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Music theory provokes life-changing epiphany


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#16 Eureka

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Posted 09 February 2019 - 12:31

This is all fascinating – thank you!

 

Just speaking personally, I feel learning about this is relevant to my playing. Understanding the structures at work in terms of physics and harmony theory (and more fundamentally, appreciating that a structure exists at all) is all adding to that ‘musical whole’ and seems to have actually changed how I hear and experience music. It actually FEELS different now!

 

Like Cyrilla, I perceived the different aspects and styles of music as separate before – I didn’t see the connections. Now I feel my eyes are open to connections, they seem to be everywhere! And I’m left wondering how I missed them and hoping that other people don’t miss out too.

 

Does anyone else have this experience? I guess many people on here would have understood that there are structures at work from young age, so it would feel more natural? Perhaps my experience has been startling just because I missed it for so long, and a first ‘breakthrough’ of understanding arrived very suddenly.


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#17 Splog

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Posted 09 February 2019 - 17:32

I had a similar experience once. I was in a Kodály musicianship class, and we were singing through chord progressions in solfa, when suddenly I started to hear the chords and the inversions. I remembered my piano teacher trying to explain the piece of Bach we were playing, and me not getting it at all, and it suddenly made sense. I ran out at the end of the class, found the nearest piano, and started playing the Bach fluently, listening to all the chords and modulations. I started to really enjoy playing the piano after that.

 

(I can play piano chords, but not fluently. I have experience as a guitarist of being able to play chords to accompany, but I don't really do it with piano.)


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#18 Eureka

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Posted 11 February 2019 - 09:42

That sounds amazing. I'm going to my first Kodály class soon...I have to say my expectations are rather high! Perhaps a second epiphany is a bit ambitious though...

 

I used to play the guitar a little bit as a teenager - just learnt a few chords as many people do. I find it so curious that I filed this totally separately in my brain as "guitar music" - it never even crossed my mind that I could play those same chords on the piano and sing along! And similarly, I filed classical music in general as a completely different thing - I didn't realize that this also had the (what I considered) "guitar chords" there too because it was notated in a different way. But it meant I actually didn't know the chords / harmonic structure was even there! 

 

While I'm on the subject of the depths of my ignorance, another thing I wasn't really conscious of was this:

There are 12 notes!

I mean, if I'd thought about it I could have worked it out, but it wasn't front of mind at all.

12 notes, 12 major scales, 12 major triads. That now seems to be the basis of it all - from that you can work out the minors and all the other modes. And for me the circle of fifths is the most powerful way to show this and see how the different keys relate to one another. But the scale book just seemed to go on and on, like a spelling list. It was very unclear to me that the magic number was 12.

  


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#19 Kai-Lei

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 08:52

It's always heartening to hear these stories. For me, "theory" came alongside the practical almost from the start: 4 part harmony, species counterpoint and things - so one learns about progressions, patterns, chromatic alterations and by understanding how composers got their musical dramatics, like the use of appoggiaturas, suspensions and how they used diminished 7ths. Some students find this mystifying at first - and possibly just for playing a score, doesn't seem relevant but for composition and improvisation they're a "must". (I look on improvisation as composition on the fly.)

 

An understanding of progressions makes transposing a lot easier because a given pattern is the same in every key. Even so I could never get too involved with the nomenclature of harmony - some people carry it to extremes, as I see it. My analyses are usually simple and the decorations are added as I go. 

 

Yes, it helps anyone approaching a new piece - with conventional harmony you quickly find out what's going on. And should you want to improvise it makes things that much easier. 


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