#1
Hi, just something I was wondering about.

I noticed that music theory classes tend to be labelled either "classical" or "jazz" classes. So, despite the obvious genre difference what would be the difference between the two? How would these classes differ in what they teach from a purely theoretical point of view?

Besides just saying "one is for jazzy music and the other is for classical music" how are the two different in terms of just what they teach in the theory sense and not how they sound?

PS: I'm not really a fan of jazz, but that doesn't mean I can't learn about it!
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Last edited by JimDawson at Mar 16, 2012,
#2
Mmm. In a university setting Classical theory is more centered around very specific harmonic modules and voiceleading principles usually relate to Common Practice Period.

Jazz theory is the above, but with less emphasis on specific names for voiceleading devices, and more emphasis on understanding the function of chords & the possible superimpositions and related chord scales. Strong focus on a melodically driven vocabulary that utilizes a number of devices to achieve in, out, and extended sounds over the underlying harmony.

But honestly Jazz theory is more geared towards practical improvisational approaches, and things that relate specifically to how to play the music. If you're not a fan of it or interested in it, then I don't see the point in spending time learning about it. The theory is less about analysis and more about application.
Last edited by chronowarp at Mar 16, 2012,
#3
Quote by chronowarp
The theory is less about analysis and more about application.


are you saying classical theory is ineffective in application?
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#4
Cool, this also explains to me why some say "jazz is a more complex form of blues" since the consensus seems to be that it is based more on improv. I don't see how it wouldn't be worth a bit of studying.

It's like jazz is really left-wing and classical is all right-wing.
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Last edited by JimDawson at Mar 16, 2012,
#5
Jazz theory is being aware of all kinds of crazy concepts and scales in your head while in reality everybody just thinks you're playing out of tune.
#6
Quote by AeolianWolf
are you saying classical theory is ineffective in application?


No, not really. But jazz theory basically revolves around improvisational concepts that occur in real time. When you think about it, a vast majority of jazz isn't particularly harmonically complex. There are a few typical moves and sequences that happen a lot, but the meat is in how to interpret and play over those changes in an improvisational setting.
Last edited by chronowarp at Mar 16, 2012,
#7
Quote by JimDawson
Cool, this also explains to me why some say "jazz is a more complex form of blues" since the consensus seems to be that it is based more on improv. I don't see how it wouldn't be worth a bit of studying.

It's like jazz is really left-wing and classical is all right-wing.


I just don't see why you'd want to invest time into learning something you don't really care for. You can't learn a whole lot about Jazz without actually playing it, living it, and immersing yourself in it.
#8
Quote by chronowarp
I just don't see why you'd want to invest time into learning something you don't really care for. You can't learn a whole lot about Jazz without actually playing it, living it, and immersing yourself in it.


In all sincerity, I just think people should try to learn/appreciate every form of music if they can. Personally, every kind of music I like nowadays I would consider an acquired taste, so why not acquire more tastes?
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#10
They look at the same things with different perspectives.

Standard jazz theory looks at music as blocks of chords, which are paired with corresponding scales.

Standard classical theory looks at music with an emphasis on the voicing of the harmony and how it's related to the polyphonic lines, as well as the treatment of forms.

I think classical is a long winded approach to total understanding of music while jazz is a faster way but lacks the oversight of properly conceptualized classical theory.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#11
In my opinion, jazz is ALL about improvisation, while classical is ALL about composition.
yes, i realize some jazz tunes are composed (chick corea being my favorite), but the genre is based around improv and no one can deny that.
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#12
... Bach used to improvise fugues ...
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
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#13
Quote by Hydra150
... Bach used to improvise fugues ...

like i said there is obviously some jazz that is composed, and obviously some classical that is improvized.
BUT, lets be serious, is there more improv in jazz than in classical?
classical is all about learning the piece and playing it AS CLOSE to the way the composer wrote it as possible.

