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Please explain EIS like I'm 5

sleepy hollow

unconsciously incompetent
Been reading some threads on this subforum and it seems that most people are quite fond of EIS, but I couldn't find any kind of explanation of what EIS really is.

Is it some kind of mental exercise for the jazzy mind?
Is it more like a point of view or some kind of advanced music theory?

I'd really appreciate if someone could take the time and explain EIS in layman's terms.
 

Blackster

Senior Member
I took the course and graduated two years ago. To me, EIS is a stunning collection of techniques, devices and starting points. I ensure you, it is no sect, no meditation course and no outer body experience! :) ...

It is a very clever way of explaining very complex musical things in easy words (e.g. poly-chord structures). While doing that you also get to know traditional harmony, different types of writing counterpoints, which instruments blend well in which register, a bit of orchestration and lots of arranging.

I see the course as a giant buffet. While going through the lessons you are supposed to taste a bit of everything what is on the table. If you like it you go back for seconds and if you don't, just move forward to explore what else is there. Before I took the course I listened to many songs of EIS students and some of them (or better many of them) sounded weired, kind of random. Having experimented a lot with some of those techniques I discovered that this weirdness and randomness usually results of overloading your plate with too many things. I've been there many times as well :)

But once you get the hang of balancing your plate with the things you like, the musical results can be simply amazing! Of course, this is all only my opinion on that.

Does this make EIS clearer to you?
 

knolan

New Member
I took the course and graduated two years ago. To me, EIS is a stunning collection of techniques, devices and starting points. I ensure you, it is no sect, no meditation course and no outer body experience! :) ...

It is a very clever way of explaining very complex musical things in easy words (e.g. poly-chord structures). While doing that you also get to know traditional harmony, different types of writing counterpoints, which instruments blend well in which register, a bit of orchestration and lots of arranging.

I see the course as a giant buffet. While going through the lessons you are supposed to taste a bit of everything what is on the table. If you like it you go back for seconds and if you don't, just move forward to explore what else is there. Before I took the course I listened to many songs of EIS students and some of them (or better many of them) sounded weired, kind of random. Having experimented a lot with some of those techniques I discovered that this weirdness and randomness usually results of overloading your plate with too many things. I've been there many times as well :)

But once you get the hang of balancing your plate with the things you like, the musical results can be simply amazing! Of course, this is all only my opinion on that.

Does this make EIS clearer to you?


Can you give one detailed example of "simply amazing" results you achieved with this system? I mean this sincerely - it would help.

Here are my concerns:

- It's an entirely different system to learn

- I've looked over it - it looks ambiguous and ad-hoc to me

- An once person's "take" on redefining the last 400 years of music as proliferated by the grand masters from Bach to Coltrane had better have a convincing argument - and I don't see it.


so a detailed musical example as to what this is all about - and in particular how it enables: composition, theme building arrangement and development, and orchestration - all relevant to current (media) composers - would be helpful (given that it's been promoted on a very "current composing paradigm" web site.
 

Blackster

Senior Member
I took the course and graduated two years ago. To me, EIS is a stunning collection of techniques, devices and starting points. I ensure you, it is no sect, no meditation course and no outer body experience! :) ...

It is a very clever way of explaining very complex musical things in easy words (e.g. poly-chord structures). While doing that you also get to know traditional harmony, different types of writing counterpoints, which instruments blend well in which register, a bit of orchestration and lots of arranging.

I see the course as a giant buffet. While going through the lessons you are supposed to taste a bit of everything what is on the table. If you like it you go back for seconds and if you don't, just move forward to explore what else is there. Before I took the course I listened to many songs of EIS students and some of them (or better many of them) sounded weired, kind of random. Having experimented a lot with some of those techniques I discovered that this weirdness and randomness usually results of overloading your plate with too many things. I've been there many times as well :)

But once you get the hang of balancing your plate with the things you like, the musical results can be simply amazing! Of course, this is all only my opinion on that.

Does this make EIS clearer to you?


Can you give one detailed example of "simply amazing" results you achieved with this system? I mean this sincerely - it would help.

Here are my concerns:

- It's an entirely different system to learn

- I've looked over it - it looks ambiguous and ad-hoc to me

- An once person's "take" on redefining the last 400 years of music as proliferated by the grand masters from Bach to Coltrane had better have a convincing argument - and I don't see it.


so a detailed musical example as to what this is all about - and in particular how it enables: composition, theme building arrangement and development, and orchestration - all relevant to current (media) composers - would be helpful (given that it's been promoted on a very "current composing paradigm" web site.

Sorry, but I won't discuss any compositions in detail for two reasons:
1) This is very time-consuming.
2) Most of the music I write is published by a German music publisher.

