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#1892357 - 05/06/12 04:14 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: drumour]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: drumour

If I wrote F#7 anyone would know I meant F#A#C#E - not anything else.

I agree.
Quote:

Similarly, in my musical upbringing, F#9 would expect a G natural forming a dim7 with the upper four notes - anything else would have to be further indicated.

That would be incredibly non-standard. F#9 would mean to me, by default, F#7 plus the 9, and the 9 is G#. All numbers alone are major or perfect intervals, except for 7, which is minor by default and has be labeled maj7 for a M7.

Theses are the forms I have seen most often:

F#9 -- (add G# at the top)
F#7(b9) -- (add G natural at the top)
F#7(#9) -- (add either G double# or A at the top, choice is based on readability as well as theory)
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#1892391 - 05/06/12 05:16 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: Gary D.]
Studio Joe Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary D

I agree.
Quote:

Similarly, in my musical upbringing, F#9 would expect a G natural forming a dim7 with the upper four notes - anything else would have to be further indicated.

That would be incredibly non-standard. F#9 would mean to me, by default, F#7 plus the 9, and the 9 is G#. All numbers alone are major or perfect intervals, except for 7, which is minor by default and has be labeled maj7 for a M7.


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#1892452 - 05/06/12 06:39 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: Gary D.]
drumour Offline
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Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: Gary D.

What I had in mind: D#7, C#7, D#7 to G#m, with color tones...

I hear the F# in the C#7 chord as the #9, and the E natural in the C#7 chord as the #9. The voicing would be unusual.

In order to use standard #9 notation with all those sharps you would need to use E double sharp, for instance. In a Db chord it is easy to use E (#9) over the F, but it does not work well in sharps...

The interest, to me, is that you ALSO have b9 too, so E in the D# chord is b9, D in the C# is b9.

I hear it, I play it, I would use this voicing. But I have NO idea how to label it. Which brings us back to what Currawong said:

Not all chords have names, or need them.



I think I have more respect for the composer. What you appear to be doing is changing the notational spelling to suit your particular view of the harmony. One of the things we should recognise with great composers is that they were competent at their craft and that we should look at what they wrote, not what we would like them to have written. You seem to want the opening progression to be a kind of V v of V V I in g# minor and you've modified the key signature to support your thesis. You go on to justify your proposition by deciding that any notes that do not fit in with your theory are jazz-like added notes. (That aside, none of the chords you have written in the first 3 bars are #9 chords - in each the 7th and 9th are minor.)

"I hear the F# in the C#7[D#7?] chord as the #9, and the E natural in the C#7 chord as the #9. The voicing would be unusual. "

This is bizarre, really. If the first chord were D# something or other with the root omitted, then the 9th would be an E which in this case is natural making it, in your hypothesis, minor. Similarly, the 9th in a C# chord is a D. Regardless of what you tell yourself you're hearing, you really appear to be getting into quite a tangle.

I don't think it serves any purpose to try and understand the opening of this piece in terms of a tonal cadential progression - it is not a simple tonal progression with jazz-like dressing up of the chords. Also each of the chords as written by Debussy can be easily rearranged as a stack of thirds making minor 9th chords. Everything Debussy does in this opening is designed to subvert the dynamics of tonality and to weaken any sense of cadential, or any other, pull.

Where did you get your g# minor chord from in bar 4? Bars 4 and 5 do their utmost to not be a cadence - if anything the point of repose (not resolve) is on a minor. You're trying to force this music into a jacket it was never intended to fit.

John
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#1892538 - 05/06/12 08:54 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: drumour]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: drumour

I think I have more respect for the composer.

Well, considering that:

1) I play this piece...
2) I love it...
3) I have played a great deal of Debussy's music, and Debussy is probably in a tie for my favorite piano composer...
4) His genius and openness to new things (in his time) has been something I have admired hugely my entire life...

I don't know how you figure you have more respect for Debussythan I do. That seems to me like some kind of bizarre p*ssing contest, and I don't know why in heavens this is going on...
Quote:

Where did you get your g# minor chord from in bar 4? Bars 4 and 5 do their utmost to not be a cadence - if anything the point of repose (not resolve) is on a minor. You're trying to force this music into a jacket it was never intended to fit.

No, I'm really not. I threw out an idea. Some of my ideas are really good, some of them are OK, and some are duds. If everyone else agrees that I am totally off-base, that none of what I have thrown is worthy of thought, even for a moment, then I'll just deal with that. smile

At least you took a look at what I presented and gave me feedback. Thank you for that, and there is no sarcasm in that at all. Silence is frustrating...

Gary
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#1892596 - 05/06/12 10:49 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: drumour]
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Let's see if I have my understanding straight:
Originally Posted By: drumour
F#9 would expect a G natural forming a dim7 with the upper four notes.
John

I understand the 9 chord to be like a major 2nd chord which is a octave above the tonic in root position - it's sort of a diatonic name. So a major 2nd above F# is G#, therefore a 9 chord would be G#.

