Rolling Music Theory Thread

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Was there some sort of thread along these lines already? I could not find one. Anyway, I've got a musicologically oriented piece on a Herman's Hermits song up today on Stylus if anyone's interested. Here it is:

http://www.stylusmagazine.com/articles/seconds/hermans-hermits-no-milk-today.htm

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Thursday, 22 June 2006 21:19 (twelve years ago) Permalink

This line in the third to last paragraph:

"A person would not necessarily notice the ambiguity of the opening seven-second solo guitar part either."

...should have read as "metric ambiguity." That was changed in the editing and is, I think, unclear.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Thursday, 22 June 2006 21:28 (twelve years ago) Permalink

That YouTube link is down right now. Hrm. It looks interesting, but I don't know the song!

Casuistry (Chris P), Friday, 23 June 2006 05:00 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Curious article about a song I've always loved. It's a good choice too since it does have that weird circulating repetition thing that's hard to pin down. Anyway, it's more simply described if you take what you define as verse, verse, verse extension (or "BBC") as simply one 10 line verse, while the repeated verse that preceed the chorus is actually part of the chorus (and I'm not denying that that's unusual).

If you look at it that way, it's simply Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus.


everything (everything), Friday, 23 June 2006 15:55 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Surely it's simpler to think of the whole BBCB structure as a single verse, rather than attaching the verse to the chorus?

But the point is, I guess, that even though there's a more complicated structure going on than verse/chorus, the interplay of the verses and "verse extensions" and choruses is still somewhat regular.

Still it's a good analysis.

Casuistry (Chris P), Friday, 23 June 2006 17:37 (twelve years ago) Permalink

The article seems to be saying that this is a complex song that sounds deceptively simple. I think the opposite is true. It’s a pretty straightforward 16 line thing repeated 3 times, but because of the way the verse repeats (and I guess the half measures) it sound more complicated.

The Ramones/Hermans Hermits connection is an interesting one to explore. Gouldman later produced the Ramones album Pleasant Dreams. Try singing the lyrics of Rockaway Beach over “I’m ‘enery the VIIIth I Am”, which is also the source of “second verse same as the first”. Is “Leaning On A Lampost” the inspiration for “53rd and 3rd”?

everything (everything), Friday, 23 June 2006 18:04 (twelve years ago) Permalink

You could say that BBCB is just one unit, but (as everything says) it doesn't account for unique ways that the verses (as I see them) are repeated. In the three instances of BBCB, you've got:

1-2-C-3
3-4-C-1
1-2-C-3

Actually, looking at it that way is interesting because you notice that the second unit starts by repeating the last section of the first and the third unit starts by repeating the last section of the second.

Still, I don't hear it as a ten line verse. I think the C section functions more as a chorus.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Friday, 23 June 2006 21:29 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Another thing I noticed in reading it over again is that the C and D sections are the exact same length, which is exactly twice the length of the B section.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Friday, 23 June 2006 21:30 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"Still, I don't hear it as a ten line verse."

Actually, BBC makes for a twelve line verse. BBCB would make for a sixteen line verse. I don't see it!

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Friday, 23 June 2006 21:37 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Verse One:

No milk today, my love has gone away
The bottle stands forlorn, a symbol of the dawn
No milk today, it seems a common sight
But people passing by don't know the reason why
How could they know just what this message means
The end of my hopes, the end of all my dreams
How could they know the palace there had been
Behind the door where my love reigned as queen
No milk today, it wasn't always so
The company was gay, we'd turn night into day

Chorus:

But all that's left is a place dark and lonely
A terraced house in a mean street back of town
Becomes a shrine when I think of you only
Just two up two down

Verse 2:

No milk today, it wasn't always so
The company was gay, we'd turn night into day
As music played the faster did we dance
We felt it both at once, the start of our romance
How could they know just what this message means
The end of my hopes, the end of all my dreams
How could they know a palace there had been
Behind the door where my love reigned as queen
No milk today, my love has gone away
The bottle stands forlorn, a symbol of the dawn

Chorus:
But all that's left is a place dark and lonely
A terraced house in a mean street back of town
Becomes a shrine when I think of you only
Just two up two down

Verse 3:

No milk today, my love has gone away
The bottle stands forlorn, a symbol of the dawn
No milk today, it seems a common sight
But people passing by don't know the reason why
How could they know just what this message means
The end of my hopes, the end of all my dreams
How could they know a palace there had been
Behind the door where my love reigned as queen
No milk today, it wasn't always so
The company was gay, we'd turn night into day

Chorus/outro:
But all that's left is a place dark and lonely
A terraced house in a mean street back of town
Oh all that's left is a place dark and lonely
A terraced house in a mean street back of town
Oh all that's left is a place dark and lonely
A terraced house in a mean street back of town

everything (everything), Monday, 26 June 2006 21:25 (twelve years ago) Permalink

That was changed in the editing and is, I think, unclear.

Ambiguous, even.

rogermexico (rogermexico), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 04:51 (twelve years ago) Permalink

x-post: I see how you're looking at it - it's a valid interpretation, certainly. Again, though, that is a highly unusual verse structure if you're going to look at it that way. And it makes the song seem structurally unusual in a totally reverse way. A structure merely consisting of verse/chorus/verse/chorus/verse/chorus is bizarre, especially for a song three minutes long!

