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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #672040 - 27/10/08 08:26 AM
Quote Wurlitzer:

Oh, and has anyone noticed too, that classical musicians - performing musicians, I mean - generally seem to know almost nothing about theory?

If you really want to find the ultra-abstracted theory-obsessed idea-nerds in music, jazz is where you gotta go.




Yeah maann.. How come you played a K blunt nine demented with a flattened 17th there?

I suffered through my brothers geeky "jazz" mates last year in Fla.
I sometimes think they actually invent some of the terms they use to cover up for lackluster performances and unintended dissonances.

Hey! I just re-invented a cool phrase for "out of key"

(well someone must have thought of it before me)

(and they`ll be along claiming royalties or plagiarism or summat any second now....)

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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #672051 - 27/10/08 09:07 AM
It is worth mentioning that the great classical composers - Bach, Mozart, Beethoven - were also exceptional improvisers. Cortot, an exceptional classical pianist, never had time to practise so not only did his performances contain mistakes but he sometimes forgot the music so would improvise the bits he had forgotten
I work with rock, classical, MOR and jazz musicians and what Wurlitzer said is absolutely true. Most people are in awe at a classical musician's ability to sight read to performance standard. But the classical musicians are in awe of other musicians' ability to improvise, including the MOR musicians' technique of using hand signs to tell the band what key the next song will be in. Classical musicians are crying out for rock or jazz influenced music for them to play in their concerts. In fact when I go to one college for rehearsals of my pieces you could not tell whether the students are into rock or classical, they dress the same and have the same hair styles.
Recently I have had a piece performed for classical saxophone and scratch DJ at a classical recital and it went down very well with a so called 'classical' audience. And the saxophone player used a real scratch DJ who played in the clubs.

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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #672053 - 27/10/08 09:10 AM
No one in this thread likes generalisations but I would say the worst snobs are jazz snobs. Even that is not consistent though as there are the trad snobs, be-bop snobs, free improv snobs.

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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #672084 - 27/10/08 11:02 AM
to be honest I think the poarisation of genres has become steadily worse over the years.
Certainly my own experiecen with "mixed" gigs whe I was a kid was never like it seems to be nowadays.
I`ve played in rock and roll bands playing with full orchestras, played split bills wiuth jazz and rock `n roll acts, done stuff that merged trad jazz and country, you name it.
But since pop/rock music started dividing itself into more and more sub-genres, the barriers seem to have gone up big time.

Alright there are a few rock acts with Dj`s incvolved and similar examples like that, but the vast majority of music now seems to be tucked away in its own little corner.

And all the house garage bedroom toilet labels really don`t either help or even describe what the music is to a casual onlooker.
It`s almost like the folks who apply these labels don`t want outsiders being "in" on their particular little scene.

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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: IvanSC]
      #672782 - 28/10/08 09:49 PM
Quote IvanSC:

to be honest I think the poarisation of genres has become steadily worse over the years.




Unfortunately Ivan, I have to agree with you. Everybody is dismissive of country yodeling but when you think of Jimmy Rodgers Blue Yodel no. 9 - Standing on the Corner, not only is it a masterpiece but a white country singer with two of the greatest black jazz musicians, Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines. This was at the time of intense racial segregation. And these two genres would even now be considered incompatible.

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hollowsun



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #672843 - 29/10/08 12:15 AM
Quote Ian Stewart:

Most people are in awe at a classical musician's ability to sight read to performance standard. But the classical musicians are in awe of other musicians' ability to improvise



Certainly the latter seems to be true.

My daughter's piano and fiddle teachers are really quite bemused by the way I can accompany her on fiddle by busking through guitar chord tabs that some of her non-classical pieces have. My cousin is a classically trained and a professional cathedral organist and cathedral choir master/music teacher - he can sight read like a demon ... almost note perfect first time through. Staggering to watch - two or three manuals, two hands and two feet making this thunderous sound. And yet he is in awe that I can noodle around, pick up a song in real-time and vamp it (badly I should add) or busk a chord sheet I've never seen before (again, badly) and just 'remember' stuff and play it without paper. And he is totally and utterly phased by my ability to bend notes with a pitch bend wheel. However, his CD collection is certainly FAR wider ranging than mine covering Albinoni to Zappa (figuratively speaking of course) and he's just as likely to listen to Dylan as he is to Debussy.

Similarly, a 20-something year old young woman (with classical quals and degrees and whatever as long as your arm) who sometimes teaches my daughter is a fantastic pianist and violin player. She regularly gigs in orchestras and gives solo piano recitals. She almost missed one lunchtime piano recital at St David's Hall here not so long ago....

