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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think those who don't think knowing the harmonic structure of a piece is important to play a piece at a high level are kidding themselves. I also don't think one can know they are feeling all the harmonic changes if one cannot name them. How can one know one is feeling something that one is not intellectually aware of?

Doesn't every piano major at a conservatory have to study harmony? Isn't harmony one of the main elements of music? Many jazz transcriptions have the chords written down as part of the transcription. Are the chords any less important in classical music?

On the bolded, does one have to have a sex education to have feelings of desires for the other gender (or the same depending on your orientation)?

Most people have a innate feeling for music even though they are not intellectually aware of it. They can hear the harmonic changes that attracts them to the music of Cold Play as much as it attracts others to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The harmonic changes are there often to drive emotions give a direction to the music or what's the point?

I think one cannot be scholarly aware of harmonic changes enough to teach it or write music similar to it without knowledge of harmony but one can I think certainly still enjoy or play music. The beautiful thing about this kind of explicit knowledge is that you can learn it at any point in your life unlike difficult fine motor skills which are easier to learn when one is young. So it's never too late to learn music theory and personally it's something I look forward to as the time presents itself.


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think those who don't think knowing the harmonic structure of a piece is important to play a piece at a high level are kidding themselves. I also don't think one can know they are feeling all the harmonic changes if one cannot name them. How can one know one is feeling something that one is not intellectually aware of?

Doesn't every piano major at a conservatory have to study harmony? Isn't harmony one of the main elements of music? Many jazz transcriptions have the chords written down as part of the transcription. Are the chords any less important in classical music?
On the first paragraph, fair enough. That's what you think and having written my view I don't think there's any point in my 'beating dead horse' (although that's often the 'stuff' of those interminable internet arguments - sorry, discussions - that turn up frequently).

The second point, as far as I know, yes at conservatory they do just that. Yes, it's very important - and without it music just wouldn't be the same. As I mentioned earlier, I am now finding limitations because of my basic knowledge of harmony when it comes to writing my own stuff.
What's annoying now is the lack of chords written in for classical music, or when they are there they are simplified; it's quite a slog going through it. Why are they rarely if ever annotated? I suspect that it is because a knowledge of theory is assumed, but there could be other reasons.

I do have some jazz transcriptions and they have some fascinating chord names (which I usually look at but subsequently forget); playing them is fine and rewarding, but the lack of knowledge does become an issue when I try to 'wander off on my own,' so that's another reason for digging deeper into theory. However, for playing what is written I have no problems, the blobs on the page translate into music very nicely and I recognise and enjoy what they are doing, the 'patterns' become familiar. However, I do not 'play at the highest level.'

Like I said, I see no point in beating a dead horse, we don't see eye-to-eye on this issue.


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Originally Posted by Jethro
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think those who don't think knowing the harmonic structure of a piece is important to play a piece at a high level are kidding themselves. I also don't think one can know they are feeling all the harmonic changes if one cannot name them. How can one know one is feeling something that one is not intellectually aware of?

Doesn't every piano major at a conservatory have to study harmony? Isn't harmony one of the main elements of music? Many jazz transcriptions have the chords written down as part of the transcription. Are the chords any less important in classical music?

On the bolded, does one have to have a sex education to have feelings of desires for the other gender (or the same depending on your orientation)?

Most people have a innate feeling for music even though they are not intellectually aware of it. They can hear the harmonic changes that attracts them to the music of Cold Play as much as it attracts others to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The harmonic changes are there often to drive emotions give a direction to the music or what's the point?

I think one cannot be scholarly aware of harmonic changes enough to teach it or write music similar to it without knowledge of harmony but one can I think certainly still enjoy or play music. The beautiful thing about this kind of explicit knowledge is that you can learn it at any point in your life unlike difficult fine motor skills which are easier to learn when one is young. So it's never too late to learn music theory and personally it's something I look forward to as the time presents itself.
The OP in this thread has stated one can intuitively understand the harmony even if one doesn't have the understanding of harmony to write it down, analyze it, and know its musical significance. That's equivalent to saying one knows what one doesn't know.

