Modes: don't you just love 'em?

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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Post by OneWorld »

tea for two wrote: Wed Jul 28, 2021 4:51 pm Tbh I try to fill myself with less theory as possible.
I was never gifted in any sense musically.
Theory would just clog me up frazzle me.

Theory is just the formal organisation of notes and rhythm to make sound coherent, such that any participants in a performance would be 'singing from the same hymn sheet'

Without that coherence and structure, the resulting sound is called 'noise' as opposed to music

This bloke gives some really good tutorials, straight to the point, concise and informative.....

Music Theory in 16 minutes - Guy Michelmore
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eKTOMhpy2w
OneWorld
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Post by GilesAnt »

OneWorld wrote: Thu Jul 29, 2021 4:10 pm Theory is just the formal organisation of notes and rhythm to make sound coherent, such that any participants in a performance would be 'singing from the same hymn sheet'

I don't think that's a good description of music theory. Theory describes the practice of various styles/composers/genres in a way that allows you to see what is going on 'under the bonnet'. You don't need to know how an engine works to drive a car, but if you want to change that car, or build a new one, then you will need to understand how it works.

If you want to harmonise a Chorale in the style of JS Bach, for example, then you will need to understand how he goes about it. This is where music theory comes in.

Producing a coherent performance doesn't really rely on a knowledge of theory - as I'm sure plenty of performers will be happy to testify.
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Post by OneWorld »

GilesAnt wrote: Thu Jul 29, 2021 6:25 pm
OneWorld wrote: Thu Jul 29, 2021 4:10 pm Theory is just the formal organisation of notes and rhythm to make sound coherent, such that any participants in a performance would be 'singing from the same hymn sheet'

You don't need to know how an engine works to drive a car, but if you want to change that car, or build a new one, then you will need to understand how it works.


Try driving down the wrong side of the motorway then!

You miss the point, which is, music theory is about describing the event according to a set of rules that are mutually agreed upon by the participants.

It is not globally prescriptive, it is a convenience, no one has to do things in a way that is carved in stone. Anyone could make up their own rules/theory and say to fellow musicians, "My new theory of music states that the chord of c major is all the C's and C sharps, played on a piano across the full 7 octaves" Best of luck with that.

Your analogy regarding car engine/driving is misplaced. What you are saying is like saying 'you don't need a PHd in electronics to play a synthesizer' of course you don't, but getting back to the car, if you are going to drive it on a public road, you need to know the rules of the road, a formally agreed set of rules that aspire to ensure there is harmony and not chaos. Chaos at 70BPM is bad enough, but at 70MPH is fatal.

That is why there is a practical part and a theoretical part to passing the driving test. But the candidate isn't asked to pull an engine apart.

The rules and theory of building something are quite different from using whatever object is made/built. A chef doesn't need to know how to build an oven, but needs a recipe to make a meal until he/she has learnt to do it from memory.

Thus when a combo gets together and one of the participants says "hang you ears on this, it's in C major, so you know what to expect" Now that's not an instruction to pull your guitar apart, but merely give you a palette of notes to work with. Even atonalists have a structure, otherwise every time someone played Schoenberg, or anything else come to that, there would be "all the right notes but in the wrong order" (Morcombe & Wise)

I write from experience. I once played with a band where the bass player (well to be precise, the bloke that strapped a bass on, plugged it in, then made a noise) he was an 'arty type' that proclaimed he was an anarchist rule breaking rebel. He got into the band by way of association and not merit, but the rest of the band were equitable types and so said "give him a run out" OMG I had to stand next to him saying "Second string 3rd fret, play for 8 beats, 3rd string 2nd fret, play 4 beats" etc etc etc

"Producing a coherent performance doesn't really rely on a knowledge of theory - as I'm sure plenty of performers will be happy to testify."

There's a chasm of different between 'relying' on something and being aware of something when you need to. Your argument is somewhat binary in nature - if not this, then that, whereas in practice, there's a morass of different circumstances that call upon either a partial or total resolution, no you don't need the knowledge of Bach's to knock out 'Happy Birthday to <whoever>' but it helps if you know one end of a piano from the other and your do-re-mi, you can't just throw your fingers at the ivories and hope it comes out right.

Yes there are those performers that have scant knowledge of music, but one swallow doesn't make a summer. I know it's not cool to admit to having knowledge of something, but do a poll of all the contributors here on this forum and find out how many contributors have at least a rudimentary knowledge of theory and those that are totally utterly and completely ignorant of the rudiments of music and I reckon the former will be in the majority.

Or are you saying the overwhelming majority of performers can't even tell a C major chord from a swivel eyed piece of cod - really?
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Re: Modes: don't you just love 'em?

Post by GilesAnt »

The car thing may not be the best analogy, but I was trying to draw a distinction between people playing music and people who understand what makes it tick at a deeper level.

I don't think we disagree very much actually, mainly a terminology thing. At a rudimentary level yes the members of a band need to know what the chords of a song are so that they can play together, but that doesn't mean much theory is involved from the player's point of view.

It might be pedantic, but the video you quote (whilst well done) is really an introduction to the rudiments of music, not 16 mins of music theory.

But I think we agree that theory describes something rather than prescribing something.
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