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9

On a practical level, knowing some theory can be useful to a composer in certain circumstances. First is when a composition is not as interesting as the composer would like it to be. He/she would like to evoke something different than whatever the music inspires at that stage of composition. Examining the melody for how it conforms to standard scales, ...


9

It's rather like language. Treating the rules as prescriptive allows you to always be generally understood (or compose something non-irritating). You need to understand the rules in order to know when it is OK to break them, even though you could accidentally break them and still make a comprehensible sentence (or pleasing melody) without knowing why. ...


8

Actually, a major chord is formed by using a root, a major third and a perfect fifth. Doesn't necessarily have to be the 1,3 and 5 of the scale. Let's take the C major scale and see for which root notes we have the major third and the perfect fifth: C; the third is E (major third), the fifth is G (perfect) -> Major Chord (I) D; the third is F (minor) E; ...


6

Tentative answer, and I may edit it as I see your edit, is that you are using periods where they shouldn't be used. Periods are, by their very nature, a rounded musical paragraph, with a dominant in the middle and a tonic at the end: they're great if you're looking to confirm a tonality; less so if you're looking to elaborate a tonality. So, periods are good ...


5

First off, the notion that you can write more freely if you "don't know the rules" is an unfortunate fallacy. When I hear guitar players saying that they eschew learning theory or how to read sheet music because it will "stifle their creativity" I think, "lads, you're trying to run a marathon with a boat anchor strapped to your ankle." Functional harmony ...


4

In math, you are supposed to know 1+1 = 2. You do not need to know math in a formal way to know when you have two apples. As math becomes more technical, common knowledge is less equivalent, even while it is still relevant (What is the thrust required to leave the surface of the planet, or what is the compound interest of your account over the next 6 years?) ...


3

All a piece being in C major tells you is: The home note (tonic) of a piece of music What harmony and set of notes to expect A piece being in C major does not tell you: The time signature The form of a piece The length of a piece The melody itself The overall feel The instrumentation of a piece The overall harmony of a piece (chord progression) The ...


3

Morton Feldman is a major composer in this sort of music. His style was very quite, slow enough to be essentially ametric, and in his later works he become interested in extremes of time - his String Quartet No. 2 is over six hours long. Rothko Chapel is his best-known work. Feldman's does often included some quite strong dissonance, unlike much other ...


3

I am 16 and I have chromesthesia, the type of synesthesia being discussed where I hear sounds and see colors. I think it might be of interest to you to learn that this is genetic in my family (my father and my paternal grandmother and myself) and we all have the same colors for the same notes or songs. If it matters to you which are which this is it: A = ...


2

You certainly wouldn't be the first. According to Wikipedia, in 1972 Leonard Bernstein performed it with an "improvised performance he called 'Pluto, the Unpredictable'". The same Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Planets) has some speculations on why the movements of the suite are in the particular order. You can form your own opinion ...


2

Even if you are just using the tones from one scale, there is no limitation in which order the tones in the scale are used. Even if a piece is in C major, often other tones are brought in, further opening up the possibilities. If you keep the rhythm the same, limit your composition to four tones, keep within one octave and the tones in the C major scale, ...


2

The thing is simply, that the structure of major chords and the harmonic pattern I IV V do not depend on the same laws of tonality. A major chord is built with the overtones 4, 5 and 6, and this comes out to be a structure depending on thirds. Meaning in overtone scale the overtones 4, 5 and 6 build up the major chord of the base tone. The harmonic ...


2

How is theory supposed to inform composition? Completely. On the other hand, there are untutored musicians who know nothing about theory, and who in some sense are more "free to break the rules", being unaware of what the rules are. I contend the fact that good musicians break the rules. If you break the rules for the mere sake of breaking ...


2

No. The definition of a major triad in canonical form (in practice it can be spaced out in terms of octaves, inverted and its members doubled, obviously, hence "canonical") is not 1-3-5 in terms of major scale degrees; it is 4 semitones (a major third) and 7 semitones (a perfect fifth) from a given root, any given root. In a major scale, it happens that ...


