MUSIC THEORY BOOKS

Discuss playing styles and techniques, or share your own here.
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guitarmanK1982
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#16 Post by guitarmanK1982 » Sun Mar 23, 2008 4:41 am

Like i said, it depends on how you define a 'musician'. But yes, i agree, you can be a great guitarist, but not necessarily a great musician. Alternatively, you can be a great musician, but not necessarily a great instrumentalist.

e.g. Vanessa Paradis - great singer - not a great musician though.
'Air' - great musicians, but most Vai-level players could play better guitar than them.

So it depends on whether you are defining being an instrumentalist, or being a musician.

But yes, you can be a good guitarist regardless. But that's all you'll be.

And your original question was regarding music theory - the simple answer is that learning to read will make understanding of the theory easier. You can only understand certain chords (e.g. neapolitan 6th) when they are placed in a harmonic cotext that is easy to see - and a score is the answer.

Contrary to belief, written music has evolved as the easiest and most accurate way of scoring sound.

And you abviously want to learn theory if you are buying such books, so just take the step and put in the effort to learn to read. Put it this way - will it make you a worse player?

Get the Hal Leonard guitar method books - they are a good place to start off.

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#17 Post by guitarmanK1982 » Sun Mar 23, 2008 4:51 am

And i don't understand the obsession with Zappa here - he is quoted here for his complexity - but his music isn't that complex. More complex time signature stuff was written years before he was doing it - all he did was transfer classical ideas into a rock context.

That doesn't make his music the zenith of complexity. Good on him for developing rock, but his actual ideas aren't original. He is just recycling ideas into a different context.

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#18 Post by Guitaruss » Sun Mar 23, 2008 7:19 am

Who was it said opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one ?

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notavirtuoso
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#19 Post by notavirtuoso » Sun Mar 23, 2008 8:49 am

I think if you're going to take the time to learn theory then learning to read notation would be beneficial. It isn't hard to learn to read notation at all once you learn the basics and stay in practice. If for nothing else you wouldn't ever be limited on your materials you study for theory. There are a number of good books that offer an introduction to learning notation that are easy to follow and cover all the basics. You don't really need to be able to sight read and play on the spot that well (although it could be handy in some circumstances), just learn it so that you can be able to look at a score and understand what it says. Just my opinion, but learning it is a lot easier than learning the theory you want to check out. If I were interested in world history but didn't know how to read I don't think I'd want to learn it all from documentary films or something of that nature, I'd want to learn to read the books. Not a great comparison, but it's the best I can come up with while hungry :D


Edit: OK, after some cereal I have a better analogy I think. Let's say I was a brilliant storyteller but couldn't read or write. In order to make money I would hire someone to write what I dictated and thus write novels. Would this make me any less of a writer? No, not really. Would it be a bit of a pain in the ass and more trouble than actually learning how to read and write? Yes it would. The point is, going around an obstacle by working around it is often harder than facing the obstacle itself.

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#20 Post by budt » Sun Mar 23, 2008 2:57 pm

guitarmanK1982 wrote:And i don't understand the obsession with Zappa here - he is quoted here for his complexity - but his music isn't that complex. More complex time signature stuff was written years before he was doing it - all he did was transfer classical ideas into a rock context.

That doesn't make his music the zenith of complexity. Good on him for developing rock, but his actual ideas aren't original. He is just recycling ideas into a different context.
Guitarman of Monaco, I respectfully request your opinion on some important matters that you have brought up repeatedly in this forum.

1) Who impresses you with musical complexity?
2) How about a few examples of who you feel are great musicians?
3) How about a few examples of who you feel are great guitarists?
4) How about a few examples of who you feel are great non-guitar instrumentalists?

Not even intended for debate purposes, I'd just really like to know.