How could a person who doesn't understand the harmony compare what they intuitively felt/understand to what someone who knows the harmony understands when they don't know what that person understands?

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Jethro
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think those who don't think knowing the harmonic structure of a piece is important to play a piece at a high level are kidding themselves. I also don't think one can know they are feeling all the harmonic changes if one cannot name them. How can one know one is feeling something that one is not intellectually aware of?

Doesn't every piano major at a conservatory have to study harmony? Isn't harmony one of the main elements of music? Many jazz transcriptions have the chords written down as part of the transcription. Are the chords any less important in classical music?

On the bolded, does one have to have a sex education to have feelings of desires for the other gender (or the same depending on your orientation)?

Most people have a innate feeling for music even though they are not intellectually aware of it. They can hear the harmonic changes that attracts them to the music of Cold Play as much as it attracts others to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The harmonic changes are there often to drive emotions give a direction to the music or what's the point?

I think one cannot be scholarly aware of harmonic changes enough to teach it or write music similar to it without knowledge of harmony but one can I think certainly still enjoy or play music. The beautiful thing about this kind of explicit knowledge is that you can learn it at any point in your life unlike difficult fine motor skills which are easier to learn when one is young. So it's never too late to learn music theory and personally it's something I look forward to as the time presents itself.
The OP in this thread has stated one can intuitively understand the harmony even if one doesn't have the understanding of harmony to write it down, analyze it, and know its musical significance. That's equivalent to saying one knows what one doesn't know.

How could a person who doesn't understand the harmony compare what they intuitively felt/understand to what someone who knows the harmony understands when they don't know what that person understands?
I see what you are saying, but I think the OP is saying they can appreciate the effect of what a composer is trying to achieve by just listening to the music. What chord modulation is utilized by a composer when he is trying to create the mood of "suspense", of "fear", of "happiness", or "revelation" for example. I might not know in all cases but I can hear it in the music and phrase or change my playing accordingly. Also, I think most pianists can hear when a piece is resolving without having explicit knowledge of the music theory involved in that. With my less than scholarly understanding of the pieces I play this is always the way my teacher's have communicated with me. Statements like, "do you hear that tension", do you feel the "release", "create a sense of anticipation" in these measures. In almost all cases I hear it but they just want me to bring it out more. Isn't this what music is? Or do we have to take out a manual to appreciate music?

Last edited by Jethro; 02/26/21 01:14 PM.

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Also, I think one of the central goals of most composers is to find common ground with their audience. We all have emotions, feelings, and sensitivities. They're just putting it to music through harmony. How good can music really be if the composer and listener are not connecting at some fundamental level?

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Originally Posted by Jethro
Meanwhile I just began learning the Rach Bach Partita myself and I recognize the piece as one with 4 sharps. If my teacher asks me how do I know it’s E major I usually say with a smile because it’s written on the cover now can we get started?
laugh laugh laugh I couldn't stop laughing when I read this, (because I did the exact same thing.) We should start a club for the "Theory Challenged". Enjoy the Bach/Rach. It's a blast.


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think those who don't think knowing the harmonic structure of a piece is important to play a piece at a high level are kidding themselves.

I agree.

Quote
I also don't think one can know they are feeling all the harmonic changes if one cannot name them.

I don't necessarily agree. smile

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
The OP in this thread has stated one can intuitively understand the harmony even if one doesn't have the understanding of harmony to write it down, analyze it, and know its musical significance. That's equivalent to saying one knows what one doesn't know.

How could a person who doesn't understand the harmony compare what they intuitively felt/understand to what someone who knows the harmony understands when they don't know what that person understands?
I never said that. I said I can sense what works, what is pleasing, how the music holds together, how to interpret phrases and where something is going. This I can do with no understanding of Harmony within the context of music theory.

