Here ya go, Rockhoven and BSG

• Mar 20, 2020 - 23:16

What better place to compare notes (pun intended) on what is and is not written down, than on a notation software site.

There are solo concertos that come down to us from Baroque time that are little more than a melody line over figured bass. Players knew what to do with it much like contemporary musicians know what to do with a lead sheet.

Historically it's not accurate to say that rock or pop music is the classical music of today. There has always been music for the general population that was much more popular than "classical" music. Classical music has always been meant for a particular (small) part of the population. In other words, classical music has never been popular, as in liked by a large segment of any population.

It is my understanding that sitar has traditionally been taught by rote.


I agree with most of this, although I'm not really competent to speak about how classical Hindustani music is taught, but I do know that there are rhythmic patterns (tal) and modes/forms (raga) that apply to all such music. In answer to Rockhoven, if rock and pop are the classical music of the 20th century, who are Britten, Stravinsky, Vaughan Williams, Vierne, Dupré, etc? Songs from the Baroque (e.g., the Bach Schemelli songs) with figured bass are quite exact as to what is to be played, but on the other hand, maybe comparable to a lead sheet (but the literal specification of the bass in the former but not the latter makes a great deal of difference).

I don't know if it's a good idea to have theory discussions here. It could be a distraction from the software questions. The three of us could easily overwhelm this forum with theoretical conjectures. I don't think that's what people come here for. They come here for info to help quickly solve a technical problem.

In reply to by Rockhoven

Except that this particular forum is "General Discussion".
The question that lead here was about music theory. Seems to me that notation software is all about music theory.
No ruckus.
But some interesting statements where made about notation and popular music. And music theory.
True, this is not a feature request, or a support or bug problem. It's not about fonts or plugins. We could move it to "Made with MuseScore". There's all kinds of stuff there that doesn't fit. Although I am interested in posting some mp3's there.

In reply to by Rockhoven

If you do your discussion in that specific post, which is only one amongst thousands, I don't see how it could be considered to pollute the forum at all.
On the contrary it would show it as a vivid popular classical community ;-).
Now, it could be worth to ask to admins of to explicitly create a new category called "general MUSIC discussion" as opposed to "general MuseScore discussion" ?
@admins: what do you think?

In reply to by frfancha

The notation software (or notation in general) is most definitely not about "Music theory" AFAICT. If anything about music other than how to sing or move your fingers on a piano, then (as in my elementary school days), "Every Good Boy Does Fine" (the lines of the treble clef) is "Music theory", well, that gives no credit to those of us who study and practice analysis and composition, harmony, counterpoint, and style. The poster in that thread had no real idea what "music theory is", and someone answered him fairly correctly, "it's about how to write music" (including already-written music).

What about performance practice, e.g., how to interpret ornaments, how to control volume and tone, articulation, etc. (MuseScore certainly deals with that). Is that "music theory"? if "Music" to you usually means the Mac app formerly named iTunes (!) or fanship of the most popular singers or songs (or even classical groups), then performance practice, along with notation, are "music theory". If you are a musician, even amateur, they are not.

I suspect there is not a single course at a conservatory or music department with "music theory" in its title, but at "adult education centers", or even elementary schools, there might be, and likely a rubric very broad. Maybe because I'm inside it I can't see the forest for the trees....

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

If music theory deals with how music has been created, then I feel that certain aspects of performance practice fall under under its auspices. What note a trill starts on can be different in different time periods.

I agree that there is no course called "music theory" in college. That's because every course deals with certain aspects if it. Counterpoint, solfege, sight-singing, instrument training, all notation based. That notation stems from a long tradition of theory. Acceptable voice leading. Proper chord progressions, and much more.

Do we need notation? Maybe not. But our entire system relies on it. Yet a page of notation in and of itself is not music. It is merely scratches on paper, or black and white pixels. It is the musician that brings it to life. It has always been so.

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

As part of class given to all students, when I was in junior high school I (and all) received a for-children book called "Beginning Music Theory" that basically covered reading treble and bass clefs and simple note values. At the other end of scale, are studies of the architectures of symphonies, let alone large sacred works, part of "Music Theory" or the timespace-localities and their styles and needs of their composers? Is "A 'Hosanna' is loud and triumphant, while an 'Agnus Dei' is soft and meditative (usually)" part of "Music Theory" any more or less Novello's variant of the shape of the bass clef?