Then a flat 9 (b9) chord would be a half step below that, like a minor 2nd above the octave. That would give us G natural. So going by that, G is a b9.

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#1892630 - 05/07/12 12:29 AM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: drumour]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
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Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: drumour"I hear the F# in the C#7[D#7?
chord as the #9, and the E natural in the C#7 chord as the #9. The voicing would be unusual. "

Thank you for correcting that.

Yes, I meant D#7. And by the way, I realize very clearly that you could look at that chords as simply an F#7 chord with a G in the pinky of the LH chord. That is how I FEEL it, in my hands. The only point I wanted to make was that by putting G in the bottom of the chord, what would normally F#7(b9), with a G natural, is normally not voiced so that the b9 is on the BOTTOM.
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#1892703 - 05/07/12 04:48 AM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: keystring]
drumour Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Let's see if I have my understanding straight:
Originally Posted By: drumour
F#9 would expect a G natural forming a dim7 with the upper four notes.
John

I understand the 9 chord to be like a major 2nd chord which is a octave above the tonic in root position - it's sort of a diatonic name. So a major 2nd above F# is G#, therefore a 9 chord would be G#.

Then a flat 9 (b9) chord would be a half step below that, like a minor 2nd above the octave. That would give us G natural. So going by that, G is a b9.


I think it's simply that I was brought up in a system that was not affected in any way at all by lead sheets and jazz terminology. The standard C7 would be C E G Bb and the standard C9 would be C E G Bb Db. The context of this is a grammatical explanation of the diminished 7th as a substitution for, for instance, a secondary 7th chord. It has its own logic I suppose whereas your explanation expects something different from 7 and 9. Why would you expect unmodified 7 to always mean minor 7th and unmodified 9 to mean major 9th? That's not consistent. It's just different conventions.

John
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#1892772 - 05/07/12 08:42 AM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: Gary D.]
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Drumour, what I learned first was "classical" Roman Numeral type terminology, and again in formal written theory, designating chords as major, minor, augmented, and diminished. Then there were the inversions, so that if you saw CEA this was a first inversion minor chord and if it occurred in C major, then it was a vi6 - whereas in letter name terminology it could be a C6 depending on how you hear it. As I understand it, the advantage of letter name ("lead sheet") chords is that you write what you hear without needing a context or function. For example, Dm is a chord which is minor with a root D and has the notes DFA. If F is on the bottom you still write that you hear this D minor sound, by writing Dm/F. In conventional notation your Dm is ii in C major, or vi in F major, and if the key or function are ambiguous at this point you're in trouble. There is a different reason for writing ii and for writing Dm, and it serves different purposes. You're looking at the chords in different ways.

Going off on a tangent but with some reason: when the RCM revised their exam syllabus and the texts going with it, they expanded their "classical" arsenal. They now use Roman numerals (as before), plus figured bass, plus letter names, plus solfege names. Each reflects a different angle of music.

When I looked at letter names in chords, it seems that they were built as if the root of the chord was sitting in an imaginary major key, as if the naming was diatonic, but some of it involved quality. It seems that the names are mostly standard but not always. So first you have your major,minor, augmented, and diminished chords such as C, Cm, Caug, Co (floating o). But with the Cdim people also see that the 5th is smaller so it could be a Cm(b5). We're seeing G that normally occurs in a minor chord which normally is also part of a diatonic scale, and instead of being in its normal 5th above the root it has been flatted. It seems that individual letters that get designated separately are all see diatonically as they come from the root. So the 6 in C6 refers to the major 6th coming from the root. The 9 is like the 9 you have in classical, meaning it's like a M2 but an octave above, with the root position root of the chord being your reference point.

It seems to be a mishmash that's been cobbled together, sometimes looking at chord quality, sometimes at positions from the root - whatever it is that people feel in the their fingers and ears. The important thing here is that we all use the same terminology. What is important is that when we say we hear or see something, others will understand what we are referring to, rather than thinking we are referring to something else.

So for the group at large: C#E#G#BD , Do you see the D as a 9 or a b9? If you had C#EGBD, the first four notes would be a half diminished chord - would the D still be a b9 if you saw b9 for the first one?


Edited by keystring (05/07/12 02:41 PM)

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#1892783 - 05/07/12 09:01 AM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: drumour]
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About the idea of "disrespect" for the composer: What I'm understanding is that as musicians we get a subjective feel for what the music is doing and where it is going. Composers like Debussy are subtle, and Debussy liked to experiment and break new ground. He was going by an inner sound which he had to get on paper. We have these million theory rules that explain how music works, but which also put music into a box preventing us in part from getting at the music. In addition, composers did not always adhere to those rules when they had the music in their inner ears and being - they used them and bent them. The rules themselves are an attempt to describe what happens in existing music. I remember in conventional theory when learning about 4 part harmony of which Bach was a master, and we were told what Bach did but we should never break the rules that Bach broke. Obviously Bach had gone past the rules.

