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Topic: Looking for instruction Harmony/Arranging in DC area

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  1. #1
    New Member Fox's Avatar
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    Looking for instruction Harmony/Arranging in DC area

    [Oops....posted this in wrong thread...will copy this in the right one. Sorry...]


    Greetings,

    I'm looking for someone (or an organization) who could provide individual or group instruction in harmony, arranging, and composing. I live in the DC area (in Alexandria). I know of a few places I'll be calling (e.g., Levine School of Music, George Mason Univ., local musician's union), but any names of good people to work with or good leads to follow would be great.

    I am a guitarist (less of jazz, more of pop and folk), and I have studied a fair bit of theory. I am currently working my way through Gordon Delamont's "Modern Harmonic Technique," and what I really need is someone who can encourage me and check my work as I move along in my studies. This book has been perfect for me (as Piston's, for example, was just to academic, and too thick with classical references...)...but whatever book my tutor suggests will work fine for me. I just want to learn!

    Any suggestions?

    Many thanks,

    Fox

  2. #2

    Re: Looking for instruction Harmony/Arranging in DC area

    Contact me. I'm just south of Richmond and I have an entire curriculum I can put you through privately depending on your goals.

    Just PM me.

    Peter Alexander
    Peter L. Alexander
    www.professionalorchestration.com
    www.alexanderpublishing.com
    Learn it right the first time.

  3. #3

    Re: Looking for instruction Harmony/Arranging in DC area

    I would very highly recommend studying Lyle Murphy's System of Horizontal Composition (a.k.a. the "Equal Interval System") with David Blumberg. You can read a bit about it at www.equalinterval.com.

    The website is a little cryptic, so I'll share a little bit about the material. First of all, the course is NOT about "tonal harmony" or serialism, nor is it a shortcut or a gimmick.

    I've heard EIS described as the "unified field theory of music", which I think is fitting. It doesn't necessarily contradict of traditional theory, but it defintely takes you out of the "iii-vi-ii-V7-I" tonal box immeidately and in a very logical fashion. You could use the techniques to write things that relate to the normal major/minor diatonic universe, but that's a passing consideration in the overall course. It's an original/alternate way of looking at the machine of music all the way up to the way-out 20th century techniques.

    Book 2, which is the 'germ' of the course, is about voice-leading. You learn to write music 'one line at a time' using a basic technique which he calls "change of position". This basic concept is explored to its limits by the end of Book 2 so that you can basically voice-lead any chord to any other chord, which is essential if you plan on writing for strings, brass, choir, etc. BTW, the method doesn't limit you to one way of voice-leading. Parallel movement is OK as well as "none of the above" voice-leading, but you have to indentify it as such.

    "Equal Interval" refers to the bass notes (or "root tones"). The bulk of the assignments are a series of controlled experiments writing voice-led progressions of a single chord type over the various Equal Interval bass line movements (half-steps, whole steps, minor thirds, major thirds, perfect fourths and split-octave) both ascending and descending. Various techniques for altering the individual voices are explored along the way. I guess you could think of it as an expanded version of figured bass.

    From a writing perspective, it continues to open many fresh harmonic doors that I knew little or nothing about. I've even picked up some chord types/voicings that I never thought of using before, which is no small feat for an advanced jazz piano player like me. The neat thing is that it's not just the usual case of "here's a wierd chord, play it in parallel fashion through the cycle of fifths", you actually get to understand how to use those structures, resolve them and voice-lead them.

    If you want to hear some music done by some graduates of the course you can go here:http://www..net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=961

  4. #4
    New Member Fox's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for instruction Harmony/Arranging in DC area

    Interesting. I'd never heard of "Equal Interval System". I don't think that's the direction for me at this point, but may be down the line.
    Thanks,

    Fox

    Quote Originally Posted by jsaras View Post
    I would very highly recommend studying Lyle Murphy's System of Horizontal Composition (a.k.a. the "Equal Interval System") with David Blumberg. You can read a bit about it at www.equalinterval.com.

    The website is a little cryptic....

  5. #5

    Re: Looking for instruction Harmony/Arranging in DC area

    Quote Originally Posted by jsaras View Post
    I would very highly recommend studying Lyle Murphy's System of Horizontal Composition (a.k.a. the "Equal Interval System") with David Blumberg. You can read a bit about it at www.equalinterval.com.

