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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen years ago) link

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

Ambiguous, even.

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

"as though" not "like though"

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

HI DERE

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

Also interested in the question of

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

Good question. Not me, sorry

And Then There’s Maudit (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 25 December 2020 22:40 (three months ago) link

Been waiting for him to finish this book for years.

And Then There’s Maudit (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 25 December 2020 22:41 (three months ago) link

Was just working on BWV 38.6 with James Redd:
https://www.bach-chorales.com/BWV0038_6.htm
https://open.spotify.com/track/6tgIyDZKQ3i4G2kOMNR7Q2?si=I13lPCy_RgWqYfY9pn6MqQ
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale085-Eng3.htm

It's probably the most dramatic example I've seen of a chorale where Bach has tried to graft a functional harmonization onto a modal hymn melody. The melody is very obviously in E Phrygian but Bach has harmonized it in A minor despite the fact that only the third phrase of the melody lends itself at all to a tonal centre on A. The hymn begins on a B and ends on an E. The first, second, and final (!) phrases all end with half cadences on E (V in A minor). The third is the only one that ends with an authentic cadence. The fourth modulates to G, which is obv the relative major of E minor but is an unusual key change for a piece that is otherwise in A minor. I'm not sure it even works completely but it is interesting that we get the only authentic cadence in the home key on "He alone is the good shepherd"; we also get an authentic cadence in G on "who can free Israel" but are denied resolution on "from all his sings".

Sharp! Distance! (Sund4r), Saturday, 2 January 2021 20:43 (three months ago) link

*The third is the only one that ends with an authentic cadence in A minor.

Sharp! Distance! (Sund4r), Saturday, 2 January 2021 20:48 (three months ago) link

The discussion of which also made me think of this quote for some reason: rolling enlightenment music discussion thread

Dog Heavy Manners (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 3 January 2021 16:17 (three months ago) link

Now I've got my kid's piano teacher involved in this.

Dog Heavy Manners (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 3 January 2021 20:49 (three months ago) link

WIkipedia agrees about the Phrygian nature of this section:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aus_tiefer_Not_schrei_ich_zu_dir,_BWV_38

Dog Heavy Manners (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 3 January 2021 20:51 (three months ago) link

But not this gentlemen:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1VFPJj-950

Dog Heavy Manners (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 3 January 2021 20:51 (three months ago) link

The hymn melody itself is an E Phrygian melody but the Bach chorale functions (if somewhat awkwardly) in A minor because of the way it's harmonized.

Sharp! Distance! (Sund4r), Sunday, 3 January 2021 22:12 (three months ago) link

Unless that guy is using some notation system I've never come across, his harmonic analysis seems wrong? I've never heard of anyone writing Roman numerals based on the relative major key for a minor-key piece and can't imagine why you would want to - he also makes no distinctions between different chord qualities or inversions.

Sharp! Distance! (Sund4r), Sunday, 3 January 2021 22:18 (three months ago) link

Notable that Gs are always natural in the melody but G#s are used in the harmony parts to make it function in A minor.

Sharp! Distance! (Sund4r), Sunday, 3 January 2021 22:19 (three months ago) link

Yup.

Dog Heavy Manners (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 3 January 2021 22:31 (three months ago) link

Somehow this controversy is not lighting up the borad in quite the same way as “Sweet Home Alabama” vs. “Werewolves of London.”

Dog Heavy Manners (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 4 January 2021 03:34 (three months ago) link

Is there a controversy? I just thought it was an interesting example.

Sharp! Distance! (Sund4r), Monday, 4 January 2021 03:46 (three months ago) link

Ha, no, was just making a joke, I agree.

Dog Heavy Manners (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 4 January 2021 04:14 (three months ago) link

Right now though it seems to just be a folie à deux. #OneThread.

