Discussion:
Learning basso continuo on the guitar
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Mental Handle
2013-04-06 10:48:16 UTC
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Here is another etude for learning and understanding
the basic concept of basso continuo on the guitar:



Do you like it?
Murdick
2013-04-06 15:44:02 UTC
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Cactus Wren
2013-04-06 17:24:05 UTC
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Mental Handle
2013-04-06 17:58:47 UTC
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Post by Cactus Wren
I wrote a book 30 years ago on playing from figured bass for the guitar...
Kent,
I became interested in this stuff for awhile when I first became aware
of figured bass. I, er, figured that it would really give you a leg up on
learning music in that idiom if you got fluency in improvising melodies and
harmonies on a given bassline. Rob MacKillop also may have written
something on it.
Post by Cactus Wren
Do you know of anyone who ever mastered this style?
Mastered? Johann Sebastian Bach has mastered it ;)

http://youtu.be/KyCj7Q55oJ4
Steve Freides
2013-04-06 19:50:16 UTC
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Post by Cactus Wren
Post by Murdick
I wrote a book 30 years ago on playing from figured bass for the
guitar. I never tried to get it published. It was based on playing
four note chords which are quite easy to learn since I based them on
five major and three minor larger chord forms. What you would do is
play iii, vi, ii, iv, v7, vii7 i in all inversions and in all major
and minor keys (Shearer had us do this). Then I had a bunch of
progressive exercises with figured bass. It only took a few weeks to
learn to do simple pieces of which there are many. Eventually you
would bring the four note chords down to three and two note chords
and be able to use chords that were not closely related to the
original chord forms. It's like learning anything else, you first
learn to be competent with a few forms and then expand on that.
It's exactly the way I teach teach jazz rhythm chords. You can play
every jazz tune ever written with eight four note fingerings - fewer
than that if you use shell chords.
Kent,
I became interested in this stuff for awhile when I first became
aware of figured bass. I, er, figured that it would really give you a
leg up on learning music in that idiom if you got fluency in
improvising melodies and harmonies on a given bassline. Rob
MacKillop also may have written something on it. Do you know of
anyone who ever mastered this style?
Doing this on keyboard was a requirement of my education at Mannes
College.

There are many people who have mastered this - people who play early
music on keyboard must be able to do this. Note that quite a number of
pieces of music were written as only as only a solo line plus a continuo
part.

I don't imagine it would be a big stretch for me to realize a figured
bass on guitar.

