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Suggestions, please.

Suggestions, please.
January 22, 2008, 03:54:03 PM
Hello, I'm new here, as I suppose you can tell by my post count. First and foremost, I would like to say thanks. I have been a lurker for a while, and I learned a lot about a genre of music I would have otherwise been semi-clueless about.

Well, I suppose that in order to not look like a complete idiot, I should tell you why I am asking this question.

Allright, so, as of now I am 18. I didn't really develop much love for music. Sure, I listened to the stuff that everyone else listened to, and listened to things for the fun of it, but I never really became intensely emotionally tied to it.

So, after listening to shit like (I am ashamed to say, but Dragonforce) for a while, I became disenchanted with music all together and gave up on it. Nothing ever really evoked any emotion within me, and at that point in time, nothing really agreed with my ideologies.

I then started listening to Black Metal and instantly fell in love with it. (I was really introduced when a Gay Midget Fecal Pr0n (GMFP) band, Wolves in the Throne Room, came through my town.) The romantic ideologies and ability to discuss the worlds problems in a way other that the generic punk "Fuck Bush, bomb the white house etc etc" really appealed to me.

So, I have been listening to it for around 3 or 4 months and have started branching into classical and the like.

Now, here is my question. Although I enjoy the music, I have never really had any education in the ways and structure of music (Nor listened to anything that would provide any experience in dissecting musical structure), and it is something that greatly interests me. Could any of you point me to a resource from which I could learn these things?

I would really appreciate any help you guys throw my way.

chrstphrbnntt

Re: Suggestions, please.
January 22, 2008, 04:58:20 PM
Could you be more specific?

If you're in your senior year of high school, you may still have time to apply for a music theory class. If not, you could take up an instrument; at the intermediate level music analysis comes with the territory, and it's a lot less drab than buying some book on music theory. Most colleges offer music courses, so taking up piano wouldn't be hard at all if you practice vigilantly.

Re: Suggestions, please.
January 22, 2008, 09:12:55 PM
Several members of this website have been trying to get a project going that would detail the type of information that you've requested, but we have yet to really get the project off the ground, and until it's completed, your best bet is to take a music theory class at a local school, or if that's not possible, maybe spend some time with an online guide such as this one

Re: Suggestions, please.
January 23, 2008, 12:28:54 AM
I dont mean to be an ass, but i'm curious as to why you'd want to dissect music in the first place.  I've played and hung around lots of musicians in the past and it always struck me as odd how so many of them just pop erections when they figure out the timing and notation of some black metal song, ignoring the whole experience of the music during the process.  I'm not trying to insult people who are musically literate, but i just have to ask why its even necessary to fixate on such things when all it does is offer you a view of the individual songs in a format which they simply werent meant for - like assembly code for computers.  What the hell does that have to do with art?  

Its like looking at the Mona Lisa through 3d glasses..

Re: Suggestions, please.
January 23, 2008, 01:30:02 AM
Technical analysis and artistic analysis overlap, but aren't one and the same.

People who see only the technical are musicians but not artists. That's most of black metal now.

It's more important to know what's being communicated. About ten people do, these days.
ASBO

“Kurt Cobain was, ladies and gentlemen, a worthless shred of human debris.” - Rush Limbaugh

Re: Suggestions, please.
January 28, 2008, 10:40:06 PM
Quote
I dont mean to be an ass, but i'm curious as to why you'd want to dissect music in the first place.  I've played and hung around lots of musicians in the past and it always struck me as odd how so many of them just pop erections when they figure out the timing and notation of some black metal song, ignoring the whole experience of the music during the process.  I'm not trying to insult people who are musically literate, but i just have to ask why its even necessary to fixate on such things when all it does is offer you a view of the individual songs in a format which they simply werent meant for - like assembly code for computers.  What the hell does that have to do with art?  

Its like looking at the Mona Lisa through 3d glasses..

I know what you mean. I have a fairly decent musical background(I play guitar, and used to play sax). While I know theory, there are things that it would take away some of the magic from if it was applied. Namely black metal. While musical background is important for playing any type of music, music is like painting. You don't pay attention to what types of brushes the painter used, or how exactly he moved his hand when painting(I know it's a crappy example), you look at the finished product, and try to decipher what the painter meant by painting it.

