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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

There is also this thread:
How much music theory do you know? How much of it winds up in your songwriting?

A Study In Redd Scharlach (Ken L), Friday, 23 June 2006 16:02 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

"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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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

Ambiguous, even.

rogermexico (rogermexico), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 04:51 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

"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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

"as though" not "like though"

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 19:06 (sixteen years ago) link

"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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (sixteen years ago) link

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 (nine years ago) link

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 (nine years ago) link

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 (nine years ago) link

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

29 facepalms, Tuesday, 14 May 2013 13:09 (nine years ago) link

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 (nine years ago) link

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 (nine years ago) link

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 (eight years ago) link

HI DERE

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

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 (eight years ago) link

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 (eight years ago) link

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 (eight years ago) link

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 (eight years ago) link

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 (eight years ago) link

(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 (eight years ago) link

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 (eight years ago) link

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 (eight years ago) link

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 (eight years ago) link

(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 (eight years ago) link

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 (eight years ago) link

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 (eight years ago) link

Link to Sund4r's new thread: Music Academia

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

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 (eight years ago) link

Also interested in the question of

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

  • 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 (eight years ago) link

Wonder how many will participate in this discussion?

Hitsville Ukase (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 23 August 2021 20:00 (ten months ago) link

Wait, I see we almost talked about the same thing two yrs ago here, also bc of Iverson.

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Monday, 23 August 2021 20:52 (ten months ago) link

Ha, was it the thing he wrote about Jeff Goldblum and the Dorian Mode?

Hitsville Ukase (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 23 August 2021 21:08 (ten months ago) link

Yeah, I think you linked it.

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Monday, 23 August 2021 21:09 (ten months ago) link

I really dislike grandstanding statements like these... it tries to codify something that cannot be so easily codified. Learning jazz theory is useful to those who have facility for it and find an application for it in their practice. Others may not find they have a facility for it, and may question the validity of it being taught. Others may have a facility for it, but not find an application for it, and may question the validity of it being taught. I have met too many spectacular musicians who process musical information in jazz theory terms, and generate amazing music while applying jazz theory concepts to say that it is "less important" or "more important" than learning repertoire.

When presented with arguments like these, or the "Western music theory is racist" one from a few months back, my mind tends to get all bifurcated. Of course I agree. Of course I also disagree. I feel like I could provide a wealth of points and counterpoints that prove and disprove either side of such an argument. In my subconscious, though, there's another voice that is screaming: why are we making grandstanding statements like these? Why have I made similar statements, myself, in the past? I feel as if these statements express far more about the individual who is making them, and their private points of concern, and psychological projection, and their own personal frustrations, than they actually do about larger truths about music education and/or music appreciation

I don’t have time to scroll up right now, but I’m sure whatever I type now will be similar to what I typed then. Like a few hours ago I heard “Hit the Road Jack” and thought “I wonder if I should mention The Andalusian Cadence?” but I figured we already must have done it.

Hitsville Ukase (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 24 August 2021 01:20 (ten months ago) link

Okay, I will reply to fgti and say that CST is not all of or the only Jazz Theory.

Hitsville Ukase (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 24 August 2021 01:21 (ten months ago) link

One critique of CST is that it divorces the scale choice from harmonic function, it’s simply one scale per chord type. Okay, maybe there is a little more to it but that’s the way it is usually taken. It doesn’t get into the nuances of the different extensions and chromaticisms (chromatics?) that can be used, one size fits all.

Hitsville Ukase (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 24 August 2021 01:27 (ten months ago) link

I keep thinking about this and why I mostly agree with Iverson but don’t want to post into the void.

Hitsville Ukase (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 27 August 2021 22:56 (ten months ago) link

… and Lee Konitz too, as far as I know

Hitsville Ukase (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 27 August 2021 22:59 (ten months ago) link

one month passes...

Was banging out "Keep on Loving You" by REO Speedwagon on piano/voice/guitar tonight and realized it does the same kind of thing as "Man on the Moon" - seems like an F Lydian thing with the chords moving F-G-Am-G over an F pedal point through and a melody line that seems circumscribed by an F arpeggio, and even stays in that space during the pre-chorus with F-G-F-G-Am-G until we finally get C-F-G in the chorus and it's confirmed that F and G are I and IV and the F at the start of the melody is heard as an accented dissonance that resolves down to E.