-S-
Mental Handle
2013-04-06 20:09:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steve Freides
Post by Cactus Wren
Post by Murdick
I wrote a book 30 years ago on playing from figured bass for the
guitar. I never tried to get it published. It was based on playing
four note chords which are quite easy to learn since I based them on
five major and three minor larger chord forms. What you would do is
play iii, vi, ii, iv, v7, vii7 i in all inversions and in all major
and minor keys (Shearer had us do this). Then I had a bunch of
progressive exercises with figured bass. It only took a few weeks to
learn to do simple pieces of which there are many. Eventually you
would bring the four note chords down to three and two note chords
and be able to use chords that were not closely related to the
original chord forms. It's like learning anything else, you first
learn to be competent with a few forms and then expand on that.
It's exactly the way I teach teach jazz rhythm chords. You can play
every jazz tune ever written with eight four note fingerings - fewer
than that if you use shell chords.
Kent,
I became interested in this stuff for awhile when I first became
aware of figured bass. I, er, figured that it would really give you a
leg up on learning music in that idiom if you got fluency in
improvising melodies and harmonies on a given bassline. Rob
MacKillop also may have written something on it. Do you know of
anyone who ever mastered this style?
Doing this on keyboard was a requirement of my education at Mannes
College.
There are many people who have mastered this - people who play early
music on keyboard must be able to do this. Note that quite a number of
pieces of music were written as only as only a solo line plus a continuo
part.
I don't imagine it would be a big stretch for me to realize a figured
bass on guitar.
Yep and I even think one cannot understand diatonic music without
virtually understanding b.c. because it just names the de-facto
architecture of this music. Ok, when you learn just functional
harmony, where the dominant chord is the dominant chord, one never
can "understand" the 2-chord (which is called Sekundakkord in german),
for instance, which really IS a class of its own that one must have
been given this "audio perception" some name sometime in the same
way he recognizes the 3rd in the dominant bass chord which is the
leading tone of the key und which really sound like a 6-chord.
The school of functional harmony,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_harmony just dismisses
and discards the function of the bass note which is not only
clearly audible and perceptible but a very main component in
music, which is why jazz and pop music notation "returned" to
write the bass note on demand like G/F which would be a 2-chord
in b.c. In this way it is REALLY impossible to "avoid" the
concept of b.c. which is just the written architecture of
diatonic music ;)
Mental Handle
2013-04-06 20:12:02 UTC
Permalink
... In this way it is REALLY impossible to "avoid" the
concept of b.c. which is just the written architecture of
diatonic music ;)
... the explicitely numbered harmonic architecture of diatonic music
Steve Freides
2013-04-06 23:06:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mental Handle
Post by Steve Freides
Post by Cactus Wren
Post by Murdick
I wrote a book 30 years ago on playing from figured bass for the
guitar. I never tried to get it published. It was based on playing
four note chords which are quite easy to learn since I based them
on five major and three minor larger chord forms. What you would
do is play iii, vi, ii, iv, v7, vii7 i in all inversions and in
all major and minor keys (Shearer had us do this). Then I had a
bunch of progressive exercises with figured bass. It only took a
few weeks to learn to do simple pieces of which there are many.
Eventually you would bring the four note chords down to three and
two note chords and be able to use chords that were not closely
related to the original chord forms. It's like learning anything
else, you first learn to be competent with a few forms and then
expand on that. It's exactly the way I teach teach jazz rhythm
chords. You can play every jazz tune ever written with eight four
note fingerings - fewer than that if you use shell chords.
Kent,
I became interested in this stuff for awhile when I first became
aware of figured bass. I, er, figured that it would really give you
a leg up on learning music in that idiom if you got fluency in
improvising melodies and harmonies on a given bassline. Rob
MacKillop also may have written something on it. Do you know of
anyone who ever mastered this style?
Doing this on keyboard was a requirement of my education at Mannes
College.
There are many people who have mastered this - people who play early
music on keyboard must be able to do this. Note that quite a number
of pieces of music were written as only as only a solo line plus a
continuo part.
I don't imagine it would be a big stretch for me to realize a figured
bass on guitar.
Yep and I even think one cannot understand diatonic music without
virtually understanding b.c. because it just names the de-facto
architecture of this music. Ok, when you learn just functional
harmony, where the dominant chord is the dominant chord, one never
can "understand" the 2-chord (which is called Sekundakkord in german),
for instance, which really IS a class of its own that one must have
been given this "audio perception" some name sometime in the same
way he recognizes the 3rd in the dominant bass chord which is the
leading tone of the key und which really sound like a 6-chord.
The school of functional harmony,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_harmony just dismisses
and discards the function of the bass note which is not only
clearly audible and perceptible but a very main component in
music, which is why jazz and pop music notation "returned" to
write the bass note on demand like G/F which would be a 2-chord
in b.c. In this way it is REALLY impossible to "avoid" the
concept of b.c. which is just the written architecture of
diatonic music ;)
I don't know where you have come up with this "disagreement" between the
concepts of basso continuo and functional harmony.

