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StupendousMan
08-27-2007, 07:28 PM
Hi,

I'm posting this here because everywhere else seems to be guitarists.
I've done my grade 5 theory a couple of years back but i haven't really progressed any further. I was wondering if anyone could suggest any books etc. that would increase my theory knowledge in aid of composing piano music. I've looked for books but they all seem quite heavy reading.

Thanks

Peace out

LaughingSkull
08-29-2007, 10:36 AM
And you thought guitarist won't find you here?
(sorry, couln't resist that).
Anyway, I would say that books about music theory does not focus on instrument. They might be heavy reading, but that's it ... just start.

StupendousMan
08-29-2007, 04:49 PM
Haha. It seems like i'm the only non-guitarist here.

I was just wondering if there was anything that focused more on theory in aid of composing. Something a bit more concise.

I don't know. Maybe i'm just hoping in vain.

Spino
09-07-2007, 09:50 PM
With respect man, if you've got as far as Grade 5 you've got a fair way to go yet before you have the tools for composition. I've got a brother who's a accomplished drummer and he's just done his Grade 4 Piano and he says he's in no way ready for it. But then who's to stop you and I'm sure there are plenty of books available on this topic ,like the Jamey Abersold series or Berklee Press so hack away and G'luck .

reventlov
09-08-2007, 10:11 AM
First get yourself up to Grade 8 theory. Then study four part harmony, counterpoint, form and instrumentation; analyse thoroughly some compositions by composers you admire; listen analytically to a wide range of different kinds of music.

That will give you the tools you need, at which point it's all down to whether or not you have the natural talents for it.

You specifically mentioned that you wanted to compose piano music - it's worth noticing that most great composers of piano music were also great pianists, so you should also be working hard on your keyboard technique - the more 'in depth' your knowledge of the piano the better. I'ts also worth noticing that such composers rarely confined themselves to writing only for the piano - think of Mozart, Schumann, Chopin, Debussy, Britten and right up to present day pianist/composers like Chick Corea - all great pianists as well as composers, and all men who have written for other instruments.

When you say that the books on this kind of thing are 'heavy reading', you're unfortunately correct, this stuff isn't easy to master, you just have to get your head down and get on with it, there's no easy way.

There are lots of books to choose from - some of the standard books worth checking out are those by Walter Piston and by William Lovelock. Piston's books are huge and as comprehensive as can be imagined - most of what you need to know appears somewhere in his work if you have the patience to work through it all methodically. Lovelock's books are fairly concise considering the complexity of the subject, but they are very dry and a little 'rule-bound' - they're worth studying though, especially his three books on harmony (entitled 1st, 2nd and 3rd Year Harmony respectively) and his book 'Form in Brief', which is a great little introduction to form. It's also worth checking out books by Paul Steinitz, whose approach to teaching composition involves lots of quoting of examples from the work of established composers, and is consequently less dry.

Good luck.

StupendousMan
09-08-2007, 06:48 PM
Thanks a lot. That's all really useful. I know i'm still early on. I just would like to get a head start.

dragonsofeden
10-06-2007, 06:44 PM
music theory grades? strange ive never heard of them, i did a search on google, and it seems like there are exams you can take? can anyone point me towards more information on the subject?

StupendousMan
10-06-2007, 06:51 PM
As far as i'm aware they go up to grade 6. You have to pass Grade 5 theory to be able to do anything after grade 5 practical on an instrument. They're just like practical exams in that they do them every term and you have to be entered for it but its just like a big exam sat in a hall.

reventlov
10-06-2007, 08:18 PM
The main exam board which offers theory exams is the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Theory grades go from 1 to 8. Their syllabus can be seen on http://www.abrsm.org/resources/theorySyllabusComplete08.pdf

The board is based in London and examines people in many countries, they have an excellent reputation whose grades are recognised by many official education bodies in various parts of the world.

