Talk:Music Theory
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Talk:Music Theory
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The archives to this page contain the following threads:

  • Archive 1: no table of contents. Archived 15 August 2009.
  • Archive 2: 49 different threads, Archived 7 January 2015.
  • Archive 3: Geographical Imbalance (2007-2012); Musical parameters in infobox (2013); Intro (2008-2013); To do (2009-2014); Adding Confusing Language (2014); Music Theory - Main Article - Suggested major revision (2014); Major theorists (2014); Tone, pitch, and note (2014). Archived 7 January 2015.
  • Archive 4: Modes, scales, tonoi, and thingimajiggs (2014); Conflict with article "Chord (music)" (2014); Notation Systems (2014). Archived 7 January 2015.
  • Archive 5: Clean up of the intro (2014); Quarter tones (2014); You said "scales"? (2014); History of Music Theory (2014); Theories of Harmonization Problems (2014). Archived 11 August 2015.
  • Archive 6: Alternative Outline (2014). Archived 15 August 2015.

Most of these archives, especially archives 3-6, remain important for the ongoing discussions and should often be reread.

Hucbald.SaintAmand (talk) 16:24, 15 August 2015 (UTC)

Linguistic analysis and music theory

I open this new section because the discussion opened by Just plain Bill is somewhat different from the preceeding one. The question is particularly interesting.

I don't think that the mnemonic syllables of percussion traditions would be amenable to a true linguistic analysis. They do not involve a linguistic syntax, they merely stand for the music - but not for its sounds. More specifically, they do not "mean" the sound music for which they stand, they are not merely metalinguistic; their meaning (and their syntax) is largely the same as that of the music.

I must confess that the only such tradition that I really know is the dum-tak of Arabic music: it certainly does not represent the sounds of the music for which it stands. A percussionist singing these syllables may form an idea of the music represented, but no listener would recognize them as the sounds of the music to be played.

This situation is to some extent comparable to that of music notation: written music does not represent sound music. Busoni writes that the notation and the performances of a piece of music are all transcriptions of the work. The same could be said, I think, of the mnemonic syllables - all the more so that the music for which they stand probably is of oral tradition - that is, it is not fixed as a Western musical work is.

One main difference of course is that mnemonic syllables usually have the same temporality as the music itself, while notation switches off the flow of time. Another aspect, however, is that the syllables are more easily notated than the music for which they stand, using the standard writing of the language to which they correspond.

As to the general comparison between musical and linguistic rules, I do think with kosboot that GTTM is not a good example, because what it emulates is the cognitive turn taken by Chomsky in his later writings, not the linguistic one of, say, Syntactic Structures. Better examples of the comparison include works by Powers ("Language Models and Musical Analysis", 1980), Monelle (Linguistics and Semiotics in Nusic, 1992), Agawu (Music as Discourse, 2009), Molino (in Musique en jeu, 1975, etc.), Nattiez, and others.

I suppose that the question of music as language should somehow find its way in Music theory... -- Hucbald.SaintAmand (talk) 09:29, 31 July 2017 (UTC)

If memory serves, tabla player Zakir Hussain devoted a track (or several?) of a CD in the early nineties to a Bol rendition of an extended call and response drum sequence. in that case, the syllables did indeed seem to stand in for the tempo and voicing of the drums, a musical performance in their own right. In one of his lectures in the mid seventies, Prof. Malm mentioned a similar sequence of Japanese syllables as impromptu performance (perhaps in a film) but I have no way of tracking that down. These things do tend to vanish in the wind, and memory is fleeting. That being said, the external links in the Bol article may reward perusal. Just plain Bill (talk) 11:51, 31 July 2017 (UTC)

What is "common law" and "modern law"?

See http://www.popflock.com/learn?s=Music_theory#Basics_of_common-practice_part_writing - what do these phrases mean? -- naught101 (talk) 02:52, 9 August 2018 (UTC)

The entire section was a prank, made 26 days too late for April Fool's Day 2017, in this edit. All of the "citations" were to a single undefined source name. I am ashamed to say that I have been following this article for years now, but never noticed the vandalism. I have now removed it.--Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:18, 9 August 2018 (UTC)

Theory 1750-1900

Browsing through this article, I discover a section that I had not noticed before, Music_theory#1750-1900.

One first reads that although Western theory became a world standard, other theoretical traditions survive, among others "the long and rich musical traditions unique to ancient and current cultures of Africa" - the paragraph does not say which traditions, where in Africa. Whether these really "describe specific forms, genres, performance practices, tunings, and other aspects of music theory" remains to be demonstrated. Some African traditions certainly evidence forms, genres, performance practices and tunings, but it is not obvious to me that their theoretical description is not mainly Western.

The section then has a paragraph about Sacred harp music which, it says, "uses a different kind of scale and theory in practice". The description that follows of "Secret harp theory" merely indicates that it practices solmisation on three notes (fa sol la), with a staff notation using three different note shapes for these three syllables. A quick look through the Sacred_Harp article evidences that it actually makes use of four syllables (including mi) and four note shapes.

Is this really all what has to be said of modern theory of music, 1750-1900? Do the musical tradition of "ancient and current" cultures of Africa belong to the period 1750-1900; do they really include a theory? And is "Sacred harp theory" the important point of Western theory in the same period, while four-note solmisation practice probably is documented from the Renaissance onwards, and four note-shapes notation certainly existed decades before Sacred harp music? (See Shape-note hymnody in the New Grove Online).

This section as it is appears to me deridable. It shows that this article remains in need of much work... -- Hucbald.SaintAmand (talk) 21:15, 27 November 2018 (UTC)


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