When does thoery become reality?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by RicPlaya, Oct 29, 2003.

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  1. Garry Goodman

    Garry Goodman

    Feb 26, 2003
    It's modern harmony and theory in "a nutshell"
    if I were starting over,I would find a way to simplify and condense harmony and theory.
    The major scale is created by isolating ,or restricting tones from the chromatic scale. Two whole steps,a half step,three whole steps and then a half step is the "formula".You start on any note and by "measuring 1-1-1/2-1-1-1-1/2 , you always get the major scale. By starting a major scale on the 3rd degree, you create a phrygian mode.By starting the major scale on the 5th degree, you get the mixolydian mode.By starting the major scale on the 7th degree ,you get locrian.

    If you pile the phrygian on top of it's major scale, the mixolydian on top of that,and the locrian on top of that , you have created the diatonic four part chords of that major scale

    locrian : b-c-d-e-f-g-a-b-

    mixolydian g-a -b-c-d-e-f-g

    phrygian; e-f-g-a-b-c-d-e

    Major: c-d-e-f-g-a-b-c
    I- ii-iii-iv- V-vi-vii

    You have Cmaj7th ,the one (I) chord in the key of C ,and d minor 7 (ii mi7) the two (ii) chord in C major ,and G7 (V) the five chord .These are the definitive chords of C major. They are vertical results of stacking horizontal scales. These three chords are three of the nine chord families that define tonality. You don't have a tune without the ii-V-I "gravity."

    ii or iv will lead to V7 and it always resolves to I. Some chord progression you must know are I-vi-ii-V7-I (cmaj-ami-dmi-g7-cmaj ) or iv-V7-I (f-g7-c) .

    So if you learn all nine chord families,or vertical stacks ,the horizontal scales that stack up to make these chords, learn how each stack funtions (ii ,V or i) and recognize the function in a progression (i-vi-ii-V7-i) , you are grasping the essence of Theory.. What good is knowing modes and their names if 1) you can't identify them by ear, and 2) knowing how they relate to music theory?

    Every bass note you play is part of a chord progression .Knowing chord progressions allows you to know what notes come next .The quality of the chord, a ii or a V or a i ,tells you what chord family you are currently playing through and what your harmonic choices are.
    "This" is an overview of what it is you need to know.
  2. PhilMan99


    Jul 18, 2003
    US, Maryland
    One of the approaches to bass-playing involves learning ALL the chords so you can do them "in your sleep with your eyes closed". Unless you're interested in knowing the letter names C-E-G-B, etc, it becomes similar to learning the scales/modes, except you focus more on the application of the chord tones (1-3-5, etc.), than practicing scale patterns. Naturally, remembering all the letter names (C-E-G-B, C#-E#-G#-B#, etc.) takes longer than just learning the patterns for all the chords. And just to confuse matters, there *IS* an E# and a B# in standard notation for some keys...:rolleyes:
  3. Hey dudes

    I thought I'd chime in here. RE the original question; theory can become relevant very early in your playing. If you have a basic idea of the root movement of the progression then a knowledge of theory can make your lines so much more expressive. You don't have to play jazz of fusion etc to be able to apply theory but it does help.

    A good example is myself. I started studying jazz 2 years ago. While I had a resonable technical facility on the instrument I wasn't great. Since I've learnt theory I've played support for major local jazz bands and played with some amazing musicans. The most important thing is that my ear IS NOT GREAT but I've been able to do this. OBVIOUSLY having a good ear is going to help you immencely but for me it put a lot of useful notes in my grasp so I could use them straght away. I hope this helps


    PS For anyone who cares I really want to train my ears to the point I can play what I currently can without needing a chord progression. Yeah baybeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
  4. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten
    Thanks everyone!
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    These two statements, while well intentioned, go a bit too far. It is certainly possible to "have a tune" without having the "ii-V-I gravity", and V does not always lead to I.
  6. I like resolving the V to a diminished chord built on the leading tone to end songs.
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I agree, and I fully recognise the importance of having a finely tuned ear... But!!!

    I can hear the average bassline and usually play it to a satisfactory standard, if not perfectly, within a few minutes, and I can figure out a chord progression from most pieces of popular music in much the same time... I can hear a basic turnaround etc etc
    I cant hear a chord and tell you the precise tones and I've been playing nearly 14 years!

