Rolling Music Theory Thread

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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 (thirteen 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 (thirteen 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 (thirteen 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 (thirteen 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 (thirteen 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 (thirteen years ago) link

"as though" not "like though"

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 27 June 2006 19:06 (thirteen 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 (thirteen 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 (thirteen 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 (thirteen 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 (thirteen 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 (thirteen 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 (thirteen 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (five years ago) link

HI DERE

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

Also interested in the question of

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

Ha, "modal jazz"

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 22:11 (five years ago) link

Thread of missing the "Greensleeves" thread.

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 30 March 2014 22:14 (five years ago) link

Clearly there is some overlap between modes and scales, given that the major scale is also called the "Ionian" mode.

james franco tur(oll)ing test (Hurting 2), Monday, 31 March 2014 02:09 (five years ago) link

I'm not actually sure if there's a meaningful difference.

james franco tur(oll)ing test (Hurting 2), Monday, 31 March 2014 02:09 (five years ago) link

I think there might be, maybe. I think the scale is just the set of pitches plus the starting point and nowadays mode usually means exactly the same thing but in ye olde time Renaissance music the mode meant the, um, ordered set of pitches, plus the various conventional practices that went with them. This is something I feel like I have seen out of the corner of my eye somewhere , I'll have to track down a reference.

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 31 March 2014 02:17 (five years ago) link

As I understand it, the standard modes are identical to major keys except the root note is a different step in the scale.

Mode is closer to key, while the scale is the ordered sequence of notes in the mode or key.

nitro-burning funny car (Moodles), Monday, 31 March 2014 02:26 (five years ago) link

Yes, something like that. There is a discussion of this on pages 158-159 of Lewis Porter's John Coltrane bio. I can't type it in right now so you will have to refer to your own copy.

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 31 March 2014 02:29 (five years ago) link

He refers to a paper called "Three Pragmatists in Search of a Theory" by Harold Powers which I find a brief reference to and quote from here: http://mtosmt.org/issues/mto.13.19.3/mto.13.19.3.judd.php although I can't quite make head or tail of the quote or the surrounding article yet.

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 31 March 2014 02:51 (five years ago) link

Then there is this

http://www.jazzstandards.com/theory/modal-jazz.htm

One contemporary (and widely-taught) approach to improvisation views every chord as having one or more scales that can be played over it. Although it involves the use of modes, this approach to soloing does not necessarily make a tune “modal.”

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 31 March 2014 02:55 (five years ago) link

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 think I actually disagree with the first part of this too (sorry fgti): almost everyone in my PhD program was interested in Radiohead! I'm pretty sure I'm more interested in them than in Brian Ferneyhough.

Anyway, I think that this discussion has been helpful for me. I haven't written a theory paper in years and now I realize that it's because I wasn't actually sure what the purpose/value of it would be. I think that talking about this has helped me clarify what it could be; I actually feel enthusiastic about attempting it this summer.

EveningStar (Sund4r), Monday, 31 March 2014 20:30 (five years ago) link

I've read several rollicking music theory nerd discussions of radiohead songs.

james franco tur(oll)ing test (Hurting 2), Monday, 31 March 2014 20:31 (five years ago) link

Interested to hear what exactly inspired Sund4r in this discussion but maybe it's best just to wait for the paper.

Bristol Stomper's Breakout (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 31 March 2014 20:59 (five years ago) link

It was this train of thought, where I started questioning the use of this kind of analytical work, then realized that this doubt was what was holding me back from doing any of it, then started thinking about what its use could be. (The last part is not completely fleshed out in the post below but I think I will articulate it when the time comes):

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!).

