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Help Understanding Uniquely Written Music.

What the name implies, i require help or some kind of tips or explanations on music that isnt 4 chords goodness. haha.

Classical music, and stuff like Genesis. Songs that just have an odd chord progression, i cant seem to catch on to these kinds of songs like i can with a simpler one. It bugs me, due to the fact i am a musician, and i want to have all skills at my disposal.

So when i come across an uncommonly written song with strange and different ways of thinking about music, it boggles, bothers, and irritates my musical mind. trying to comprehend it is really brainy and heady.

its like a stickfigure drawing as apposed to fine complex art.

Any help? links? ideas?

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Can I hear exactly what you are confused about. 

Also I would like to know what the extent of your knowledge of music theory and aural training you have. This is so I can better help you by knowing where you are starting from. 

I think I have something for you that can help. 

I sadly do not have much of any musical education =(  just some simple brief piano lessons for a year or two.

It sounds like you just need to cover the basics first; develop and learn the vocabulary of what you are hearing. This is a great place to get started:

http://www.musictheory.net/lessons

While learning you should also know that these are just an analytical tool. You will find that most music does not conform strictly. Use these tools to find those pieces that do that. After you learn the basics I can guide you through piece by piece any other music that. 

Learn the names of the chords and how they are commonly used that way you can learn how composers varied from that. 

My opinion is that it doesn't matter how well you play an instrument, or how much training you have had in music or music appreciation.

Hector Berlioz, one of the greatest composers of the 19th century could not play any instrument (although it is rumored that he played the guitar in an amateur fashion in private).

Iannis Xenakis was trained in mathematics and architecture, rather than music, and was not known as a performer at all -- yet he is one of the musical "enfants terrible" of the middle of the last century.

Your question was about how to listen to music, and how to think about certain pieces.

My advice would be to ask someone you respect what would be a good challenging piece of music to listen to.

And then, listen to it over and over and over. Listen to it not simply with your brain, or your intellect. But listen to it many, many times, with nothing else to distract you, until you somehow feel the music. Listen to it until it no longer "bugs you," but thrills you, and it uplifts you, without you necessarily understanding why it does so. (You may never actually understand that fully, and there is no need to do so).

When I first heard Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, I could not make any sense of it it all. I didn't "understand it," or "feel it." But I trusted those who told me it was a great work, a work that merits attention. That work premiered in 1913, almost exactly 100 years ago. I can assure you, without doubt, that it is one of the greatest musical works composed by the mind of a human being. But it is not easy to understand that or grasp it, without repeated listening.

The music of Berlioz, even a great work, like the Symphonie Fantastique, has a certain quirkiness to it, and oddness in its cadences, that makes it unique. It may cause "discomfort," at certain points.

If a certain piece of music "bothers you," or has "an odd chord progression," chances are good that the piece has something to teach you; I mean, if it is a piece of music that makes you think "there is something there, I think, but I can't quite get it." And you may never "get it," in the sense of being able to unbind its mystery, which is not usually reducible simply to an analysis of the chord structures and harmonies. There is always something more, in a truly good piece of music, even a "simple one."

Consider the second movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata 15 in D major, which is after all, relatively simple, for Beethoven, at least. What makes it great? The melody? The chord structure? The modulations? Hard to say exactly.

What I am trying to get across is mainly this: Don't worry too much about what your brain understands about music. Gain as much knowledge as you can, but understand that your total personality -- your emotions, your intellect, your senses and your soul -- can grasp that whole which is music, while your brain will not be able to reduce it to a series of rules.

Follow with dedication your desire to compose or to listen to pieces of a certain type, and (as if you were visiting foreign lands) go towards the vistas which inspire you, or excite you, and which lead you on.

I disagree just following your dedication to composing and listening willy-nilly is all that is necessary. The dedication and curiosity is paramount indicators that you enjoy composing and exploring music. So I am not dismissing its importance but its importance is more in judging your determination.

 

So, first step train your ears. My favorite site is teoria.com. Also good is to take simple tunes and nursery tunes and determine the pitches of the melodies.  Learn an instrument such as piano and another such as violin or wind that you have to be concerned about intonation. The big myth is you have to be a virtuoso.  No, but it helps to be able to play a selection from a hymnal. Another option which is quite valuable is sing - in a choir. That will get your ears in shape, teach you notation and how to tune a pitch.  If there is any instrument to study as a must is sining - but again no need to be great at it, you are going to use it to support you becoming an excellent composer!

 

Knowing theory is important - for example Renaissance theory is completely different from baroque/Classical which is quite different in most cases from late Romantic/early 20th century. Then everything changes again with 20th century music after World War I.  This implies knowing some history .  So, get down theory and here is a listening list I can suggest:

Medieval?Renaissance:

Hildegard De Bingen - long florid melodies that are quite cohesive and gorgeous. Twelfth century woman composer.

