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Over Theorization of Music


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Just came across a good example of over-theorizing music. What was a common key change trick, one that's actually slightly cheesy in this context, became so over-analyzed by Adam.

 

As much as Adam tried to make David Foster's little trick looking epic, I'll take Eric Carmen's original over any versions ever done by Celine, on any given day.

 

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I'm surprised Adam (or anybody) didn't mention Foster pulling essentially the same trick in Earth Wind and Fire "After the Love is Gone", where the verse melody ends on the major7, and the chorus melody starts on the minor 7 built one semitone (half-step) up - same note.

 

And I was never a fan of Celine Dion's singing, until I heard her sing in French. Somehow that melodramatic, over-the-top delivery works in French in a way it doesn't in English.

 

Cheers, Mike.

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To each his or her own. I find AN's videos a little pedantic sometimes, but they're always interesting and I always learn something. I'm not much of a theory geek (as is stupendously obvious from some of my earlier posts here), and I think a lot of theorizing is "after the fact", so to speak. But why drag the guy? If it's not your cup of tea it's pretty easy to ignore - just don't click. You pretty much know what you're gonna get when you do!
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I've spent most of my life working full time in the music business. Can't recall one instance where theory was ever discussed on a session.

 

I learnt my theory from a classical education. For the music that 99% of us play there is simply the Major, harmonic minor, and natural minor scales. Harmonies are built off of these three scales. V and Vii go to one. Start wherever you want in the scale, and mix and match as you see fit.

 

Never understood the Berklee method. Seems like an overly complicated way of describing what most musicians learn intuitively, or by listening. Adam grates me, as do many youtubers like him...i.e. Chilly Gonzales, etc.

 

I like Beato though....

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LOL you guys are the ones overthinking this.

 

Theory is just labels for common occurrences in music so people can talk about and remember them.

 

Adam Neely is someone who makes a living making videos on music so he needs to come up with 52 topic a year and he's been doing this over ten years so has to keep searching for things to talk about to pay the rent. Also Adam's pretty tongue in cheek for a lot of his videos so chill and listen and laugh.

 

Maybe we can discusss why the hell is the note C called C wouldn't it be easier if they called it A and be like the alphabet. Why does solfege called Do and who started this movable Do crap. People this stuff is just labels. You could be an Ear player then you get to make up all you own labels. Like when the Jazz guitar legend Wes Montgomery told another guitar he didn't know what a II V I was. The guy play a II V I and asked Wes what do you call that? Wes just said... "it a sound". Wes sure knew his sounds.

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What his mom had to say about Celine Dion's vocal technique was pretty neat.

 

Mathieu's book "Harmonic Experience" was the topic of a very long thread on one of the guitar forums. Neely mentions that Coltrane endorsed this book. I may get it someday. I attended Hindustani vocal class for about 4-5 sessions so it's interesting from that perspective.

 

Neely's video was somewhat informative and inoffensive to me. Maybe I would have felt it was more informative if the song being analyzed was a different one. "All By Myself" has never been a favorite of mine, so it was a challenge at times to keep paying attention and not get bored. I thought he rambled a bit though and could have used a little tighter editing.

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LOL you guys are the ones overthinking this.

 

Theory is just labels for common occurrences in music so people can talk about and remember them.

 

Adam Neely is someone who makes a living making videos on music so he needs to come up with 52 topic a year and he's been doing this over ten years so has to keep searching for things to talk about to pay the rent. Also Adam's pretty tongue in cheek for a lot of his videos so chill and listen and laugh.

 

People this stuff is just labels. You could be an Ear player then you get to make up all you own labels. Like when the Jazz guitar legend Wes Montgomery told another guitar he didn't know what a II V I was. The guy play a II V I and asked Wes what do you call that? Wes just said... "it a sound". Wes sure knew his sounds.

Docbop, within a couple threads, you have articulated my thoughts and/or written something along similar lines. :thu::cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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"how much does the gig pay?"

 

Apparently, 12%.

