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Lyle Murphy Books

pcartwright

New Member
In another thread I mentioned that I found several books by Lyle Murphy through the inter-library loan system.

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Complete course in modern harmony, composition and orchestration for dance band, radio and motion pictures by Lyle Murphy, Hollywood, CA, 1948

This particular book is actually made up of four volumes titled:

  1. Modern Harmony
  2. System of Progressions
  3. Advanced Harmony and Composition
  4. Basic Orchestration
Truthfully, I didn't dig to deep into the orchestration book. It didn't really contain very much unique information compared to other orchestration manuals and, in some cases, was outdated due to changes in instrument design and capability.

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Creating New Sounds in Music with a 12-Tone System: Composing and Arranging from Chord Patterns by Lyle Murphy, Hollywood, CA, 1949

This particular book provides more explicit detail than the volume referenced above around Murphy's method. In this book Murphy specifically details voice-leading concepts that he summarized into a device called "the wheel" as well as composition methods.

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I'm not claiming that these are the complete Equal Interval System, but many components of that system are undoubtedly found in these books. I would be interested to hear where EIS and these books differ in approach.

My intention is to parse through my notes and these books on the forum to check my understanding of Murphy's method (at least at the time of these publications). Any thoughts or comments welcome.

 

Craig Sharmat

Moderator
Moderator
Obviously the course has been updated since 1948 but it would be fascinating to be able to see the origins of the course which this seems to be. I will do some delving to see if I can find these materials or if I can locate them as you have. The orchestrating part of the course probably evolved past what you have seen. That said it is currently good for Big Band “Golden Age”, 50’s and early 60’s Avant-garde techniques and that’s where it stops.

Thanks!
 

Aquatone

Member
After studying and teaching the EIS course and studying several other Lyle Murphy books, these are my observations.

The four "Modern Harmony" books are not EIS. One cannot divine EIS from these books. However, one who has studied EIS can see some basic principals. These books have little to no explanatory text which differs greatly from the Complete Equal Interval System which is what the current students study. As far as the orchestration book, yes it was geared for the popular music of the era but it is not an "instrumentation" book. Much of Lyle Murphy's writings on orchestration go beyond the technical aspects of the instruments.

The four Modern Harmony books were presented as exercises to be played. From the playing you "learned". According to the page "TO THE STUDENT:" An interested student could send the completed exercises to Lyle Murphy to be corrected via a correspondence course.

The "Twelve-Tone" book, which is still protected under copyright by the way, appears throughout the EIS course but it is vastly expanded. Lyle Murphy's basic theory is not explained in this book but some of it is on display. Later, Lyle Murphy covered many more topics that came from his theories and developed it into a horizontal system of writing. I find the Twelve-Tone book to be visually wonderful. I should point out that the musical examples and drawings are Murphy's handwriting. He was an excellent copyist.

PCARTWRIGHT, to put this into perspective, The Twelve Tone book is 63 pages. The Modern Harmony books - Book One Modern Harmony is 23 pages, Book Two System of Progression is 37 pages, Book Three Advanced Harmony and Composition is 22 pages, and Book Four Orchestration is 21 pages. These five books total 166 pages. The EIS course is currently 1,415 pages. If you are interested in learning what Lyle Murphy created, the Equal Interval System is by far the better place to invest one's resources. As David Blumberg told me, "If you study the (EIS) course you don't need the older books, if you only have those books you will want to study the course."

Matt
 
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pcartwright

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If you are interested in learning what Lyle Murphy created, the Equal Interval System is by far the better place to invest one's resources.

I would love to study the current EIS method, but until the current books are available for sale I'm stuck perusing libraries.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
That's because the EIS crowd protects that intellectual property so that they can sell expensive series of private tutoring. its not a cult, but you can forget about learning it on your own, they will do anything and everything to prevent you from being able to do that so that someone can sell you private tutoring instead.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
well this cheap ass person will gladly study the EIS methods when they are in a book on amazon. Until then, probably not.
 

Farkle

Senior Member
That's because the EIS crowd protects that intellectual property so that they can sell expensive series of private tutoring. its not a cult, but you can forget about learning it on your own, they will do anything and everything to prevent you from being able to do that so that someone can sell you private tutoring instead.

I'm sorry that you feel that way. Have you reached out to one of the senior instructors, to get some explanation on how EIS works/a breakdown of some of the core principles?

Mike
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
oh yes. I'm well aware of what the private tutoring costs. The information is not available any other way.
 

Farkle

Senior Member
oh yes. I'm well aware of what the private tutoring costs. The information is not available any other way.

Okay, I understand. So, it comes down to, does one value what the course offers, based upon the pricing structure? Each person can answer that for him or herself. And yes, Spud's course is designed to be taught that way (teacher/student, etc). It is what it is; it's for each person to determine for him/herself whether the time and price point is worth it.

Mike
 
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pcartwright

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And yes, Spud's course is designed to be taught that way (teacher/student, etc). It is what it is; it's for each person to determine for him/herself whether the time and price point is worth it.

In one of the books (circa 1948), Murphy offers students the option to submit work to be assessed by him for $3.00 (about $30.00 in today's currency). Coincidentally, this was the price he charged for each volume of Complete course in modern harmony, composition and orchestration for dance band, radio and motion pictures.

Again, I know that this isn't strictly EIS, but it doesn't sound like Murphy was opposed to self study based on this information.
 

Wake

Member
I have on my hands the first two books of EIS, from 1993.

Studying with a teacher isn't mentioned anywhere. Just dilligent
and perseverant "digging" on the student's part, coupled with note taking and regular re-checking of past assignments, of which there are many, which obviously shows that the page count means little - what's to be gained quantity-wise depends on the curiosity, intelligence and character of the student.

