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This one should be posted under the "why don't we just all...get along?" category.

 

I had a running debate with a good friend, phenomenal guitar player, who was very anti-music theory.  He would point to great guitar players like Wes Montgomery and Jimi Hendrix and say that they knew nothing about music theory and kicked the crap out of everybody else.  My counter argument was: yes, they did know music theory, in fact they knew it better than most music theorists, they just didn't know the terms.  Music theory, when done right, simply gives labels to concepts that musicians intuitively know.  Sometimes people can get caught up in these terms and think they are what matters, so theory can be dammaging, but it can be helpful in that it can make it easier for musicians to talk to each other about what they do.  So composers who write by ear and those who know music theory, at least the good composers, often use the same criteria: their musical sense.  There is sometimes snobbery on both sides of the aisle: the ear composers who assume the theory people must write cold, calculating music with no heart, unshaped by feeling, and the music theory people who say "pshaw!  I bet that guy couldn't write in 7/8 or modulate to a chromatic mediant!  What a barbarian!"  Most people do not feel that way though, but it is something to watch out for in our own thoughts.

 

Try to be tolerant y'all.

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I guess the issue here is how you define music theory. One way to define it is the study of how music "works" (or doesn't work). If you think about it that way, Hendrix and Montgomery knew how their music worked: they knew what to do, what not to do, they studied how music worked by playing it. Music terminology and reading music are subsets of theory, but not necessary subsets, if you follow my general definition. Maybe not even subsets, maybe simply valuable tools for studying how music works, but there are other tools like playing music, listening to it, and so on. This reminds me of how people sometimes call Roman Numeral "Analysis", well, "analysis" when it is in fact merely labeling. Analysis would be looking at the labels and discovering a deeper, underlying pattern. The roman numerals are a valuable analytical tool, like reading music is a valuable tool for understanding it, but it is the understanding that should be the final goal. Hmmm,I think I just said the same thing in five different ways...

I also think that composers can (not have to, or "do") use theoretical constructs when composing. The idea for a composition can come from anywhere, and I would define theory knowledge as "somewhere", a subset of "anywhere". Likewise, there are an infinite number of processes one can use when composing: one is to think about music theory.



Michael Tauben said:
I don't really understand this debate.
Jimi Hendrix and Wes didn't really need to know how to read and write music ( music theory).
There is music which is essentially from an aural tradition such as folk, blues, rock, pop and jazz. And there is music from an essentially written tradition.
I've never seen music theory as a tool to be used in composition but 1) a way of telling a group of players what you want them to play and 2) a way to decipher what composers over the last 600 years have been getting their groups of players to play.

If you going to write a piece for twenty musicians which lasts 15 minutes you will need to know how to score it .
If you are going to call yourself a 'composer' as opposed to a songwriter, drum and bass producer, jazz improvisor etc. Then you really ought to know the forms and techniques of your predecessors IMO.
"If you going to write a piece for twenty musicians which lasts 15 minutes you will need to know how to score it .
If you are going to call yourself a 'composer' as opposed to a songwriter, drum and bass producer, jazz improvisor etc. Then you really ought to know the forms and techniques of your predecessors IMO."


Can't argue with that!

Michael Tauben said:
I don't really understand this debate.
Jimi Hendrix and Wes didn't really need to know how to read and write music ( music theory).
There is music which is essentially from an aural tradition such as folk, blues, rock, pop and jazz. And there is music from an essentially written tradition.
I've never seen music theory as a tool to be used in composition but 1) a way of telling a group of players what you want them to play and 2) a way to decipher what composers over the last 600 years have been getting their groups of players to play.

If you going to write a piece for twenty musicians which lasts 15 minutes you will need to know how to score it .
If you are going to call yourself a 'composer' as opposed to a songwriter, drum and bass producer, jazz improvisor etc. Then you really ought to know the forms and techniques of your predecessors IMO.
Simon Godden said:
"If you going to write a piece for twenty musicians which lasts 15 minutes you will need to know how to score it .
If you are going to call yourself a 'composer' as opposed to a songwriter, drum and bass producer, jazz improvisor etc. Then you really ought to know the forms and techniques of your predecessors IMO."


Can't argue with that!


