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Spyder2



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Keychanges - basic rules?
      #666710 - 13/10/08 01:36 PM
I have notice in X-Factor, the songs are shortened with an extra chorus and they usually slam in a keychange for the final chorus. Any tips on what they are doing here? It is a typical semi-tone rise? Do you just wang in a V7 in the key you want to go to? So your in A, want to go to A# so the chord preceeding is F7?

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Andrew Cleaton
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #666723 - 13/10/08 01:54 PM
That pretty much sums it up! V7 will get you to any key you want. The corny X-Factor / Eurovision trick is to go up a semi-tone - as in your example, A - Bb. This works well as the final phrase of a melody will probably end on the root note of the scale (or "tonic") - in this case, A. The singer can hold this note while the chord changes underneath. This works because A is found in the chord of A and the chord of F7 - although it takes on a different function and feel. In the key of A, the note A is obviously the root - it feels like home, the final resting place. In the key of Bb (especially with a juicy F7 under it) it is the leading note, and feels unfinished forcing you up to the Bb to establish the new key.

You could push the boat out and go up a whole tone! In your example, this would take you from A to B via a chord of F#7. This can sound dramatic because the new leading note, F#, clearly doesn't belong in A.

Going up by either a semitone or a whole tone are the common ones. As you move to keys that are even further away from the starting point it can begin to feel a bit like changing from 4th into Reverse at speed - which might be the musical effect your after but you won't find that on the X-Factor.

All the best

Andrew


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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #666985 - 14/10/08 08:32 AM
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....


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Spyder2



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #667071 - 14/10/08 11:52 AM
Thanks for the explanation Andrew.

I might have to give it a try, cheesey or not Ivan

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jayzed
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #667074 - 14/10/08 11:56 AM
I was actually going to say how I think key changes are usually the refuge of the idea-less. It's difficult to do them without the smell of cheddar...

But then I thought it might be a bit rude - luckily there are some without my inhibitions :-)

Good luck with it, and let us know if you manage to pull it off without gagging.


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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: jayzed]
      #667119 - 14/10/08 01:22 PM
Quote JohnnyT:

I was actually going to say how I think key changes are usually the refuge of the idea-less. It's difficult to do them without the smell of cheddar...

But then I thought it might be a bit rude - luckily there are some without my inhibitions :-)

Good luck with it, and let us know if you manage to pull it off without gagging.




It`s a dirty job, but someone has to keep the fora honest! (evil grin)

P.S. Did you try Land of Hope and Glory yet?

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Spyder2



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #667536 - 15/10/08 12:37 PM
No, I'm still trying to pull it off without gagging.


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Funky Pie



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: jayzed]
      #669067 - 18/10/08 09:20 PM
Quote JohnnyT:

I was actually going to say how I think key changes are usually the refuge of the idea-less.




They can be, and the whole Britain's got the Pop Factor Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar strictly on Ice phenomenon is a polished turd of an example.

But for some solid gold examples of a keychange, try Todd Rundgren's "Sunset Blvd" or Stevie Wonder's "Golden Lady".

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hollowsun



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Funky Pie]
      #669092 - 18/10/08 11:00 PM
Quote Funky Pie:

the whole Britain's got the Pop Factor Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar strictly on Ice phenomenon is ...



An absolutely phenomenal spoof of the X-Factor key change obsession that was masterfully executed IMO, even midway through lines and not just at the obvious places.

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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Andrew Cleaton]
      #669095 - 18/10/08 11:05 PM
Quote Andrew Cleaton:

That pretty much sums it up! V7 will get you to any key you want. The corny X-Factor / Eurovision trick is to go up a semi-tone - as in your example, A - Bb. This works well as the final phrase of a melody will probably end on the root note of the scale (or "tonic") - in this case, A. The singer can hold this note while the chord changes underneath. This works because A is found in the chord of A and the chord of F7 - although it takes on a different function and feel. In the key of A, the note A is obviously the root - it feels like home, the final resting place. In the key of Bb (especially with a juicy F7 under it) it is the leading note, and feels unfinished forcing you up to the Bb to establish the new key.

You could push the boat out and go up a whole tone! In your example, this would take you from A to B via a chord of F#7. This can sound dramatic because the new leading note, F#, clearly doesn't belong in A.

Going up by either a semitone or a whole tone are the common ones. As you move to keys that are even further away from the starting point it can begin to feel a bit like changing from 4th into Reverse at speed - which might be the musical effect your after but you won't find that on the X-Factor.




I think there's a slight confusion of styles and traditions here.

The "X-Factor Modulation" (I'd always wanted to find a good name for it - thanks ) generally consists, as has been pointed out, in slipping everything up a semitone, usually for the last chorus of a rousing anthem or heart-rending power-ballad, just as the camera pans nonchalantly over the lead guitarist's prosthetic crotch, Elizabethan locks and come-to-bed-with-me-NOW! eyes and then cuts away to scenes of African mothers crying tears of joy as their hitherto starving children graduate from the Royal Bono University of Eternal Plenitude.

This particular little piece of pop grotesquery, however, doesn't belong to the classical tradition of careful dominant preparation and resolution. As such, I wouldn't say anyone usually bothers with the leading V7, and it will often just sound out of place if you try. Much more common (as far as my ears and memory can recall, anyway) is for one section to end in the home key, and the following one to simply start - SPLATTT!!!! - in the higher one. "Ha! Weren't expecting THAT now, were you?! Just when you thought the cheese couldn't smell any cheesier!"

Baroque and classical composers who did everything carefully via pivot chords and perfect cadences didn't, of course, generally modulate to such keys, they modulated to the closely related keys of relative, dominant etc. This mannerism belongs to the "cut-and-paste" mentality of modern pop music with clearly sectional, rather than developmental, thinking about form. Applying an inappropriate classical mentality to it would risk sacrificing its particular (if dubious) "charm".

Alternatively you could just buy a big lump of Stilton and rub it all over the microphones before recording.


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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #669159 - 19/10/08 09:26 AM
Quote Wurlitzer:



Baroque and classical composers who did everything carefully via pivot chords and perfect cadences didn't, of course, generally modulate to such keys, they modulated to the closely related keys of relative, dominant etc. This mannerism belongs to the "cut-and-paste" mentality of modern pop music with clearly sectional, rather than developmental, thinking about form. Applying an inappropriate classical mentality to it would risk sacrificing its particular (if dubious) "charm".




Not quite. Since the Baroque and Classical periods we have had atonality, palais bands and pop radio stations. It has been suggested that because of the 20th century dance bands we have lost a sense of the formal aspects of harmony. This is because dance bands did not consider the key when they choose what to play next. So whereas once a change from C major to G major via A minor would have been significant, dance bands would decide the key on whether it suited the instruments or which key suited the singer. So instead of keys being used structurally a dance band would play a song in Eb followed by Am followed by D major etc.

The last chorus up a semitone works, even though I have ambivalent views on it. It is a convention in MOR music but I find it difficult when a piece of music ends a semitone higher. However I don't think it is a worse convention than the various other conventions all music have.

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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #669184 - 19/10/08 10:48 AM
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.

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R. Spisketts



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #669255 - 19/10/08 03:31 PM
Been meaning to ask, so now we're on the subject... the truck driver's key shift UP is pretty common, but does anyone ever shift DOWN a semi/tone? For a particularly depressing song maybe. "Ok, let's really put it in the toilet for the last chorus..." perhaps combined with slowing the tempo a tad? A cursory google says that a Springsteen song "Racing in the Street" changes down from F to "a mournful Eb" in the break, but I'm not familiar with thats song...

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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #669283 - 19/10/08 05:04 PM
not a keyshift but the old Cilla Black song " anyone who had a heart" uses the downshift pretty effectively to indicate a downward emotional note in the song.

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SunShineState



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #669327 - 19/10/08 06:34 PM
agree that key changes are usually cheesy, but a couple of fairly nice ones are Nik Kershaw's "Wouldn't it be good" in the solo (new key starts while something is still playing in the old - nice) and the Real Thing's "You to me are everything" (a whole tone and the change happens in a planned way in the middle of some turn around chords rather than the usual big bang semi-tone thing)

Edited by SunShineState (19/10/08 06:35 PM)


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The Bunk



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #669328 - 19/10/08 06:36 PM
Squeeze's "Up The Junction" drops down from E to D after what I suppose is a sort of middle 8; I was going to venture earlier that although key changes might be regarded as cheesy, I think this one's absolutely brilliant. I used to do it as part of an acoustic due set and it's just great to play.
It then reverts back to E for the last two verses.


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: IvanSC]
      #669381 - 19/10/08 09:10 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?




"Rules" is a somewhat misleading way of looking at them. I prefer the term "principles" or even "awareness of effects".

Music theory teachers who don't really know what they're talking about refer to everything in terms of rules - a simple "don't do this, do that." To the composers who actually wrote this stuff, it was more a question of "if you do this, it will have such-and-such an effect. If you do that, it will have a different effect".

Several things followed from that. One was that some effects are very mild and easy on the ear, while others are very striking and surprising to the ear. An over-abundance over strong colours and surprise leads to confusion and anarchy (which is ultimately self-defeating, because the ear ceases to appreciate the effects as such and just becomes tired). So people learnt to use the techniques that would achieve mild effects most of the time, bringing out the stronger ones with skill and taste at exactly the right moment, in exactly the right way, so they could be most effective.

This sense of balance then got over-simplified by non-composing theorists, who didn't understand the point behind the whole thing, into the idea that all the teachniques creating mild effects were "good", and all the other ones were "bad", or "against the rules".

But to answer your question, all of these harmonic "rules" (or principles) are ultimately based on the nature of sound itself, and the emanation of the harmonic series. For example the principle of the dominant being the usual main goal of modulation had to do with the primacy of relationship by fifths. This in turn had to do with the fact that the first (and thus strongest) overtone that emanates from any fundamental, after its octave, is the fifth above.

Of course culture and tradition has a bearing on this. The tonal system of the 18th century revolved around harmonic movement upwards by 5th, from tonic to dominant, resolving then back to the tonic, because it was a highly effective way of constructing long-term musical architecture. The modulation to the dominant, once achieved, created a temporary sense of rest, with a deeper underlying sense that there was still a home that had to be returned to. The journey back to that home then resulted in ultimate satisfaction at the end of the movement. This same basic story, in infinite different guises, gave use the thousands of symphony, string quartets and sonatas of the classical period.