you can be nit picky and try to prove me wrong, but in my opinion improvisation played a MUCH bigger part in jazz (with a small amount of composition), and the opposite with classical.
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#14
Yep, jazz is about the performer and his interpretation and his expression, classical is (often) more about the composer and trying to express the intentions of the composer (although its easier to express yourself in a jazz combo than in a symphony orchestra, where stuff only sounds good if you closely follow the score and conductor). Bach was a beautiful anomaly.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
Last edited by Hydra150 at Mar 17, 2012,
#15
Quote by Hydra150
Yep, jazz is about the performer and his interpretation and his expression, classical is (often) more about the composer and trying to express the intentions of the composer. Bach was a beautiful anomaly.

i didnt mean to sound like an ass or anything but you know how it is here.
if you post something that isnt 110% correct, there are people who will nit pick and tear apart your post and argue just to prove you wrong.

haha you know how it is
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#16
Quote by Hydra150
Yep, jazz is about the performer and his interpretation and his expression, classical is (often) more about the composer and trying to express the intentions of the composer. Bach was a beautiful anomaly.

Not necessarily. And I'm not sure why this became focused on performance rather than the music itself.

But the idea that we try to faithfully reproduce the composer's intention is a fairly modern one. In fact, composers did not have the luxury of hearing their music as written even when they insisted on it because the culture was such that the absolute intention was not valued. It was only around the time when Arturo Toscanini conducted Verdi's music with accuracy that the modern notion really started gaining traction.

Before the early 1900s, improvisation was common in classical music because there wasn't yet a wide schism between composition and performance, much like jazz today. For example, much of Liszt's music is in fact a kind of lead sheet. When he played his own music, it was even more virtuosic than written because he improvised with extended embellishments. Bach's music is no different. People were expected to embellish his lines, and attentive performers today still do. Many composers, including Bach, would also entertain by improvising on subjects/themes offered up on the spot. So in that sense, Bach was not an anomaly.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#17
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#18
thank you xiaoxi for proving my point.
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#19
Quote by musicTHEORYnerd
thank you xiaoxi for proving my point.

Forgive me for providing knowledge to correct misconceptions. Feel free to add me to your ignore list so you can continue living in your bubble of ignorance.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#20
Quote by Xiaoxi
Forgive me for providing knowledge to correct misconceptions. Feel free to add me to your ignore list so you can continue living in your bubble of ignorance.

hahaha my ignore list?
my bubble of ignorance?

you werent "providing knowledge", you were just trying to prove someone wrong, and prove you were smarter.

every single time i come on this site, users like you remind me of why i used to loooove forums when i was 16 and immature, and why i go on forums like once a month now.

does what you said reeeeeeally help the TS that much? does TS NEED to know that hydra is wrong, and a lot of classical composers improvised? my guess is no.

people like you make me hate this site
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#21
Quote by musicTHEORYnerd

you werent "providing knowledge", you were just trying to prove someone wrong, and prove you were smarter.
Ok, help me out here. If someone said a misleading statement, or were just plain wrong, and you know it's wrong, in what possible way could you provide the correct information without "proving him wrong?"

Saying that classical is all about playing the music accurately itself isn't wrong, since that IS true today. But by saying that Bach was an anomaly, he's implying that his contemporaries did not have this ability or attitude, which is just plain wrong.

Now, should he be chastised for being wrong? No. But should I be chastised to correct it? Maybe if you're an imbecile who can't handle having your misconceptions challenged.


every single time i come on this site, users like you remind me of why i used to loooove forums when i was 16 and immature, and why i go on forums like once a month now.
...how is this a shortcoming on my part? I'm sorry that a forum section geared toward learning requires some standard of accuracy. At least you're honest about your stupidity.


does what you said reeeeeeally help the TS that much? does TS NEED to know that hydra is wrong, and a lot of classical composers improvised? my guess is no.
I'm guessing it didn't occur to you that not every post has to be addressed to the TS, that maybe I was talking directly to Hydra and thought he might like to know.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#22
Quote by musicTHEORYnerd
people like you make me hate this site


this site makes me hate people like you.

