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Borrowed, Sus and secondary dom chord function
Old 25th July 2019
  #61
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Originally Posted by RyanC View Post
I think someone can be musically intellectual (musical?) without knowing any theory at all...and can then have a musically intellectual conversation entirely within the language of music. Not needing english or any other language to describe it. You can learn new musical vocabulary entirely without words to describe it.
Totally true, No argument there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanC View Post

Music theory, to me, would be a sort of meta-intellectualism.

I went to college for music and in my world there are a lot of people who agree, years later, that they had to sortof 'recover' from an overly academic/meta/not-in-their-musical-mind approach. That said, all the best teachers I've ever had always emphasised the importance of developing the understand by ear...

Again I'm not saying it's inherently bad, but I think it's completely fair to say that it's often a distraction for people, and compared to putting in the hard work on aural skills, it can be an easy way out. IE if you write harmonies based on 4 part choral theory, vs by ear. If you get good at doing it by ear (which is A LOT more work), you and your music will be better for it.

That's how I see it at least...OTOH as a working engineer these days it doesn't hurt to be able to set autotune to the right key.
You're SUPPOSED to write by ear. You're not supposed to use rules to write choral style. You're supposed to HEAR it. Bach supposedly improvised everything he wrote. And he knew theory.

I know people who've been distracted by various things when they were young and impressionable. I used to like some twitchy crap at one point. I figured if someone could wiggle their fingers all fast or flashy, they were great, and to an extent I believed that if you couldn't wiggle your fingers, you were a lesser musician. That lasted a few years, high school into college. A lot of music school nerds go through a phase like this. It's a taste mistake. You get distracted by the shiny things.
Old 25th July 2019
  #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poopypants View Post
Wow. There's a lot here that goes way counter to my experiences. How many jazz schools exist at this point? Has non classical formal music education been rare for even the past fifty years? You can major in Bluegrass or Gospel. Or Recording Engineering... I've studied music with people who had gigs with the New York Philharmonic. This is back in the 70's. And none of them ever gave any hint of seeing Classical Music or theory as "correct" compared to anything else. A cynical misinformation campaign? I have no idea how you could get there.

I find it interesting that the OP hasn't been back to this thread. I hope he, and others like him, continue to educate themselves, even just for sheer curiosity, and aren't discouraged by claims of music theory teacher conspiracies or the talent sucking effects of education.
It’s how the music learning industry works long before you get to college. If a parent takes their kid to the renowned music school in their area, their kids will get funneled into years of classical training and told that popular music is worthless. When in fact, economically and jobs wise, it’s the exact opposite. The once highly practical classical music training model now sits somewhere next to horse and buggy repair.

To the “prescriptive” points earlier, at the college level, theory courses require prescriptive writing exercises throughout the learning process and as a test of students’ abilities to write within rules. Its no shocker that creative minded folks have to take time, sometimes significant, to rewire themselves after too much exposure to this. The “theory recovery time” is indeed a common phenomenon among creative music students. My advice for learning theory would be more Beatles: develop your intuition by doing what you love, and pick up theory here and there as it interests you and fuels your ongoing creative drive.
Old 25th July 2019
  #63
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Well, at least I don't disagree with your last sentence. I'm not suggesting that anyone needs to go to the No Fun Music Academy to learn archaic, complicated music forms. But I DO think those forms are useful. "In My Life" wouldn't exist if the Beatles hadn't been hanging around with someone who DID go to the No Fun Music Academy.
Old 25th July 2019
  #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
It’s how the music learning industry works long before you get to college. If a parent takes their kid to the renowned music school in their area, their kids will get funneled into years of classical training and told that popular music is worthless. When in fact, economically and jobs wise, it’s the exact opposite. The once highly practical classical music training model now sits somewhere next to horse and buggy repair.

To the “prescriptive” points earlier, at the college level, theory courses require prescriptive writing exercises throughout the learning process and as a test of students’ abilities to write within rules. Its no shocker that creative minded folks have to take time, sometimes significant, to rewire themselves after too much exposure to this. The “theory recovery time” is indeed a common phenomenon among creative music students. My advice for learning theory would be more Beatles: develop your intuition by doing what you love, and pick up theory here and there as it interests you and fuels your ongoing creative drive.
I learned more about subjects other than music while I was an undergrad music major at CAL. Liberal arts is a good thing.

