Why music theory is important -but not the usual reasons

Discussion in 'Tab & Music Forum' started by stradovarious, Mar 28, 2013.

  1. Hugh

    Hugh Got Cluck ?

    Messages:
    9,535
    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2009
    Location:
    Louisville (KY)

    +1

    It really is that simple.
     
  2. davidKOS

    davidKOS not posting these days

    Messages:
    15,408
    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Location:
    California
    The rock critics have been trashing progressive music since the mid-70's when they decided that bands they used to like such as Yes and Jethro Tull were no longer cool.

    The critics loved the then new Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, the punks, etc.

    Much had to do with the rise of cynical materialism and the attitudes of the Rolling Stone editorial staff.
     
  3. tumeniguitars

    tumeniguitars Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    953
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    RS has been thrashing Rush for years and only recently started publishing news about them that doesn't ridicule or marginalize in some way. Best part? Rush didn't need their - or any other critic's - approval.
     
  4. StratMike10

    StratMike10 Dr. Stratster Silver Member

    Age:
    61
    Messages:
    11,690
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Location:
    Florida
    I have to say I'm leaning towards what MW13068 is saying.

    Creation of art comes from innate talent, not from knowledge of theory.

    Without the talent, all the theory knowledge in the world will not help you create art.

    But if you have the talent, you can create the art, independent of your knowledge of theory.

    As far as Picasso vs. Cobain...
    I don't listen to Cobain, but when I do/did, there is a gut feeling that says... There is something big here, there is power to move many hearts.
    When I see Picasso, I think (non-flattering statement) and laugh at Intellectuals :)
     
  5. stratman in va

    stratman in va Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    52
    Messages:
    8,830
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2012
    Location:
    Virginia
    I think talent plays a part, as well as hard work, perhaps even discipline / persistence to keep going. The Beatles did not put out Rubber Soul and Revolver the first or second time they hit the studio. George Harrison kept writing and put out a 3 disc album early in his solo career.
     
  6. stratman in va

    stratman in va Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    52
    Messages:
    8,830
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2012
    Location:
    Virginia
    Brill ... I had to do that too... but on another thread ( it is a STRAT forum !!)
     
  7. mw13068

    mw13068 Most Honored Senior Member Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,950
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    This discussion has me thinking about what "talent" is.

    Miriam Webster says "Natural aptitude or skill" -- Concise enough. But the question is: are you born with talent, or do you develop it because you're intrested in something and practice at it.

    There is no doubt that some humans are born with an innate understanding (abnormal to most others) of music, math, language, etc. but they don't make up the whole set of those people who others consider "talented."

    Can "talent" be the result of study (whether formal, or not) and practice?

    It seems to me that anyone who has worked at something long enough to be proficient would seem "talented" to an observer who has an interest in the 'something' but doesn't have the same proficiency.

    Conversely, someone who was extremely skilled at something that the observer had little interest in, perhaps wouldn't seem so talented.

    Is "talent" a property of the skilled person, or an observation of the interested observer? I'm starting to think that talent has more to do with the observer.
     
  8. stratman in va

    stratman in va Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    52
    Messages:
    8,830
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2012
    Location:
    Virginia
    "Conversely, someone who was extremely skilled at something that the observer had little interest in, perhaps wouldn't seem so talented."


    I had not thought of it that way, but I think I see the point .... for the longest time I though golf was boring, then I got out and tried it in the late 1990s. It takes skill to put that ball where you want it to go.
     
  9. TrevorMarshall

    TrevorMarshall Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    673
    Joined:
    May 13, 2011
    Location:
    Phelan, CA.
    Agreed but you can't compare the two as far as grunge and classical go.
    Two entirely different spectrums. I play a ton of blues and folk stuff and have the the theory down pretty decent, but I absolutely love playing in grunge bands. They're more free than anything else. I mean really, you never have to worry about playing well or singing on pitch, you just go as heavy and loud as you can. It's a really freeing thing that more structured music just can't give you.
     
  10. nhsdpl

    nhsdpl Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    4,190
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2012
    Location:
    West Australia

    Interesting.

    Let's look at "talent", and as an example I'll use something very close to home; your posts.

    When it comes to the mechanics of writing, you have an ability to use words that clearly and concisely convey your point of view; you also do it with a fair degree of consistancy, ruling out the blind/beginners luck argument.

    I would argue that you are the most talented writer on this forum.

    This is my opinion, the opinion of an observer.

    So where does this talent come from?

    Perhaps you are a journalist, an editor, maybe you work in advertising, and this talent is something that you have aquired and honed over many years; perhaps you are a brick layer, a salesman at an electrical appliance store, a chartered accountant, and this talent is innate.

    Now comes the interesting part.

    How do you feel about your posts?

    If you think that on the whole your posts are generally coherent......yes I know, everything can always be made better.........and relevant to the topic at hand, then talent is the property of a skilled person.

