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Any methods on cleaning the subjectivity palette for your music?


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19 minutes ago, TubularCorporation said:

 

"I believe without exception that theory follows practice. Whenever there is a conflict between theory and practice, theory is wrong. As far as I'm concerned, we make theories for what people have done."

Of course! It’s just another truism, but how often does that happen, related to the theory, that ends to be part of the theory? Not often any more imo

pierre boulez thought he found something revolutionary, just to find out later that it already exists and it’s known as istrian scale (istria is part of croatia)

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I am not sure what the confusion is about "theory follows practice". If your theory says "human hearing starts from 20Hz" but your kick sounds way better in the club if it is sharply cut off at 50Hz, then I don't think there is a lot of debate and you will do what your ears tell you.

Yes, it's circular in the sense of practire -> theory -> practice -> theory, because that's how you progress: you experiment and learn and take the learned knowledge with you to the next experiment.

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yeah actually i think the "music is the horse, theory is the cart" analogy is a bit flawed in that theory informs further practice, which in turn informs further theory etc. i guess the chicken and the egg is a better analogy, aside from the fact that in this case, the chicken came first (the chicken being practice).

46 minutes ago, TubularCorporation said:

"Whenever there is a conflict between theory and practice, theory is wrong."

  theory can never be wrong though, as it's merely a description of what happens in music on a conceptual level, not a set of rules - as you've mentioned in this thread a few times already  :trollface: 

(although theory can be wrong in that the description can be, but not wrong in the sense that it says you mustn't play this note after this one or anything - although some musical styles do have rules but that doesn't mean theory is to blame for that, that just means people also use theory as a way to formalize the rules they come up with - or to put it differently, theory doesn't say you must do so and so, rules do) 

1 hour ago, xox said:

imagine trying to write a symphony without knowing shit about the theory 

or just about anything from the repertoire really, not just symphonies.

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Posted (edited)
55 minutes ago, thawkins said:

I am not sure what the confusion is about "theory follows practice". If your theory says "human hearing starts from 20Hz" but your kick sounds way better in the club if it is sharply cut off at 50Hz, then I don't think there is a lot of debate and you will do what your ears tell you.

 

All clear to me but, we were talking about the music theory not about physical aspects of the sound 

music =/= sound

Edited by xox
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3 hours ago, psn said:

Both approaches are valid, but most people working intuitively will never transcend genre/tradition/convention. Which is completely fine.

good post but i don't think i understand this point. why would people working without a theoretical approach be stuck within conventions or genres more so than people who work theoretically? this is not born out within the history of electronic music, i don't think. many of the innovations were pioneered by people working without any theoretical training or understanding whatsoever. even stockhausen working on tape music was going wild with experiments - he claimed to sometimes work on just a few seconds of work for weeks without having any idea how it would sound in the end. 

in general i think both "intuitive" and "theoretical" approaches will lead to creations that don't "transcend" conventions bc actually doing that is extremely rare. people who work within the theoretical domain are not transcending the known more than people who aren't, i wouldn't think. i could be wrong but it does not seem to me that academic music is inherently more innovative than "popular" music (like stuff on this forum or whatever). i think most music is stuck below the threshold of transcendence. 

i think there's this common cliche that one must know the rules in order to transcend them but this seems illogical to me. it seems tautological, to just be saying that one must know the rules in order to know the rules. breaking them or transcending them can be done by pure accident and without any knowledge that it's taking place at all. for instance, a country bumpkin can arrive in the city and cross the road in the middle without ever having a theoretical conception of "j walking." 

i think if we're stretching "theory" to encompass any conceptual appreciation of sound than most people who work "intuitively" are also working theoretically, no? i imagine very few people who regularly practice music have no conceptual organization that they use when creating and evaluating sounds or whatever. 

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Short answer: new gear opens up vast fields for exploration of the intuitive sort. This only happens ever so often though, and the possibilities are quickly explored/rinsed. 

Good luck trying to do something "new" today with a quarter inch tape and no analytical perspective. Or an Akai S950/Atari ST setup. 😎 

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There are some other things to consider when looking at what makes your music stale or sterile over time too, not just theory “kills creativity”- if anything really does.