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

Actually, every school I have ever attended or taught at has a series of courses - usually a two-year sequence - with the phrase "Music Theory" prominent in the course title. The subject matter is normally "common practice period harmony and form", and the method of study, analysis of existing common practice period notated music. One of the schools devoted one semester of the sequence to species counterpoint, the others taught counterpoint as a separate course if at all. Sometimes one semester of the sequence cover post-tonal techniques (e.g., twelve-tone serialism). All of these theory courses included short composition exercises, but composition was always taught separately as well. Same with orchestration. Some of the theory courses included ear training within the course, some had it as a separate course (typically with the phrase "aural skills" in the title).

Words are just that - words - but if I were to make an arbitrary distinction regarding what is "music theory" and what is not, I would say, music theory is the study of the sound of music - why particular combinations of pitches, rhythms, and timbres have the effect they do. Anything having to do with how we happen to represent pitch, rhythm, or anything else on a piece of paper (or computer screen) is not music theory. That is, the theory is the same whether the music is ever notated or not. It's the same whether the music is notated in modern standard Western music notation, in tablature, in Jianpu, in medieval neumes, in Braille, in ABC, as Lilypond source code, or in any of the various alternative systems people have been inventing and promoting in small pockets of academic interest for the past century or so.

On the other hand, formal study of theory typically involves use of standard Western music notation, so a full understanding of that system is generally a prerequisite. It doesn't necessarily have to be though, it's entirely possible to learn pretty much anything work learning about music theory entirely "by ear" - or through any of those alternate music notation systems. And of course, conversely, it is entirely possible to be quite good at reading music without knowing "much" about theory. The organization of rhythm by meter is a form of theory you do pretty much need to know in order to read music, and you also need to know something about the major/minor key system.

Anyhow, right now "general discussion" seems fine for the occasional thread on music theory. I could totally see a separate forum being created for the purpose though.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Sure, performance practices can be learned without notation. What to perform can be a different. Certainly there are those who might be able to play a Chopin Etude after hearing it a few times. Fortunately we have printed music from the Renaissance. Even though notation and theory is different in those two time periods.

It seems to me that a question about writing using music theory is not totally unfounded. though awkwardly worded.

In reply to by bobjp

What does "writing without music theory" mean? Even songs made up naïvely by people with no musical training or ability to read or write music (at least before digital editors) show traces of rhythms, scales, chords, and other patterns prevalent in the music in their environment. To me, this is, "Can I use grammar to speak English (or a different, foreign language)"? You do whether you know it or not.

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

But that's one of the questions we are considering. You and I are cognisant of some hind-sight collection of observations about how music has been put together. But can we really put more meaning into those observations? Would our music be much different if the observations were not as solidified as they are? I've heard some really good music written by folks with no musical training. It might not be complicated or particularly deep by some standards. But I don't believe music has to be complicated to be good.

In reply to by Rockhoven

I'm not smart enough to answer how anyone determines that art is "good", and I have met seemingly intelligent people (one at least) who fail to see the merit of "classical" music. When I first met Bach as a youngster (fairly serious movements) I would have been incapable of explaining why they appealed to me so. But there are (SOME) nonclassical genres that repel me, but sell millions of (what are "records" called these days, "downloads"?). De gustibus non est disputandum, and i surely seek out the company of communication of other Bach-lovers. And if I read the literate opinion of Schweitzer, Spitta, Wolff, and so forth praising this art in objective and subjective terms and align myself with and confirm myself in them, I guess they;re just preaching to the choir. But you seem to have a non-empty set of music which is "good, without being complex". What, pray tell, are these presumably objective criteria? I think Jimi Hendrix's work is earth-shatteringly "good" (and technically complex), but I know deeply intelligent people who cannot hear it at all.

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

And yet the rules of 16th and 17th century counterpoint are such that, by following them, it is possible to write perfectly acceptable music without ever hearing what you are writing. I tend to be less interested in intellectual content. I'm in it for the emotion of it. I know that could be considered cheap thrills. Years ago some of us got together to learn to sing the G minor fugue. What a great way to appreciate the intricacies of how the lines fit together. Now I messing around with the Toccata on distortion guitar. It works when you consider all the overtones of various combinations of stops in a full organ.
I use notation software for composition. I seldom do any arranging.