As well, I can safely say all the most consequential things I learned about music, both theory and playing of it, was learned mostly out side of school, from my own sweat and toil and my own inquisitiveness, with peers or at gigs, out side of school or teachers.
Old 25th July 2019
  #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
My advice for learning theory would be more Beatles: develop your intuition by doing what you love, and pick up theory here and there as it interests you and fuels your ongoing creative drive.
That's not wrong. But what you'll do is, as you say, pick up theory here and there. If you want to be more proactive about it, you can work your way through a good Fake Book with a lot of standards in it. Hum the tunes and plod through the chords and you'll start to notice patterns and tendencies and "best practices."

One thing that's so wrong with the academic approach to theory and composition is that they tend to treat it as a "how-to." But I think theory is best explained through reverse-engineering -- using it to show how an existing piece of music works. As well as using it to show when something's especially creative and artful. As in, "... at this point you expect it to resolve predictably, but instead it veers off in this more interesting direction."
Old 25th July 2019
  #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
I learned more about subjects other than music while I was an undergrad music major at CAL. Liberal arts is a good thing.

As well, I can safely say all the most consequential things I learned about music, both theory and playing of it, was learned mostly out side of school, from my own sweat and toil and my own inquisitiveness, with peers or at gigs, out side of school or teachers.
Yeah agreed. I tried two different music majors at two different schools but ultimately found considerably more value in the music scenes surrounding the schools, and majored in other things.
Old 25th July 2019
  #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
I learned more about subjects other than music while I was an undergrad music major at CAL. Liberal arts is a good thing.

As well, I can safely say all the most consequential things I learned about music, both theory and playing of it, was learned mostly out side of school, from my own sweat and toil and my own inquisitiveness, with peers or at gigs, out side of school or teachers.
Yes! Someone gets it! This is very close to my experience. I wouldn't say that all my consequential experience was outside school, but yes, that's where it all gets put together and that's where you prioritize the things you've learned, wherever you learned those things.
Old 25th July 2019
  #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
Yeah agreed. I tried two different music majors at two different schools but ultimately found considerably more value in the music scenes surrounding the schools, and majored in other things.
Honestly, if I could do it all again, this is how I'd do it, but only because school is EXPENSIVE and the degree is useless, even as toilet paper. I'd still want to learn all the things I learned, including theory and all the liberal arts stuff. Best part about music school is the community of likeminded people. The information can be gotten without the formal education. If my kid wanted to be a musician, I'd tell him to take liberal arts at community college and study music privately... and GIG, GIG, GIG!
Old 2nd August 2019
  #69
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Theory is an analysis tool. It's a tool for describing.

It certainly shouldn't be a tool for proscribing anything, and it's not really a tool for prescribing anything.

It can help you think of possibilities, though. For example, say that you like the sound of I - bVIMa7 . . . but you can't find anything you like as a next chord. Well, knowing theory, you can think "Hmm . . . what if I treat the bVIMa7 as a secondary dominant of sorts--if I do that, the next chord could be bII (relative to the original key)" or if you don't like the sound of that, you could say, "What if I treat it as a secondary subdominant? Then I could go something like bVII7 - bIII (relative to the original key)"

In other words, you can use your theoretical knowledge to suggest good candidates for continuation/development that would have been a lot more difficult to stumble upon otherwise. The above is just a very rudimentary example of how you can do this.

But in the end, your ear, your tastes should be the arbiter. It's important to remember that you can't do anything "wrong" musically. What you write doesn't have to follow any previous norms. The challenge is simply coming up with ideas, with material that appeals to you, without falling into ruts, continually repeating yourself, using only a very limited bag of tricks. Theory can help with this.
Old 2nd August 2019
  #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnalia Barcus View Post
Theory is an analysis tool. It's a tool for describing.

[...]

The challenge is simply coming up with ideas, with material that appeals to you, without falling into ruts, continually repeating yourself, using only a very limited bag of tricks. Theory can help with this.
I don't get it - if it's just an analysis tool, then how can you say that when you say: "coming up with ideas, with material that appeals to you, without falling into ruts, continually repeating yourself, using only a very limited bag of tricks. Theory can help with this."?

Isn't the notion of "coming up with ideas, with material that appeals to you, without falling into ruts, continually repeating yourself, using only a very limited bag of tricks." beyond the scope of analysis?
Old 2nd August 2019
  #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
I don't get it - if it's just an analysis tool, then how can you say that when you say: "coming up with ideas, with material that appeals to you, without falling into ruts, continually repeating yourself, using only a very limited bag of tricks. Theory can help with this."?

