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Any Prog characteristics in music theory?

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Polymorphia View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Polymorphia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 21 2018 at 08:30
Western tonal theory is just an interpretive framework so to speak, a way to divide up the physical stimulus into parameters. It's not the only kind of music theory, nor is it the only way we divide music into parameters. However, it is very similar to language in that if a person is speaking in a particular language, the best way to understand what they are saying is to interpret their speech in that language. I would say that the cultural influence of Western tonal theory is such that it can apply to a certain extent to most music that we know, or provide a frame of reference to other systems of theory, like that of gamelan, Hindustani classical music, or serialism, though it may not have to be to facilitate enjoyment. There is a lot of music to which Western tonal theory's only application is to point out its own insufficiency as a universal theoretical system. I would say this applies to a lot of avant-garde music (much of which is meant to be processed in a more basic, almost languageless timbral level), stochasticism, and Tibetan Buddhist ritual music. 

There are also subtle differences in thought in popular music "theory" and regular Western theory. For instance, a trait of jazz, which reappeared in R&B and Hip-hop, is the idea of playing "on top of" or "behind the beat" which refers to intentionally playing notes slightly earlier or later, respectively, than they are supposed to occur, sometimes to the point of creating polyrhythms in the latter genres. However, while the concept of polyrhythms and playing on top of or behind the beat have been combined to facilitate interesting grooves, in the context of R&B and Hip-hop, the specific polyrhythm isn't particularly important to understanding the music. What is important is how far behind the beat they are, how much they forsake the grid, rather than the specific interaction of parts. This involves Western theory, but isn't necessarily thought of in the same way as a classical musician. 

Captcha has been extra hard on me lately. :/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HackettFan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 21 2018 at 14:23
^It sounds less like a polyrhythm and more like a bit of swing to me. But similar stuff is bothering me. I don't know a lot about what music theory has to say about rhythm and meter, beyond the obvious naming of things (whole notes, half notes, eighth notes, dotted eighth notes...polyrhythms - three over two, five over four...). I have never come across any treatment of how rhythm, time signature and meter interacts with cadence (how it moves phrases to a resolution). If anyone has any knowledge or perspective on this, please enlighten me. Are there rhythms that are thought of as dissonant? A lot of what we get in RIO/Avant is Zappa's musique concrete, or Fred Frith and Henry Kaiser torturing their guitars with pliers in a way that can be more percussive than harmonic in nature.







Edited by HackettFan - May 21 2018 at 14:24
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Catcher10 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 21 2018 at 15:26
Originally posted by Tom Ozric Tom Ozric wrote:

maybe a branch from the intended discussion, ; a style that has baffled me forever - Free Jazz. What is the purpose ?? i love Soft Machine, Elton Dean, Henry Cow etc. when they break in to an Avante piece of music, it throws me 6 feet the opposite direction of my mindset. i love what these gifted musicians do, but i just don’t get the semmingly ‘randomness’ of it all. a good example is an Elton Dean Quintet album in have - Boundaries. it’s a difficult listen to me (as open as my ears/mind can be) but i persist, enjoy, and even ‘wow’ at this form of music and structure. what am i missing ??

Until I went digging into the origins of Jazz, I could not appreciate it very well. To me it is one of the most interesting methods/genres of creating music. It has roots in everything is what it seems.

There is a great PBS documentary, I think by Ken Burns, called Roots of Jazz. I think it was shown over several episodes. It may not be the ultimate in jazz exploration, but it dives into some neat stuff...Especially the origins in the US which was New Orleans and spreading from there.....

I now know what to look for in record bins on old jazz.....


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KoaEarthling Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2018 at 11:28
What a cool topic. This is my first post here. Granted I only have an associates degree in music theory so perhaps I can't give a detailed answer to the OP. As a previous poster stated there is nothing new under the sun. Beethoven explored syncopation but that didn't make his music ragtime. But syncopation is a defining characteristic of ragtime. So I can only answer what I think is the spirit of the question. I would say that the overall contribution of Prog is the further exploration of musical ideas in rock context. What I mean by that is that a standard rock song presents a melody maybe a counter melody a change and maybe even a reintroduction of those phrases with some kind of dynamic modification. That is pretty much as far as it is explored. Prog however will often take the time to use techniques usually found in other more intellectual (sometimes called "serious music") such as key changes, modified melodies, different chord patterns behind a given melody, forays into "free passages" etal. It also seems to be pretty exclusive to prog to take the time to explore a topical idea i.e. Concept albums. Obviously a classical oratorio could fit the description of a concept album but it isn't in a rock context.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Catcher10 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2018 at 11:31
Originally posted by KoaEarthling KoaEarthling wrote:

