#1
alright, so i'm a senior in high school, and at the start of the year i was really excited about taking ap music theory (i guess it just sounded awesome). but now, with a full semester under my belt, i realize that it just isn't what i thought it would be... it's even become my least favorite class, a part of my day that i definitely don't look forward to. i'm just wondering if you guys had any insight or have had similar experiences...

at first we were learning the basics (notation, key signatures, sight reading...) and it was all okay, but lately we've completely strayed away from that and we're doing 4-part writing. it's very limiting. we can only write using methods that bach (and other classical composers) used, and if he didn't do it it's wrong, and it can only be in this certain structure and notes can only flow a certain way...i feel like i have a ****ing muzzle on my internal musical voice. so frustrating. and today when i asked my teacher about plans for next semester, he said basically more of the same.

(another factor to me wanting to leave music theory is the teacher. and the students. they're soooo irritating and un-funny... half the class is just the most dumbed-down, mindless, pointless, uninteresting conversations i've heard, started by kids and engaged in by the teacher himself. and they love it. it's... painful.)

so yeah, this sucks. i thought it would be my favorite class, and i feel as though it should be a class that i should love and excel in, but now i just don't know. i still love music though. i'm just having second thoughts this whole music theory thing. can anybody empathize?
Last edited by work sucks at Dec 11, 2009,
#2
I had the same situation. We did the same thing with writing music according to the "rules" Bach made and such. Also same thing with the teacher and students in the class. I dropped it for racket sports and it was definitely worth it.
#3
lol sounds like the music class at my school
if your pursuing any professional musical career (other then "I wanna be a rokstr!"), Music Theory AP is a must. really its a matter of getting past it, dont take it as something you NEED to use personally, but just try to see its practicality. i mean there's not many classes that are useful or anything.
#4
If it's totally unbearable, drop out and learn theory form a private teacher or on your own. Composing like that will force you to think differently about music, which is good, but it is probably very frustrating. If you really like theory and can tough it out, I'm sure it will look good to have taken AP music theory class on resumes and college applications. I'd say stick with it if you can and try to ignore the annoying people
#5
i went through the same thing in my music theory class, except the other kids and the teacher were all cool. i only stayed in it because i needed to pass at least one music class to graduate, and it did still teach me about the basic scales and chords and whatnot, so i fought through the boredom.
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#6
in my music class the teacher sat on his butt and looked at porno i got an a yae
#7
Stick it out.
As long as you understand the material, and are not completely lost its good to know as much music theory as possible.
#8
so, let's say i want to study something in the field of music in college... would it be more of this stuff, or is this just sort of a hurdle that i need to get past in order to get to the real, fun stuff?

btw, it's not like i'm struggling or anything... i'm getting hundreds as averages so far.
Last edited by work sucks at Dec 11, 2009,
#9
Quote by work sucks
so, let's say i want to study something in the field of music in college... would it be more of this stuff, or is this just sort of a hurdle that i need to get past in order to get to the real, fun stuff?

btw, it's not like i'm struggling or anything... i'm getting hundreds as averages so far.


I'm sure it will get a bit better if you are successful, but while you're striving for your career, there will be tough times, things you don't like to do, and people you don't like to talk to. It's the same with any career. Stick to it if you like it.
#10
Wasn't Bach the one that said that rules were made to be broken?
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#11
Academia prides itself on insisting upon absolutes. Sure it may be constraining now but you can invoke your own meaning from it. So what if they insist upon closed voicings or a certain cadence? Go with it, its not going to forever change your life, and whether you know about it and use it or don't use it, its always good to at least know of this stuff. Its not going to musically castrate you.
#12
I can't see what benefit you'd get from dropping out. Although it's not the sort of stuff you're used to writing, doing anything musical will have a positive impact on the stuff you actually like.

Last year in high school I had a love-hate relationship with my music teacher. He practically forced me to write stuff for the piano properly, himself being a pianist. I felt like he thought I was an idiot. I don't regret spending every lunch hour trying to prove him wrong.
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#13
Well, whenever I feel some given rulesets are too stifling, I simply think something along the lines of "the purpose of these rules weren´t to piss of music students a couple of hundred years into the future, but to ease the process of creating music that is pleasing to the ear".

Also, I´d say it´s good practice, and it doesn´t hurt to adapt and do things you don´t like. And, in my opinion it will help your creativity rather than hurt it, it´s just another way of expressing yourself. Furthermore, nothing is stopping you from writing outside school, is it? Well, except for time maybe.


Quote by Kurai X
Wasn't Bach the one that said that rules were made to be broken?


Bach does indeed have many exceptions to a lot of the rules and concepts he was part in creating
#14
Quote by work sucks
so, let's say i want to study something in the field of music in college... would it be more of this stuff, or is this just sort of a hurdle that i need to get past in order to get to the real, fun stuff?

btw, it's not like i'm struggling or anything... i'm getting hundreds as averages so far.

