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music theory, notes, chords etc etc...
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
Author music theory, notes, chords etc etc...
A Dingleberry Monstrosity
going to be honest, I dont know what an F sharp sounds like. I cant tell the difference between a B and a G, Im probably tone deaf and I have no clue what exactly "music theory" is.

I just know what I like. The issue is, if I make something that sounds good to me will those that have a BG in real music be like "wtf? Thats kind of a G sharp but not really.... this is terrible..." seriously, i just don't get it

to me, music is just something you either like or you dont, is everyone like that? Or overall when you show people your work do they over analyze and compare stuff to traditional music theory? All of it being a subconscious thing.

Maybe im tapping a weird area and arent really asking anything....

I need some acid.
johnnymad
not many people can hear an F# and tell you it's an F#. perfect pitch isn't the most common thing. i have a nephew who can hear a ten note chord and then play it back to you immediately. i have almost three degrees in music and i can't do that.

don't let stuff like that bother you. there's plenty of good theory websites out there. just start with the basics and then go from there.
panda30y
just make what you like. Knowing music theory and having a strong background would help you better in collaborating and writing/performing music with others who have similar training. It's a language all to itself, but I don't think it's necessary and I have a bachelor of music.

I say worry more about making your music than how people will analyze your music.
modularland
its easier to get 'whats in your head' out if you know some theory- but its not the end all be all ... plenty of famous musicians didn't know music theory while coming up
lightpolite
It's called theory for a reason.
Music is a speculative enterprise.
bsmith
I sure hope there are people out there who don't like what I've done because it breaks rules - I know there are people like that out there and I'd hate to be on their good side.
Out ears provide us with all the theory we'll ever need if we want to be creative with sounds.
I have a bit of music education in my background, and I remember early on in high school there was a moment when someone explained simply how in western music scales/keys/modes relate to chords that was a total epiphany for me. It's just a simple mathematical relationship between 12 notes, and of course you can get deeper and more complex with these relationships, and analyze these relationships based on this kind of sort of math that uses 12 values. It's just a vocabulary and a way of breaking things down in a helpful - but not necessary - way.
And when it comes to playing or actually making music, I do my best to forget all about it.
There are plenty of great players that don't know anything about theory, and those that do and are worth a shit are definitely not thinking like 'hmmm, based on what I just heard that guy do I'll use a tritone substitution followed the 3 of the 5 chord and land on the leading tone of the key I'm modulating to on the and of 4' while they're actually playing with other people. But when the music stops and people who are making music together start talking, theory is wonderful in that it gives a common vocabulary for people who have an understanding to communicate about it with, if they share that vocabulary. And it's also great for examining what was going on in any performance or composition. At least some common vocabulary besides pointing and saying 'that note right there' doesn't require even basic theory.
Anyway, all my best musical experience has been led by my ear, but I'm grateful to have the tools that a small understanding of theory gives me. And there's some geeky fun in there as well.
Either way it's all good, and I'm just happy for anyone anywhere being creative with sound on any level.
suitandtieguy
heads up: its easier to break the "rules" in music when you know what they are. If you don't learn the mechanics of music you will fall into a predictable diatonic pattern.

a little goes a long way though. after you get the diatonic scale, modulation, altered scales, and SATB harmony rules you've got most of what you need unless you want to study counterpoint writing and traditional orchestration.

a lot of "jazz" musicians will jerk themselves off about substitutions and rootless voicing but most of that is unnecessary to learn formally and the salient points can be covered in an afternoon.

starting with sound and why it exists is important too. there's no sense learning the major scale unless you learn why it exists to begin with, and why it may even be galacticly universal.
plord
I'll chime in here with the truly moonbat perspective, which is, pick up this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Harmonic-Experience-Harmony-Natural-Expression/d p/0892815604

If you can hit a note on your synth and sing "Aaaaaaaaaaaaahh" at the same pitch, you can learn the lessons of this book. and they are mighty. mighty strange! as one aficionado of this book has said, "there are TREES older than the minor third as you know it."

True fact that I have known from performance: a barbershop quartet or doo-wop a capella group will naturally adjust to beatless intervals, i.e., will sing in just intonation. Knowing this and knowing how to tune your oscillators may not lead you to better music, but it is COOL AS FUCK. and the Mathieu book, acid-drenched as it is, is the best introduction and simplest method of learning how to hear this. I've gotten stuck on a single page for weeks, productive weeks, instructive weeks. It's cool shit, and you learn to forgive the author his peculiarities.

It's WAY more engaging than any jazz theory book I have ever read.
John Nonjohn
Learn from the Master . . .

http://www.amazon.com/Counterpoint-Norton-library-Zarlino-Gioseffo/dp/ 0393008339/
Art
People with perfect pitch can have a different problem - when my friends who are like this hear a chord, many of them will hear different pitches first and have to calculate in order to identify the chord name. They do it quickly enough, though. But if you have a good relative pitch, you can beat them most of the time when it comes to chord function, since you hear the function immediately, no calculation of intervals, etc.