My advise to the OP is this. If you want to play music, take theory classes, lessons etc, but if you want to stick with just listening, you should just keep listening, and if you're lucky, you will go deeper and deeper into it.

Re: Suggestions, please.
January 29, 2008, 02:16:02 AM
If you play an instrument then you will always see the technical part of the music. I have been studying theory in a school like you suggested to him. It really has taken away from the experience of listening to music, although my own playing has improved dramatically. Honestly, I wouldn't say understanding the structure isn't bad because then it's just other things in the music you "pop a boner for." The reason they go crazy when they figure stuff out is that they're probably fairly new musicians. They're still learning how to play. The first step in learning is imitating, so they're happy when they figure out what the musicians did. I feel exactly this way.

Re: Suggestions, please.
January 30, 2008, 05:31:24 PM
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If you play an instrument then you will always see the technical part of the music.  


This is very true. After learning theory it can be really hard not to obsess over the technical details of one's own  and others' compositions. I think that can be bad for people who make music. Learning theory, especially from a formal, classical approach was kind of limiting in a certain sense for me as a musician because I ended up with all these ideas of how I ought and ought not to be composing things. Learning theory is useful and can give you an insight into how certain things in music work, but I would suggest to anybody that they unlearn this stuff to a degree, since being too concerned with it has the potential to detract from the sense of spontaneity in one's music.

On the other hand, once you internalize certain ideas and ways of approaching music I suppose you can avoid such pitfalls. For instance, when I studied classical guitar for a few years I took away from that a new approach to constructing guitar riffs influenced by the way classical guitar pieces are constructed. It's now a totally natural and beneficial thing for me.

Re: Suggestions, please.
February 01, 2008, 03:18:15 PM
To go off on a tangent, I have gone through a few periods in my life where I intuitively improvised things that I thought sounded good (but wasn't sure if it was theoritically correct) and a few weeks later finding out that they are actually used in music theory and composition. Totally unrelated, I know, but I'm hinting at the possibility of one's musical intuition. If you feel music...Never mind. Too unrelated.
Read theory books on your own. I don't think a non-music major would be allowed to take a theory class unless they audition on an instrument (but then what do I know? I'm only basing my assumptions on subjective experience). You might be able to take a music appreciation class, however. If your professor is a great musicologist then he will not only talk music but relate it to philosophy, theology, architecture, and aesthetics and how they correlate to one another and how there awesomeness unfolds. I happen to have a teacher as such.
Also, I think it is possible to hire a music theory teacher. Or better yet, when you get to college hang out with music students.
Signature: Something I didn't sign up for but found inherently true.

JJ

Re: Suggestions, please.
February 01, 2008, 04:56:26 PM
Quote
Read theory books on your own. I don't think a non-music major would be allowed to take a theory class unless they audition on an instrument (but then what do I know? I'm only basing my assumptions on subjective experience). You might be able to take a music appreciation class, however. If your professor is a great musicologist then he will not only talk music but relate it to philosophy, theology, architecture, and aesthetics and how they correlate to one another and how there awesomeness unfolds. I happen to have a teacher as such.


This is sound advice. If you're interested in music theory, learn it on your own terms at your own pace. I'm currently studying The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory, second edition, which is a nice intro to the basics and fundamentals.

What happens during these auditions? How long are they? What do you play? etc...

Re: Suggestions, please.
February 02, 2008, 03:07:29 PM
Quote
Totally unrelated, I know, but I'm hinting at the possibility of one's musical intuition.


Music theory is based on sounds. It's not arbitrary.

It's not hard to make something sound good. What's hard is to tell a story by stringing together different things with varying degrees of sounding good.

Any idiot can make a jazz jam or rock song, because it's one-dimensional.

Only a few can make great symphonies or songs that truly transport the listener to more than one place.
ASBO

“Kurt Cobain was, ladies and gentlemen, a worthless shred of human debris.” - Rush Limbaugh

Re: Suggestions, please.
February 04, 2008, 02:00:31 PM
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Only a few can make great symphonies or songs that truly transport the listener to more than one place.