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#21 Post by Guitaruss » Mon Mar 24, 2008 12:32 am

I wouldn't bother asking him anything Budt, hes so far up his own ass its obvious he wants everyone to think HE is the greatest at everything related to music, that he knows it all and we should all bow down to worship his well schooled ass....frankly he can go piss up a rope...he hasn't even got the balls to post his own music that he says is used in 'the movies'

Anyone who comes out with statements like 'my bank account is higher than the GDP of your town...' shouldn't be given the time of day.
Last edited by Guitaruss on Mon Mar 24, 2008 6:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#22 Post by joshua202020 » Mon Mar 24, 2008 4:04 am

Chill people. 8)

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#23 Post by Big Bad Bill » Mon Mar 24, 2008 5:09 am

guitarmanK1982 wrote:And i don't understand the obsession with Zappa here - he is quoted here for his complexity - but his music isn't that complex. More complex time signature stuff was written years before he was doing it - all he did was transfer classical ideas into a rock context.
I have some sympathy with your post, guitarmanK1982. To me, Zappa's stuff sounds 'conventional' generally with sudden and occasional tempo changes. But, there are better people than me out there who rate his work so I assume I just can't appreciate it and I chose to listen to, and enjoy Steve's music, instead :D

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#24 Post by guitarmanK1982 » Mon Mar 24, 2008 4:42 pm

My opinions for some reason, seem to offend some - however, i have never been rude, unless in reply to someone else's comments (the 'GDP' comment, for example).

There is a difference between getting to the point, and offending someone. Call it efficiency, if you wish.

Perhaps it isn't me who is here in order to try and offend?

Someone wrote 'who impresses you with musical complexity' - simple answer - the point of music isn't complexity. Complexity is the result of evolution - the purpose of evolution is the avoidance of stagnation, as stagnation leads to decay - so no one composer can be placed out of context of their time. Mozart was complex in 1790, but not today. Dissonance and complexity are issues of relativity. So the question itself is meaningless.

However - i will post one link - to those who think that Zappa was the god of inventiveness - the name is Iannis Xenakis, and the piece (one of many) is 'mycenae alpha' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yztoaNakKok

My apologies to those who considered Vai's 'artistic interpretation' of the score to 'alien water kiss' as cutting edge - it is just a rip off of a years old idea, the seed of which was passed down and recycled by Zappa.

Is Zappa really the pere of all that is original today? I'm not saying he is or isn't - all i'd say is learn a little first before passing judgement. And do know that Zappa was well aware of the composers i have mentioned.

Steve is good, when he is not trying to be Zappa - who was also trying to be like someone else.

'Le sacre du printemps' was a long time ago...

If you really like Vai, study his inspirations. So study Zappa. Study his inspirations. Then you will meet Stravinsky, amongst others ;)

Happy hunting.

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#25 Post by fixxer746 » Mon Mar 24, 2008 5:40 pm

Wow that Iannis Xenakis clip is pretty wild. Did he draw the art with the knowledge of what it would sound like, or did he just draw random images and synthesis it through the program?

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#26 Post by notavirtuoso » Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:58 pm

I don't think Zappa was the God of Inventiveness but I checked out the link anyway. I can't say I liked it but I did find it interesting (and not using the word interesting in a condescending way) as it is definitely far from random. It's quite apparent a lot of thought went into it. Some of the comments on the video said that the composer does more than electronic music so I might check that out. I do have to say that my dog hated it though :D In all fairness he's more into Zeppelin.

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#27 Post by budt » Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:30 am

guitarmanK1982 wrote:Someone wrote 'who impresses you with musical complexity' - simple answer - the point of music isn't complexity. Complexity is the result of evolution - the purpose of evolution is the avoidance of stagnation, as stagnation leads to decay - so no one composer can be placed out of context of their time. Mozart was complex in 1790, but not today. Dissonance and complexity are issues of relativity. So the question itself is meaningless.
I've always agreed with this. I have to remind my NY jazzbo friends of this all the time. But the question is relevant because you have made it a point to be critical of Vai and Zappa's complexity/virtuosity/originality (or lack thereof) on a Steve Vai message board. So it is worth asking - in the context of what has been posted here.
guitarmanK1982 wrote:However - i will post one link - to those who think that Zappa was the god of inventiveness - the name is Iannis Xenakis, and the piece (one of many) is 'mycenae alpha' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yztoaNakKok

My apologies to those who considered Vai's 'artistic interpretation' of the score to 'alien water kiss' as cutting edge - it is just a rip off of a years old idea, the seed of which was passed down and recycled by Zappa.
I have checked out everyone that FZ has ever mentioned - its quite an extraordinary journey! Most people don't research their influences too far back. For instance, Clapton is aware of Eddie Van Halen's adulation but has expressed disappointment in Eddie not going back to check out Robert Johnson. So what can one do?