The best advice I can give you at this point is to find a teacher (on the official website) and sign up for the first 4 lessons. Usually, teaching is done in chunks of 4 lessons but I guess it depends on the teacher. See, if it is useful for you or not. Simple as that.

It is good to ask questions in advance but honestly, I won't spend too much time on listening what others say. What if I had no experience at all in EIS and what if everything I wrote was a lie :) ... obviously, it wasn't. But I believe that there is no advantage for you or me if I explained some techniques I use often because I consider them amazing.

Maybe you don't need more teaching or mentoring? Maybe you already know that stuff because you are an expert in jazz theory and you are better armed musically than everybody else on the planet? :) ... but also maybe it is exactly what you have been looking for. Find out.
 

gsilbers

Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com
I took the course and graduated two years ago. To me, EIS is a stunning collection of techniques, devices and starting points. I ensure you, it is no sect, no meditation course and no outer body experience! :) ...

It is a very clever way of explaining very complex musical things in easy words (e.g. poly-chord structures). While doing that you also get to know traditional harmony, different types of writing counterpoints, which instruments blend well in which register, a bit of orchestration and lots of arranging.

I see the course as a giant buffet. While going through the lessons you are supposed to taste a bit of everything what is on the table. If you like it you go back for seconds and if you don't, just move forward to explore what else is there. Before I took the course I listened to many songs of EIS students and some of them (or better many of them) sounded weired, kind of random. Having experimented a lot with some of those techniques I discovered that this weirdness and randomness usually results of overloading your plate with too many things. I've been there many times as well :)

But once you get the hang of balancing your plate with the things you like, the musical results can be simply amazing! Of course, this is all only my opinion on that.

Does this make EIS clearer to you?


Can you give one detailed example of "simply amazing" results you achieved with this system? I mean this sincerely - it would help.

Here are my concerns:

- It's an entirely different system to learn

- I've looked over it - it looks ambiguous and ad-hoc to me

- An once person's "take" on redefining the last 400 years of music as proliferated by the grand masters from Bach to Coltrane had better have a convincing argument - and I don't see it.


so a detailed musical example as to what this is all about - and in particular how it enables: composition, theme building arrangement and development, and orchestration - all relevant to current (media) composers - would be helpful (given that it's been promoted on a very "current composing paradigm" web site.


music theory of those 400 years is also encompassed on EIS. its like how berklee teaches music vs classic conservatory. well, EIS is just another way. but its no magic trick or it will teach you how to compose better. its more like another tool. to me is like a parallel teaching method.

for example, one way to look at it is learning music but without the key signatures.
thats one aspect of it. so one advantage in EIS in film music is that you are not "stuck" in key signatures and since film composing relies on mood changes so fast then knowing how to go from one chord to another helps under EIS.
 

knolan

New Member
The issue is -

All western music other than atonal music uses some sort of tonality / modality. The entire language of expression - as in - the way all master musicians have been thinking - is in this way. Whether you're looking to understand classical, romantic, impressionistic, jazz - they are all based on tonal / modal systems.

So when learning the rich tapestry of western music, its these systems we learn, firstly so we can use them to our own ends, and secondly (if we're really good) to extend them or "break the rules" as they say.

But none of that is a problem. It's tough, but it's not a problem. There's a vast legacy of music written in this way to be listened to, analysed and hopefully understood. It's a language, and a well used one. In other words, tonality / modality (and 'key')

EIS has none of this legacy. None of the master works can be analysed in this way - at least to the extent that it's not the way the masters were thinking - so why would you bother applying this system when it does not reveal how the masters out their music together?


and - if it's a problem to you to have to learn keys, and the language of music as it evolved, then what are you doing in media music where you have to be a chameleon and know / understand / use a wealthy of styles / genres to be flexible and hireable? Fine you can wing it with your innate talent, but if you want to understand the world body of (western) music you need its language. EIS does not give you that.

Furthermore - it's another language in any case, to be learnt.

Overall, I don't see the point of it. At most it may provide a set of 'licks' that allow you to produce music with some semblance of 'film music' - but it does not teach you 'the way' that the world's legacy of great musicians have followed. If you have a problem with 'key' then arguably you shouldn't be in this business. As just a few examples, great chord progressions, masterful modulations in extended works or even in short songs, and the innovative use of traditional modes are all extraordinarily exciting ways of pursuing music. They are not, and should not, be a problem. Yet EIS seems to be trying to offer some sort of "short cut" to all of that.

you may as well come up with another set of letter symbols, convert Hamlet into those symbols and then ask people to learn those symbols to ready Hamlet. What's the point?


