Music Theory . . . Necessary?

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Rognvald
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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by Rognvald » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:36 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:02 am
MartinCogg wrote:As judged by your own estimation of course.
Lol Martin. With that attitude you wouldn't have fared well under R's masterful tutelage back in the day when education was "proper". You'll be giving us Brits a bad name - I thought that was my job.
Love the humor, Mark! However, let me share something that is relevant to this discussion. As a young boy in the 60's, I wanted to play the guitar. I took lessons for a couple months and decided I was a better musician than my teacher--Bill Cochan, a seasoned, working Jazz guitarist in Chicago. Two years later, I took lessons on the saxophone, my dream instrument, and after a couple of months decided I was better than my teacher who was also a working Jazzer. I started playing locally while still in my early teens in a variety of "bands" and never failed to get a job after an audition. My downfall was really that I had very good ears and could play anything after hearing it a couple times ,ergo, my success early on. In my twenties, I had established a good reputation as an R and B sax player with the ability to improvise and burn up the horn. I thought life was bliss. Then, one day I got a call from a friend who said the top R and B group in Chicago who toured across the country(Baby Huey and the Babysitters) needed a tenor player. I went to the audition and there were about 10 sax players waiting and two on the stage playing. After six more had played, it was my turn and they wanted to do a Wilson Pickett song "Funky Broadway" and play a solo. After we finished the song, Baby Huey--the huge 350-pound black leader of the band said, "that's my horn player!" And, then it fell apart. He brought out a book of charts for his first show and wanted to rehearse. It was a James Brown song "I Got You" with their own special arrangement and he said "one, two, three" . . . and I stood numbly on the stage. I couldn't read music and I didn't get the job. That was my wakeup call and I decided ,then, I would become a serious musician. So, when I speak about the necessity for a solid foundation in Music, it comes with a true story that since then has changed my musical life. Here's those old R and B Classics. Playing again . . . Rognvald
https://youtu.be/WqK1NF5m4bc check out the short sax solo
https://youtu.be/EDd9xbtx_RM--the best horn section ever in R and B!
And here's Baby Huey: https://youtu.be/IF6RaCLO7n0
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Rasputin
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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by Rasputin » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:02 pm

celestemcc wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:02 pm
Knowing theory helps for simple practical purposes too... no one seems to have addressed this.
Good point - missed in the rush to talk about the artsier stuff. If you didn't know any theory at all you would pretty much have to read each note separately, which would make it pretty hard going. You'd also find yourself going "2 sharps, yes... but which ones are they again?"

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MartinCogg
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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by MartinCogg » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:45 am

A result then... thank you feet

-
Rognvald wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:36 pm
Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:02 am
MartinCogg wrote:As judged by your own estimation of course.
Lol Martin. With that attitude you wouldn't have fared well under R's masterful tutelage back in the day when education was "proper". You'll be giving us Brits a bad name - I thought that was my job.
Love the humor, Mark! However, let me share something that is relevant to this discussion. As a young boy in the 60's, I wanted to play the guitar. I took lessons for a couple months and decided I was a better musician than my teacher--Bill Cochan, a seasoned, working Jazz guitarist in Chicago. Two years later, I took lessons on the saxophone, my dream instrument, and after a couple of months decided I was better than my teacher who was also a working Jazzer. I started playing locally while still in my early teens in a variety of "bands" and never failed to get a job after an audition. My downfall was really that I had very good ears and could play anything after hearing it a couple times ,ergo, my success early on. In my twenties, I had established a good reputation as an R and B sax player with the ability to improvise and burn up the horn. I thought life was bliss. Then, one day I got a call from a friend who said the top R and B group in Chicago who toured across the country(Baby Huey and the Babysitters) needed a tenor player. I went to the audition and there were about 10 sax players waiting and two on the stage playing. After six more had played, it was my turn and they wanted to do a Wilson Pickett song "Funky Broadway" and play a solo. After we finished the song, Baby Huey--the huge 350-pound black leader of the band said, "that's my horn player!" And, then it fell apart. He brought out a book of charts for his first show and wanted to rehearse. It was a James Brown song "I Got You" with their own special arrangement and he said "one, two, three" . . . and I stood numbly on the stage. I couldn't read music and I didn't get the job. That was my wakeup call and I decided ,then, I would become a serious musician. So, when I speak about the necessity for a solid foundation in Music, it comes with a true story that since then has changed my musical life. Here's those old R and B Classics. Playing again . . . Rognvald
https://youtu.be/WqK1NF5m4bc check out the short sax solo
https://youtu.be/EDd9xbtx_RM--the best horn section ever in R and B!
And here's Baby Huey: https://youtu.be/IF6RaCLO7n0
Well Rognvald, I listened, all the way through - I particularly enjoyed the vocal delivery in the third (Baby Huey)
at points approx 2 mins, 3 mins 50 secs, and 8 mins 55 secs...

