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Thread: Help with chords

  1. #21

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    I think we are deviating from the threatstarter's original intention. Let's try to answer his question.

    The first thing you need to know (and what Futures is saying) is that a major and minor key has certain chord that fits in the family. There are of course variations out of this, but for a start, a major chord's family is:

    I ii iii IV V vi viidim

    (Capital Roman numerals denote major chords, small Roman numerals denote minor chords, dim is diminished). There are lots of variations outside this, but let's just stick to this first. This "rule" applies to any major key.

    I would practice simply, by playing a cycle of chord progressions like:

    I vi IV V (and keep repeating this)
    I vi ii V
    I iii IV V


    Chord progressions are actually dependent a lot on the harmony, so the melody line is crucial to the progressions. People will tell you that you can jump any chord progressions you want, which makes it appear as if there's no fixed rule. The answer is: yes you can can literally jump from any chord to any chord, but it still depends on the melody line following certain rules. The melody actually determines how to jump, and in some instances, which chord cannot be used in a progression. No need to go there yet.

    Some may recall, I wrote a piece not too long ago using the chord progression featuring a chromatically descending bass line throughout the piece (G, F#, E, Eb D, Db, C, B, Bb, A, D). Anything is possible, BUT still following certain rules. The latest piece I wrote also had unsual chord progressions with key modulations from Eb major to Bb major to Eb major to Bb major to F# major to Eb major then ending with Bb major, then repeating the process again starting back from Eb major (and the piece is aptly titled "Changes"... haha!). Wierd modulations? Not so at all (and it actually modulates very smoothly), if following certain rules! But that's about modulation and not progressions per se...
    Last edited by Cheez; 19-06-09 at 09:03 AM.

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianomankris View Post
    By your reckoning, theory inhibits. I said that if you hold this view you could say that learning anything inhibits, as otherwise, you have to define the cut-off point of what inhibits and what aids. If you are simply stating that 'theory inhibits', you have to abandon all forms of theory, otherwise you would be contradicting yourself. That, or define the cut off point, and explain why..
    I never said theory inhibits creativity. It facilitates creativity within a certain framework. A different theoretical framework facilitates a different avenue of creativity. A lack of theory facilitates a different kind of creativity. There is no need to reduce every discussion to a dichotomy.

    You mentioned John Adams earlier. I think you will find this discussion of his "Naive and Sentimental Music" enlightening. Perhaps a quote...

    "Mahler and Ravel, two intensely "sentimental" composers, spent their lives trying to achieve the "na´ve" state of mind. Reconstructing the images and emotional tonalities of childhood was their way of trying to attain that impossible "na´ve" state of grace"

    http://www.earbox.com/W-naive.html

    With regards to your river analogy, the naive composer simply swims to the other side and waits for the learned composers to finish toiling underground.

  3. #23

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    The I IV V chord progression is the most basic because it best establishes the tonality of the key you're in. In many instances though you don't see the actual I IV V chords, because of something called diatonic chord substitution, as well as the use of chord embellishments. But i think that is a lesson for another day.

    In the meantime you can start from the I IV V, and from there swap out chords from the same key to see how the progression changes. Experiment is the word !

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by widdly View Post
    I never said theory inhibits creativity. It facilitates creativity within a certain framework. A different theoretical framework facilitates a different avenue of creativity. A lack of theory facilitates a different kind of creativity. There is no need to reduce every discussion to a dichotomy.

    You mentioned John Adams earlier. I think you will find this discussion of his "Naive and Sentimental Music" enlightening. Perhaps a quote...

    "Mahler and Ravel, two intensely "sentimental" composers, spent their lives trying to achieve the "na´ve" state of mind. Reconstructing the images and emotional tonalities of childhood was their way of trying to attain that impossible "na´ve" state of grace"

    http://www.earbox.com/W-naive.html

    With regards to your river analogy, the naive composer simply swims to the other side and waits for the learned composers to finish toiling underground.
    I think the understanding of the word 'naivete' seems to be lost between the two of you. the 'naive state of grace' here i think refers to purity and innocence, while the 'naive composer' that pianomankris is referring to is the uneducated composer that lacks knowledge of the knuts and bolts of music. Do correct me if i'm wrong!

    And about the river analogy, the one that swims across either drowns, or reaches the other side learning nothing, because in music, you should never take shortcuts. Shortcuts compromise your understanding, as far as i can see. Do share your thoughts on this, but let's try not to digress too much from the topic!

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianomankris View Post
    It's fact, not an opinion. Harmonically, the music of the artists you mention is very simple.


    Note that i'm not saying this is a negative value, or that this detracts from the music. I think you think i'm saying because the music is pretty simple it is somehow lacking. You misunderstand me if this is what you think I mean.

    All right, all right. I edit my earlier statement.

    Heh. I guess everyone is entitled to the stating of a fact of some sort. :mrgreen:
    Last edited by Lovehurts; 19-06-09 at 10:25 AM.

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by futures View Post
    In the meantime you can start from the I IV V, and from there swap out chords from the same key to see how the progression changes. Experiment is the word !

    So for example i experiment with a melody in the key of c,so in theory c,f and g fits well,but i can try other stuff,so lets say i try another combination of c,f b instead and it sounds well so its fine right?

