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Old 05-31-2019, 02:47 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Originally Posted by Paultergeist View Post
3. Most profoundly for me, I find that the application of harmonic analysis itself has so very many twists and exceptions that I really have to wonder what the utility of this practice really is? Even in popular music which is simple to pay and memorize, when I try to apply harmonic analysis, I find so many exceptions to the basic diatonic key chords: Plagal cadence, borrowed chords, parallel harmony, secondary dominance, etc., all of which seem like various explanations for when classical harmonic analysis breaks down.
Exactly. Pop music is not classical music!
The concepts you mention are definitely part of classical theory - all of them (with the possible exception of parallel harmony) can have roman numerals meaningfully applied.
But pop often takes those rules very loosely, mainly because it follows other rules. In particular, rock makes a lot of use of modal or non-functional practices. In addition, the most important rules of rock and pop are not really about harmony at all. Harmony is a kind of sideshow! Rock and pop are much more concerned with rhythm, timbre, melody, lyric - probably in that order - with harmony coming in after all those.

But even where you can - meaningfully - apply roman numerals to pop progressions (i.e., where there is a definite tonic chord and others that clearly relate to it), what does it tell you? They're only labels for the sounds, they don't explain anything. Even in classical music, they don't explain how it works. They just describe what's going on.

That's not to say description is not useful, of course. But IMO the only descriptors you need when learning pop/rock music are chord names.
So, you may well recognise something like a bVI-bVII-I when you hear it (and feel appropriately smug ); so if you know the key is G you'll know the other two chords are Eb and F. But you could work that out without the roman numerals - as most rock musicians in fact would.
"There's only two kinds of music: good and bad. I like both kinds." - Duke Ellington.
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