Something that's lamentable with some "legit"/"classical" composers is that they seem to think that their immediate predecessors were last working about 120-130 years ago.
True, but my immediate predecessor is still working (at the age of 90). He's my former (although we still keep in touch) personal composition tutor, Arthur Butterworth.

Streaker Ofinsky said:
Simon Godden said:
"If you going to write a piece for twenty musicians which lasts 15 minutes you will need to know how to score it .
If you are going to call yourself a 'composer' as opposed to a songwriter, drum and bass producer, jazz improvisor etc. Then you really ought to know the forms and techniques of your predecessors IMO."


Can't argue with that!


Something that's lamentable with some "legit"/"classical" composers is that they seem to think that their immediate predecessors were last working about 120-130 years ago.
QUOTE:" I bet that guy couldn't write in 7/8 or modulate to a chromatic mediant! What a barbarian!" Most people do not feel that way though, but it is something to watch out for in our own thoughts."

I know what 7/8 is, but... chromatic mediant? Christ, I had to look that one up, LMAO...

2 chords that share only ONE pitch betwixt them... and I'm still not clear if the roots are a minor third/major third apart, or just one of the tones, LMAO... Knowing what 7/8 is, I guess i'm half a barbarian! (which is cool... to me anyways)

I'm caught between 2 worlds... my LAST music site, is dominated by "hummin strummin" songwriter types... you just write lyrics and put chord names over the lyrics... notes? who cares? There, I'm thought of as a theory geek...

THIS site? I'm the uneducated barbarian, LMAO... I can sense by listening to a lot of the musical output on here, that what i am making is basically the classical equivalent of the 3-power-chord punk song...

*shrugs* I dont care... no way to get better at anythin unless your surrounded by your superiors. By ear, by theory, I dont care if its by osmosis... I would have some of this for my self.
"*In a major key, the Leading note chord is a "diminished" chord (meaning that the 3rd and 5th notes of the triad are an augmented 4th/diminished 5th apart, as opposed to being a perfect 5th apart as in the primary and secondary chords), and in a minor key the Supertonic chord is a "diminished" chord."

I've always thought it like this... Leading note is the 3rd of the dominant chord. It's the note that wants to resolve to the tonic.
It might be simpler this way.
Actually, a chromatic mediant is a chord a third away in the scale that changes mode from the original scale. For example, in A major, the notes a third away in either direction are C# and F#. C# and F# would be minor chords normally, but to make them chromatic mediants simply make them into major chords. Then for a doubly chromatic mediant you borrow the thirds from the parallel scale and change their mode. So, say you are in A major again. The thirds in either direction for an A minor scale are C and F. Those chords would normally be major, so you make them minor to get a doubly chromatic mediant relationship. Look at the attached PDF to see normal voice leadings between them. The idea with these is that you can end up somewhere far away from home with very simple voice leading. Anyways back on topic!
Attachments:
The leading note IS the 3rd of the dominant, and it DOES want to resolve to the tonic. But that doesn't detract from what I explained before.

Henri Vartio said:
"*In a major key, the Leading note chord is a "diminished" chord (meaning that the 3rd and 5th notes of the triad are an augmented 4th/diminished 5th apart, as opposed to being a perfect 5th apart as in the primary and secondary chords), and in a minor key the Supertonic chord is a "diminished" chord."

I've always thought it like this... Leading note is the 3rd of the dominant chord. It's the note that wants to resolve to the tonic.
It might be simpler this way.
I knew I forgot something! Another way to get a chromatic mediant is to just borrow the noraml chord three scale degrees away in the parallel mode. So, you are in A major and modulate to F major or C major, that would be a chromatic mediant relationship as well. Maybe a chart would be helpful:

In key of A:

chromatic mediants: F, F#, C, C# (all major chords)
Doubly chromatic: F minor, C minor

In key of A minor
Chromatic Mediants: C minor, F minor, F# minor, C# minor
Doubly Chromatic: C# major F# major






Tombo Rombo said:
Actually, a chromatic mediant is a chord a third away in the scale that changes mode from the original scale. For example, in A major, the notes a third away in either direction are C# and F#. C# and F# would be minor chords normally, but to make them chromatic mediants simply make them into major chords. Then for a doubly chromatic mediant you borrow the thirds from the parallel scale and change their mode. So, say you are in A major again. The thirds in either direction for an A minor scale are C and F. Those chords would normally be major, so you make them minor to get a doubly chromatic mediant relationship. Look at the attached PDF to see normal voice leadings between them. The idea with these is that you can end up somewhere far away from home with very simple voice leading. Anyways back on topic!
Tom, are you absolutely sure about this? This totally contradicts that very detailed account of what I've just explained, and it also sounds highly and suspiciously erroneous, especially the changing of modal character of the sub-mediant chord. How that can be a "chromatic mediant" completely baffles me.