If you get up to grade 8 standard, you're ready to begin the serious study of composition.

dragonsofeden
10-08-2007, 02:03 AM
cool, i am going to get myself up to grade 8. can anyone give me an example of the examination process? how does it work? do you have to fly to london to take the tests? do you have to take them sequentially or can you just take number 8 and be done with it?

reventlov
10-08-2007, 03:58 PM
You can sit them in many places over the UK - check the ABRSM site for your local information, it's not necessary to go to London. You don't have to take them sequentially, you can go straight in at grade 8 when you feel you're ready for it. The exams are held three times a year - all the info you need really is on their site which is at http://www.abrsm.org

faintron
10-18-2007, 04:47 PM
I haven't heard of the grades yet either. It's interesting, but what is the point of getting an exam or up to a specific "grade" level? Does this have any benefit to those of us who compose pop music? In other words, respectfully, why would a musician mess with any of this?

priji
11-21-2007, 11:10 AM
Kent Holliday studied composition with Paul Fetler and Dominick Argento at the University of Minnesota, where he received his Ph.D. in music theory-composition in 1968. He subsequently did postgraduate work in Paris, France, and at Dartmouth College and the University of New Hampshire. In 1969 he worked with Pietro Grossi on computer music in the Studio di Fonologia S2FM in Florence, Italy, and in 1988 studied composition on research-leave with Witold Szalonek of the Hochschule der Kunst in Berlin, Germany. His sonata for tuba can be heard here. Dr. Holliday was the winner of the Virginia Music Teachers Association Composition Competition in 1983, 1996, and 1999. His Four Evocations won first place in the New Music Delaware Composition Competition in 1996. He taught music composition, theory, history, piano, and selected courses in the humanities at Virginia Tech since 1974. His book, Reproducing Pianos Past and Present, was published by Mellen Press in1989.

StupendousMan
11-21-2007, 05:47 PM
I haven't heard of the grades yet either. It's interesting, but what is the point of getting an exam or up to a specific "grade" level? Does this have any benefit to those of us who compose pop music? In other words, respectfully, why would a musician mess with any of this?

In respect to instuments, it's necessary to pass grade 5 theory in order to progress above grade 5 practical.
From a composers point of view it is really useful in understanding how music works. I don't know what else to say really.

graypianoflying
11-22-2007, 03:01 AM
I haven't heard of the grades yet either. It's interesting, but what is the point of getting an exam or up to a specific "grade" level? Does this have any benefit to those of us who compose pop music? In other words, respectfully, why would a musician mess with any of this?

I don't know about these grades specifically, but in Canada we have the Royal Conservatory of Music, which I imagine is similar. What I think is good about the exams is that they give you something to work towards, and therefore help you make sure you're progressing. Also, they help you choose what to work on so you work on pieces that are at your level or a little above it, and not way above it.

Additionally, when you apply to university it gives you a benchmark, so you can pretty much tell what your chances are of getting in. Most university music programs in Canada require grade 8 practical for their general music programs (theory, composition, history, musicology, music education, etc.) and grade 10 for the performance programs. So, you know that if you've only got, say, grade 6 you don't have a chance, whereas if you've got grade 9 you're pretty much assured of getting in.

LMay
12-02-2007, 04:27 PM
Hello

This may be a bit late in coming, but I just joined.

I am a piano teacher and would love to help you. You can get free theory lessons on my site--plus you can request a lesson on any topic and it will be put on the site.

In addition, if you want to email me from the site I will correspond with you and try to answer any questions that you might have.

Good luck with your studies!


Lynne
http://www.may-studio-music-lessons.com

leegordo
12-04-2007, 01:25 PM
Hi all bodies, I have studied music for over 70 yrs. and never passed an exam , or even entered one!...Here goes , maybe a wee bit sarcy' but sincere! What good will studying composition up to GRADE100 do for somebody who really wants to compose music for pleasure and possibly -also for gain?...AND-......Uselessly studying all the various aspects of composition, and this includes studying the works of the greats,? Especially if the student does not possess a good 'ear' for music? In my long experience with teaching private pupils about Harmony, I can say that not one pupil who had no'ear' ever learned to improve his/her 'ear' through intensive studying and/or practice. Oh I realise that that statement will not sit well with the pundits,but, I have noticed that in almost 100% of the people I have had dealings with, most made progress in all the aspects of theory in harmony, except in 'ear' training bit

StupendousMan
12-04-2007, 05:45 PM
I agree that it is hard if you don't have a good 'ear', but are you saying that it is pointless studying and doing the grade exams. Because i feel that is not true at all. Obviously you need to understand the theory behind it and the exams are an excellent way showing how well you are doing.

Joe Pass Jr
12-06-2007, 03:44 AM
Pundit? not sure what that means, but i guess that i am one.

I disagree with the statement that people who have a bad ear for music cant learn. I have met people who seemed utterly tone deaf, but within about 6 months of training they could distinguish just about any interval as well as basic major,minor,dim, aug chords by ear.

I think that if none of your students ever progressed with aural skills then it is some flaw in your teaching methods. Leegordo.