It depends on what you want to do. College courses will be much more challenging and interesting. What you are learning now, is to make sure you have a solid understanding of the subject. If you are very good at it, I understand you may be bored. If you do pursue it, take some placement tests before you start signing up for classes. Anything 101, is very basic. When you get to upper division classes, you will have much more to learn, and more freedom to learn what you are interested in.

Not to misrepresent, I did not go very far with music theory in school. What I am saying is, this has been my experience with the classes I have taken. Just my perspective.
#15
They use Bach's rules for writing in SATB form because he was ****ing amazing at writing chorales, if you think you can write one better then ignore them, but those rules can apply to anything, not just voices, they will make your chords flow better.

Of course the rules are slightly flexable and you can sometimes break them without damaging the overall musical effect.

Dont quit it, you'll regret it later.

Quote by work sucks
so, let's say i want to study something in the field of music in college... would it be more of this stuff, or is this just sort of a hurdle that i need to get past in order to get to the real, fun stuff?



If you don't like this you'll hate learning counterpoint in higher education. (assuming it's a classical degree).
Last edited by griffRG7321 at Dec 12, 2009,
#16
Well, first of all - disclaimer: I didn't take much music in high school. I didn't start playing til a little while after I graduated.

Anyway, about the whole rigidness about having to compose according to the rules of how Bach and other composers went about it. Sometimes, having to work within some rules can do wonders for your creativity. That might sound paradoxical at first, so I'll give you an example. When I'm practicing improvising, sometimes I'll make some rules up that I must stay within. For example, a specific key that I haven't played in much, certain notes within that key, even certain fingerings, string combinations, etc. Well, at first it will sound like ass, but after a while I'll often come up with some of my best stuff. We all have a bunch of stock phrases and devices that we reuse whenever we are improvising (or composing). It's very easy to keep re-using them too much with only minor variations from what we did the last time, because they are comfortable and familiar. Having to be creative within a set of rules forces you to find new ways of being creative, since you are no longer allowed to fall back on what is comfortable and familiar. And when the rules are removed, you now have a bunch more weapons in your arsenal.
If you can stomach the annoying teacher and students, I'd stick at it.
#17
dont make the same mistake bachs contemporaries did and underestimate him. analyzing and understanding his methods will definitely come in handy.
#18
im in ap music theory. i love it. we just got to 4 part and it kinda sucks, but it will make me better in the long run.

plus im in the class with 2 guys from my band and a girl that i talk to alot, so thats always a plus.
#19
idk about your school but my school doesnt let you drop after the first quarter....
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#20
TS, suck it up. You sound so whiny.

In order to really understand music theory, your gonna have to spend a LOT of time writing 4 part harmonies.

As scales are to guitar, bach chorales are to composition. Its rare that you will ever ACTUALLY write a bach chorale in a real compositional atmosphere, but you have to be able to do them and do them extremely well because they teach you how harmony works.
#21
i feel like i have a ****ing muzzle on my internal musical voice.


Of course you do. You're learning how Bach did it. If you want to use your internal musical voice, do so. If you want to learn about music and music theory, go to music class. Learning music theory isn't about composing what you want, when you want to. It's about learning ideas and methods of the past masters as well as the language to communicate your own ideas.

so, let's say i want to study something in the field of music in college... would it be more of this stuff, or is this just sort of a hurdle that i need to get past in order to get to the real, fun stuff?


"Something in the field of music" is anything between a course in electric guitar performance and a pure composition degree...

For some stuff, what you're doing is totally irrelevant. For other stuff it's crucially important.

What would you consider the real fun stuff?
#22
Quote by tubatom868686
TS, suck it up. You sound so whiny.

In order to really understand music theory, your gonna have to spend a LOT of time writing 4 part harmonies.

As scales are to guitar, bach chorales are to composition. Its rare that you will ever ACTUALLY write a bach chorale in a real compositional atmosphere, but you have to be able to do them and do them extremely well because they teach you how harmony works.

yeah, i think i do need to just suck it up. i don't have a problem with the actual 4-part writing. in fact, i used to love it. but that was before rule after rule was imposed on us and everyime i thought i had written something brilliant, teacher shoots me down by telling me consecutive fifths are "improper" or something like that.
i just hate how in our class everybody's little four measure compositions sound the same when they follow the rules. so generic. idk, maybe it's just me.

but i do understand how these limitations can somehow contribute to making me better and even expanding my musical creativity. i wouldn't have thought of that before creating this thread...

Quote by Freepower
Of course you do. You're learning how Bach did it. If you want to use your internal musical voice, do so. If you want to learn about music and music theory, go to music class. Learning music theory isn't about composing what you want, when you want to. It's about learning ideas and methods of the past masters as well as the language to communicate your own ideas.

"Something in the field of music" is anything between a course in electric guitar performance and a pure composition degree...

For some stuff, what you're doing is totally irrelevant. For other stuff it's crucially important.