    What you're describing is is a very high level of musicianship... and is probably scary as hell to someone just starting out! Maybe just recgonising major from minor would be a good start point! :)

    All I'm saying is let's not scare the guy half to death! You dont have to be able to notate an extended chord by ear to be a great musician!! :)

    Absolutley. A an understanding of root movement and what it actually is, how root movement makes a song work and therefore what the role of bass is is theory in itself!!!!
    I'd say start at the beginning rather than jumping in at the deep end with frikkin Eb7b5+9 chords!!! :D

    So what?
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Perhaps you think I'm Freeloading on the works of others, and ignoring the Milestones of so many composers who used the "ii-V-I gravity" so well, but I'm not just being Black and Narcissistic here - when I look into my Infant son's Eyes, I see truths that go beyond so many pedantic declarations one may find in print. All one need do to escape the ii-V-I gravity is to embark on the Maiden Voyage of jazz past 1950, and one can Naima quite a large number of tunes devoid of this gravity.

    Anyway, those are just my Impressions...
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    No no, I actually meant so what? :D

    Show off :rolleyes:

  10. Garry Goodman

    Garry Goodman

    Feb 26, 2003
    Everything is ii-V-I in tonal music. If that is scary,SO WHAT? It doesn't get any more basic than that." So What?" is not helping this guy with theory.

    All that JAZZ in the 1950's all the abstractness still had funtion.that defines the music's emotional contour. When those musicians do other gigs, do you think they ever play a d mimor 7 or a G7 or a C major 7? Every song on the radio has a ii or a V or a I chord being played at any given moment

    ii-V-I is the definition of a key area.it also represents motion, peak and resolution. all of abstract stuff has those elements

    The thread was dealing with learning theory.The guy starting the thread didn't mention 1950 and later abstract modern jazz.

    my earlier post does break down theory to it's most basic elements. Although it is limited to major tonality,it is a simple as it gets.It's what you need to extract from any theory book.I posted what I did because it's saying theory isn't scary.it is simple,easy and you can do it.

    if I were to start over learning theory,I would first determine what my musical goals are. If you want to show up to every audition, gig,rehearsal etc. and know everything that is being played instantly,learn theory .
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    It's helping the young gentleman in question quite a bit if he learns that it is also possible to write and perfrom great music that doesn't conform to "the rules". In my opinion, of course. :)
  12. Garry Goodman

    Garry Goodman

    Feb 26, 2003
    Every chord Bartok wrote functions as a 11 , a V or a I. That's what happens with the 12 tone system.

    For anything anyone is going to do ,any style ,era,artist-you can't escape tonal law.

    Every piece of musi -unless it is Harry Partch or Xenoxis and using 31 tones per octave or Jusat intonation follows basic. chord function.

    It is as absolute as the law of gravity-and 99% of any good to excellent musicians know this.

    I'd like to get you you in the studio with the guys I do TV and Film sesions with and see how your concept holds up.

    I was a student of Dick Grove,Jamie Faunt and Chic Corea and went throughJamie Abersold's Books just to name a few. Why don't you contact them,and tell them theory is not absolute?
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Name dropping now? Oh, that's lovely. In the first place, that's a pretty cheesy way to bolster your point...you "went through Jamie Aebersold's Books just to name a few?". Yes, and so have half the high school jazz players in the country, as those are useful books if you use them right. In the second place, Chick spells his first name with a "K" on the end, and Jamey uses "ey" instead of "ie". In the third place, Jamey will be the first one to tell you that theory is not absolute, and that you should play what you hear rather than what you THINK...I've heard him say it many times.

    Look, I teach theory for a living, so I'll be the last one to come out and say that it's useless. But to say that all V7 chords do such and such, or that Bartok's quartets are really just a bunch of ii-V-I's because everything is all about ii, V, and I is just plain absurd. The only reason I posted here in the first place in response to your posts (much of which I find very helpful) was to point out that your points would be better served by claiming that most______ chords TEND to resolve ______ way. Once you do that, the statements are entirely reasonable. But as it is, many of these claims are completely unsupportable. You want me to name 20 instances where a V7 chord does not resolve directly to I? That would be pretty easy, no matter what style we were talking about.
  14. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    "So what" was a pun, kind of like a joke!

    You see, it doesnt have the standard II-V-I (Although, could you say that the semi-tone drop in the root simulates a resolve based on a tritone sub of the V, so the Eb-7 acts as a bII to teh D-7 as an i chord - ???)

    Anyway, the name of the song is the joke, "so what", do you see? ;)

    IMO, neither does telling a guy is just starting out on theory that:
    That's just over the top and unneccessary at this stage, IMO of course.