So what if you feel a "something" in the music? What if personally you feel it pulling in some direction? One way, in person, would be to play it as it was written, then play it where you logically expect it to go (but it doesn't), and say "See what I mean?" The other musician may say "No, what I hear underneath is this." and he plays what he hears.

See, the magic of great composers is that they tease us, making us think we're about to turn left, and suddenly we've gone up and around. To see the effects and try to express them is not disrespect but an invitation for similar exploration. When we are young we are playful with things, and the greatest learning happens that way. Later on we get taboos, and above all we get the notion of Correct Answers, Correct Names --- our composer is put in a box, and that box has a wall separating us from the composer. On one hand the conventions help us see things. On the other, they force us to pigeon-hole everything a composer does. So if some musicians relate to "where else the music might go but doesn't" to describe their experience, do we harumph in response, or do we see what additional things we may hear?

I've read some of the official write-ups about "what Debussy did". They leave me cold and don't seem to get to the heart of the matter. It reminds me of something I once heard, "I dissected a cat to get at its nature and ended up with a non-working cat." Sort of.

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#1892785 - 05/07/12 09:04 AM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: drumour]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: drumour
Why would you expect unmodified 7 to always mean minor 7th and unmodified 9 to mean major 9th? That's not consistent. It's just different conventions.
John

That is the pattern that I've seen commonly used. I surmised from what I saw the 9 is used a bit like figured bass, where you count from the root and think diatonically. The 7 would be the exception because the role of the minor 7 is such a strong one in music, that it has become the default.

The important thing is to find out what the most commonly convention is, so that there are no misunderstandings in this international community.

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#1892787 - 05/07/12 09:05 AM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: Gary D.]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
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Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: keystring
So for the group at large: C#E#G#BD , Do you see the D as a 9 or a b9? If you had C#EGBD, the first four notes would be a half diminished chord - would the D still be a b9 if you saw b9 for the first one?

RCM uses a system where only the 7 is minor by default. So in both C# E# G# B D and C# E G B D, the D is b9. C# E# G# B D would be C#7(b9). (Not sure why, but they always insert the 7 explicitly in the case of a b9.) C# E G B D... might be C#ø7(b9).
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#1892830 - 05/07/12 10:33 AM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: Gary D.]
drumour Offline
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The "9th" terminology is obviously an interesting but trivial matter, which I initially clarified for this thread. I believe how I learnt this gives it a consistency which I as yet cannot see from the alternative given here. I have no especial interest in defending a position on this.

I still think, but am happy to agree to disagree, that the proffered reading/interpretation of the first 5 bars of this piece was in terms that wouldn't become valid for several decades after it was written and then in a different genre not related to what Debussy was writing here. My feeling is that whilst it tries to expand our and the writer's understanding, it appears to be forcing a context on the music that could not have existed when it was written. Feuilles Mortes is part of Debussy's creating a new music that was not tonal and not jazz nor even a precurser of jazz. Debussy wrote the notes he wrote and I think it more beneficial to try to understand what he wrote and not what he could have otherwise written.

John
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#1892840 - 05/07/12 11:02 AM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: Gary D.]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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[cross-posted]

Gary, I haven't had a chance to play through your experiment yet; hopefully I will remember to print it out and try it tonight.

In the meantime, what do you think about my idea (from the post right after you first posted these first few measures of Feuilles Mortes) that he's suggesting an ocatonic scale? (Yes, officer, this nice man named Gary gave me this new hammer called Octatonic and now everything looks like a nail... I mean scale! laugh .)

Here's something else curious. In these measures he crosses the left hand thumb with the right hand thumb. For example, in the first measure, the lower staff has F#4 while the upper staff has E4. Why is that? I have no idea. Any thoughts?

If we uncross those notes, and give E4 to the LH and F# to the RH, then we have two chords that both share F# A#. Gdim7 in the LH (in root position, enharmonically spelled for the middle notes) and F# in the RH (also in root position). Could Debussy be experimenting with the sound of completing the inner notes of a chord in two different ways? So there's a dissonance between LH and RH, but also a consonance, which makes the piece shimmer and sound open harmonically, but without sounding chaotic.

What bugs me about the jazz chord names like #9 is that basically it just gives you a system where you can take almost any set of notes and give them a name and say "there, I've captured it". That's because every note of the scale appears as one of the scale degrees 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and if you allow #s and bs then you can get any note of the chromatic scale too. And then if you allow weasel words like "color notes" you can fit anything at all into this system!

I apologize, Gary, this sounds like I'm disrespecting you, and I don't mean it that way, it's rather a visceral response I've had to extended chords since the beginning. Just call me Ms. Can't Even Cope With It When Bach Breaks The Rules. For people like you for whom the name evokes a very powerful aural sense, which then relates that set of notes to other sets with the same name that you've heard, I can see how it can be a very powerful tool. I'm just resisting it kicking and screaming every step of the way.