Joe Pass Jr
12-06-2007, 03:47 AM
Pundit? not sure what that means, but i guess that i am one.

I disagree with the statement that people who have a bad ear for music cant learn. I have met people who seemed utterly tone deaf, but within about 6 months of training they could distinguish just about any interval as well as basic major,minor,dim, aug chords by ear.

I think that if none of your students ever progressed with aural skills then it is some flaw in your teaching methods. Leegordo.

Also, regarding your comment on studying composition if you don't have a good ear. I think these things go hand in hand. If you have a bad ear, you NEED to study composition more than those with more 'natural' musical understanding. These undertakings are critical for any musician to really understand stylistic approaches in different forms of music.

leegordo
12-09-2007, 03:10 PM
Hi, Joe FAmous name? Please mind what I say! I stated that after learning sufficiently about chords, the pupils were tested, virtually all my pupils approached ME to learn how to 'ad-lib' because I am lucky enough to be able to extemporize freely at any time. I did not try to teach any of them any kind of 'Ear' training. After I considered that -Individually- they were familiar enough to play r/hand basic chords on piano only, the results .were classified according to ability. Those who could not recognise Chord chqnges at the time I met them before they recieved any basic tuition about chords, were hardly any better when tested later Nearly all of these people were able to play from music copy, they were also almost 100% W/wind or Brass instumentalists They did not ask to play the piano......I chose to use the piano 'Cos it was MY instrument and incidentally the most superior instument of them all. the pupils were tested before and after they recieved some basic chord stuff in order that their 'ears' were not corrupted by the time they were tested! whilst not admitting using faulty training methods.WHAT TRAINING?.....I do state that those people who had no 'ear to start with were no better after testing.Try It

leegordo
12-09-2007, 03:48 PM
sorry Joe but I forgot to add a bit about your email.AFTER 6 MONTHS ? Yea, that would have been long enough to give them some intensive Ear training. Please remember that my methods were designed to discover as soon as possible if they had the ability to 'Ad-Lib' , so that they could decide whether it was worth their while to carry on. For those guys I did not charge for my time as it was a labour of love to me!
one ex. One of these guys who had a tin'ear was desperate to compose an old fashioned Waltz for his beloved daughter's wedding. he came to me with the melody
roughly hashed out plus the lyrics.He wanted me to harmonise the song.......Under his guidance, with me playing chords 'til he said "Yea, thats the chord I want" every time the harmony changed during the song --we managed to complete the song, WE wrote a few songs this way. The point I am making here is that although he did play some basic piano, he could not to any great degree harmonise simple tunes. He was a good Tenor sax player none the less.......
Auld Lee

Joe Pass Jr
12-10-2007, 02:01 AM
"I did not try to teach any of them any kind of 'Ear' training"

Key phrase.

nuff said.

Unless you have a unique natural talent or perfect pitch or what ever you want to call it. These skills take a significant amount of practice and guidance to effectively learn.
So its no wonder your students never got any better.

Also, You say you wanted to discover if they had the ability to ad-lib... by this i guess you mean improvise on the instrument? " to see if it was worth carrying on with " clearly the answer was "no these guys cant improvise, since they have ****ty ears" so why is it that you did not teach them the one thing they were apparently there for???

*throws hands in the air*

leegordo
12-10-2007, 04:03 PM
Hey! how about this point of view? I have played well for decades on piano mostly. In all that time I honestly have never been able to read off music.I only played Dance/jazz stuff semi-pro. I can slowly read as much music as I needed to learn quickly, new stuff from what we called 'Piano Copies' Here is my take on composing I have composed a lot of light dance stuff. and, could 'compose, other stuff. the drawback is learning the correct way of writing , transcribing-whatever- my material. I am dicouraged by the attitude of one major music music publisher, who answered to my enclosed manuscript of ''New, well-written Scottish dance tunes that they were sorry but their books were more or less full and closed for the forseeable future" I could'nt resist congratulating them on their good fortune at never having to bother again trying to find new compositions.in order to fill their books!!!!arrogant or what?.......... maybe not, but that is how I felt, and, still do.Maybe I should have persisted, and tried other sources, but that was me discouraged at the start .They could have said that my stuff was'nt of a sufficiently high qualityto be worth their while investing in it.but I knew the stuff WAS good enough ,as good as their existing library anyway. Auld Lee.

borge
12-11-2007, 02:25 AM
*throws hands in air with Joe*