Because she overslept after being out at some all night banging dance club the night before!

The kids in my daughter's orchestras are just normal kids as well and their iPods are stuffed with the same chart-toppers as the next kid ... although they will also have classical pieces on them.

This indicates to me that people from that background actually have a very broad appreciation of music of all kinds.

Where I see and have seen more 'snobbery', actually, is amongst non-trained musos who know like three or four chords and yet dismiss ALL classically trained musos as being dull, stuffed shirts (or blouses) with no soul or passion playing boring, dull, dead men's music - robots playing the dots being the inference - and who are somehow inferior to them because they don't write and play their own music. There have been posts to that effect in this very forum in the past

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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #672879 - 29/10/08 07:38 AM
HS you forgot to mention all the classical LISDTENERS who fall into the bigot area.

In my experience most musicinas are musicians first and classical/folk/rock etc, second.
Most of the bias seems to come from the non-players.
Bit like football supporters I suppose....

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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #672901 - 29/10/08 08:46 AM
I have often found that musicians' wifes/husbands are more bigoted and snobbish towards their partners' music than the musicians themselves.

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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #672919 - 29/10/08 09:29 AM
Quote Ian Stewart:

Classical musicians are crying out for rock or jazz influenced music for them to play in their concerts.




Very interesting. I have never encountered this! In fact, I would say the opposite is true. Are you basing this view on a published evidence or personal experience?

Cheers, DC


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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #672938 - 29/10/08 10:16 AM
yeah - didnt mean ti imply that ONLY clsassical listeners were guilty of this.
But they do seem to be more vocal in their condemnation of "the other stuff" than their pop rawk blooze dance counterparts.
And 100%+ on the wifes sweethearts mums dads comment.

I am trying SO hard not to be a showbiz dad with little Ms. Terrible.

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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: * User requested deletion *]
      #672945 - 29/10/08 10:48 AM
Quote Deirdrie's Cat:

Quote Ian Stewart:

Classical musicians are crying out for rock or jazz influenced music for them to play in their concerts.




Very interesting. I have never encountered this! In fact, I would say the opposite is true. Are you basing this view on a published evidence or personal experience?

Cheers, DC




Personal experience. I have been asked to write jazz influenced works for a string quartet and my classical psychedelic influenced works have been played a several times; as have my works for classical musicians with DJ/ turntables.
When a new wave and 60s influenced work I wrote for 6 violin and 2 violas was performed at a concert a small classical label offered me a CD release.

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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #672951 - 29/10/08 10:56 AM
Funny how many mini labels have started up, isnt it? I`ve been offered vinyl releases on a few things lately, too.

Wonder if it has anything to do with the similarly large number of microbreweries that have suddenly sprung up?

"hic! I know - I always wanted to be a rawk star, less` start a label!"
(burp!)

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DavidW



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #673293 - 30/10/08 09:43 AM
Very subjective!!

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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #673612 - 31/10/08 05:59 AM
Quote Ian Stewart:

Quote Deirdrie's Cat:

Quote Ian Stewart:

Classical musicians are crying out for rock or jazz influenced music for them to play in their concerts.




Very interesting. I have never encountered this! In fact, I would say the opposite is true. Are you basing this view on a published evidence or personal experience?

Cheers, DC




Personal experience. I have been asked to write jazz influenced works for a string quartet and my classical psychedelic influenced works have been played a several times; as have my works for classical musicians with DJ/ turntables.
When a new wave and 60s influenced work I wrote for 6 violin and 2 violas was performed at a concert a small classical label offered me a CD release.




Classical psychedelic! Sounds interesting. Would like to hear some.


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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #673614 - 31/10/08 07:08 AM
Quote Ian Stewart:


However you seem to be under the impression that all classical composers are rule bound conformists without realising how extreme some classical music is. Schoenberg's 12 tone system, Berg's combining of tonality with serialism, Stockhausen's total serialism, Terry Riley's largely improvised psychedelic influenced music, Lou Harrison's use of natural tunings and melodies influenced by folk and Oriental music, John Cage's aleatoric music - the list goes on and on.




I am slightly confused here. Are these supposedly examples of 'extreme' composers who don't conform to rules?