Dog Heavy Manners (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 4 January 2021 04:16 (three months ago) link

I just came across this, but am too tired to even read, so I am putting it here:

The basic texture of these settings seems to have been adapted from the Calvinist psalters, but the melody is placed consistently in the soprano part rather than the tenor, so that a listening congregation could the more easily sing along by ear, as the title recommends. The idea of transposing the cantus firmus to the soprano may have merely been an obvious solution to a practical problem, but it may also reflect the influence of the villanella or other Italian song styles that were making their way in Germany thanks to the book trade. In any case, Osiander’s were the first “Bach chorales.” They not only show the antecedents of the practice that J. S. Bach would bring to its stylistic peak a century and a half later, but they also give some idea of the extreme utilitarianism and stylistic conservatism of the atmosphere in which Bach would work his compositional miracles.

Taruskin, Richard. Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century: The Oxford History of Western Music . Oxford University Press.

Dog Heavy Manners (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 4 January 2021 04:26 (three months ago) link

Can anyone recommend good books or videos or articles on the music theory of John Coltrane that goes a little beyond just “here’s how giant steps changes work” ?

I actually just started reading Lewis Porter's article "John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme': Jazz Improvisation as Composition" from the Autumn 1985 issue of the Journal of the American Musicological Society when listening to ALS tonight and working out what's going on.

Sharp! Distance! (Sund4r), Tuesday, 5 January 2021 03:44 (three months ago) link

It seems pretty thorough.

Sharp! Distance! (Sund4r), Tuesday, 5 January 2021 03:54 (three months ago) link

I have his Coltrane bio, which is quite good.

Dog Heavy Manners (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 5 January 2021 04:00 (three months ago) link

one month passes...

Nobody: "Are academic music theorists above Navy SEAL copypasta?"

4llen C4dwallader:

whoops, didn't properly edit out emails last time, let's try again https://t.co/Ioi0VjcO0t pic.twitter.com/KOPeu6IEqJ

— Megan Lavengood (@meganlavengood) February 25, 2021

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Friday, 26 February 2021 00:38 (one month ago) link

Every time I see the name "Cadwallader" I think about that Twilight Zone episode

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escape_Clause

Click the link to "Mr. Cadwallader", wiki can be quite eloquent

flamboyant goon tie included, Friday, 26 February 2021 01:13 (one month ago) link

Haha

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Friday, 26 February 2021 02:37 (one month ago) link

Haha Wikipedia has Megan's back (for now): https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Cadwallader

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Friday, 26 February 2021 14:47 (one month ago) link

Apologies for more ILE but I somehow missed that Timothy Jackson is suing his whole department, the Board of Regents, and a grad student for conducting an investigation, "criticisms of 'the review and editorial practices' of the Journal of Schenkerian Studies", and "threats to remove [ him ] from the Journal":

For anyone interested, here are pdfs of the complaint and exhibits: https://t.co/2cmBIuzV88

Tl;dr: Jackson, represented by Michael Allen and Jonathan Mitchell, is suing under 1983 for violation of 1st and 14th Am. rights as well as state law defamation for calling him racist

— Nick Curry (@ncurr) January 15, 2021

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Sunday, 28 February 2021 15:55 (one month ago) link

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.

Rereading this old discussion now, this no longer seems outlandish, given how many people in rock and popular music do have a formal musical education these days, and how much pop gets taught academically.

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Sunday, 28 February 2021 16:52 (one month ago) link

Whoa, for a second I thought that Momus had rejoined us.

The Ballad of Mel Cooley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 28 February 2021 18:07 (one month ago) link

For some actual music theory, I started reading Lavengood's article in the current MTO issue on timbral analysis in 80s pop music, looking particularly at DX7 presets: https://mtosmt.org/issues/mto.20.26.3/mto.20.26.3.lavengood.html

Not totally sure what I think yet.

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Sunday, 28 February 2021 18:10 (one month ago) link

Ned posted this link somewhere-else:

https://pitchfork.com/thepitch/decolonizing-electronic-music-starts-with-its-software/

When I first saw the headline I thought "oh good! they're making DAWs free?" But then I realized it was about alternate tunings-- AND the DAW is also free :)

It occurred to me tho "withdrawing from Western systems of tuning" is only half the work, we need somebody to design malleable grids in the sequencing software, get actual rhythms happening instead of the metric stuff we have now

flamboyant goon tie included, Sunday, 28 February 2021 23:35 (one month ago) link

Fgti, I'm very curious what you mean by actual rhythms or what you're envisioning here?

