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Making Music Theory Simple (Part 2)

TenorVibes

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[Admin edit:

I’ve split this off from the other thread as the discussion now seems to be getting sensible :) ]

+1, tl; dr
It's only easy if you find it to be easy. I found it interesting because I had a fascination with music. Others at school struggled with the music theory, even when it appeared to be obvious and simply to me.

For example, how many people don't like maths. It's because their school experience was negative. They were not taught in a way that stimulated them in the right way. I remember music being taught at school by slapping text and diagrams on a blackboard. It was yawn worthy. Surely, it would have been better to expose those kids to instruments. Let them play, experience and experiment with music without all the theory first. Then pick out various scenarios from the kids playing about. When they played notes for different lengths, let them know about note values (Crochets/quarter notes, Quavers/Eighth notes, etc...). Pick out different rhythms that they conjured up and emphasis time signatures and rhythmic associations. Make it feel as if they made the discoveries for themselves. The kids will then feel empowered and more receptive to music theory.

Shouldn't we be teaching music students to use their own initiative through practical experimentation. Learn through trial and error, so that they learn to self-correct by becoming their own authorities on what they learn rather then be dictated to. Musical knowledge learnt from self-experience rather then handed on a silver platter. Balance music theory with practical experience. Make them go hand in hand, so that they complement each other rather then cancel themselves out because of over exposure to the musical theory.

The other issue is certain conditions like Dyslexia and ADHD where visual and auditory learning methods are more suitable for them to grasp musical theory concepts.

Learning music as a language: Dyslexia and ADHD in music
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgqZOWW_Tes
 
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AndyB

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Durham, NC, USA
I learned to count music the classical way for both saxophone and classical guitar.

Then I learned Arabic hand drumming and the drum language they call dombec-ese. I worked with flamenco dancers for about 10 years and they have a verbal rhythm language too. I combined the two and that's mostly what I use now instead of the classical counting method unless it is an extremely complex rhythm. Dombec-ese was exclusively what I used to talk complex rhythms to flamenco dancers.

| DUM ta-ka ta-ka - ka | PA-ka-ta -ka ta-ka DUM |
1 2 & 3 & - & 1-al-le - & 3 & 4

8ths are ta-ka
triplets are pa-ka-ta
16ths would be pa-ka-ta-ka

I suppose you could verbalize a "Doting Crockett" as a TAA-ka

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0y1uuMv7fJEDom
 

jbtsax

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Surely, it would have been better to expose those kids to instruments. Let them play, experience and experiment with music without all the theory first. Then pick out various scenarios from the kids playing about. When they played notes for different lengths, let them know about note values (Crochets/quarter notes, Quavers/Eighth notes, etc...). Pick out different rhythms that they conjured up and emphasis time signatures and rhythmic associations. Make it feel as if they made the discoveries for themselves. The kids will then feel empowered and more receptive to music theory.

Shouldn't we be teaching music students to use their own initiative through practical experimentation. Learn through trial and error, so that they learn to self-correct by becoming their own authorities on what they learn rather then be dictated to. Musical knowledge learnt from self-experience rather then handed on a silver platter. Balance music theory with practical experience.
Your point is well take and I understand where you are coming from. From my experience teaching band in the U.S. for many years, those teaching methods and concepts may work fine in a private lesson or group lesson setting with just a few individuals. In a classroom of band or orchestra students with 30 or more participants, experimentation and learning by trial and error would only produce complete chaos. I did however encourage beginning students while they were learning the basics of tone production to "experiment" at home to see how many songs they could play "by ear". This was more about creativity and "ear training" than learning to play by "trial and error".
 

TenorVibes

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England, UK.
Your point is well take and I understand where you are coming from. From my experience teaching band in the U.S. for many years, those teaching methods and concepts may work fine in a private lesson or group lesson setting with just a few individuals. In a classroom of band or orchestra students with 30 or more participants, experimentation and learning by trial and error would only produce complete chaos. I did however encourage beginning students while they were learning the basics of tone production to "experiment" at home to see how many songs they could play "by ear". This was more about creativity and "ear training" than learning to play by "trial and error".
I totally agree with you. Don't forget in the classroom they won't be devoid of guidance or prompting from a tutor. Allow them to make mistakes but prompt them. A nudge in the right direction. Just don't intervene prematurely. Give them some breathing space to problem solve for themselves first. Only interject in there group discussions when necessary.