 

That's the royalty agreement the Rachmaninoff estate reached with classically-trained Eric Carmen for lifting Rach 2 for All By Myself, as well as 12% for lifting 2nd Symph for Never Gonna Fall In Love Again.

..
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Although I agree with the specific criticism that the guy over-analyzes, I greatly disagree with the implication that theory is a needless abstraction.

 

I'm happy that Wes Montgomery could say "It a sound," but that isn't worth a fetid pair of dingo's kidneys when it comes to Wes communicating to the next guy what to do next.

 

The lead singer in my band and I both have classical music training, and we can communicate about 5x faster -- and 200% more effectively -- than our bandmates who try singing (with no tonic reference) "Dah-dum-dee-dee-dum" and expect me to understand what they want me to play. Or my drummer, who plays quite well by feel but can barely tell me where beat 1 is. Yes, really.

-Tom Williams

{First Name} {at} AirNetworking {dot} com

PC4-7, PX-5S, AX-Edge, PC361

 

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Although I agree with the specific criticism that the guy over-analyzes, I greatly disagree with the implication that theory is a needless abstraction.

 

I'm happy that Wes Montgomery could say "It a sound," but that isn't worth a fetid pair of dingo's kidneys when it comes to Wes communicating to the next guy what to do next.

 

The lead singer in my band and I both have classical music training, and we can communicate about 5x faster -- and 200% more effectively -- than our bandmates who try singing (with no tonic reference) "Dah-dum-dee-dee-dum" and expect me to understand what they want me to play. Or my drummer, who plays quite well by feel but can barely tell me where beat 1 is. Yes, really.

Brotha Tom, from a similar thread, this ties back to my belief that musicians should play with those of a similar caliber.

 

Theory is definitely not a needless abstraction. However, telling someone to play a Bbmin9/G doesn't mean much without context. ;)

 

Wes Montgomery was one of those musicians who could "hear aound the corner" in terms of what he needed to play. Likewise, anybody who played with him as a sideman had a similar ability.

 

First and foremost, music is an "ear" artform. Higher level musicians can "hear" it before they "see" or play a note. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Pat Metheny on Wes as quoted in the Jazz Icons DVD liner notes - "Jacobs" is apparently Pim Jacobs:

 

These few minutes in discussion with pianist Jacobs lay to rest one of the mythologies surrounding Wes and the nature of his musicianship. How often in liner notes and articles have we been dutifully reminded of Wes' supposed inability to read music, the fact that he was "self-taught" and all of the other points of lore trotted out to somehow mystify the genius that is utterly self-evident in the legacy that is his music?

 

 

In a particularly illuminating exchange, we see Wes discussing the harmony with pianist Jacobs. In requesting one of his favorite variations on the tune's descending harmonies we hear a musician not only fluent in the traditional nomenclature of harmony, but one who is thoroughly enlightened, eloquent and direct. (Instead of Bb-7/Eb7/AbMaj7 direct to the following Ab-7/Db7/GbMaj7, Wes requests that an additional II-V anticipating the next change a half step higher be added to set up the next sequence, resulting in Bb-7/Eb7/AbMaj7/A-7/D7/ then onto Ab-7/Db7/GbMaj7 etc.)

It is somewhat of a relief to hear him lay it out in such clear musical vocabulary. It was always apparent in Wes' music that he had devised one of the most detailed harmonic conceptions ever on the instrument, and as a beginner, when I read album notes and magazine pieces that harped on some kind of almost savant-like description of Wes' insight into musical invention, I often struggled with trying to imagine how exactly he might have arrived at some of the amazingly ingenious results that infuse his playing without at least occasionally thinking in these kinds of terms (tritone relationships, substitutions, etc.)."

 

Source:

https://www.jazzguitar.be/forum/theory/17357-who-some-great-jazz-guitarists-didnt-know-theory-just-relied-their.html#post171595

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I play with some musicians who are entirely self-taught and others who are music teachers. Their collective theory knowledge covers a very wide spectrum as you might imagine.

 

All great players and good friends, lucky me!

 

While being far from a theory monster, like many keys players I was taught plenty of theory at a young age and have retained most of it.