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Wednesday, 6 October 2021 01:25 (eight months ago) link

That was a bit mangled. In the verse, it seems like F Lydian with the chords moving F-G-Am-F over an F pedal point and a melody circumscribed by the F arpeggio and even stays in that space in the pre-chorus. When we get to the chorus, we finally get a C-F-G progression and it's confirmed F and G were IV and V. The F that starts the melody in the chorus is heard as an accented neighbour to E.

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Wednesday, 6 October 2021 03:51 (eight months ago) link

The introduction of "Sara" by Fleetwood Mac uses exactly the same chord progression in F Lydian, except it resolves to F major for most of the song (then back to F Lydian for the bridges).

Halfway there but for you, Wednesday, 6 October 2021 14:01 (eight months ago) link

F-G-Am-F

ugh, F-G-Am-G

Interesting re "Sara"; will revisit that

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Wednesday, 6 October 2021 15:15 (eight months ago) link

two weeks pass...

The serious replies to this are lol:

I’m sorry but the UK rhythmic value names make no sense to me pic.twitter.com/Fm5SEIA3Iv

— Robert 🎃 Komaniecki (@Komaniecki_R) October 20, 2021

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Wednesday, 20 October 2021 15:58 (eight months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Tempting:
https://www.7dmedia.com/products/kingcrimsondiscipline

Sequel to Sadness (Sund4r), Thursday, 11 November 2021 22:29 (seven months ago) link

So I never broke down the solo to "Don't Fear the Reaper" (as classic as it is) before but just realized how cool the modulation is. The song is in a modal A minor (Aeolian) but we get that G# sounding like a leading note right under the fermata A minor chord before the solo begins. The G# (Ab) and C get reinterpreted as the two upper voices of an F minor chord in the first arpeggio (F-Ab-C) which then moves to a G7/F (F-G-B) arpeggio, iv and V in the chromatic mediant key of C minor, which becomes the key for the solo (a functional C minor, where the leading note is generally raised).

treat the gelignite tenderly for me (Sund4r), Sunday, 21 November 2021 15:49 (seven months ago) link

Good points. Then there's something uncanny about the return to the A minor riff from the G.
Another nice touch in this song is the single E maj chord in the verse (or prechorus), the V of A harmonic minor.

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 21 November 2021 16:17 (seven months ago) link

I always get lost metrically (pvmic) during the solo break but still have never gotten around to pinning it down.

Sterl of the Quarter (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 21 November 2021 17:31 (seven months ago) link

Good points. Then there's something uncanny about the return to the A minor riff from the G.

Yeah, it ends on a sustained G (the dominant in C minor), which is the pedal point (on m^7) in the A minor riff.

Is the chord under "the sun" in the pre-chorus E major or E5? I don't hear a third (G#) there and Dharma sings a B in the melody - so it still seems like a modal Aeolian cadence to me. Even if I were to strum full triads there, I think Em would sound more natural than E.

treat the gelignite tenderly for me (Sund4r), Sunday, 21 November 2021 18:04 (seven months ago) link

I think it all lines up in 4/4, or at least adds up to multiples of 4, if you count the arpeggios as eighth notes starting on 1, which means the cymbals enter on 1 after four bars and the full band entering on 2 after another four bars + one beat. Pretty tricky because the arpeggio pattern is a three-note pattern accented in 4/4 so the barlines and chord changes always land in different spots in the pattern and it actually runs for a total of 33 eighth notes (eight bars + one beat). Also the drums are a bit unpredictable during the ensemble playing under the lead guitar but I think the bassist mostly keeps the quarter-note pulse.

treat the gelignite tenderly for me (Sund4r), Sunday, 21 November 2021 19:01 (seven months ago) link

*full band enters on 2

treat the gelignite tenderly for me (Sund4r), Sunday, 21 November 2021 19:02 (seven months ago) link

Thanks, makes sense.

This is too long to watch now but seems like it might be useful for some:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44t2KJQUh3Y

Sterl of the Quarter (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 22 November 2021 22:35 (seven months ago) link

Lots of comments on the order of "I have been trying to understand this stuff for decades with success until I finally saw your explanation. Thanks!"

Sterl of the Quarter (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 22 November 2021 22:37 (seven months ago) link

two weeks pass...

"Yesterday" by the Beatles and "My Love" by Wings start with the same progression (a fourth apart) of four chords, but because both songs are in F, the harmonic relationship to the respective songs is different:

Yesterday: F -- Em7 -- A7 -- Dm I -- ii of D Dorian -- V of vi -- vi

My Love: B♭maj7 -- Am7 -- D7 -- Gm7 IV -- iii -- V of ii -- ii

(ignoring inversions)

Halfway there but for you, Friday, 10 December 2021 16:38 (six months ago) link

Posting here before possibly posting on the Jazz Thread, written by an old friend of ours: https://www.thenation.com/article/culture/barry-harris-obit/

Santa’s Got a Brand New Borad (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 16 December 2021 16:51 (six months ago) link

He refers to “Harris’s ‘bebop scale’” but I was under the impression that Barry Harris himself hated that term, despite almost everyone else using it.