In your situation it's simply not pragmatic. I completely understand. Would it be possible to have a halfway approach. Let them experiment in small doses so that errors can be easily amended, prompted or whatever.

Thanks jbtsax
 

TenorVibes

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Messages
75
Locality
England, UK.
I learned to count music the classical way for both saxophone and classical guitar.

Then I learned Arabic hand drumming and the drum language they call dombec-ese. I worked with flamenco dancers for about 10 years and they have a verbal rhythm language too. I combined the two and that's mostly what I use now instead of the classical counting method unless it is an extremely complex rhythm. Dombec-ese was exclusively what I used to talk complex rhythms to flamenco dancers.

| DUM ta-ka ta-ka - ka | PA-ka-ta -ka ta-ka DUM |
1 2 & 3 & - & 1-al-le - & 3 & 4

8ths are ta-ka
triplets are pa-ka-ta
16ths would be pa-ka-ta-ka

I suppose you could verbalize a "Doting Crockett" as a TAA-ka

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0y1uuMv7fJEDom

Hey Andy,

I love it when people don't covet how they problem shoot and openly share how they deviated from traditional classical theory (yet still encompass it some way ). Puritanical traditionalists tend to run away with the idea that any slight deviation from standard classical counting as an attempt to invalidate it. Its just the same stuff but just mapped onto syllables or verbalisations. The traditional counting is camouflaged over. It's still lurking there underneath. You haven't replaced it. Just made a temporary exchange with something else for personal convenience.

I wanted to devise a way to count tonguing articulation per beat rather then over several beat counts. Decided to use my own nomenclature and hybridised it with standard classical counting. The idea was to use syllables for the staccato tonguing articulation and classical style counting numerals for the rests. The good thing about this was that I could verbalise the syllables with hand clapping when not on the saxophone. To get it all into my head-space. Afterwards didn't need the verbalisation because the tonguing became automated.

TAPB = Tongue Attacks Per Beat (Staccato Tonguing articulation).
bmp = beats per minute

4/4 Time Tempo 60bpm

1 TAPB (counting unit = duh)
| duh 2 duh 4 | duh 2 duh 4 | duh 2 duh 4 | duh 2 duh 4 | 1 2 3 4||

2 TAPB (count uniting = berry)
| ber-ry 2 ber-ry 4 | ber-ry 2 ber-ry 4 | ber-ry 2 ber-ry 4 | 1 2 3 4||

3 TAPB (counting unit = strawberry)
| straw-ber-ry 2 straw-ber-ry 4 | straw-ber-ry 2 straw-ber-ry 4 | straw-ber-ry 2 straw-ber-ry 4 | 1 2 3 4||

4 TAPB (counting unit = raspberries. Did not work with respberry had to add -ies at end)
| rasp-ber-ri-es 2 rasp-ber-ri-es 4 | rasp-ber-ri-es 2 rasp-ber-ri-es 4 | rasp-ber-ri-es 2 rasp-ber-ri-es 4 | 1 2 3 4||

Got harder here because of Tongue Muscular Fatigue, so had to incorporate 2 x counting rests.

5 TAPB (counting unit = strawberry pie. When grasped back to 1 x rest )
| straw-ber-ry p-ie 2 3 straw-ber-ry p-ie | 1 2 straw-ber-ry p-ie 4 | 1 straw-ber-ry p-ie 3 4 | 1 2 3 4||

6 TAPB (counting unit = strawberry strawberry. Back to 1 x rest count.)
| straw-ber-ry straw-ber-ry 2 straw-ber-ry straw-ber-ry 4 | straw-ber-ry straw-ber-ry 2 straw-ber-ry straw-ber-ry 4 | straw-ber-ry straw-ber-ry 2 straw-ber-ry straw-ber-ry 4 | 1 2 3 4 ||

7 TAPB (counting unit = strawberry raspberries, Used 3 x rest count. When grasped back to 1 x rest )
| straw-ber-ry rasp-ber-ri-es 2 3 4 | straw-ber-ry rasp-ber-ri-es 2 3 4 |straw-ber-ry rasp-ber-ri-es 2 3 4 | 1 2 3 4 ||


Doumbek, really cool. Reminds me of the indian drum verbalisations (Dha Dha Dhin Dhin Dha Dha Dhin Dhin.)
Kuljit Bhamra is a professional tabla player. Great bloke. He appeared on BBC click (a technology program) on developing an electronic tabla (Tabla Touch).