In reply to by bobjp

Hey. I'm an avid consumer of all music. I can appreciate the intricacies of an African rhythm, a rhythm Bach could never even hope to have touched. Obviously, there were problems with Bach when he first went to Leipzig. We know that the church didn't want him. I don't know if you can appreciate this but technically anyone experimenting with well temperament or equal temperament, or whatever they were doing at that time would have sounded out of tune. So, he comes into the church and "untunes" the organ? That's not going to make you very popular. He was probably considered to be the Schoenberg of the day. And Schoenberg was not well received either. Upon Bach's death, his music immediately fell into obscurity and remained there for a century. That didn't even happen to Ives! You might say "Fools! What do the common people know?" They knew that Bach sucked. You know that he is great. Who is right?

Neither listeners have an objective standard. I say that Bach is right. Not because he is good but because he is most prolific. That is what sets the standard.

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

There are plenty of intelligent people who don't see the merit of classical music. I fail to see how intelligence has anything to do with it. I like classical music, but I find it difficult to consider a painting of a soup can to be art. So what.
How prolific a composer is doesn't really have much to do with it. Telemann was extremely prolific, but not all his work was that good.
BTW, I have studied African drumming. It is full of intricate rhythms and melodies.

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

I have to think that the spectacular supernovae of intelligence that went into The Brothers Karamazov, Moby-Dick, or the Matthäuspassion have something to do with the enduring veneration of these masterpieces (although quite deep in Bach, I find myself barely intelligent enough to plow through Melville or Dostoevsky). And it's not just a blurb on the jacket author bio, it's in every note, phrase, sentence, and page. It seems naive to discount a necessity for intelligence on the receiving end, or the role of intelligence in a predilection to art begotten of its abundance.

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

What seems "naive" is the notion that one simply can't enjoy Melville unless one has a certain level of intelligence. Something either appeals to you or it doesn't. When I arranged BWV 578 for three voices to sing, I enjoyed delving into the parts. But I already liked the music.
As for the soup can? It's had for ME to view it as art. Others can see it as they see fit. Like I said, something either appeals to you, or it doesn't. I know the temptation is to bow to pear pressure. Many people see the soup can as a masterpiece. Therefore, I must agree or be seen as a lesser intellect.

In reply to by bobjp

You can't understand the very words he uses without significant literacy, including the ability to deduce meanings from roots. Kind of hard to make a four-voiced fugue work for three, but I woudn't rule it out.

I first heard the chorus-entrance from Kommt, ihr Töchter (the opening Chorus of the St. Matthew) as a kid, on a "life of Bach" record, talking (out of its hat) about how he wept and trembled when he wrote music like this. How I met the whole Passion is a much longer story, but it has taken me decades that haven't finished yet to appreciate the totality of the theological and technical-music armamentarium which Bach brought to bear on this incomparable masterpiece (I didn't realize at the outset that that choral entrance may be the most impressive in all music). But to compare my appreciation of it at first meeting with that after a lifetime of not just learning and study, but attendance at performances and recordings, is to compare a mountain to a molehill. "Enjoy" is not a "yes/no" proposition, but a scale and a field in countless dimensions.

In reply to by Rockhoven

@Rockhoven #comment-986282

Bach made great innovations in the art of music at that time.
// Both on the harmonic structure, on the melodic structure, on the contrapuntal structure, and on the polyphonic melodic structure (fugues, inventions, etc.). Also on solo and accompaniment use of instruments. Include modulations, four part harmonies, choral works (each part has its own melody) and more .
But in order to understand this, some music knowledge is required.
Classical music is not something to comment on without learning how it works.

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

I'm going to play the devil's advocate here. When I became a classical music aficionado as a child, I had no (intellectual) idea how it worked. When I heard Bach's Passacaglia on the radio at age 12, I didn't even know how to spell or pronounce that word, let alone what it meant, but I was blown off my feet, and once I recovered my feet, I used them to become an organist. There is a facet of art (I am really arguing against myself here) whereby mystic and recondite means produce something accessible without them. But to appreciate Bach's contributions to the art, yeah, you have to know a lot. But "contributions to the art" and "contributions to repertoire" are not quite the same, and if the latter are actually the direct result of the former, the magic has been achieved.