But another, hopefully more respectful and thoughtful, thought about the #9 name is this: Debussy presumably wasn't in a world yet where he had those names, to conceptualize what he was doing as "#9 plus color notes". So he was in a world where he had common practice harmony, and experimenting with "but what if I put THESE sounds together?" and discovering certain combinations of sounds that give his music a shimmer, and an openness, and breaks out of the predictability of in-the-box chord progressions. You're in a world where you have rootless #9, and rootless #9 plus color notes, as aural experiences, and so when you hear something that sounds similar, you can say "ah! THIS sounds like THAT!"

My experience is different, so I come up with different explanations: I'm really bad at aural stuff, but my experience in my mostly visual world of music theory really only includes up to seventh chords, so when I look at this music, I see things like what I have experience of, so I come up with explanations that involve a major chord on top of a diminished seventh chord. And if I had better ears to be able to hear what I can analyze visually, maybe I'd report also a "THIS sounds like THAT!" experience, but my experience would be "sounds bichordal, major above diminished 7."

I recently had the privilege to hear the premiere of a piano piece, and to hear the composer talk about it afterwards. He said that he had based it on the overtone series of the very very low note he starts the piece with (I forget exactly which note, I don't think it was as obvious as A0... maybe I'll write and ask him). Anyway, looking at the music presumably it would be possible to analyse the harmonies in it and come up with chord names that capture some or all of the notes being played. But wouldn't that be missing the point? Unless you also then linked the chord names back to the overtone series, like saying (this is just made up), "ah, the E13 chord is powerful because it captures the 6th overtone of E" or something like that. But even that would be missing the point, because in this piece it's not just the pitch classes, but in fact the specific register of the pitches that is important. For example (again, I'm just making this up) perhaps the 6th overtone of E1 is in the middle of the piano but the 12th overtone is way to the right. So then you can't just revoice the chords to mush all the notes together in just one or two octaves, but you HAVE to have them all spread out in exactly the way the composer chooses.

So maybe there's something similar with Debussy, where to come up with a satisfying way to describe what he's doing in these first three measures (and beyond), we have to be able to enter into his world and understand what he was trying to do.


Edited by PianoStudent88 (05/07/12 11:06 AM)
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#1892844 - 05/07/12 11:09 AM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: Gary D.]
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John, I think we all agree on what you just wrote in summary. Now, how do we as individuals come to understand or get the feel for the music? It is not just by comparing it to rules and see how it deviates from them. I can see fiddling around with it and playing other things that are not there as a way of getting that picture. It is like when you encounter an object for the first time, if you are as disinhibited as a child, you might shake it, taste it, throw it, turn it at odd angles, do all kinds of weird things with it - and then you have some feel for what this new thing is in your bones rather than just in your head. This is not non-intelligent, because music is in fact concept materialized in sound happening over time and felt in the body. So why not explore it that way? Why not dare to do this as well, if you are so inclined?

I don't know if I'm right, but I saw the experiment as a way of saying "Do you hear this as well?" and also "What do you hear? Is it different? If so - how?"

With simpler music, since I am also a learner, I have mentally done something different. I will see music that for example starts hovering on G7. I expect it to go to a C chord or Cm chord and suddenly the composer does a strange turn and says "Haha! Fooled you!" The only way to be consciously aware of why this works, and what it is that affected you, is to be aware of what you expected to hear. So mentally I might be doing what was on paper here -- playing the resolution in my head that the composer did NOT put in --- mentally playing other possible resolutions that he did not go to. My delight is much greater through this exercise.

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#1892855 - 05/07/12 11:21 AM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: Gary D.]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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We did the same thing in a poetry class I took in college: tried out alternative words or ways of saying a line, to appreciate by comparison the effect of what the poet actually did write, and to understand the specific point of the poet's choices.

Everytime we look at medieval music without using hexachords, or writing it in notes rather than neumes, we're looking at music in a system not envisioned by the originators of the music. And the people who first started to write down neumes were using a system not envisioned by the oral originators of the chants. So on the one hand new systems are useful.

And on the other hand going back to how the originators did it can also be instructive. There's some early music group, I believe it's Anonymous 4 but don't quote me, that sings from the neumes rather than modern notation, because they feel it helps them get the nuances of the music better. And going back even further, I bet it would also be instructive to learn a chant purely by ear.

Did Debussy start out writing in the common practice of his time? What are some of these early pieces? And are there early pieces of his where we can see his first steps into his new harmonic language?

Gary, does Feuilles Mortes sound like any of Debussy's other pieces? Maybe looking at them would suggest some of the commonalities of how he achieves what he does.
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#1892866 - 05/07/12 11:37 AM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: PianoStudent88]
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P88, I know where you are coming from. I had decades of only knowing solfege notes from childhood. I heard things but there was no name for anything. If you imagine Helen Keller, blind and deaf, reaching for an apple and with no idea that others experience this apple and have a name for it, or concepts such as "fruit" which she probably sensed was a group of common things - knowing, but not having concepts and names formed by society - that was me in music. But the concepts that I sensed were mostly in Common Practice music. When I finally started music theory, the idea of Domininant, Subdominant, Tonic went well with what I already sensed in Sol, Fa and Do, and heard in music.