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 07:15 (twelve years ago) Permalink

If you were in a band learning the song that's probably how you would look at it - ABABAB.

It's surprising that it's really so straightforward without sounding boring or repetative. Compared with "Your Mother Should Know" for example - it's not that much different as it really only consists of a verse and a chorus, yet YMSK sounds pretty turgid, as if it's missing something.

Still, Herman's Hermits were pretty often really basic. Their cover of "Henry the Eight" dispensed with ALL the original verses and just kept the chorus, repeated three times. Pretty rad.

everything (everything), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 17:44 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"Your Mother Should Know" is scripted that way for effect, though -- somewhere between a broken record and an endless sing-along. (Hence the "sing it again" bits, etc.) I think these days the Beatles are too canonized for us to really hear whatever levels of irony or cheek or subversion or trippiness are wrapped around some of their music-hall gestures, and this is surely a mild case of that: I think there's something ever so slightly sneering about "Your Mother Should Know."

nabisco (nabisco), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 18:16 (twelve years ago) Permalink

It's funny, I was actually trying to shoehorn this into a review the other day -- I feel like, per the Beatles, one of the whole roots of psychedelic pop is just "here is music for your grandmother (p.s. we're on acid)." I suppose "Your Mother Should Know" should be an important test-case for this theory, from the title on down.

nabisco (nabisco), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 18:18 (twelve years ago) Permalink

x-posts: I actually think the *missing something* aspect is part of the appeal of "Your Mother Should Know" - a sort of miniaturist aesthetic, and what makes it a unique "nugget" is the two utterances of that instrumental bridge with the new musical materials that they got in there. (Geir Hongro referred to the song as "a pop masterpiece." : ) )

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 18:22 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I mean, you wouldn't want "Your Mother Should Know" to be longer, would you???

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 18:23 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Nitsuh, I don't know how sneering it is. I see it as being more about psychedelia's relationship with the supernatural, like though the Beatles were able to conjure this magic vaudeville or Hollywood music. And the supernatural is a serious business; that's why I've never bought into the criticism of a record like Sgt. Pepper as twee bullshit. I see it as having a very serious tone.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 18:55 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"as though" not "like though"

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 19:06 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"Geir Hongro referred to the song as "a pop masterpiece"

On the other hand, perhaps even pop masterpieces could use improvement:

"A contrasting bridge will almost always improve a song. The more minimalist and repetitive the song, the better a contrasting bridge.
-- Geir Hongro (geirhon...), March 18th, 2005"

everything (everything), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 19:24 (twelve years ago) Permalink

But don't you think that (constrasting) instrumental section functions as a bridge in that song?

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 19:51 (twelve years ago) Permalink

We're gonna have our terms all tangled up here, Tim: to me a dash of sneering is a definite part of twee, in a rock context. And then, closer to "Your Mother Should Know," is something more like "dreaming," which would be when you intentionally make anachronistically satisfying pop music that's meant to suddenly seem unfamiliar or imaginary. So umm in that sense I think the Beatles have a lot to do with a lot of bands we just call Beatlesque (correctly), assuming those bands are just playing standard-issue pop songs in the vein of the Beatles -- except in each case I think the group's trying to reach back to something older to defamiliarize what they're doing, whether it's "Your Mother Should Know" or some indie band now that's trying to put some sort of dreamy artificial "imaginary" sheen on the basics of the Beatles themselves.

Dunno if that makes sense, and it's a bit of a tangent from musical theory, obviously. But this occurred to me while writing a Mojave 3 review a while back, and I'm still stuck on it. (E.g. Mojave 3's versions of country and now rock are deliberately simplified to the point of being "dreamy," I think in ways similar to how the Beatles would also reach back toward mother's music to make it ever-so-vaguely unfamiliar and "dreamy" and drugged.)

(Alternately, think of Ween's pop songs, the way they're so pop that something seems imaginary about them.)

nabisco (nabisco), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 20:08 (twelve years ago) Permalink

In other words, maybe the Beatles doing "Your Mother Should Know" is not completely unlike Ween doing "Joppa Road" or "Freedom of 76" -- which would mean you're right, "sneering" is not the right word at all (except in how it's aimed at the part of the audience that wouldn't understand).

The White Album is totally a Ween record, really.

nabisco (nabisco), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 20:10 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I think bands that I might criticize for being twee, though, equate the dream/sleep element with musical slush. The Beatles were always SHARP. So, I would say that I equate it more with Surrealism's relationship with subconscious states than with what is normally referred to as "dreaminess."

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 20:18 (twelve years ago) Permalink

xxx-post

Yeah, I guess the instrumental bit in YMSK does function as a bridge. The song still feels like it lacks something though. I take Nabisco's point that it's kind of like an endless singalong like you might have on a old fashioned bus trip of the type depicted in Magical Mystery Tour. That makes total sense. I still think I like it the least of Paul's jaunty music hall numbers.

"Your Mother Should Know" one of those half measures at the end of the second verse. I realise that isn't very unusual for the Beatles (Cry Baby Cry, I'll Be Back, All You Need Is Love, Strawberry Fields Forever etc), but this is usually a Lennon trick, rather than something that Paul does.

everything (everything), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 20:20 (twelve years ago) Permalink

six years pass...