I actually spend plenty of my (listening) time listening to music that I don't necessarily like - probably
as much as I do to music that I do like, and 'jazz' is often being broadcast when I turn on my radio in the
kitchen whilst cooking etc. (BBC radio 3) - constantly exploring music that I've never heard before,
I listen to a LOT of music while I paint.

Thank you for enlightening me as to your musical background, if indirectly -
Myself, too, I was a child in the 60's who wanted to the play guitar (living in Co.Cork, Eire, as it happens)
but my early exposure to music was pretty much all classical (I heard some Beatles' songs - absolutely
no Jazz whatsoever, not even noticing it ever anywhere as background music... the first closest thing with
Jazz-like sounds I ever listened to was King Crimson, 'In the Court of...'). The first LP I ever bought was guitar,
Sabicas, and the second, guitar, Julian Bream... totally spellbound by it - meanwhile, still, general musical exposure
was mostly classical... (every day at school). Come 13/14 I was lucky enough to find myself at a school with a truly
fine, highly qualified music teacher who taught all sorts of (classical) instruments who had taken up the classical
guitar as well, just in order to teach it at the school, so, more music teacher than guitarist - and finally my parents
agreed to me taking music lessons... Unfortunately, after about 18 months of that my parents upped and changed
country of residence (again) and there ended what was my proper start in music (I won the junior music prize
during the 1st year : ).
Fortunately, by then I'd learned to read music and therefore proceeded with my study of the classical
guitar without a music teacher...

Later, instead of Music School, I found myself studying 3D Design... but that wasn't quite Art enough
for me......

Anyway, all very boring here I'm sure, even without an 'in comparison to your own background',
in view of which, I'll forget about your 'collateral' paragraph with it's references to Art, and
carpentry.

I suppose you consider/ed my question to be not worth bothering to answer, but it wasn't
without a point, and it was intending to go somewhere... useful, I thought/think.
I'm still wondering about the extent of theory required relative to playing CG repertoire,
and perhaps I'll find an answer for myself by asking certain questions of you. The 'in your
estimation' wasn't any sort of dig - just being precise about what I'd like to know -

some things being equal, in that you're all playing from the same score, classical guitar music,
these theoryless players, did/do you think they manage/d to deliver according to the score,
or not?..

Rognvald
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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by Rognvald » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:23 pm

some things being equal, in that you're all playing from the same score, classical guitar music,
these theoryless players, did/do you think they manage/d to deliver according to the score,
or not?.. MartinCogg

Martin,
Since you have asked an honest, serious question I will gladly respond: No. It is not that the sounds represented on the paper by the little black dots will not be played as directed including the use of dynamics and pace but rather that a piece of music is never really understood or finished in the lifetime of a serious musician. When you look at the great interpreters of Music: Horowitz, Kempff, Casals, Segovia, Bream, Rubenstein, Heifitz, Kreisler and the Jazzers: Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Johhny Hartman, Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, their music evolved as THEY EVOLVED. And, the only true evolution is through knowledge of your instrument, knowledge of the foundations of music and the accumulated human experience of a sensitive, talented human being which in the Jazz and R and B world they call "soul." Even simple songs like Tarrega's "Lagrima" and "Adelita" which are taught to all beginning CG students continue to morph into quite different interpretations as the musician grows and seasons. I have played these pieces for over 25 years and I continue to include new understanding and nuances that I never knew existed in the past. I hope I have answered your question. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