Of course, the 12 tone system only works if a set of rules is followed. Berg's distinctive harmonic palette (such as one finds in the Piano Sonata for example) is flavoured through a meticulous enhancement of Schoenberg's system. Total Serialism is a precisely coordinated series of events. Robert Morgan wrote in 1975: "each musical component is subjected to control by a series of numerical proportions". Terry Riley's works were bound by rules which prevent totally free improvisation. For example, 'In C' consists of 53 numbered phrases. Players are encouraged to play these at different times. John Cage's music was also rule bound, ironic given the ethos of aleatoric music. For example, rolling of the dice, use of the I Ching. Look at Etudes Boreales I-IV where Cage used the star-charts as an impetus. The Cello part pitch, duration, articulation, color and dynamics are notated precisely for every sound based upon these charts.

You might have been a little more adventurous and cited representatives of 'The New Complexity'. However, if we take Ferneyhough as an example - surely one of the most 'extreme' composers still living - I can assure you that this music is based on rules, albeit packaged up as a series of processes. These processes might govern broad formal elements (such as Kurze Schatten where microtonal tuning gradually resolves throughout the work) or on the macro level governing rhythmic ratios or micro figures.

I would say all classical composers are bound by rigid rules because of the demands of form. It might not always be obvious how rigidly these rules are adhered to. I would recommend reading Adorno's 'vers une musique informelle' in which he (put very simply) discusses the requirement to break away from these historical norms. At the same time however, he highlights the difficulties involved in reaching a true 'formlessnes'.


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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: * User requested deletion *]
      #673853 - 31/10/08 10:20 PM
Quote Gerurt Harue:

Quote Ian Stewart:


However you seem to be under the impression that all classical composers are rule bound conformists without realising how extreme some classical music is. Schoenberg's 12 tone system, Berg's combining of tonality with serialism, Stockhausen's total serialism, Terry Riley's largely improvised psychedelic influenced music, Lou Harrison's use of natural tunings and melodies influenced by folk and Oriental music, John Cage's aleatoric music - the list goes on and on.




I am slightly confused here. Are these supposedly examples of 'extreme' composers who don't conform to rules?




That is not the point, the person who criticised classical musicians was talking about them accepting preordained traditional rules and criticising those that don't. The composers you mentioned created their own systems, they did not follow the rules laid down by academics. Schoenberg's 12 tone system is still being criticised today and has not achieved mainstream acceptance. However punk has with programmes featuring The Clash on Radio 2.
Terry Riley's In C is certainly defined but it is not following established rules, he set up a process of his own invention. However his other works are not so clearly defined and he was involved in a lot of improvisation concerts.
However I would say non-classical music follows conventions closely. For years techno would only use the 909 bass drum and 303 bass. Although rock musicians like SunShineState may say she is a rebel her music - which I like - still follows conventions and is none the worse for it.

Ferneyhough is interesting in that his composition processes are extreme but the music does not sound that. I really think Ferneyhough follows rituals that are his own obsession and not relevant to anyone else. New complexity for me is a cul-de-sac.
The main problem with contemporary music is its hatred of melody or obvious thematic writing. Some commercial music is pure melody, some is pure rhythm. However the classical music establishment (administrators, Arts Council etc.) assume if the music is melodic it is old fashioned. Classical music has lost pure joy in itself. When you think of popular music, the sheer joy in rhythm of some reggae tracks by people like The Upsetters or Dave and Ansell Collins. The joy in melody be it the Beach Boys or Katy Perry. The pure joy in harmony like the guitar introduction to The Smith's Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now. Contemporary classical music does not really have that although there are a few exceptions. Classical music is too self-conscious but is certainly one of the most rebellious forms of music around.

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Gone To Lunch
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #674658 - 04/11/08 01:23 AM
If you've followed this far, you might be interested in 'Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles' by Dominic Pedler, that analyses their entire output in terms of the kind of music theory described here. Fascinating in the way it minimises the 'differences' between 'popular' and'classical' music. Let me have your essays by the usual end of term deadline. thank you.


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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #674726 - 04/11/08 10:22 AM
If there is one thing in the world I truly, genuinely and honestly detest, it is bloody piano players analising (pun alert!) popular music.
It is bad enough having to drag pupils away from these people`s cod translations of popular works and point them in the direction of a genuine transcriptions, without having to put up with a load of self-congratulatory twaddle about "how the Beatles REALLY did it"

Also how come the Beatles Complete Songbook doesnt have their first hit in it?

(love me do)

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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: IvanSC]
      #674745 - 04/11/08 11:26 AM
Quote IvanSC:



Also how come the Beatles Complete Songbook doesnt have their first hit in it?