Gonna plug my blog because I've got some recent stuff up:

http://thisiheard.blogspot.com

Nothing on pedal points.

timellison, Wednesday, 1 May 2013 22:10 (five years ago) Permalink

ten years or so into being a guy who does music and stuff I figure it's time to get some vague sense of what I'm doing. Does anyone have any website or book recommendations for the real basics of theory, e.g. knowing chord construction and keys and stuff? For guitar and keyboard, but especially the latter, as with the former I know how to play in some unconventional way whereas with the latter I'm roughly at the point of knowing that pressing these things makes sounds.

ohmigud (Merdeyeux), Monday, 13 May 2013 02:34 (five years ago) Permalink

Wrote on appoggiaturas and an instance of something being a hook versus something being less of a hook:

http://thisiheard.blogspot.com

timellison, Tuesday, 14 May 2013 01:00 (five years ago) Permalink

I found this useful:
http://www.outsideshore.com/music/educational-materials/primer/basic-theory/

29 facepalms, Tuesday, 14 May 2013 13:09 (five years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Wrote on structure of "P.S. I Love You" on blog linked to above if anyone's interested.

timellison, Tuesday, 18 June 2013 04:15 (five years ago) Permalink

OK, changed it around because I made a mistake. Tell me what you think if you're into this stuff at all.

http://thisiheard.blogspot.com

timellison, Wednesday, 19 June 2013 04:16 (five years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

It's a frustrating exercise for me, because like "I have so much to say about Lady Gaga!" but at the same time I cannot, actually, get through reading a single fucking wikipedia page breakdown of any Sibelius symphony, they have been dissected so irrelevantly and uninterestingly by musicologists who, instead of identifying the innovative features in the orchestration or handling-of-material, just throw their "it's in b-minor and then goes to G-major" dicks around. Seriously if you want to see "worst piece of music writing ever" just look at a wiki for a Tchaikovsky symphony, I'll be over here slitting my wrists

― continually topping myself (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 30 March 2014 00:53 (9 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

what I'm trying to say is: musicology is awesome but musicologists need to take an atavan or fifty

― continually topping myself (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 30 March 2014 00:55 (9 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I think there is a place for academic analysis of pop culture (it's sort of why I joined ILX in the first place). Wished more people were going that way instead of down the Buzzfeed style route.

If you're interested, fwiw, academic music theorists have been doing plenty of analysis of popular music over the last couple of decades (especially considering that it's hard to come up with something new to say about Bach). You could start with Music Theory Online maybe, which usually runs a piece on popular music, is a top journal in the field, and is usually relatively readable: http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/issues.php

This issue was completely devoted to rock music, for example: http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.11.17.3/toc.17.3.html

This is something of a 'classic' book: http://www.amazon.ca/Understanding-Rock-Essays-Musical-Analysis/dp/0195100050

Kyle Adams's work on rap and Lori Burns's work generally (http://www.music.uottawa.ca/faculty/burns.html, has a few MTO articles, has written book chapters on Lady Gaga, Dixie Chicks, and Rihanna if you're concerned that the pop being analysed isn't always pop enough) are usually great.

― EveningStar (Sund4r), Sunday, 30 March 2014 07:05 (3 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Sorry, the Dixie Chicks thing was an article.

― EveningStar (Sund4r), Sunday, 30 March 2014 07:06 (3 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Blind drunk when typing those last two posts, sorry to any musicologists

― continually topping myself (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 30 March 2014 07:59 (2 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Ha, I mean, Wikipedia is probably not the best source for quality musicological writing. I suspect that people are confusing musicology and music theory on this thread though.

― EveningStar (Sund4r), Sunday, 30 March 2014 08:01 (2 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Was wondering about that. What would you say is the difference?

― Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 08:03 (2 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Ime, on this side of the Atlantic at least, a simple explanation would be:
music theory = formal/structural analysis of music (which includes model composition at the undergrad level)
musicology = humanities or social science approaches to the study of music

I think that in Europe, what I would call music theory can be included as a sub-discipline of musicology, actually, which would weaken my original point.

(Grove on musicology fwiw (they don't have a "music theory" article!):

The term ‘musicology’ has been defined in many different ways. As a method, it is a form of scholarship characterized by the procedures of research. A simple definition in these terms would be ‘the scholarly study of music’. Traditionally, musicology has borrowed from ‘art history for its historiographic paradigms and literary studies for its paleographic and philological principles’ (Treitler, 1995). A committee of the American Musicological Society (AMS) in 1955 also defined musicology as ‘a field of knowledge having as its object the investigation of the art of music as a physical, psychological, aesthetic, and cultural phenomenon’ (JAMS, viii, p.153). The last of these four attributes gives the definition considerable breadth, although music, and music as an ‘art’, remains at the centre of the investigation.
A third view, which neither of these definitions fully implies, is based on the belief that the advanced study of music should be centred not just on music but also on musicians acting within a social and cultural environment. This shift from music as a product (which tends to imply fixity) to music as a process involving composer, performer and consumer (i.e. listeners) has involved new methods, some of them borrowed from the social sciences, particularly anthropology, ethnology, linguistics, sociology and more recently politics, gender studies and cultural theory. This type of inquiry is also associated with ethnomusicology. Harrison (1963) and other ethnomusicologists have suggested that ‘It is the function of all musicology to be in fact ethnomusicology; that is, to take its range of research to include material that is termed “sociological”’

)
― EveningStar (Sund4r), Sunday, 30 March 2014 08:14 (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

In the US/Canada, ime, I think it would more common for theory/composition to be combined in a department or 'area' within a department as for theory/musicology to be combined, although the latter is definitely not unheard of.