Picture this: you are standing in a field of flowers. You can appreciate their beauty, their unique shapes, their color, their scent. You select some of these flowers to make a gorgeous arrangement that uplifts your spirit. You can do this all without knowing their Latin names, what wavelength of light produces each color or how photophosphorylation and the electron transport chain transform light energy into chemical energy.

I am not saying there is nothing to be gained by studying harmony. I am sure there is. What I am saying is that some of us seem to be able to understand and play beautiful music without it.

Please, let's not let this terrific discussion devolve into a battle between the intellectually trained knowers and the seat of the pants feelers.


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Originally Posted by Jethro
With my less than scholarly understanding of the pieces I play this is always the way my teacher's have communicated with me. Statements like, "do you hear that tension", do you feel the "release", "create a sense of anticipation" in these measures. In almost all cases I hear it but they just want me to bring it out more. Isn't this what music is? Or do we have to take out a manual to appreciate music?
You definitely don't need a manual to appreciate music or even play it at a pretty high level, but I think greater harmonic understanding increases the level of performance. Playing the piano needs feeling and intellect.

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Originally Posted by gooddog
I am not saying there is nothing to be gained by studying harmony. I am sure there is. What I am saying is that some of us seem to be able to understand and play beautiful music without it.
It's not knowing the names of the chords that's important. It's understanding what the harmony means in terms of playing the music. I don't doubt you play very well but perhaps understanding harmony could make your playing even better.

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This entire subject is so interesting to me because not knowing and applying basic theory is so foreign to how I have learned to approach music (as an adult...I didn't know this stuff as a kid). So, in pondering this topic I'm having trouble understanding a few things. For the OP or anyone else who uses alternate methods to understand music:

--When I see a piece with 4 sharps, I immediately think: E major or C# minor? My first clue (in most Classical era music anyway) is noticing how the piece begins and/or what's happening in the first few measures--i.e., the first measure outlines an E major chord (therefore E major) and/or "oh, look, I see a B# ahead (therefore C# minor). From there, I then anticipate IV and V/V7 harmonies, I figure out what they are (which has become more automatic over time), and then I kind of get an overall "map" of the piece. If you're not doing that, then you're just adapting to what happens in the piece as you go along?

--Do you play scales? If someone asks you to play a B major scale, can you do it? And if you can, is it more that you know the shape of it than knowing (as I would) that there are 5 sharps and what those are?

--My lessons have become so grounded in talking about music this way, I'm actually having trouble picturing how to NOT talk about it that way. My teacher might ask me to start a piece "at the F major section" or ask me to notice a harmony change by talking about it in terms of "this key goes to that key." How does that work in your lessons?

Apologies if some of this has been covered in previous posts. I have read the entire thread (with interest!), but I'm still unclear on the topics I've written above.

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Originally Posted by quodlibet
This entire subject is so interesting to me because not knowing and applying basic theory is so foreign to how I have learned to approach music (as an adult...I didn't know this stuff as a kid). So, in pondering this topic I'm having trouble understanding a few things. For the OP or anyone else who uses alternate methods to understand music:

--When I see a piece with 4 sharps, I immediately think: E major or C# minor? My first clue (in most Classical era music anyway) is noticing how the piece begins and/or what's happening in the first few measures--i.e., the first measure outlines an E major chord (therefore E major) and/or "oh, look, I see a B# ahead (therefore C# minor). From there, I then anticipate IV and V/V7 harmonies, I figure out what they are (which has become more automatic over time), and then I kind of get an overall "map" of the piece. If you're not doing that, then you're just adapting to what happens in the piece as you go along?

--Do you play scales? If someone asks you to play a B major scale, can you do it? And if you can, is it more that you know the shape of it than knowing (as I would) that there are 5 sharps and what those are?