About theory, I think you can compare it to a modular lol The more you know, the more you can guess what it will sound like when you patch this way and that way, without even patching. There will always be a surprise, though, and I love that when, with all your knowledge about theory, something happens unexpectedly yet beautifully and you can't explain why thumbs up
JohnLRice
The 'language' of music theory makes communicating with others, that also know it, more efficient and also provides a way to organize your own thoughts. The 'knowledge' of music theory provides you with tools to help you understand and predict what the result of a combination of sounds will be, even if you have never tried them before, or to create a desired effect (or at least give you a reasonable starting point), etc, etc

It's like anything . . .bomb making or cake baking etc, you could just use trial and error and sooner or later you'd end up with a nice bomb or cake (or end up dead, poisoned or fat! lol ). After all, we don't have bombs or cakes these days because the documentation was slipped into the Ten Commandments or dropped off by thoughtful aliens, it because people dinked around with shit until they got stuff they wanted. thumbs up
modularland
but let us also not forget the great musicians... the John Coltranes and Charlie Parkers that practiced 16 hours per day and could play any scale or any mode in any key backwards and forwards..... their knowledge of theory made their magic possible
bsmith
I've thought about this stuff a bit over the last few days and some of the things suitandtieguy posted about it - kind of have a contrary point of view here and there (and totally agree that learning some fundamental theory can only help).

suitandtieguy wrote:
If you don't learn the mechanics of music you will fall into a predictable diatonic pattern.


I don't understand what is behind this statement of fact - haven't observed this so much in folks who know nothing of theory, and in fact have observed it to be more true of folks that have learned theory and then used it in creating music more than their ear. That, I've heard alot. I've been guilty of it myself at times. Will be again.

Quote:
a little goes a long way though. after you get the diatonic scale, modulation, altered scales, and SATB harmony rules you've got most of what you need unless you want to study counterpoint writing and traditional orchestration.


Yeah. Learning basic harmonic theory really isn't hard and will be useful, no reason not to, and to then dive deeper... Harmonic analysis skills are invaluable, but not sure alot of folks today are so worried about 4 part harmony rules you get in music ed based primarily on what Bach did or didn't do. But sure, if avoiding parallel perfect intervals makes you feel better and sounds right to you, and all that other stuff, then great! Not knocking it, I'm sure I've used it more than I realize. But other's have the same feeling about all that as this tone:

Quote:
a lot of "jazz" musicians will jerk themselves off about substitutions and rootless voicing but most of that is unnecessary to learn formally and the salient points can be covered in an afternoon.


Discounting some techniques there that have much application outside of "jazz" - a genre I happen to love (and one which is better off without my participation). Bet you use them yourself. If you were posting that addressing what I said earlier in this thread, just want to clarify that what I was trying to say was 'most good musicians are probably not thinking about any of this shit while they're playing more than they're using their ear." And that is really what I think - a developed ear is more important than a knowledge of theory. Use theory to help that effort, but that is the name of the game - how does it actually sound. There's kind of a jazz vs. classical thing that goes on at music schools that all of that above kind of reflects - but neither approach is better or has more or less application or whatever.

Quote:
starting with sound and why it exists is important too. there's no sense learning the major scale unless you learn why it exists to begin with, and why it may even be galacticly universal.


Doubt there's anyone on this board who isn't interested in that! But that seems like an over-extreme point of view, to say there's no sense in anyone learning music if they aren't going to get into the physics of it. Sure can't help but be useful, just like anything you pursue learning about. But making music can make anyone's life richer, and there isn't some intellectual price of admission for that. I don't want to discourage anyone from learning theory - quite the opposite, but also wouldn't want to discourage anyone from making music because they haven't jumped some prerequisite theory hurdle they're afraid of or just not into pursuing. Basically on board with what A Dingleberry Monstrosity said that kicked this thread off:

Quote:
to me, music is just something you either like or you dont


Edit
Yeesh sorry bout the long post, kind of needed to purge though, kind of nagging at me, and it's an interesting argument to me at least.
criticalmonkey
i believe the "rules" of music have been left far behind and theories are made up to market composers and schools of thought (i point out john cage on both accounts)

all that matters is the audiences and the collective reactions
doctorvague
Just knowing names for things and being able to communicate with others more easily, even simple things has served me over the years. If I'm at a jam singing and showing people the song that haven't played it, I can hold up 4 fingers, and the other players know we're going to the 4 chord and I can keep singing.
A couple of other basic things that come in handy are being able to build chords. Like if someone says "F#mb5" and you've never played that chord, even if it takes a bit to figure it out, it's nice to know how chords are put together. Same with scales. If someone says 1 b2 b3 4 5 6 b7 I could figure that out in any key given a moment.
Knowing about chord inversions, and just the basic concept of voice leading, not a bunch of rules, can be helpful, especially on keyboards.
I intuitively knew about the circle of 5ths long before I ever saw it in a theory class. "Oh wow, there's a name for that!". Most players could benefit from having a look at the circle of fifths I think.
I dropped out of theory as soon as it got to harmonizing Bach Chorales. Learning rigid rules like that really rubbed me the wrong way. But knowing some nomenclature and basic music concepts is quite the opposite and not limiting in any way.

But the most basic rule is 'more cowbell' and everything else stems from that.
Thee Loving Hand
plord wrote:
I'll chime in here with the truly moonbat perspective, which is, pick up this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Harmonic-Experience-Harmony-Natural-Expression/d p/0892815604

If you can hit a note on your synth and sing "Aaaaaaaaaaaaahh" at the same pitch, you can learn the lessons of this book. and they are mighty. mighty strange! as one aficionado of this book has said, "there are TREES older than the minor third as you know it."

True fact that I have known from performance: a barbershop quartet or doo-wop a capella group will naturally adjust to beatless intervals, i.e., will sing in just intonation. Knowing this and knowing how to tune your oscillators may not lead you to better music, but it is COOL AS FUCK. and the Mathieu book, acid-drenched as it is, is the best introduction and simplest method of learning how to hear this. I've gotten stuck on a single page for weeks, productive weeks, instructive weeks. It's cool shit, and you learn to forgive the author his peculiarities.

It's WAY more engaging than any jazz theory book I have ever read.


thanks for this!
Just me
doctorvague wrote:

But the most basic rule is 'more cowbell' and everything else stems from that.


Yep. That's the ticket!
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