In any case, the central point for me is - since the World's legacy of western music was not written in this system, it cannot be understood using this system, so it means you have to exclude essentially all great music in your own personal analysis - and that's just not acceptable.

anyone can come up with an intriguing "system" of patterns and notation for music - and if you're going it alone as an art musician that actually is probably a benefit - but for media music - it's not a runner in most situations media composers are going to encounter, on a deadline!
 

Craig Sharmat

Moderator
Moderator
You have already come to your own conclusions about EIS so there seems little sense trying to enlighten you...most of your statement has so many false conclusions it is not worth attempting to explain it, especially as your mind already seems to be made up.

I will however address a little bit of it and I will be finished on the subject.

While EIS does not teach keys one can certainly analyze traditional music with it. One of it's main advantages is it is one language that you can work in that allows you to write from Bach to modern atonal music using a single system unlike say a college course where you have multiple teachers for various subjects. If you take the course you will notice many traditional things along with non traditional, Voice Leading, Harmony in 3rds 4ths, 5ths etc, Polytonality and the scales used there and many other techniques used in traditional ways. You can write in a key if you so wish to do so, but one of the beauties of the course is you don't have to and so it opens up a slew of possibilities.

Know people who use this course like myself, a media composer (not super famous but have made a good living), Del Hake (Simpsons orchestrator) Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, ect ect all studied at least some of the course and endorse(d) it.
 

wst3

Lunatic - it's really that simple
Moderator
One prospect's perspective...

EIS is just different enough that it may or may not be accessible to any given student at any given time. But even at that it is simply another way of thinking about music... it is still about music.

One of the things that impresses me most is the wide range of artists that have endorsed it... but even that is no guarantee.

For now I've chosen to continue to hone my current knowledge. There are enough gaps remaining that this is not wasted time for me.

But in the not too distant future I plan to sign up for a few lessons - the absolute worst outcome would be that I discover it is not for me at that time, and frankly I expect something slightly better than that<G>!

If you are curious, and you have the time to spend I think that is really the only way to make an informed decision.
 

just2high

New Member
Can you give one detailed example of "simply amazing" results you achieved with this system? I mean this sincerely - it would help.

Here are my concerns:

- It's an entirely different system to learn

- I've looked over it - it looks ambiguous and ad-hoc to me

- An once person's "take" on redefining the last 400 years of music as proliferated by the grand masters from Bach to Coltrane had better have a convincing argument - and I don't see it.

so a detailed musical example as to what this is all about - and in particular how it enables: composition, theme building arrangement and development, and orchestration - all relevant to current (media) composers - would be helpful (given that it's been promoted on a very "current composing paradigm" web site.

knolan, I understand the hesitation with "jumping into" a whole new musical system, I felt the same way when I first learned about EIS. As a disclaimer, I am a current student (just reached book 10 out of 12) and I can tell you I can't be more pleased.

A bit of background: I first heard about EIS when I discovered this forum sometime in 2007, but I had just been accepted to a Masters program in composition and while I was really intrigued, I felt like I really didn't need it. But a year and a half after I finished my degree I found that my writing was stagnating and being just out of school I didn't have many projects to keep up my game. So I decided to give EIS a shot, if nothing else I knew I would be paired with a teacher who was actively working and I would be forced to write every week to keep in shape. 2.5 years later I can safely say that EIS has helped to improve my compositional understanding, imagination, and speed. I also get a fair amount of work writing music for live theater in my city.

With that said, I think it is important to clarify what EIS is and is NOT. It is easier to say what it is NOT.

EIS is not a redefining of the classical tradition of Western music. EIS is not an exclusive system. EIS is not just a set of rules or guidelines.

EIS is a comprehensive approach to Music Theory and Composition. It gives one perspective of understanding the relationship of tonal pitches to one another and how to organize them.

If that description seems nebulous then let me ask you this: Can you describe Schenkerian Analysis to me like I am 5? Or can you describe Atonal Theory and Composition to me like I am 5? Or can you even just describe Roman Numeral Analysis to a non-musician? I'm not trying to be combative, just trying to point out that it is very difficult to describe systems succinctly without good foundational knowledge in the subject. And as each system has its own nomenclature, it makes it challenging to translate sometimes.

I also think it is important to keep in mind that ALL music theory is THEORY. A practice devised in order to try and understand why specific combinations of pitches creates pleasing melodies and harmony. You can analyze a piece of music using Roman Numeral Analysis, Tone Matrices, or Schenkerian Analysis. You can also analyze a piece of music using EIS.

