@OP - Great thread.
In the video you said people with no knowledge can listen to music and feel the emotion therefore those people could write music with no knowledge. I will have to disagree and make a few points but I will also have a flipside to it all.
I only ever learnt a small amount of theory, it was enough to carry me a really long way. I guess I understand the basic principles. Also as I work with a collab partner with great knowledge I am constantly shown new things to do with theory - and they give me what I feel like is a bigger palette to work with. As I learn these things and now consider your argument, I must say I know these new techniques are things I would never have come to on my own. It's one thing to write a line of melody, but would one realize they can add to that a counter melody and there are tried and true ways to do it? This brings me to endless rhetorical questions of the same nature. Would one ever realize that there are certain notes within any twelve note scale that are way more dominant, when used they hit stronger and with more harmony than all the other notes, therefore these notes can be used in certain places, places where the music is being emphasized (3rd, 5th etc)? Would one ever come to the conclusion that starting and ending all of your phrases on the root note allows transitions to be super smooth and just feel right.... every time? Would one even be able to work within a scale at all - could their ears be so good they just happen to be writing within a certain scale and stay there, even using chords? How could one come to the conclusion that multiple notes played together sound good, and then be able to repeat that process with more and more all joined together (chord progression)?
A different point I want to make is that the biggest teacher of music is music itself, through the ages by all musicians known to us (thank you torrent downloads for this resource I could never attain so easily on my own). However this is not to say this is all one needs, see next point.
In my opinion, to write music that relates to any
listener as enjoyable and harmonious and translates as actual music the human brain can just engage in there are a few components combined that are necessary. First being a basic understanding of traditional western music theory as we know it. There are many fundamentals there that I can only imagine would take endless years of trial and error otherwise, fundamentals that are like cement when building a brick house. These are like a basic framework of music that need to be there if relating to the listener is your intention. The second component is that great teacher I spoke of - music itself and all of it, this will provide you with endless examples of breaking the rules and wild creativity and shock and horror and pleasantness that all work within this basic theoretical framework (as mentioned earlier you need rules to break rules.) The third component is story / narrative / lyricism. All art should be capable of telling a story. When an artist creates a piece of art and puts his heart and soul in it and tells a story from his childhood - there is an emotion created there in that piece that can be interpreted by any human brain, not that they will interpret the exact story or even anything about it - but that emotion will be translated though the piece and the recipient will feel / sense it. This is why someone who speaks a different language can interpret the emotion in a song from another country imo. See the attached image - The Scream - it's just ink on a canvas and a simple picture but I am sure you sense the emotion there, and I'm certain the painter (Edvard Munch) was trying to express it. Also listen to 'Night on bare mountain' and close your eyes and try imagine some type of scene, like a mouse being chased by a horrible monster, there is so much emotion being expressed there.
When you truly understand how to apply lyricism to musical instruments and not just vocals (thanks Benedict Roff-Marsh on Youtube), and couple that with fundamental music theory and a healthy passionate relationship with all of music itself (listen to lots of it and enjoy it) - then you are ready to call yourself a songwriter who can write music that any listener can feel the emotion in and relate to it as actual music. Also when you really stick to that idea of narrative you will never be stuck in any kind of loop like many of us have talked about a lot before imo.
I do not believe these theoretical rules limit ones creativity at all. You can follow the rules and not follow them whenever you want. I was writing a piece that had a really odd feel to it, and landing on the root note felt off and it felt better on another note so I just went with it even though I was writing in a particular scale. When I shared it with my friend he was a bit blown away as it had a very complex feel to it, yet I just broke that rule there because it felt right for the piece. I didn't let the rules dictate what I did at all, and I used them when it suited (most of the time).
So the flipside. There has been great points made for and against this in this thread (good ol' Reason peeps
) Someone mentioned that music came before music theory and that brings me to my flipside point. While I am of the opinion that theory and narrative and passion are essential, people have existed for many many thousands (?) of years before this theory thing was even thought of and I'm sure in that time many a sick party went on, lots of group drumming events, even ones that they tripped out to and drank blood infused with adrenaline and who knows what else. The rhythm in those drums would have been insane, psychedelic even, and it would have been passed on from generation to generation. Then there would be tribes who sang beautiful tribal songs, singing that harmonized in a beautiful and magical way yet there were no rules or fundamental ideas - but probably a certain emotion. I wonder if some of us went camping one night, and we truly let go of the fundamental ideas of music, and tried coming up with our own chants and drums and singing I bet we could do some pretty cool things just like our ancestors did.
^^ That brings me to my final point that reinforces my original opinion. Living in this day and age everyone in the western world is very used to hearing and knowing music created with traditional music theory and have likely heard no other types of music or have any desire to, so your best bet is to learn some of it if your intention is for people in the western world to listen to and potentially enjoy your music.
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