--My lessons have become so grounded in talking about music this way, I'm actually having trouble picturing how to NOT talk about it that way. My teacher might ask me to start a piece "at the F major section" or ask me to notice a harmony change by talking about it in terms of "this key goes to that key." How does that work in your lessons?

Apologies if some of this has been covered in previous posts. I have read the entire thread (with interest!), but I'm still unclear on the topics I've written above.

Great questions. With four sharps, I immediately think, Oh! 4 sharps, fcgd.

I suppose I am adapting as I go along. If I hit a wrong note or chord in a piece that I am playing for the first time, I immediately check to see if I'm playing it wrong because I sounds like it doesn't fit with the rest of the piece.

Do I play scales? Nah. I half learned them in my senior year in high school. When I'm reading new music, I read the actual notes in the scale without recognizing what I'm playing. I suppose it would be faster if I did know. Can I play a B major scale? Sure. I'll start on B and do it by combining the shape and sound. I might or might not make the effort to figure out what notes have accidentals.

During my lessons, I suppose we refer to measure numbers, or "the beginning of that last section" or "where the harmony changes." Does he ask me specific questions about harmony? No. He knows I don't know harmony even though I've made half hearted attempts to learn it.

Today, I was working on reviving Schubert's impromptu D142#4. It has lots of flashy scales. Because of this discussion, I decided to notice the name of the scale I was flying through. It was A flat. Then I looked at the key signature. "Oh, isn't that hysterical, it's in A flat. Then I googled it to be sure and, "no wait a minute, it's F minor. Ha! Ha!" Did that knowledge make a difference in my playing or understanding of the music. Not a bit.


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Originally Posted by gooddog
Originally Posted by quodlibet
This entire subject is so interesting to me because not knowing and applying basic theory is so foreign to how I have learned to approach music (as an adult...I didn't know this stuff as a kid). So, in pondering this topic I'm having trouble understanding a few things. For the OP or anyone else who uses alternate methods to understand music:

--When I see a piece with 4 sharps, I immediately think: E major or C# minor? My first clue (in most Classical era music anyway) is noticing how the piece begins and/or what's happening in the first few measures--i.e., the first measure outlines an E major chord (therefore E major) and/or "oh, look, I see a B# ahead (therefore C# minor). From there, I then anticipate IV and V/V7 harmonies, I figure out what they are (which has become more automatic over time), and then I kind of get an overall "map" of the piece. If you're not doing that, then you're just adapting to what happens in the piece as you go along?

--Do you play scales? If someone asks you to play a B major scale, can you do it? And if you can, is it more that you know the shape of it than knowing (as I would) that there are 5 sharps and what those are?

--My lessons have become so grounded in talking about music this way, I'm actually having trouble picturing how to NOT talk about it that way. My teacher might ask me to start a piece "at the F major section" or ask me to notice a harmony change by talking about it in terms of "this key goes to that key." How does that work in your lessons?

Apologies if some of this has been covered in previous posts. I have read the entire thread (with interest!), but I'm still unclear on the topics I've written above.

Great questions. With four sharps, I immediately think, Oh! 4 sharps, fcgd.

I suppose I am adapting as I go along. If I hit a wrong note or chord in a piece that I am playing for the first time, I immediately check to see if I'm playing it wrong because I sounds like it doesn't fit with the rest of the piece.

Do I play scales? Nah. I half learned them in my senior year in high school. When I'm reading new music, I read the actual notes in the scale without recognizing what I'm playing. I suppose it would be faster if I did know. Can I play a B major scale? Sure. I'll start on B and do it by combining the shape and sound. I might or might not make the effort to figure out what notes have accidentals.

During my lessons, I suppose we refer to measure numbers, or "the beginning of that last section" or "where the harmony changes." Does he ask me specific questions about harmony? No. He knows I don't know harmony even though I've made half hearted attempts to learn it.