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

"But to appreciate Bach's contributions to the art, yeah, you have to know a lot. "

I couldn't disagree more. This is the kind of attitude that contributes to some people thinking that classical music is for snobs.
And I feel that there is a difference between appreciating something and liking it. I can appreciate a Chopin etude because I have analyzed it almost note for note. That didn't help me like it any better.
I also feel there is a difference between how a musician appreciates (or even likes) music, and how a non musician appreciates music. Does one appreciate music more than the other? Does it really make any difference? You either like something or you don't.
And to add another layer, here's something else to consider. I bought some wood, cut it up, and made the guitar that I play. Does that mean I appreciate guitar music more than other players? I don't think so. But it does add to my enjoyment of playing. Though I'm still the fumble-fingered player I always was.

In reply to by bobjp

You contradict yourself. And I feel that there is a difference between appreciating something and liking it. I agree totally. I have found that understanding (specific work of) music DOES make me "like it better". What about lyrics/texts in a foreign language? Or the operatic/dramatic (or religious) notions the composer created the work to convey? Is it important to know what La donna è mobile means beyond a spaghetti commercial? Or what sleepers are supposed to be awakened in Sleepers, wake? Do you know have to know anything about the politics of the 60's to understand Dylan's Masters of War? Do you have to "know English" to like th Beatles? Leaving aside I Am the Walrus, is it necessary to understand English to appreciate McCartney's Yesterday or Hey Jude? Is it necessary to appreciate it to like it? Would you like it more if you knew what he was talking about?

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

I can study whatever I need about a piece of music. I can understand the language, the motivation, and various influences. I can appreciate the complexities and art of the piece. But that doesn't mean I will like it. No contradiction for me. When I hear a new piece, I decide fairly quickly if I like it or not. That probably doesn't seem right to you. I should listen to and study something new before making up my mind. But I don't want to listen to music that doesn't grab me. Oh, well. I seldom have music on in the background, but prefer to give it my attention.

In reply to by bobjp

I think we agree more than we disagree on the statements here. Studying music I already like makes me like it more. Although if I read interesting stuff about a classic work that I know little about, and want to know more, I might then try to hear it. This was the case with much of Wagner for me (although I listen to little of him now).

In reply to by bobjp

There might be a novel or essay or poem in Spanish that I have context for liking or disliking simply because I don't know the language. So I would need to study it in order to gain any appreciation of it. Study is no guarantee I will like it, but it's kind of a necessary first step. Music is not so different. Some music is in our native tongue, we can respond to it positively or negatively right away. Other music might be, figuratively speaking, in another language, and we will have little hope of appreciating it without study. They say music is a universal language, but that analogy only goes so far.

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

No, no, you're supposed to use oboe d'amore, not oboe di guerra!

I listed to the passacaglia, but not yet the fugue. I was very moved by it. Although I first met BWV 582 in Eugene Ormandy's orchestration, I grew up with E. Power Biggs' 1961 rendition -- they (Sam Goody's record store) didn't have Ormandy in stock that day, and I had to "settle for that" and you know the rest of the story.

The work is a supreme challenge for any organist in terms of registration; at very least, deciding if your organ has sufficient resources of divisions and colors and manipulability to play it at all.. Although the astounding dramaturgy (as with the Chaconne) is latent in the score, it is to the interpreter to stage it. And although the manual-and-pedal structure of the organ matches this work, perhaps its greatest to date, perfectly, "expanding" the drama in other tonal resources (viz., ensembles) seems indisputable, and is a challenge to the orchestrator. To me, the dramaturgy of the 21 variations is the "proof text" that music can create a full-length drama without an underlying text or programme (as with the Chaconne, perhaps there even more so). Although every organist after Bach has imitated this, and there were some pretty expansive violin chaconnes (e.g; Biber) etc before Bach and organ ones ( BuxWV 161 is a masterpiece, but an intimate one, .. Louis Couperin gm), the novelty and breadth of cinematic scope of this Musikdrama seems almost incomparable. This is what "genius" means.


In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

There is a story about a Baroque trumpet player who was not a guild member. One day while he was practicing, some guild members broke into his house and used the instrument he was practicing on as a blunt instrument to do him in. They were not tried because the victim was not a member of the guild.

In reply to by bobjp

I guess they were jealous because this musician practiced a lot and started to be a much better performer than them.
And instead of practicing a lot and trying to become a better artist, they inflicted brutal violence on him.

Nowadays, we are witnessing a similar violence in social media: This happens in the form of mocking, teasing and humiliating those who are successful.
Fortunately, many people also compliment and appreciate success.

I have begun rereading this thread. Care to join me? Let's take a second look at what we have said here. Sometimes a period of rest can refresh and renew our thoughts.