― EveningStar (Sund4r), Sunday, 30 March 2014 08:18 (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

@ Sund4r I keep up with that journal but have learned to skip the articles about pop rock and rap. My ish is that those pop articles seem intended for an audience of no-one. The language is too academic for people who're interested in Radiohead, and Radiohead is too easily parsed for people who can comprehend an academic theoretical approach. I mean:

“Paranoid Android” was composed and recorded by the alternative rock band Radiohead and appears on their widely acclaimed album OK Computer (1997).(9) As Radiohead critics and fans point out, the title of the rock song references the fictional character “Marvin the Paranoid Android” from Douglas Adams’s 1978 BBC radio comedy series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which was later adapted into a series of books. Unlike Adams’s comedic portrayal of the depressed robot Marvin, however, Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” appears to depict a socially alienated and anxiety-ridden persona surrounded by a society consumed by the trappings of capitalism––one of several themes that the album explores. Power (“When I am king”) and materialism (“gucci”; “yuppies”) generate self-importance (“Why don’t you remember my name”) and excess (“piggy”), threatening to consume, impair, and silence (“With your opinions which are of no consequence at all”) in the desire for more (Example 1a). The fear and realization that the capitalist machine has participated in the formation of the subject and created, as a condition of possibility, the potential to equate the valuation of material goods with identity and self-worth, provokes a split subject––a “paranoid android” who recognizes that its individual thoughts and ambitions may also be a product of the capitalist machine (“Please could you stop the noise . . . from all the unborn chicken voices in my head”).(10) The plea to be cleansed (“Rain down on me from a great height”) from the markers of a capitalist identity proves futile in the song’s final section; the potential for grace and intervention is met with a cynicism that God may be passive (“God loves his children, yeah!”), leaving the persona no escape from Pandemonium. That all of the individuals in “Paranoid Android” are condemned to the same fate, regardless of social status or wealth, lends an ironic twist to the song’s ending.

― continually topping myself (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 30 March 2014 08:20 (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

My eyes glazed over there too but that's just like an introductory paragraph about the song more generally, though, right? The meat of the piece is the actual musical analysis.

I totally disagree with this!:

Radiohead is too easily parsed for people who can comprehend an academic theoretical approach.
It's way easier to parse something that i) is written on paper and/or ii) is played on acoustic instruments, not to mention something that follows CPP harmonic or formal conventions (or is far simpler in those terms than Radiohead is).
― EveningStar (Sund4r), Sunday, 30 March 2014 08:31 (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Even under the rubric of Theory, don't different people use it to mean different things at different times? An old school classical guy might be referring to something out of the common practice period, particularly the law as laid down by Rameau in 1722, whereas a recent Berklee grad is walking around with his head stuffed up with Chord Scale Theory?

― Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 08:32 (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

My eyes glazed over too but I hadn't put together where the title "Paranoid Android" came from so I learned something.

― Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 08:34 (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

*moves to the other thread*

― continually topping myself (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 30 March 2014 08:36 (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Even under the rubric of Theory, don't different people use it to mean different things at different times? An old school classical guy might be referring to something out of the common practice period, particularly the law as laid down by Rameau in 1722, whereas a recent Berklee grad is walking around with his head stuffed up with Chord Scale Theory?
Sure, but they're both doing structural/formal analysis of music. They're just working with different repertoire. They could still present at similar conferences, etc. Anyway, I better go mark some counterpoint.

― EveningStar (Sund4r), Sunday, 30 March 2014 08:36 (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

(Xp)I guess what I am trying to say is if you define theory as something like "the study of what chords go together and what melodies go with them" then there are different approaches to theory and some explain certain things better than others. What is surprising or not done in one theory is not surprising and done all the time in another. If you don't take this into account then theory is kind of a strawman.

*ok I'm leaving too*

― Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 08:39 (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

(Something about tyranny of theory, blah blah blah)

― Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 08:45 (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I want to continue this discussion just in the more specific "talking about articles" thread instead of the "lol at this guy" thread

― continually topping myself (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 30 March 2014 08:54 (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

EveningStar (Sund4r), Sunday, 30 March 2014 15:18 (four years ago) Permalink

HI DERE

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 15:39 (four years ago) Permalink

Anyway, this is definitely true and I think any sensible theorist would agree:

I guess what I am trying to say is if you define theory as something like "the study of what chords go together and what melodies go with them" then there are different approaches to theory and some explain certain things better than others. What is surprising or not done in one theory is not surprising and done all the time in another. If you don't take this into account then theory is kind of a strawman.

EveningStar (Sund4r), Sunday, 30 March 2014 15:43 (four years ago) Permalink

so what is the difference between "technical discussion" as in guitar player magazine (or some better representative mag, or any of them, i don't know them very well) and "technical discussion" in an academic context? do they discuss the same sorts of things? are there lacunae in either that the other addresses? or is it just audience and intent?