 

I would agree with Tom"s assertion that while the understanding of theory doesn"t make one a better player (or better bloke/blokette), it provides a common language which helps immensely when trying to communicate ideas among colleagues.

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Not arguing against the importance of theory...just have an axe to grind with youtubers who are the equivalent of the pet rock. Instead of making a career out of 52 ways of describing why the blue sky is blue, maybe use that time to make actual music...

 

There are tons of interested amateurs with no theory, or self-taught musicians, who watch these sham YouTube gurus pontificate, and they come away thinking that music is some really complex, inaccessible mystery, and that these youtube 'experts' are the way and the truth. In actuality it's just not as complicated as they make it out to be.

 

Fair enough if the discussion was about tone rows, counter-subjects, and expositions, but a David Foster tune?

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Not really a David Foster tune - it's an Eric Carmen tune (that, in all fairness, he lifted from Sergei Rachmaninoff, who knew a little bit about both theory and composition), and Foster inserted a key change.

 

Since this thread has walked into the water debating theory, I'll just say that everything I learned from classical lessons and playing rock and pop didn't give me enough to understand how to play jazz. While I probably could have learned about jazz by hanging out with the right other musicians, the only way I knew how to learn how to play the music I heard and was loving was...learning about jazz and jazz theory.

..
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To each his or her own. I find AN's videos a little pedantic sometimes, but they're always interesting and I always learn something. I'm not much of a theory geek (as is stupendously obvious from some of my earlier posts here), and I think a lot of theorizing is "after the fact", so to speak. But why drag the guy? If it's not your cup of tea it's pretty easy to ignore - just don't click. You pretty much know what you're gonna get when you do!

 

Same. I watched that whole video the other day, and got one or two new tidbits that I enjoyed "nerding out" on. It's a rare day that one of his "essay" pieces is truly not valuable.

 

That said, yes, it's a massively long video that doesn't really stay on topic or logically hold together as an explanation of anything. Adam Neely peddles in a particular flavor of music academia. Rick Beato peddles in his own image as a veteran of the biz. Both of them can go fairly deep into theory in their own ways. However, the lie that they both keep coming back to (and, to be fair, they're not the only ones) is that their chord analysis (or sometimes deeper analysis in Adam's case) is the answer to the question: "why is this good".

 

The Beato title above "Why Sting is Uncopyable" just puts my teeth on edge. Why is Sting uncopyable? Because he uses this mode and this progression. Which I guess no one else can do.

 

Why is 'All By Myself' the most "elegant" key change in all of music? Because pivoting around the minor sixth in your original key to turn it into the 3rd in your new key is the best. Because. Also, Celine's technique as analyzed by a voice teacher watching youtube clips also plays a part. So maybe it's not the chord progression, but it's that particular singer's version, because she grounded herself?

 

These guys both (and they're not the only ones, but two of the most successful) are so obsessed with positioning themselves as experts that they can't help but pretend to have answers to questions they cannot answer, and they attempt to do so in logically ridiculous ways.

 

If they did videos that were just "here's why I think this thing is cool," and then nerded out about it, I'd have a lot more patience. After watching Adam's video I learned a little, enjoyed myself mostly, but I have no idea why that song is the "most elegant key change in all of pop music."

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That was an excellent video. I would highly recommend it to anybody who is interested in deeply understanding composition. The discussion on the conveyance of narrative and emotion was profound. I like the nickname he used "the nostalgia note" or chord. I'm going to look at it again. I was already familiar with these techniques from solo piano jazz ballad experience but it was interesting to see it from a pop perspective and how David and Céline Dion handled it, and the power of 3rd going up and the 3rd going sown.

The early Beatles loved a sentimental iv minor.

 

In jazz piano, we often get there (another way to access the nostalgia note ) by simply borrowing from the parallel minor.

in G major over a G pedal point in the bass:

 

Gmaj7 A half-dim D7b9 Gmaj7, you see?

 

Cole Porter was very fond of that little tweak or mix. It's typical in my solo piano intros and vamps.

