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Anybody else struggle with theory? Anyone NOT struggle? Anyone wanna help this guy?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Jan 26, 2019.


  1. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    I think your knowledge exceeds my "harmonic-tongue-twister".

    Here is some "addendum" to my prior comment.

    As a musician/bass player, one must be able to (slowly) read and interpret a chord, ANY chord.
    It does not matter how many "additives" that chord has. It's just a CHORD.
    If it takes 10 minutes or 2 hours, or more, an inquisitive musician should first be able to pronounce that chord/word.
    Don't let anybody scare you with any kind of "funny" chord notations.
    P.S. I'm not talking to you. You are way beyond the point of "BASIC".
     
  2. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    IMHO interpretation/analysis can be very challenging since there is always the possibility of nonfunctional harmony that sounds great. A while back I read a rather long thread in some other online forum where academics where discussing different ways to analyze one chord in Night and Day. That bled over into another thread started on another forum.

    I don't have any formal education on altered harmony, so I don't really know what to do with it other than force the star shaped peg through the round hole using my ears as an intermediary. That's sort of what I did with the couple of chords I analyzed in your exercise.

    I do know there are compositions like your exercise. In >20 years of pro work I found it rare to perform a piece that sustained changes of that complexity for more than a few bars. However, my impression is a highly skilled jazz piano player may reharmonize a standard chord progression using similar alterations and upper extensions in a complementary way.

    So I have played in circumstances where similarly complex sounds would be expected of the pianist...but the bass player would be presented with more traditional changes. In my experience, the further out the pianist gets, the more the bass player has to stick to basic chord tones...meaning arpeggiated lines work fine, but linear lines with non chord passing tones can cause problems.

    Obviously a more skilled bass player would hear the alterations in the chords and intuitively and instantly adapt...I don't claim that I was ever a good bass player...at one time I thought I was pretty good at faking it though ;).
     
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  3. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    It's all about training, develeping that "ear".The more you expose that ear to Music (to detailed listening), the more refined that "ear" is.
     
    Wasnex likes this.
  4. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef “the brian” Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    I’ll bet 15 pages worth of replies is almost equally as overwhelming as trying to learn music theory, haha. I have a BA in music and I’ve been a bandleader in many different projects since I graduated almost 20 years ago, and I think I’ve been able to retain the majority of what I learned. I must say that trying to learn theory on your own, out of books and online lessons is much much more difficult than learning it in a classroom setting. I say that because in a classroom, you have curriculum and homework that keeps you accountable, helps you to stay focused on a predetermined track that builds on the information you learn in a particular order (much more than trying to do it yourself and be your own lesson planner), and you can ask questions as you need to, so you aren’t left feeling incomplete in your understanding of the topic you’re trying to tackle.

    IMO, the best thing you can do to really start the journey if you’re serious about learning it once and for all, is to enroll in a community college music theory 101 class. If you can’t do this, private lessons are probably the next best thing, but personally, I don’t know many people who have a true overall grasp on theory from private lessons without any classroom theory. Not saying it’s impossible, but I believe trying to get it only thru lessons is a lot harder. The subject of music theory can honestly be as difficult as becoming a medical doctor if you go as far as it can go (which is virtually endless)... Imagine trying to become a surgeon on your own thru book or even thru private lessons. There’s a good reason medical schools and music schools exist.

    The thing about classroom theory courses is they give you a fuller picture. It’s not just learning chords and scales, but sight singing, dictation, chord progression theory, functional harmony, and much more. These topics and activities are crucial to learning music theory. It’s nearly impossible to get every aspect outside of a classroom environment IMO. Do you need to understand every aspect to be a successful musician? Of course not. Plenty of pros simply just play what sounds good, and still make beautiful and amazing music. But if you want to learn theory once and for all, I encourage you to take the plunge and devote the time to it - a couple days a week in a 2 hour class for a couple years will change your life musically. I have no doubt I would have never learned the majority of the theory I know if I hadn’t have gone to school for it. Everyone’s different, but it worked for me.
     