I then set out to learn formal theory. Roman Numeral analysis went well with what I already sensed with my relative pitch. I could hear the tonic "Do" or the I chord. In a sense, G major, C major, or F major, "sound the same" in the keys of G, C and F major respectively. I had little ear for pitch per se.

The huge jump came for me some years ago when I was asked to sing major scales with precise attention to pitch throughout, while being aware of solfege qualities but also aware of pitch which I was to name while singing it. It's the first time I was consciously aware of pitch as a thing by itself. In C major there was a G which was Sol. In D major "there it is again - same G - same sound but different role", and by golly, in G major that G was there again. I've always sung in tune, and in choirs the weak singers used me as a reference. But I had never been aware of pitch as pitch.

These chord names as letter names are the same thing. And they are relatively new to me. Here we have another perception of music. A Cm chord has the minor quality, and it has those particular pitches. It has the same quality even if it is noted CD#G. Being able to hear and perceive a chord "as it is" without attribute gives another way of perceiving ---- not instead of, but another angle. In a lot of music the Roman Numeral stuff doesn't work - like what if it's outside of any key at that moment? This also brings us in the world of the jazz musician and similar, who relate to notes differently.

It is disconcerting to come at new angles of music. The structures we have learned are reference points. I will not abandon what I learned (and am learning) in the traditional formal theory. But I know it doesn't always apply, and that it does not give a full picture. So I like other ways of seeing. The music itself is real, and that is the ultimate thing.

Years ago our high school English teacher had us read The Crack in the Cosmic Egg by Pearce. The author proposes "reality" which is everything, both what we can and cannot perceive. We create constructs of that reality which helps us deal with and comprehend it. But in so doing we also assign particular relationships between things, and we filter out what doesn't belong. We need that kind of construct to orient ourselves. But thus you get Western medicine built on diseases and material objects such as hearts and oxygen, and Eastern medicine built on energy flows, yet the same living body. When we are in one reality we tend to translate the other into our own terms. To really enter someone else's reality can be disorienting, so we resist it. But if we can consciously switch without getting disoriented, then we have the ability to see things from many angles - it enhances our understanding. I do it rather carefully, because I don't want to find myself in a place of chaos where nothing makes sense because everything is possible in every way.

I think that what I hold on to is that the thing itself exists and makes sense unto itself. If music is well written and works, then something real is there.

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#1892906 - 05/07/12 12:51 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: Gary D.]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Loc: Maine
keystring, that's a fascinating story to me. I'm not sure what I have. I do have some sense of vague pitch location -- low, middle, high. But much less sense of the function of pitches, except for certain melodic phrase endings: ti-do, and mi-re-do, and (when I concentrate) do-te-do for natural minor endings. And do-sol (down)-do for the bass line. This is really only just for singing these things; I don't know if I can recognize them when I hear them, unless I hum them after hearing them.

When I took my music theory course, I spent the whole course trying to hear the difference between I and V. Never succeeded. MONTHS after the course was over, I realized I was listening for the wrong thing. I was trying to listen for a difference in chord quality, but I and V are BOTH MAJOR CHORDS! (I'm shouting in all-caps but this is to reflect the force of this realization when I finally had it.)

So what I should have been listening for is, I guess, a change in the root of the chord, or which notes were in the chord, or something. But I don't have anywhere near a good enough sense of which pitches are where in a given heard diatonic scale to do that yet. (STILL no such sense, about 8 years after taking that course! Although it's only in the past month or so that I've been able to pinpoint what I think the problem is.) I can hear that a chord is a different set of notes, because the notes go higher or lower than the previous chord, but I can't tell if it's the same set of pitch classes or a different set; that is if it's functionally a different chord or not.

I'm starting to study harmony, and (following your advice) making myself play through the examples and exercises. One of the very first exercises is to write a single chord in four-part harmony in several different voicings. So I did, and I played them. I could hear that different pitches were being played. But I couldn't hear that it was all the same chord vs. being different chords. Maybe what I need to try is some comparative exercises: playing I-I-I in three different voicings, and then I-V-I, and see if I can hear the difference between I-I-I moving around the keyboard vs. I-V-I moving around the keyboard.

It's frustrating to on the one hand have enough sophistication to enjoy Boulez and Stockhausen without thinking they're just noise, and on the other hand to not even be able to distinguish tonic from dominant.

I have recently made a tiny bit of progress: hearing a major chord, I can hum the root. And after that I can sing the fifth based on what I hear (rather than jumping to it by knowing how to sing a fifth, which I don't really: if I try to sing a fifth I'm as likely to hit a tritone or a minor sixth as a perfect fifth), and (miracle of miracles) after that, the third (again, based on what I hear, rather than any reliable ability to sing intervals).

