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For Those Who Have Good Knowlege of Music Theory...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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For Those Who Have Good Knowlege of Music Theory...

For those who have good knowledge of music theory...

Do you make original music? Not "do you write your own music?" but "if you make electronic music and have a good knowledge of music theory do you make music that is in any way innovative? Or do you simply churn out professional and/or commercial sounding dross in styles you've heard in the past?"

Please try to be honest with yourself before asking the question, and please post up examples... I find it hard enough to trust people who say that have a good knowledge of music theory on any level, let alone when they make ludicrous claims.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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Strictly dross
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
I have 2 facts to offer:

1. My music is f*cking amazing. It weaves all sorts of harmonic/timbral/philosophical influences and weird ideas into a highly original form.
2. Autistic people are really f*cking bad at humility
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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touched's Avatar
 

I find that without at least occasionally drawing on tradition and established body of knowledge, my music can become too limited, self-referential and stuck up my own ass boring. It's ultimately humbling and broadening to learn from others and from past practice. You can also go too far in the other direction and wind up just a jukebox of past styles and musical motifs though.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
WDM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wild Eye View Post
For those who have good knowledge of music theory...

Do you make original music? Not "do you write your own music?" but "if you make electronic music and have a good knowledge of music theory do you make music that is in any way innovative? Or do you simply churn out professional and/or commercial sounding dross in styles you've heard in the past?"

Please try to be honest with yourself before asking the question, and please post up examples... I find it hard enough to trust people who say that have a good knowledge of music theory on any level, let alone when they make ludicrous claims.
It simply goes: Learn the rules, master the rules, then break the rules.

Nothing is more to it.

If you want some examples of innovative music, that sounds innovative to you, I suggest you pick any commercial music you like and try to analyze it according to your own knowledge, and be honest with yourself. If you have nothing to analyze other than you like it, it means you know nothing about music and about the process how it's made.

So: learn the rules, master the rules, then break the rules.

On the second thought:

If you think that you can analyze music, try to write it down, on the paper... so anyone who is interested can also reproduce the same piece of music you like, on their own.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lectrojape View Post
Strictly dross
RIFF!

Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
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With theory
- you have a language to communicate with or learn from other musicians
- you don't have to reinvent wheels, good-sounding musical elements from the past
- you can speed up standard tasks because you know what to do
- you learn generic elements and not concrete examples
- ...

But I think only with the right theory (rules) one can not invent amazing music.
Analyzing great music means retrospectively analyzing the process of winning the lottery.

I don't make my own music, but I can improvise due to some knowledge.

best regards

PS:
What is dross?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
IMHO music theory and song writing are completely different things - lots of people have tons of theory knowledge but never wrote anything and vice versa. Many play by ear only.

As I see it, learning several scales is a good way to learn any instrument. Chords are not even possible on many instruments, such as a trumpet or mono synths.

Yet for song writing the focus is on hooks and most often some variation of "intro / verse / chorus / middle eight / outro " sections.

In either case though you are likely using 4/4 timing but not always. Timing and space between notes is what's most important to me ymmv.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
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jbuonacc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Behrmoog View Post
What is dross?
dross
/drôs,dräs/

noun: dross

something regarded as worthless; rubbish.
"there are bargains if you have the patience to sift through the dross"
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wild Eye View Post
For those who have good knowledge of music theory...

Do you make original music? Not "do you write your own music?" but "if you make electronic music and have a good knowledge of music theory do you make music that is in any way innovative? Or do you simply churn out professional and/or commercial sounding dross in styles you've heard in the past?"

Please try to be honest with yourself before asking the question, and please post up examples... I find it hard enough to trust people who say that have a good knowledge of music theory on any level, let alone when they make ludicrous claims.
Can you post examples of your work so we can see what the bar is?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Oh good, another troll thread. Let’s all point to non innovative music and call it crap.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Question's been asked before, but I'll ramble out a slightly different answer. Links in sig FWIW.

I have a working knowledge, and I do engage it when appropriate. Not usually at the beginning, but almost always in the structuring and in asking "why does that bit sound good/ bad?" and building. It varies. You learn as you go along when to consciously analayze, and when to just play. It's fun to do covers of stuff you admire I think. Work out what they did. And definitely the early keyboard lessons influence what I play "intuitively". Just the scales, and the shapes. I'm still learning.

Interestingly Paul Hartnoll went and learned keyboard skills and theory about 15 (?) years ago. IMHO his music has been on a upward curve since then, having gone down a bit. Another interesting example is Depeche Mode had Alan Wilder to do it, and were arguably better with him involved. But Gore is a total expert on blues and country music- that influence is very much evident in their output, and it is music theory (just not the commonly thought of classical harmony type stuff). Gahan got classical singing lessons too, mainly to help with stamina on tour AFAIK. His singing these days is the best it's ever been (and he's always been great, a natural talent).
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wild Eye View Post
For those who have good knowledge of music theory...