  5. delta7fred

    delta7fred

    Jul 3, 2007
    England
    Yep, I read page 1 then skipped to 15, hope I ddin't miss anything important as I'm in the same boat as Joe.

    I would love to know more, I keep starting then life, family and playing in multiple bands and projects gets in the way. There is always something I should be doing that is more pressing than learning.
     
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  6. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011

    I agree with everything you wrote except...you don't get all of this in music theory class alone. Sight singing and dictation is a separate class, and reading/applying chord notation through improvisation is another class.

    In the school I attended, I believe these classes would be considered two credit hours, but each would have entailed three hours of class room time...hard to remember the specifics after >30 years, but I am certain the credit hours and class time was not 1 for 1. Maybe things have changed since then. Also, for each hour in class it was recommended that you spend 3 hrs studying the material.

    I do think majoring in music is a great way to build a foundational understanding of music, but it is a serious time commitment if one is to approach music holistically...IMHO, a bit more than two hours a week.

    Before you take Theory 101 you will probably need to take a placement test. I failed mine and had to take a pre-college introductory theory class during the summer session.
     
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  7. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef “the brian” Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    The college I attended combined sight singing and dictation in our music theory class. Improv was covered somewhat, but much more thoroughly in my jazz studies classes. We had 9 music theory courses IIRC, 3 years of theory required to graduate. My school was on the quarter system, so 3 quarters/year (I never attended summer quarter) xs 3 years was 9 classes (basic musicianship + theory 1-8). Every school is a little different and mine was almost 20 years ago now.

    But I just meant a couple hour theory class, 2 days a week would give the OP a very good grasp of theory. I wasn’t suggesting at all that being a music major would only require that small of a commitment. I went 6-8 hours/day, 5 days/week for most of my 5 years in college (including all my general ed.) as a music major. But much of my time there was also made up of classes like music literature, music history, musicology, ensembles, choir, you name it. I was suggesting that the OP just take a music theory course ala carte at a community college to get those fundamentals he desires... since learning who commisioned Stravinsky’s ballets and why probably wouldn’t be of any interst to him (it definitely wasn’t to me, but I powered thru those classes to get what I wanted out of school).

    I agree, about testing into (our out of) the first theory class. I tested straight into theory 2 when I started the program, but I chose to start at the very beginning with the basic musicianship class just to be 100% sure I didn’t miss any small details. And I was glad I did since I remember by the time I got to theory 2, I would have been struggling to keep up. Mainly because of terms that I didn’t know (even if I recognized what something was, or knew how to play it, I didn’t necessarily know what many things were called).
     
    Wasnex likes this.
  8. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    Taking just an ala carte theory class would be valuable, but challenging as you probably need some rudimentary piano skills. In the school I attended, three semesters of theory class to covered all of the diatonic 7 chords in the major and minor scales...that's as far as I got. I believe the fourth semester got into chromaticism.

    I did not originally major in music, so I took only theory, sight singing/dictation, and jazz ensemble. When I started college, I bought a copy of the Real Book and was teaching myself to read chord notation. I needed some help with some of the chord symbols. One of the younger guitar instructors mentored me, jammed with me, and lined up a few gigs.

    The foundational material I needed to apply the chord symbols was learned in music theory...my mentor mainly just explained what the symbols represented. For example music theory would teach you the notes necessary to build a D minor 7 chord, but you might not realize D-7 or Dm7 or Dmin7 = D minor 7.

    The one place where music theory did not prepare me for chord notation is 6 chords. Music theory taught me three augmented 6 chords: German, Italian, and French. These have nothing to do with GMaj6 or Gmin6.
     
