TONICS - Why Musicians Should Laser Focus On Them...

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by AxemanVR, Sep 10, 2021.

  1. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    @telemnemonics ...
    Your posts are always engaging and I thoroughly enjoy reading them!
    In some ways my sample may be somewhat closed as well. Like I mentioned, LA is really diverse and it's always been one of those places where folks gravitate to when they're hard pressed to find acceptance anywhere else - especially in the arts. There's even a music school out here that's mission is to almost completely eschew the Western theory canon - Cal Arts.
    For myself, I straddle the two worlds. I tend to analyze in the trad Western way but I am quite aware of there being other ways of thinking and classifying. I have many friends and colleagues who aren't from the "west" or they're deeply rooted in their particular folk culture or whatever. Anyway, I always learn a lot when I play with them.
     
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  2. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    Good shout! But, like I said, "rarely."
     
  3. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    I heard an interview with him years ago where he discussed taking some traditional Lebanese melody and turning it into Miserlou. Again, if true, the use of notes is "non-Western."
     
  4. Rockinvet

    Rockinvet Tele-Afflicted

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    That’s a whole lot of information. Wow!
     
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  5. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Bunk.
     
  6. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    So far in my musical travels I have yet to encounter a "collection of notes and/or chords" that can't be described and codified within Western music theory. Even the 1/4 tone or 'Justly' intonated stuff. Also, even within strictly Western music, there's usually more than one way to categorize any given set of tones or chord progression other than the most basic building block Music 101 type stuff.

    I think the problems or disagreements occur when folks stop actually listening to the music and just want to talk about it. In my experience it helps to be able to play the music in question to some degree. Everything becomes clear once you do that.
     
  7. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    From this I learn?

    (I'm trying to have a conversation)
    @Larry F you might be the most knowledgeable here on music theory, so thanks for engaging with my comments!

    Not style, but if THEORY changed, when and how?
    Numerous times to such significant degrees that "the conventions of Western theory" became wholly different?

    Compared to other arts & sciences, lets say we take six smart 18yo kids and send them to college for a seven year graduate degree, 50 years ago.
    So comparing 1961 conventions of theory in several education systems.

    Music student
    Culinary arts student
    Law student
    Automotive engineering student
    Physics student
    Visual arts student

    Since we can't know for certain that China will not be running the country here and Chinese music might or might not be on I heart radio seven years from now, I'll set the dates for the kids to start college in 1954 to finish grad school in '61, being fully trained in the conventions of the field from 50 years ago.
    Time travel them and drop them cold, into their field today.

    Off the top of my head I'd guess the music student could step into many 2021 pro musician jobs and do pretty well, if fairly surprised in some settings, but having the training to sight read parts and even take a solo if called on, or write/ compose parts or entire scores etc.
    On their own we might not buy their music in pop Rock but we might buy their Blues, Soul Jazz product without any clue that they were way out of touch

    The culinary arts graduate would cook fine but might struggle with half of today's cuisines.
    Open a restaurant 1961 style and only a few small towns would flock to the fine meatloaf.
    Forced to run a Korean American or Vietnamese American joint and the grad would be at a loss.

    The law graduate? I think they would be pretty much fine, aside from the need to remember landmark case histories which they would still have to look up to prepare for a case.

    The automotive engineering student, I think they would not get hired and if they did they would be stuck in technical drawing (which due to gear tech they couldn't do) and not designing stuff because the theoretical conventions have just changed too much.

    The physics graduate? Good lord am I wrong to think they would be vastly out of touch with the field of 50 years past their education era? To get work as a theoretical physicist in 2021?

    The visual arts grad, well that's pretty varied and some art schools are proud to teach traditional styles which still function in the market and in society. Or, by 1961, visual arts theory, (not gear like digital tech but just the conventions of theory) was hardly less advanced than it is today. So if hired in a graphic arts job they would be stylistically out of touch but not theoretically out of touch.
    Hanging out their shingle they could sell in galleries just fine.