Do you make original music? Not "do you write your own music?" but "if you make electronic music and have a good knowledge of music theory do you make music that is in any way innovative? Or do you simply churn out professional and/or commercial sounding dross in styles you've heard in the past?"

Please try to be honest with yourself before asking the question, and please post up examples... I find it hard enough to trust people who say that have a good knowledge of music theory on any level, let alone when they make ludicrous claims.
Your post has nothing to do with "music theory".

Music theory is simply the study of the history of "common practice" - that means how composers have assembled chords, scales, keys, modulations etc. over a period of time. We study what composers have done, and how they moved from one area to another, what techniques have stayed with us, what has fallen by the wayside.

Music theory is NOT a rule book, it's a history of musical problem solving.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
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SkyWriter's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wild Eye View Post
For those who have good knowledge of music theory...

Do you make original music? Not "do you write your own music?" but "if you make electronic music and have a good knowledge of music theory do you make music that is in any way innovative? Or do you simply churn out professional and/or commercial sounding dross in styles you've heard in the past?"

Please try to be honest with yourself before asking the question, and please post up examples... I find it hard enough to trust people who say that have a good knowledge of music theory on any level, let alone when they make ludicrous claims.
For me, there are two three areas of music theory:
1) theory governing the development and classification of western music in the pre-romantic era beginning in the 1800's. This covers medieval, renaissance, baroque, etc... when music grew from a folk art to a social institution.
2) romantic up to early TV and radio, where common forms were experimented with, more exceptions to old theory were broken, and popular music tended to push the envelope rather than reinforce common themes.
3) present day - theory is becoming the exception rather than the rule :-)

Do I use theory in my compositions? Sure! Why not? It becomes second nature, like anything else useful.

Today music theory is just a tool, not a rule.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 View Post
Your post has nothing to do with "music theory".

Music theory is simply the study of the history of "common practice" - that means how composers have assembled chords, scales, keys, modulations etc. over a period of time. We study what composers have done, and how they moved from one area to another, what techniques have stayed with us, what has fallen by the wayside.

Music theory is NOT a rule book, it's a history of musical problem solving.
I think you might be confusing Music History and Music Theory. Those are two different series of classes in college. Theory is not opinionated, it’s fact. For instance, the circle of 5ths isn’t just something that some composers just used so that’s why we study it. It’s mathematical. There are different types of scales beyond major and minor that most pop people understand, but Music Theory doesn’t have a “rule” about when to use them. If you want to write music without music theory knowledge, that’s fine. Many of the best songwriters in history had limited or no “theory” knowledge. That said, not knowing theory (and history) means your creative palette will be limited until you happen to stumble upon things, which will still be a subset of what’s really out there.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wild Eye View Post
For those who have good knowledge of music theory...
Or do you simply churn out professional and/or commercial sounding dross in styles you've heard in the past?
Wait, your problem with electronic music is that its producers know too much music theory, and use that knowledge to make samey-sounding stuff? Are you sure of this logic?

It seems to me that the samey-sounding music is the result of well-published genre formulae, including which sounds are supposed to be there in order to fit the genre criteria. Or they're using the same pre-made loops. This isn't music theory. It's paint by numbers. Or, it's music that is supposed to meet the demands of very genre-specific DJs and dance audiences, who expect certain aspects to be familiar. Is it too formulaic? Maybe, but it's not because of too much music theory. No reason to be upset about it - just don't listen to it, if you don't want. "But I want innovative psytrance!"

If you were complaining about unapproachable academic music being too weighed down by theory, then I'd agree. Then again, that's easy to avoid as well. "But I want less-innovative academic music!"

Music theory could possibly help you figure out where you can innovate while still being familiar enough to be approachable. If that's what you want. You don't need theory for that, if you have the time, the right tools, and you've internalized enough of the rules, from listening to good music, to calibrate your intuition.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
Gear Addict
I think even without formal training, after enough years you build up your own ‘version’ of music theory based on what works and what doesn’t. So even if you don’t know the correct terminology, you’re still using music theory or else your compositions wouldn’t sound right.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by MayorAdamWest View Post
I think you might be confusing Music History and Music Theory.
No, I don't think there is any confusion. The definition you're criticising characterises theory by referring to "problem solving" and observing/ testing. There is of course a historical element as well. They go hand in hand. In my own experience, study of the theories/ methods used was always part of the music history course. Some didn't go far enough IMO, e.g. we did circle of fifths with Vivaldi, but not temperament. Classical was a little better, I remember being blown away by Symphonie Fantastique performed using catgut strings and no vibrato. And I always though it was funny that Schoenberg ignored temperament when developing serialism.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by PuggaMahone View Post
Wait, your problem with electronic music is that its producers know too much music theory, and use that knowledge to make samey-sounding stuff? Are you sure of this logic?