EveningStar (Sund4r), Tuesday, 1 April 2014 01:40 (five years ago) link

The one good thing about Coldplay is when it hits you feel no shame about whatever crap you're calling "music" and putting out into the world

The Coldplay/Chainsmokers hit "Something Just Like This" came up in a presentation at SMT in the fall and it just came to mind now as an interesting case when I was thinking about chord progressions and tonality because of a dumb post about pop chord progressions on a classical music FB group. D is the clear tonal centre imo: the melody is completely centred around D, the song starts with D-A repetition in an upper voice, and there is a pedal point on D throughout the first verse and at times afterwards. (Wikipedia says it's in B minor but this seems very wrong to me.) However, I don't think there are any root position I chords at all until after the 3m mark here. (Second-inversion I chords, which don't classically have tonic function, are sometimes produced when the vocal melody places D and F# over As in the accompaniment, e.g. "Hercules and his gifts".) There are some D major arpeggios in the upper keyboard voice around 2:20. The bass motion for almost the entire song is ^4-^5-^6-^5 and we keep coming back to full-on IV-V-vi-V triads. (I imagine the way Bm works like a kind of tonic substitute harmony is why a Wikipedia author identified it as the key but the melody just doesn't support a tonal centre on B imo.)

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Tuesday, 28 May 2019 03:00 (six months ago) link

I actually like Coldplay and was just really feeling the mashup with that post

flamboyant goon tie included, Tuesday, 28 May 2019 13:03 (six months ago) link

Ha, yeah, I just thought it was funny that that was what came up when I searched for "coldplay" on this thread. I'm interested in more examples of pop songs with clear tonics that avoid or significantly delay the I chord. A Katy Perry song was mentioned on a theory forum I used to read some years back - "Last Friday Night", I think?

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Tuesday, 28 May 2019 14:01 (six months ago) link

(If anyone hears the tonic of "Something Just Like This" differently, I'm up for discussing that too but I think it's p clear. I saw an online chord chart that identified the key as G major which no imo.)

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Tuesday, 28 May 2019 14:03 (six months ago) link

it was a common trick for katy perry, i think fgti even wrote something for slate about teenage dream

That is correct, although I used "Teenage Dream" as an example (I think "Last Friday Night" is decisively in a minor key). I also cited in passing iirc EWF "September", Fleetwood Mac "Dreams" and "Viva La Vida"

flamboyant goon tie included, Tuesday, 28 May 2019 15:48 (six months ago) link

Ah, thanks.

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Tuesday, 28 May 2019 16:40 (six months ago) link

I probably just misremembered the Katy Perry song.

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Tuesday, 28 May 2019 16:40 (six months ago) link

stevie nicks seems to use that trick a good amount in her songwriting--lots of circular progressions that never really settle in major or minor.

I think it intuitively comes to a lot of songwriters (and that charts and the resonance of particular tracks tend to favour songs that do it)... overall I don't think it necessarily needs to be an outright "denial of the tonic" so much as the tendency of certain songs to avoid it creates a harmonic buoyancy, this kind of not-settling that creates the sensation in the listener of "travelling"

flamboyant goon tie included, Wednesday, 29 May 2019 14:17 (six months ago) link

i don't know what thread to put this in so i'll put it here. i am losing my mind over how perfect this contraption is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F-vMXuyE5k&list=PLPYiCOgE6NBTQn3qAZUKeGQN8J8S72wz4&index=1

big gym sw0les (crüt), Thursday, 30 May 2019 00:48 (six months ago) link

ugh, let me try that again

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F-vMXuyE5k

big gym sw0les (crüt), Thursday, 30 May 2019 00:48 (six months ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jobhw89wiFc

big gym sw0les (crüt), Thursday, 30 May 2019 00:49 (six months ago) link

I think "Last Friday Night" is decisively in a minor key.

I'm curious why! It ends on an F# major chord and I'm not sure that the melodies frame the notes of D# minor any more than they do F# major.

timellison, Friday, 31 May 2019 01:20 (six months ago) link

Well like I said, pop songs are strengthened by tonic ambiguity and the main chorus melody is centred around the theoretical tonic of a major that never appears? Instead it keeps dipping to the minor where that “tonic” is the third and suggesting that it’s in a minor key and it works with the content and mood of the lyric

flamboyant goon tie included, Friday, 31 May 2019 01:32 (six months ago) link

Yeah, I almost feel like the D# minor chord falling on the third measure of the four-bar cycle gives it enough resonance to register as a tonic. That's a weak rhythmic spot for the tonic to fall, but not as weak as the second measure would have been.