I used to only be able to hum the fifth, because that is the highest note and so stands out the most.

Here's another wierd thing. I can sing an ascending and descending scale in successive thirds -- do mi, re fa, mi sol, etc. -- because I know what it sounds like from practicing it on the flute a lot. But I can't tell you from the sound which of those thirds are minor vs. which are major. So I can reproduce this fine distinction of minor vs. major thirds in a subtle pattern, but I can't consciously hear it.

It's so frustrating to be so stupid this way. You mentioned somewhere about finding a good teacher for harmony. I feel the same way about ear-training. I am learning a lot from this forum, and Ed has made some very good aural suggestions for me. But how wonderful would it be to have an in-person teacher, who could spend an hour a week with me, doing simple exercises, and praising me when I get it right, and gently correcting me when I get it wrong, and observing if there are patterns in what I get wrong, and giving me suggestions for how to get it right more often, and giving me a tailor-made set of exercises to practice and music to listen to over the coming week. Like piano lessons, but for the ear. Oh well, I may just have to spend my whole life with just my categories of normal, sad, wierd, shimmering, and fauve. Sort of, I guess, the way red-green color-blind people can't distinguish those colours but come up with a way to cope with traffic lights anyway.
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#1892946 - 05/07/12 01:52 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Online   content
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There was the time that I was teaching theory, and one of the things I wanted was to include hearing. We were in different countries, and my student had a different language and even our alphabet was unfamiliar. I got excellent advice from a violin teacher friend of mine who has been teaching for 40 years and has an amazing ear. She said to allow the hearing to start unfolding. It is not a matter of hearing a precise thing, but of starting to be aware of differences. First there will be an awareness, but you don't know what you are aware of. This is what happened, especially since I did not set up anxiety about "right answers".

We had a "star sound" which would be the focus of the day or the week - like listening for a major third all day, playing it etc. The shofar usually plays a P5 and it happened to be one thing we found. One day my student contacted me. She heard a shofar and it sounded "wrong" but she didn't know why she had that impression. When I listened to the link, this shofar was playing a minor third. She was not able to identify this, but she WAS able to hear that it was not the "shofar interval" (P5) that she expected to hear. Her hearing was opening up, because she was recognizing something. It grew from there.

In a similar vein, I have the Goetschius book on musical form. He has students study umpteen sections of music to find a given thing he is teaching. He says that for some of the passages, some of us will not be able to find it. He says not to fret, because our ears are developing and later on we simply will be able to hear what we can't hear right now.

Our modern books define everything, and nothing is studied which is not defined. It all has to be here right now immediately. I suspect that this is now how learning works, because our ears and sensibilities are also developing through experience.

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#1893001 - 05/07/12 03:36 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: drumour]
LoPresti Offline
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Doctor Detail checking in late (as usual).

Originally Posted By: keystring
I understand the 9 chord to be like a major 2nd chord which is a octave above the tonic in root position - it's sort of a diatonic name. So a major 2nd above F# is G#, therefore a 9 chord would be G#.

Then a flat 9 (b9) chord would be a half step below that, like a minor 2nd above the octave. That would give us G natural. So going by that, G is a b9.

Technically correct. in a round-about way.

Originally Posted By: drumour
I think it's simply that I was brought up in a system that was not affected in any way at all by lead sheets and jazz terminology. The standard C7 would be C E G Bb and the standard C9 would be C E G Bb Db. The context of this is a grammatical explanation of the diminished 7th as a substitution for, for instance, a secondary 7th chord. It has its own logic I suppose whereas your explanation expects something different from 7 and 9. Why would you expect unmodified 7 to always mean minor 7th and unmodified 9 to mean major 9th? That's not consistent. It's just different conventions.

John,
You are right that what you describe about a 7th seems inconsistent (see below), but there are NO different conventions. There are clearly defined rules governing the construction of chords based upon extensions of triads, and they are independent of key signatures.
[1] The base triad, major, minor, diminished, and augmented, are first formed as usual.
Major triad = root + major 3rd + perfect 5th
Minor triad = root + minor 3rd + perfect 5th
Augmented triad = root + major 3rd + augmented 5th
Diminished triad = root + minor 3rd + diminished 5th
[2] The extension of a 6th is always major unless otherwise indicated.
[3] The extension of a 7th is a “special case". With major, minor, and augmented triad bases, it is always minor unless otherwise indicated. With the diminished triad base, it too is diminished, unless otherwise designated.
[4] The extension of a 9th is always major unless otherwise indicated.
[5] The extension of an 11th is always perfect unless otherwise indicated.
[6] The extension of a 13th is always major unless otherwise indicated.
[7] I could go on to write that the suspension of a 4th is always perfect unless otherwise indicated, but everyone gets the idea.

