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irreversible

Catching up with solfeggio/music history + theory

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Hey'all!

I want to enrol in a music academy this spring. I'm musically pretty established, but my biggest problem right now is that I have around 3 months to learn as much as possible of what is actually taught in music grade school - the terminology, the theory and the rest of the works. I'm already hard at work learning intervals and such (generally speaking, I'm relatively adept at musical hearing when I start playing the piano, but not so much with just a piece of paper), but it seems to be pretty hard to find proper [i]structured [/i]information online to get the theory down.

For instance, I can appreciate the existence of the Dorian, Phrygian an other modes, but I'm having a hard time pinning them down conceptually without a proper framework to place them in. The same goes for compulsory listening - I can probably say I've listened to more music than many others, but it's all unstructured and there's no way for me to know what I can realistically expect to hear/be expected to have heard at the entry exam without a rough checklist. I don't really have the time anymore to take a real course, so I'm working overtime at home to catch up - and I don't mind doing this; it's just that I'm feeling rather disorganized and confused when trying to piece the whole thing together.

That said, I would appreciate any digitally available materials from courses, links to sites, etc that would help paint the larger picture (eg list and properly describe all the steps taught in music grade school) and not be something as obtuse and useless as out-of-context/badly executed youtube videos or superficial/badly written text descriptions.

So yeah, if anyone can help me out here, I'd appreciate it a lot :)

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I'm in a similar situation. First of all, Solfege is fantastic. You will be impressed how quickly your ear develops if you do the drills for a little bit each day.

Second of all, a great reference is Mark Levine's Jazz Theory Book. It is highly regarded and used in many music schools.

Third, this is how I approached the modes:

You have to understand the forumla for each mode (e.g. W-W-H-W-W-W-H for Ionian).

Pick a random note and apply the formula. For example, choosing G and applying the above formula will give you the G Major scale.

Next -- and this is the important part -- create chords from this scale. We will be using the "stacking thirds method". Stack four thirds to create a chord for each note.

Like this:

G A B C D E F# (Ionian formula applied to G)

G B D F# -- G Major 7th
A C E G -- A Minor 7th
B D F# A -- B Minor 7th
C E G B -- C Major 7th
D F# A C -- D Dominant 7th
E G B D -- E Minor 7th
F# A C E -- F# Half-Diminished

Do this for each mode and each key. Make up chord progressions using the chords that you formulate out of each mode. Use the notes of the mode to play melodies over the progressions you write.


-Nick


P.S. The modes you mention are just a circular shifting of the Ionian formula... you can get pretty out there if you make up new formulas (see Harmonic Minor, especially in Petrucci and Rhodes solos).
P.P.S. The same goes for chord creation... you can use an interval other than thirds to stack with and end up with some unbelievably odd chords.

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Thanks for the reply, racarate! I can understand the modes - it's just that I'm having trouble pinpointing their actual practicality and what their really motivated use would be :). And thanks for the book suggestion - I'll have a look at it!

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[quote name='irreversible' timestamp='1298349025' post='4777383']
Thanks for the reply, racarate! I can understand the modes - it's just that I'm having trouble pinpointing their actual practicality and what their really motivated use would be :). And thanks for the book suggestion - I'll have a look at it!
[/quote]

The practicality of the modes comes from the sound/quality they produce. While Ionian is just a normal major scale and aeolian is a pure minor scale, modes like Phrygian can produce a middle eastern feel or lydian has a non-resolving "floaty" type feel.

Basically, you need to go through and play all the modes on the piano and play the root, third, and fifth in your left hand while running up and down the mode in your right hand to learn the sound it creates for yourself.

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Right, and the "kind" of chords that spilled out of that creation process -- for example the Minor Seventh and the Dominant Seventh and what have you -- those will be in different orders depending on what mode you go through that exercise with.

Each mode produces chords and therefore harmonies (and chord changes) that are somewhat unique.


-Nick

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