In blues and gospel music, OTOH, and the many styles spawned and influenced by blues, the primary relationship is DOWNWARDS by 5th, from tonic to subdominant, which all has to do with the innate sense of sadness and melancholy in this progression, and the tendency of the blue 7th to effect some degree of modulation to the subdominant. The forward momentum of the music is then not created by harmony (because there's no upward climb to the dominant to be resolved), but rather by rhythm.

Then again in many non-western styles, where there is no tradition of harmonic movement as such, the main harmonic accompaniment consists of a drone on a tonic and dominant 5th that stays absolutely static.

All of these are ultimately different cultures' ways of exploring the same eternal scientific fact - that when we listen to a note, we hear the fifth above it as a kind of "subset" of that note.

Quote:

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.




That may be true to an extent (although there are other factors involved, like the way different keys resonate on various instruments. I'm sure you know for example how different strumming a set of simple guitar chords in E sounds, with loads of open strings, from transposing the same set of chords up or down a semitone). But what we're talking about here is not the choice of opening key, but rather modulation to a new key within the course of a piece.

Quote:

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




It's a huge subject. I'm talking about stuff that has come out of decades of my own education, research, writing etc here. I've never really looked into web links about it and I couldn't give you a quick fix.

But if you're interested in the deep underlying principles behind harmony, and how they relate to the science of sound, Rameau's Treatise On Harmony of 1722 is a good place to start, coming at the time it did when it could sum up what the great baroque composers where doing, and influence in turn the classical ones.


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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #669394 - 19/10/08 10:09 PM
Quote Wurlitzer:


In blues and gospel music, OTOH, and the many styles spawned and influenced by blues, the primary relationship is DOWNWARDS by 5th, from tonic to subdominant, which all has to do with the innate sense of sadness and melancholy in this progression, and the tendency of the blue 7th to effect some degree of modulation to the subdominant.




In some ways the move to the subdominant is more natural. If you listen to a low note you can often hear the 6th harmonic which is a Bb if the low note is a C, although it would not be an equal tempered minor seventh. This would suggest a move to a chord on F. In fact one of Beethoven's piano sonatas in D major starts with a repeated low D and the tonic chord contains a minor 7th which then moves to a G chord.
However higher up the C harmonic series there is an F# which suggests a move to the dominant, this is why Messian would often add a Bb and F# to a standard major triad.

If you take the key of C major the main keys are the tonic obviously and then the dominant and subdominant - C - G -F. Also relative minor these keys - A minor E minor and D minor.
If you use the dominant seventh chord to modulate to the new key, which you would in traditional harmony, the following modulations from C major in their simplest form would be :

C - D7 - G

C - C7 - F

C - E7 - Am

C - B7 - Em

C - A7 - Dm

I would be interested in Wurlitzer's views on how a knowledge of baroque/classical conventions affects his appreciation of music now. For instance, that Commodores' song drives me mad where the chords are :

A7 - A7/G - D

That is so wrong to my ears, the minor 7th - G in the bass - is not resolved onto F# but jumps down to D.

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hollowsun



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #669397 - 19/10/08 10:27 PM
Quote Wurlitzer:

This sense of balance then got over-simplified by non-composing theorists, who didn't understand the point behind the whole thing, into the idea that all the teachniques creating mild effects were "good", and all the other ones were "bad", or "against the rules".



OT but I remember vividly when doing my music 'O' Level, the teacher saying quite emphatically that consecutive 5ths were "against the rules" and me putting my hand up saying...

"So Debussy would fail his 'O' Level then, Miss?"!

As you were ... this is interesting

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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: hollowsun]
      #669400 - 19/10/08 11:01 PM
Quote hollowsun:

Quote Wurlitzer:

This sense of balance then got over-simplified by non-composing theorists, who didn't understand the point behind the whole thing, into the idea that all the teachniques creating mild effects were "good", and all the other ones were "bad", or "against the rules".



OT but I remember vividly when doing my music 'O' Level, the teacher saying quite emphatically that consecutive 5ths were "against the rules" and me putting my hand up saying...

"So Debussy would fail his 'O' Level then, Miss?"!

As you were ... this is interesting




Actually there your teacher was right, presuming that what you were doing was some kind of chorale harmonisation in the style of Bach, or similar. The "rule" against consecutive 5ths was followed with remarkable consistency by all the composers writing in that style, and pretty much in the broader classical style that came out of it up to the end of the tonal period.

Where your teacher was at fault, was in that he didn't explain to you the very good and perfectly logical reasons behind the rule. Then you would have understood why it was applied in such a way, what that had to do with the deepest essence of what those composers were trying to achieve, and the very simple reasons why when Debussy came along, and was trying to achieve something very different, that rule was not relevant to him.

When we learn these reasons for things they can be useful to us, even writing in different styles. We build up a repertoire of technical cause-and-effect. "If I want to achieve A, I do X. If I want to achieve B, I do Y... etc..."

Sadly, the way music theory is commonly taught, very few people manage to take this away from it. The are taught erroniously that rules are absolutes (if only by ommission, since the teacher fails to explain the point behind the rule when it applies). Then when they hear music in which the rule isn't applied, they form the equally erronious notion that the rule is complete nonsense and they should forget all about it always.

It's all in the understanding why.


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #669405 - 19/10/08 11:25 PM
Quote Ian Stewart:

In some ways the move to the subdominant is more natural. If you listen to a low note you can often hear the 6th harmonic which is a Bb if the low note is a C, although it would not be an equal tempered minor seventh. This would suggest a move to a chord on F. In fact one of Beethoven's piano sonatas in D major starts with a repeated low D and the tonic chord contains a minor 7th which then moves to a G chord.




Yeah I've played that one, it's beautiful.

And I know what you mean. Debussy caught on to this idea of the "natural" minor seventh as a strong overtone, and it also underlies the mixolydian quality of a lot of folk music, and of course the flat 7th in blues and jazz.

I think to 18th century composers, it wasn't about being "natural" in a simple sense. It was about mankind striving, reaching upward to God and standing upright against the force of gravity. Then gravity (which also comes from God, after all) finally resolving that striving in a way that encompasses and thus validates it. It's a mentality that can only really be understood in terms of long-range musical architecture - primarily sonata form. Any effect of "naturalness", such as it exists, can only really come from an appreciation of the movement or piece as a whole.

In blues-based or blues-influenced music, and music of other cultures, harmony is a much more static or short-range (eg repetitive 12-bar cycles) thing. The naturalness is there as a constant, in the flat 7th among other things.

Quote:

However higher up the C harmonic series there is an F# which suggests a move to the dominant, this is why Messian would often add a Bb and F# to a standard major triad.




Yes, although interestingly Messian, like Debussy whom he ultimately got all that stuff from, reinterpreted that #4 as a static element of the tonic's harmonic series, rather than as a component of the move towards the dominant.

One quite compelling interpretation of the history of harmony in western art music is that it's a gradual journey up the harmonic series, with each generation of composers and listeners becoming comfortable with a higher set of overtones as static elements not needing resolution. In the middle ages, only the octave and perfect 5th were considered true consonances, the 3rd was a dissonance of sorts only to be used in passing. In the great "tonal" baroque-classical-romantic period, the major 3rd and its inversion, the 6th became accepted as consonances, and the 7th was still considered a dissonance needing special treatment and resolution. Then in the late 19th century, leading into the modern period, people like Debussy and Ravel began to hear the minor 7th and even the major 9th as static, consonant parts of the harmonic series and compose with them accordingly, a process that was continued by people like Messian with the #4.

(And that kind of harmony is very similar in many ways to modern jazz harmony, of course.)

There is of course a lot more to it, once you consider the various different types of each interval, and their inversions (the different ways of looking at the perfect 4th for example), but in principle I think there's a lot to it.

Quote:

I would be interested in Wurlitzer's views on how a knowledge of baroque/classical conventions affects his appreciation of music now.




Another huge topic. Will need to sleep on it.

Nighty night.


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hollowsun



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #669410 - 20/10/08 12:12 AM
Quote Wurlitzer:

Actually there your teacher was right, presuming that what you were doing was some kind of chorale harmonisation in the style of Bach, or similar.



I know! I was just being a cheeky bugger

I understood perfectly well that for the period she was right but I just needed to be a smart-arse to get a class giggle! I was 15 FFS!!!!

Unfortunately, she didn't then go on to explain (as you did) how there could be exceptions in - say - the music of the impressionists (or, indeed, pop and rock music) and how that might be an interesting point to discuss. It was a dictate.

But she was showing us how to get an 'O' Level, not giving us a musical education as such!

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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #669442 - 20/10/08 07:22 AM
OMG!
I`ve unleashed a monster!!!

Run for the hills!

Seriously, great stuff, whirley - keep it coming and I1ll try to keep up.

This should shut me up for an hour or two...

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Spyder2



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #669625 - 20/10/08 04:20 PM
Appreciating it all here too. Stretching my O level music knowledge too.

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Ivories
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #669738 - 20/10/08 10:19 PM
Well done Wurlitzer - I read Ivan's comment, thought "where do I start", then gave up!

"Rules" (whether or not that's the right word for them) of composing evolved over long periods of time, and not always for coherent reasons. The various theoretical explanations of how harmony works all have some things going for them, but it's probably fair to say there has never been a complete, thoroughly convincing explanation of conventional, 18th-century harmony, that accounts fully for all its complexities. Wurlitzer mentions Rameau, and his idea that the dominant grows out of the tonic. This idea was well-received by other music theorists, and proved why the dominant was so important within a key. However, they struggled to find an explanation for the subdominant: you can easily see how this chord is almost equally important as the dominant in the music of the period, but Rameau and successive generations of music theorists couldn't find a similarly convincing way of deriving it from the tonic.

Incidentally, I'm not convinced by the idea that the primary movement in a blues is towards the subdominant: in early 12-bar blues (pre-50s) it seems to me very common for bars 9 and 10 both to rest on the dominant chord, so you almost get a nice perfect cadence at the end, and almost a sense that chord IV in the 5th and 6th bars is a dominant preparation. Sometimes you even find II-V-I in bars 9-11.