How to Write for Tabla FULL LENGTH TUTORIAL by Kuljit Bhamra
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROFfpVOOyDA


TABLA TOUCH a closer look - FULL DEMO
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkA6QtKoxS0


Andy have a lot more to add to your message. Will add more tomorrow. Take care! great post.
 

TenorVibes

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Locality
England, UK.
Hey Andy. Just a quickie since you mentioned working with Flamenco dancers.

Qawwali Flamenco, a fusion of both Qawwali (Sufi Islamic devotional singing) and Flamenco. A jewish musician Yaron Peer has added his own touch with his Hebrew Qawwali Flamenco. It's a shame the qawwali singer Late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, isn't around to contribute. He would have taken it to another level. He collaborated with many western artists including Peter Gabriel and Eddie Vedder in the Film 'Dead Man Walking' and also with director Luc Besson for the taxi chase scene in 'The Fifth Element' and much more. Not sure if it's your taste. The last video includes Spanish flamenco guitarist Chicuelo = Juan Ignacio Gómez Gorjón and two amazing Flamenco singers.

Eddie Vedder & Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - The Long Road - LONG VERSION
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEyYSmjOFXM


Hebrew Qawwali Flamenco - Awaken the love
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ffxMT7MRUI


Qawwali Flamenco - Faiz Ali Ensemble, Carmen Linares, Chicuelo
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r42IYbXbjaM


Peter Gabriel & Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Passion
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7tWUuJyyak


MODERATORS: Please move to somewhere else if you feel it's inapropriate here.
 

AndyB

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Durham, NC, USA
Pete, I wanted to share one very positive experience so you could see if you wanted to apply it somehow. I studied music theory in college and then went through the all-at-once theory of modes again on guitar and it was all so painful. Then when I restarted on sax as an adult my first teacher used a completely different approach to modes/scales/arpeggios that I think is wonderful.

First I re-learned all of my major triads, diatonic triads and then major scales rock solid. No more scales or modes yet. My other time was on technique (Klose) and playing pieces and I just concentrated on major mode.

Then he taught me the dom7 arpeggios by just adding the b7 to the major triads and the mixolydian mode by just flattening the 7 from the major scale. Then I just worked on that for a while with dominant blues and maj/dom7 chord outlines of pieces. Nothing more yet.

Then I figured out that if I just add 2 notes to the major triads I had the major pentatonic scales.

Later he taught me to flatten the 3rd of the dom7 arps and mixolydian scales to get minor 7 arps and the dorian modal scales. There was even more that I could do with that material added to the first two layers. We added ii-V-I material then.

Then I figured out that if I just add notes to the minor triads I had the minor pentatonic scales. Easy peasey.

Then we added b6 to the dorian scale to get natural minor and concentrated on working that for a while.

Then I added 9ths to the arps and scales.

Then we added 1 more tone to get the bebop mix and dorian scales.

So all the harmony and scale theory he taught me was just enough to apply it to a new level of material stepwise building on the earlier layers. It was so much more fun and practical than the learn-it-all-at-once approaches that I had been taught earlier. And I felt that not only could I grasp it easier but I retained it too.

regards,
Andy
 
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AndyB

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Durham, NC, USA
Hey Andy. Just a quickie since you mentioned working with Flamenco dancers.

Qawwali Flamenco, a fusion of both Qawwali (Sufi Islamic devotional singing) and Flamenco.

Nice. I love to hear flamenco fused with other styles. This is so unique. Thanks for sharing
 

CliveMA

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Brisbane, QLD, Australia
First I re-learned all of my major triads, diatonic triads and then major scales rock solid. No more scales or modes yet.

Then he taught me the dom7 arpeggios by just adding the b7 to the major triads and the mixolydian mode by just flattening the 7 from the major scale.