Santa’s Got a Brand New Borad (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 16 December 2021 23:46 (six months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Hi dere! Hey Sund4r, are you sure on that G# in the fermata chord on "Reaper?" I hear a G natural in the guitar that's panned a little right (which is kinda cool because it makes it momentarily a seventh resonance on the tonic minor chord).

timellison, Thursday, 6 January 2022 18:51 (five months ago) link

That F minor arpeggio coming out of the blue feels a little Twilight Zone-ish (although I think actual Twilight Zone riff has a tritone).

timellison, Thursday, 6 January 2022 18:57 (five months ago) link

The Blackstar thread mentioned Bowie's cover of the Walker Brothers' "Nite Flights". There's something very interesting about these chord changes. Both versions of the song have an intro, one verse and chorus that repeats to fade. Though the melody includes some unusual notes, I would describe the verse as A major and the chorus as D Mixolydian:

VERSE: A C#m F#m C#m I iii vi iii in A major
CHORUS: D C D Am I VII I v in D Mixolydian

Aside from performing the song a tone lower, Bowie changes the chord where the song transitions from verse to chorus ("has hit the bloodlite"): that is, instead of the second iii chord, he uses a ♭III chord (B♭ in his verse key of G).
It's a very different effect; with the Walker Brothers, the C chord coming in three bars into the chorus ("on nite flights") has a dizzying, shifting effect on the harmony; Bowie introducing this chord change at the end of the verse punctuates the start of the chorus, but it's like he shows his hand too soon. He's revealing the harmony of the chorus early, it can't have the same effect as the earlier version.

Halfway there but for you, Friday, 7 January 2022 00:34 (five months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Are there any good explanations anywhere on the net of modern broadway composition style and where it came from? I just watched Encanto with my kids, and aside from "We Don't Talk About Bruno," which is catchy, I feel like there's this weird modern trend of sort of random-sounding diatonic melodies and chord progressions with a lot of roots and fifths and awkward melodic movement without good voice leading.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 31 January 2022 20:38 (five months ago) link

Ugh

Tapioca Tumbril (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 31 January 2022 20:39 (five months ago) link

Actually I guess there were a couple other songs that were ok - Welcome to the Family Madrigal didn't really do what I'm talking about, and neither did Dos Oruguitas, but here's a good example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKKrfr4To14

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 31 January 2022 20:40 (five months ago) link

The melody sounds like someone just randomly noodling around in a scale.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 31 January 2022 20:41 (five months ago) link

There's something especially awful about it when the chords go from 4 to 5 and the melody goes 5 - 3 - 2 -3, or 5 -3 - 2 -1, it's like nails on a chalkboard for me.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 31 January 2022 20:42 (five months ago) link

This one is not as awkward, but it still sounds like it was spit out by a diatonic melody generator:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ9pHBEUWPo

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 31 January 2022 20:45 (five months ago) link

The first example sounds like an instance where the lyrics were written in advance of the melody. The composer was tasked with having to make something "poppy" and "hooky" but also keep the same rhythm of a recitative. It reminded me most of the "verses" on uh "Hakuna Matata" where a very-hooky chorus had to be cut with narrative-narrative-narrative and Elton John just kinda wrote some notes down and hoped it'd work. I don't think it's anything new, there are similar kinda "the music suffers at this point because we got a lot of words to get through" moments in a lot of pre-1980 musicals. Good recit is challenging, I would imagine? the part of "Guys And Dolls" I admire the most compositionally isn't any hook at all but a recit: "I've imagined every bit of him / from his strong moral fibre / to the wisdom in his head / to the homey aroma of his pipe..." "You have wished yourself a Scarsdale Galahad / the breakfast-eating Brooks Brothers type..." "Yes! and I will meet him when the time is ripe." (Is it "right"? I forget I'm just quoting from memory.)