Idk of any of you ever watched this stupid old 311 vhs from back in the day. They are a band that I liked briefly in high school, and pretty quickly abandoned. But anyways- in the video they interview this old guy on the street and ask him if he listens to them. He says “I don’t listen to other people’s music, because I write music, and if you do that, you find there music in your music” or something like that. 

I don’t know if I agree with any of it, honestly. Most theory I know came from working with musicians that I needed to adapt to, or have them adapt to me. Also from learning bass and banjo, haha. My keyboard playing is all instinct tho, for the most part. 

I can’t really weigh in on the whole thing accurately because I try to keep this Isaac Asimov “grasping as a whole” or wholistic, gestalt view of art where nobody is wrong, blah blah blah.....

That being said- in Mr Bungle: Patton doesn’t know shit, Dunn is all theory. Dunn is jealous of Patton for being able to do what he can, the way he can. I like Patton more at surface level. But Dunn maybe composes more stuff I like. The point is that probably the whole mess of it is what makes them great.

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1 minute ago, psn said:

Short answer: new gear opens up vast fields for exploration of the intuitive sort. This only happens ever so often though, and the possibilities are quickly explored/rinsed. 

Good luck trying to do something "new" today with a quarter inch tape and no analytical perspective. Or an Akai S950/Atari ST setup. 😎 

I definitely see nothing to object to her, I agree with this. 

but I wonder - is it more likely someone can do something new with tape or an old akai if they approach the setup theoretically?

i think you’re getting at this idea that technology allows people to mess about without theory and do cool shit but what they can do is limited by the tech, right?

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1 hour ago, xox said:

All clear to me but, we were talking about the music theory not about physical aspects of the sound 

music =/= sound

I don't know, I feel like mixing theory and frequency response and all that is still a part of music theory as a whole.

Like when theory says all your notes have to be on the same scale, but you ignore it when your chords with off notes sound better to you.

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I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I think ultimately it boils down to the question of, why are you making music in the first place. If you are attempting to make a living off of the music, or you're mixing someone else's track, then your own subjectivity may not align with the expectations of others. However, if you're making it for yourself, the only person's opinion that even matters is yours. I think a lot of artists want to belong in the latter camp, but are heavily influenced or preoccupied with the first.

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, thawkins said:

I don't know, I feel like mixing theory and frequency response and all that is still a part of music theory as a whole.

maybe, when all is nothing, and nothing is all and conversation turns into the theatre of the absurd

 

14 minutes ago, thawkins said:

Like when theory says all your notes have to be on the same scale, but you ignore it when your chords with off notes sound better to you.

do you have an example of this?

4 minutes ago, Jed said:

if you're making it for yourself, the only person's opinion that even matters is yours.

example, please

Edited by xox
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47 minutes ago, Alcofribas said:

but I wonder - is it more likely someone can do something new with tape or an old akai if they approach the setup theoretically?

Let's say the task of coming up with something new is a matter of combinatorics. Find untried combinations of all the possible musical parameters within the presented setup.

The tinkering/intuitive method can be represented by the "100 chimpanzees in a room with typewriters analogy". They will likely follow patterns that are inherent in the gear they are using. At the start of a new era this yields new results regularly. 20 years in, new stuff rarely surfaces, as there is no method to the exploration and repetition is not reflected upon.

Approaching the same challenge with an analytical mind will vastly reduce the scope of the problem. It helps to have a full grasp on what parameters are actually present. A view of the musical history - what has already been done before? What are the common tropes? Are there parameters that can be borrowed from other genres/setups? 

I don't have a definitive answer. No matter what - every now and then someone smart and/or lucky comes along and revitalises a tried and tested genre. And when they do, all their peers think "That's so obvious, why didn't I think of that!" 🙂

52 minutes ago, Alcofribas said:

 

i think you’re getting at this idea that technology allows people to mess about without theory and do cool shit but what they can do is limited by the tech, right?

New fields in general allow people to mess around without theory, since a bunch of possibilities suddenly present themselves to be explored. And my main argument in this discussion is that sometimes theory opens up a new field in the same way that new gear does.