What would you consider the real fun stuff?

i think i also had a misunderstanding of what music theory actually was. this of course, set me up for further disappointment.

for what stuff would this be irrelevant/important?

by real, fun stuff, i meant things that aren't so "constraining" my creativity. i meant learning things that would actually expand it and maybe lead me in directions i wouldn't have known existed before. but i think i have a different understanding of what real, fun stuff is now. at least in terms of music theory.
Last edited by work sucks at Dec 13, 2009,
#23
Take the skills you have learnt in the lesson and try and apply it to whatever music you listen to.

For example for Psychology at my college we're doing a topic on Biological Rhythms and sleep which is boring as feck, but I managed to relate it with real life by studying my father who works 8 hour rotational shifts affecting his sleep patterns.

If you can't apply the fundamentals to what you're doing then why take the class? Maybe the classical influence might open your mind to a different way of playing, you never know. Just suck it up and learn from the experience.

Forget about the other students as well, it's what your learning that matters.
#24
Quote by work sucks
yeah, i think i do need to just suck it up. i don't have a problem with the actual 4-part writing. in fact, i used to love it. but that was before rule after rule was imposed on us and everyime i thought i had written something brilliant, teacher shoots me down by telling me consecutive fifths are "improper" or something like that.
i just hate how in our class everybody's little four measure compositions sound the same when they follow the rules. so generic. idk, maybe it's just me.

but i do understand how these limitations can somehow contribute to making me better and even expanding my musical creativity. i wouldn't have thought of that before creating this thread...





Every composer worth their salt since the time of bach learned about harmonies the same way you are now. In order to understand the concepts you say you want to learn, you need to first be able to understand things like choral writing. The work your doing is giving you the foundation on which you build your understanding of theory

If you think that the music of stravinsky or wagner or vaughan williams is somehow uncreative, than be my guest and drop theory. But if you really want to make music your life (which youve hinted at), then you have to love EVERY SECOND of making music. Including 4 part writing. If cant do that, then dont plan on music being more than a hobby. Quite frankly I dont think you have what it takes
Last edited by tubatom868686 at Dec 13, 2009,
#26
Quote by Freepower
Tutbatom, seriously, that's out of order.


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#27
You really think it works like that? It's your behaviour I have issue with, not what I can or can't read in future. You've been warned, officially and here. Thin ice for the next 30 days.
#28
Quote by Freepower
You really think it works like that? It's your behaviour I have issue with, not what I can or can't read in future. You've been warned, officially and here. Thin ice for the next 30 days.




I was just being honest. Oh well. I guess Ive been warned
#29
Calling people a whiny bitch is totally unnecessary, let alone using the totally condescending tone and ignoring his desire to learn.

for what stuff would this be irrelevant/important?

by real, fun stuff, i meant things that aren't so "constraining" my creativity. i meant learning things that would actually expand it and maybe lead me in directions i wouldn't have known existed before.


You want me to list every possible music course that does/doesn't involve chorale writing? I don't have all day, seriously - nor should it matter to you.

What you've learnt isn't constrained and it should be new to you. Don't tell me you've ever seriously worked with voice leading or writing multiple melodies before starting the chorales.

Bear in mind that composition without borders and boundaries is impossible to assess, let alone grade, on anything but a subjective level.
#30
As far as I know, a full study of Music Theory is required for any music degree, except for maybe music business or something like that. I'm going for vocal performance, and I'm required to take a full 2 years of Music Theory just to get my AA. To put this into perspective, TS, what you are doing was my first term of Music Theory. 1/4th of the requirement of the degree requirements.

If you're really looking to continue with music in college, you will need to get through this, and much more. You will have to be prepared to do stuff you really, really don't want to do. Like Freepower said, you are not there to compose what you want, when you want. You are there to learn from the masters of the past.

I would suggest continuing with the class, regardless of whether you change your mind about music or not. Whether you realize it or not, four-part writing will help you immensely in the future, no matter what kind of music you compose. Just like the 12-tone method will somehow help me in the future, even though I can never imagine myself writing like that.
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Last edited by Black Star at Dec 13, 2009,
#31
alright guys, thanks for all the advice. i've decided i'm gonna stay in the class. just needed different people's perspectives, that's all. thanks.
#32
It's probably the best music theory education you can get without going to a music college.

TS, just incase you haven't realized it yet, school isn't 100% enjoyable. Astonishing, I know.
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#33
I think you're lucky to be studying such a course; think of us schmucks who have to work for a living. I would love to spend my time learning theory from a real teacher (one that doesn't have .com after their name) it would be an enriching experience and would contribute towards my love of music, and it sure beats generating invoices and sitting at a desk all day.

It's not always going to be fun, it's going to be even less enjoyable if you have a negative attitude towards it. Try and remember that you are the student, there IS a reason why you're learning this subject and it will, if nothing else, lead you and help you towards other aspects of music.

If you feel like you're not learning anything then you should leave as it is not beneficial to you, your teacher, or the other students that do.

Even if you don't like the class you can still learn a thing or two, even if it's stuff that you want absolutely nothing to with in future.