    The website is a little cryptic, so I'll share a little bit about the material. First of all, the course is NOT about "tonal harmony" or serialism, nor is it a shortcut or a gimmick.

    I've heard EIS described as the "unified field theory of music", which I think is fitting. It doesn't necessarily contradict of traditional theory, but it defintely takes you out of the "iii-vi-ii-V7-I" tonal box immeidately and in a very logical fashion. You could use the techniques to write things that relate to the normal major/minor diatonic universe, but that's a passing consideration in the overall course. It's an original/alternate way of looking at the machine of music all the way up to the way-out 20th century techniques.

    Book 2, which is the 'germ' of the course, is about voice-leading. You learn to write music 'one line at a time' using a basic technique which he calls "change of position".This basic concept is explored to its limits by the end of Book 2 so that you can basically voice-lead any chord to any other chord, which is essential if you plan on writing for strings, brass, choir, etc. BTW, the method doesn't limit you to one way of voice-leading. Parallel movement is OK as well as "none of the above" voice-leading, but you have to indentify it as such. . . . . .
    First, thanks for the link to the web site. I checked it out. This ". . . System of Horizontal Harmony" seems worth exploring.

    Curious. You mention that "Book 2" is about voice-leading. That it's about writing "one line at a time" with regards to writing for strings, brass, voice, etc. About 25+ years ago, when I attended Berklee College of Music, there used to be an advanced writing course called something like "Line Writing Course". I am not sure of the exact name of the course, but it was something like this. If I remember correctly, a composition or arranging student had to be "worthy" to attend this particular course. Could this course (taught at Berklee 25+ years ago) be the same or similar course that you are now recommending? Both seem similar in approach to writing harmony.

    Thanks for sharing the link. I book-marked it for myself.

    Ted
    Music and humor are healthy for the soul.

  6. #6

    Re: Looking for instruction Harmony/Arranging in DC area

    I also heard about that Berklee course. I wonder if that teacher was a student of Lyle "Spud" Murphy and perhaps did a redux of some of the concepts. Spud had a lot of students. I was surprised to find out that the great Gerald Wilson was one of his first students.

    The only prerequisite to study EIS is the knowledge of reading/writing bass and treble clef. A basic knowledge of triads and seventh chords is also helpful, but not necessary. The course is very detailed and assumes that you know nothing starting at the very beginning. The underlying principle is extremely simple, but the course is designed to give you a working knowledge of how to exploit every imaginable facet of this harmonic mechanism, which means YOU have to write every week. You certainly do not need to be an advanced student to get started. It's actually much easier than traditional theory.

    I used to think that it would be cool to have an abbreviated version of the course that just laid out the theoretical basis in a stand-alone book, but there is a LOT of material and it probably would be a mess in the end. You really need to complete all the assignments along the way to reap any benefit. I'm studying the material privately as well as in a group context at a college nearby. The problem with the college course is that virtually no homework is required to be turned in, and I doubt that the students really "get it".

  7. #7

    Re: Looking for instruction Harmony/Arranging in DC area

    I spoke yesterday to David Blumberg. He is familiar with Herb Pomeroy's Line Writing course, but it is not related to EIS in any way.

  8. #8

    Re: Looking for instruction Harmony/Arranging in DC area

    Quote Originally Posted by jsaras View Post
    I spoke yesterday to David Blumberg. He is familiar with Herb Pomeroy's Line Writing course, but it is not related to EIS in any way.
    Thanks for the update!

    I do remember the "Herb Pomeroy Line Writing Course" being available. Wish I tried out for it. . . . 25+ years ago. . . (Ugh! How time flies! )

    Ted
    Music and humor are healthy for the soul.

  9. #9

    Re: Looking for instruction Harmony/Arranging in DC area

    I had Line Writing at Berklee. And then I got to Los Angeles and it ceased to be of any importance whatsoever in studio work. The last chart I wrote using Line Writing was in Boston.
    Peter L. Alexander
    www.professionalorchestration.com
    www.alexanderpublishing.com
    Learn it right the first time.

  10. #10

    Re: Looking for instruction Harmony/Arranging in DC area

    Quote Originally Posted by peter269 View Post
    I had Line Writing at Berklee. And then I got to Los Angeles and it ceased to be of any importance whatsoever in studio work. The last chart I wrote using Line Writing was in Boston.
    Why was that the case? Is it because the techniques sounded too "Ellington" or otherwise dated?

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