(my guess is that trade mags care _way_ more about equipment, partly because they exist as part of a complex whose purpose is to sell equipment, but my question is, does the lack of attention to equipment hurt academic writing? also i know some academic writing cares about the craft and production of instruments v. much. also a guess would be that the academic and the trade approach both don't address the social as much as some [we?] might desire, but fail to address it in radically different ways.)

eric banana (s.clover), Sunday, 30 March 2014 17:59 (four years ago) Permalink

guitar mag discussion is often looking at playing technique rather than the music in itself, but there is definitely overlap discussing innovation, phrasing w/e

ogmor, Sunday, 30 March 2014 18:45 (four years ago) Permalink

Couple thoughts on Owen's pieces:

Sympathetic to the premise that "Get Lucky" is in the Dorian mode.

When "Teenage Dream" switches from the I chord in the intro to rooting that harmony on the fourth, it creates a major seventh chord on the IV. The softness of that chord is sort of the consolation for the song's weightless state of flux.

timellison, Sunday, 30 March 2014 19:13 (four years ago) Permalink

Yes, exactly. Theorists are more concerned with the larger-scale questions of what the vocabulary and syntax of a music are, how pieces of music can be understood structurally. Ogmor is definitely right that there can be some overlap, and in these areas, I would think that the difference is comparable to the difference between the academic and popular versions of any field of discussion (Psychology Today vs academic psychology journals, CNN or Fox vs a political science symposium, etc): the level of training that is usually expected and the peer-review process do imo tend to promote a certain level of rigour and originality, if not always readability. Honestly, discussion of theory in guitar magazines is often even riddled with incorrect terminology even for basic things. Doesn't mean (at all) that there's nothing useful there.

Where fgti and I might be on the same page is that its not always entirely clear to me what the ultimate goal or purpose is with a lot of academic analysis of popular music, aside from sheer scholarly interest (and lines on the CV, ha). With guitar mags, it's usually clear that the articles are there for people to learn specific techniques from. With the analysis of art music, it's easy for me to see how the work is useful for people who want to compose and/or play art music (who are the usual audience for these journals). While I still disagree with him that Radiohead (or, say, "Close to the Edge") is too easy to parse for someone with art music training, it's not 100% clear to me what the readers are going to gain from the exercise: it does not seem that this is going to have the direct benefit of helping (most) people learn how to write and play rock music. There can still be some value in understanding how the music 'works' or is put together, though, and it is actually possible for it to influence art music composition tbh (because those artists have probably influenced mine!).

xpost

EveningStar (Sund4r), Sunday, 30 March 2014 19:15 (four years ago) Permalink

(xp!)
Don't know what academic discussion you might be referring to, s. clover. You should realize that a good part of academic music studies- Sund4r can correct me if I am wrong- consists of professional programs offering Bachelors or Masters degrees in performance and education. Of course as part of this they teach composition and give instrumental instruction. The purpose of this is to give the students the skills -and accreditation - to enable them to hopefully make a living as player/teachers, so these institutions are not necessarily doing academic research as the word theory might lead you to believe. The theory as such is supposed to aid the awareness of students as composers and improvisers of what notes and chords are available to them at any given point. I haven't read any guitar mags in a bit, but in between the gear articles and the player interviews they always have transcriptions of tunes and, more to the point, regular columns where somebody explains that if you want to play in a certain style these are typical chord progressions and typical things you might play, with a little theoretical gloss thrown in. For instance, Bass Player magazine might have an article entitle "Funk 101: Dorian Octaves." This kind of thing is a bite-sized version of what you might get in one of those programs. Actually one of the authors of a long running popular and useful column in Bass Player was (don't know if he still does it) none other than everybody's favorite Daft Punk bassist, Nathan East.

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 19:16 (four years ago) Permalink

well if you look at english departments, their main (or at least one main) social role is really to produce people capable of teaching undergrad level reading and composition, but also by dint of being part of the "academic world" one also produces analyses of rhetoric in milton or what have you, and one can argue that this is a good or a bad thing or was a good thing but now is in some ways a bad thing (by obscuring the labor function of academia as a way to explain away low salaries 'for the love of the discipline' or etc), but in any case, is this somewhat the situation in music/musicology depts?

wat is teh waht (s.clover), Sunday, 30 March 2014 19:46 (four years ago) Permalink

Yes, but the majority of the guys I'm talking about don't have to publish anything like the equivalent of Milton Studies you mention. They are part of the professional side of academia, not the research side, and don't have to go through the same hurdles: orals, writtens, postdoc, maybe another postdoc, tenure track, etc, they just have to come out of a program like the one they end up teaching in, more or less.

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 19:55 (four years ago) Permalink

That's only true of instrumental teachers (who are generally contract instructors), surely? Neither University of Ottawa nor University of Toronto will even consider someone for a sessional (adjunct) teaching position in composition, music theory, or musicology if he or she does not have a PhD in hand.

EveningStar (Sund4r), Sunday, 30 March 2014 20:35 (four years ago) Permalink

(I'll have a lot more to say later on. This is a big question, far bigger than a 'Rolling Music Theory' thread can support if we're going to really get into it.)