Also, G dim maj7 to G maj7 reminds a bit of the mood change, of course in this case its quite different and brings in -3 and dim 5. I like to alternate between the two borrowings o have just mentioned

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."    Facebook Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

 

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These threads always go in these different directions because we all "access" music in different ways. Some people's "way in" is to pick things out by ear; they can't understand why anyone would "read" or need to be "shown" something that is supposed to be a sound. Some can only internalize an idea by reading the notes or being led down the path of how to create it; then they take off from there. Some automatically think in terms of harmony. Some just "play the chords" and those chords sound like the song and that's the whole goal, mission accomplished. And so on.

 

I am roughly 0-for-the-Internet on finding an entire Beato or Neely video non-infuriating, almost from the first minute for each, but I can completely understand how others might get something or even a lot of things out of them. It all just depends on your own relationship with music, sound, your instrument, and your style.

 

OP, if you've ever seen a Neely video before, you definitely knew what you were in for. What made you click it--masochism?

 

On a whole different topic, I do not understand how the Rachs sued. Wasn't it life of the artist plus 25 years back then? Did this song somehow slip in just under the wire? Rach lived until the middle of the century right?

"
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If they did videos that were just "here's why I think this thing is cool," and then nerded out about it, I'd have a lot more patience. After watching Adam's video I learned a little, enjoyed myself mostly, but I have no idea why that song is the "most elegant key change in all of pop music."

I hear you, but I might say that they put these titles on their videos mainly to get the clicks â and probably share your view that their analyses are not the definitive word on any subject. At least I hope that's the case. That's just my guess; they seem too smart to think otherwise. So, I don't let the hubristic titles turn me off to what's usually some very interesting information or insights.

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I'll just say that everything I learned from classical lessons and playing rock and pop didn't give me enough to understand how to play jazz. While I probably could have learned about jazz by hanging out with the right other musicians, the only way I knew how to learn how to play the music I heard and was loving was...learning about jazz and jazz theory.

 

I think that's how it goes for the vast majority of jazz pianists today, and it somewhat explains the ubiquitous nature of contemporary jazz piano.

 

There just isin't enough of an active jazz culture like there was up until the dawn of the 21st century. Up until the 90s, there was still enough of a scene where players would cop licks and voicings by remembering what they heard at a club the night before, or hanging at a jam. Not the case today.

 

Now the culture is watching YouTube clips and making videos, and the message, at least from Adam and the rest of the click bait gurus, is that the theory is all that is needed to unlock the secrets of the greats. Not a chance theory alone is going to get you there. Need to be in a live club with real, live energy/urgency.

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On a whole different topic, I do not understand how the Rachs sued. Wasn't it life of the artist plus 25 years back then? Did this song somehow slip in just under the wire? Rach lived until the middle of the century right?

 

Googling.... So Rach 2 is from 1901, and "All By Myself" 1975. In 1901 US copyright was 28 years with the option of renewal for another 14. In 1909 that was extended to 28+28. Was that retroactive? Well, who cares, we're not getting to 1975 this way anyhow.

 

Googling some more... Oh: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_by_Myself#Background_and_composition "Rachmaninoff's music was in the public domain in the United States at that time and so Carmen thought no copyright existed on it, but it was still protected outside the U.S."

 

Any passive video consumption is just entertainment, but, still, I love this kind of video. Yeah I'd hope the result wasn't somebody running out to devour Harmonic Experience in hopes that'd teach them how to play or something. I think my advice to my younger self would be "listen really hard to the music you like and try to play it", not to go read a lot of music theory books (though I'm glad I got some basic theory). I do like that Nealy (and Beato) always come back to the sounds and the way they make them feel. The jargon isn't the answer, it's just a way to talk about the sounds.

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Is music theory just not worth it if you"re trying to make music for the real world?

 

Adam Neely says:

'The real value in music education doesn"t really come from the specific application of knowledge; rather the value comes from understanding how music came to be what it is on a technical level and so you can take that knowledge and apply it to music that you didn"t explicitly study. Put it this way, the more kinds of foods you have in your pantry, the more recipes you can make. So whether it"s 808 drum machines or saxophones, whatever sauce you put around the melody, is a matter of taste.'