I'm all for non-Western approaches getting baked into DAWs, but even with say West African music, I still think of it as being 'on a grid', even if you can't notate the 8th note feel/swing of it. But I feel like you can get there with most DAWs by turning quantization off and adjusting things within the 1/4 note grid, or have a swing/shuffle function that's adjustable by %, etc. And there are tempo maps for the overall bpm.

change display name (Jordan), Monday, 1 March 2021 01:15 (one month ago) link

My idea is this: that one can make a template, somehow-- by beat mapping a sample, for example-- and that the resultant flex-y data could be turned into a stable grid. That, with this template, you'd have fluctuating tempo every sixteenth, every eighth or whatever, and it would simply play things back as such. You're programming on a grid that will lock to a tempo that is constantly breathing to match the desired rhythm. You could theoretically create these templates, work from them, share them, and build tracks very simply with them, snapping to grid, and being able to achieve rhythms that are far more complicated than "16 steps and a swing variable; you gotta nudge to find the groove".

Imagine for example that you could automatically perform a loop, have the DAW recognize all the deviations of your performance, snap your grid to them, but NOT be dealing with "tempo changes every sixteenth note"? Instead have some other system of programming that parsed out the information? (I don't know if you've ever worked with projects where the tempo shifts every beat, or less, but they are massive RAM sucks, to begin with).

I have been so into "the feel" of certain songs that I've beatmapped them and asked session players to learn to play to the always-changing click. When you get into compound time, too, it's RIDICULOUS how flexible the feel is. You cannot recreate the feel of, say, "Hwwambo" without switching to 6/8 and having the tempo adjust +/- 30bpm every 16th note. The idea of being able to create a grid in this way, that you could easily shift from global tempo to global tempo, idk it sounds very useful to me.

Already it is so difficult to use DAWs in anything other than simple time. Idk, I think the whole concept of "time" could be massively overhauled within DAWs in extremely positive ways

flamboyant goon tie included, Monday, 1 March 2021 04:22 (one month ago) link

Wow, I just think of these things totally differently. To me it has nothing to do with tempo - like "Hwwambo" (assuming you're talking about the DJ NF track) is locked to 130 bpm. Tempo changes would mean the quarter note is slowing down or speeding up, everything in between is just feel.

In between every quarter note is a world of note placement choices that include the standard gridded 8th/16th/32nd/triplets/etc but also everything in between. And we can think of those as however we want (as 8th notes that are swung more or less, or pushed/pulled), but that's really where the feel and the folklore is. For example, attempts to accurately notate a New Orleans snare drum part kinda bother me, since it doesn't square with Western notation and you just need to use your ears.

It gets interesting when it comes to programming on a computer, but I basically feel the same way about it. My DAW doesn't have a great swing/shuffle function, but I think others do, and I can imagine dialing in the amount of swing on a sliding scale to get pretty close to how a drummer would play it. That's how I visualize it when I'm playing, anyway. And when I am programming it on a computer, I just turn off the quantization and move notes/samples around in between the quarter notes to get the feel I want.

I get that it would be more laborious if you're not using loops, and that DAWs should have more support for rhythms that don't fit neatly on a straight 8th or triplet grid. But what you're talking about sounds like a crazy workaround to me - it seems like it would be easier to get a session player who's familiar with playing Brazilian or African music. :)

change display name (Jordan), Monday, 1 March 2021 15:36 (one month ago) link

My idea is this: that one can make a template, somehow-- by beat mapping a sample, for example-- and that the resultant flex-y data could be turned into a stable grid. That, with this template, you'd have fluctuating tempo every sixteenth, every eighth or whatever, and it would simply play things back as such. You're programming on a grid that will lock to a tempo that is constantly breathing to match the desired rhythm

iiuc you can already do exactly this in logic if you pick a region and go to 'make groove template' in the quantize dropdown, it will create a quantization preset based on the exact timing fluctuations of whatever midi you give it.