Today, I was working on reviving Schubert's impromptu D142#4. It has lots of flashy scales. Because of this discussion, I decided to notice the name of the scale I was flying through. It was A flat. Then I looked at the key signature. "Oh, isn't that hysterical, it's in A flat. Then I googled it to be sure and, "no wait a minute, it's F minor. Ha! Ha!" Did that knowledge make a difference in my playing or understanding of the music. Not a bit.
I'm beginning to think we were separated at birth!


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Originally Posted by quodlibet
This entire subject is so interesting to me because not knowing and applying basic theory is so foreign to how I have learned to approach music (as an adult...I didn't know this stuff as a kid). So, in pondering this topic I'm having trouble understanding a few things. For the OP or anyone else who uses alternate methods to understand music:

--When I see a piece with 4 sharps, I immediately think: E major or C# minor? My first clue (in most Classical era music anyway) is noticing how the piece begins and/or what's happening in the first few measures--i.e., the first measure outlines an E major chord (therefore E major) and/or "oh, look, I see a B# ahead (therefore C# minor). From there, I then anticipate IV and V/V7 harmonies, I figure out what they are (which has become more automatic over time), and then I kind of get an overall "map" of the piece. If you're not doing that, then you're just adapting to what happens in the piece as you go along?

--Do you play scales? If someone asks you to play a B major scale, can you do it? And if you can, is it more that you know the shape of it than knowing (as I would) that there are 5 sharps and what those are?

--My lessons have become so grounded in talking about music this way, I'm actually having trouble picturing how to NOT talk about it that way. My teacher might ask me to start a piece "at the F major section" or ask me to notice a harmony change by talking about it in terms of "this key goes to that key." How does that work in your lessons?

Apologies if some of this has been covered in previous posts. I have read the entire thread (with interest!), but I'm still unclear on the topics I've written above.
I think it is good that you can do all of this, but this is not how I or some others apparently process music. I took music theory in high school and an undergraduate course in music theory at a major university in Boston and I did quite well but never applied it much because that's not how I taught myself the piano and or concepts in music. I think it is just because I took theory classes in college that I'm not lost when they say do you see how this modulates to that and after practicing a piece so much you start recognizing the keys each section is in. So if my teacher asks me to start at the D major section of Busoni's Chaconne I know exactly where that is. It is a personal goal of mine to brush up on theory and finally start learning scales after 40+ years of playing the piano (yes that's sad) instead of just learning what I need to know as I encounter them in the various pieces I play.


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Thanks for answering my questions. I'm not going to lie, when you said you play a scale passage in music and see it as "actual notes" without seeing it as whatever-key scale, I did gasp inwardly. Same for asserting that your recognition of a passage as F minor makes "no difference" in your understanding or playing of it.

No, it won't make sense or be relevant in one isolated incident or even a bunch of isolated incidents. Theory is a language, theory is grammar. You can certainly function just fine with not knowing and applying theory, but would you be what I consider literate in music without it? I wouldn't.

I think you feel that learning theory will slow you down and get in your way and create unnecessary obstacles to what you want to be doing, which is making music. I would argue that, while it may feel that way in the shorter term, longer term it would have many benefits (as others here have described).

Has anyone who has a working knowledge of music theory ever said it "makes no difference" to their playing? That's not rhetorical. I'm actually wondering....

And, I'm really not being critical here. You clearly are an extremely high functioning pianist and I can see why you would be reticent to put forth effort with something you see little use for. If I were at your level, I might feel the same way.

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Jethro, You do sound fairly literate in theory, though. Enough to understand keys, etc. I'm not saying everyone has to process music the same way, but by your admission it does make it easier to understand the vast number of musicians out there who do communicate about music via theoretical language. Part of my own motivation to understand theory was to feel more connected to the world of serious/professional musicians. I wanted to understand what was being discussed in YouTube masterclasses, in musician blogs, in books. If you don't understand the language of the country you're in, you can certainly still appreciate its beauty and all it has to offer, but you're at somewhat of a disadvantage too, I would say.

