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Daniel james live on twitch now with an important topic!

WindcryMusic

Lemurite
Agreed. Learning theory = good. Learning it on your own, without going to a conservatory or studying with a great great great great grandstudent of Beethoven = entirely possible.
I concur. Personally, I learned my first basics of music theory in high school ... but from a band director who was so ingrained in “you must follow all of the rules by rote” rather than actually teaching students to listen that it really turned me off to any thought of continuing. It was only later on, when I worked in various touring bands with at least a couple of musicians who’d learned some music theory (and in a less clinical fashion), that I began to really get interested in theory, and ever since then it’s been a process of self-directed learning for me.
 

Consona

Senior Member
I enjoy Williams and that general style (and its classical antecedents) as much as the next person, but I don't lose sleep over the fact that 90% of the time, I don't want to write anything like that.
This is something different...
You don't care you don't compose classical style music even though you like it. X But when I compose classical style music, I'm aware there's someone like Williams, and I act accordingly.

Of course when you compose rock, new age or whatever, you don't need to be nervous the result is not Williams-like. On the other hand, If you can compose like Williams, and you do rock, eletronic music or whatever, your compositions will be way better no doubt. The knowledge of development, structure, chords, etc., is transferable.

Ultimately, it's everybody's choice. When I was playing metal with my friends in my teenage years, I was making songs that were like the music I was listening to. Now after I discovering the music of all those old-school composers, I know how extremely limited that metal songwriting was, and I know knowing what they knew would made me better at any music style.
It's everybody's choice whether they are content with their skill level, while knowing there's more, or not.
 

robgb

I was young once
All of this said, there are few composers in the world, schooled or not in theory, who could come up with a chord progression and melody as hauntingly beautiful as Blackbird, which was written by a guy with zero formal education in theory who couldn't read a note of music.
 

erica-grace

Senior Member
All of this said, there are few composers in the world, schooled or not in theory, who could come up with a chord progression and melody as hauntingly beautiful as Blackbird, which was written by a guy with zero formal education in theory who couldn't read a note of music.

That???
 

InLight-Tone

Senior Member
“Any tone can succeed any other tone, any tone can sound simultaneously with any other tone or tones, and any group of tones can be followed by any other group of tones, just as any
degree of tension or nuance can occur in any medium under any kind of stress or duration. Successful projection will depend upon the contextual and formal conditions that prevail, and upon the skill and soul of the composer.” Persichetti
 

miket

Senior Member
“Any tone can succeed any other tone, any tone can sound simultaneously with any other tone or tones, and any group of tones can be followed by any other group of tones, just as any
degree of tension or nuance can occur in any medium under any kind of stress or duration. Successful projection will depend upon the contextual and formal conditions that prevail, and upon the skill and soul of the composer.” Persichetti
That was one of the books I learned from. What an opening line!
 

Brian Nowak

Active Member
On the subject of music theory, I have only one real input:

As with anything on the internet, a lot of people are totally full of shit and have not even the slightest idea what the hell they're talking about, but will go on and on for some time as though they are experts on the matter.

The end.
 

Van

New Member
My comment doesn’t necessarily answer the original I question but I know this:

The greats study the greats.
 

purple

Member
Learning more about music theory is the quickest if not the only way to reliably become a better composer. Yes, you can just write stuff that "sounds good", and it probably will! But you simply will not reach your full potential as a composer by just trial and error at a piano without any direction. If nothing else, it is apparent that someone doesn't know music theory when their pieces or cues have no sense of structure or macro planning. There is no special sauce or eureka moment where you'll suddenly be able to write like Williams or Steiner or Korngold etc. It's practice and dedication, just like practicing an instrument, or becoming a surgeon, or mastering a martial art. Nobody is born a legend. If you want to be one, you have to study and practice like one.

I say this as someone who thought I just had a good enough ear to write great stuff. To be honest, if I had just started composing without any theory knowledge, I'd probably get away with it, especially these days. I played in a lot of musical things in and out of school in high school and did arrangements and small composition, and then went for a music degree and learned very quickly just how big of a difference proper music theory can teach you about the composing process. For the first two years of undergrad I and all the other music students had to take 2 years of theory/history. Literally every day, the things our professors taught us completely changed some aspect of my composing process, whether it was opening my eyes to new ways of harmonization, to new pieces, composers, and genres to listen to and study, to something as simple as an instrumentation choice. I cannot stress enough how happy I am I took those classes, and I can't say I'd be a composer doing the great things I am these days were it not for the stuff I learned in those two years.