(love me do)




An interesting song from an analytical standpoint. It shows the two of the main influences on early Beatles songwriting which was almost certainly a result of the mixture of country and blues influenced rock that they played during their performances.
These two influences are not integrated as in later works but are in separate phrases. The first few phrases pure country, diatonic and using mainly chord tones for the melodic construction. The blues influence appears in the next phrase with the flattened third against a major triad. This is slightly strange as there is a cultural leap. However it is not done for dramatic purposes. It is probably because in the early songwriting the phrases were short unlike much later works where phrases were much longer.
This segmented nature of thematic construction is probably analogous to the nature of teenage relationships the song alludes to, that can also be fragmented and jarring.The attractive leadeness of the rhythm is certainly an appropriate expression of early relationships, further emphaisised by the awkward, almost tongue tied grammatical construction where the singer tries, but fails, to express the depth of his feeling. The wavering on some of the lower notes can certainly be interpreted as an apprehensiveness as when becoming aware of Jungian achitypes.
The repeated section at the end certainly points to later works where repeated sections lasted a substantial time such as in Hey Jude. Maybe the influence of the American repetitive composers such as Reich and Young gave the Beatles a sort of putative permission to follow an inherent formal approach that was inherent in this first song.
An interesting song that repays sociological and cultural, aswell, as musical analysis.

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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #674794 - 04/11/08 01:45 PM
Quote Ian Stewart:

Quote IvanSC:



Also how come the Beatles Complete Songbook doesnt have their first hit in it?

(love me do)




An interesting song from an analytical standpoint. It shows the two of the main influences on early Beatles songwriting which was almost certainly a result of the mixture of country and blues influenced rock that they played during their performances.
These two influences are not integrated as in later works but are in separate phrases. The first few phrases pure country, diatonic and using mainly chord tones for the melodic construction. The blues influence appears in the next phrase with the flattened third against a major triad. This is slightly strange as there is a cultural leap. However it is not done for dramatic purposes. It is probably because in the early songwriting the phrases were short unlike much later works where phrases were much longer.
This segmented nature of thematic construction is probably analogous to the nature of teenage relationships the song alludes to, that can also be fragmented and jarring.The attractive leadeness of the rhythm is certainly an appropriate expression of early relationships, further emphaisised by the awkward, almost tongue tied grammatical construction where the singer tries, but fails, to express the depth of his feeling. The wavering on some of the lower notes can certainly be interpreted as an apprehensiveness as when becoming aware of Jungian achitypes.
The repeated section at the end certainly points to later works where repeated sections lasted a substantial time such as in Hey Jude. Maybe the influence of the American repetitive composers such as Reich and Young gave the Beatles a sort of putative permission to follow an inherent formal approach that was inherent in this first song.
An interesting song that repays sociological and cultural, as well as musical analysis.




I hate you, Ian - just made me snort coffee up my nasal passages again....

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new_beginning_



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #693774 - 04/01/09 01:24 PM
excellent posts by the 'classical posters'.....Wurlitzer and co.

I did not study as much yet,and I have had Rameau's Treatise for years but I only learned how to prepare and resolve sevenths,from it,then I became pretty discouraged because I could not understand the science!....for a self-taught like me,that's was a very hard book indeed!
So I bought more ordinary books,like MacPherson's....just good books written for music colleges

I love Rameau's music,though...amazing harpsichord pieces. And his opera 'Foret Pasibles' is some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. It's like a time machine that transports a part of me back in the 17th Century. No wigs for me,though


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new_beginning_



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #693784 - 04/01/09 01:52 PM
Quote Wurlitzer:

SunShineState -


Ultimately to me it's ALWAYS about the result, what my ear tells me, and "if it sounds right, it is right".

But knowledge of technique and theory can help us to arrive at that. That's why all the great masters studied it - it ain't coincidence.




Absolutely....not to mention the fact that knowing how you can do something in advance,will give at least a surer direction that just desperately trying to fish out something that might sound good. Will save a lot of time and frustration in the long run!

I don't yet have the same knowledge as you or the other posters here,but I have known from day one that studying music isn't something useless and cerebral....it's all knowledge that can be used with very good effect.

It won't be a direct substitute for inspiration and brilliant ideas,and it won't always be the perfect answer,but at least will allow,more often than not,to understand with clarity what happens in someone else's music,which can be used to build one's style.

What strikes me is that all the great composers did that: analyze someone else's music... (at least,I think so,otherwise how do we explain,for example,that so many composers used ,in a cadence,a 6/4 chord that resolves into a dominant chord?)

Not everybody will agree,but I think that any musicians who hopes not to be just an hobbyst,would have to know music 'theory'.
BTW, I don't even like the word 'theory'....it sounds less 'bleah' to me if I call it 'music concepts'


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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: new_beginning_]
      #693789 - 04/01/09 02:12 PM
Quote Wurlitzer:

SunShineState -


Ultimately to me it's ALWAYS about the result, what my ear tells me, and "if it sounds right, it is right".