timellison, Friday, 31 May 2019 02:09 (six months ago) link

it's the Get Lucky progression with the first two chords reversed

big gym sw0les (crüt), Friday, 31 May 2019 03:37 (six months ago) link

the "tonic ambiguity" thing i think is typically pop songwriters loving the IV chord a whole lot. and they'll throw in the ii chord in order to switch up the bass note while keeping that IV feel going.

big gym sw0les (crüt), Friday, 31 May 2019 03:46 (six months ago) link

(VI and iv respectively in minor, obv)

big gym sw0les (crüt), Friday, 31 May 2019 03:46 (six months ago) link

I feel like the reversal of those two chords makes for a more inventive and interesting progression than "Get Lucky." There's no way "Last Friday Night" is resting on B major just because the cycle leaves you there on a downbeat to end the song, whereas "Get Lucky" could easily end on a B minor chord.

timellison, Friday, 31 May 2019 05:00 (six months ago) link

two weeks pass...

Somebody buy this book and report back: http://www.davecreamer.com/TheOctatonicSystem.html

TS The Students vs. The Regents (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 15 June 2019 12:13 (five months ago) link

Seems like a lot of it is on Google Books.

TS The Students vs. The Regents (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 15 June 2019 12:27 (five months ago) link

There’s some line in there where he describes bebop scales as a “rudimentary approach.”

TS The Students vs. The Regents (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 15 June 2019 15:06 (five months ago) link

one month passes...

Recently came across this blog and from what I have read really like the way the guy thinks and explains: https://antonjazz.com/2012/11/dominant-scales/

U or Astro-U? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 26 July 2019 20:11 (four months ago) link

Andreyev in the house!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLEwuo5R-tQ

timellison, Wednesday, 7 August 2019 06:22 (four months ago) link

This master's thesis seems to have some interesting stuff in it
HARMONIC RESOURCES IN 1980S HARD ROCK ... - OhioLINK ETD

Another Fule Clickin’ In Your POLL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 10 August 2019 21:04 (four months ago) link

Hm. Maybe not. It is kind of interesting though.

Another Fule Clickin’ In Your POLL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 10 August 2019 22:16 (four months ago) link

Not a theory question per se but I can’t remember what the relevant thread is so: how do I shot what beat the Hendrix version of “All Along the Watchtower” starts on?

TS: “8:05” vs. “905” (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 21 August 2019 19:57 (three months ago) link

And of 3. It’s confusing because the crash hits, four bars later, on the and of 4, and the band doesn’t hit the 1 very cleanly. Good Q though, it confused me for a second, and I had never thought about it

flamboyant goon tie included, Wednesday, 21 August 2019 20:22 (three months ago) link

three months pass...

Here's a dumb question, because I am dumb when it comes to this stuff. In a lot of Latin music a common sound seems to be a minor key but with the major seventh used a lot, like in a montuno. What would you call this? I don't think it's one of the regular modes, right? Is it just always considered a passing tone?

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 26 November 2019 18:44 (two weeks ago) link

Like say in the melody to this tune. Let me know if I'm mischaracterizing this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_M9Bv1FmwM

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 26 November 2019 18:46 (two weeks ago) link

On first listen, isn't this mostly just harmonic minor? Or is there a specific harmonic structure or melodic movement going on that you're asking about? The sixth and seventh scale degrees are variable pitches in minor keys in standard functional harmony.

No language just sound (Sund4r), Tuesday, 26 November 2019 21:07 (two weeks ago) link

Oh lol I guess it is just harmonic minor, I was just looking for the name of the scale. And I used to be obsessed with harmonic minor! But I think because I don't regularly interface with a melodic instrument (besides the computer), the specifics of scales always leave my head as soon as I'm done writing a part or whatever.

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 26 November 2019 21:15 (two weeks ago) link

Heh, no worries. I've blanked on stuff like where Dvorak was from in front of a class before.

No language just sound (Sund4r), Tuesday, 26 November 2019 23:24 (two weeks ago) link

She is from France

that said, I’d prefer a single serving of you (flamboyant goon tie included), Wednesday, 27 November 2019 15:13 (two weeks ago) link

Young Spectralist at today’s event. Didn’t dig too much into his research area but interesting to talk to.

Irae Louvin (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 29 November 2019 01:38 (one week ago) link


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