Returning to the subject of rules: some rules of harmony originate in the nature of sound, and overtones, as Wurlitzer said. However, a lot of the rules of western composition also originate in the nature of the human voice. Music theorists generally make a distinction between harmony (principles governing how you create and combine chords, scales and keys) and counterpoint (principles governing how you combine several melodic lines). Obviously in practice these overlap a lot. However, most of the traditional rules of counterpoint have their origins in the sense of what was comfortable to sing. The rules of counterpoint in what was known as the Strict Style (as originating in the 16th century, but as taught widely to students in all centuries including this one!) dictate, for example, that a melodic line should stay within the compass of an octave, plus one note higher or lower (a comfortable range for most singers); that if you use a melodic leap of more than a third, it should be followed by a step in the opposite direction; that leaps of a major sixth, seventh, or any augmented or diminished interval should be avoided (as they are difficult to pitch); that dissonant notes should arise as a result of stepwise or oblique motion, and should resolve by step. These rules were all felt to be natural to the voice. The bans on parallel octaves and fifths are also rules of counterpoint rather than harmony (although they impact on writing harmony as well): parallel octaves were prohibited because they weaken the sense of independence of each melodic line; parallel fifths were prohibited because the effect of a perfect fifth is to define a particular chord or sonority very strongly, and to sound it successively on two different chords asserts the identify of each so strongly that it destroys a sense of connection between the two.

There has always been a tension between music theories based on harmony (like Rameau's) and those based on counterpoint. You can explain the importance of the subdominant easily by saying you are using it to create a bass line that moves smoothly onto the dominant. However, that's a contrapuntal justification rather than a harmonic one. The difficulty we have in reconciling all the rules within one coherent system is one reason why styles of harmony have changed constantly, as different generations have chosen to favour different principles.

Obviously, most mature composers even in the 18th century didn't create their harmony from a set of rules in textbooks; they wrote what sounded good to them. However, one of the main points of using rules when teaching harmony or counterpoint is to train a student's ear to hear the effects of particular "good" or "bad" progressions. When I was doing music O level, I didn't notice the parallel 5ths in my harmony exercises until my teacher played them to me; however, this process was what taught me recognize them, and their effect. Mozart was not averse to a parallel fifth or two, but since it happens within the context of smooth, interdependent melodic part-writing, then you could say that he was a master of the principles behind the prohibition.


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ivories]
      #669759 - 20/10/08 11:28 PM
Hi Ivories.

Quote Ivories:

"Rules" (whether or not that's the right word for them) of composing evolved over long periods of time, and not always for coherent reasons. The various theoretical explanations of how harmony works all have some things going for them, but it's probably fair to say there has never been a complete, thoroughly convincing explanation of conventional, 18th-century harmony, that accounts fully for all its complexities. Wurlitzer mentions Rameau, and his idea that the dominant grows out of the tonic. This idea was well-received by other music theorists, and proved why the dominant was so important within a key. However, they struggled to find an explanation for the subdominant: you can easily see how this chord is almost equally important as the dominant in the music of the period, but Rameau and successive generations of music theorists couldn't find a similarly convincing way of deriving it from the tonic.




It's certainly true that Rameau was not the be all and end all, and there were other theorists who saw things differently from him, but I think with respect I'd disagree with your point about the subdominant.

Firstly, you refer to the subdominant being "almost equally important" as the dominant. That may be true, depending on how you define "importance", but there's no doubt that the identities, usages and connotations of the two chords within the tonal system are radically different.

Opposite, in fact: and this is precisely why the subdominant is called the SUBdominant - because it has a relationship under the dominant that mirrors the relationship of the dominant above it. A lot of people mistakely think the subdominant is so-called because it's "under the dominant" within the scale. Not so: the name comes from the idea of it's being the "under-dominant" to the tonic. ie, just as the dominant lies a fifth above the tonic, the SUBdominant lies a fifth below it.

Rameau gave several very good explanations of this phenomenon, and it boils down to this: the tonic bears the same relationship to the subdominant, as the dominant bears to the tonic. It naturally falls by 5th to it, since our ears make the connection between the root of the tonic and the second overtone of the subdominant's harmonic series.

Now that all sounds nice and neat, but there are several problems and complications, and the need to deal with these can be seen precisely in the way composers actually handled the subdominant in practice.

For example, we don't WANT the tonic to resolve onto something else, because then we'd lose the sense of where the tonic IS! This is why almost every single 18th century sonata movement in a major key modulates to the dominant at the end of the exposition, and I don't know about you but I haven't seen a single one that goes to the subdominant. If it did, the architecture wouldn't work. The effect would be of "falling" into the middle of the piece and having to "climb" back out to the end, which is the exact opposite of what composers were trying to achieve, and would be ultimately unsatisfying.

OTOH the subdominant can have the most incredibly poignant sense of melancholy if used sensitively. For example Bach has a habit of tossing in a subtle move via it right at the VERY end of a movement - like in the second-last phrase or so. The point here is that the architecture of the movement is already completed. We have returned to the tonic and we can feel the end coming - he can then afford to play with us a little by taking the pull of gravity even FURTHER down, because the identity of the tonic is not at stake.

OTOH, ever noticed how the slow movements of classical major-key symphonies are usually in the subdominant key, not the dominant? Similar explnation: the overall key of the piece is not in doubt by this point, because we've already heard the whole I-V-I story of the first movement. Dropping to the subdominant perfectly suits the softer, more introspective quality normally required by the slow movement, and there's two more movements to come to reaffirm the tonic after it, so that's safe enough.

If you see the subdominant in these terms - as a kind of more tonic than the tonic, then the idiomatic usage of 18th century composers make complete sense.

Rameau also had a very canny explanation for the use of IV in a more microcosmic sense, in the typical progression I - IV - V - I, to do with it's similarity to II. We can see IV as just the upper three notes of II7. Thus I falls by natural gravity to IV, which is reinterpreted as II, which falls by natural gravity to V, which falls by natural gravity to I. Natural gravity all the way, baby! makes sense when you look at how interchangeable IV, IVb, II, IIb, II7 and II7b are in that progression in practice.

Quote:

Incidentally, I'm not convinced by the idea that the primary movement in a blues is towards the subdominant: in early 12-bar blues (pre-50s) it seems to me very common for bars 9 and 10 both to rest on the dominant chord, so you almost get a nice perfect cadence at the end, and almost a sense that chord IV in the 5th and 6th bars is a dominant preparation. Sometimes you even find II-V-I in bars 9-11.




That's an interesting and very valid way of hearing 12-BAR-BLUES, but I was referring more to the roots of the blues. Long before there was the codified 12-bar form, there were people jamming and making up lyrics, without much sense of precomposition or predetermined form, in blues and gospel styles. If you listen to field recordings of this music, a huge amount of it just oscillates between I and IV indefinately. Often it's not even exactly clear whether an actually chord change is happening, or whether it's just the result of linear processes: the lead singer might rise 3-4 for expressive reasons, and a backing singer will naturally follow 5-6 with him, and then the 4 and the 6, along with the held drone 1, makes a chord IV. Sometimes there'll be a bass, which sometimes changes root note but often doesn't. You get the feeling that there's this amazingly organic process going on whereby the typical early African-American vocal mannerisms and the over-arching harmonic axis of I-IV-I are gradually exploring and clarifying each other.

This tradition can still be heard in people like Ray Charles, Aretha etc. When soul and RnB songs settle into 2-chord oscillations that go on for considerable time, the chords are usually I7 and IV7, not anything to do with V.

The 12-bar form, with its important use of V, came later. And the II-V-I ending was most certainly something that was grafted onto it by educated jazz composers, not part of the roots. Bebop composers then took this process even further and put a VI before the II, then III before the VI, and so on and so forth...

Quote:

Returning to the subject of rules: some rules of harmony originate in the nature of sound, and overtones, as Wurlitzer said. However, a lot of the rules of western composition also originate in the nature of the human voice. Music theorists generally make a distinction between harmony (principles governing how you create and combine chords, scales and keys) and counterpoint (principles governing how you combine several melodic lines). Obviously in practice these overlap a lot. However, most of the traditional rules of counterpoint have their origins in the sense of what was comfortable to sing. The rules of counterpoint in what was known as the Strict Style (as originating in the 16th century, but as taught widely to students in all centuries including this one!) dictate, for example, that a melodic line should stay within the compass of an octave, plus one note higher or lower (a comfortable range for most singers); that if you use a melodic leap of more than a third, it should be followed by a step in the opposite direction; that leaps of a major sixth, seventh, or any augmented or diminished interval should be avoided (as they are difficult to pitch); that dissonant notes should arise as a result of stepwise or oblique motion, and should resolve by step. These rules were all felt to be natural to the voice. The bans on parallel octaves and fifths are also rules of counterpoint rather than harmony (although they impact on writing harmony as well): parallel octaves were prohibited because they weaken the sense of independence of each melodic line; parallel fifths were prohibited because the effect of a perfect fifth is to define a particular chord or sonority very strongly, and to sound it successively on two different chords asserts the identify of each so strongly that it destroys a sense of connection between the two.




Moste definitely. Absolutely. I was going to go into the consecutives thing in reply to Hollowsun's post, but even I get tired of rabbitting on eventually.


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Ivories
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #669774 - 21/10/08 12:18 AM
Quote Wurlitzer:



It's certainly true that Rameau was not the be all and end all, and there were other theorists who saw things differently from him, but I think with respect I'd disagree with your point about the subdominant.

Firstly, you refer to the subdominant being "almost equally important" as the dominant. That may be true, depending on how you define "importance", but there's no doubt that the identities, usages and connotations of the two chords within the tonal system are radically different.

Opposite, in fact: and this is precisely why the subdominant is called the SUBdominant - because it has a relationship under the dominant that mirrors the relationship of the dominant above it. A lot of people mistakely think the subdominant is so-called because it's "under the dominant" within the scale. Not so: the name comes from the idea of it's being the "under-dominant" to the tonic. ie, just as the dominant lies a fifth above the tonic, the SUBdominant lies a fifth below it.

Rameau gave several very good explanations of this phenomenon, and it boils down to this: the tonic bears the same relationship to the subdominant, as the dominant bears to the tonic. It naturally falls by 5th to it, since our ears make the connection between the root of the tonic and the second overtone of the subdominant's harmonic series.

Now that all sounds nice and neat, but there are several problems and complications, and the need to deal with these can be seen precisely in the way composers actually handled the subdominant in practice.

For example, we don't WANT the tonic to resolve onto something else, because then we'd lose the sense of where the tonic IS! This is why almost every single 18th century sonata movement in a major key modulates to the dominant at the end of the exposition, and I don't know about you but I haven't seen a single one that goes to the subdominant. If it did, the architecture wouldn't work. The effect would be of "falling" into the middle of the piece and having to "climb" back out to the end, which is the exact opposite of what composers were trying to achieve, and would be ultimately unsatisfying.

OTOH the subdominant can have the most incredibly poignant sense of melancholy if used sensitively. For example Bach has a habit of tossing in a subtle move via it right at the VERY end of a movement - like in the second-last phrase or so. The point here is that the architecture of the movement is already completed. We have returned to the tonic and we can feel the end coming - he can then afford to play with us a little by taking the pull of gravity even FURTHER down, because the identity of the tonic is not at stake.