    ...For another opposite look, I'd act as 1961 hobbyist/ fan/ quack doctor of just music, automotive tech, and physics.
    If I look close at Western music from 1961 and 2021, some sounds different and styles are different but the theoretical conventions of 1961 still apply just fine today.
    So stepping out of my 1961 man cave into 2021, I can understand music, but I cannot understand what's under the hood of my car, or where physics has gone since I eagerly read up on it in the 1950s.

    Of course it might be unfair to compare theoretical conventions of arts to sciences, as well as of 1000 year old stuff to 100 year old stuff, but WTH we're entertaining ourselves on a guitar forum and worse arguments have been posed!

    In the culinary arts which are I think a fair comparison to the changes in a culinary arts degree 50 years ago to today, the foreign cuisine has become an American tradition or a Western tradition. Most Americans regularly eat a wide range of foreign cuisines, which if you cook, you might see theoretical conventions that are different.

    Just for another question that might apply, and I don't know the answer; (plus this is really unfair yet compares the educational conventions of today that have changed in the past 50 years) I'm pretty sure a Chef with a graduate degree from a good school will be able to make cuisines of many non Western cultures without opening a book. And do that well.
    Can a music school graduate with a seven year degree play Chinese music, Vietnamese music, Lebanese music, and Indian music, all with equal skill, without opening a book?
    Certainly fair to not require the trained musician to play oud!
    But how about Arabic 17 tone, 22 tone, 24 tone theory?
    Are today's grads able to play and compose in those and whatever other non 12 tone systems?
    Has Western music theory absorbed and integrated non Western music theory the way the culinary arts has?
    And/ or, is 17 tone theory the same as Western 12 tone based theory?

    If the answer to some of these questions is that other arts and sciences theories have advanced more than music theory, that's basically where I was going with this.

    Personally, while I know the tonic or the root is there, I'm skirting and avoiding it/ them for the purpose of entertaining myself, while hoping the audience is entertained too!
    My arts theory, for the last 30 years or so, is thus:

    "The true artist does whatever they feel like doing and hopes you'll feel it too".

    Like meat & potatoes, sometimes we want something other than just a cigar!
     
  8. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    I find it most useful to think of Music in terms of both "theory" and "philosophy".

    All too often I seen people argue about strict technical details, yet they can't quite explain why "Funky Town" was such a huge worldwide hit... sometimes the answer is that "it just works" (apparently defying all rational explanation). And other times music theorists have concocted overly-complex structures for things that could have been easily whittled down to a short phrase.

    One example is the "Harmonic minor" scale. Instead of inventing an entirely new scale to make the Dominant in a minor Key "Major" instead of "minor", wouldn't it have been far easier to just say "The Dominant in a minor Key can be Major if you want it to be"?!?

    And, why do bIII or bVII chords work? Is it because they are "borrowed chords" or some nonsense? Or is it just because they sound good?!?

    Don't get me wrong, I love the theory - it's impressive in its mathematical precision - but, seriously folks, how many times has anyone ever really created actual music that required the use of a diminished 4th?...





    `
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021
  9. fretWalkr

    fretWalkr Tele-Holic

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    Right. Blues and Jazz can have a I7 chord and a IV7 and a V7. Only the V7 resolves. It actually is harmonic in nature since you can hear the tritone resolution of V7 to I or I7 just playing the 2 notes of the tritone and then resolving those stepwise to the tonic.
     
  10. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    OK, and we saw this to a lesser degree play out in this discussion with individuals choosing their preferred Western theory tool to describe the Gypsy scale which is really not at all outside of Western music thinking.

    I was learning from that debate, where you said (in the Dick Dale thread) that the Gypsy scale has been used in bebop for IDK 60 years (plus you said more but...), while @gtroates was describing it as "made up of two major 7th chords etc; which was not how you chose to describe or identify it.

    So while a 1960 automotive engineer could take apart a 2020 auto engine and describe the parts, there is a great deal of theory that has changed there, despite the former theory being capable of describing phenomena created with more modern theory.

    So today's music theory can describe 1/4 tone or 17 tone, has today's Western theory embraced adopted and is now teaching those other systems?

    As far as the problems/ disagreements stemming from talk vs music itself, I'm far too uneducated to even know how to talk about it.

