[Smt-talk] Combining recent threads

Richard Hermann harhar at unm.edu
Sun May 5 10:19:12 PDT 2013

Dear SMT-Listers,

FYI: John Mehegan's four volume series on jazz improvisation, theory, and piano playing featured prefaces and introductions by Harold Arlen, Leonard Bernstein, Bill Evans, Tom Glazer, and Horace Silver eschewed chord symbols and advocated roman numerals. They were published by Amsco Music Publishing Co. (Watson-Guptil) in New York under various titles and dates.

Of course some of jazz and popular music are poorly served by roman numerals. Steve Strunk's use of Neo-R on Weather Report and Chick Corea points to a fruitful path there.

I inform my classes of chord-symbols and introduce them to lead-sheets, and we talk about their pluses and minuses.

I caution my students to resist one-size-fits-all kinds of thinking. The more tools in the tool chest, the better.


Richard Hermann, Ph.D., Prof. of Music
Regent's Lecturer
Univ. of New Mexico

On May 5, 2013, at 12:00 AM, Paul Setziol <setziolpaul at earthlink.net<mailto:setziolpaul at earthlink.net>> wrote:

Dear list,

Having just had enough time to read or reread recent posts, I am prompted to combine the recent threads about absence of lead sheets and expressions (some of them humorous yet thought provoking) on algorithms.

Several posts talked about the absence or presence of lead sheet symbols in texts and a couple talked about how good it would be if more texts adopted the practice as a step along the way to identifying functions.
I expected immediate contrary responses from some of the stalwarts on the list who allow me to sit back and read instead of writing, one of them surely having written something with which I more or less completely agree.

Unless I missed something, this time there were no posts with a contrary view.

My students are not allowed to put lead sheet symbols or the letter names of notes on papers or assignments where A) the notation of the piece is present and B) the piece being analyzed is a tonal piece devoid of "non functional harmonies".
The practice of putting in the letter names of notes (messing up a score the student is analyzing) is something I tell my students is trying to run a low IQ approach really fast to approximate a result which could be done another way more powerfully. It gets in the way of a student's progress towards a near instantaneous recognition
of groups of notes as functions  and semi or subconscious memory of voicing norms.
The basic problems for me with the lead sheet symbols in this context  are that, as identifiers of presence (rather than function) they mostly don't tell students anything that the little black dots don't already already indicate and that, as one is trying to guide the student through the evolution of musical materials and one is introducing the concept of non functional harmonies entering into practice (like Chopin Mazurkas where a short passage of non functional harmonies nicely demonstrates the substitution of process for functional identity), allowing lead sheet symbols would obscure which was which.


An example of a twofold problem - Consider the following -

Speaking of a Gr 6th in D minor, a post on the absence of lead sheet thread has:

"In lead sheet notation we indicate that chord in Dm as Bb7. ...The number is vii#6/V"

Students taught that the augmented sixth group is a grouping of scale tendencies including a chromatic indicator, easily learn the group and the diatonically responsible progression use of each by using movable Do in what I consider one of its most advantageous uses ( e.g.  le-do-me-fi for Gr ).  That this approach is appropriate is substantiated by the fact that the symbol Gr 6th remains unaltered regardless of the voicing/"inversion" of the collection.

Bb-d-f-G#  with the identities of le-do-me-fi (directly diatonically responsible identities) is misrepresented as a Bb7 in a piece comprised entirely of diatonically responsible harmonies because the enharmonic phenomenon (whether spelled differently or not and correctly called a Bb7) is a sol-ti-re-fa collection (secondary authentic implier identity of V7/N).  My being dedicated to teaching what I understand as the evolution of musical materials prompts me to teach that the application of Bb7 would be wrong in both cases because the first usage is not functionally a dominant seventh chord and the second usage is a secondary dominant and therefore a functional harmony.

About the number being "vii#6/V", let me refrain from completely opening that can of (insert favorite unpleasant something) by simply saying that I agree with the simple Norton Grove Concise Dictionary entry which states that the chord is a submediant (or bVI) chord.

Leaving it at that for the moment,

Best Wishes,

Paul Setziol
Musicianship Coordinator
De Anza College
Cupertino, California

setziolpaul at deanza.edu<mailto:setziolpaul at deanza.edu>

"The costs of risk avoidance are freedom and innovation."
"The creation of risk elimination is of a police state"  from USA National Public Radio interview - author sought

"Leap before you look"  Leroy Setziol

"Better sorry than safe"  Leroy Setziol

It's interesting to note that the sufficiency of enlightened self interest is espoused by those who need someone else to tell them what that is in actual cases - paraphrase of Jonathan Swift

Smt-talk mailing list
Smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org<mailto:Smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org>

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.societymusictheory.org/pipermail/smt-talk-societymusictheory.org/attachments/20130505/dd2dc5ba/attachment-0003.htm>

More information about the Smt-talk mailing list