What a cool topic. This is my first post here. Granted I only have an associates degree in music theory so perhaps I can't give a detailed answer to the OP. As a previous poster stated there is nothing new under the sun. Beethoven explored syncopation but that didn't make his music ragtime. But syncopation is a defining characteristic of ragtime. So I can only answer what I think is the spirit of the question. I would say that the overall contribution of Prog is the further exploration of musical ideas in rock context. What I mean by that is that a standard rock song presents a melody maybe a counter melody a change and maybe even a reintroduction of those phrases with some kind of dynamic modification. That is pretty much as far as it is explored. Prog however will often take the time to use techniques usually found in other more intellectual (sometimes called "serious music") such as key changes, modified melodies, different chord patterns behind a given melody, forays into "free passages" etal. It also seems to be pretty exclusive to prog to take the time to explore a topical idea i.e. Concept albums. Obviously a classical oratorio could fit the description of a concept album but it isn't in a rock context.

Great 1st post!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ForestFriend Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2018 at 20:37
In classical music theory, you have things like German, Italian and French augmented 6s... Well I figured Canada should have a chord too, so I have designated F#7add11 as the "Canadian 7th" - for the uninitiated, that's the guitar chord that Alex Lifeson from Rush uses in several songs like Xanadu, Hempispheres, Far Cry and probably a few more.


Edited by ForestFriend - May 22 2018 at 20:42
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HackettFan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 22 2018 at 22:47
Originally posted by KoaEarthling KoaEarthling wrote:

What a cool topic. This is my first post here. Granted I only have an associates degree in music theory so perhaps I can't give a detailed answer to the OP. As a previous poster stated there is nothing new under the sun. Beethoven explored syncopation but that didn't make his music ragtime. But syncopation is a defining characteristic of ragtime. So I can only answer what I think is the spirit of the question. I would say that the overall contribution of Prog is the further exploration of musical ideas in rock context. What I mean by that is that a standard rock song presents a melody maybe a counter melody a change and maybe even a reintroduction of those phrases with some kind of dynamic modification. That is pretty much as far as it is explored. Prog however will often take the time to use techniques usually found in other more intellectual (sometimes called "serious music") such as key changes, modified melodies, different chord patterns behind a given melody, forays into "free passages" etal. It also seems to be pretty exclusive to prog to take the time to explore a topical idea i.e. Concept albums. Obviously a classical oratorio could fit the description of a concept album but it isn't in a rock context.
Welcome my friend and stay with us. I appreciate your comments here. What you are describing quite eloquently, though, is fusion. Fusion by itself, however, doesn’t add anything conceptual to music theory. The question is up in the air what or if it went anywhere beyond the musical styles Classical, Jazz and Rock that were its main input. Don’t get me wrong. I think Prog is very experimental, just not from the perspective from which this thread is examining it, as things seem so far. You make the point about syncopation being present but trivial in Bach or other Classical, yet integral to Ragtime. I think similarly that odd time signatures, changes in time signature, and changes in key and scale are integral to Symph Prog, far more so than Rock or Jazz, but are they any less integral to Classical music?


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Polymorphia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 23 2018 at 09:00
On rhythm, I think a lot of composers have ideas about rhythmic tension, but, as far as I know, I don't think there's any formalized theory. Xenakis might possibly have something to say about dimiunition of points on the time access or something.

As far as "odd" time signatures go: they aren't really integral to the common practice period, but were oft-used by modern composers such as Stravinsky, Bartok, Messiaen, Reich, among others. Not really integral I would say. Hindustani classical music has what Western theory would call odd time signatures, but the musicians think of it in terms of smaller subdivisions on a meterless grid. Gamelan music similarly. Odd meters can sometimes be found in eastern European folk music, which is where I think Bartok drew his inspiration from. 

The idea of a time signature in general seems to be an invention of western music. It doesn't seem like it has occurred in other cultures apart form the influence of western European culture. Other cultures with systems of theory tend to think differently about rhythm. I could be wrong about that, though.


Edited by Polymorphia - May 23 2018 at 09:02
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