    Well I've heard of Chick Corea, but not Dick Grove or Jamie Faunt... and I'm working my way through some Aebersold books right now as it happens! :)

    Anyway, I play with my my mate Dave almost every week, except when his Mrs makes him do DIY, and he knows loads of theory and stuff and he says you're wrong :D
  15. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    interesting discussion!

    and I don't want to derail it (too much), but it got me wondering your thoughts on whether harmonic relations such as ii-V-I are learnt, or something we're naturally attuned to

    I can see the possibility we emerge from the womb with an innate feel for tension & resolution (a big part of it is pure physics.. wave interaction etc)

    but at the same time, we've all listened to music from other cultures and sometimes the harmonic language just isn't something you can compute - but people born & raised in that culture appear to dig it right away

    I know one can increase one's harmonic vocabulary to the point where once-tenuous relationships can make sense (exactly why some jazz can sound like 'a bunch of out of tune nonsense' to people who don't know the idiom) but surely the basics of harmony like ii-V-I are stuff people 'get' immediately? aren't they?

    nature or nurture?
  16. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Six of one and half a dozen of the other.
  17. Garry Goodman

    Garry Goodman

    Feb 26, 2003
    Ok-so you don't work alot. So I suggest you pick the last 1000 top teh hits,film scores ,jingles, production music libraries or any musi other than the obscure,isolated music you have mentioned and show me where a one,two or five chord hasn't been played,

    Do you guys ever do "gigs;"? Are you telling me the music never has a two or five or one chord ?

    Who cares how someone spells their name, you know who I mean-the guy who started this thread-if he was going in the direction of Berg,or Schoenberg or Stravinsky-would he be on Talk bass asking for input ? Any electric bass player alive knows that the electric bass is used in pop, jazz,shows , etc. not 20th century orchestral music.

    Once again- everything in popular music: the songs on the radio which include Country,R& B, Rock, Funk,Jazz, Broadway musicals, N'Sync, Brittany Spears, Stevie Wonder or Elvis or Frank Sinatra or ten thousand other recording artist rely on ii-V-I. Every song you play on a gig does.

    It is what makes music work. It's what you guys who want to learn theory must know.

    Once again:

    There are 9 vertical chord stacks or chord families. They cover the major and minor keys.each of the 9 chord families funtion as a ii or a V or a i chord. These functions end up having 119 chord progressions which you have heard a million times.The vertical stacks have horizontal scales thaat work as a melody and solo source for the chor stacks. The chord progressions fit into phttases, 2,4,8,16etc. The phrases fit into a song form such as A,A,B,A or verse/chorus. Styles of music determine the 'feel" and groove. Rhumba,Rock ,Cha Cha,swing,Punk, alternative all use the same elements. There is quarter,eigth,sixteen and triplet feels. either you can play anything and read anything,or you musically are illiterate.

    This is the real stuff that any real musicians know and rely on. why try so hard to make me look like an idiot when it's not me,but reality you are fighting ? This isn't my idea, but thousands of pros who do this all the time.
  18. Slot


    Oct 17, 2003
    Sydney - The Shire
    I agree with Chris here 100%

    To say that all V7 chords resolve is a severely flawed statement.

    You only have to look at a jazz 12 bar blues to see that dominant chords can also be used soley as a tonal flavour. Not just as a pivot point for a dominant resolution.

    And ive lost count of the amount of funk songs ive played on that have had the progression: 1V7---|2V7--- (c7, d7)...........No dominant resolution there either, just a tonal flavour that many musicians enjoy.

    The mathematics of music are an extremely helpful composition tool, and imo should be learnt by everyone. Only laziness prevents this from happening .......But without rules being broken, there would never be any progression
  19. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I dont work at all! I'm an amateur! I suppose that makes my opinion less valid, oh well :(

    Not at all. Just that not ALL music uses a II-V-I. Hence "So What"!

    What, every single one? Surley not?!
  20. Garry Goodman

    Garry Goodman

    Feb 26, 2003

    This is why I ask,what is your musical goal. I post here because i want to make a point. If you can't play something and anticipate where it;s going next the instant you here it,you are not enjoying the language of music. It is satisfying to play a song you don't know, but can play it anyway because you hear where it is going. It's like going to Japan ,and speaking and understanding Japanese. If you want to be a bass player then you have to consider these concepts. The same goes for sight reading. And I ask "what are your musical goals? ". If it is to work professionally ,knowing this stuff is a must.

    Theory isn't hard,or scarey. -I will help anyone who wants to learn theory as it applies to modern music. If you find theory to be overwhelming,send me an email and I will help you/
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