Thanks for posting the Iannis Xenakis link. I really liked it. I imagined some aliens out there searching the universe for radio signals, the way SETI does here. And they picked up some György Ligeti and some Jimmy Page doing his violin bow thingy amidst all the white noise. (As if Earth radio could be that cool). Or was it just another Poème Électronique?

Pardon my French: La poésie électrique demeure la même.

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#28 Post by guitarmanK1982 » Tue Mar 25, 2008 3:21 pm

Xenakis had a few approaches to this kind of composition. But it has advanced a lot since the music you heard on youtube. Now, full digital samples of all orchestral instruments are used (i spent some time at CCMIX, and developed some of the technology) - so finally, freedom from the limitations of pitched notation has been solved, and can be heard in an orchestral context.

So this type of composition arose as a transcendence of the limitations of notated music (rather than as a way to avoid notation) - and to see such limitaions requires a complete understanding of notated music; Xenakis' contributions cannot be underestimated, and they can be seen as pivotal to the development of all electronic/synthesised music since.

budt - i suppose your question is relevant, if the music in question is meant to be challenging or cutting-edge with regards to musicality. But that is my point - it isn't. And hopefully this example (one of very many that could be cited) shows this; not as a way of insulting another musician - but as a way of showing that what may be considered 'originality' isn't actually original.

Unfortunately many Vai fans consider his music as cutting-edge in every respect - the point is that it isn't cutting edge in every respect.

However, technically, Vai is a master, and he has certainly pushed boundaries in this respect - of this there is no doubt. But imagine the result if he combined his technique with original and inventive musical ideas!!

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#29 Post by notavirtuoso » Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:54 pm

So when he's composing, is he thinking/working purely in frequencies? I have a feeling the answer could go over my head pretty quickly but I have to admit I'm more than a little curious. Forgive my blatant ignorance on the theory involved but a lot of the sounds on the piece you posted sound like numerous varying harmonies that seem to stretch out from each other and return again, like an ebb and flow. I guess kind of like multiple simultaneous semi-intervallic harmonized figures with varying degrees of expansion and decay. Sorry, my description sucks, but it makes sense to me :lol:

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#30 Post by guitarmanK1982 » Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:05 am

No no, your description is fine! I understand what you mean ;)

Yes, this method creates appeal as the variation in pitch is where the importance lies.

The reason it exists is that Xenakis was trying to write out a very complex glissando for the string section, and standard notation wasn't accurate enough, as it wcouldn't show the exact variation in the glissando (e.g. does the glissando speed up towards the end? what is the rough variation of the glissando per beat etc)

There is some info here - http://www.iannis-xenakis.org/fxe/actus/eloge.html

Or search for 'Meta HP'

Now we have full string sections, with the top of the graph being the highest note of the violin, going all the way down to the lowest note of the double bass at the bottom of the graph. Pressure applied when 'writing' the music determines the volume. Actual pitches can also be indicated as a guide throughout (e.g. a thin piece of trace paper over the top with hoprizontal lines indicating specific pitches, for reference, should one need to use them).

But the joy is that it has allowed complete freedom - many people say 'i want a huge glissando here, from low to high' - now it can be done - and easily.

Yes, to answer your question, the harmonies do stretch out from one 'source' harmony. On an actual score, this would be written as many violins playing the one note, then gradually some would rise, and some would fall. The result would be a horizontal 'parabola' on the page.

But Xenakis had many variations on the possibilities with glissandi. Meta HP is one of them. There are some books on his work - i'm sure that amazon will have them.

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