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It is a fascinating subject. I know the basic theory equivalent of a couple of college courses. I stopped around german 6 or French 6 chords. So I too start playing a new piece without thinking too much about it. But last week in my lesson my teacher went over the structure of Chopin’s ballade 3. I initiated the question since I was trying to memorize it and I thought I could divide the piece in meaningful sections to memorize it section by section. If I remember it correctly it was ABCA plus coda with C being development. I was amazed that how those ideas or variation of the ideas intertwine the piece through the key changes. Especially in development section, I saw variations of ideas A and B are both present and culminating into musical climax. Honestly I have never thought about it that way. I am hoping gaining more theory knowledge help me to gain more depth.

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Originally Posted by quodlibet
Thanks for answering my questions. I'm not going to lie, when you said you play a scale passage in music and see it as "actual notes" without seeing it as whatever-key scale, I did gasp inwardly. Same for asserting that your recognition of a passage as F minor makes "no difference" in your understanding or playing of it.

No, it won't make sense or be relevant in one isolated incident or even a bunch of isolated incidents. Theory is a language, theory is grammar. You can certainly function just fine with not knowing and applying theory, but would you be what I consider literate in music without it? I wouldn't.

I think you feel that learning theory will slow you down and get in your way and create unnecessary obstacles to what you want to be doing, which is making music. I would argue that, while it may feel that way in the shorter term, longer term it would have many benefits (as others here have described).

Has anyone who has a working knowledge of music theory ever said it "makes no difference" to their playing? That's not rhetorical. I'm actually wondering....

And, I'm really not being critical here. You clearly are an extremely high functioning pianist and I can see why you would be reticent to put forth effort with something you see little use for. If I were at your level, I might feel the same way.
I don't think literate versus illiterate is a good analogy or maybe it is, but it surely can make a point. I was a very strong with grammar in high school and college courses. Scored high 90's or 100s in all my tests in high school and straight A's in college. Ask me now if I remember what a past participle is or to identify the adverbial phrase in a sentence. I knew it back that like that back of my hand but today I have no idea what those terms mean but I remember they were concepts I had to know. Does this make me illiterate? When it comes to music some of us desire or only have the time to know only what we need to know based on the musical goals WE are trying to achieve- such as appreciating or playing the pieces that we want to play.

Just knowing all the rules of grammar really well does not mean you are going to be a great writer if that's what your goal is. Nor would knowing all the rules of music make you a great pianist nor enable you to learn advanced pieces nor even make you a great musician. Both gooddog and myself for example know how to read music (even quite advanced music) just as I imagine both of us can read War and Peace and still understand basically what the writer's intentions were without remembering all the grammatical rules in creating that masterpiece. If we have to understand something we look it up or ask our teachers and learn it when we need to learn it. Some here, possibly teachers, possibly professional musicians know much more than we do simply because they have to. Everyone has different goals when it comes to music.

Just as when we were learning English as children we had to learn all the rules of grammar because having that knowledge helps in our development. Do I use that knowledge now on a daily basis, of course not. It's the same thing with music theory. I learned it all the way through college. I forgot a lot of it, but I'm not going beat my head against a wall over it. As I said my personal goal is to brush up on music theory with time but not at the cost of piano practice time or running my business, or having a life.


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Originally Posted by quodlibet
This entire subject is so interesting to me because not knowing and applying basic theory is so foreign to how I have learned to approach music (as an adult...I didn't know this stuff as a kid). So, in pondering this topic I'm having trouble understanding a few things. For the OP or anyone else who uses alternate methods to understand music:

--When I see a piece with 4 sharps, I immediately think: E major or C# minor? My first clue (in most Classical era music anyway) is noticing how the piece begins and/or what's happening in the first few measures--i.e., the first measure outlines an E major chord (therefore E major) and/or "oh, look, I see a B# ahead (therefore C# minor). From there, I then anticipate IV and V/V7 harmonies, I figure out what they are (which has become more automatic over time), and then I kind of get an overall "map" of the piece. If you're not doing that, then you're just adapting to what happens in the piece as you go along?