EveningStar (Sund4r), Sunday, 30 March 2014 20:37 (four years ago) Permalink

Interesting. From what I know in NYC a PhD is not required to teach at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, nor at the Columbia University Department of Music, The New School, or the Manhattan School of Music. A music professor with a PhD, such as Chris Washburne, is the exception not the rule.

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 20:51 (four years ago) Permalink

Anyway I wanted to ask what people thought of Chord Scale Theory, it's uses and abuses, but maybe we've already bitten off more than we can chew on this thread.

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 20:53 (four years ago) Permalink

Link to Sund4r's new thread: Music Academia

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 21:07 (four years ago) Permalink

Still trying to get some eyeballs on this interesting, original idiosyncratic work: http://www.modalogy.net/. I was thinking about it in the context of the mother thread to this one, where the guy talks about the harmonic trick. Not so tricky when you realize that the resolution of modal cadences at weaker than those of a major/minor tune.

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 22:01 (four years ago) Permalink

Also interested in the question of

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 22:08 (four years ago) Permalink

  • difference between a mode and a scale
  • difference in use of term modal in Renaissance/ pre-equal temperament music and in "model jazz"

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 22:10 (four years ago) Permalink

I spent like five years of high school/college jazz education frustratedly trying to identify/articulate what that ethan iverson piece says, because I knew from day one that chord scale playing just didn't sound anything like good records.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 7 January 2019 03:21 (one month ago) Permalink

The Bible of CST is the Mark Levine jazz Theory book, which Iverson mentions in the article. In addition to the overall problems with the methodology, there are some clearly outrageous statements in there, like something to the effect that nobody plays the Aeolian Scale ( because it’s corny? I forget) or The Harmonic Minor Scale (!), because it doesn’t fit nicely over any one chord.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 03:28 (one month ago) Permalink

Think I posted this critical review of the book -and the theory- at least once before, probably on this very thread but here it is again: http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.00.6.1/mto.00.6.1.rawlins.html

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 03:31 (one month ago) Permalink

Ted was surprisingly into CST, although from a more sophisticated perspective than Aebersold-type stuff I think. I never really got that deep into it because I couldn't fucking stand it. It was like trying to teach myself to trash everything that made music sound good to me.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 7 January 2019 03:32 (one month ago) Permalink

Maybe I will try to ask one of his other students about it, well the one who is a nice guy and is still alive.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 03:38 (one month ago) Permalink

Think the best, most concise write up of Jazz Theory I ever read was the Lightning Tour at the beginning of David Berkman’s Creative Practice book.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 03:44 (one month ago) Permalink

It seems to me- based on a bit of anecdotal evidence- that it is somewhat easier, more cut-and-dried for a teacher just to say “Play this scale!” and perhaps “and play it with this exact fingering!” rather to let you come up with your own ideas, especially in a one-on-one situation. If you are playing in an ensemble hopefully you can play some of what you want as long as you pay some lip service to the pedagogical scale in question.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 03:50 (one month ago) Permalink

Yeah, also given the fact that Ted was ultimately my teacher for only two semesters that were in themselves very broken up by hospital stays, other students are better suited to speak to how he taught it than I am.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 7 January 2019 03:52 (one month ago) Permalink

A v close friend and constant collaborator Thom Gill plays with Knower, but I haven't ever listened

Everybody should listen to Thom Gill though, really, everything is amazing, this is the song that I'll have playing at my wedding though

https://isthisthomas.bandcamp.com/track/triumph

flamboyant goon tie included, Monday, 7 January 2019 03:59 (one month ago) Permalink

(the song is a kidding-not-actually-kidding love song to Bieber btw)

flamboyant goon tie included, Monday, 7 January 2019 04:00 (one month ago) Permalink

"the posturing of one world / becomes the intent of another" is a very beautiful lyric imo sorry for some non-theory related posts I just really like Thom ok I'll go listen to Knower now

flamboyant goon tie included, Monday, 7 January 2019 04:02 (one month ago) Permalink

Enjoyed that song, thanks

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 04:06 (one month ago) Permalink

It seems to me- based on a bit of anecdotal evidence- that it is somewhat easier, more cut-and-dried for a teacher just to say “Play this scale!” and perhaps “and play it with this exact fingering!” rather to let you come up with your own ideas, especially in a one-on-one situation. If you are playing in an ensemble hopefully you can play some of what you want as long as you pay some lip service to the pedagogical scale in question.

― Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, January 6, 2019 10:50 PM (eleven minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I've never really remotely tried to flesh it out, but I've had this grain of an idea in my mind for a while of a different way to teach jazz theory as an "in motion" concept rather than a static concept, with much more emphasis on how to connect chords rather than what to "play over" specific chords, and much more emphasis on the interplay between melody, harmony and rhythm (including an understanding of how landing on or passing over a certain note has a different effect at different points in the bar). Maybe this has already been done.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 7 January 2019 04:06 (one month ago) Permalink

Okay, I guess the thing about the Aeolian is that he came up with a weird chord to go with it.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 04:47 (one month ago) Permalink

Are you saying that professional jazz educators are telling people to think of playing over e.g. mm. 5-8 of "Autumn Leaves" strictly in terms of Locrian - Mixolydian b9b13 - Aeolian or Dorian instead of e.g. also thinking about tendency tones (e.g. leading note-tonic and/or submediant-mediant resolution at the cadence)?