Machaut - Great poet and composer of 13th/14th

Ockeghem/De Prez/Lassus - For Ockeghem try his Requiem, for Des Prez otherwise known as Josquin - try any of his Masses, for Lassus - Lagrime St Peter (The Tears of St Peter) . These are representative of 15th and 16th century Western Art music.

Monteverdi - Try the 7th or 8th Book of Madrigals or for early opera Orfeo. 

Schutz - Symphpnia Sacrae -- Monteverdi and Schutz gets you into 16th and 17th century and into the Baroque.

 

The baroque is huge in its offerings but try Corelli, Albinoni, Purcell, Vivaldi, Handel, and Bach.  And please do not neglect Bach's organ works - a must is his Great Prelude and Fugue in G minor (please avoid the D minor, that one is regarded as spurious)

 

Classical - probably territory you know, but do you? Try Mozart's fantastic Wind Serenade in C minor, Beethoven's Waldstein and Appassionata Sonatas, Hadyn's and Beethoven's late string quartets. Oh and Hadyn's The Creation.

 

Romantic - Chopin Preludes Op 28 - all of them.  Brahms Symphonies 2 - 4, Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn Violin Concertos, Grieg, Mussorgsky ... yes this is a bit scant but another huge area where I offer a few lesser known works.

Late Romantic/early 20th - Schoenberg's intro to Gurrelieder, Richard Strauss' Metamorphosis for strings, Rachmaninoff' Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra (a MUST!), Scraibin, Berg Violin Concerto, Stravinsky Firebird, petrouchka, Rite of Spring, Les Noces, Sibelius 2nd symphony, Mahler 1st Symphony or 9th. Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire and 4th String Quartet, Ruth Crawford Seeger's String Quartet,  Poulenc's choral works.

 

20th century onward gets tougher  as there is much available - but here are a few Penerecki's Threnody, Babbit's All Set,  Stravinsky's Agon, Britten's orchestral songs, Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, Stockhausen's Kontack, Ligeti's Requiem,  opening of Glass' opera Einstein on the Beach, Ussachevsky for early electronic music and smpling of ordinary sounds.

Phew, that's enough for at six months along with starting with the teoria site. Start slow with interval and note training exercises. Them proceed to melodies and chords. You can choose what you want.

 

Those are fascinating ways of thinking of it, thank you very much for your input.

makes me feel less weird knowing how others think of music, i really dont get alot of community conversation in the realm of music like this.

Ondib Olmnilnlolm said:

My opinion is that it doesn't matter how well you play an instrument, or how much training you have had in music or music appreciation.

Hector Berlioz, one of the greatest composers of the 19th century could not play any instrument (although it is rumored that he played the guitar in an amateur fashion in private).

Iannis Xenakis was trained in mathematics and architecture, rather than music, and was not known as a performer at all -- yet he is one of the musical "enfants terrible" of the middle of the last century.

Your question was about how to listen to music, and how to think about certain pieces.

My advice would be to ask someone you respect what would be a good challenging piece of music to listen to.

And then, listen to it over and over and over. Listen to it not simply with your brain, or your intellect. But listen to it many, many times, with nothing else to distract you, until you somehow feel the music. Listen to it until it no longer "bugs you," but thrills you, and it uplifts you, without you necessarily understanding why it does so. (You may never actually understand that fully, and there is no need to do so).

When I first heard Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, I could not make any sense of it it all. I didn't "understand it," or "feel it." But I trusted those who told me it was a great work, a work that merits attention. That work premiered in 1913, almost exactly 100 years ago. I can assure you, without doubt, that it is one of the greatest musical works composed by the mind of a human being. But it is not easy to understand that or grasp it, without repeated listening.

The music of Berlioz, even a great work, like the Symphonie Fantastique, has a certain quirkiness to it, and oddness in its cadences, that makes it unique. It may cause "discomfort," at certain points.

If a certain piece of music "bothers you," or has "an odd chord progression," chances are good that the piece has something to teach you; I mean, if it is a piece of music that makes you think "there is something there, I think, but I can't quite get it." And you may never "get it," in the sense of being able to unbind its mystery, which is not usually reducible simply to an analysis of the chord structures and harmonies. There is always something more, in a truly good piece of music, even a "simple one."

Consider the second movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata 15 in D major, which is after all, relatively simple, for Beethoven, at least. What makes it great? The melody? The chord structure? The modulations? Hard to say exactly.

What I am trying to get across is mainly this: Don't worry too much about what your brain understands about music. Gain as much knowledge as you can, but understand that your total personality -- your emotions, your intellect, your senses and your soul -- can grasp that whole which is music, while your brain will not be able to reduce it to a series of rules.

Follow with dedication your desire to compose or to listen to pieces of a certain type, and (as if you were visiting foreign lands) go towards the vistas which inspire you, or excite you, and which lead you on.

Dude.... that scared the effing poop out of me. UUrrahuh...  weird...

Christopher Shaver said:

Don't get caught up in the philisophical Harvard garbage bull Shat...

Make it simple....

If you feel it...fine,

If not..move on.

If you want to feel complex music it, but you can't...continue until your heart sez enough...then move on.

 

 

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