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My teacher told me when I'm learning a piece I have to understand the underlying harmony, only then I would be able to learn and play it easily, he also told me to never learn the notes itself (because every note is part of a chord or harmonizing with a chord I could only imagine) , instead figure out the harmony then play it over and over again until you internalize it, then play the actual notes that the composer written and see how they take a chord progression make it into a song

I really like this idea because it allows you to learn the piece quicker and you won't get bored of the song by the time you finish learning the whole piece.

My goal is to be able to recognize harmonies quickly, for example, these and knowing them by Nashville Number System so it'll make transcribing and communication easier)

What notes are in chord Dm?

What's it's V/V or iv/V chord

What's the relative Major key of A major

What's Am first inversion?

If I want to modulate from C major to the V/V chord what do I do?

Do you guys know what I'm talking about? (I don't think there are enough examples for all the general situations but I hope you understand what I'm after).

Some pieces' harmony are crazy, sometimes when composers are really feeling it, they tend to harmonize the chord progressions with chords in the relative key, the minor key.

Some composers even use the degree of the scale as chords like The IV of V, The V of V. they add seventh chords in order to modulate to a different key, you'd dread this process if you haven't internalized the scale and chords because you'd be taking hours and hours just figuring out the chords, even if you got the chords, without the internalization, you wouldn't be able to understand it fully.

so in order to be able to identify these harmonies fast, I have to basically internalize all the scales, (most of the) chords, their chord degree, and obviously knowing what the chord progression sound like

It's daunting and I don't even know how to start internalizing at first, I tried to memorize the chords right?

Cmaj C E G Dmaj D F A

but then I have to be able to immediately know their inversions and Nashville Number System

so Cmaj 1,3,5 C,E,G plus inversions. it's not easy for me to be able to switch them around and to be able to know them as their inversions so it looks like I have to internalize each and every inversion.

I believe that internalizing these foundational pieces could turn people in true musicians, people should be taking as little time as reading and understanding tbh, any time wasted on figuring out the harmony is wasted....

Okay maybe not that fast but if your taking time to go through inversions or scale notes or using a reference, it's mostly waste of time

I'm seeking for advice and efficiency and I need your help to be able to achieve this as I know some people might have gone through this. I know that taking time to learn this entire system could lead to too many trials and error

Thanks for reading my post

EDIT: I just wanted to clarify I'm going to give an example check out this video

0:50 he could immediately identify that the F-7 is the vi chord (Because F is the 6th scale degree) Bb-7 is the ii chord Eb7 is the V Abmaj7 is the I chord in the key of Ab

I'm assuming if he had lead sheets in all 12 major scale he could know which each chord are which in relation with the keys

He says that he made a chart for this but like I said if your taking time to look back and fourth on the chart, it's wasting time and that's just identifying it what do you think is better? besides does he need to even think or refer to the chord chart? This is what I mean by Internalizing

continuing on the video he explains that the diatonic chords are chords that fits in the key but sometimes the chords break out and become chromatic harmony so basically I have to be comfortable in any key and be able to know what the composer did like did he change keys from Ab to relative minor or does he treat V chord as one?

At 3:21 he knows immediately that G7 is not part of Ab so he treats the G7 as V cause he want to modulate into C

4:42 he is able to tell that it's the exact chord progressions because he is familiarized with all these keys

watch till 6:02 so you see how effective this is by understanding the harmonies, want to internalize the scale, harmonies etc

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    Welcome to Music StackExchange. Your question is one that's often asked here. Basically-- How do I learn to recognize the underlying theory behind the music I play. Right? The many examples you give seem to me to boil down to that. I think you will find that you get better answers and ones that are easier for you to understand, if you try to ask your questions in a simpler form, rather than including so many details. I'm sure you will get answers in spite of some mistaken assumptions you've made-- for example Dmaj is D F# A. not DFA. But thanks for posting and again welcome. – L3B Feb 27 '17 at 5:37
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    This appears a little rambling, so could do with coming to the point more succinctly. Sounds like your teacher is keen for this approach, and yes, it's good. That teacher is the best to explain how to sort it all out, although reaching the point where you can do all you've set out is going to be a long (and interesting) journey. – Tim Feb 27 '17 at 5:38
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    Ive added an EDIT: to clarify and yes, I know I had made mistakes with terminology and that Dmaj chord – Sky Star Feb 27 '17 at 21:43
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It seems to me that you have a teacher who has good intentions but it bad at actually teaching. What you are being asked to do is all very useful, but you need to be taught how to do it! Nobody (except the likes of Mozart) just figures all this stuff out for themselves.