Gary does not like it when I assert that these are THE formulae. They are what they are, and I can not help it!
Ed
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#1893012 - 05/07/12 03:53 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: Gary D.]
Kreisler Offline


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Just FYI, I've been following this with great interest. Fascinating topic! Keep going!
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#1893015 - 05/07/12 03:59 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: Gary D.]
Nikolas Online   content
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I just need to say that I've also been following the thread, but due to my total lack of time I have been trying to stay away... I have promised Gary to pay a respectful visit to the music and see what I can make out of it...

but it will come at a later time (tonight or tomorrow anyhow)...

Caught another post and wrote my reply, so here it is:

Notation can be simplified for ease of reading. When we're looking at tonal music everything seems to make sense, so the C Eb Gb Bbb chord wouldn't be spelled this way, because of the Bbb. The Cdmi7 (not sure about the spelling of such chords in that way. I work in notation) would be the VII chord of Dbminor, which itself would be the relative of Fbmajor (imaginary scale)... So you won't meet that particular chord you mention.

Same goes for C D# G. It IS Cm and in tonal music this wouldn't be present.

______________________

But this is not tonal music we're talking about in the classical sense. I bet I've written plenty of obscure stuff, if you look at them in a harmonic sense, but the idea is that melodic wise (especially in mutli instrumental music) it simply works... If I've got a cello playing CG on the bottom two chords and a trombone playing C# D# E (so it could be playing C#m scale over C major implication) you could come up with that in the melody.

The melody plays an important part in the notation, even of harmonies.


Edited by Nikolas (05/07/12 04:15 PM)
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#1893028 - 05/07/12 04:23 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: LoPresti]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: LoPresti

[1] The base triad, major, minor, diminished, and augmented, are first formed as usual.
Major triad = root + major 3rd + perfect 5th
Minor triad = root + minor 3rd + perfect 5th
Augmented triad = root + major 3rd + augmented 5th
Diminished triad = root + minor 3rd + diminished 5th
[2] The extension of a 6th is always major unless otherwise indicated.
[3] The extension of a 7th is a “special case". With major, minor, and augmented triad bases, it is always minor unless otherwise indicated. With the diminished triad base, it too is diminished, unless otherwise designated.
[4] The extension of a 9th is always major unless otherwise indicated.
[5] The extension of an 11th is always perfect unless otherwise indicated.
[6] The extension of a 13th is always major unless otherwise indicated.
[7] I could go on to write that the suspension of a 4th is always perfect unless otherwise indicated, but everyone gets the idea.

Also correct. We have to understand that this means when naming chords in letter names: "extension of a 9th is always major unless otherwise indicated" means that CEGBbD will be called C9, because the D is major, and that the "unless otherwise indicated" means that if we write C7(b9) we have "otherwise indicated" that the 9 is not major. If I did not know this already, I would not have understood that from that list.

I have not seen anyone protest to these formulae, only to the idea of triads being the only choice for some kinds of chords, which you yourself corroborated later on.

I did not use names like "extension" because I don't know which members reading this are familiar with theory labels. Therefore I prefer to explain it in a "technically correct" way, rather than sounding knowledgeable by using terminology that not everyone will know.


Edited by keystring (05/07/12 05:24 PM)
Edit Reason: fixed notation for clarity C7(b9)

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#1893034 - 05/07/12 04:33 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: PianoStudent88]
LoPresti Offline
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Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
What bugs me about the jazz chord names like #9 is that basically it just gives you a system where you can take almost any set of notes and give them a name and say "there, I've captured it". That's because every note of the scale appears as one of the scale degrees 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and if you allow #s and bs then you can get any note of the chromatic scale too. And then if you allow weasel words like "color notes" you can fit anything at all into this system!

Well, if we couldn't, then it wouldn't be much of a system, would it?

This takes us into the many facets of analysis and theory. If we were simply concerned with the sound itself -- truly the only REAL part of the music -- we wouldn’t need any of these da*mn*ed letters and accidental signs and numbers, or the formulae to build these troublesome stacks of notes. Where it gets sticky is when we are attempting to pass this along to someone who can not hear it first hand; or where we are trying to put our arms around it to reproduce it in another medium.

A surprisingly large number of bebop players drew heavily upon Debussy’s sounds when they were working to “keep away from” standard key centers. So let us look at this problem from a completely different perspective:

It’s 1950. I am a self-proclaimed jazz musician, experimenting, and looking for a different harmonic language. I am grounded in major and minor triads, and a few seventh chords. I have listened to a Russian named Igor <Something>, and really can’t figure him out at all. I do have friends still left from that HOT jazz scene in Paris, and they are acquainted with this French composer named Claude <Something> (they pronounce his first name funny!) Anyway, they are trying to figure how to send to me on paper some of this guy’s harmonic sounds. He doesn’t just use regular chords, and his scales are different, too. I heard something he wrote, and it isn’t as bad as that Russian guy. Oh yea, and then I need to notate this stuff so that my quintet can follow it.