"If it sounds right, it is right" is almost true but not quite. Theory and experience can help but the reality is that you may make a compositional decision but after several months, and confronted with a live performance, you may hear compositional misjudgments. It is difficult to tell whether an unusual section will still sound good after several months or several performances. Fortunately with classical music, nothing is set in stone, so passages can be rewritten.
I will still not use certain things that theory forbids, such as the tonic and dominant chords simultaneously, because I am certain that in many months I will hear them as mistake.

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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #693927 - 04/01/09 10:32 PM


Quote Ian Stewart:

Quote Wurlitzer:

SunShineState -


Ultimately to me it's ALWAYS about the result, what my ear tells me, and "if it sounds right, it is right".




"If it sounds right, it is right" is almost true but not quite. Theory and experience can help but the reality is that you may make a compositional decision but after several months, and confronted with a live performance, you may hear compositional misjudgments.




Certainly true. But the point is you're judging them as misjudgments because you HEAR them as such, not because they break any rule. I absolutely agree that there is more to hearing than just first impressions. One can also "hear" things like form, and the stylistic integrity (or not) of the last phrase of the piece and the first.

And I agree that theory helps us to keep track of these things when the ear alone can't always. My point was only that the final ARBITER of whether a piece is "right" or not, is always to do with sound, never with how the notes look on the page. If a particular chord sounds wrong in its context - too jarring; too bare; if it doesn't make sense with the melodic phrasing - appearing to come to rest too early or late; whatever: then no amount of showing how it is theoretically correct makes it correct. And vice versa.

Forgetting this fact is largely why so much crap music that nobody wants to listen to was written in the latter twentieth century.

Quote:

It is difficult to tell whether an unusual section will still sound good after several months or several performances. Fortunately with classical music, nothing is set in stone, so passages can be rewritten.
I will still not use certain things that theory forbids, such as the tonic and dominant chords simultaneously.




Not sure I understand that. 18th century classical theory forbids all juxtapositions of two triads at once - it just wasn't part of the language. As you're not living in the 18th century, I presume you're referring to 20th century styles and there are loads of composers who have made use of such juxtapositions, including that one. Stravinsky and Milhuad are two that spring to mind.

Or looked at another way, it's just a tonic 9th chord.

Not sure where this "rule" comes from.


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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #694033 - 05/01/09 09:56 AM
Quote Wurlitzer:



Certainly true. But the point is you're judging them as misjudgments because you HEAR them as such, not because they break any rule. I absolutely agree that there is more to hearing than just first impressions. One can also "hear" things like form, and the stylistic integrity (or not) of the last phrase of the piece and the first.




That is, of course, true and I have even experienced the opposite effect where after a few months have decided something is wrong. Because I have not had the opportunity to change it, a few months later, on hearing it again, it has become obvious that my original ideas were right. Why this happens could be nervousness, different attitude, or just the human desire to continually change things.
That is one of the problems of large scale form, if a work is even just 20 minutes long the formal aspects are so difficult to judge.

Of course everything we have been discussing helps explain why some are good composers and some are not.

Quote Wurlitzer:


Not sure I understand that. 18th century classical theory forbids all juxtapositions of two triads at once - it just wasn't part of the language. As you're not living in the 18th century, I presume you're referring to 20th century styles and there are loads of composers who have made use of such juxtapositions, including that one. Stravinsky and Milhuad are two that spring to mind.

Or looked at another way, it's just a tonic 9th chord.

Not sure where this "rule" comes from.





On rereading that it is confusing. What I meant was the dominant seventh chord and tonic voiced in such a way that they retain their harmonic roles. An example would be G7 in the high register with C in the lower register. An example of this that grated on me was that Chuck Mangione hit where the melody vascillated between (say in the key of C) C and B, whereas the countertheme part went from B to C. The feature of the track was the continual alternation of a minor 9th and major 7th.

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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #694038 - 05/01/09 10:07 AM
Quote Wurlitzer:

If a particular chord sounds wrong in its context - too jarring; too bare; if it doesn't make sense with the melodic phrasing - appearing to come to rest too early or late; whatever: then no amount of showing how it is theoretically correct makes it correct. And vice versa.




This is something I have thought about for many years. I particularly dislike the so called, 'complexity', 'new complxity' or 'maximalism' compositions. However I am wondering if many people can, and of course want, to hear the structure and form of the composition as they are listening to the sounds. In much the same way as when you watch a reworking of a folk story, that story is always present in your mind, maybe some people can hear the structure under such a composition.
Although it is possible to hear the theme being developed in sonata form, or the basic melody in a theme and variations, the structures used by Ferneyhough I would say are impossible to hear. As are the 'magic squares' of Maxwell Davies.