I suspect that you are trying to stress the importance of linear motion
in common practice period music, and that is undeniably true, but so is
functional harmony true. IMHO, the definitve text book on the subject
is "Harmony and Voice Leading" by Ed Aldwell and Carl Schacter. An
earlier book which makes much the same point, and which also teaches
species counterpoint in the context of the major and minor tonalities of
CP period music is "Counterpoint in Composition" by Felix Salzer and
Carl Schachter. Both of these books reflect the thinking of Heinrich
Schenker and indeed there is a lineage to be traced here from Schenker
to Salzer to Schachter. Schenker stresses the equal importance of both
the vertical (chordal, functional harmonic) and the horizontal (linear,
contrapuntal) aspects of CP period music.

Larry, I shouldn't have started down this road, should I? <sigh>

-S-

-S-
Mental Handle
2013-04-07 08:22:33 UTC
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Post by Steve Freides
I don't know where you have come up with this "disagreement" between the
concepts of basso continuo and functional harmony.
I just stated that a typical functional harmony analysis could be

funcion T t s D7 t

while the same in b.c. notation contains more information like

c.p. # 6 b 2 6
bass c as f f es

But thats not all, especially in order to write down any kind
of the variety of possible suspended notes or anticipated notes
or even any (!) kind of combination of notes in b.c. is easily
representable so that c.p. simply provides much more information
than functional harmony.

There are also "problems", for instance, when you write things
like D D S D D Tp you force the recepient into an hearing mode
that he otherwise not would have perceived - You are getting
fiddled into a certain direction no matter how ambivalent
harmony can be and also is!

You just cannot analyze complex harmony like a fugue when the
bass plays a complex theme - while its componist EVEN THINKS
in terms of the b.c. capabilities when he develops his cantus
firmus and the counterpoints - he can /see/ the possibilities
which a melody offers for counterpoint, even in the bass.

But you even could not correctly state the harmonic functions
of a phrygian passage, because the phrygian mode just does not
exist in functional harmony, but it does exist for the Beatles,
for instance...

But OK, "everyone" today thinks just in I IV I V - "architecture",
and there is no need to write things like fugues, so what ;)
Mental Handle
2013-04-07 17:09:24 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 7 Apr 2013 10:22:33 +0200, Mental Handle wrote:

Some typos...
Post by Mental Handle
But thats not all, especially in order to write down any kind
of the variety of possible suspended notes or anticipated notes
or even any (!) kind of combination of notes in b.c. is easily
representable so that c.p.
b.c.
Post by Mental Handle
simply provides much more information than functional harmony.
There are also "problems", for instance, when you write things
like D D S D D Tp
The write such possibly like:

(D) (D) S (D) (D) Tp

or, even totally unambigous:

((D)D) S ((D)D)) Tp
Post by Mental Handle
you force the recepient into an hearing mode
that he
might
Post by Mental Handle
otherwise not would have perceived
http://youtu.be/KyCj7Q55oJ4
Steve Freides
2013-04-07 19:07:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mental Handle
But OK, "everyone" today thinks just in I IV I V - "architecture",
and there is no need to write things like fugues, so what ;)
No, I don't think that's true at all. Read Harmony and Voice Leading
and you'll see a very balanced approach, and it's quite a popular
college theory text.

-S-
Mental Handle
2013-04-07 19:45:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steve Freides
Post by Mental Handle
But OK, "everyone" today thinks just in I IV I V - "architecture",
and there is no need to write things like fugues, so what ;)
No, I don't think that's true at all.
Didn't you notice the smiley?
Post by Steve Freides
Read Harmony and Voice Leading
I did of course.
Post by Steve Freides
and you'll see a very balanced approach, and it's quite a popular
college theory text.
Yes - you can use whatever harmony and theory school you want - but
MY result is what I have said - I try to think in b.c. and I got
pleasant results - even when I learned all that function stuff before.

It is a fact that such schools differ in many aspects and while the
functional approach is much easier to follow first it also has its
limits, another example - tell me the functions of the chord line
F - G - A in the Beatles song Instant Karma (at the text in verse 1
"pretty soon you're gonna be dead").
Mental Handle
2013-04-08 19:36:01 UTC
Permalink
the functions of the chord line F - G - A in the Beatles song
A