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#1296444 10/30/09 04:46 AM
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My teacher tells me not to make things difficult for myself by thinking of music as being complex.

He said all you need to be able to do is count and to remember the letters ABCDEFG.

It is as simple as that.

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You seem to have a wise and guiding teacher. Congrats on the resumption of lessons, btw.

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Originally Posted by Ragtime Clown
My teacher tells me not to make things difficult for myself by thinking of music as being complex.

He said all you need to be able to do is count and to remember the letters ABCDEFG.

It is as simple as that.


Almost - but how high must you be able to count: 4,6,8,9 or 12?

JF


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Three. Maybe four.

Last edited by keystring; 10/30/09 05:29 AM.
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I think his comment on counting refers to rhythm. One of the main reasons I restarted lessons were because of some of the fundamental basics of the piano were missed and not practiced enough. Counting and clapping the rhythm. I have a huge collection of piano music accumulated over the years but if I don't know a piece I cannot play it because I don't understand how to count the rhythm.

I told my teacher that I would happy enough to return but I had this problem understanding how rhythm is written and counted. he said once I had learned how to count I could play much better and effortlessly.

He told me that he appreciated the fact that I wanted to learn. We will be working on Grade 2 with a view to entering an exam in late May/early June.

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That's the thing. The small things are the key to everything else. But they seem too simple so we overlook them or discount them, and go to complicated things and deep philosophies and theorems. You seem to be in good hands. Best of luck for the grade 2 eventually. You'll do well.

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[quote=John FrankAlmost - but how high must you be able to count: 4,6,8,9 or 12?

JF [/quote]


Four. One of the best choral directors I had said if you can count to four, you're good. Everything can be broken down to 1, 2, 3 or 4.


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Originally Posted by IrishMak
Originally Posted by John Frank
Almost - but how high must you be able to count: 4,6,8,9 or 12?

JF



Four. One of the best choral directors I had said if you can count to four, you're good. Everything can be broken down to 1, 2, 3 or 4.


What about music with a 6/8, 9/8 or 12/8 time signature?

JF

Last edited by John Frank; 10/30/09 01:30 PM.

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Well, I count a 6/8 beat usually as 1-2-3 1-2-3 (or if you prefer 1-2-3 2-2-3). Similar for the others. I never count to 6, 9, or 12 when playing


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I think as far as RC's teacher is concerned, he's trying to lead him into certain things, and simplicity is the theme. It makes sense to me.
Quote
What about music with a 6/8, 9/8 or 12/8 time signature?

6/8 = [1-2-3] [1-2-3]
9/8 = [1-2-3] [1-2-3] [1-2-3]
12/8 = [1-2-3] [1-2-3][1-2-3] [1-2-3]

Two sets of triplets, three sets of triplets, or four sets of triplets. Even simpler: multiples two or multiples of three.

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Originally Posted by keystring
I think as far as RC's teacher is concerned, he's trying to lead him into certain things, and simplicity is the theme. It makes sense to me.

KS


Keystring, exactly. Lets take it a step at a time.

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Originally Posted by keystring
I think as far as RC's teacher is concerned, he's trying to lead him into certain things, and simplicity is the theme. It makes sense to me.
Quote
What about music with a 6/8, 9/8 or 12/8 time signature?

6/8 = [1-2-3] [1-2-3]
9/8 = [1-2-3] [1-2-3] [1-2-3]
12/8 = [1-2-3] [1-2-3][1-2-3] [1-2-3]

Two sets of triplets, three sets of triplets, or four sets of triplets. Even simpler: multiples two or multiples of three.

KS


But, if you had to verbally specify on which beat of a measure in say, 9/8 or 12/8 time, a certain note occurs would you say it occurs on the, e.g., 3rd no.1 beat or would you say it occurs on the 7th beat? Which is simpler or more immediately clear?

And in 4/4 time do you count 1,2,3,4 or do you count 1,2,1,2?

JF


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[quote=John Frank
But, if you had to verbally specify on which beat of a measure in say, 9/8 or 12/8 time, a certain note occurs would you say it occurs on the, e.g., 3rd no.1 beat or would you say it occurs on the 7th beat? Which is simpler or more immediately clear?

And in 4/4 time do you count 1,2,3,4 or do you count 1,2,1,2?

JF [/quote]


You would say the note occurs on the 7th beat. And if you want to count in 9 or 12 or whatever, that's fine. But breaking the beat down to it's fundamental is not only easier, it usually more closely follows the "feel" of the music. And if you watch a conductor, he will almost never beat in 9 or 12 or whatever. I's almost always in 2, 3 or 4. I'm sure there are exceptions.

As noted above, I agree that the point here was to uncomplicate things as much as possible for a beginner, not to say this is the only way or that it will apply universally (tho in my experience, it pretty much does).


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Originally Posted by Ragtime Clown
My teacher tells me not to make things difficult for myself by thinking of music as being complex.