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Monday, 7 January 2019 11:39 (one month ago) Permalink

I don’t have first hand experience of that but I believe quite a few do, yes.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 12:37 (one month ago) Permalink

Most people would say to play Locrian natural 2 (natural 9, or sometimes confusingly called #2 or #9) for the first one though, sixth mode of the Jazz/Melodic Minor.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 12:40 (one month ago) Permalink

Actually, maybe I did have experience of this long ago.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 12:40 (one month ago) Permalink

What I have been told recently is to play the V7 bebop scale (adding passing tone of a major 7th) over the whole thing, at least the first two bars.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 12:42 (one month ago) Permalink

And resolve to a chord tone of the i chord, of course.

What I don’t remember being told to do but what I do over the i chord is to play what some call the Composite Minor, which I believe you might be familiar with it.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 12:45 (one month ago) Permalink

Another thing about out-of-box CST is that it is all seven note ( heptatonic) scales/modes, no mention is made of pentatonic scales major or minor ( maybe they figure these are already known from rock!) or hexatonic scales -blues scale, major scale without a fourth- or bebop scales- modes of major, Natural Minor or Harmonic Minor with an added passing tone.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 12:52 (one month ago) Permalink

Minor scale with both the natural and raised ^6 and ^7, I assume?xp

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Monday, 7 January 2019 12:59 (one month ago) Permalink

Yup.

Also the bebop scale I have been instructed to play over the turnaround in Autumn Leaves is the fifth mode of the Harmonic Minor of the tonic - which has a b9 and b13, as you said- some people call it a Phrygian Dominant, I think, plus the passing tone of a major seventh.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 13:08 (one month ago) Permalink

I mostly use Jim Grantham's Jazzmaster's Cookbook, which does get into those other scales early on and devotes a chapter to melodic structure, along with charts and recordings, classical principles of melody and harmony, and stuff like Matt Warnock's page. I also refer to Terfenko's textbook, which doesn't get to CST until Ch. 8.

xp Oh yeah, Grantham calls the Phrygian Dominant scale the Mixolydian b9b13 scale.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Monday, 7 January 2019 13:27 (one month ago) Permalink

But I mean, I just think of all these scales as hacks to help your fingers find a more intricate melodic line that works over the chords on the spot. The overall tonal movement is still the main point. Passing notes are, like, passing notes.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Monday, 7 January 2019 13:30 (one month ago) Permalink

Yes, exactly. Which is the problem with a naive approach. Really you’ve got to find a good mix of chord tones, (possible) scale tones and chromatic tones.

I like what I’ve seen of Matt Warnock’s page, don’t know those other sources, will take a look.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 13:37 (one month ago) Permalink

Sometimes, often actually, I try to think of playing some of these scales as fingering exercises rather than musical musts. For instance it is interesting to me that if you add the major seventh to a regular Mixolydian scale you get a four note chromatic run from the major sixth to the root, whereas if you add it to the scale we just mentioned there is a four note chromatic run from the (flat) seventh to the flat 9. In any case, playing such scale trains the fingers to get comfortable playing those chromatic runs within the context of a larger scale and hopefully trains the ear to hear how they fit in. Things that make you go hmmm...

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 13:54 (one month ago) Permalink

Hard to get fingers to do chromatic runs when they are so used to the spaces between notes. Like walking instead of running

calstars, Monday, 7 January 2019 13:59 (one month ago) Permalink

I'm not qualified to talk about jazz theory but I like that article. And when I was in Richard Davis' classes, I don't remember him ever talking about what to play over a certain chord (except for once talking about Monk's use of the whole tone scale and how it works over anything). His whole approach seemed like an attempt to create a non-pedagogical environment (like the one he came up in) within the university, which some people clicked with and others really didn't. It was more about fostering a certain mentality and approach to the music, and he would most likely tell a story about some musician or other for you to glean the right lesson from. Also, of course, a lot of taking students who were trying to show off or play way beyond themselves and breaking it down to the important basics (singing the melody, learning the lyrics when possible, thinking about the 'why' of the music).

change display name (Jordan), Monday, 7 January 2019 15:24 (one month ago) Permalink

I just consulted my spreadsheet and it tells me that for homework you had to call Richard Davis’s answering machine and sing scales (but did you have to chop wood for him?) . Do you remember what scales those were?

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 15:46 (one month ago) Permalink

There's also where the chord falls within the progression. Like, the Emin7 at the end of the first A section going back to the Amin7 has a different feel than the one going into the bridge, and that one has a different feel than the first one *in* the bridge, and that one has a different feel than the one played for two beats at the beginning of the descending progression. I mean you technically could play the same thing "over" each of these Emin7, but your solo is going to sound a lot better if you think about where you are in the song and where that particular Emin7 is leading (and where it came from).

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 7 January 2019 16:03 (one month ago) Permalink

Definitely.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Monday, 7 January 2019 16:43 (one month ago) Permalink

Haha James.

(they were just major scales, maybe minor too, but it was more about identifying my weak point of having never used my voice to sing pitches, and even more so doing it at 5 a.m. to show that I was serious about being in the class)

change display name (Jordan), Monday, 7 January 2019 16:45 (one month ago) Permalink

I get IA when I think about the years I spent struggling with wrongheaded approaches to teaching jazz.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 7 January 2019 16:45 (one month ago) Permalink

You should have skipped school and just bought that book Sund4r mentioned instead.