OTOH, ever noticed how the slow movements of classical major-key symphonies are usually in the subdominant key, not the dominant? Similar explnation: the overall key of the piece is not in doubt by this point, because we've already heard the whole I-V-I story of the first movement. Dropping to the subdominant perfectly suits the softer, more introspective quality normally required by the slow movement, and there's two more movements to come to reaffirm the tonic after it, so that's safe enough.

If you see the subdominant in these terms - as a kind of more tonic than the tonic, then the idiomatic usage of 18th century composers make complete sense.

Rameau also had a very canny explanation for the use of IV in a more microcosmic sense, in the typical progression I - IV - V - I, to do with it's similarity to II. We can see IV as just the upper three notes of II7. Thus I falls by natural gravity to IV, which is reinterpreted as II, which falls by natural gravity to V, which falls by natural gravity to I. Natural gravity all the way, baby! makes sense when you look at how interchangeable IV, IVb, II, IIb, II7 and II7b are in that progression in practice.




I quite agree that in practice, the subdominant is quite unproblematic. Surely it's the fact that it's both the goal of a falling 5th from the tonic ("more tonic than the tonic", as you describe it), AND very similar to chord II, which tends to move onto the dominant, that makes it an agent of stability within a key.

My point about the theoretical problem of the subdominant is that Rameau and other theorists weren't able to derive its origins from the tonic as neatly as they were the dominant. The overtone series had been discovered not very long before (I can't remember the date, but late 17th century); it provided a more modern explanation of all the harmonic ratios that had previously been explained by lengths of vibrating strings, and made it possible to demonstrate how the dominant has its origins in tonic. The fact that the subdominant doesn't feature anywhere in the harmonic series (I think it's about the 21st harmonic, but even that's not in tune) was a concern to harmonic theorists right until the end of the 19th century, and led some of them (notably Riemann, but as far as I remember Rameau also toyed with this idea) to suppose that there must be an (as yet undiscovered) Undertone series, that was the mirror of the overtone series, which could prove the origins of the subdominant in the same way.

Of course these are purely theoretical problems, which have arguably no bearing at all on composition - but we know that theory and practice aren't always the same.





Quote:


Quote:

Incidentally, I'm not convinced by the idea that the primary movement in a blues is towards the subdominant: in early 12-bar blues (pre-50s) it seems to me very common for bars 9 and 10 both to rest on the dominant chord, so you almost get a nice perfect cadence at the end, and almost a sense that chord IV in the 5th and 6th bars is a dominant preparation. Sometimes you even find II-V-I in bars 9-11.




That's an interesting and very valid way of hearing 12-BAR-BLUES, but I was referring more to the roots of the blues. Long before there was the codified 12-bar form, there were people jamming and making up lyrics, without much sense of precomposition or predetermined form, in blues and gospel styles. If you listen to field recordings of this music, a huge amount of it just oscillates between I and IV indefinately.




Agreed.

Quote:

even I get tired of rabbitting on eventually.




Oh no you don't, not really...


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Rousseau
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #669775 - 21/10/08 12:21 AM
Quote Wurlitzer:



But if you're interested in the deep underlying principles behind harmony, and how they relate to the science of sound, Rameau's Treatise On Harmony of 1722 is a good place to start, coming at the time it did when it could sum up what the great baroque composers where doing, and influence in turn the classical ones.




Please ignore the Treatise in relation to the so-called science of sound! The Treatise was hopelessly outdated (not in terms of compositional praxis) when it was published. Indeed Rameau had to hastily rewrite it after Pere Castel reviewed it. Castel pointed out that Joseph Sauveur had already demonstrated that the harmonic series is naturally emitted when a sounding body (corps sonore) vibrates, in a paper given to the Academy of Sciences in 1701.

Rameau was barking up completely the wrong tree in the Treatise because he was still advocating monochordal aliquots to determine scales, generate the major triad and justify his compositional system, when of course the harmonic series produces the so-called major triad as it unfolds (1st 5 partials reduced to within the ambit of an octave). His Noveau Système (the Treatise rewrite) of 1726 incorporates Sauveur's findings, and it's not until 1737 in Génération Harmonique that Rameau fully expounds his theory of harmonic generation (much of it is highly questionable in terms of its science anyway).

Sorry, I'll get me coat now


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Rousseau
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ivories]
      #669780 - 21/10/08 12:31 AM
Quote Ivories:

Quote Wurlitzer:



It's certainly true that Rameau was not the be all and end all, and there were other theorists who saw things differently from him, but I think with respect I'd disagree with your point about the subdominant.

Firstly, you refer to the subdominant being "almost equally important" as the dominant. That may be true, depending on how you define "importance", but there's no doubt that the identities, usages and connotations of the two chords within the tonal system are radically different.

Opposite, in fact: and this is precisely why the subdominant is called the SUBdominant - because it has a relationship under the dominant that mirrors the relationship of the dominant above it. A lot of people mistakely think the subdominant is so-called because it's "under the dominant" within the scale. Not so: the name comes from the idea of it's being the "under-dominant" to the tonic. ie, just as the dominant lies a fifth above the tonic, the SUBdominant lies a fifth below it.

Rameau gave several very good explanations of this phenomenon, and it boils down to this: the tonic bears the same relationship to the subdominant, as the dominant bears to the tonic. It naturally falls by 5th to it, since our ears make the connection between the root of the tonic and the second overtone of the subdominant's harmonic series.

Now that all sounds nice and neat, but there are several problems and complications, and the need to deal with these can be seen precisely in the way composers actually handled the subdominant in practice.

For example, we don't WANT the tonic to resolve onto something else, because then we'd lose the sense of where the tonic IS! This is why almost every single 18th century sonata movement in a major key modulates to the dominant at the end of the exposition, and I don't know about you but I haven't seen a single one that goes to the subdominant. If it did, the architecture wouldn't work. The effect would be of "falling" into the middle of the piece and having to "climb" back out to the end, which is the exact opposite of what composers were trying to achieve, and would be ultimately unsatisfying.

OTOH the subdominant can have the most incredibly poignant sense of melancholy if used sensitively. For example Bach has a habit of tossing in a subtle move via it right at the VERY end of a movement - like in the second-last phrase or so. The point here is that the architecture of the movement is already completed. We have returned to the tonic and we can feel the end coming - he can then afford to play with us a little by taking the pull of gravity even FURTHER down, because the identity of the tonic is not at stake.

OTOH, ever noticed how the slow movements of classical major-key symphonies are usually in the subdominant key, not the dominant? Similar explnation: the overall key of the piece is not in doubt by this point, because we've already heard the whole I-V-I story of the first movement. Dropping to the subdominant perfectly suits the softer, more introspective quality normally required by the slow movement, and there's two more movements to come to reaffirm the tonic after it, so that's safe enough.

If you see the subdominant in these terms - as a kind of more tonic than the tonic, then the idiomatic usage of 18th century composers make complete sense.

Rameau also had a very canny explanation for the use of IV in a more microcosmic sense, in the typical progression I - IV - V - I, to do with it's similarity to II. We can see IV as just the upper three notes of II7. Thus I falls by natural gravity to IV, which is reinterpreted as II, which falls by natural gravity to V, which falls by natural gravity to I. Natural gravity all the way, baby! makes sense when you look at how interchangeable IV, IVb, II, IIb, II7 and II7b are in that progression in practice.




I quite agree that in practice, the subdominant is quite unproblematic. Surely it's the fact that it's both the goal of a falling 5th from the tonic ("more tonic than the tonic", as you describe it), AND very similar to chord II, which tends to move onto the dominant, that makes it an agent of stability within a key.

My point about the theoretical problem of the subdominant is that Rameau and other theorists weren't able to derive its origins from the tonic as neatly as they were the dominant. The overtone series had been discovered not very long before (I can't remember the date, but late 17th century); it provided a more modern explanation of all the harmonic ratios that had previously been explained by lengths of vibrating strings, and made it possible to demonstrate how the dominant has its origins in tonic. The fact that the subdominant doesn't feature anywhere in the harmonic series (I think it's about the 21st harmonic, but even that's not in tune) was a concern to harmonic theorists right until the end of the 19th century, and led some of them (notably Riemann, but as far as I remember Rameau also toyed with this idea) to suppose that there must be an (as yet undiscovered) Undertone series, that was the mirror of the overtone series, which could prove the origins of the subdominant in the same way.

Of course these are purely theoretical problems, which have arguably no bearing at all on composition - but we know that theory and practice aren't always the same.





Quote:


Quote:

Incidentally, I'm not convinced by the idea that the primary movement in a blues is towards the subdominant: in early 12-bar blues (pre-50s) it seems to me very common for bars 9 and 10 both to rest on the dominant chord, so you almost get a nice perfect cadence at the end, and almost a sense that chord IV in the 5th and 6th bars is a dominant preparation. Sometimes you even find II-V-I in bars 9-11.




That's an interesting and very valid way of hearing 12-BAR-BLUES, but I was referring more to the roots of the blues. Long before there was the codified 12-bar form, there were people jamming and making up lyrics, without much sense of precomposition or predetermined form, in blues and gospel styles. If you listen to field recordings of this music, a huge amount of it just oscillates between I and IV indefinately.




Agreed.

Quote:

even I get tired of rabbitting on eventually.




Oh no you don't, not really...





Posts crossed over...

Yup, the sub dominant was a huge problem for Rameau, the minor mode was an enormous problem and Tartini's difference tone threatened to undermine Rameau's entire system (so he chose to ignore it for as long as possible).


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thenaturallevel



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #669818 - 21/10/08 07:20 AM
This kind of movement can work if it's made a feature of the song. A good example of this is the Diana Ross song Chain Reaction
(written by the Bee Gees) which basically goes up and then comes back down again. I can't remember the exact progression off the top of my head (possibly simply C-D-E-F-E-D-C), however, given the lyrical content it makes sense.


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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #669831 - 21/10/08 08:08 AM
Regarding the move to the subdominant in early jazz, various stomps, marches etc.would move to the flat side. I have played numerous pieces in trad bands that started say in F, the central section was in Bb and then the final section or chorus, which was repeated until the end of the piece for improvisation, would be in Eb.
I feel that this is an underlying tendency in much jazz and Dave Brubeck (who I have to say I have never liked) to me missed the point when he composed a 12 bar blues in C (I think) starting on E7, slowly working through the cycle of 5ths to the F7 chord and then the usual blues structure. This was an intellectual approach that to me does not work.
Mezz Mezrow, who was an excellent jazz clarinetist, also I think missed the point, when he invented a 32 bar blues which he thought would make the old 12 blues redundant.