Knowing more about music theory changes the way you experience music. It makes it much much easier to find out why a particular song, whether it's a movement from a bruckner symphony, or a billie eilish tune, works the way it does, and that's something every composer should be able to do in order to hone their craft. It also makes it a lot faster and easier to try and decipher what a client wants when they say "more epic" or "more sad" or give you a temp track and tell you they want the same "feel".

TL;DR: You are not going to become the next John Williams, Korngold, Rosza, etc. By following your ears alone. Nobody is that good. Take music theory classes, read a book, study some scores, do some counterpoint excercises. Listen actively to music. Instead of just thinking "that song makes me feel sad :(", figure out why. How can you capture the energy that song was able to transfer to you? How can I implement that energy into my own sound and identity?
 

I like music

Senior Member
Curious to know what general content is covered in theory classes (e.g. for those of us who want to find their own resources to do this, for money reasons). To me, when I hear 'music theory' I'm often not sure what people are describing. I'm guessing it covers a lot of aspects, but are there things you should learn before you learn other things?

Can one dive into counterpoint or is there something else they need to have nailed down first? etc etc
 

pmcrockett

Senior Member
Curious to know what general content is covered in theory classes (e.g. for those of us who want to find their own resources to do this, for money reasons). To me, when I hear 'music theory' I'm often not sure what people are describing. I'm guessing it covers a lot of aspects, but are there things you should learn before you learn other things?

Can one dive into counterpoint or is there something else they need to have nailed down first? etc etc
The progression of theory study that they had me follow as an undergrad was basics first -- scales, keys, relationships among chords in a key, Roman numeral analysis -- then counterpoint and part writing, then large-scale form, then 20th century and jazz theory.
 

I like music

Senior Member
The progression of theory study that they had me follow as an undergrad was basics first -- scales, keys, relationships among chords in a key, Roman numeral analysis -- then counterpoint and part writing, then large-scale form, then 20th century and jazz theory.
Thank you! This is already very helpful :)
 

LudovicVDP

New Member
I've been doing music since the day I was born. I know (almost) no music theory and it hasn't blocked me from doing some nice things. Yet, the frustration is real. There's not a single day that passes without regretting not to know more. I feel like there's a lot of things I can do but there's nothing I can really do well (at least well enough to my taste).
 

purple

Member
Curious to know what general content is covered in theory classes (e.g. for those of us who want to find their own resources to do this, for money reasons). To me, when I hear 'music theory' I'm often not sure what people are describing. I'm guessing it covers a lot of aspects, but are there things you should learn before you learn other things?

Can one dive into counterpoint or is there something else they need to have nailed down first? etc etc
In order to start working on counterpoint, I'd imagine as long as you have a basic understanding (you know intervals and how to notate music, basically), you should be able to at least do the basics.
 

halfwalk

Member
My comment doesn’t necessarily answer the original I question but I know this:

The greats study the greats.
Who decides upon who the "greats" are? Popular consensus? Kanye West ans Taylor Swift are some of "the greats" then.
 

Denkii

Active Member
I am not convinced that you can be a working musician worth any salt, without knowing absolutely nothing. That makes no sense whatsoever.
While I think I understand where your are coming from when you talk about the necessity of theoretical knowledge when it comes to composers, I have to disagree with your last statement from experience.

Yes there are full time musicians who do this and really don't know what they are doing. All they know is it sounds good. Also there are a lot of them who produce their stuff on their own, including programming arrangements for demos before something becomes a final product.

Is it really the composer who needs to have the knowledge or is it rather a social and work environmental expectation that they have to live up to?

I'm not saying theory doesn't serve a purpose. I just believe it's more on the prestige side than we are willing to admit.
 

Van

New Member
Who decides upon who the "greats" are? Popular consensus? Kanye West ans Taylor Swift are some of "the greats" then.
When I made that comment I had in mind, for example, that Brahms studied Beethoven, who studied Mozart, who studied Haydn and they all studied Fux. Pop singers didn’t come to mind but I supposed they too, “study the greats.”
 
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