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Old 09-15-2023, 12:19 PM
Stratcat77 Stratcat77 is offline
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Interesting topic!

My belief is that people hear music differently. My wife just simply enjoys a song or she doesn't. And she has no strong feelings about it! I know, seems like an odd mate for a musician, but we have a great relationship! I'm convinced she isn't even considering what instrument is making that sound. She's just listening to the entire soundscape as a sound, not focusing on any particular thing. Of course, I listen very differently. And that can be good or may be a hinderance. Sometimes I wish I could listen the way she (and many others) listen. But I've peaked behind the curtain and can't unsee what I now know.

I do think that there is something mystical/magical about not knowing anything about theory or chords and when listening to music you hear somehow that moves you - or tickles your ears. I still vividly recall that feeling from listening to music when I was young and had not yet begun my journey as a musician. There were certain parts of songs that just felt so "interesting" and emotional. As my knowledge of music progressed, I came to realize that some of that was caused by a great chord progression or perhaps a beautiful chord like a maj7, a min7b5, diminished or something with a non-root bass note, etc. And what caught my ear as a youngster was usually a surprise vocal note from a melody around one of those cool changes. This would be a note that grabs you because you didn't expect it. And you want to go back and rewind it and listen again because it was so compelling, but you had no idea why!

My theory is that music is a bit more magical to those who don't understand the chords or theory. That's not to say that we musicians don't thoroughly enjoy music! Of course we do. But I think we enjoy it differently than many non-musicians.

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Old 09-15-2023, 01:09 PM
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rllink rllink is offline
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If I understand Andy's question correctly, do people who listen to music understand what it takes to make music, I would say no, and they don't need to. Does one need to know how to paint to appreciate a painting? I will say though that I think being a musician makes one appreciate more what it takes to make the music, but that is just value added to a performance. If one takes a couple of painting classes at the adult continuing education classes, they will probably appreciate what it takes to paint a picture, but again, that's just an extra to the experience.

Now the question, does someone really need to know much about music to make music? I say yes, but I also think that knowing how to make music and knowing how to articulate making music are two different things. And the ability to articulate how to make music is not a prerequisite for making it. Music theory is just that, a means to articulate and explain what's going on. Does one need to know kinesiology before they can pitch a fastball? No, they only need to know kinesiology if they want to get into an in-depth discussion on the internet with someone about what the underlying principles of kinesiology are that contribute to a fastball.

But musicians practice the principles of music theory every time the play, they just might not know how to explain it in the jargon that is used to explain how to make music. But that doesn't mean that they don't understand those principles in practice.
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Last edited by rllink; 09-15-2023 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 09-15-2023, 01:27 PM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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Originally Posted by rllink View Post
But musicians practice the principles of music theory every time the play, they just might not know how to explain it in the jargon that is used to explain how to make music. But that doesn't mean that they don't understand those principles in practice.
Well said! Analogy: you don't need to know how to read and write in order to communicate verbally, often with fairly good grammar learned by example. Music touches parts of our brains that other modes of communication do not. I have seen that happen many times in assisted living gigs. Seniors who appear to be comatose slowly start tapping their foot or bobbing their heads with the music, and even mouthing the words. These are folks that are otherwise non-communicative.

So you don't need to understand music theory to have it make a connection for you. However, as a player and especially for compositions, that knowledge really helps.
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Old 09-17-2023, 05:01 PM
NoPicks NoPicks is offline
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"Understand" on what level?

It's going to be different for a player than a non-player, there's no way around that. Casual listeners just don't care about the nuts-and-bolts aspect. Their thing is almost all about emotion. Does it move them or not?

As a player, it seems a bit more complicated. Having a handle on the technicalities can sometimes obscure the emotional aspect, if you're not careful, and that's the great danger of looking behind the curtain and having some knowledge of how the machinery actually works. At times the "wow, what a cool lick/chord/whatever" can over-ride the more important question of "did it MOVE me or not?". Ideally, the technicalities serve the song and not the other way around. Not always possible but always the better goal IMHO

Both Guthrie Govan and Neil Young have moved me profoundly at one time or another. With Guthrie, it's especially interesting for me because the lasting impression is not just his formidable chops, but also his sense of humor. That's something a lot of other techno-monsters simply don't have, and something that absolutely sets him apart from the others. Contrast this to Neil, who by any objective measure plays (and sings!) about as well as Bob Dylan, and yet his (and Dylan's) songs have a power that no amount of fretboard flash can conjure
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