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5 minutes ago, xox said:

maybe, when all is nothing, and nothing is all and conversation turns into the theatre of the absurd

Music theory is a really broad subject. No surprise if you and I and all the other posters in this thread are simultaneously talking about different things. 😄

6 minutes ago, xox said:

do you have an example of this?

I don't have a good example on hand, but my go-to trick when I feel like I need more harmony or something is to move or add one of the notes so that it's 2st above or below. Yeah, maybe it does fit in the "allowed notes list" of whatever scale I am working in, but I don't go and check whether by doing so I changed scales, I just trust my ears and gut feeling.

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8 minutes ago, xox said:

example, please

I'll try not to be long winded... I often come across people who get hung-up on their own music, often making comparisons to a certain piece of gear their favorite musician used, or they'll reference a podcast or video in which a musician w/ a modicum of success makes a statement like "Don't tune your kicks so that you can change the frequency they play, because a kick doesn't have a tone". Despite what gear they use, or what someone else says, in the end, if they themselves do not like the way something sounds, they shouldn't sacrifice what to them might sound good based on someone else's subjective opinion. Music is purely subjective to begin with, no matter what you make, you cannot please everyone. So, instead of trying to do so, I think it's likely more fulfilling to try to not let your subjectivity be swayed against your own gut, because you could ultimately regret it, and feel less fulfilled as a result.

May be veering off topic at this point 😐

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31 minutes ago, psn said:

Let's say the task of coming up with something new is a matter of combinatorics. Find untried combinations of all the possible musical parameters within the presented setup.

The tinkering/intuitive method can be represented by the "100 chimpanzees in a room with typewriters analogy". They will likely follow patterns that are inherent in the gear they are using. At the start of a new era this yields new results regularly. 20 years in, new stuff rarely surfaces, as there is no method to the exploration and repetition is not reflected upon.

Approaching the same challenge with an analytical mind will vastly reduce the scope of the problem. It helps to have a full grasp on what parameters are actually present. A view of the musical history - what has already been done before? What are the common tropes? Are there parameters that can be borrowed from other genres/setups? 

I don't have a definitive answer. No matter what - every now and then someone smart and/or lucky comes along and revitalises a tried and tested genre. And when they do, all their peers think "That's so obvious, why didn't I think of that!" 🙂

New fields in general allow people to mess around without theory, since a bunch of possibilities suddenly present themselves to be explored. And my main argument in this discussion is that sometimes theory opens up a new field in the same way that new gear does.

yeah i pretty much find this right on. i think i'm a little more ambivalent about theory per se, or rather i think there are various viable ways of organizing history and such principally bc of tech but yeah, think you're spot on

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You do not need to know the anatomy of your hand in detail in order to coordinate it. Your penis can ejaculate the semen without you knowing how it is build. In fact, all the [text] distracts you from [speech minus text], which is one possible definition of music.

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6 minutes ago, dingformung said:

You do not need to know the anatomy of your hand in detail in order to coordinate it. Your penis can ejaculate the semen without you knowing how it is build. In fact, all the [text] distracts you from [speech minus text], which is one possible definition of music.

example!!! (musical, pls, not you cum gummy, or as you say in german, kaugummi)

Spoiler

 

although, matmos did recorded7sampled sperm drooping on a paper


 

 

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imo, it's not 'necessary' to know music theory for chromatically speaking simple music, especially today , with all this software around.

aslo, i would probably have at least something to say against the theory if i ever heard a piece of music made buy someone who doesn't know the theory that i think is superior to music made buy those who knew it

Spoiler

 

...for those who are interested... analysis of the grosse fuge (my immortal beloved), bitte:


 

 

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3 hours ago, thawkins said:

I don't know, I feel like mixing theory and frequency response and all that is still a part of music theory as a whole.

Like when theory says all your notes have to be on the same scale, but you ignore it when your chords with off notes sound better to you.

 

3 hours ago, thawkins said:

Music theory is a really broad subject. No surprise if you and I and all the other posters in this thread are simultaneously talking about different things. 😄

I don't have a good example on hand, but my go-to trick when I feel like I need more harmony or something is to move or add one of the notes so that it's 2st above or below. Yeah, maybe it does fit in the "allowed notes list" of whatever scale I am working in, but I don't go and check whether by doing so I changed scales, I just trust my ears and gut feeling.