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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #694046 - 05/01/09 10:27 AM
Quote Ian Stewart:

What I meant was the dominant seventh chord and tonic voiced in such a way that they retain their harmonic roles. An example would be G7 in the high register with C in the lower register. An example of this that grated on me was that Chuck Mangione hit where the melody vascillated between (say in the key of C) C and B, whereas the countertheme part went from B to C. The feature of the track was the continual alternation of a minor 9th and major 7th.




Right. You're referring to your particular reaction to a certain combination of sounds, rather than to an established objective "rule". That makes perfect sense: that's how we all develop our composing abilities, by building up a memory bank of what we feel works, and doesn't, under different circumstances. When composing the next piece, we don't have to try all those possibilities out again because we can use our past experience and memory as a kind of short cut.


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #694051 - 05/01/09 10:45 AM
Quote Ian Stewart:

Quote Wurlitzer:

If a particular chord sounds wrong in its context - too jarring; too bare; if it doesn't make sense with the melodic phrasing - appearing to come to rest too early or late; whatever: then no amount of showing how it is theoretically correct makes it correct. And vice versa.




This is something I have thought about for many years. I particularly dislike the so called, 'complexity', 'new complxity' or 'maximalism' compositions. However I am wondering if many people can, and of course want, to hear the structure and form of the composition as they are listening to the sounds. In much the same way as when you watch a reworking of a folk story, that story is always present in your mind, maybe some people can hear the structure under such a composition.
Although it is possible to hear the theme being developed in sonata form, or the basic melody in a theme and variations, the structures used by Ferneyhough I would say are impossible to hear. As are the 'magic squares' of Maxwell Davies.




Totally. It's all bollox.

Modernist composers tried to sell crap-sounding music on the basis that its appeal was in its "form", and that this somehow continued the classical art-music tradition because the real value of Bach, Haydn, Brahms etc is also in their form. Academics having grown up analysing fugues and sonata movements could just apply the same skills to analysing 12-note rows or magic squares.

This is a great lie because form in baroque, classical and Romantic music is not some hidden intellectual formula that is completely separate from the experience of the music. Its PART of the experience. An obvious example is the way major key baroque and classical pieces are nearly all based around an overall key scheme of I - V - I. This isn't some arcane intellectualisation that somebody invented and managed to convince everyone else to follow. It's something that you feel as you listen to the music, as it comes to a temporary resting point at the modulation to V, but you can feel that it's not the final resting point, then it eventually comes back to that final resting point. It's physical, and intuitive. And it's also the macrocosmic expression of the microcosm: it's reflecting on a larger scale the same process that are going on in individual chord progressions and phrasing.

Same goes in different ways for fugue, theme-and-variations, anything.

It IS true that you can find examples of pure intellectual numerology that you could never actually hear, in some pre-modern music. This is especially so in early music, where composers sometimes used numbers in relation to rhythm etc to reflect the supposed religious significance of some number patterns. I understand examples of this can even be found in Bach. But while musicologists love to find this stuff and harp on about it, the point is that you don't NEED to know about it in order for the piece to sound good and make perfect sense to you. It's an addition to the music as a convincing aural entity, not a replacement or an excuse for music that isn't aurally convincing.

"Form" as the Fernyhoughs of this world would have it has nothing to do with actual musical form as real composers unfold it and listeners percieve it. It's an intellectual group masturbation-fest, that is promoted by academic musicological interests because it allows them to justify their position since they know about something that other people don't, so they need to "lead" the poor ignorant ordinary listener, who clearly can't reach enlightenment on his own.


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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #694257 - 05/01/09 07:33 PM
Excellent post Wurlitzer. A non-musician friend of mine, who is completely obsessed with classical music, could not get to grips with the total serialist, classical composers. His view was, you should not need a degree in music to appreciate it. My view is, if someone, who is opened minded and musically literate, is having difficulty, then the composers must take a large amount of the responsibility. For instance, novelists don't write entire novels in a constructed language nobody understands. And foreign films will have subtitles.
I met Brian Ferneyhough many years ago and he explained that in Mozart's day, the conventions were known and accepted, whereas now there are no conventions, so you have to create your own. That makes perfect sense, but of course building structures and then filling in the notes, is not following conventions as they would have been in previous times. It is true that if you set up a series of 'rules' the music will have a consistent sound. If you use formal techniques, even magic squares, it stimulates creative thinking and the brain. However the music must sound good, that is the one and only test.
The large scale formal skills of some composers is exceptional, but as you said, you do need to know that to appreciate the music. After sometime, a non-musician listener may want to explore how the late Beethoven sonatas are so satisfying over large time spans, and hence read a more formal analysis. However that is not needed to appreciate such music. And it is certainly not needed to justify the music.