    As far as what a college educated musician was taught for conventions in order to play/ compose/ improvise "properly", has convention advanced to a degree where it has notably changed in 50-60 years?
    I'm saying that while I've been listening to world music and most Euro American music for 55 years, I'm just not hearing Western change much, and I'm still seeing "Eastern" as akin to the bottle of funny sauce your sister bought at that international foods fair but only pulls out now and then as a novelty.

    Here though I'm including Eastern stuff like the "Gypsy scale" which has been in pop music since the 1920s, as old former Western theory convention.
    And yet!
    Western listeners still hear old time Hot Club of France pop riffs as foreign!

    Or for example two of my favorite artists and Kandinsky and Stravinsky.
    I got the "ski" removed from my family name when the Polish Jew ancestor arrived at Ellis island in the 1800s.
    When I play music, I want to follow the conventions established in the Rite of Spring.
    But that's too unconventional for almost every American musician I've played with or heard performances of.
    Why only obscure music for a wonderful convention like that?
    Sub genre scenes like the Knitting Factory were mostly a disappointment, not that TKF was aiming for Stravinsky, but post Jazz free music could have been and some musicians I played with were.

    Probably just because fans wanna dance.
    But dammit!

    Sorry to be a nag!
    I hope this is fun or enjoyable to some degree!
    And would love it if I started hearing less convention in American popular music.

    As far as old man yells at clouds, I went into music with high hopes for freedom, shared creativity that defied convention, and the unique-to-music factor where art is made in the moment while the art patron observes.

    My findings while moving through sub genres (in Boston and NYC) that promised something along those lines was that conventions stifled and limited the potential for music as art. Stuff happened then kind of died or became that bottle of sauce in the back of the fridge.
    I spent some time "working" with Tony Conrad who was a video and music artist, earlier along side Andy Warhol, and while his stuff was not where I wanted to go, once again, he was in the middle of the last 50 years of music and visual art trying to break free of and change conventions. I went to every Whitney Biennial for years so followed visual arts while working in music arts, and felt that a changing visual arts scene sold much better than the changing music arts scene.

    To my observation and by the standards I had chosen, that whole music movement failed to change much at all.
    Western conventions towers did not fall.
    And not that the goal was to change theory or convention, but rather I'm observing that theory and convention may have held back adventurous musicians to the confines of the fringe, and the soon death of the trajectory they tried to pioneer, death at least in terms of how many music fans vs how many art patrons included the more adventurous artists works in their collections.

    I did not know about the California School you mentioned earlier that's devoted to non conventional music or however you phrased it.
    I will google but it's probably too late for me, being an old man now in Maine. yelling at clouds.

    For the sake of me not intending to offend or attack esteemed members here; allow that I am blowing over the changes in discussion, not saying education and theory are bad.
    If one asks "WTF is he on about?" rather than "hits the report button" like I was a troll, then I'm cool with that!
     
  11. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    In a blues I hear the parallel movement of tritones: V7 <--> I7 <--> IV7.

    For example, in F: E & Bb (C7) <--> Eb & A (F7) <--> (D & Ab) Bb7

    It's less definite than resolution. It's more like "scoot to the left, scoot to the right".
     
  12. fretWalkr

    fretWalkr Tele-Holic

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    Right, this is a good example of modern music doing away with the dominant resolution. The song's built around a groove in G and doesn't go to a IV or V7. It sounds to me like the melody uses a dorian or a blues scale since I hear a b7, b3, and a natural 3. Even though there's no V-I resolution the song doesn't really need it because the groove is so strong, the rhythm makes the whole thing work.

    I know what you mean about the implied dominant function with "tonic". But I don't have a problem with calling the G the tonic and I don't assume things have to resolve. There's too many counter examples. I think of tonic simply being the first note of the scale. And there are a zillion scales out there...even a quick look at Slonimsky's Thesaurus of Scales makes my eyes glaze over. I'm sure most of those scales don't have any type of traditional dominant resolution.
     
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  13. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I don't know about that. If we're talking about an internal combustion engine, the "theory" is the same. There may be a bunch of new and added extras and it has certainly been made more efficient but as for how the motor gets the wheels to move - no real difference. And that's pretty much how I feel about "Western" music theory. We just add stuff to it but the way you analyze, when you really know what you're doing has not changed. The lexicon gets bigger but that's about it.