Then I figured out that if I just add 2 notes to the major triads I had the major pentatonic scales.

Later he taught me to flatten the 3rd of the dom7 arps and mixolydian scales to get minor 7 arps and the dorian modal scales.

Then I figured out that if I just add notes to the minor triads I had the minor pentatonic scales. Easy peasey.

Then we added b6 to the dorian scale to get natural minor and concentrated on working that for a while.

Then I added 9ths to the arps and scales.

Then we added 1 more tone to get the bebop mix and dorian scales.

So all the harmony and scale theory he taught me was just enough to apply it to a new level of material stepwise building on the earlier layers.

This is similar to how Scott Paddock suggests learning and practicing chords. He has many videos on aspects of this but, for example,

View: https://youtu.be/qR3Y38dknoo


One thing you didn't cover was the one secret you need to know to learn all your chords:
CEGBDFAC

View: https://youtu.be/LB488_xv-VA
 

AndyB

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Durham, NC, USA
This is similar to how Scott Paddock suggests learning and practicing chords. He has many videos on aspects of this but, for example,
You are correct. Scott's teaching program is similar and also very practical. My in-person teacher was a college student who graduated and moved away. He once studied with Bradford Marsalis, so I wonder if that is where he got his teaching system. Dunno.

He had me get solid on major/minor triads diatonically in a key before moving to 4-note chords. Some teachers go straight for the 4-note chords and the blues scale, but from the teacher I am talking about I learned starting with triads and major/mixolydian scales. That really helped me in another way because I got past thinking of scales and arpeggios as two separate things. Instead, they are both just extensions of the triads. So playing a line ascending scale-wise and descending with arpeggios doesn't feel like two disconnected things to me any more. Instead, both are just extending the triads differently. I don't know if this is how everyone thinks but it was so helpful for me.

I subscribed to Scott's sax school when it first opened. I had to sign off at one point when work got too life-consuming but I retire in 2 months and plan to sign back up and go through his program on tenor next.
 
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Tenor Viol

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I learned to count music the classical way for both saxophone and classical guitar.

Then I learned Arabic hand drumming and the drum language they call dombec-ese. I worked with flamenco dancers for about 10 years and they have a verbal rhythm language too. I combined the two and that's mostly what I use now instead of the classical counting method unless it is an extremely complex rhythm. Dombec-ese was exclusively what I used to talk complex rhythms to flamenco dancers.

| DUM ta-ka ta-ka - ka | PA-ka-ta -ka ta-ka DUM |
1 2 & 3 & - & 1-al-le - & 3 & 4

8ths are ta-ka
triplets are pa-ka-ta
16ths would be pa-ka-ta-ka

I suppose you could verbalize a "Doting Crockett" as a TAA-ka

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0y1uuMv7fJEDom
Have a look at Kodàly method for teaching rhythm and pitch
 

AndyB

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381
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Durham, NC, USA
Have a look at Kodàly method for teaching rhythm and pitch
Interesting. I watched a YouTube with my grand-daughter that used that method but I didn't recognize it at the time. I believe it also assigned different colors to the dots to represent pitch as well.
 

lydian

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USA
8ths are ta-ka
triplets are pa-ka-ta
16ths would be pa-ka-ta-ka
How is this any different than the classical approach besides the syllables sounding different?

8ths - one and two and...
triplets - trip-uh-let
16ths - one ee and uh two ee and...

Regarding triad pairs, personally it's not helpful to me to look at it that way. It's more thinking for me to conceive a Cmaj9#11 as Cmaj triad and a Bmin triad than just 1 3 5 7 9 #11. I feel the same way about modes. Thinking of Gb minor as the Dorian mode of E is more complex than conceiving of Gb minor by its construction (b3rd, b7th). The latter is a whole lot less mental calculation that I have to do on the bandstand when the changes might be going by at 200 bpm every two beats.
 

AndyB

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Durham, NC, USA
How is this any different than the classical approach besides the syllables sounding different?

8ths - one and two and...
triplets - trip-uh-let
16ths - one ee and uh two ee and...
Here is an example at 1:35:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErNR0XiwKno


To me, it just sounds so much more rhythmical and you can swing it. And you can speak it to other performers - esp dancers.
 
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