Quote Wurlitzer:


"Form" as the Fernyhoughs of this world would have it has nothing to do with actual musical form as real composers unfold it and listeners percieve it.




That is the problem put succinctly and, I think, explains the problem of that school of contemporary music.

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Ivories
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #694296 - 05/01/09 09:52 PM
I have only the most superficial passing acquaintance with Ferneyhough's music (and the last two posts don't encourage me to seek more), so I won't add to those. However...

There seem to be two apparently separate issues coming up on this newly-reawakened thread, which I think are connected at a deeper level. The first is the observation that the final arbiter of whether a piece of harmonic writing is "correct" or not doesn't come from a theory textbook, but from the fact that it sounds right to the composer. This is unchallengeable from the point of view of artistic integrity - by publishing a composition (either as a recording or a score), a composer is publicly saying that it sounds right to him/her. However, we shouldn't forget that the process of training in composition and music theory, as traditionally followed, is amongst other things a process of ear training. Wurlitzer commented in an earlier post (I hope I'm paraphrasing accurately) that learning the rules about various things you're not supposed to use (consecutives etc) in harmony and counterpoint exercises of different kinds should lead to an aural awareness of their effect. This was something that was generally not wanted in the classical style. It might be an effect that a composer in a more contemporary style does want, as a matter of compositional choice; however, the effect of the consecutive remains, and a good composer will be aware of it. From learning (and teaching) harmony and counterpoint, I'm sure that a chord progression containing consecutives can "sound right" to a student - mainly because s/he doesn't notice that they're there. However, two years later, after getting to grips thoroughly with Bach chorales/fugue/16th-century imitative polyphony/canons at every interval and in every direction/classical string quartet writing (or any other style of writing you might choose to get a student to imitate), then the progression containing the consecutives will make you cringe, because you can hear them. This is a necessary step on the road to being able to make the stylistically aware compositional choices Wurlitzer was talking about. Studying and analysing the harmony of any other good music, in any genre, is also a form of ear training, and can lead to an increased awareness of harmonic effects, and a more discriminating sense of what sounds right. It can of course also lead to snobbery and misplaced criticism of unfamiliar musical genres as musicians attempt to apply inappropriate conventions to them, but the fact that you can also use a hammer for hitting someone on the head doesn't mean that using it to knock a nail in is a bad thing. The sense of long term progression from I to V to I (Wurlitzer, you're becoming a good Schenkerian at last!) is likewise something that we learn to recognize by listening and study: I'm afraid it's not easy to persuade my 4-year old daughter to listen to Mozart in preference to High School Musical because his music has a formal perfection that is lacking in "Stick to the status quo".

This is linked with the second issue which has re-surfaced in this thread, which is people's antipathy towards “maximalism”, “new complexity” or “modernist bollox” (pick your label to taste). I’m not prepared to defend all the music from this genre, but neither am I prepared to dismiss the whole corpus of modernist composers from Schoenberg to Elliot Carter who sought both a degree of complexity in their music, and to create a soundworld that was genuinely new. After all, Monteverdi and Wagner both achieved this, and we tend to dismiss the critics who attacked them for it as ignorant bigots. I think there are certainly examples of complex modernist music from the twentieth century, where the key to understanding it lies in learning to hear the formal or harmonic processes that are going on in it. Obvious examples (to me) are Webern, whose music seems to exhibit the microcosm within the macrocosm every bit as much as Mozart or Bach, even if its melody and harmony seems inexplicable until you’ve listened to it or played it quite a few times, and Messiaen, whose harmony ignores conventional chordal syntax, but achieves a sense of inevitability and perfection in its voicings and progressions. You can demonstrate some of these qualities by analysing the row forms, modes and other qualities. However, I agree that audibility is the crucial condition here, and for me, the important point is not anything you can find out by analysing the modes and series, it's that the formal and harmonic qualities in Webern and Messiaen are audible, although most listeners need to learn to hear them first. It is arguable that it’s much harder to distinguish good music from rubbish in the modernist/complex genre (and for that matter it’s also arguable that justifying distinctions between good and bad music is impossible from a philosophical point of view), but I’m not prepared to dismiss such music out of hand.