The type of questions you are asking are all covered in a typical "theory of music" course - but expect to spend a year or two learning the material to the level where you have internalized it, not a few days. Your teacher should be taking you through that sort of course in a structured way, so you don't get overwhelmed or bored, and relating what you are learning about theory to your practical work as you go along.

You don't say what instrument you are learning, but if you are a keyboard player, when you get to the level where a singer gives you some sheet music you have never seen before, which happens to be in G# minor, and says "that key is too high for me - can we do it in Eb minor instead," (and the singer means "right now, not after you have taken it home for a month to practice") you most definitely need to have internalized everything in your OP!!!

  • my teacher isn't bad, he simply stated that knowing the underlying harmony everything I stated was in my own words – Sky Star Feb 27 '17 at 21:41
  • Based on some other descriptions from other questions you have asked, @SkyStar, I echo the sentiment that your teacher might be a bit poor at teaching. Obviously, you're the only one who sees his actual teaching (which means it would be unfair for us to pass judgement), but still. – Kyle Martin Aug 3 '17 at 15:23
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My teacher told me when I'm learning a piece I have to understand the underlying harmony, only then I would be able to learn and play it easily, he also told me to never learn the notes itself (because every note is part of a chord or harmonizing with a chord I could only imagine) , instead figure out the harmony then play it over and over again until you internalize it, then play the actual notes that the composer written and see how they take a chord progression make it into a song.

Though that's valuable advice, I'd be careful with taking it too far. A chord progression is one possible abstraction of the actual notes played, and having an idea what the chord progression is can give you a useful way to understand the song. But it's not the case that composers always take a chord progression first and then make it into a song; sometimes composers will write without thinking about chord progressions, and some pieces don't have clear, identifiable chord progressions.

Think of the ability to identify a chord progression as a very useful tool, but not the tool for every job.

so in order to be able to identify these harmonies fast, I have to basically internalize all the scales, (most of the) chords, their chord degree, and obviously knowing what the chord progression sound like

It's daunting and I don't even know how to start internalizing at first, I tried to memorize the chords right?

Cmaj C E G Dmaj D F A

but then I have to be able to immediately know their inversions and Nashville Number System

so Cmaj 1,3,5 C,E,G plus inversions. it's not easy for me to be able to switch them around and to be able to know them as their inversions so it looks like I have to internalize each and every inversion.

I don't think you have to worry about learning that in a big 'block' all at once. I think the most useful way to learn that knowledge in context is to analyse a bunch of different types of songs in different styles. Writing down the chords with a number system is very useful - it allows you to start seeing common patterns and associating them with the sound you're hearing.

What notes are in chord Dm?

What's it's V/V or iv/V chord

What's the relative Major key of A major

What's Am first inversion?

If I want to modulate from C major to the V/V chord what do I do?

having the answers to these questions immediately on the tip of your tongue isn't necessarily as important as understanding what they mean and being able to work out the answers using your knowledge of the underlying patterns of music. If you get into the habit of analyzing and writing music regularly, you'll fairly quickly come to be able to work out all the above.

I believe that internalizing these foundational pieces could turn people in true musicians, people should be taking as little time as reading and understanding tbh, any time wasted on figuring out the harmony is wasted....

Maybe... but from your post I somewhat get the impression that you want to take a shortcut to 'musical' knowledge by learning a bunch of abstract patterns and thinking you'll then be able to apply them practically to music. Of course you can identify some generally-applicable patterns, but I'd recommend internalizing the knowledge by doing as much analysis of real music as possible - that way you will be learning the patterns in context, seeing how they really apply, and also perhaps finding some places where they don't.

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Internalize by doing. I don't know of any shortcuts.

I got irate during the summer between my first and second years as a Music Major. To get a better grip on harmony and ear-training, I sat down at the piano and played various chord changes as functions, cycling them through every inversion, every key, major and minor. I'd play the root in the bass with the left hand and a voicing in the right hand. At first it was very slow and exhausting, and I could only do a couple simple changes a day (e.g., I, IV, I, or I, V, I) then started doing longer chains (I, IV, V, I or I, vi, ii, V, I).