So, in my opinion EIS is a comprehensive approach to Music Theory and Composition. That being said, I do not think that I would have progressed well through the course or have been able to take the most advantage of it without all of my formal training. While not a requirement, having good foundation in Tradition Music Theory and Harmony makes it extremely easier to understand what is going on. It has also been illuminating comparing the different approaches to explaining Harmonic Movement, Counterpoint, and Chord Structure.

In some ways calling EIS a system is a misnomer, because there are two aspects to it. There is the Music Theory approach and then there is the Pedagological core. The "name" EIS refers to the both combined, because they are really hard to separate. EIS teaches the music theory approach systematically through the course. It begins with note relations and chord structures, and continues to progress through counterpoint and harmonization, and also arranging and orchestration.

There is no other teaching method that does this, which is where the strength of the system lies. It is designed for composers; it assumes you are going to write music. Any other music theory course you are taking along with performers and educators. All it does is present the theory, the application leaves you hanging. In the EIS system you are paired with a teacher who walks you through all the steps in the system. However, like all educational endeavors, you get what you put into it. There is an assignment for each lesson and how you use the material in your own music is up to you. What I have gained from EIS is confidence, freedom, and speed, the music is still my own.

So take what you will. The biggest benefit from EIS comes from being in it for the long haul. The later lessons are really exciting, but I understand now that without the foundational ones you just keep making the same mistakes. Great music can be written without EIS and great music can be written with it. I've found that EIS really fits the way I think and hear music in my head, which I always struggled with trying to justify my choices to my composition teachers in school (why did you choose this chord? it's not functional!). I am also always on the lookout for ways to improve my knowledge so I don't just study EIS exclusively.

I also don't believe that anyone who has benefitted from EIS is trying to belittle any other system, they are just so excited from having discovered a method that works for them.

As for examples, the "weird" pieces are usually etudes, written to practice a specific concept from a single lesson. There's a great post in this forum called Boss Battle Music which has the PDF markup and a mockup which shows a great example of application. I'm in a cafe right now so don't have access to my stuff but can give you some examples later. And of course, go and listen to anything on Craig Sharmat's website.
 

tack

Damned Dirty Ape
I think what strikes me most about EIS -- coming from someone who is utterly ignorant about it and therefore naturally interested in this thread -- is how shockingly little information there seems to be online about it.

My first response to this thread was to get a cursory education. Ok, I'll just hop on Youtube and watch a few tutorial videos. Or let me punch that into Google and read some blogs about it.

I truly wasn't prepared for what I found: nothing. Or at least nothing beyond the sales pitches on equalinterval.com.

It's hard not to be left with the impression that EIS is basically the Fight Club of musical theory.
 

Craig Sharmat

Moderator
Moderator
EIS was created considerably before the internet. The founder Spud did not want everyone getting their hands on the course (mostly because people who have not studied EIS would misinterpret the material) so he kept it locked up so only those who study it can get the materials. When Spud passed, Lilith his daughter took over ownership of the course and has kept the course off line per Spud's wishes. The best way to check out the course is through Spud's own music which some exists on line and the vast amount of people who have taken the course. There is a list on the website, which like the site is badly outdated as there are many new and wonderful students and graduates not listed there.
 

artsoundz

Senior Member
When I first became aware of EIS several years ago, I was completely intrigued and found this link provided all the info I needed.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spud_Murphy

So, I studied briefly with David Blumberg and loved every second partly because of David btw. Due to illness, I had to stop but it is on my list always to continue.

Some of the comments (ad hoc, fight club etc) were painful to read as they were so disrespectful of someone who obviously had more talent and knowledge in his little finger than any of you, who commented so amateurishly, ever will.

Knolan, you might start thinking less about music and start listening more. I've found that listening always drowns out the background noise.
 

Craig Sharmat

Moderator
Moderator
thanks for posting the pdf

I find the statement a half a dozen rules a bit misleading as anyone knows who has gone through some of the course there are a bunch of directions (not rules) put in play, but in the end not naming directions rules could be considered a bit of semantics.

It is also correct that the course teaches motion picture scoring but the examples date back a good 50+ yrs. The score to Jaws is 40 years old now... :shock:
 

Craig Sharmat

Moderator
Moderator
The ability to read treble and bass clefs (you don't have to be a good sight-reader)...use a notation program....that's about it. Some theory knowledge is helpful as it gets deep fast.
 

Craig Sharmat

Moderator
Moderator
I cannot recommend 1 lesson a month, my guess is you would lose interest and waste money.

Also lesson cost depends on instructor but I believe even the least expensive teacher is more than 60.00 a lesson. There is not a set cost per lesson, that depends on instructor I am not privy to what others are charging.
 
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