exist in theory (esby), Monday, 1 March 2021 15:55 (one month ago) link

I’m a rank amateur and a non-music maker but I do wonder what you knowledgeable folks make of this piece:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/03/08/the-musicological-zest-of-switched-on-pop

pomenitul, Monday, 1 March 2021 16:55 (one month ago) link

@ Jordan, considering the work re: Allami's adjustments to tuning, and that there are already existing workarounds (you can just load up a preprogrammed scale, ne?), and my own stumbling blocks in music creation, it just occurred to me that rebuilding the way DAWs address "time" would be (in my view) a good contribution to serving Allami's thesis. "Hwwambo" is far more complicated, in my view, than you've described! Already, dealing with compound time (the track is in 6/8 or 3/4, depending if you're prioritizing the hook or the beat) makes swing functions weird and nigh-unusable...

but @ esby, if these methods exist already and I just haven't read the manual, then... I'm gonna read the manual :)

flamboyant goon tie included, Monday, 1 March 2021 18:00 (one month ago) link

That's probably true re: the swing function getting confused. But still, if I want to make a beat like that I would start by programming most of those parts as 1/4 note triplets over a 4/4 grid, turn off quantize/snap to grid, and then slide the notes around until it felt right. Personally I don't know that I'd ever trust a DAW with that because I know what I want to hear and I'm used to these types of rhythms, but sure, it would be great if it was natively supported!

I wonder how that track was actually produced...my guess is that he based it on a sampled hand drum loop, and manually played/triggered the rest of the samples and synths over that? But it could have been sliding one-shot samples and midi notes around with a mouse (how I would do it), who knows.

change display name (Jordan), Monday, 1 March 2021 18:49 (one month ago) link

Yeah I would guess that's the case! I know it was made in FL that's all I know

flamboyant goon tie included, Monday, 1 March 2021 20:59 (one month ago) link

What did you think, pom? I've never listened to Switched on Pop, in part because I'm not into podcasts and would rather read a transcript every time. I really hated their Vox piece about Beethoven but I gather from the Ross piece that the actual podcast was better and more nuanced? I tried to follow Asaf Peres's Top 40 Theory for a little while but I just don't share his passion for contemporary chart pop and don't really have a professional reason to keep up anymore. (He at least actually works with songwriters and producers from what I understand.) I do appreciate really deep dives like the things that MTO publishes and it's fun and sometimes helpful to break down these things once in a while e.g. on here, among other repertoire.

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Tuesday, 2 March 2021 04:53 (one month ago) link

Yeah, I'm with you on all that. These podcasts have much to teach me due to my lack of musical training, but I just can't bring myself to sink even an extra second into contemporary chart pop.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 2 March 2021 16:44 (one month ago) link

*washes hands*

flamboyant goon tie included, Tuesday, 2 March 2021 17:02 (one month ago) link

Haha. Pom, are you just looking for some music appreciation/analytical listening material? There must be lots out there on classical and progressive or heavy rock, surely? Have you read John Covach?

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Wednesday, 3 March 2021 03:06 (one month ago) link

I can't read sheet music so if Covach is layman-friendly, I'd be interested in checking out his writings, sure.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 3 March 2021 03:11 (one month ago) link

(Sorry for shitting up this thread btw. I am a dreamer of dreams but not a music-maker.)

pomenitul, Wednesday, 3 March 2021 03:16 (one month ago) link

I'll look for things.

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Wednesday, 3 March 2021 03:33 (one month ago) link

Is something like this layman-friendly?: http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/AWP/ct.shtml

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Wednesday, 3 March 2021 03:38 (one month ago) link

I'd say so, yeah (it helps that I owned a guitar when I was a teenager). Thanks!

pomenitul, Wednesday, 3 March 2021 03:39 (one month ago) link

Pollack analysed every Beatles song that way.

This is one of my favourite papers. I think it's pretty readable without needing to read notation, although being able to read rhythms would help: https://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.09.15.5/mto.09.15.5.adams.html . MTO provides audio and video examples with the articles, which also gives you some of what the podcasts can provide.

to party with our demons (Sund4r), Wednesday, 3 March 2021 03:43 (one month ago) link

I do get what's going on when there are audio samples. Tbh I could probably learn to read notation if I set my mind to it, and I've been meaning to for ages, it's just very time-consuming. But I'll get there soon enough.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 3 March 2021 03:49 (one month ago) link


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