it's clear that you're around the site once a month, because you're obviously missing a lot that's going on around here. xiaoxi puts a lot of effort into helping people around here, with nothing to gain for himself. he's one of the few members i genuinely respect around here.

all i saw between you two in this thread is you complaining about being corrected when you're wrong. which, personally, i find completely idiotic. i love being corrected when i'm wrong. it means i'm being taught. it means i'm learning even more. you come in here and make a blind viewpoint, saying that jazz is all improvisation and classical is all composition. you even went so far as to capitalize the word "all" twice.

and technically, the one he corrected was hydra. and hydra took it as a lesson, like a bau5. hell, so did i. i didn't know some of the things he's talking about, and i'm damn glad i know that now. the things xiaoxi says help me to put things in perspective. if you're not interested in new viewpoints, don't knock xiaoxi for providing them. like he said, add him to your ignore list.

i could go on with many more things to say, but, despite what you've just read, i really don't enjoy attacking other users. so i'll stop here.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#23
Quote by Xiaoxi
Ok, help me out here. If someone said a misleading statement, or were just plain wrong, and you know it's wrong, in what possible way could you provide the correct information without "proving him wrong?"

Saying that classical is all about playing the music accurately itself isn't wrong, since that IS true today. But by saying that Bach was an anomaly, he's implying that his contemporaries did not have this ability or attitude, which is just plain wrong.

Now, should he be chastised for being wrong? No. But should I be chastised to correct it? Maybe if you're an imbecile who can't handle having your misconceptions challenged.


...how is this a shortcoming on my part? I'm sorry that a forum section geared toward learning requires some standard of accuracy. At least you're honest about your stupidity.


I'm guessing it didn't occur to you that not every post has to be addressed to the TS, that maybe I was talking directly to Hydra and thought he might like to know.

i have better things to do than argue on the internet.
you're only proving that you are an ass by taking it this far.

im gonna go now, you can continue on by yourself.
(get ready for a life full of women saying that to you)

EDIT: oh now im getting double teamed, im so scared.
i'm not gonna argue with you OR the wolfman. i refuse to stoop to your level and sit in front of my laptop for hours trying to prove someone wrong, who i will never meet in my life. i have better things to do, like going outside, have you tried that?

goodbye
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Last edited by musicTHEORYnerd at Mar 17, 2012,
#24
Quote by musicTHEORYnerd
i have better things to do, like going outside, have you tried that?


no, man, never. i'm a professional musician in new york ****ing city, so no, i've never been outside.
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#25
Quote by musicTHEORYnerd
i have better things to do than argue on the internet.
you're only proving that you are an ass by taking it this far.
You didn't have better things to do when you were crying about how nitpicky I am.


im gonna go now, you can continue on by yourself.
(get ready for a life full of women saying that to you)
Ba-zing. Congrats on your magnus opus, man. I know that must've taken a long time to complete.

i have better things to do, like going outside, have you tried that?

I'm just curious, what exactly do you do while you're outside? From what I can gather so far, I'm guessing you will walk out the door and take a few steps, and then stare directly at the sun until it disappears.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at Mar 17, 2012,
#26
How would these classes differ in what they teach from a purely theoretical point of view?

Besides just saying "one is for jazzy music and the other is for classical music" how are the two different in terms of just what they teach in the theory sense and not how they sound?


Well, basically "Jazz" theory will be almost entirely about how to conceptualise improvising over chord changes. A lot of it ends up being a much more complicated way of saying "land on chord tones on the beat".

Eg, "Look how he's using the Mixolydian b2 b13 and some sweet double chromaticism!"

... he's landing on the chord tones on the beat on the V chord of a minor blues.

At the end of the day, I'm sure both classes would be worth taking, but they often have completely different ways of expressing and explaining the same issues.
#27
Interesting discussion guys. I still don't really get how it descended into such a ridiculous argument, but it clearly has to do with musicTHEORYnerd's comment where he basically tried to jump on Xiaoxi's bandwagon and got pushed off immediately.

Good stuff- and informative. Unless anyone else has anything to say that hasn't been said, I think we're done here.
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