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Topic: OT: It's time to learn some theory...

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  1. #1

    OT: It's time to learn some theory...

    Hey folks..

    I'm eyeing some music courses at the College of DuPage, which is down the street from my job. I think it's about time I learn some music theory to help me out a bit when I'm stuck. Why CoD? It's inexpensive, it's close, AND most of their classes offer evening hours, which is a huge benefit for me, since I work 9-5.

    Two options: I can start off with the basic courses, or I can arrange to meet with the professor, tell him/her what I know, give them a CD with my compositions, and let them decide if they want to put me in a higher-up class. Here are the classes I'm looking at (they must be all taken concurrently):

    MUSIC 1101
    Music Theory I

    3 credit hours
    Introductory studies in music including fundamentals, figured bass realization, analysis of small structures and music writing. Emphasis on diatonic harmony. Simultaneous enrollment in Music 1107 and 1171 is required. (3 lecture hours)

    MUSIC 1107
    Aural Skills I

    1 credit hour
    The study of ear training and sightsinging utilizing diatonic materials. Course content includes the recognition of intervals, scales and modes, as well as dictation of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic material reinforcing concepts presented in Music Theory I (Music 1101). Students must be registered concurrently in Music 1101 and 1171. (3 lab hours)

    MUSIC 1171
    Class Piano I

    1 credit hour
    Development of fundamental keyboard skills as well as basic reading and music theory fundamentals. Introduction to basic playing techniques. Emphasizes awareness of musical notation, rhythm and rhythmic patterns, tonal patterns and keyboard skills. (2 lab hours)


    So, any suggestions? Is this a good starting point? Some of you are familiar with my abilities, limited as they are. For those of you who aren't, check the URL below. Any advice is appreciated. I basically want to take away something valuable from these classes, that I can apply to my soundtrack work.
    Thanks!
    Sam Hulick
    Composer
    http://www.samhulick.com/

  2. #2

    Re: OT: It's time to learn some theory...

    I think it would be better if you talk to any of the music theory teachers before enrolling at COD. I studied there ten years ago. It helped me a lot but everybody is different.

    Don't bet on evening classes. They might cancel your evening class after the first semester if enrollment is low. I started my first quarter in the evening and ended up taking morning classes for the next two years. Things could have changed in ten years tough. I can recommend Dr. Ken Paoli for music theory.

    I hope this helps.

    Julio

  3. #3
    Senior Member newmewzikboy's Avatar
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    Re: OT: It's time to learn some theory...

    U of Chicago has a great theory dept.

    Perhaps you might consider looking for a Jazz theory class instead for your needs.

    Enrolling in a piano theory class is helpful as well.

  4. #4

    Re: OT: It's time to learn some theory...

    I took similar courses to these in my first year as a music major.

    Music Theory I
    You will learn the basics first, which is good, but you won't get into the useful stuff until the second year course. Fairly easy if you figure it out early on. Very basic partwriting.

    Aural Skills I
    This course is pretty easy if you're already good at transcribing (an essential skill for any composer). The hardest part is the singing. You don't have to have a perfect voice, just the ability to keep in tune, even if that requires sliding.

    Class Piano I
    Even experienced piano players might have difficulty improvising a contrapuntally-sound progression. You might also have to be able to transpose a simple piece into another key. If they give you time to practice before hand, be sure to use it.

    How do these apply to film scoring? They don’t, that is, unless you want to see your music from a classical perspective. In some cases the theory classes help, and are a very good introduction to classical orchestration. In other cases, they might turn out completely useless because you already know everything from just listening to lots of film scores or classical music. I feel what I got out of it was the ability to better write in the classical style, however that may affect my “acquired” composing style.

    Your best bet is to show your compositions to the composition professor and ask him or her if you can benefit from these courses. All a theory professor could do (if he or she is not a composer) is tell you your music is full of parallel 5ths, bad voice leading, etc.

  5. #5

    Re: OT: It's time to learn some theory...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sil
    All a theory professor could do (if he or she is not a composer) is tell you your music is full of parallel 5ths, bad voice leading, etc.
    I've been there...

  6. #6
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    Re: OT: It's time to learn some theory...

    you need all those courses Also you won't be able to pick and choose, you'll most likely start at the very beginning ie, learning clefs, half steps, whole steps etc. Everything will revolve around commen practice and it will be awhile before you break away from it and the rules and in orchestration, for what is arranged and composed for todays film scores etc.
    Honestly do you ever hear music today that is a V to I relationship LOL
    All I can Say is...HA!...HA!...HAAAAAAA!!!!!

  7. #7

    Re: OT: It's time to learn some theory...

    Thanks for the advice. I think I'll enroll in these, and then talk to the professor (in the theory class) about what I want to accomplish and get any suggestions.
    Sam Hulick
    Composer
    http://www.samhulick.com/

  8. #8
    Senior Member newmewzikboy's Avatar
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    Re: OT: It's time to learn some theory...

    A theory class will not give you an absolute path to writing in any genre. What a music theory class will give you, is a start of how to think about music - a sort boundary simulation, where you are given a certain number of rules to play with from which you build a personal means of "thinking" about musical structure. These "rules" are not necessarily given or necessarily applicable to musical creation or analysis in a real world situation; however, the general skills you will learn in working with them are invaluable.

    Three other classes that I think are valuable and should also be considered are:

    Music History - one tough course
    Art History - A tougher course!
    Counterpoint - absolutely valuable

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: OT: It's time to learn some theory...

    I would definitely take those two beginning theory courses--that way, you learn all the basic terminology from the ground up. Do not approach them as a way to compose "better," but as a way to learn all the mechanics.

    If you took two-three courses per semester, you'd be able to complete the undergrad "theory" curriculum in four years (theory, counterpoint, orchestration). I would certainly recommend it.

  10. #10

    Re: OT: It's time to learn some theory...

    Perhaps odd sounding, in addition to these theory classes, I'd also suggest you take up jazz and jazz improv.

    I personally can't say enough about how much my ability to improv. (even just the willingness to do so) IS my main compositional tool. Of course that is grounded in lots of theory and harmony classes I've taken over the years. But ultimately, jazz improv has helped to just 'get it going'.
    Steve Hanlon, guitarist/composer
    Logic 7, PowerMac DP 2.0 (8- RAM slot model), 4GB RAM, OS 10.4.11
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