the anarchists amongst us cannot get over it - we are subsumed by rules - as sure as the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West, that is a rule of the Universe as we know it. How we manipulate those rules allows us to engage in the processes of creativity

Is there a way to download and save this tread/ I'm a music theory junkie - I used to play by ear and learnt ever so much that way. I then went on to study music full time for few years and the experience was a revealation - I began to understand more about what I was writing, rather tha just saying 'well it goes like this, daaaa, da, da, dada. daaaa' For those who put little emphasis on music theory - do you recognise the tune?


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SunShineState



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: R. Spisketts]
      #340200 - 17/08/06 11:16 AM
Quote ECC83:

Quote SunShineState:

I truly believe great pop music often comes from the imagination and wonderment of people who don't fully understand and certainly haven't mastered their instrument, and that conversely people who can play extremely well often produce boring and uninspiring music without any edge.




So what? The exact opposite can also be true. And all points in between.

Quote SunShineState:

my key point (and its only my opinion) is that too much analysis is bad if you want to produce creative and original music




You shouldn't be dogmatic, there's no right or wrong way. Do whatever turns you on - and that includes analysing Beatles songs. Or sitting up all night learning Albert King licks by ear. Hopefully your creative energy will bring *whatever* tools you have to bear when the time comes to perform or write.





Both fair comments - my posts are only personal opinion - but I do generally really enjoy "emotional" music much more than highly technical music - especially if its just technical for the sake of being technical - as I guitarist for example I hate "shredder" stuff and would prefer slow stuff with a great choice of notes every time. I agree that there are many ways of doing things - and none are wrong - indeed this is the point of my posts - as I say this is all personal opinion and desn't claim to be anything else - but I like the idea of saying - "I can go down this open road in front of me with no real idea where it is leading" vs. "I know I can go down this read and that road - I know exactly where I end up if I turn left here etc", know what I mean?

Continuing on the "emotional feel" point - this is where I lose the analysis camp - If you can analyse music to the nth degree and write it all out does this mean you can sing exactly like McCartney or play exactly like Hendrix - let alone come up with something like they did for the first time?

In terms of creating its music first - dots second for me. And it terms of composing - some pop/rock composers refuse to ever listen to the radio for the fear that they will simply regurgitate something they have already heard (however unconsiously) and not be original - this famously happened to Harrison with My Sweet Lord.


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SunShineState



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Re: I need help analyzing a Beatles song new [Re: stevenlebeau]
      #340212 - 17/08/06 11:32 AM
Great post Michael B - I think you hit the nail on the head when you say "Music theory isn't intended to be prescriptive - it is descriptive" - I think the problem is that people try to then make it prescriptive by saying this or that is harmonically wrong etc!!

I actually like fairly simple melodic music that does adhere to the rules - but as a point of principle I would argue that there is NO absolute requirement for rules at all in composition -the writer has a blank canvass and can do what he wants with it - would we have told impressionists to throw away their stuff because it breaks the rules of fine art? ( someone probably did of course probably some academic! )

The danger with rules is that one lobby will only agree with something if it conforms with what has gone before etc - like classical music...

What about Newton and Einstein etc etc etc?? The "rules have to be there to be broken" argument is a weak way out - if I create something completely new I can write my own rules why does it have to be judged as breaking somebody else's rules!!

Cheers


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