When we need to transfer musical KNOWLEDGE, and can not do it with just the sound, theory steps in. When the music becomes complex, our theory must follow suit.

Ed
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#1893040 - 05/07/12 04:39 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: LoPresti]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Gary does not like it when I assert that these are THE formulae.

I don't disagree with a single word you wrote. Not one.

We have a communication problem. I present alternate spelling for diminished CHORDS and augmented CHORDS, stressing that they do not always appear as triads, and I explain why.

I explain some things in ADDITION to what you presented, not INSTEAD of it. wink
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#1893045 - 05/07/12 04:55 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: keystring]
LoPresti Offline
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Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: keystring
. . . "extension of a 9th is always major unless otherwise indicated" means that CEGBbD will be called C9, because the D is major, and that the "unless otherwise indicated" means that if we write Cb9 we have "otherwise indicated" that the 9 is not major. If I did not know this already, I would not have understood that from that list.

KeyString,

I know you know this stuff cold! I was only picking on you with the "round-about way", because, major second is TECHNICALLY not a ninth.

Doctor Detail says: careful with your Cb9 above, or we'll be back into another Fb9 thread. You are obviously writing about a C(b9), and NOT a Cb(9). Yet another example of the shortcomings of our notational system.

What I posted above were only the rules for constructing extended chords based upon triads. Obviously, there are many types of chords that are NOT based upon triads.

Ed
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#1893046 - 05/07/12 04:55 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: LoPresti]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: LoPresti

When we need to transfer musical KNOWLEDGE, and can not do it with just the sound, theory steps in. When the music becomes complex, our theory must follow suit.

The whole post is well put. The thing is that theory is created so we can work with music and describe music. It has to suit what we are working with. It's just like the rules of Organum or the concepts of "perfect" and "imperfect" time of early music will not fit our music today, but to understand their music we need to use their "language". The more angles we have to get at music, the more we can access. I don't even know if it is always a matter of complexity, or just of going along a different path.

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#1893050 - 05/07/12 05:00 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: LoPresti]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
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Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: keystring
. . . "extension of a 9th is always major unless otherwise indicated" means that CEGBbD will be called C9, because the D is major, and that the "unless otherwise indicated" means that if we write Cb9 we have "otherwise indicated" that the 9 is not major. If I did not know this already, I would not have understood that from that list.


Doctor Detail says: careful with your Cb9 above, or we'll be back into another Fb9 thread. You are obviously writing about a C(b9), and NOT a Cb(9). Yet another example of the shortcomings of our notational system.
Ed

Yup re: C(b9) vs. Cb(9). Good catch! smile


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#1893055 - 05/07/12 05:11 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: keystring]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: keystring

I have not seen anyone protest to these formulae, only to the idea of triads being the only choice for some kinds of chords, which you yourself corroborated later on.

Exactly. thumb

My POV. There are alternate spellings for dim and aug chords. The question is about WHEN to teach them.

Explaining this will lead to another round-and-round cluster-frack and will get us nowhere. I want to stick to concrete things, and then we can discuss WHY they work and in WHAT context. wink
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#1893067 - 05/07/12 05:25 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: LoPresti]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 2978
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
A surprisingly large number of bebop players drew heavily upon Debussy’s sounds when they were working to “keep away from” standard key centers.

Maybe this is why Gary hears jazz-like sounds in this: not because Debussy was predicting jazz 50 years ahead of his time, but because the jazz players were borrowing Debussy's sounds 50 years later.
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#1893079 - 05/07/12 05:51 PM Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) [Re: Nikolas]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Nikolas

Caught another post and wrote my reply, so here it is:

Notation can be simplified for ease of reading. When we're looking at tonal music everything seems to make sense, so the C Eb Gb Bbb chord wouldn't be spelled this way, because of the Bbb.

It would if the next chord is C Eb Gb Ab moving to Db; that is the default spelling for such resolutions. It is what Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, etc. did. That's why I teach multiple spellings for dim7 chords, Nikolas.

But looking at the dim7 practically, almost the first place my students see it is Fuer Elise, and there it is E G Bb C#. I'm not about to tell them, at that point, that you COULD get there by starting with C# E# G# B, LOWER everything to C# E G Bb, INVERT to E G Bb C#, then FINALLY resolve to Dm, which is what Beethoven does.
Quote:

Same goes for C D# G. It IS Cm and in tonal music this wouldn't be present.

You will find that in Mozart, but for a reason. He moves from that to C E G, and he is thinking, most likely, that the D# is non-harmonic, much like a long appoggiatura, and will resolve. I've seen it in the music of many famous composers, and I'm aware of it because students say: "Why did he write it that way?"

In Debussy I think we often come to a sort of "Non-Man's Land". His music is not atonal. It is more like tonality, bent, stretched, combined with parallelism, combined with unusual scales, in two keys at the same time, etc. There comes a time when ANY notation will lead to "bumps", and getting rid of one just makes another bump appear in a different place. wink

Thanks for weighing in, since I know you are really busy right now!
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