Or are you saying that a "chromatic mediant" and a "chromatically-altered mediant" are not one and the same?

Tombo Rombo said:
Actually, a chromatic mediant is a chord a third away in the scale that changes mode from the original scale. For example, in A major, the notes a third away in either direction are C# and F#. C# and F# would be minor chords normally, but to make them chromatic mediants simply make them into major chords. Then for a doubly chromatic mediant you borrow the thirds from the parallel scale and change their mode. So, say you are in A major again. The thirds in either direction for an A minor scale are C and F. Those chords would normally be major, so you make them minor to get a doubly chromatic mediant relationship. Look at the attached PDF to see normal voice leadings between them. The idea with these is that you can end up somewhere far away from home with very simple voice leading. Anyways back on topic!
Here's a link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_mediant




Simon Godden said:
Tom, are you absolutely sure about this? This totally contradicts that very detailed account of what I've just explained, and it also sounds highly and suspiciously erroneous, especially the changing of modal character of the sub-mediant chord. How that can be a "chromatic mediant" completely baffles me.

Or are you saying that a "chromatic mediant" and a "chromatically-altered mediant" are not one and the same?

Tombo Rombo said:
Actually, a chromatic mediant is a chord a third away in the scale that changes mode from the original scale. For example, in A major, the notes a third away in either direction are C# and F#. C# and F# would be minor chords normally, but to make them chromatic mediants simply make them into major chords. Then for a doubly chromatic mediant you borrow the thirds from the parallel scale and change their mode. So, say you are in A major again. The thirds in either direction for an A minor scale are C and F. Those chords would normally be major, so you make them minor to get a doubly chromatic mediant relationship. Look at the attached PDF to see normal voice leadings between them. The idea with these is that you can end up somewhere far away from home with very simple voice leading. Anyways back on topic!
Tombo, in this case, I've gotta say that wikipedia is wrong. Chromatic mediants are only relevant on chord VI when being used in relation to the relative major/minor as opposed to what wikipedia says, the tonic major/minor.

However, from now on, we should really talk about this privately in order to avoid confusing other readers with ambiguous information. Besides which, Chris Alpiar (one of the moderators) has already pulled me up on the definitions of diatonicism and tonality, and I really don't want to made to look a prick again, as I believe I'm right about this. So can you answer me through the private message system next time, because I think that whatever is on wikipedia is an American definition as opposed to a European definition which can confuse the hell out of people at times.

Maybe we should discuss withdrawing our definitions as well, in case some poor young student is picking this up.

Tombo Rombo said:
Here's a link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_mediant




Simon Godden said:
Tom, are you absolutely sure about this? This totally contradicts that very detailed account of what I've just explained, and it also sounds highly and suspiciously erroneous, especially the changing of modal character of the sub-mediant chord. How that can be a "chromatic mediant" completely baffles me.

Or are you saying that a "chromatic mediant" and a "chromatically-altered mediant" are not one and the same?

Tombo Rombo said:
Actually, a chromatic mediant is a chord a third away in the scale that changes mode from the original scale. For example, in A major, the notes a third away in either direction are C# and F#. C# and F# would be minor chords normally, but to make them chromatic mediants simply make them into major chords. Then for a doubly chromatic mediant you borrow the thirds from the parallel scale and change their mode. So, say you are in A major again. The thirds in either direction for an A minor scale are C and F. Those chords would normally be major, so you make them minor to get a doubly chromatic mediant relationship. Look at the attached PDF to see normal voice leadings between them. The idea with these is that you can end up somewhere far away from home with very simple voice leading. Anyways back on topic!

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