Advanced search

Anyone very very good at music theory out there?

(27 Posts)
ChuppaChups Sun 19-Jul-09 22:25:16

I need help analysising some music and need to to produce a succinct description of the ritornello formal structure. am struggling.

Wigeon Mon 20-Jul-09 11:50:03

DH has a PhD in music and lectured at various universities until doing a PGCE and becoming a school teacher - I can ask him when he's back from the end of term school music trip to Paris (tomorrow) if you like.

Can you give me a bit more context in the meantime?

ChuppaChups Mon 20-Jul-09 13:16:20

yes, i am doing an open university course called elements of music. My current assignment asks about the use of the motifs and structural form which i know from the current coursework is 100% ritornello. We have only a limited number of words we can us and need to know how do downsize my 80 words to around 40 maybe. Should i analysis bar by bar or section by section! i got an email back from my tutor today and its made it clearer but any advice is welcome!


Wigeon Mon 20-Jul-09 13:20:52

Is your tutor by any chance Catherine Parsonage??!

Wigeon Mon 20-Jul-09 13:21:35

Sorry, she's now Tackley (got married recently)

ChuppaChups Mon 20-Jul-09 22:59:36

no, its not sorry! is that lady a tutor as well?

Katisha Mon 20-Jul-09 23:09:54

What's the piece of music?

Wigeon Wed 22-Jul-09 21:49:36

DH writes: "Tough word limit! If you're asked specifically about motifs and structural form, that sounds to me like they want to know how you think the whole thing is built up of little tiny building blocks. So, are there any little fragments of melody which reappear at different moments throughout the piece? Do they reappear at structurally important points (e.g. when the music has modulated or come back to the home key)? Have they changed, and if so, how? I guess then you could think about how this differs from what you get in between in a ritornello form - do you have the motifs there as well, but in an altered form (e.g. upside down, back to front etc.)?

Hope that makes sense - good luck with the assignment!

By the way, Catherine Tackley is an OU music tutor and a former colleague of mine."

ChuppaChups Thu 23-Jul-09 16:12:46

thankyou, thankyou!! This has really helped.

Wigeon Thu 23-Jul-09 19:42:49

DH writes: "That's ok - anytime!"

ChuppaChups Mon 27-Jul-09 23:02:45

seriously? my next assignment is 750 word limit on a schubert piece, i will be back! am off to summer school next week so will post after then (am dreading figured bass lessons :^O)

ChuppaChups Tue 28-Jul-09 10:25:00

.. its schubert String quartet in A minor . x

ChuppaChups Wed 19-Aug-09 15:14:31

hi, any tips of bach chorale harmonization? have been stuck on it for 3 days and my bass line is everything but smooth. am close to tears!


Katisha Wed 19-Aug-09 15:24:23

IT's OK for the bass to be leaping about a bit at cadences and crucial progressions. Generally the bass is the jumpiest part - just don't make it unsingable I suppose? Can you put in some passing notes to smooth out the jumps?

MrsBadger Wed 19-Aug-09 15:35:18

use some inversions?

passing notes in other parts may help make notes easier to pitch and hence more singable too

Katisha Wed 19-Aug-09 15:40:24

Do you think they'll lift this thread for the Daily Mail?

MrsBadger Wed 19-Aug-09 15:41:43

we can only hope!

Katisha Wed 19-Aug-09 20:39:48

Are you waiting for Wigeon's DH OP?

ChuppaChups Wed 19-Aug-09 21:44:42

oh yes i am. where is he!

Wigeon Tue 01-Sep-09 21:07:18

Bonjour! DH (plus me and DD!) were in France! But we are back now. Except tonight DH is (rather appropriately) at a Prom. But I will point him in this direction tomorrow.

By the way, he totally hated harminising stuff etc at A-level and then had a great teacher at university and suddenly "got" harmonisation and now has a kinda geeky love of it...not that I'm bigging him up or anything...

Just off to watch that chap from The Choir on the telly, my DH's role model (sad but true). He even bears a passing resemblance to him...

Have you had any feedback about your last assignment yet?

Wigeon Wed 02-Sep-09 22:21:22

DH writes: "Help - pressure! I'm not sure I've got a lot more to add than what Katisha and Mrs Badger have said. Really hard to do this without looking at the notation you're using!

For me, it's all about getting an outline, then filling in the gaps. I would always recommend getting your cadences in first, then figure out a strong chord to start each phrase on. Then you can start filling in the gaps in the middle of each phrase.

I'm guessing you're at a stage where you've got all four parts in at the moment? If so, what I'd do at this stage if I had a jumpy bass line would be to go back to thinking about the chorale in just two parts - the treble and the bass. If you start by looking at your treble line, and thinking that each note needs a bass note that is either 1) the same, 2) a third below, 3) a fifth below or 4) a sixth below, you'll realise you don't have too many options - quite a liberating feeling. But you'll also (hopefully!) be able to find a path for your bass line which is a bit smoother. (By the way, by a third, fifth etc. below I mean 8ve plus a third fifth etc.)

Once you've done that, you can start to think about how to fill in the gaps - i.e. the alto and tenor parts. I personally wouldn't fret too much about whether you're using a IIb7 or a VI or whatever - as long as the starts and ends of phrases are strong, harmonies in the middle generally look after themselves.

I tend to find that you get jumpy bass lines when you're determined to use a particular chord - i.e. thinking vertically - rather than making sure each line works well with the others - i.e. thinking horizontally.

Good luck with it - and do say if any of this is unclear!"

Wigeon Wed 02-Sep-09 22:23:05

PS (Wigeon here again) - do you think this juicy post pretty much guarantees our appearance in next week's Daily Mail? DH reckons the world would be a much better place if they ran a weekly music theory column.

IdrisTheDragon Wed 02-Sep-09 22:37:38

I am sure you will be appearing in the Daily Mail next week smile

<Wigeon's SIL who is not too bad at music theory but not up to Mr Wigeon's standards>

Katisha Wed 02-Sep-09 22:43:13


ZippysMum Wed 02-Sep-09 22:52:47

Having read this thread AND cried while watching The Choir on iPlayer this evening, I am feeling both educated and cultured.

Thanks Wigeon and family grin

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now