MaritimeGuitarist
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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by MaritimeGuitarist » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:58 pm

Rognvald wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:23 pm
some things being equal, in that you're all playing from the same score, classical guitar music,
these theoryless players, did/do you think they manage/d to deliver according to the score,
or not?.. MartinCogg

Martin,
Since you have asked an honest, serious question I will gladly respond: No. It is not that the sounds represented on the paper by the little black dots will not be played as directed including the use of dynamics and pace but rather that a piece of music is never really understood or finished in the lifetime of a serious musician. When you look at the great interpreters of Music: Horowitz, Kempff, Casals, Segovia, Bream, Rubenstein, Heifitz, Kreisler and the Jazzers: Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Johhny Hartman, Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, their music evolved as THEY EVOLVED. And, the only true evolution is through knowledge of your instrument, knowledge of the foundations of music and the accumulated human experience of a sensitive, talented human being which in the Jazz and R and B world they call "soul." Even simple songs like Tarrega's "Lagrima" and "Adelita" which are taught to all beginning CG students continue to morph into quite different interpretations as the musician grows and seasons. I have played these pieces for over 25 years and I continue to include new understanding and nuances that I never knew existed in the past. I hope I have answered your question. Playing again . . . Rognvald
Correct me if I'm wrong (and I will gladly stand corrected), but didn't Billie Holiday have an extremely limited music education? I understand that she wasn't able to read music and that she did not have technical or formal voice training--she learned by listening. I also understand that she dropped out of school when she was in grade 5, further limiting the likelihood she had access to any extensive music theory training. Is she an anomaly where theory really wasn't necessary or am I mistaken about her music theory training?

mainterm
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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by mainterm » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:31 pm

Rognvald wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:23 pm
Martin,
Since you have asked an honest, serious question I will gladly respond: <snip>
Should I presume this means that you considered my question to be something other than an honest and serious one?

My apologies if I seemed glib or otherwise disingenuous, but I assure you my question is honest and serious.

So many people on forums like this, so many different backgrounds, perspectives, and a ripe context for miscommunication.

Rognvald
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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by Rognvald » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:12 pm

MaritimeGuitarist wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:58 pm
Rognvald wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:23 pm
some things being equal, in that you're all playing from the same score, classical guitar music,
these theoryless players, did/do you think they manage/d to deliver according to the score,
or not?.. MartinCogg

Martin,
Since you have asked an honest, serious question I will gladly respond: No. It is not that the sounds represented on the paper by the little black dots will not be played as directed including the use of dynamics and pace but rather that a piece of music is never really understood or finished in the lifetime of a serious musician. When you look at the great interpreters of Music: Horowitz, Kempff, Casals, Segovia, Bream, Rubenstein, Heifitz, Kreisler and the Jazzers: Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Johhny Hartman, Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, their music evolved as THEY EVOLVED. And, the only true evolution is through knowledge of your instrument, knowledge of the foundations of music and the accumulated human experience of a sensitive, talented human being which in the Jazz and R and B world they call "soul." Even simple songs like Tarrega's "Lagrima" and "Adelita" which are taught to all beginning CG students continue to morph into quite different interpretations as the musician grows and seasons. I have played these pieces for over 25 years and I continue to include new understanding and nuances that I never knew existed in the past. I hope I have answered your question. Playing again . . . Rognvald
Correct me if I'm wrong (and I will gladly stand corrected), but didn't Billie Holiday have an extremely limited music education? I understand that she wasn't able to read music and that she did not have technical or formal voice training--she learned by listening. I also understand that she dropped out of school when she was in grade 5, further limiting the likelihood she had access to any extensive music theory training. Is she an anomaly where theory really wasn't necessary or am I mistaken about her music theory training?