However I am not sure how relevant theories such as Rameau's are within the equal tempered system. For several days I worked with a sampler tuned to a mean tone tuning. When I went back to equal temperament the tuning sounded dull and lacking in vibrancy. Although it is generally considered a good thing because it makes late Romantic and twelve tone music possible I think we have lost more than we have gained.

--------------------
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Rousseau
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #669854 - 21/10/08 08:47 AM
Quote Ian Stewart:

However I am not sure how relevant theories such as Rameau's are within the equal tempered system. For several days I worked with a sampler tuned to a mean tone tuning. When I went back to equal temperament the tuning sounded dull and lacking in vibrancy. Although it is generally considered a good thing because it makes late Romantic and twelve tone music possible I think we have lost more than we have gained.




Oh dear you've been infected now, there's no turning back

Nail on head of course about Rameau's system being at odds with the equal temperament that he was advocating (as many a theorist pointed out to him).

Nevertheless, we do owe a huge amount to Rameau in terms of music theory.


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ivories]
      #669872 - 21/10/08 09:27 AM
Quote Ivories:

My point about the theoretical problem of the subdominant is that Rameau and other theorists weren't able to derive its origins from the tonic as neatly as they were the dominant. The overtone series had been discovered not very long before (I can't remember the date, but late 17th century); it provided a more modern explanation of all the harmonic ratios that had previously been explained by lengths of vibrating strings, and made it possible to demonstrate how the dominant has its origins in tonic. The fact that the subdominant doesn't feature anywhere in the harmonic series (I think it's about the 21st harmonic, but even that's not in tune) was a concern to harmonic theorists right until the end of the 19th century, and led some of them (notably Riemann, but as far as I remember Rameau also toyed with this idea) to suppose that there must be an (as yet undiscovered) Undertone series, that was the mirror of the overtone series, which could prove the origins of the subdominant in the same way.




Ha, yes. The undertone idea was a very clever piece of logical deduction that reality never quite caught up with.

I remember now reading about Rameau's difficulties trying to derive the subdominant from the tonic, and I agree that it can't really be done.

I suppose I don't really see it as a problem because I see the whole issue in relation to the modal system, out of which music had only comparatively recently emerged. The notes of the diatonic system are related by fifths, and in order to make these relationships work in the practical circumstances of a limited number of tones, there is the "kludge" of the one diminished fifth and the various compromises of temperament. Kludges like this are an inevitable part of the process of deriving a practical music-making system from the complex reality of physical sound-generation.

For various reasons - including linear factors as you mention above - "Ionian mode" emerged as the the most tonally stable and became the major scale in the hands of late renaissance composers, and that mode places the diminished 5th two places down the cycle under the tonic.

[And the fact that this had to do to some extent with culturally relative factors can be seen in the observations above, about how a lot of folk or blues-based music in the mixolydian mode actually has a deeper sense of gravity, or "naturalness".)

I don't see the subdominant as needing to be derived from the harmonic series of the tonic in order to validate the theory as a whole. It's the derivation of the whole diatonic system from 5th relationships that is the point. For example, the point of the supertonic is not that it corresponds to the 7th overtone of the tonic, it's that it's the dominant (ie 2nd overtone) of the dominant. In this sense the identity of the subdominant as the "tonic's tonic" makes perfect sense to me, especially when you see how that plays out in practice.


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SunShineState



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #670533 - 22/10/08 09:59 PM
what the f**k are you guys on ?? im a big fan of do it cos it sounds good (rather than waste your life analysing the "maths") - so in popular music shove the last chorus up a semitone because it livens things up; and stop worrying about whether the theory is sound or not


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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #670575 - 23/10/08 12:00 AM
read the top of the page dude - you are in music theory and practice.

The nerd count round here is exceedingly high.

They only let me in if I promise to wear my pocket protectror and carry a ruler that makes manuscript paper.
(Yes I really DO have one and use it.)

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thenaturallevel



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: SunShineState]
      #670601 - 23/10/08 07:41 AM
Quote SunShineState:

what the f**k are you guys on ?? im a big fan of do it cos it sounds good (rather than waste your life analysing the "maths") - so in popular music shove the last chorus up a semitone because it livens things up; and stop worrying about whether the theory is sound or not




Are you a member of Westlife?


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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: SunShineState]
      #670607 - 23/10/08 08:07 AM
Quote SunShineState:

what the f**k are you guys on ?? im a big fan of do it cos it sounds good (rather than waste your life analysing the "maths") - so in popular music shove the last chorus up a semitone because it livens things up; and stop worrying about whether the theory is sound or not




That's what composers like Rameau did, tried to find a theoretical explanation, or the principles, behind progressions that sounded right to the ear and those that did not.
Such theoretical knowledge can also help any composing as if something does not feel right, an analysis can often highlight the problematic area. This happened to me recently, a section just did not work and I could not understand why. It then occurred to me that I had gone from A major to an F# minor section in which the second chord was A. This meant the F# minor section was undefined and being dragged back into to A. Once I changed that chord the section worked.
However analysis is a fluid thing, not fixed in stone - look upon musical analysis as more akin to quantum physics rather than the legal system.

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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #670644 - 23/10/08 09:13 AM
Quote Ian Stewart:

Quote SunShineState:

what the f**k are you guys on ?? im a big fan of do it cos it sounds good (rather than waste your life analysing the "maths") - so in popular music shove the last chorus up a semitone because it livens things up; and stop worrying about whether the theory is sound or not




That's what composers like Rameau did, tried to find a theoretical explanation, or the principles, behind progressions that sounded right to the ear and those that did not.
Such theoretical knowledge can also help any composing as if something does not feel right, an analysis can often highlight the problematic area. This happened to me recently, a section just did not work and I could not understand why. It then occurred to me that I had gone from A major to an F# minor section in which the second chord was A. This meant the F# minor section was undefined and being dragged back into to A. Once I changed that chord the section worked.
However analysis is a fluid thing, not fixed in stone - look upon musical analysis as more akin to quantum physics rather than the legal system.




"And that`s my excuse for being a theory nerd and I`m sticking to it!"

Juust kidding, mate.

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

As a matter of interest the stuff about where the root takes you rprogression is very relevant to bass players.
I have long said that the bass player ultimately decides the harmonic structure of a tune in pop music.
LIike you said,
You think you`re in A major?
Have an F# in the bass and tell me you`re still in A major!

Mu-hahaaa!

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The Bunk



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #670724 - 23/10/08 11:33 AM
...on the subject of key changes, anybody seen John Otway in action?? Halfway through a song, he announces "key change!!" Everybody stops. He puts a capo on the guitar somewhere like the second fret and starts again. Wonderful!


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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: The Bunk]
      #670900 - 23/10/08 04:29 PM
Quote HandM:

...on the subject of key changes, anybody seen John Otway in action?? Halfway through a song, he announces "key change!!" Everybody stops. He puts a capo on the guitar somewhere like the second fret and starts again. Wonderful!




John is a national treasure.

Him & WWB in their heyday were a sight to see!

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Ivories
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: IvanSC]
      #670931 - 23/10/08 05:59 PM
Quote IvanSC:


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




Translates Latin poetry into Sanskrit.

Quote:

As a matter of interest the stuff about where the root takes you rprogression is very relevant to bass players.
I have long said that the bass player ultimately decides the harmonic structure of a tune in pop music.




Just what Rameau said.


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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #670970 - 23/10/08 08:35 PM
Quotey -wotey:As a matter of interest the stuff about where the root takes you rprogression is very relevant to bass players.
I have long said that the bass player ultimately decides the harmonic structure of a tune in pop music.
LIike you said,:un-quotey-wotey.

and I was replying to the post by Ian, saying just that.

It`s a minor point but it is relative.

I`ll get my coat.....

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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #670999 - 23/10/08 09:23 PM
Hi Ivories, I think we have met. I think we travelled back together from the CASS conference in Cardiff a few years ago, in Steven's car, as all the trains were cancelled. I try not to rely on my memory though.

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fletcher



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: IvanSC]
      #671002 - 23/10/08 09:29 PM
Quote IvanSC:


I have long said that the bass player ultimately decides the harmonic structure of a tune in pop music.
LIike you said,
You think you`re in A major?
Have an F# in the bass and tell me you`re still in A major!

Mu-hahaaa!




Yes Ivan, and playing the wrong note with such great confidence the audience assume the rest of the band are playing the wrong chord, that bass is dangerous instrument in the wrong hands!


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SunShineState



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: IvanSC]
      #671007 - 23/10/08 09:41 PM
I'm a fan of the George Martin theory - music is art - you start with a blank canvas and have the right to create anything you want -there is no right or wrong.

So the notation and theory is just a way of recording what has already been composed, from an era before we had tape recorders and DAWs - and is therfore now redundant!

I'll get me coat


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hollowsun



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: SunShineState]
      #671028 - 23/10/08 11:03 PM
Quote SunShineState:

So the notation and theory is just a way of recording what has already been composed .... and is therfore now redundant!



Whoooops!!!

Notation will be used for some time to come to allow future musicians to play music. George Martin used traditional notation all the time.

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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #671038 - 23/10/08 11:36 PM
SunShineState -

Can I just clarify, at no point did I say, or mean to suggest, that the "X-Factor modulation" is wrong because it contradicts some traditional "theory". I didn't even say it was wrong, as such.

To my ears, most (not all) examples of this are "wrong" because they sound cheesy, cliched and ultimately ineffective, like I can hear the composer fishing around for cheap tricks rather than just relax and enjoy the music.

But this has nothing to do with analysing it, it's just what my ears tell me. And in some cases it works better than others, like anything.

Also, when I outlined how this modulation doesn't fit into the classical scheme of modulation to cloesely related keys via pivot chords, I wasn't suggesting for a moment that that scheme is "right", and the modulation up a semitone somehow "wrong" for that reason. I was simply trying to clarify that they are different techniques, emerging within different traditions trying to do different things.

This can be a helpful thing to do because if you don't do it, people can get the bases of techniques they use wrong - basically viewing them from a style base that they don't belong to. An example in this very thread - the idea of trying to effect the X-Factor modulation "smoothly" and "correctly", by preceeding it with its dominant 7th. In fact what I was doing was the opposite of what you protest. I was saying DON'T bother about doing that, because that's applying a classical mentality to it that is foreign to the style.

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.


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Ivories
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #671041 - 23/10/08 11:47 PM
Hi Ian. We may have met, but it wasn't at a conference in Cardiff, because I'm sure I've never been to one. Shame!