So yeah it doesn't sound to me like any modern tendency so much as the collision of lyricist: "here are a lot of words" and producer: "get it done by the weekend and make it hooky"

That song from The Greatest Showman sounds so uncannily like another song I can't place. Is it Adele? That song sounds to me that it wasn't written cold but was written as a copy of another song. Lyricist: "here are some words", producer: "make it sounds like Adele", composer submits, producer: "make it sound more like Adele", composer submits, producer: "have you even fucking listened to Adele? I want it to sound like ADELE", composer writes something that exactly follows the tempo and chord progression of an Adele song but sounds obtuse on its own, producer: "good enough"

flamboyant goon tie included, Monday, 31 January 2022 22:00 (five months ago) link

So yeah in short the former just sounds like big-budget recit written with the pressure of time and producer expectation

And the latter just sounds like the composer was working with a temp score and being pressured by producers to cut closer and closer to the source

flamboyant goon tie included, Monday, 31 January 2022 22:03 (five months ago) link

I don't hear what you're hearing on "Waiting On A Miracle" though, it sounds about as well-written as your average 6/8 Kate Bush song, that is to say, it's not bad? Moving to the III at the end of each eight bar phrase (after swaying between IV and V for the rest of the phrase) is definitely "not exactly great", and the modulation at 1:45 is a real clunker, but it doesn't really bother me. Totally serviceable Disney song.

Upon hearing that song from "The Greatest Showman" my boyfriend popped around the corner to say that it was his parents favourite musical ever, that they couldn't stop talking about how amazing the music is. Something I always tell myself is that the producers are almost always right, that when they are pressuring the composer to dumb something down they DO in fact have the best interests of the shareholders at heart

flamboyant goon tie included, Monday, 31 January 2022 22:15 (five months ago) link

Maybe more appropriate for the "Homemade Jokes" thread, but I just typed:

"I call my man Neapolitan because he wasn't my first choice, but he's a close second"

flamboyant goon tie included, Tuesday, 1 February 2022 21:54 (five months ago) link

Oh wow, I must have accidentally deleted my bookmark for this thread. So many messages I've missed. Going to catch up!

I was going to say something about how it's interesting that Ed Sheeran's "Shivers" is built from the exact same chord progression (Bm-G-D-A) as "Despacito" and does a lot similarly but the melodic movement in the Sheeran song seems more clearly centred on an Aeolian B minor tonality while "Despacito" seems a little ambiguous between D major and (modal) B minor but it seems v possible to hear D as a tonic.

The sensual shock (Sund4r), Monday, 14 February 2022 20:37 (four months ago) link

I was waiting for the awkward melody in the Encanto song and it never happened so I don't really know what you're driving at, man alive

also lol fgti

castanuts (DJP), Monday, 14 February 2022 21:37 (four months ago) link

Hey Sund4r, are you sure on that G# in the fermata chord on "Reaper?" I hear a G natural in the guitar that's panned a little right (which is kinda cool because it makes it momentarily a seventh resonance on the tonic minor chord).

You're totally right. I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote that.

The sensual shock (Sund4r), Monday, 14 February 2022 21:50 (four months ago) link

three months pass...

How did I never learn the phrase rhythmic displacement before today?

Magical Misery Tour Spiel (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 2 June 2022 14:27 (one month ago) link

I wanna talk about the pre-chorus on Portishead “All Mine” and how unprecedented and amazing those note choices are

And how she changes it up on the last pre-chorus to make it even more unhinged

flamboyant goon tie included, Tuesday, 7 June 2022 22:24 (three weeks ago) link

It seems that the vocal melody is in the E♭ minor of the verse, while the chords underneath go up and down on B min, C# min and D min? Then in the last prechorus, she's singing a semitone higher, so the melody more-or-less matches the chords underneath for the first time.

Halfway there but for you, Wednesday, 8 June 2022 02:47 (three weeks ago) link

yeah this is really something -- the instrumental mods but she...declines to do so?

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Wednesday, 8 June 2022 08:54 (three weeks ago) link

I don’t have perfect pitch so I couldn’t name the keys in the car yesterday while listening, but yes, the two primary chords on the pre chorus are bm and then dm, an attractive mediant association

But Beth sings a single same pitch over both chords and it is not the shared pitch (not the D)

Prechoruses 1 and 2, she picks a pitch that clashes with the bm

Prechorus 3 she switches it so it flashes with the dm

And it REALLY clashes, she sounds like she’s losing her mind. My friend Jessie once said “my god Portishead and their middle-class white lady having a breakdown vibes, it’s irresistible”

flamboyant goon tie included, Wednesday, 8 June 2022 12:49 (three weeks ago) link

Wow

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Monday, 13 June 2022 04:07 (three weeks ago) link

TIL about the augmented sixth chord from Sund4r.

Ride into the Sunship (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 19 June 2022 02:11 (two weeks ago) link


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