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by widdly View Post
    I never said theory inhibits creativity. It facilitates creativity within a certain framework.
    What's the specific framework you see it facilitating?

    RE Ravel/Mahler etc etc - beside the fact that there is much more to their music than 'imitating childhood' (reading any biography of either will reveal this), are you implying that if they didn't learn any theory whatsoever they would have been able to express their true intentions better? Do you have any evidence to back up such a claim? Do you have any direct quotes from Mahler or Ravel that explicitly state they feel that a theoretical knowledge of music has held them back/blocked them from reaching their creative zenith?

    I believe theory helps creativity, as theory is unavoidable - it's all about stages. I stand by this view.

    The brunt of your argument seems to be that theory of any sort can potentially lead to inhibitions. If this is the case, then we should take things back even further, and say that the use of an instrument is inhibiting, as the design has been pre-meditated by another, therefore using an instrument - unless you create it yourself - is inhibiting, by its' very nature.

    That's what I mean by a cut-off point. You should state exactly what specifically it is about theory that you think makes it only valid within a certain framework, and why.

    I'm struggling to follow your argument, as you seem to be jumping around from one thing to another, rather than answering something directly.

    And as Cheez states - this line of discussion isn't really helping the thread starter. I'm arguing the point because I disagree with what you are saying, as you have absolutely no evidence to substantiate your claim that an uneducated listener has an advantage over an educated listener, and will never have such evidence, as this is a subjective claim, so the whole line of your argument is, in its' very nature, circular. As such, you seem to be writing here more for the sake of trying to win an argument (with a circular argument) than actually trying to help someone.

    I interjected initially in this discussion as someone was potentially putting the thread starter off learning theory, when the thread starter stated their interest in wanting to learn theory. Someone replied to the initial thread by saying 'there are no rules', which is just nonsense, and is off-putting for someone who is looking to learn more. You should be helping the guy out rather than trying to win an argument against me. I've said before - i'm here to help others, not to prove a point. I don't see how your view is helping any. If you want to continue with this line of discussion, then maybe you should PM me and do it there. Otherwise, stop wasting people's time. Your interjection in this thread was to try and counter something I was saying, rather than trying to help the thread starter. That has been the nature of your replies throughout this thread.

    Maybe you should post some useful advice/help for the guy rather than trying to prove a point with a pointless argument that cannot be substantiated.

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by buffalo man View Post
    So for example i experiment with a melody in the key of c,so in theory c,f and g fits well,but i can try other stuff,so lets say i try another combination of c,f b instead and it sounds well so its fine right?
    Yes of course you can

    You can even use notes not from the key of C.

    You can do what you want

    But you'll find that the rules of theory will point you towards what is more likely to work.

    If you 'try anything', there's a good chance you'll back yourself into a corner and not be able to get out with a certain combination of notes you may end up using. Or you'll just become bored with randomly picking combinations of notes out of the air.

    If you had a bag filled with words and randomly picked words out, there's a high chance the sentence you would make would be nonsensical. Then again, if this is your intention, then this is OK Picking words randomly out of a hat may give some beautiful combinations of words that you would never have thought of before. But the probability is that you'll end up with a mess.

    You could always have some structure, then try and add a little bit of randomness. But even this has its difficulties.

    If you really want to abandon ship when it coms to theory, just randomly hit notes and see what you come up with.


    PS by saying you 'want to write a melody in the key of C', you are implying the use of a theoretical structure i.e. writing a 'melody' (which has a fixed definition), and writing 'within a key' (which also has a fixed definition). As such, it would be best to learn some rules for each i.e. how to write a melody, and how to write within a key, otherwise you can't say you are 'writing a melody in the key of C'. It would be a misnomer.
    Last edited by pianomankris; 19-06-09 at 12:45 PM.

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianomankris View Post
    I interjected initially in this discussion as someone was potentially putting the thread starter off learning theory, when the thread starter stated their interest in wanting to learn theory. Someone replied to the initial thread by saying 'there are no rules', which is just nonsense, and is off-putting for someone who is looking to learn more. You should be helping the guy out rather than trying to win an argument against me. I've said before - i'm here to help others, not to prove a point. I don't see how your view is helping any. If you want to continue with this line of discussion, then maybe you should PM me and do it there. Otherwise, stop wasting people's time. Your interjection in this thread was to try and counter something I was saying, rather than trying to help the thread starter. That has been the nature of your replies throughout this thread.

    Maybe you should post some useful advice/help for the guy rather than trying to prove a point with a pointless argument that cannot be substantiated.
    Huh? I'm not trying to have an argument with you, I'm just presenting a different opinion. Why would you take it personally? Your recent comment was, to say the least, condescending . The role and importance of theory is, as Cheez rightly pointed out at the start of the thread, a controversial topic. The ideas I'm presenting are not unique or new. I suggest you read The Language of Music by Deryck Cooke or Emotion and Meaning in Music by Leonard Meyer if you have trouble following what I am saying.
    Last edited by widdly; 19-06-09 at 06:53 PM.

  10. #30

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    Here is a simple idea if you are fitting a melody to a chord progression.

    If you use a chord tone ( a note that occurs in the chord) for the LAST melody note before the chord changes, the melody tends to move with the chord changes.

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