3

I keep getting feedback from certain people on a classical music forum that I prepare and resolve my dissonances wrongly and that my counterpoint is off. And this is regardless of what type of classical music I am writing.

It is almost as though I am being told by Bach "these are all wrong, didn't you learn anything about this from your music theory studies?" as if I have to stick to baroque rules, even when writing a sonata or a waltz. This really frustrates me and I am thinking of not being on that forum anymore because of this. I mean, really, my style is neo-classicism and neo-romanticism. And my main composer influencer is Beethoven who I know broke the rules and pushed the boundaries a lot.

And yet I keep being told that I resolve and prepare my non-chord tones wrong(such as for example doubling the chordal seventh). And really, does it matter how I resolve it if the notes are 16th notes or faster? Do I have to stick to the rules of Bach and Mozart when it comes to preparation and resolution of non-chord tones in my classical music compositions?

I can't afford a music theory teacher which is why I have been watching videos online about music theory and more specifically classical harmony. But do I really have to stick to the rules of Bach and Mozart for preparations and resolutions of non-chord tones? Because that really restricts me away from Beethoven's style in my compositions and I can't do that.

  • I hope you didn’t undrstand my feed-back the otherday as ciritic in this regard. Go on “knitting” your music in your own proper and unique style. You can also write a waltz even like fuga, what does it matter? Whom concern? ;) All rules have been developed relating to their epoque and not always by the most talented composers. – Albrecht Hügli Feb 4 at 7:15
  • Analyze Beethoven (and see whether you want to model yourself more after his Mozart-like early period or any of his more maverick later periods) and his pieces. Does he stick to "the rules of Bach and Mozart"? In sections with 4 or fewer voices, how often does he double the chordal 7th? How does he prepare and resolve his diminished 7ths, augmented 6ths, and Neapolitan chords? (Have you ever used any of these in your music?) You may be surprised how conservative Beethoven was. – Dekkadeci Feb 4 at 8:17
  • I haven't really used many of those chords except for diminished 7ths in my minor pieces. I mean Bb major in the key of D major just seems so odd. – Caters Feb 4 at 16:53
  • Can post an example or two? – Michael Curtis Jun 26 at 20:43
2

Do I have to stick to the rules of Bach and Mozart when it comes to preparation and resolution of non-chord tones in my classical music compositions?

No - as a composer, you are allowed to do whatever you like.

However, your audience is also allowed to react however they like! At the moment, your 'audience' on this forum seems to have a certain set of expectations about how music that appears to be in a certain style should follow certain rules, and you're not satisfying that expectation.

Possible solutions include:

  • Find a different audience
  • Learn the rules for the style that you seem to be aiming for, and adhere to them more closely
  • Consider why your compositions seem to be targeting a certain style, and change them further so that they don't set up expectations that aren't going to be fulfilled.

I keep getting feedback from certain people on a classical music forum

Getting detailed feedback from people about your music isn't always easy, and these people are providing you a valuable service! That doesn't mean that your job is to please them - if you want, you can aim to write music that offends them as much as possible.

  • Yeah well, I'm not so sure about the valuable service part. I mean, before, they would like analyze every mistake and tell me what that is. Now they are just really saying things like to study with a music theory teacher(which I can't afford) and that my counterpoint is off and that my harmony is odd, not really saying what the exact mistake is so that I will be able to fix it. – Caters Feb 5 at 19:01
  • @Caters perhaps 'find a different audience' is the way to go then! :) – topo morto Feb 5 at 20:00
1

Some things in common practice are circumscribed like harmony, counterpoint, and non-chord tones.

A lot of people like to say there aren't rules. Perhaps. But, Aloysius did tell Josephus when he made mistakes.

A good cheat sheet can be used to check your handling of non-chord tones.

But do I really have to stick to the rules of Bach and Mozart for preparations and resolutions of non-chord tones?

No.

But what are you really trying to do? If you are studying common practice style, and writing pieces to demonstrate proficiency in that style, then you need to accept the critiques. (Of course a good critic should be able to point you to a good example or show you a correction.)

...[master composer] broke the rules and pushed the boundaries a lot...

I think the critical thing is how did you develop this understanding and how do you apply the knowledge?

If you gain this understanding from actual score study, you will have a deep understanding and should be unlikely to misapply it. If you are simply repeating a textbook summary, then applying it indiscriminately, you risk using it as a rationalization for improficiency.

Study lots of scores and make your own notes about unconventional things. On the whole the examples are rare, but it's easy to find examples of unconventional "rule breaking" if you analyze lots of scores. Of course what you will really gain by this study is how overwhelmingly conventional common practice music is!

I can't afford a music theory teacher... my style is neo-classicism and neo-romanticism... restricts me away from Beethoven's style in my compositions...

I really cannot tell if you consider yourself a student or (for lack of a better term) working composer.

If you are a student, be clear about what you are studying and stick to the material. If Bach is the model for studying fugue, then you judge by Bach's fugues as the standard. If Beethoven is the model for a sonata, then you judge by Beethoven's sonatas. If neo-classical style is the goal, a neo-classicist like Poulenc would seem to be a good model. Accept constructive criticism and revise your work.

(from comments) ...before, they would like analyze every mistake and tell me what that is... now... not really saying what the exact mistake is so that I will be able to fix it

Which is it? There are mistakes you want to fix, or these are creative artistic liberties?

To be honest what I am hearing is you want someone to point out mistakes, but when they do you will rationalize them as artistic licence in the manner of a rebellious Beethoven.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.