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 7 January 2019 16:59 (one month ago) Permalink

Tbh I already knew the melodic and phrase structure principles from classical theory so I skip those chapters myself.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Monday, 7 January 2019 18:18 (one month ago) Permalink

Can anyone recommend any books/essays/articles on the music theory of later Coltrane?

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 17 January 2019 21:44 (one month ago) Permalink

I was listening to "Don't You Want Me" by Human League while ordering coffee and it occurred to me that I didn't actually know what the tonal centre of the song was. The hook is minor-key, but the verses/chorus sound more like an alternating IV-V to major (which never appears) rather than an alternating bVI-bVII.

So I came home and listened to it and examined the lyrics and it's really interesting how the pre-chorus goes (if we're in minor): I (major!)-ii?-IV-V ... (chorus) bVI-bVII, but that "ii?" contains both raised and lowered thirds so it's this kind of spicy ii? II? chord.

The lyrics over the verses are entirely nostalgic and reminiscent toward what both singers consider a happier time in their life, but the pre-chorus is present-tense and is in a more threatening minor-key.

I had some bizarre theory that the implication of a major-key tonal centre was entirely affiliated with "past-tense reminiscence" in the lyrics, and the minor-key tonal centre was entirely affiliated with the male singer's "present-tense creepy threats". The fact that the alternating IV-V (or is it bVI-bVII) chords over the chorus never resolves to major is a nice compliment to the unanswered question ("Don't you want me, baby?") in the lyrics. The fact that the song doesn't answer the question but returns to the minor-key hook essentially answers that question-- present-tense, minor key, this relationship is over.

flamboyant goon tie included, Saturday, 26 January 2019 17:00 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Is that ii a diminished chord?

My first thought is that it's all in A, minor throughout and the parallel major in that pre-chorus (but maybe not throughout the pre-chorus - if that's a diminished chord on B there, then that's suggesting it's going directly back to the minor key on that second chord in the passage).

timellison, Sunday, 27 January 2019 08:02 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I think it might be Bdim? I thought I was hearing an F in one voice in the keyboard harmony. There's definitely a D in the melody line there. Also, is the last chord in this section E or E5? I wasn't sure I heard a third there. I'm pretty sure the third chord is C, btw, which would be III not IV if you analyse the key as A minor (bIII if it's A major).

I see fgti's point. The melody in the verse suggests C major: it starts on C, the first line ends on E, and the second ends on G. So the F-G movement in the verses and choruses does feel like it makes sense as IV-V in C, esp since the chorus heads straight back into the verse, although you never get a resolution to I. The first pre-chorus section ("Don't, don't you want me?/You know I can't believe it...") seems like it could be a deceptive resolution to vi in that context.

Given that there's no cadence on a C chord but there are resolutions to Am (on a title hook), the song begins and ends on Am, and the main riff is an A minor pentatonic figure, Occam's razor probably favours Tim's analysis: mostly A minor with some modal mixture in the second pre-chorus?

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Sunday, 27 January 2019 15:15 (three weeks ago) Permalink

That's the same analysis I had, it's minor key (with that surprise major in there)

Sorry I guess I should really check what key we're in before typing, my mind just never goes that way ugh

flamboyant goon tie included, Sunday, 27 January 2019 15:19 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Oh, I thought you were hearing the verses and choruses as IV-V in C. Then we're all on the same page, cool.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Sunday, 27 January 2019 15:21 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I am hearing them that way, they imply that. I'm suggesting that the duality of the tonality (verses and choruses in C, prechoruses and hook in a) reflects the indecision and dual-voices of the lyrical narrative

And the final repeated resolution to the a-minor hook at the end not only confirms the song is in a-minor but also that this love affair did not resume

flamboyant goon tie included, Sunday, 27 January 2019 15:24 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Oh, yeah, totally. That's a v good analysis imo.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Sunday, 27 January 2019 15:27 (three weeks ago) Permalink

"Livin' on a Prayer" does almost the exact reverse of this.

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Sunday, 27 January 2019 15:31 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I mean, it's not exact but Em-C-D in the intro and verses feels like i-VI-bVII in E minor (when we're hearing about Tommy's and Gina's woes), only becoming recontextualized as vi-IV-V when we get G in the pre-chorus and chorus (when there's the message of hope), which is what the song ends on (after a couple of truck-driver modulations). No modal mixture, though (unlike "Wanted Dead or Alive").

Locked in silent monologue, in silent scream (Sund4r), Sunday, 27 January 2019 15:55 (three weeks ago) Permalink

my New Year's resolution is to spend less time on the IV chord

⅋ (crüt), Thursday, 31 January 2019 01:34 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Lol

Only a Factory URL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 31 January 2019 01:38 (two weeks ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Discussion of tonality and pitch organization in a Sonic Youth deep cut here: Time takes its crazy Poll... Sonic Youth: Washing Machine

silent as a seashell Julia (Sund4r), Thursday, 14 February 2019 02:48 (five days ago) Permalink

(a song that's never been a favourite for me btw, but which I'm getting more out of because of this)

silent as a seashell Julia (Sund4r), Thursday, 14 February 2019 02:51 (five days ago) Permalink


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