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #694413 - 06/01/09 02:10 AM
Yep, agree with all that (apart from the Shenkerian bit )

I wasn't trying to suggest that all modernist or complex music was bad. Just that the mentality of seeing the music's value in it's complexity and "form" on the page, and being too forgiving of music that sounds awful because of this, has led to a lot of bad music being written.


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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ivories]
      #694467 - 06/01/09 10:29 AM
Quote Ivories:

It is arguable that it’s much harder to distinguish good music from rubbish in the modernist/complex genre (and for that matter it’s also arguable that justifying distinctions between good and bad music is impossible from a philosophical point of view), but I’m not prepared to dismiss such music out of hand.




I do not like the sound of any of the 'maximalist' compositions I have heard, which is why I dislike that style. However, the structure should be used to explain the music, if you are interested in such things, not used to justify it.
The other problem I have is I think its moonraking. Some of the music is so complex, 11 in the time of 5 in a 9/8 bar with a different articulation on every note and rests included. It is, to me, a complete distrust of the performers musicality and taste. However there are far simpler composers who I detest even more - Kurtag for example. I think his music is autistic hogwash.

Incidentally I must thank you for not calling me a Shenkerian, that really would have been upsetting.

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DavidW



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #694575 - 06/01/09 02:23 PM
Quote Ian Stewart:


Incidentally I must thank you for not calling me a Shenkerian, that really would have been upsetting.




I quite liked it when I studied it *ducks*
It is one method of many!


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Pabs!



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ivories]
      #694690 - 06/01/09 06:52 PM
Quote Ivories:

Quote IvanSC:


Wonder what the chappie who posted that load of old bolleaux you responded to does for fun?




Translates Latin poetry into Sanskrit.






Latin into Sanskrit is old hat. English into Proto-IndoEuropean is where the fun is!!


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Pabs!



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #694699 - 06/01/09 07:21 PM
Back to the semitone keychange. I think it can sound cheesy or good depending on how its done. Alot of Motown songs contain the semitone up including my fav the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Tyrell version of 'Aint no mountain high enough'. Motown key changes are cheesy but thats Motown and i love it.

The worst key change I ever heard is in Michael Jackson's 'Earth song'....makes me cringe like anything.

Slightly off topic.....one of the things I find interesting about Miles Davis' 'So What' is how each soloist negotiated the semitone key change up or down.


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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ivories]
      #694706 - 06/01/09 07:43 PM
Quote Ivories:

From learning (and teaching) harmony and counterpoint, I'm sure that a chord progression containing consecutives can "sound right" to a student - mainly because s/he doesn't notice that they're there.




In Baroque times the tuning systems would have used natural fifths and I think they would have been far more obvious than equal tempered fifths.
Octaves are obviously wrong as they have the effect of bringing out the notes that are doubled. They are still wrong unless you want that moving part to come out of the texture.

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Jabba1



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: IvanSC]
      #694734 - 06/01/09 09:09 PM
Quote IvanSC:

I have always regarded gratuituous key changes like that as the last refuge of a desperate composer who knows he has a boring turkey that goes on too long.

As an amusing exercise, try singing Land of Hope and Glory and modulating each time it gets to the seventh at the penultimate line ( the "Dah dah dah" takes you to the next key of course) You can keep going up and up forever, or till your vocal range runs out.
Did this once at a British Legion function and had a great time till they all dropped out purple in the face....






Now THATS what I call a good night out at the Legion.

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TBTS



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #706930 - 11/02/09 05:12 PM
its really simple. There are no rules, if it sounds good it sounds good, if you put some thought into a key change, not just what your changing from and to, but when you do it, then it can be interesting to the ear in a non obvious way.

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Daniel Davis



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: IvanSC]
      #719166 - 21/03/09 05:46 PM
Quote IvanSC:

never really gotten into early music and find this fascinating.
Did a bit of research on 19th century Methodist choral stuff and that was a real revelation but this stuff is fascinating.

Wonder WHY they decided to set out the "harmonic rules" the way they did?

To my uneducated sensibility, it would seem that so long as the relationship between the chords within a piece remains the same, the starting point or "key" is irrelevant.

At the risk of boring others, tell us more or at least a "read more" link would be nice.




...for much the same reason as we hang our pictures up straight, or like our buildings to have an even ground level. Or why we like the ends of novels to tie up the questions posed along their way. Of course classical music does presume that you have a musical memory longer than the last phrase of music, which may not prove to be the case in people raised on X-factor pop.

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easily confused



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #722847 - 03/04/09 04:11 PM
Jacques Brel's "La Mort" - famously covered by Bowie and by Scott Walker as "My Death" key changes from verse to verse and is (imho) anything but cheesy.


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