It seems to me that the samey-sounding music is the result of well-published genre formulae, including which sounds are supposed to be there in order to fit the genre criteria. Or they're using the same pre-made loops. This isn't music theory. It's paint by numbers. Or, it's music that is supposed to meet the demands of very genre-specific DJs and dance audiences, who expect certain aspects to be familiar. Is it too formulaic? Maybe, but it's not because of too much music theory. No reason to be upset about it - just don't listen to it, if you don't want. "But I want innovative psytrance!"

If you were complaining about unapproachable academic music being too weighed down by theory, then I'd agree. Then again, that's easy to avoid as well. "But I want less-innovative academic music!"

Music theory could possibly help you figure out where you can innovate while still being familiar enough to be approachable. If that's what you want. You don't need theory for that, if you have the time, the right tools, and you've internalized enough of the rules, from listening to good music, to calibrate your intuition.
I agree with this. Though one small, relevant point. The unapproachable droll of atonal or loosely tonal modern “classical” music is more the result of composers doing the opposite of theory and trying to break every tradition. This began about 100 years ago - the move away from traditional harmonic progressions. It basically killed the classical music genre. A similar thing happened in jazz. We can all celebrate how “innovative” Miles Davis was, but most normal people hear albums like Bitches Brew and hear garbage. Pop music went the other way, like films. Wonder why we just get super hero sequels now? The same reason your pop music now all sounds exactly the same. Many of the most popular songs now just contain 2 or even 1 chord.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MayorAdamWest View Post
I think you might be confusing Music History and Music Theory. Those are two different series of classes in college. Theory is not opinionated, it’s fact. For instance, the circle of 5ths isn’t just something that some composers just used so that’s why we study it. It’s mathematical. There are different types of scales beyond major and minor that most pop people understand, but Music Theory doesn’t have a “rule” about when to use them. If you want to write music without music theory knowledge, that’s fine. Many of the best songwriters in history had limited or no “theory” knowledge. That said, not knowing theory (and history) means your creative palette will be limited until you happen to stumble upon things, which will still be a subset of what’s really out there.
I think you confused my post with someone else, because I never addressed anything you responded to.

I explicitly stated that music theory was not a "rule book", but a study of common practice. That's a fact. The circle of fifths didn't appear magically out of mathematical equations (themselves a human construct) ,but rather appeared because composers discovered it.

I teach advanced level jazz theory at the university level, so i think I know what music theory is, and I explained it as simply as I could in the context of this thread.

I also teach a history of music industry class - which is quite different.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
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jbuonacc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PuggaMahone View Post
Wait, your problem with electronic music is that its producers know too much music theory, and use that knowledge to make samey-sounding stuff? Are you sure of this logic?
i’d say so. when i hear Jon Lord (Deep Purple) or Keith Emerson, for example, a lot of what they’re playing is too closely tied to what they obviously spent years learning and practicing. Jon Lord makes me think of the organist i’d hear at a baseball stadium.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iksrazal View Post
IMHO music theory and song writing are completely different things - lots of people have tons of theory knowledge but never wrote anything and vice versa. Many play by ear only.

As I see it, learning several scales is a good way to learn any instrument. Chords are not even possible on many instruments, such as a trumpet or mono synths.

Yet for song writing the focus is on hooks and most often some variation of "intro / verse / chorus / middle eight / outro " sections.

In either case though you are likely using 4/4 timing but not always. Timing and space between notes is what's most important to me ymmv.
I agree.

Songwriting is a craft and music theory is a tool. Theory can help with song writing, no doubt, but if you’re not careful it can limit you and box you in.

Music theory is indispensable when harmonizing the main melody. Theory allows you to support the melody and add interesting movements more easily. More importantly however, it allows you get to get out of the way of the melody and avoid notes that clash (important for a harmonically dense mix).

With that said, I tend to focus on melody when songwriting to which theory has less usefulness imo.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
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shreddoggie's Avatar
The entire thesis is broken.
Laughable.
Ignorant.
You can't understand the answer if you don't understand the question.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 View Post
I think you confused my post with someone else, because I never addressed anything you responded to.

I explicitly stated that music theory was not a "rule book", but a study of common practice. That's a fact. The circle of fifths didn't appear magically out of mathematical equations (themselves a human construct) ,but rather appeared because composers discovered it.