Isn't the notion of "coming up with ideas, with material that appeals to you, without falling into ruts, continually repeating yourself, using only a very limited bag of tricks." beyond the scope of analysis?
Let's say you're listening to Wagner. And you're really digging the way nothing ever really resolves. The way it's just floating out there. You lose track of where the key center is. And you analyze what's going on. And you want to take it a step further. So you then use your theoretical knowledge to devise a new system of harmonic organization where no three consecutive notes imply any specific key... and you call it "Serial Music" or "Twelve Tone." Arnold Schoenberg used theory to write.

Or let's say you decide to imply changes that aren't there. To melodically add chords through your lines. You're already using theory to do that, but then you take it a step further and start writing music that crosses through the furthest harmonic climates it can possibly cross through. You invent a three tonic system or a four tonic system. And fifty years later, being able to play "Giant Steps" at tempo is a rite of passage for Berklee students. John Coltrane used theory to write.

Both Schoenberg and Coltrane were also using their ears. They were hearing possibilities. They used theory to find those possibilities.
Old 2nd August 2019
  #72
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You're underscoring the point I was trying to make that theory is more than just an analysis tool.
Old 2nd August 2019
  #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
You're underscoring the point I was trying to make that theory is more than just an analysis tool.
HA! I misunderstood! (again) I thought you were saying the opposite!
Old 2nd August 2019
  #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poopypants View Post
John Coltrane used theory to write.
This is a drawing of a tone wheel by Trane, around the time of his Atlantic (Giant Steps) period.
Old 2nd August 2019
  #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
You're underscoring the point I was trying to make that theory is more than just an analysis tool.
I agree that prescriptive theory exists everywhere and influences everything.

Every genre has its prescriptions that must be followed, its own genre theory, or else you fall outside the genre and are something else. You're not house music without certain rules being followed, you're not rock music without certain rules being followed, you're not hip hop without certain rules being followed.
Old 2nd August 2019
  #76
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Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
I agree that prescriptive theory exists everywhere and influences everything.

Every genre has its prescriptions that must be followed, its own genre theory, or else you fall outside the genre and are something else. You're not house music without certain rules being followed, you're not rock music without certain rules being followed, you're not hip hop without certain rules being followed.
Yes, all that... but sometimes brand new music is created with the help of theory.
Old 2nd August 2019
  #77
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
I don't get it - if it's just an analysis tool, then how can you say that when you say: "coming up with ideas, with material that appeals to you, without falling into ruts, continually repeating yourself, using only a very limited bag of tricks. Theory can help with this."?

Isn't the notion of "coming up with ideas, with material that appeals to you, without falling into ruts, continually repeating yourself, using only a very limited bag of tricks." beyond the scope of analysis?
The post you're responding to already answers this:

"It can help you think of possibilities, though . . ."
Old 2nd August 2019
  #78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
I agree that prescriptive theory exists everywhere and influences everything.

Every genre has its prescriptions that must be followed, its own genre theory, or else you fall outside the genre and are something else. You're not house music without certain rules being followed, you're not rock music without certain rules being followed, you're not hip hop without certain rules being followed.
And then what happens if you're not doing house music, say, per the previous norms of house music?
Old 2nd August 2019
  #79
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Originally Posted by ty45 View Post
So I'm starting to really dive into the chord functions when making my progressions. I understnad the whole tonic-sub-dominant structure but what happens when you start to apply borrowed chords, secondary dominants and sus chords? What type of funciton do these have? Are there general 'rules' or ideas applied to this?

And for a specific example, I'm looking at Hotel California. i-V7-VIIsus2-IV9/3 are the first 4 chords. The V7 is a secondary dominant. I don't see how it can "lawfully" go into the VIIsus2. From my own logic the only way it makes sense is this:

The V7 of Bm (the songs key) is the iii of the relative major (effectively making it a 'tonic' chord). We turn it into a dominant chord, no problem. Now the VII is a 'dominant' chord itself in the major key (The V of the relative major). But this dominant chord is a sus2 chord which I suppose relinquishes its 'dominant' function? So that the #3 (Bb note) in the V7 pulls towards that B note in the sus chord? So then what does this mean in regards to how dominants pull towards certain chords? Is it just one note it needs to resolve properly?