--Do you play scales? If someone asks you to play a B major scale, can you do it? And if you can, is it more that you know the shape of it than knowing (as I would) that there are 5 sharps and what those are?

--My lessons have become so grounded in talking about music this way, I'm actually having trouble picturing how to NOT talk about it that way. My teacher might ask me to start a piece "at the F major section" or ask me to notice a harmony change by talking about it in terms of "this key goes to that key." How does that work in your lessons?

Apologies if some of this has been covered in previous posts. I have read the entire thread (with interest!), but I'm still unclear on the topics I've written above.

I'll add a bit:

1. When I see a piece with 4 sharps then yes, I usually think E plus the 'occasional it could be it's relative minor (the name of which I won't have remembered)' followed by 'I'll run through and see how it sounds to decide,' but if I'm eager to get going it's a case of '4 sharps, lets go.' Beyond 4 of anything, sharps or flats, I can't always tell what the key is before I start playing unless it says what it is (but I'm getting there) - then it's case of convincing myself to remember which notes are sharpened / flattened and off we go. I do not anticipate harmonies or chord progressions in that sense, but being used to playing and listening I know what to expect without naming the progressions - although sometimes there are nice and interesting surprises along the way.

2. Yes, I play scales and arpeggios. Let's face it, if somebody asks for a scale in B natural or whatever it's fairly evident where to start and the fingers do the rest. Now, if asked to start the scale / arpeggio at some point other than beginning or finish then I have to think about it a bit, although that is getting easier with practice - here, recognising the chord, scale or whatever becomes rather helpful, but if the score has fingering notated it is usually automatic.

There is I think almost a short-cut between seeing the score and playing the music that by-passes the critical thought processes, which only intervene if there is something they don't agree with, it's almost as if emotions are more involved and cognitive thinking lets the circuit continue unless it becomes unhappy with what's going on.

Yes, I have to admit I find this subject interesting too. The gulf between those who learned conventionally and those of us who gradually absorbed or self-taught seems to be quite wide in terms of thought processes (and quite possibly, dare I say, proficiency.) My tuppence worth...

Last edited by petebfrance; 02/26/21 04:26 PM.

regards
Pete
Joined: Oct 2007
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Originally Posted by FarmGirl
It is a fascinating subject. I know the basic theory equivalent of a couple of college courses. I stopped around german 6 or French 6 chords. So I too start playing a new piece without thinking too much about it. But last week in my lesson my teacher went over the structure of Chopin’s ballade 3. I initiated the question since I was trying to memorize it and I thought I could divide the piece in meaningful sections to memorize it section by section. If I remember it correctly it was ABCA plus coda with C being development. I was amazed that how those ideas or variation of the ideas intertwine the piece through the key changes. Especially in development section, I saw variations of ideas A and B are both present and culminating into musical climax. Honestly I have never thought about it that way. I am hoping gaining more theory knowledge help me to gain more depth.
I think the key thing is that you were exposed to music theory so implicitly when you discuss pieces with your teacher or read articles you are not lost. Ask me how much medical or pre-medical knowledge I forget since I left school. It's probably most of it but just being exposed to it help me understand concepts when I discuss things with my colleagues or when I come across things when I read articles. Most of the time when I need to recall something in my job I just look it up and the key there is knowing where to look. The same can be applied to music theory. If you want to understand the structure of a Chopin Ballade there are plenty of articles on it and if you have had some music theory in the past you should be able at some level grasp what you are reading, but you don't have to know theory like the back of your hand to play it.


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Preludio: Bach/Rachmaninoff E Major Sonata for Violin
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