He said all you need to be able to do is count and to remember the letters ABCDEFG.

It is as simple as that.

Indeed it is. In the words of Johann Sebastian Bach, "It's easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself."

Knowing the letters ABCDEFG will get you to the right key. The ability to count gets you there at the right time, solving the problem of rhythm.


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Interesting question to think about:
Quote
But, if you had to verbally specify on which beat of a measure in say, 9/8 or 12/8 time, a certain note occurs would you say it occurs on the, e.g., 3rd no.1 beat or would you say it occurs on the 7th beat? Which is simpler or more immediately clear?

And in 4/4 time do you count 1,2,3,4 or do you count 1,2,1,2?

In person, I would probably hum it or maybe hum and point at the score or just point at the score.

If referring to it, however, the first thing is how I'm actually experiencing the music as music. 9/8 time has 3 beats, which is how I play and perceive it. So 3rd no.1 beat (pulse) I might refer to it as "G# in beat 2" or "the first note in beat 2". When I play or read music in compound time I automatically perceive it in clusters of three.

But in real life I don't think you would refer to it in any way: you'd have the score, or hum it, or also refer to the note name, wouldn't you?

Addendum: It occurs to me, that for RC's purpose he is being taught how to play and interpret music in the score with simplicity. When you're doing that, then you're at the [1-2-3] [1-2-3] level of working. When I learned "simple", a lot of complicated things seemed to fall into place.

Last edited by keystring; 10/30/09 07:11 PM.
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Ragtime, a music notation program will help. Just enter a the notes for a few bars, then use the playback feature, to hear how the music should sound. You can puzzle out the counting from there.

Finale Notepad is $10 for the downloaded version.


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I obviously know very little, so here goes a question:

If a "phrase" is a musical sentence, then what is a measure? Before you say a "word" or something ( laugh ), I have seen the same piano score (Zanarkand) translated into nearly every time signature I know, which would create different words for the same piece of music...

Can the significance of a measure be arbitrary, something completely secondary to the time signature? This is the conclusion I have reached, but I'm very ignorant...


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Originally Posted by Waltz
If a "phrase" is a musical sentence, then what is a measure? Before you say a "word" or something ( laugh ), I have seen the same piano score (Zanarkand) translated into nearly every time signature I know, which would create different words for the same piece of music...

Can the significance of a measure be arbitrary, something completely secondary to the time signature? This is the conclusion I have reached, but I'm very ignorant...


A measure is a "dance unit" within a piece. A piece naturally falls into a repeating pattern of dance-units.

Stand up and sing Baa baa black sheep while marching on the spot. Now pick up your imaginary big bass drum and give a big beat in all the right spots (use small drum and your imagination). You probably just divided this song into the following pattern where the bold syllables have the drum beats.
Baa baa black sheep
Have you any wool
Yes sir yes sir
three bags full

Because you were doing the song in groups of 4 steps (that's your dance-unit), we say that there are 4 beats in each measure. So you have just defined the measure from the sound only. You just discovered the feel of this song and by counting with your feet you can give it a number; "it's in 4". Probably you would choose a quarter note as the beat, hence time signature is:
4 quarter notes per measure i.e. 4/4

But if you chose an eighth note as the beat the music would sound exactly the same in 4/8 time, but people would tend to play it a little faster.

But maybe some ppl would feel it this way:
Baa baa black sheep
Have you any wool
Yes sir yes sir
Three bags full

So now the piece is playing with time signature of 2 crotchet beats per measure, most people here would favour 4/4, but this piece in 2/4 is the same piece. Anyone you played it to would say "yes that's baa baa black sheep, and that's how it goes".

One simple song, three reasonable time signature choices (even if most would say 4/4 is best). In a more complex piece where people are transcribing from the sound only, there will be a range of choices that still describe the piece accurately.

Great question Waltz! Hope the answer meets the standard.


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An interesting observation that I've run across is that a measure is the most basic unit of symmetry in a piece of music. It's a pattern of emphasis among beats that repeats and forms the structure that melodic and harmonic creativity hangs itself from. Phrases or verses (sets of phrases) might be seen as larger units of symmetry.

But that's making a mathematical rather than linguistic analogy.


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Waltz, can you find examples of the different time signatures of Zanarkand so that we can analyze and see what is going on there? Like, I'm wondering whether they've created a different version of the piece.

Here is another possibility. Supposing that the same music is written with 3/4 time in one score using quarter notes and half notes, and 3/8 time in another score using eighth notes and quarter notes. You'll have exactly the same music because the bigger notes are twice as long as the smaller notes. I don't know if this makes sense.

To understand what a measure is, consider that most music has an underlying regular beat. There are all kinds of rhythms in the melody of a waltz, but underneath you hear this oom-pah-pah. In 3/4 time, the measure, or bar, will contain 3 beats in every measure. It will also hold this strong-weak-weak pulse. It's just the regular measuring stick along which the music moves - like a yard stick with regular inches.

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