While this is true, I've come across many people who think they are creating genius that speaks to a different crowd but their symphony or their tone poem ends up sounding like atonal unintelligible garbage. I speak mainly to those silly serialists who swear they are coming up with something  "original". They only want to score brownie points and attention, both positive and negative.
As for as music goes, I feel it should stop being ugly just to please some psychotic fresh out-college intellectual opportunist nutcase. By ugly I mean chaotic. This isn't an attack on Metal, as Metal has more tone center and structure than most atonal music, and it finds beauty in ugliness and destruction.
For some odd reason, and I know I'm wrong but I can't resist saying it, I get the impression that one who attacks people who make music that sounds good, calling it "bland" and "lacking essence", are just jealous that there music doesn't sound as good. Let me put this in better perspective. What is music and what are its intentions? Music is the architecture of sounds intelligible to the human ear. It is meant to be comprehended instantly. Now, like literature, one must comprehend first to analyze it. When reading Hamlet, one must first comprehend the story before going to the intricacies.
I've got to run; I'm not done. My final words are this (for now): Music is too complicated to confine itself to the limitations of abstraction. Something to think about.
Signature: Something I didn't sign up for but found inherently true.

Re: Suggestions, please.
February 04, 2008, 08:40:53 PM
I have loved music for a long time.  My first love was punk.  I loved aggressive music and I love how it can be both extremely ugly to the uninitiated but deeply beautiful and meaningful to fans (teenagers) and us (me), those who want to stay young in our hearts.  Nothing made me understand music more than when I learned a little about the drumset.  I learned how to play a punk beat (d beat) and the standard grind.  The 4/4 four on the floor, with snare on beat three, bass on one.  These basics make the listening process change.  The instruments stand apart from each other and each one can be taken individually.  From this point, hopefully your interest will grow and you will at least understand the individual lines that come together to make a punk song or black metal or whatever.  Another great thing about the drumset is you don't even really need a real drumset, you can make one.  You just need something metallic sounding (cymbal or high hat), something to kick that makes a thud, and something to beat with your left hand (phonebook) for a snare.  Listen to Discharge of Minor Threat and just pretend you are masturbating with your whole body but do it with the timing of the song.  Your mom will hate you... your soul will love you and you will get your aggression out, you will feel like a heathen and you will be on your way to making music.    
I'LL BE THE FIRST ONE AT YOUR FUNERAL
AND I'LL BE THE LAST ONE TO LEAVE!!!!!!!

Re: Suggestions, please.
February 05, 2008, 06:50:14 PM
I can't speak for all universities, but where I go, there is no prerequisite for taking music theory courses, so long as you start at the elementary level (they offer: elementary and intermediate theory classes, with each section taking up a year's--two semesters'--worth of classes).

I'm an English major, but I took the year of elementary theory when I was a Sophomore, and I'm currently involved in a composition/arranging class as a Junior with 3 semesters to go before graduation.

Next semester, I will probably start intermediate theory and take another form/analysis type class.

I take these classes simply because I like to learn as much as possible about how music works. While it's true that music theory can be learned at one's own pace, I find it easiest to learn in a classroom setting, where the trial and error of putting theory into practice is made easier by having classmates and teachers to help you out. Other people may experience different results, so I suggest just finding out what works best for you.

That said, when I come home, plug in the (bass) guitar and start playing, I don't worry about theory. Guitar playing, especially guitar playing of the metal variety, is not something that tends to require knowledge of theory (or high levels of musicianship, for that matter).

Look at a band like Gorguts, as an example:

One of the band's main songwriters (Luc Lemay) has a bachelor's degree in music composition, but still admits that he writes metal by ear, as he did in his early days with the band. I believe he said something similar to what others have said above me:

Just because you know theory doesn't mean that you have apply it to everything you write; if anything, it's more practical to use it within the contexts of "band" music as a language that one can use to communicate with other musicians, and to discover, if necessary, how/why certain sounds function the way they do, at the scientific level.

When one starts writing music at a level of complexity that far-exceeds the reach of metal, where there are more than two or three active voices, each with its own unique range/timbre, that is when theory is most helpful as a compositional tool.

In simpler musical contexts, (like metal) it is much easier for the composer to get by without knowing the science of how the various elements in his music are reacting to each other; the more elements that get added, though, the closer the composer has to scrutinize the reactions, otherwise, the music is likely to combust.

Re: Suggestions, please.
February 05, 2008, 09:13:57 PM
To complete about Gorguts, he also said that when you finish studying at university in music, you must first unlearn what you learned : it must be natural, automatic and mostly unconsciouss rather then copying some rules.