    The beauty of music is that we have a very very finite set of tools to work with and yet we've been innovating for millennia. There's no end game. That's why I like it.

    *My family also used to be a 'sky ... Lasovsky. They adapted it of their own accord post their arrival.
     
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  14. oldunc

    oldunc Tele-Holic

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    The V7 CAN resolve, but often doesn't- moving to another seventh chord doesn't really resolve it, and as often as not the V7 passes through a IV7 to I7 and actually cadences on the V7. The root movement is what drives it all. And I have now exhausted my interest in music theory- I find that I play better if I don't think about it.
     
  15. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Wow, all this theoretical jousting and all I did was mention something about locating Tonics on a guitar fretboard...



    `
     
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  16. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I came from clan Lewandowski but there was a Kazmierski lady who arrived with Saul from Warsaw I believe in the 1840s.

    I'd still argue that for instance the theories of flame propagation in the combustion chamber have changed a lot, theories dictating mechanical delivery of engine power to wheels in for example a hybrid has changed, valve timing and advance as well as ignition advance and control have required new theories to push aside old theories or how it should be done; (and the list goes on) with the end result being a 1960 engineer would be far less qualified in the automotive engineering field than a 1960 musician would be in the music field.
    Literally the theoretical thinking is different, not just style or application.

    Meat & potatoes though, a 1960 musician could pretty well write parts for and play most 2020 music while a 1960 engineer could not design or work on most 2020 cars.
    OTOH most 1960 musicians probably couldn't match the speed of many modern guitar players.
    But they could listen and immediately understand the theory, because it's just not that different, where the engineer would have little or no clue how a car works without extensive study.

    Anyhow, I agree to disagree!
    Interesting though that RATHER than saying music theory HAS changed, you're saying you DON'T feel that music theory OR automotive engineering theory has changed, because some of the basics are still there.
    And you're saying music theory hasn't really changed which I was also saying, but I was comparing to other arts & sciences that I feel HAVE changed more at the level of theory.

    In other responses I've gotten that music theory HAS changed.

    And you'se guys are educated yet in some cases disagree on very basic "facts"?

    I like it!
     
  17. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Hey we all gotta have some fun and maybe even adapt a little before the sun explodes!
    Truly, I'm getting schooled a bit here...

    But wait, on the fretboard?
    I thought you meant out in the the emptiness?
    Flying my musical aeroplane I see them tonics as seagulls I don't want up in my engines so I work around them and only hit them for certain reasons, while usually cutting real close but avoiding that clunk the passengers keep expecting.
    Maybe though you mean pay attention to them, not use them for regular reassurance of the listener?
    See I keep thinking you're thinking what I think you're thinking.

    Can you find it in your heart to forgive me???

    (Truth is I'm avoiding thinking about some human conflict I have to revisit tomorrow so I'm dug in to this distraction)
     
  18. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I will now display my elitism ...

    I'm not convinced that there is a thorough (or even basic) understanding of music fundamentals by some here. But it's the internet so ...
     
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  19. fretWalkr

    fretWalkr Tele-Holic

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    LOL Someone, maybe Charlie Parker or Miles, said learn theory then forget it and play. I agree with that. Playing is the thing.

    Actually I'm going to think about the role root motion plays and digest that a little. This discussion has made me think back to when I was teaching guitar. I would show beginners two (or 3) finger power chords - dyads. With just a root and 5th you could play a lot of tunes and the V to I progression still works and it works without the full tritone resolution I learned in school.
     
  20. ndcaster

    ndcaster Doctor of Teleocity

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    no, but he or she could probably learn it a whole lot faster than someone who has no musical training

    all music has some kind of approach to "timbre," "melody," "harmony," and "rhythm"

    I had lunch today with a guy who would like nothing better than to spend his life singing Palestrina and composing in that style, but because of that strong preference, he's very open to learning how other musical traditions from wherever weave melodies together

    timbre, melody, harmony, rhythm

    adjust to taste
     
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