I teach advanced level jazz theory at the university level, so i think I know what music theory is, and I explained it as simply as I could in the context of this thread.

I also teach a history of music industry class - which is quite different.
My point was that theory was being presented as a rule book. Basic music theory is just tools. You played a sus4 chord. Theory doesn’t tell you that you must resolve the 4 to the 3, but explains why that’s the most natural next step. Like you, I just want to clarify that music theory isn’t a rule book that confines a musician. It’s a way to understand the music in more detail.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
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Earthling's Avatar
 

Thanks for asking an intelligent question (and giving us an excuse to talk about ourselves!).

I lovingly make my own original music.

I bit about myself. I was a professional guitarist since just after graduating from high school around 1978-yikes! I studied music (mostly jazz) as a non matriculating student-only music classes. Without going to much into it all I gained a lifetime of experience from both never ending study and live performance-top 40-funk-smooth jazz -toured with Bob James & Kirk Whalem...

I love almost all styles of music - jazz/classical-electronic (I'm from Detroit?) dubstep- house etc and many of the plethora of sub genres.

I don't hate modern music-pop etc at all like almost all my peers-stuck in the 70s etc

Whilst studying jazz at university i had an instructor that said learn all the theory you can-learn scales / chords in all 12 keys etc then FORGET all of it and just play.

It is a very buddhist kind of thing right?

A good euphemism 'creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes' . That is HUGE for me. Like they say in silicon valley- 'failing is succeeding'

I am 62 and got so burnt out on music I sold all my equipment and got a real job at 42 years old. I bought a macbook pro about 12 years ago and discovered garage band. And I've been a compete Ableton Live addict since.

The point of all that bruhaha is that for me I use Ableton and other software instruments and just do my own thing for myself (totally original).

So to recap-A good euphemism 'creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes' Learn theory then FORGET all of it and just play/create.

I have a ton of origan music on both youtube (with cheezy vids) and Bandcamp.

https://chucksilva.bandcamp.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/any1par..._as=subscriber

Here is an example of a track inspired by clapping vids i ripped from youtube -

Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by camus2 View Post
What qualifies as "innovative" these days? Stuff that is performed in front of the bourgeoisie at the MOMA?
Unlike the OP, if you’ve actually studied art history in general, you know that innovation has become a meaningless term in the art world. Once you’ve put a urinal or blank canvas in a gallery and signed it (4’33” in terms of music), the rules are off (the purpose of that art) and when there are no rules, innovation as a term becomes moot. Innovation can happen in the tools/technology and delivery mechanisms used in art, but art itself is untethered to convention so it’s not really useful to think of it in terms of being innovative or not. It’s only useful to consider if art conveys meaning and emotion that is useful to the culture that it exists in.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
Unlike the OP, if you’ve actually studied art history in general, you know that innovation has become a meaningless term in the art world. Once you’ve put a urinal or blank canvas in a gallery and signed it (4’33” in terms of music), the rules are off (the purpose of that art) and when there are no rules, innovation as a term becomes moot. Innovation can happen in the tools/technology and delivery mechanisms used in art, but art itself is untethered to convention so it’s not really useful to think of it in terms of being innovative or not. It’s only useful to consider if art conveys meaning and emotion that is useful to the culture that it exists in.
But it does make for a damn fine troll thread, doesn't it?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuonacc View Post
i’d say so. when i hear Jon Lord (Deep Purple) or Keith Emerson, for example, a lot of what they’re playing is too closely tied to what they obviously spent years learning and practicing. Jon Lord makes me think of the organist i’d hear at a baseball stadium.
I think the OP was going on about electronic dance and pop music. For sure, prog can get too theoretical, too out there sometimes. Or worse, like guitar shredders, it can turn into a "how fast can I play these scales?" contest. Like, the most intense warm-up exercises ever, and that's the show. At least Malmsteen played classical riffs
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Methlab View Post
Can you post examples of your work so we can see what the bar is?
My lack of talent is irrelevant to the debate.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 View Post
Your post has nothing to do with "music theory".

Music theory is simply the study of the history of "common practice" - that means how composers have assembled chords, scales, keys, modulations etc. over a period of time. We study what composers have done, and how they moved from one area to another, what techniques have stayed with us, what has fallen by the wayside.

Music theory is NOT a rule book, it's a history of musical problem solving.
I never said it was a rule book... it's just IMHO there is a correlation between people who study theory and all sorts of negative things - boring music, derivative music, bland over-production, overly-complicated music.

Not saying that theory knowledge causes bad music - it might be, and it might simply be that people who have appalling taste are the ones who study theory.
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