The first issue that we pursued was how or where to have these kinds of theoretical discussions. Bobjp suggested that we post in the Made with Musescore forum. frfancha suggested a whole new forum called General Music Discussion, to distinguish it from the General Discussion forum.Lately I have been thinking of a Theory & Practice forum. Rather than a space that is How-To oriented, we could let our creative thinking roam through the history of music. I think of the theory of music as equivalent to the history of music. It all comes from history. The difference is that the history is a narrative and theories take the narrative and put it into an expository format.

In reply to by mike320

Are either of you saying, "a place to ask music questions", like "what is the difference between a praller and a mordent?" of people who might know, or think they know and supply misinformation and start a debate? Or "can anyone recommend a good recording of ----'s ----?" (do people still ask that any more?).

I think we need a clear definition of what the charter of this site is, and what is out of bounds.

In reply to by [DELETED] 1831606

As I recall I started this thread because, in some other discussion, Rockhoven made an off the cuff statement that the Beatles were the new classical music. That became a rabbit hole. So I pulled it out of there.

What I see more, rather than theory questions, are orchestration question. Or how can I make MS do "this".

In reply to by bobjp

"How can I make MS do this?" is exactly what this place is supposed to be about, as far as I know. Questions of music theory and practice, including orchestration I don't think belong here. As well, "Who was the greater composer, ----- or -----?" or "Are x y z 'classical' or ----?" or even "Where can i learn more about ----?" I don't want to such see general discussion topics listed among the new posts when I list the forum activity here. Those are all great and important questions, but people's time and attention is limited here.

The objective here is to reread what we have posted.

We began by talking about where "these" types of discussions should be had in this site. I don't think we could say much at that time because we did not know what "these" discussions are to be called. I can say what they are not - they are not "How to" conversations. And that's why they can be mildly disruptive. The best we can do is confine ourselves to brief and limited spurts. The "how to" discussion is short, (in time and posts) and it's the matter of fact problem solving of one inexperienced person being responded to by a relatively experienced authority (whether an experienced user or an expert developer.)

So, that is what this discussion is not. What's a positive description?

The discussion then turned to music appreciation or aesthetics with the question "How do you know that Bach is good?" The discussion then made a sudden turn, ending with a post that veered to the topic of online bullying. What does any of this have to do with the development of Musescore? A specialist is going to say "Nothing!" A generalist is going to say "Everything!"

In reply to by Rockhoven

With this answer, you have answered my questions. This is all a waste of time. There are millions of political, social, historical, religious, and musical questions in the world, including those of taste, that can be, and in social media, are, disputed endlessly daily. There are Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, etc., none of which I use, and other than US administration use of them as a press office, and the spreading of faked videos and propaganda, they are of questionable value (in my and many other people's eyes). To say that we need a "generalist" to ask us "Does man have free will?" "Do humans need to be saved?", "are men emotionally different from women", "can injecting bleach cure COVID",, or even "Why do some people think Bach good?", or your favorite, "Does Scott Joplin deserve a place next to Beethoven", or endorse political candidates or policies is nonsense. That we should invite someone into our midst to say "You shouldn't make notation software for standard notation, but my personal system instead (or maybe additionally)" is chaos. This is not Speaker's Corner. Anybody can invade any group, in a robe (and beard, if male), and scream "All you idiots are stiff-necked blind Pharisees! i am the new way! Make way! Follow me or clear out now!".

You've answered my questions. MuseScore does not need a "generalist" sub-forum. This discussion, like the other one, is a wholly inappropriate waste of time HERE, especially for people other than you and that vendor who has seemingly conscripted you as his marketeer, and i'm not feeding it or wasting others' time any more. Please use well-known social media sites for open-ended free-wheeling discussions and soapbox rants about anything and everything, including product promotions. End of my participation in this thread. Bye!

Bobjp - On Mar 20, 2020(about 16 months ago) you wrote: "Historically it's not accurate to say that rock or pop music is the classical music of today. There has always been music for the general population that was much more popular than "classical" music. Classical music has always been meant for a particular (small) part of the population. In other words, classical music has never been popular, as in liked by a large segment of any population."

I think this is a good proposition for starters, but we should test it to see how it works. I believe it needs to be tweaked. Did you get this proposition from an example in the historical record? Were you thinking of a certain period, a composer or composers, a certain general population, and a certain particular part of the population? And what would be their corresponding music(s)?

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