    If you think that I'm FOS, and your posts amount to little more than gibberish, then talent is the observation of an observer.

    Cheers.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
  11. OwnYourTone

    OwnYourTone Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    801
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Location:
    Kansas City
    To add one more facet to the talent element that plays into our musicianship, perhaps there is what I will call, meaningful talent. I am pondering if there's talent that is sensed by the listener and musician alike that somehow gifts both individuals with a connection - be it a mere appreciation of the music, an idea or emotion, etc? In the back of my mind, this is what I long for as a musician. To put it the best I can, I long to think and feel that my music is good somehow and I long for others to think the same, not out of ego, but out of 'blessing.' Not sure if that makes sense?
     
  12. guitarman60

    guitarman60 Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,018
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2013
    Location:
    Kentucky
    I knew you would get some "Cobain mail" over this but, I agree. I'm an old fart but I'm also a Guster fan. I can't say much about the last half of Nirvana songs because I can't get through the first half.
     
  13. NEStrataholic

    NEStrataholic Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,914
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2012
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    The OP posited that one has to know theory in order to know how to break it to create something new that is actually good The collective response has been that you don't need any knowledge of theory to write great music.

    Since we can analyze certain kinds of music using theory to fully understand what makes it "work", theory has value in developing existing styles or slightly breaking rules to incrementally advance music.

    But what of music that doesn't come from theory? It may not be analyzable by current theory at all. It can still be great.

    So, of what value is theory really anyway?
     
  14. mw13068

    mw13068 Most Honored Senior Member Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,950
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    Well, my wife tells me it's rude to argue with someone giving you a compliment, so I won't argue. Thanks. :)

    Asynchronous communication (writing, email, forum posts) are definitely my favorite form of communication. Mostly because in real-time, I have mixed results. When speaking to real live people, I tend to stammer (um, err, ah,) if I'm the slightest bit nervous. "Small-talk" is the worst!

    In writing, I get lots of time to think, compose, edit, and proof-read before hitting the 'send' button -- so I take full advantage of it.


    Of course this supports the theory that talent can be acquired through study and practice, since language is a learned skill. That's a comforting thought.


    Yep. I defintiely think someone is more talented if they can cause me to have an emotional reaction (as long as it's a positive one) to their work.
     
  15. davidKOS

    davidKOS not posting these days

    Messages:
    15,408
    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Location:
    California
    That's where you guys may be slightly missing the point - even "music that doesn't come from theory" can be analyzed. All music can be analyzed and studied and even codified.

    Then the theorist will figure out why the music in question "works". It may not be based on the old functional harmony, which is why you may call it "music that doesn't come from theory" - but since theory is AFTER the fact, any music can be broken down into its parts for study.

    Perhaps a "new" theory will be developed to explain what happened, but pretty much any tonal music can be analyzed under the rules Paul Hindemith worked out in the classic book "The Craft of Musical Composition: Theoretical Part - Book 1"

    The Craft of Musical Composition: Theoretical Part - Book 1 (Tap/159): Paul Hindemith: 0073999691658: Amazon.com: Books

    Frankly it can handle almost any music, from medieval chant to the most modern music.

    What you guys are thinking of is "functional harmony", the basic rules of music from Bach to the Beatles.

    Even those examples of music that breaks the rules of functional harmony can be analyzed with the tools from CMC.

    A taste of CMC:

    http://www.hsiaolanwang.com/lecturenotes/NewHarmonicResources.pdf

    "The system was intended to accommodate principles of not only traditional tonal music,
    but any type of 'meaningful' music."
     
  16. stratman in va

    stratman in va Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    52
    Messages:
    8,830
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2012
    Location:
    Virginia
    many years ago, I learned some music theory from book ( in the school library) with a title like that - "Bach to the Beatles" I think its out of print, would love to find a copy of it again. IIRC, it made a lot of sense.
     
  17. davidKOS

    davidKOS not posting these days

    Messages:
    15,408
    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Location:
    California
    I read it too, good book. There are also several series on the Beatles' music in theory terms, among them:

    Alan W. Pollack's Notes on ... Series

    Alan W. Pollack's Notes on ... Series

    The Harmonic Language of the Beatles

    Oxford University Press: The Beatles As Musicians: Walter Everett
     
  18. stratman in va

    stratman in va Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    52
    Messages:
    8,830
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2012
    Location:
    Virginia
  19. GuitarAJ

    GuitarAJ Most Honored Senior Member

    Age:
    25
    Messages:
    5,090
    Joined:
    May 27, 2011
    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    This is a very interesting thread !
     
  20. abracadabra

    abracadabra Most Honored Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,532
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    I like that it has covered some pretty sensitive ground without either side getting into a slanging match. these type of threads in the past have been a little ugly. people seem a lot more reasonable in this.:)