That's correct, MG. However my point with Billie, unlike the other musicians I mentioned, was geared more towards how she "evolved" musically. And, of course, she was not a "musician," nor was Tony Bennett, in the strict sense of playing a musical instrument, as the others were. Perhaps those two were not a good example of my point and I stand corrected. Thanks for the thoughtful response. Playing again... Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

celestemcc
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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by celestemcc » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:14 pm

\
And, of course, she was not a "musician," nor was Tony Bennett, in the strict sense of playing a musical instrument, as the others were.
Well... I'm a trained singer as well as a guitarist, and singers "not being musicians" is kinda fighting words. :lol: I get what you're saying, re instrumentalists, but we all know, there are players and singers, and they aren't necessarily musicians.

Billie Holliday and Tony Bennett were musicians, pure and simple. The definition isn't only (IMO) "musically trained" but do you play/sing what's written, or do you make music? Do you have an ear for, an understanding of, phrasing? Dynamics? -- and all the other things that make the dots on the page real Music. There've been many very fine musicians who can't read a note, and many highly trained ones who aren't musical at all.

I can agree that a lot of singers aren't trained to be "musicians" as such. When I was in music school (grad level this time), singers for some reason always got a pass on the elements of musicianship, as if they're too stupid to get it (and occasionally frankly, they seemed to be: I trained in an opera program among 'em.) As an instrumentalist myself I used the skills I'd learned, sometimes perhaps to my detriment, lol! I always got second soprano or alto because I *could* read the parts and hold my own on a harmony line (I was stunned at the number of my colleagues who couldn't). I wasn't flummoxed by complex meters, understood why it was important to read about operal history. That was the training I got as an instrumentalist. But then I've also heard and known many, many excellent singers who (trained or not) were outstanding musicians in every sense of the word.

Back to theory though: it can't hurt to know it, just like it can't hurt to know how to read music.
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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:48 pm

celestemcc wrote:I can agree that a lot of singers aren't trained to be "musicians" ...
Can only agree, neither are many instrumentalists.

Is theory required for musicianship? Would great music exist without the dots? Of course it would ... and did, and does.

For instance, it is apparent that many (even most) performers of Bach on the guitar have little understanding of its musical structure even at the most basic phrase level, never mind such nuanced elements as "rhetoric" or "affect". Does that mean that they can't give convincing and moving performances based on the intellectual and emotional connections that they do have?

Would great music exist without the dots? Of course it would - and did, and does ... but the o.p. (for some unstated reason) wants to believe that understanding music theory is critical to advanced playing - perhaps it's true in some cases and has proven to be so for himself?

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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by chiral3 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:27 am

I was a teenager when I was in my first jazz group when I started to improvise. Don't laugh, but we were called "The Tachyon Perspective". Initially I was one of those guys that would look at the charts and try and fill as many notes as humanly possible into the space. I even thought that Joe Pass chord solos meant to fit as many chords into the space as humanly possible. Geez I must have sounded horrible. One of the older guitarists told me to try and sing / hum my runs. Well, I sucked vocally then, and I am probably worse now, but that was some great advice. The old "if you can't hum it don't play it" advice. Later, when I started composing, I learned quickly that just because I can write it it doesn't mean I can play it, even if I can hum it.
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MartinCogg
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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by MartinCogg » Thu Feb 15, 2018 1:16 am

Rognvald wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:23 pm
some things being equal, in that you're all playing from the same score, classical guitar music,
these theoryless players, did/do you think they manage/d to deliver according to the score,
or not?.. MartinCogg

Martin,
Since you have asked an honest, serious question I will gladly respond: No. It is not that the sounds represented on the paper by the little black dots will not be played as directed including the use of dynamics and pace but rather that a piece of music is never really understood or finished in the lifetime of a serious musician. When you look at the great interpreters of Music: Horowitz, Kempff, Casals, Segovia, Bream, Rubenstein, Heifitz, Kreisler and the Jazzers: Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Johhny Hartman, Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, their music evolved as THEY EVOLVED. And, the only true evolution is through knowledge of your instrument, knowledge of the foundations of music and the accumulated human experience of a sensitive, talented human being which in the Jazz and R and B world they call "soul." Even simple songs like Tarrega's "Lagrima" and "Adelita" which are taught to all beginning CG students continue to morph into quite different interpretations as the musician grows and seasons. I have played these pieces for over 25 years and I continue to include new understanding and nuances that I never knew existed in the past. I hope I have answered your question. Playing again . . . Rognvald
(Previously, I forgot to mention that a spotlight on me aged about 11 would find a member of the school choir,
doubled, if not singled, out to perform in duet during the school carol service that was broadcast live over National
Radio (Raidió Teilifís Éireann) - an annual school event that took place in the town church, but not normally broadcast,
so I felt quite proud about that - if a little peeved that I didn't get a solo spot. Different school to the next, we
learned to sing songs by heart rather than by reading music... if I'd auditioned for choir duty at the next school,
on acceptance I'd no doubt have been expected to learn to sing from the score. Stupid me was by then thinking
being in a school choir a bit nerdy)....