And the rest. I'm afraid I don't have the energy to think this through fully. Hopefully someone can help my ramblings and make sense of them. Thank you.
A sus 2nd adds incredible tension to a consonant melody....check out "Touch me" by Samantha Fox....the very last note she sings in the song, big sus 2nd makes it....OOOH!

Sus 4th can be anticipatory, but I wouldn't consider that their main function. I consider sus 4ths to be a way to "Fuge" a repeated chord so that the next chord played has the subconscious impact of sounding "More" right.

Think of a Ramones style, downstroke major triad......all good there, but say you don't want it to be that "direct" of a statement...Throwing in some sus 4's create a "I'm giving it to you....now I'm taking it away....now I'm giving it to you again, aren't you glad?" impression to the listener.

Don't think of chord relationships as math (Although it is good to learn the "Math" end first,)....think of them STORYTELLING devices...their appropriate usage becomes much clearer when viewed through that lens.

BTW Keith Richards is a MASTER when it comes to the use of Sus chords, he makes incredibly simple 1-V progressions SING with them, I'd check out some Rolling Stones records.
Old 3rd August 2019
  #80
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnalia Barcus View Post
And then what happens if you're not doing house music, say, per the previous norms of house music?
House music fans won’t listen or care and you’re off on your own to build fans from scratch.
Old 3rd August 2019
  #81
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Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
House music fans won’t listen or care and you’re off on your own to build fans from scratch.
A lot of the most successful music, in general, has been stuff that doesn't follow genre orthodoxy, especially not in the manner of aping some template. --and that's how we get to stuff like house music in the first place.
Old 3rd August 2019
  #82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnalia Barcus View Post
A lot of the most successful music, in general, has been stuff that doesn't follow genre orthodoxy, especially not in the manner of aping some template. --and that's how we get to stuff like house music in the first place.
Yep. That’s the risk/reward cost/benefit decision to make.

If you want to write a piece that will appeal to fans of Beethoven, and do a bunch of things that Beethoven wouldn’t do, then you won’t hit your goal of appealing to Beethoven fans. (This is what traditional music theory teaches.) But of course there’s always the shot at finding success elsewhere.

That’s where “know the rules to effectively break them” comes into play. Those that know house music (or rock, jazz, whatever defined and existing genre of music) inside out know how to experiment in ways that will maintain appeal, and thus their work will shift the cultural zeitgeist instead of landing completely outside of it (into irrelevance). Those “breaking rules” because they don’t even know what the rules are, or aren’t even capable of following rules because their skill/craft level is undeveloped (most people use breaking rules to rationalize a lower ability level ime), tend to just end up irrelevant.

The Beatles expanding to include sitar was done in a way that fit within the rock genre and shifted the cultural zeitgeist, and thus rock fans found appeal in the sound of a sitar. Where, say, a four-piece sitar act with singer wouldn’t be considered rock or gain the interest of rock fans. There’s that zeitgeist pocket to hit.
Old 8th August 2019
  #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
If you want to write a piece that will appeal to fans of Beethoven, and do a bunch of things that Beethoven wouldn’t do, then you won’t hit your goal of appealing to Beethoven fans. (This is what traditional music theory teaches.)

First, that actually doesn't have anything to do with music theory.
Old 9th August 2019
  #84
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnalia Barcus View Post
First, that actually doesn't have anything to do with music theory.
What are you talking about? Music theory is the “study of the practices and possibilities of music.” “Music theory is frequently concerned with describing how musicians and composers make music.”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_theory

As part of music theory, you study the practices of various composers like Beethoven. As part of this study you prescriptively write in the style of Beethoven etc.
Old 14th August 2019
  #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
What are you talking about? Music theory is the “study of the practices and possibilities of music.” “Music theory is frequently concerned with describing how musicians and composers make music.”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_theory

As part of music theory, you study the practices of various composers like Beethoven. As part of this study you prescriptively write in the style of Beethoven etc.
Music theory isn't anything about "hitting the goal of appealing to x fans."
Old 15th August 2019
  #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnalia Barcus View Post
Music theory isn't anything about "hitting the goal of appealing to x fans."
Its a metric that would accurately evaluate how successfully a composer captures the spirit of Beethoven.

I'm being analogous in general with this bit, not literal, as that's not something that's put to the test. How successfully you capture the spirit of house music, or thrash metal, or funk is put to the test though. Veer too far and you leave that spirit and enter into another.
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