I'm sure the full course is mind-boggling in its scope, but frankly, these first two books cover harmony in a way that surpasses college-level knowledge - at least from the perspective I'm familiar with, which is jazz - when it comes to internal logic and efficiency, ie. being an actual system.

Learning craft from an advanced teacher is an incredible advantage, forging a friendship with one is even better I imagine, but the whole EIS topic is IMHO needlessly suffocated by people claiming you need a teacher, and that EIS is impossible to explain (like you're five). Tou don't, and it's not. It's just preferable to study with a more experienced person, and it's just uncomfortable for people who go by their own name to risk infringing copyright I guess.

The Murphy estate is not doing a great job preserving the legacy of its genius founder.
 

Gingerbread

Active Member
I have on my hands the first two books of EIS, from 1993.

It might be worthwhile to note that ideas and concepts cannot be copyrighted. If, for example, you (or someone else) were to use your own words and phrases to re-explain the concepts contained in those books, you would not be violating copyright. In fact, you could even publish your own entire book or website which detailed ALL the concepts and ideas in those two books, and as long as you used your own phrasing and examples, there wouldn't be any violation of copyright.

(I'm not saying you would want to do any of that; just that it would be entirely legal. In fact, it's the basis of all copyright law.)
 
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Wake

Member
Well I never took the time to google this but it seems you're right.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/102#

(b)
In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.

It is by no means effortless to explain, and the concept is complex and multi-layered, but surely someone could have quelled the irritated voices of countless inquiring users... had the will existed.
 

Craig Sharmat

Moderator
Moderator
I have on my hands the first two books of EIS, from 1993.

Studying with a teacher isn't mentioned anywhere. Just dilligent
and perseverant "digging" on the student's part, coupled with note taking and regular re-checking of past assignments, of which there are many, which obviously shows that the page count means little - what's to be gained quantity-wise depends on the curiosity, intelligence and character of the student.

I'm sure the full course is mind-boggling in its scope, but frankly, these first two books cover harmony in a way that surpasses college-level knowledge - at least from the perspective I'm familiar with, which is jazz - when it comes to internal logic and efficiency, ie. being an actual system.

Learning craft from an advanced teacher is an incredible advantage, forging a friendship with one is even better I imagine, but the whole EIS topic is IMHO needlessly suffocated by people claiming you need a teacher, and that EIS is impossible to explain (like you're five). Tou don't, and it's not. It's just preferable to study with a more experienced person, and it's just uncomfortable for people who go by their own name to risk infringing copyright I guess.

The Murphy estate is not doing a great job preserving the legacy of its genius founder.

First off I don't want to get into legalities, Spud created the course and I honor that, I'm not a lawyer but the main reason for the teacher is it is very easy to go off base with the course and the experienced teacher can make sure the student stays on track. I have seen numerous students start to go off and if I was not there to pull them back in or make them aware of things they were missing, well they would have missed things or developed bad or inefficient habits. As far as the estate is concerned, there are things that can be improved and hopefully will be addressed soon.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
You know what? If someone would publish a complete book that explains EIS theory in its entirety, not only would I buy it but if I became convinced I could benefit from private tutoring to really master the method then maybe I would or maybe not. Just depends. Taking tutoring to master something is not out of the question. What is incredulous is the way the actual information is safeguarded and protected so that the only way to find out what it is, this magical EIS method we aren’t allowed to find out about unless we are willing to go through several years of private tutoring amounting to thousands of dollars spent.

I actually have one of the course books too that one of the teachers sold to me as a preview. Years later I inquired about possibly taking the course because the curiosity was killing me and sorry but the course book doesn’t really explain much, I say on purpose, it’s more like a work book to assist with private tutoring. In any case when I was about to start it turned into this grand conspiracy when they wanted to know how I had obtained the book. In the end I decided more then anything I don’t have time to go through step by step hold my hand through several years of tutoring and the cost just irks me. Yes the curiosity almost got me. Publish a real book and I will absolutely add it to my collection of music theory books and who knows where they may lead but personally I think now that spud is gone you just have his family and former pupils trying to profiteer from the alleged intellectual property which there is no way to find out without paying the bucks for private lessons. Unless one of them breaks the chain and publishes the theory in their own words then it will continue to be shrouded in mystery, or you can pay the price and find out through a few years of tutoring whether it’s the brilliant thing that it’s claimed to be. But for me, snake oil comes to mind. I think if it is a credible music theory then put it up for all to see and compare rather then attempting to profiteer through mystery
 

Craig Sharmat

Moderator
Moderator
Dewdman, have you had an in-depth discussion with an actual teacher? We are all willing to explain what the course is. Also check the work done by graduates and people who have taken the course, there is no better proof than that, there are better examples than others but the mass body of work produced by composers in this system should be proof enough. If you do not like what you hear than why waste time with it, if you do like what you hear it makes sense to look into it further.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
It has been explained well that the only way to learn this system is through several years of tutoring. The system is NEVER explained ahead of time, why would they do that when they want to sell tutoring sessions
 

Craig Sharmat

Moderator
Moderator
We don't want to sell, we like to teach, it is not a money making endeavor for many of us (my time is better spent composing monetarily). The system is explained if you want to have a Skype conversation (pm me here)...btw, one can get a lot out of the course within a few months...there is no obligation to take the course for years, you make that determination as you go.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
Craig you know as well as I do that EIS cannot be explained in a single Skype call. Only a sales pitch can be made, which you are continuing to do now.
 
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