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."    Facebook Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

 

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I'll just say that everything I learned from classical lessons and playing rock and pop didn't give me enough to understand how to play jazz. While I probably could have learned about jazz by hanging out with the right other musicians, the only way I knew how to learn how to play the music I heard and was loving was...learning about jazz and jazz theory.

 

I think that's how it goes for the vast majority of jazz pianists today, and it somewhat explains the ubiquitous nature of contemporary jazz piano.

 

There just isin't enough of an active jazz culture like there was up until the turn of the 20th century. Up until the 90s, there was still enough of a scene where players would cop licks and voicings by remembering what they heard at a club the night before, or hanging at a jam. That's how I learnt...if I heard a cat that blew my mind, it burned into my memory. I'd play what I heard, and then use whatever classical theory I understood to have it make sense to me, but the listening and copying was the primary engine. And of course my 'memory' and transcription was 50-60% accurate at best. The rest was filled in with whatever was me, and that's how styles evolve and diversify. Not the case today.

 

 

Now the culture is watching YouTube clips and making videos, and the message, at least from Adam and the rest of the click bait gurus, is that the theory is all that you need to unlock the secrets of the greats. Not a chance theory alone is going to get you there, nor is just hanging out on YouTube. Need to be in a live club with real, live energy/urgency.

 

I think the recordings of the masters are the most important source of learning. The clubs have been places to try it out.

I don"t think Adam is teaching jazz to anyone, I just searched Adams videos and didn"t find any How to play jazz, content; he"s analyzing a post jazz fusion style of music. I didn"t see anything about swing, blues or traditional improvisation in his lectures, he"s more into composition, explaining the fusion of various posts jazz styles, IMO. My hats off to him

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."    Facebook Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

 

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I'll just say that everything I learned from classical lessons and playing rock and pop didn't give me enough to understand how to play jazz. While I probably could have learned about jazz by hanging out with the right other musicians, the only way I knew how to learn how to play the music I heard and was loving was...learning about jazz and jazz theory.

 

I think that's how it goes for the vast majority of jazz pianists today, and it somewhat explains the ubiquitous nature of contemporary jazz piano.

 

There just isin't enough of an active jazz culture like there was up until the turn of the 20th century. Up until the 90s, there was still enough of a scene where players would cop licks and voicings by remembering what they heard at a club the night before, or hanging at a jam. That's how I learnt...if I heard a cat that blew my mind, it burned into my memory. I'd play what I heard, and then use whatever classical theory I understood to have it make sense to me, but the listening and copying was the primary engine. And of course my 'memory' and transcription was 50-60% accurate at best. The rest was filled in with whatever was me, and that's how styles evolve and diversify. Not the case today.

 

 

Now the culture is watching YouTube clips and making videos, and the message, at least from Adam and the rest of the click bait gurus, is that the theory is all that you need to unlock the secrets of the greats. Not a chance theory alone is going to get you there, nor is just hanging out on YouTube. Need to be in a live club with real, live energy/urgency.

 

I think the recordings of the masters are the most important source of learning. The clubs have been places to try it out.

I don"t think Adam is teaching jazz to anyone, I just searched Adams videos and didn"t find any How to play jazz, content; he"s analyzing a post jazz fusion style of music. I didn"t see anything about swing, blues or traditional improvisation in his lectures, he"s more into composition, explaining the fusion of various posts jazz styles, IMO. My hats off to him

 

You come from a much different perspective than the average person watching Adam's clips. You already have a vast knowledge base of theory. Adam could potentially overwhelm/confuse the heck out a lot of generally interested, but uneducated aspiring musicians.

 

Yes, agreed the recordings, but noticing a pianists hands on a live gig is huge. I'll never forget going to the vanguard my first time in NYC and hearing Geoff Keezer. Blew my mind way more than any recording or video ever could. And, it inspired me. Not seeing how any of Adam's videos could stoke the fires of creativity in anyone, regardless of genre. His demeanour just puts me off whereas Beato seems like a dude. Just my two cents.

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