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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: SunShineState]
      #671082 - 24/10/08 06:43 AM
Quote SunShineState:

I'm a fan of the George Martin theory - music is art - you start with a blank canvas and have the right to create anything you want -there is no right or wrong.

So the notation and theory is just a way of recording what has already been composed, from an era before we had tape recorders and DAWs - and is therfore now redundant!

I'll get me coat




(grin) well at least I stopped short of saying it was redundant!
But yes I do still think there is a tendency for paper-driven musicians to overlook how it all started.
And I suppose the theory is that people with not-so-good ears can read and play a manuscript rahter than struggling to just follow the recording as those blessed with better ears can.

FWIW I use ear and manuscript, so I really don`t have an axe to grin done way or the other.
By the way, what had you been drinking the other night? (grin)
I have a double dose of depping on bass for a country band coming up and may well need a good anaesthetic/perception alterer/mood lightener.

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The Bunk



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: IvanSC]
      #671087 - 24/10/08 06:55 AM
Quote IvanSC:

Quote HandM:

...on the subject of key changes, anybody seen John Otway in action?? Halfway through a song, he announces "key change!!" Everybody stops. He puts a capo on the guitar somewhere like the second fret and starts again. Wonderful!




John is a national treasure.

Him & WWB in their heyday were a sight to see!




Agree; the man's a legend!
He's touring at the moment; might go and see him in Putney tomorrow. His support act is some band I've never heard of but which is featuring....wait for this....Lloyd Grossman.


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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: SunShineState]
      #671108 - 24/10/08 08:12 AM
Quote SunShineState:

I'm a fan of the George Martin theory - music is art - you start with a blank canvas and have the right to create anything you want -there is no right or wrong.




There is good music and bad music though and I have personally had enough of hearing people who produce bad artistic works justifying it by saying "this is how I feel" etc. Another point is personally I don't think of myself as an artist, I always feel I am a craftsman. I have more in common with a stonemason than say Tracy Emin.

Quote SunShineState:


So the notation and theory is just a way of recording what has already been composed, from an era before we had tape recorders and DAWs - and is therfore now redundant!




Notation will always be around. I have just recorded a work for 6 violins, 2 violas and soprano saxophone. It would have taken years for each musician to learn their part by ear rather than just notating it so that they can sight read it. Notation becomes as much a part of you as reading words. When you write lyrics do you notate them on paper? Or do you say that's been done, notation is redundant so you only recorded them on a computer and refuse to write them down?

However rock music is obsessed with precedent the same as any other.Try to get a rock band to do something different, they are often as stuck in their ways as another group of musicians can be.

i think everyone should be able to read music. Being a musician and not being able to read music is like being a translator who doesn't know the future tense. It really is not that difficult to learn.

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Rousseau
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #671138 - 24/10/08 09:24 AM
Tracy Emin is an artist?


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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Rousseau]
      #671146 - 24/10/08 09:45 AM
Quote Rousseau:

Tracy Emin is an artist?




Exactly, I would say Tracy Emin is an artist rather than a craftsman (craftsperson?).

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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #671150 - 24/10/08 09:50 AM
Quote Ian Stewart:


i think everyone should be able to read music.It really is not that difficult to learn.




=1 Ian.
I read very slowly these days as I don`t really keep it up, but was taught to sight read bass parts (easy I know) in a few days.

Always a useful skill at any level.
You can nick a much better class of riff....


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Ivories
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: SunShineState]
      #671330 - 24/10/08 04:01 PM
Quote SunShineState:

I'm a fan of the George Martin theory - music is art - you start with a blank canvas and have the right to create anything you want -there is no right or wrong.

So the notation and theory is just a way of recording what has already been composed, from an era before we had tape recorders and DAWs - and is therfore now redundant!

I'll get me coat




Notation isn't really a way of recording what you've composed, it's a way of telling other people how to play it - it's a method of communicating with other musicians, rather than with an audience. Notation can be a way of recording music which is too long or complex to be played by ear (no matter how good your ear is), or which is too difficult to play without a long period of practising it first. Either way, some music is best learned by ear and some is best learned from notation. Good musicians can do both.

Theory is not the same thing as notation. Notation is simply a method of communicating (although its existence does predispose musicians to favour certain things). The phrase "music theory" is rather unhelpfully linked in some people's minds with graded music theory exams, which are primarily exams on the standard conventions of notating music. However, theory is a much broader than this, and can be any attempts to generalize or make rules about how and why certain things in music work. As we've seen earlier in this thread, there are a lot of different theories of music, and some are more relevant to some types of music than to others. Some theories of music contain a lot of prescriptions about how you should compose (those may have been the ones George Martin didn't like), but others don't. Whether you like theorizing about things is a personality trait, or perhaps a learning style - some people can compose best by obsessively analysing every note, whereas some people are completely intuitive. I've a feeling that the musicians who analyse and obsess about their music are the ones who really break the rules, whereas the ones who go with the flow tend to produce stuff that's more conventional, but that's only a feeling - it's not based on analysis of any evidence or theory.


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The Korff
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #671337 - 24/10/08 04:23 PM
Quote Ian Stewart:

Quote Rousseau:

Tracy Emin is an artist?




Exactly, I would say Tracy Emin is an artist rather than a craftsman (craftsperson?).




I would say that she's a pretentious bint.

Have you ever read that ghastly column she writes for the Independent On Sunday? I've never seen such contrived crap written anywhere else in all my life.

And I've read every novel in the Sweet Valley High series...


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Andrew Cleaton
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #671360 - 24/10/08 05:21 PM
Check out the old boogie-woogie pianist, Jimmy Yancey. Pretty much every tune he recorded ended in Eb - no matter what key it started in. Makes for some "interesting" car crash modulations!

Andrew


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SunShineState



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #671361 - 24/10/08 05:22 PM
ok so I was kidding bout notation being redundant

However I do have a problem with theory if it suggests there are strict "rules" that you have to follow - call me a rebel but I believe that many of the best things in life are created by breaking or bending the rules - which of course also means u have to have rules to break etc blah de blah


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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: SunShineState]
      #671370 - 24/10/08 05:59 PM
Quote SunShineState:

call me a rebel but I believe that many of the best things in life are created by breaking or bending the rules




No, I would call you a conformist. You seem to be saying you take the rules and then break them - so what you do is defined by the rules, admittedly a negative version of them.

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hollowsun



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: SunShineState]
      #671385 - 24/10/08 06:40 PM
Quote SunShineState:

call me a rebel but I believe that many of the best things in life are created by breaking or bending the rules



So many people think they're being rebels but actually - without realising - conform to well established musical 'conventions' ... the I, IV, V progression for example ... or the I, relative minor, IV, V progression - both the backbone of rock and classical.

I give you Pachelbel's Canon....

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=JdxkVQy7QLM



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jrbcm



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #671407 - 24/10/08 08:27 PM
Nice clip Hollowsun

Anyways, anyone care to name a single composer that ever stuck to 'the rules'?

Even Pachelbel put that nice little C natural in there


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: jrbcm]
      #671417 - 24/10/08 09:08 PM
Quote jrbcm:

Nice clip Hollowsun

Anyways, anyone care to name a single composer that ever stuck to 'the rules'?




You'd need to clarify which rules you mean, and like I said before I don't really acknowledge the concept, because I think the way the great composers were trained was more about principles, and learning that certain combinations of notes have certain effects, some of which are more widely usable than others.

But if we take for example the most commonly cited "rule" of baroque and classical harmony - the "rule" against parallel 5ths and 8ves, then yes, we can say that Bach, Handel, Haydn etc virtually never broke it. Particularly Bach: if you leave aside thorny questions of what happens when one 5th is diminished etc, you can look through page after page of the chorales or volume after volume of the cantatas and just NEVER find one.

Many other rules are abstractions from general principles. For example many people are taught that parts in SATB harmony should never cross. This is absurd as in the works of the masters (including Bach), they do often. What the "rule" should really say is that the surest way of achieving smooth, controlled harmony that's easy on the ear, is to not let the parts cross. When they do cross, you tend to notice, and that means you need to really know what you're doing or the effect will be random and confusing.

Yet another thing I've found is that many rules suffer from not taking into account phrasing and context. The worst in this respect are the many rules that have been derived from cadential harmony in hymns, completely oblivious to the fact that it is like that BECAUSE it's cadential harmony. For example, people are taught that there should never been a gap of more than an octave between any two voices, except occasionally the tenor and bass. If you look at the Bach chorales, he often takes the alto and tenor more than an 8ve apart, but ONLY ever in the middle of a phrase, never at a cadence. Why? Because the priority at a cadence is harmonic stability - it's the point of atability in the phrase, after all. The priority in the active course of the phrase is often something different.

The same thing applies to many other rules - about treatment of the leading note etc - they are derived from the places in the music where, because of factors of phrasing, everything works most conservatively. People then mistakenly think they must never do that thing ever.

HOWEVER, I'd still say that these people, misguided though they may be, are no more misguided than someone who isn't aware of the principles at all. In an ideal world, everyone would be taught by enlightened, musical teachers who properly understand this stuff and can relate it to context and meaning. Sadly that's not usually the case, and people just get given half-truths and over-simplifications, and are left to carry on from there by themselves.

But I don't think wilful ignorance is the answer either.


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: jrbcm]
      #671425 - 24/10/08 09:24 PM
Quote jrbcm:

Even Pachelbel put that nice little C natural in there




Er, I don't think he did.

Call that "artistic licence" on the part of the performer.


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Michael B
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: SunShineState]
      #671427 - 24/10/08 09:26 PM
Quote SunShineState:

ok so I was kidding bout notation being redundant

However I do have a problem with theory if it suggests there are strict "rules" that you have to follow - call me a rebel but I believe that many of the best things in life are created by breaking or bending the rules - which of course also means u have to have rules to break etc blah de blah




There's a rule that states that there 12 inches to a foot - all rules do is establish a consistency - so that if Archibald plays a 'C' chord and Puff Daddy plays one too - they'll consist of the same elements. The consistency helps co-operative efforts. Anyone else could 'break' a rule and state that a 'C' major chord consists of the notes bA B D and they could play it that way - but no one else would bother with it.

The way I see it - rules are there simply for guidanc. But to establish our rebellious influence we lust for change. But it's all been done before. In fact we might be more likely to be accused of breaking the rules by stating we're not going to 'break' the rules

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jrbcm



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #671438 - 24/10/08 10:06 PM
jrbcm Quote:

Quote Wurlitzer:

Quote jrbcm:

Even Pachelbel put that nice little C natural in there




Er, I don't think he did.