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  9. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef “the brian” Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    Yes, we all had to take a year of piano classes no matter what instrument was your primary, and the reason was the theory classes were all taught with piano. Much easier to see everything laid out on a piano than a guitar or bass neck (then I just related everything back to my bass in my own time). I don’t play piano very well (although I did play a lot of organ in the studio on my band’s latest record), but learning theory on piano is the standard, and while it’s a difficult instrument to play, it’s definitely the easiest instrument to understand.

    I think if the OP were to take some theory classes, there will be stuff he probably won’t fully understand still, but if it leads him to seeking out the answers to his own questions, that’s still a good thing (like you having to figure out chord symbols after you knew how to make the chords).

    Yeah, I’ve rarely seen a Neapolitan/German/Italian/French 6 chord in modern music... but Maj6 & min6 chords happen all the time. I had a very good theory teacher who did cover differences like that, but I can definitely see how that would confuse most people. And little things like, what’s the difference between a Maj6 chord and a Maj13?.. The 6th and the 13th are the same note, but a 13th chord will always infer that the flat 7th is included as well (and possibly some, or even all of the other extensions - the 9th & 11th)... while a Maj6 chord will just be root, 3rd, 5th & 6th (even though the 6th will often be played an octave up as a 13th). And how a GMaj6 is the same chord as an Emin7 in 1st inversion. It can get sooooooo confusing. That’s exactly why I think the classroom is so much better and easier to get this info from than self help books or even private lessons. There’s just so many things to cover and so many questions that students will have with each topic.
     
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  10. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Same here. All musicians should study at least a little bit of piano and voice, in my opinion. :)

    What you are describing is a 13th chord, which has a minor 7th and is in the dominant 7th family.

    Maj13th chords on the other hand have a major 7th and are in the major 7th family.

    C13 = C E G Bb A
    CMaj13 = C E G B A

    (The 9th and 11th are sometimes present, and the 5th is often omitted from the voicing.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
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  11. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    At least we have somebody that could explain those nuances about that "mysterious" Neapolitan 6 chord.

    "The Neapolitan chord: a type of chromatic chord
    that is notated as a major triad built on the lowered second scale degree (b2)."

    n1.PNG

    Let's take a simplified chord progression:

    Amin - Ab - E(7) - Amin.
    Or
    Amin - Dmin- Bb - E(7) - Amin.
    Amin - Dmin - Bb/D- E(7) - Amin
    Or
    Amin - Dmin - F(7) - Bb- Amin.


    Do we have some kind of N6 chord in those examples?
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  12. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef “the brian” Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    Ha! You’re absolutely right! See, I know this stuff pretty well and I can still confuse myself, haha. Not no mention, I said “Maj6 chord” for my example, which doesn’t even exist... it would either be a CMaj13 (add the maj 7), or a C6 (no 7), or a C13 (add the b7).
     
  13. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    As far as I am concerned C6 = CMaj6.
     
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  14. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS

    Attached Files:

  15. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    Somehow, I'm not concerned about that C6 chord.:roflmao:


    C6.PNG
     
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  16. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
  17. I always thought a Neapolitan was a Ice Cream

    Neapolitan.
     
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  18. Whousedtoplay

    Whousedtoplay

    May 18, 2013
    TEXAS
    No, it's a "pure" Seven Six chord, not an inversion!

     
  19. mambo4

    mambo4

    Jun 9, 2006
    Dallas
    This is not the first time a post by @Whousedtoplay caused me to go research something...

    from wikipedia:

    The neoploitan 6 chord of A minor would be Bb in first inversion (D F Bb)

    The "6" here comes from old fashioned figured bass , not modern jazz chord notation
    It means the interval between the bass note (D) and the actual tonic (B6) is a 6th
    It has nothing to do with the chord extension of a 6th or 13th (G).

    without the first inversion, it is a neopolitan chord, but not a neopolitan 6th chord.

    The chords notated in your example are:
    Bb Bb D F (piano) which is a neopolitan chord but not an N6
    and Bb D A D F (el. git) which is neopolitanish , with an add 9 ( I guess ) -still not N6

    thanks for the diversion :)
     
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