Music theory doesn't really say that all your notes have to be on the same scale. Theory tutorials for beginners might say something like that but that's just oversimplification of theory that's done with the aim of making it easier to digest. 
Music theory has concepts e.g. passing notes, chromatic harmony, borrowed chords and modulations for describing the off notes. I'm sure whatever you come up with by moving the notes by 2 semitones, theory actually already has names and concepts to describe it. 

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6 hours ago, TubularCorporation said:

I also think the Robbie Basho quote about technique applies pretty well to theory, too, and I've always liked it:

"My philosophy is quite simple: soul first, technique later, or 'Better to drink wine from the hands than water from a pretty cup'; of course the ultimate is wine from a pretty cup. Amen."

 

 

Or you could think of it this way: music is just fine without theory, but theory without music is meaningless.

that's accurate

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4 hours ago, thawkins said:

I don't know, I feel like mixing theory and frequency response and all that is still a part of music theory as a whole.

Like when theory says all your notes have to be on the same scale, but you ignore it when your chords with off notes sound better to you.

@brian trageskin- wouldn’t what @thawkinsis referring to here be considered an accidental? And still be something a classically trained person would do? Especially in jazz?

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1 hour ago, ghsotword said:

 

Music theory doesn't really say that all your notes have to be on the same scale. Theory tutorials for beginners might say something like that but that's just oversimplification of theory that's done with the aim of making it easier to digest. 
Music theory has concepts e.g. passing notes, chromatic harmony, borrowed chords and modulations for describing the off notes. I'm sure whatever you come up with by moving the notes by 2 semitones, theory actually already has names and concepts to describe it. 

Yeah, sometimes you don't want to play notes that are in the key at all. Theoretically this is known as "the good stuff".

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1 hour ago, Himelstein said:

@brian trageskin- wouldn’t what @thawkinsis referring to here be considered an accidental? And still be something a classically trained person would do? Especially in jazz?

yeah classical folk use passing tones and borrowed chords all the time, i don't know why thawkins mentioned that theory says all your notes have to be diatonic, that's simply not true :shrug:  again, theory doesn't say you have to do anything anyway, as it's not prescriptive. 

i believe passing tones were already used quite a lot during the classical period and then composers started using borrowed chords extensively during the romantic period. so yeah, pretty much what ghsotword said. 

and yeah, jazz uses "wrong notes" extensively. and as artificialdisco put it, it's where the good stuff is. 

9tycg913bum41.jpgls4s3aopxy541.jpgwhen-you-accidentally-play-the-wrong-not

apparently there are many quotes by jazz musicians about wrong notes but i like this one i just found by art tatum: "there's no such thing as a wrong note"

3 hours ago, xox said:

aslo, i would probably have at least something to say against the theory if i ever heard a piece of music made buy someone who doesn't know the theory that i think is superior to music made buy those who knew it

i wouldn't say these are superior but equally as good as a lot of music composed by theory-savvy folk. his composition method consisted literally in trial and error, he had no system, he would try out an infinite amount of options for each chord, and this process was so ridiculously slow that he only composed about an hour's worth of music during his lifetime: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Ruggles  

i'm only repeating what samuel andreyev has to say about him btw, so check out his videos on him if you're interested. 

but yeah, it's not that i find his music particularly interesting, i'm only mentioning him because he's a fascinating character who chose a path that very few people did. also i'd never heard of dissonant counterpoint before.

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, brian trageskin said:

composers started using borrowed chords extensively during the romantic period

not just this but also chord substitutions and chromatic alterations in general, i think. although i'm not sure for chord substitutions, maybe i'm pulling this out of my ass  :trollface:  seriously though, it would make sense that romantic composers were the ones who started using chord substitutions a lot.

btw, r/musictheory is a great ressource for theory. not that i've spent any time on it but each time i visited it i was like, ok, these folks know their shit, this is advanced shit. that's when i realize how little i actually know. i'm a donkey basically. 

Edited by brian trageskin
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