Call that "artistic licence" on the part of the performer.




Heeya mate, C Natural in all it's naked white glory

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_nPyLLedfAs




Ah yes, indeed... I never get that far through the piece, feeling not dissimilarly about it to the chap in Hollowsun's link.

Quite correct... or not, according to which version of the rule book you are following.

Edited by Wurlitzer (24/10/08 11:12 PM)


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hollowsun



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: jrbcm]
      #671439 - 24/10/08 10:19 PM
Great little vid for following the MS.

But Paravonian was spot on in his rant .... the cello part's so bloody boring to play that your link dropped it after the violas and fiddles started building ... like "sod the cellists - they can go on auto pilot now"

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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Ian Stewart]
      #671542 - 25/10/08 12:08 PM
Quote Ian Stewart:

I would be interested in Wurlitzer's views on how a knowledge of baroque/classical conventions affects his appreciation of music now.




Applying knowledge from classical music to modern popular styles can be enlightening in two ways. Sometimes, with "educated" composers like say Gershwin or Brian Wilson, you can analyse a lot of things in a pretty-much classical way and they make direct sense.

More often, however, there are fundamental differences of apporach that need to be taken into account, and it's these very differences that shed an interesting light on BOTH style areas, leading one to a greater understanding of the deepest presumptions of the composers concerned - the things that people who are confined to one style or the other just take for granted.

Some of the things you soon come up against, comparing the two styles, are:

1. Classical music from the period of Bach onwards was written by fully educated composers after a thorough apprenticeship in melody writing, harmony and counterpoint, with everything being written on paper and the ability to relate sound and symbol taken for granted. Only a minority of popular music was writtne by the same kind of composers. Much of it was written by people with a small amount of technical training, combined with a good ear and musical intuition. Some was written py people with virtually no technical training at all.

Of even more interest to me is the way the inputs of these various kinds of musicians can combine in a single work or recording. Take a 10-piece funk band playing a fusion version of a jazz standard, and you might have a song that was originally written in a completely trained and "classical" way, a keyboard player who understands all that and can arrange it accordingly, a guitarist and bass player who don't but have learnt how to follow such tunes by ear, a brass section who all went to music college and read everything that the keyboard player arranges for them, and a singer and backing vocalists who know no music theory at all and can't read, but can work out fantstic harmonies that fit the arrangement purely by ear and feel.

2. As a corollary to this, the relationship between melody/scale/mode and harmony is often very different in popular music from the way it works in classical music. By the time of Bach, the system of composing based around major and minor scales in the diatonic system was so mature that composers could conceive of every details in totally unified melodic and harmonic terms. That's not to say that there aren't situations where the two have different and contradictory priorities, but just that even in such cases, there were established and codified ways of dealing with them. Take for example the melodic impulse of the leading note to rise to the tonic, versus the harmonic impulse to achieve a full, sonorous chord at the cadence. Bach's solution to this was the typical fall from the leading note to the 5th of chord I at the cadence, to the point where it became an established procedure or mannerism all its own.

By contrast, in many popular styles the melodic/modal and harmonic impulses are still largely separated along the lines above: Educated composers, arrangers and players of harmonic instruments often understand harmony in a quasi-classical way and try to make it work as such, but uneducated singers and players of melodic instruments, working by ear, tend to be more tuned in to mode and linear factors.

The results of this melodic/harmonic disjunction can be felt everywhere, and you can't even begin to understand jazz, blues, gospel, soul etc. until you take this into account. One of the most common examples is how in many simple 12-bar blues forms, say for example the 12-bar 50s rock and roll songs of Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis etc, the vocal part and any sax improvisations just work through a minor pentatonic or blues scale with virtually no regard for how that scale fits, or doesn't, with the underlying chords. The chords are usually in a major key, though with the addition of blue 7ths etc, and the melody in the minor pentatonic on the same keybote. So if in C for example, when the chords move to G7, the melody will quite likely just keep going down the C minor blues scale, oblivious to the clashes this makes with the leading note in the G7 chord.

(I say "oblivious", but in a sense of course it's the opposite - those clashes are part of the style, and what gives it its essential grit and earthiness. You can always tell overeducated arrangers working within styles like that without understanding them, because they try to round these factors off and make them more "correct").

Jazz is even more interesting because you more often get the two backgrounds - educated harmonic musician and "feel"-based melodic musician - united in the same individual. If you listen for example to Duke Ellington's "Things Ain't What They Used To Be", you can tell it was composed by an actual composer because at bar 5 when the 12-bar form goes to chord IV7, the melody actually moves in sequence up a 4th rather than just staying where it is. OTOH, when it goes to chord V7 four bars later, the melody goes (in C):

C - Bb - G, C - Bb - G etc. etc.

ie, it reverts to the predominance of the melodic/modal impulse, accepting the sound of this clashing with the B in V7, buried somewhere in the piano or guitar part.

The way jazz moves between these two modes of operation - working everything out so that the harmony and melody are one, or just letting them go their separate ways, is fascinating to me, and adds a whole element to it that is dissonant, gritty, capricious, unpredictable and delightful, that doesn't exist in classical music. You can always tell when classical people try to approach jazz without "getting" this element, and that's when you get over-polished, insincere, polite "dinner-jazz". To me, Glenn Miller for is an example of this. "In The Mood" is a good example of a tune that follows the technical classical procedures of arpeggiating through the chords absolutely correctly - even voice-leads them - but sounds unspeakably naff because it's done with absolutely no feel for this alternative melodic/modal impulse.

3. Most popular styles of music are much more melody-centric than musch classical music. Most of the time the vocal or top line is key to everything, and there's no pop music equivalent of the Art Of Fugue! Thus a lot of harmony works "outwards" from the melody, rather than "upwards" in support of it. For example backing singers will often harmonise a tune just by following the same contour a third and a sixth higher or lower, with adjustments as necessary,
and some brass harmonisations can work much the same way. At the same time, you might have piano or guitar-based harmony which DOES operate independently from the melody, and coordinates (or not) with this horizontally-conceived vocal/wind harmony in various ways.

4. Classical music from the period we're talking about is basically written down in precise detail and the notes are never changed (with the odd exception like continuo parts). Popular music by contrast contains improvisation, both in terms of how the harmony is voiced, and fully improvised solos etc.

5. Following on from 3 and 4 above, COUNTERPOINT is far less important, and far less strictly conceived, in popular music. Because the focus is much more continually on the top line, detailed counterpoint is less important, and because the music is often not written down, and often improvised, you simply CAN'T achieve the level of contrapuntal control that classical composers did. Thus the fact that consecutives largely don't matter etc.

Really this comes down to Ivories's point above - about what the injunction against consecutives was really about. It was about achieving a consistent sense of the number of parts. In popular styles, the various instruments supporting the melody aren't really being heard as independent lines the way they are in a Bach chorale or fugue. They're more like ingredients in an overall kind of rhythm-section "soup", that adds up to one basic musical element. Where the parts are distinguished, it tends to be more through rhythm than counterpoint. Though of course this is not so true in "composed" jazz, ef big band music. So there's a continuum of thinking from no sense of counterpoint at all through to pretty-much classical counterpoint.

6. Many popular styles are based on driving repetitive dance-based rhythms, whereas most classical music (while often derived from dance rhythms) was designed for sitting down and listening to. This is significant because the rhythm provides most of the sense of forward motion that in classical music has to be helped by the (functional) harmony, counterpoint, phrasing etc. Thus my point above about the subdominant axis in blues and gospel, relying upon rhythm to provide the momentum that is provided by the dominant axis in 18th century musical architecture.

That's why these styles can get away with being simpler in these respects, and often if you look at ballads - from Ellington to the Beatles to Stevie Wonder etc - they ARE more harmonically complex, partly because there's more time for the ear to take in the harmony, and partly because it's necessary to keep them interesting. I - IV - I - IV - I - IV - I is fine when the chords are going by fast, with lots of guitar elaboration, furious drums and you're up and leaping about to it. It can wear a bit thin however when you take out the drums, halve the speed and sit down and listen.

These - and probably other - factors seem to me like fundamental differences in the way classical and popular musics work, and many people on both sides go wrong in trying to approach the other without taking these into account. Of course there are shades of grey everywhere. Some classical music is less contrapuntal or more dance-based than some other, and jazz is often almost quasi-classical in conception. That's what makes the whole thing so interesting.


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IvanSC



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #671544 - 25/10/08 12:10 PM
You HAD to ask! (grin)

Love you r posts and your passion, Whirley.

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hollowsun



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #671589 - 25/10/08 02:09 PM
Quote Wurlitzer:

You can always tell when classical people try to approach jazz without "getting" this element, and that's when you get over-polished, insincere, polite "dinner-jazz".



Indeed.

I used to have a wry chuckle when my daughter was given a 'jazzy' piece to play for her early piano grades (there was always one in the choices available for each grade) - so far removed from 'jazz' (or pop/rock/whatever)... just a slightly syncopated beat. And I'd have another wry chuckle when I saw her teacher thinking it was quite 'groovy'.

And I used to cringe when her junior school or youth orchestra tried to 'rawk' with a medley of pop tunes - out comes the adult to play ponderous, appallingly tuned drums and the conductor is at the front getting all jiggy!!!

Thankfully, she's moved on beyond that now.

And that's not to knock all classical musos because a lot of them do 'get it' and can badass groove with the best of them (if not better) but there is an aspect of that field that doesn't. The problem is....

They think they do!

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SunShineState



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #671613 - 25/10/08 03:39 PM
Quote:

The results of this melodic/harmonic disjunction can be felt everywhere, and you can't even begin to understand jazz, blues, gospel, soul etc. until you take this into account. One of the most common examples is how in many simple 12-bar blues forms, say for example the 12-bar 50s rock and roll songs of Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis etc, the vocal part and any sax improvisations just work through a minor pentatonic or blues scale with virtually no regard for how that scale fits, or doesn't, with the underlying chords. The chords are usually in a major key, though with the addition of blue 7ths etc, and the melody in the minor pentatonic on the same keybote. So if in C for example, when the chords move to G7, the melody will quite likely just keep going down the C minor blues scale, oblivious to the clashes this makes with the leading note in the G7 chord.

(I say "oblivious", but in a sense of course it's the opposite - those clashes are part of the style, and what gives it its essential grit and earthiness. You can always tell overeducated arrangers working within styles like that without understanding them, because they try to round these factors off and make them more "correct").