I can't imagine not 'evolving' over time, so that every time I return to a piece I find new things in it
to consider... which has me completely unimpressed by some comments hereabouts about what super-quick
comprehension of a piece their music theory study affords them... or have I misread something by reading too
quickly?... (wasn't a Rognvald comment).

I think I haven't been visiting this forum often enough recently :? but by now it's been driven home that
our different backgrounds (not just you and me) afford us completely different perceptions of the same
stuff... 'Soul' music just does not chime with me one little bit... that's okay with you I'm sure, but what I now
understand is that it follows that the way we process classical music ain't never going to be similar...
no where near on the same wavelength across the board, be it music, painting, or carpentry...
contemplating the same object subjectively - with perhaps yourself claiming objective perception?

As regards the topic posted, I'm at least going to make an effort to digest the material set in the
appendices of Aguado's 1843 Method, but generally I'm thinking, if it's strictly cg repertoire, the music
isn't that complex... I play the dots, observing all the other info contained in the score, I listen,
and I listen to a hell of a lot of classical music besides.

What does bug me greatly from time to time is when I hear recordings of pieces I already know and
have studied beforehand, and blow me down they go and play some obvious misprint found in the
original score as writ... or modern editions where the editor has taken the trouble to correct an 'error'
when meself I'm damned sure it's not an error and they've only gone and managed to turn an interesting
sounding phrase into something bland - (players and editors with the theory under their belts I believe)...

bedtime, way past -
now morning, and back again...

or editors changing note-values which then throw interpretation off track - one of the joys of internet
especially being the access to so many more of the original scores to check against...

do I need to make a list (even just a very short one to give an inkling) and name names?
Last edited by MartinCogg on Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by georgemarousi » Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:15 am

I want to be a good craftsman, is it necessary to have tools ?
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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:11 am

Playing Devil's advocate again:
georgemarousi wrote:I want to be a good craftsman, is it necessary to have tools ?
Yes - but which ones? In some cases maybe only one really, really, good, tool will suffice?

Should we aspire to craftsmanship or artistry?

Segovia, for instance, was a pretty average "musician" but a great artist. Joao Guimaraes had no theoretical training whatsoever. Gershwin had to have his tunes orchestrated for him, Pavarotti and Caruso could barely read music etc., etc. One could argue that "theory" is one of the least important attributes of an artist.

Music theory ... necessary? Possibly not.
Martin Cogg wrote:...do I need to make a list (even just a very short one to give an inkling) and name names?
Please do.

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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by MartinCogg » Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:18 am

georgemarousi wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:15 am
I want to be a good craftsman, is it necessary to have tools ?
A basic set perhaps - but not necessarily all the ones that some 'good' craftspeople would
declare to be 'the necessary', or 'essential'... and you'd best start with just a few, only
buying more when/if you perceive them to be essential for what you're trying to make...
Methinks usually it's a lower grade craftsman who bangs on about his tools...

I'm more inclined to be impressed by the ones that enthuse about the minimum amount
of tools it is that they rely on.

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Re: Music Theory . . . Necessary?

Post by MartinCogg » Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:46 am

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:11 am
Martin Cogg wrote:...do I need to make a list (even just a very short one to give an inkling) and name names?
Please do.
I'll have go searching through the pile to point my finger directly - I'll be on to it soon as poss...
as to your earlier quip... I am certainly a Brit (English... Manchester even) though only aboding first three/four
years - then followed a good dozen very formative years in Ireland which we can blame for much :?
- your job be reasonably secure.

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