2

You can use theory to form a framework which underpins your composition. The framework provides a basic structure that guides the composition, but the details of the composition distinguish it from other compositions, even those that use the same framework.


2

Theory is both descriptive, and, to the extent that it gives an accurate description, also a bit prescriptive (but only to that extent). It might be correct to say that theory doesn't provide rules so much as rules-of-thumb. What theory does is provide a set of tested solutions to common problems. If, in a piece written in common practice tonality, you find ...


1

There exists a "normal" dynamic. This "normal", however, is not a generic dynamic marking, but a specific marking that fits each piece. For example, a normal dynamic for a Chopin nocturne might be p, but a normal dynamic for a Liszt etude might be f. Basically, the "zero level" for each song is different. If you want to implement a "normal" dynamic, don't ...


1

In the same way that verbal tempo indications (andante, largo etc.) indicate more than just BPM measured with a clock, verbal dynamics indications mean more than just volume as measured by a decibel meter. "mp" means to approach the music as though it were "quiet music" even if the overall volume is not dissimilar from "mf" -- though the latter could be ...


1

It's all relative. It will depend on the venue, the size of orchestra, the whim of the conductor. When a 'middle' level is established, then the proper markings come into their own, as in mp will be a little quieter, while mf is a little louder. As far as 'is ff twice as loud as f?' is concerned, please don't ask! Haven't met a conductor with a decibel meter ...


1

You need to know theory because: Music composition is a craft. You may very well do something intuitively, but that doesn't change the fact that you need to learn the craft. More often people have an intuition for melody and harmony but they rarely have intuition for form, and form essentially is composition. Without form your music is at best sound design ...


1

As other's have suggested, it is not necessary to know any theory at all to create great musical compositions. Music follows some basic laws of nature that are innate not only to humans, but some studies have even suggested plants can respond in predictable ways to music. Theory is merely an attempt to logically explain why some music sounds good and some ...


1

Just a brief meta-theoretical note: Rockin' Cowboy's answer above recapitulates a whole line of 19th-ct attempts to derive the basic functions of tonal music from the major triad (which at least one theorist called the "Chord of Nature" because of the way it follows the overtone series). In order to do that, they constructed a dualist system: that is, for ...


1

As others have pointed out, the "1, 3, 5" of a chord are relative to the root of the chord, not the key. It's important to realize that any note in the key (or even outside of it, but let's ignore that) can be the root of a chord. What these numbers mean, is that once you've picked some note of the scale as a root for your chord, you create the rest of the ...


1

Try listening to works by Vaughan Williams. Some parts of his works are very atmospheric. An example would be "Fantasy on a Theme by Thomas Tallis". It was used in the film "Master and Commander" to give an atmospheric feel to a little boat in a big ocean.


1

Try the 20th Century minimalist works of Steve Reich, Phillip Glass, and also sometimes the piano of George Winston. Steve Reich, particularly, uses some looping (called "phases" sometimes) that quite often acheive an ambient affect.


1

Dom's article on stretto applies in many cases, but not this one. At the start of BWV 578, Bach is using a real (not tonal) answer. That means that the answer is an exact transposition of the subject a fifth up. Consequently he is obliged to write a small bridge episode of 1-1/2 bars to prepare for the entry of the subject on the tonic in the tenor. It ...


1

In the example that you posted (the "Little Fugue"), what you have is the rhythm getting a half-bar "out of phase" with itself. This is something you actually see quite frequently in classical music (or at least Baroque music) that's written in common meter (4/4). It's by no means unique to fugues. I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone directly discuss the ...


1

Depends. A simple canon at the octave is a bit of a doddle. The biggest difficulty is avoiding the impression of "running in place": it's a distinct advantage to have some aptitude for reharmonisation of existing melodic lines. The difficulty with canons at other intervals is in avoiding having the material running away from you, so to speak: it will want ...


1

I have this as well, but strangely enough it's more associated with composers than keys. I have no idea why. Mozart is generally red. Chopin is deep blue, with some exceptions: for example the Ab Polonaise is red. Brahms is green. Schumann and Liszt are both purple. Beethoven has different colors for different pieces. Bach is often white, the only one ...



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