We are on the same page! -this is exactly the sort of thing I meant - these rock and rollers created some great music - which was driven more by passion and feel than musical knowledge, yet I'm sure some would try to say it's wrong and try to "correct" it because it doesn't fit nicely with classical theory! Obvious example being pentatonic melodies over major chords as you suggest.

This is exactly the point - these guys had every right to create their music the way they did - why should they conform to classical theory which is really only some other composer's idea of how it should all work from the past. If we had all observed classical teachings maybe it would have been like stopping evolution, and there would be no blues, jazz, rock and roll, Lennon/McCartney etc etc


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: SunShineState]
      #671635 - 25/10/08 04:47 PM
Quote SunShineState:

This is exactly the point - these guys had every right to create their music the way they did - why should they conform to classical theory which is really only some other composer's idea of how it should all work from the past. If we had all observed classical teachings maybe it would have been like stopping evolution, and there would be no blues, jazz, rock and roll, Lennon/McCartney etc etc




Totally.

This is why when learning about "rules", "principles", "procedures" or whatever you want to call them, it's absolutely vital to learn WHY those rules exist and what they are trying to achieve. Then you can use them, as appropriate, when you're trying to achieve something similar, and confidently ignore them when you know you're trying to achieve something else, to which they are irrelevant.

That's always my approach in teaching.


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Ian Stewart



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #671641 - 25/10/08 04:54 PM
SunShineState, I wish you would loose this grudge against classical theory, you are largely arguing with yourself. Classical theory was inextricably linked with practice and you are taking it out of context. Certain harmonic progressions, inversions, voicings etc and melodic forms work well when sung by an unaccompanied choir in a church, some do not. They are NOT grammatical rules that make a language comprehensible, they are NOT rules that say "don't walk on the grass", they are principles that guide the composer. During the period, when a lot of these rules were formulated there was still a huge difference between various composers and some were way out for the time, such as Gesualdo. You are coming at this several hundred years later without knowing the context.
Unfortunately your lack of understanding of these principles is coming out in your posts such as "Obvious example being pentatonic melodies over major chords as you suggest." The pentatonic scales works perfectly of a major chord, but which one? Wurlitzer was referring to the Eb pentatonic scale over a C7 chord.
However different scales over chords have been used by classical composers such as Bartok, it is not unique to Rock and Roll. In Malta, where I went to school, there was an improvised style of singing where the guitars played European chords and the voice sung in a North African scale that utilised quarter tones.
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. The rock and roll you talk about is harmonically limited compared to most classical music, however that is neither good nor bad in itself.

Quote:

which was driven more by passion and feel than musical knowledge




Classical composers also have "passion and feel", its just different. Wurlitzer has explained how terrible certain classical musicians can be when they play pop or jazz; just the same as the terrible attempts I have heard of jazz musicians trying to play classical music.

Quote:

these guys had every right to create their music the way they did




Exactly, just the same as classical musicians have the right to base their compositions on principles several hundred years old.

Quote:

yet I'm sure some would try to say it's wrong and try to "correct" it because it doesn't fit nicely with classical theory




I have never met any classical musicians who have said that. Some classical musicians find the harmony of some pop music uninteresting, the same as some pop musicians find classical music doesn't have as prominent a rhythm as rock. Some people don't like jazz because there is too much improvisation.

Quote:

If we had all observed classical teachings maybe it would have been like stopping evolution




I don't understand that. There are principles of classical composition which you can study, or ignore, you choice. But ignoring them doesn't make music good anymore than following them will produce good music.

Your complete and utter misunderstanding of how classical musicians think, or how classical music education operates is astounding. Like Don Quixote you are tilting at windmills that exist only in your own mind.

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Conory
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #671653 - 25/10/08 06:20 PM
The kings of "let's whack it up a semitone for the last bit" has to be Joe Meek's Tornados. I bought a 2CD compilation a few years back (purely for nostalgia's sake, you understand)and almost every one of the instrumentals, including Telstar, goes up for the last verse. How they actually got from one key to another wasn't always pretty either.

Ah, those were the days!!

cue Ivan



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jayzed
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #671680 - 25/10/08 09:09 PM
The story I read was that Joe Meek was tone deaf. Probably an exaggeration (I have yet to meet someone who is tone deaf, as opposed to someone who thinks they are because singing doesn't come 'naturally' - whatever that means). Anyway, if he were it might explain some of the semi-tone up key changes!
I agree with several posters who say that there are examples of this abomination that work. The thing is, most of them don't.
As has been stated, 'rules' aren't absolute but are there as guidance, so if I was to consider writing a song which breaks the semi-tone key change exculsion 'rule' (and I might just take it up as a challenge) I would be very careful about trying to avoid the cheese factor, unless this was something I wanted in the song. Cheese appears to be something that people like sometimes, otherwise there'd be no Boyzone or Girls Aloud ballads.

I really appreciate all the philosphical, historical and theory information. As someone with a very patchy musical education (and then mostly in contemporary forms) I find this stuff fascinating.


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BenJS



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #671817 - 26/10/08 12:28 PM
On a a completely different note (geddit?!) has anyone heard the new-ish Kaiser Chiefs song Miss a Beat -modulates from a G Maj Verse to F Maj Chorus -pretty crazy for a pop song I say

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6UH4IDnjpk

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SunShineState



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #671857 - 26/10/08 02:58 PM
Quote:

SunShineState, I wish you would loose this grudge against classical theory, you are largely arguing with yourself.




I have no grudge against classical music or theory whatsoever, but I think you have to admit it is seen as some sort of "high" form of music that outranks popular music and is therefore regarded as more pure and correct, I absolutely relate to Wurly's thing about arrangements, and I'm sure we've all seen instances of extra or different chords being added to songs when they just weren't there, because the arranger considers them more "right" according to theory.

I am an unashamed fan of forms of popular music, which is in many ways more simple theroetically than classical music, but often streets ahead in other ways. When I talked about evolution I mean that evolution takes place in music just like language and other things - things evolve and rightly so - I'm sure for example that some modern guitar TAB music has features that are not properly catered for by standard notation.

Why do you accuse me of not understanding - when I just have a different opinion or disagree - is classical theory above debate?

Back to the key change question, sometimes it's nice to introduce the change with some passing chords or other device, but it's equally valid to just make the change - in this case the element of suprise is what gives the desired effect, and you don't need to explain this as some form of modulation, the chorus just starts again in a different unrelated key - get over it


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Ivories
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: SunShineState]
      #671917 - 26/10/08 06:46 PM
I don't know if classical music is lower, higher, better or worse than popular music, but it's certainly different in certain respects. I think every contributor to this thread has recognized this - if anyone has argued that a rock or jazz musician was "wrong" to use a certain progression, then I've missed it.

One of the points I was trying to make on an earlier post was that "classical theory" doesn't exist as a single entity - there are lots of different, sometimes overlapping theories, and they aren't necessarily consistent with each other. Far from suggesting that it is "above debate", I think that several contributions to this thread have argued that classical theories only make sense when they are discussed and considered in some depth; more importantly still, they are only useful within a context, which usually means a specific musical style or genre.

I don't think it makes sense to refer to a chord being better or worse "according to theory" - there is no single authority within what you have described as "classical theory" that can arbitrate what is right or wrong in a universal sense. The musician always has to make a choice. Sometimes the choice is informed by a deep understanding of the theoretical issues or principles involved(rarely, simply "rules"); sometimes composers don't know about these, or choose to ignore them. The alternatives are making an informed choice between musical possibilities or an uninformed choice (and I'm not suggesting one is better than the other - often when I'm composing I have temporarily to switch my "theoretical brain" off, otherwise a bout of writer's block ensues).

You're right that music changes - the same is true of music theory. I'm not sure that evolution is the right word - in the last hundred years or so it's been more of a fragmentation, with any number of different movements going on within music of all descriptions. I think musicians are now much more aware of the plurality of styles than they were historically, which means that our understanding of theory is contextual. By that, I mean that in the first half of the twentieth century, some musicians still attempted to formulate theories which were relevant to all music. In the last 50 or 60 years (generalizing a bit), academic music theory has consisted either of attempts to explain specific musical styles of the past, in a contextually-aware way, or of attempts to find a rationale for new approaches to composition, without necessarily linking it to anything from the classical tradition.

I don't think anyone has criticised you for liking popular styles of music (I certainly wouldn't). I think it's true that the post Ian laid into showed a lack of understanding of what "classical theory" is about, and possibly also that you misunderstood some earlier posts in this thread. In my view there is no need for popular musicians to be defensive about using chord progressions that aren't used in classical composition (and were therefore banned in 18th- and 19th-century composition textbooks). However, I think understanding more about the subject could only help.


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: SunShineState]
      #671962 - 26/10/08 09:14 PM
Quote SunShineState:

I have no grudge against classical music or theory whatsoever, but I think you have to admit it is seen as some sort of "high" form of music that outranks popular music and is therefore regarded as more pure and correct




Seen by whom, out of interest?

I certainly don't think any of the classical musicians I've known see it that way. Possibly the only people I know who take that line are parents of children that I've taught. They often seem very attached to the idea that learning classical music is "proper" education and that messing things up with jazz and pop will lead to a quagmire of sloth and chaos. I try to explain to them that in many ways there's more musical intelligence involved in learning how to follow a chord chart, play a progression by ear or improvise using an appropriate scale and style, than there is in slavishly learning to reproduce a printed part exactly and then just doing what the conductor tells you to do. But they resist.

But by and large this seems to be an attitude of people who don't know much about music. Most of the people I've know who have studied classical music to a high level have become (a) very aware of just how much skill it takes to improvise, play in a band by ear or write a good song, and (b) totally in awe of the people that can do it.

So I can see Ian's point that - while you're perfectly right that classical theory-snobbery is unjustified - you may be overestimating how much of that snobbery there really is out there, and trying to prove a point that everyone else pretty much takes for granted anyway.


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Wurlitzer
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Spyder2]
      #671964 - 26/10/08 09:18 PM
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.


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Ivories
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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: Wurlitzer]
      #671973 - 26/10/08 10:07 PM
Quote Wurlitzer:

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




Yes and no. I think it goes partly with different instruments: there's a sort of continuum, with organists and one end, and possibly trombonists/tuba players at the other. However, in one of the groups I play in, I only have to mention a word like cadence, or dissonance, and the flute player starts throwing things at me.


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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Sebadams



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Re: Keychanges - basic rules? new [Re: IvanSC]
      #722870 - 03/04/09 05:58 PM
Quote IvanSC:


They only let me in if I promise to wear my pocket protectror and carry a ruler that makes manuscript paper.
(Yes I really DO have one and use it.)



where can you get one of those?!!


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