Example if playing RH I, IV, I, the major has three positions (writing in key of C) C-E-G, C-F-A, C-E-G is one, E-G-C, F-A-C, E-G-C is one, G-C-E, A-C-F, G-C-E is the third. Do this (ALL inversions) for every key, both major and minor. Expand this to 7th chords. Add another chord or two to the sequence and again do it (keeping the hand position as close to a single spot as you can, to create good voice-leading where notes only change a minimum between the chords).

It was both tedious and difficult at first. But when I started in 2nd year ear-training and harmony, I discovered that I had jumped to the head of the class and was able to coast for several months with hardly any work. I'm also pretty good now at looking at chords and knowing their "harmonic function".

If there is a change that boggles you or slows you down, drill it every key in this way. Knowing things like the V/V can and should be pretty automatic, as well as the V of any other note in a scale, but it only happens if you force yourself to do it daily for at least a couple weeks on each pattern to be learned.

I think sleep and omega-3 fatty acids figure importantly in the learning process. Something about the neural walls that get extra use will consequently grow some sort of sheathing that speeds up the pathway. Biological developments lag a few days after expending effort, but they do show up.

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Your question seems to suggest that you're seeking ways to speed up learning and memorising a piece.'Internalising' in this case seems to mean understanding the logic in the construction of a tune. You may have already discovered that memorising one note at a time is tedious, and that trying to memorise the whole tune in one hit is impossible. Two effective ways of learning something are breaking the material into chunks, and coming up with some sort of narrative. In music, some of these chunks can be based on things like resting points in the melody or perhaps ii V Is in the chord progression. The narrative, or 'story' of the piece can be things like, 'ah, here's the new key','now there's a big leap in the melody', 'here's that chromatic passage' and so on. And what a narrative you have in a tune like All the Things You Are- that's a big one to bite off in the early stages of your journey. So if that's what you mean by 'internalising', then yes, it's worth doing. You have a choice between a rigorous, theoretical approach and a more ad hoc approach of breaking it into logical chunks and constructing your own little narrative or roadmap.

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you will get to the point that the notes are really far more important that the "chord chart" - There's too much importance gave to learning lots of possible chords sequences, that many musicians forget the importance of music in itself, like it was in Ancient times, for example (or in other culture, like India).

Chords are the results of simultaneous sounds, and most of the chord progressions patterns come from centuries of culture- It's good to study music theory and how chords are built, but don't forget to study the melodies, the relationships that have the melodies with the chords...it's a long voyage, but it's worth it

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    The traditional music of India doesn't really have chords or chord progressions, so I'd say that's not the greatest of examples. – Basstickler Feb 15 '18 at 15:10
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we have a methode for primary school teachers how to teach reading at 6 year old children: that‘s called reading by writing.

I will tell you how to transfer this in 3 medias: visualization, imagination, abstraction

You can adapt this methode of reading by writing when you will draw a grandstaff for both hands. It must have a width of the systems (distance of lines) big enough that you can write the names of the tones for the triad. You will learn them better while you write it with your own hand and fingers than just reading it. This is the 1. media=sheet notation

Then you draw a scheme of the keyboard where you write the names of the triads. 2. media: keyboard visual and tactil memory. (of course you must play and listen exactly by also singing the names.) play them also with closed eyes, just feeling the keys and try to imagine it.

Now you may write the scales with the triads in 3 different ways, the root in the lowest line by:

absolte names, relative names and numbers: 3. media (abstraction)

Ceg, Dfa, etc

Domiso, Refala etc

135, 246, etc

vertical or horizontal or both

under each triad you‘ll have to write the romaine numbers and to identify the chords.

(don‘t forget to sing the tones and imagine the pitch, control it by playing. close your eyes and imagine the notation image and the structure of the keyboard pattern: the black and white keys.

Your teacher was quite right when he said: don‘t learn to play single notes, learn the chords. Pianists could profit a lot of guitarists playing just from a leadsheet. In pop music and jazz you‘ll have almost always the chords written above the staff. Not so in classic sheet music. There are some editions for keyboard beginners that have it. So you must try to analyze and identify the chords yourself.

Write the chords on a leadsheet or note them in a mindmap. The circle of fifths will be a great help to design a mindmap. I‘m doing this with every music piece of music that I learn to play and also with music I have played 50 years ago. If I‘m able to do this I know that I did understand it.

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