Wednesday, May 31, 2023

What is Music Theory, Really? Is It Any Help? Yes, If the Right One

musicalia:Posting link, while video in premiere : Can We Write Songs "From Theory"? [with Diana de Cabarrus] (by Tommaso Zillio) · One Disagreement with Tommaso · If Anyone Is Paranoid Enough to Believe I Compose by ChatGPT? Watch This! · Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere: What is Music Theory, Really? Is It Any Help? Yes, If the Right One

Commenting on two videos by Tommaso Zillio, Music Theory for Guitar:

From Musical IDEAS To SECTIONS To SONG [The Number One Problem Of Songwriters]
MusicTheoryForGuitar, 29 May 2023

1:45 My own solution to this one.

When I write a sonata form (basically as in Scarlatti's, but with cadence leading to next rather than interrupted repetition leading to next), I either reuse the same theme both in "main group" and "secondary group" changing only the type of cadence (from weak full to strong full or from half to strong full), or I base both themes on the same Ursatz, perhaps even using the main theme as proximate "Ursatz" for the secondary theme (like adding secondary cadences all over the secondary theme). This way, I am sure there is a strong affinity between main and secondary themes.

One of the more drastic changes I made was inverting the sections with thirds movement and the sections with step movement, in my Sonata pierwsza dla pianoforta.

Remember with sonata forms, Beethoven was bithematic, Haydn was monothematic, Mozart was polythematic.

I happen to like Haydn, bec.
a) I am antirevolutionary, exit Beethoven
b) I am antimasonic, and Haydn obediently left the lodge when the Emperor Francis I ordered it
c) I like the sound of Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser and of passages from the Seasons
d) I like the concept of dividing eight bar sections into 3 + 3 + 2, 2 + 3 + 3 or 3 + 2 + 3.

After this
a few guys including Tommaso Zillio wanted to have a look.

I gave them directions, but found that the blog is hard to google. The blog is here:


The composition of mine I mentioned is here:

Sonate pour piano I / Sonata pierwsza dla pianoforta, za temat Bacha

4:02 The two best ways of dividing 6 bars are:
3 + 3
2 + 1 + 1 + 2
the external two pairs of bars would correspond to a normal 4 bar, and the internal 1 + 1 is an added repeated motif inside.

6:33 I am so reminded of Scarlatti.
8 bar themes play out twice, 8 + 7, 4 bar themes twice, 4 + 3, with lacking last chord and rest in the repetition being replaced by the start of the next theme.

Not my analysis, but what I found in a book about him.

7:03 You are somewhat wrong.

The Viennese Classical style is explored and reanalysed and reanalysed over and over again.

Wolfgang Budday wrote, in 1983, a book entitled:
Grundlagen musikalischer Formen der Wiener Klassik: An Hand der zeitgenössischen Theorie von Joseph Riepel und Heinrich Christoph Koch dargestellt an ... Sonatensätzen (1750-1790)

Please note, this only covers the period where Riepel-Koch theory was being practised. Czerny was theorising the practise of Beethoven, which is different. One could place Beethoven and Schubert together as a school in between this "Viennese Classic proper" and High Romanticism.

So, the composers most often covered are:
Mozart, Haydn, Galuppi, Wagenseil, Neefe, Steffan

It is not an analysis of Beethoven. Do you know what composers rely most on either Riepel or Koch? Mozart and Haydn. If the Development section has a modulation scheme not foreseen in either Riepel or Koch, well, that Development section is in Galuppi, Wagenseil, Neefe, Steffan. Not in the two greater ones.

If I had sth as detailed about rockabilly as Budday about Viennese Classic, I might compose some rockabilly too.

I think Hummel belongs to the school of Schubert and Beethoven.

7:15 Do you know what Leopold Mozart asked his son to read over and over again? "den Riepl" ... so, is Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Gottlieb, better known as Amadeus, a nobody?

Koch has slight changes compared to Riepel and those seem to be extracted from the practise of Mozart. Notably in the hierarchy of tonalities compared to the home tonality of C major.

9:23 A tip from Mattheson, which might work for instrumental rock music too.

Take just the bass line of an already extant composition. Write everything above the bass line new - not necessarily changing the numbers, but certainly the melody.

If you are really ambitious, discard the bass line and write a new one to fit the melody.

It's from Der vollkommene Capell-Meister - cited in Budday, but obviously with such tips, somewhat less all round in actual theory than Riepel and Koch.

The RISE and FALL Of Music Theory [Why Academic Music Theory Sucks]
MusicTheoryForGuitar, 22 May 2023

2:34 It may be noted, young Amadeus:
1) was destined at a young age to be professional AND
2) DIDN'T go to a conservatory, but was homeschooled with his professional father, Leopold (the sons of Johann Sebastian were probably also homeschooled).

4:20 Simple pattern first, then add more complications - exact thing that Schenker promotes as the difference between Ursatz, Mittelgrund, Vordergrund (the finished composition consisting of all three).

7:12 Universities starting in 1500?

You mean universities with music on the schedual? Even that is wrong.

In the university of Paris, before you could go to medicine, law or theology, Paris specialising on theology, medicine could be Salerno, law could be Bologna, you had to learn Artes. Artes had two parts, the Trivium, grammar, logic and rhetoric, and Quadrivium, arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy.

This was ongoing in Paris at 1150, perhaps as early as 1045, while Bologna started around 1088, so, it is a close match between Paris and Bologna which is the closest.

Both started before getting a charter, i e as non-accredited (now this is the case with Diploma Mills) and in 1499 the University of Valencia started WITH a charter as Medieval University number 75.

I can confirm, you are not a historian. Good that you are such a great musician, non omnia possumus omnes!

10:39 There are at least four books that since 1800 have a much better practical value than what you have been describing.

1) Schenker, updated by Salzer, re-discovered patterns on levels of analysis. Ursätze are patterns. Prolongations are patterns. This theory says every piece of music is Ursatz X Prolongation. It deals with Ursätze that work, it deals with Prolongations that work.
2) Budday, 1983, give a piece by piece approach to the structures of Viennese Classical, pre-Beethoven music. What is the difference between a strong full cadence (Kadenz) and a weak full cadence (Grundabsatz)? Where are these and half cadences (Quintabsatz) used? When are even weaker full and half cadences used (Grundeinschnitt, Quinteinschnitt)? What ways are the obligatory modulation from first to second tonality made in the First Repetition? How many ways can you structure the First or the Second Repetition? How is the Sonata form related to the Minuet form? How many Minuet forms are there, in practical use?
3) I'm not sure which of the titles by Diether de la Motte (who was primarily a musician and composer!) is translated to Swedish as Epokernas Harmonik, but he makes sure to tell all of how Renaissance harmonics were not just different chord progressions, but a different concept of chords, and how there was no fifth circle, only a fifth sequence going from E flat to G sharp. Why what we call Dominant chords were in this time used only as secondary dominants or third from end (like D7, G, C)
4) A book by the Dane Jörgen Jersild deals in the harmonic principles of Romanticism, illustrated by the work of César Franck? Why can D flat chords replace G before C? What other chords can do so? (B flat and E). When can a chord be in minor? (Not in the dominant function, ideally)

When you made a video about "three types of chords" I actually expected to hear the same thing that Jörgen Jersild had dealt with.

No comments: