Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

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D.Cass
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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by D.Cass » Tue Jul 31, 2018 7:36 am

The work by McFadden is actually well done. Have there been anything like this before not to my knowledge and diffently not aimed directly at classical guitarist. Not even the best jazz guitar books goes into this much depth as far as traditional harmony. Jazz books leave out a lot of information or simplify the concepts. As far as chords are concerned most jazz books fall into two categories memorize these set of chords ( not explaining the significance of the voicings) or drop 2 or 3 voicings ( which is a recent in musically history context). As far as scales are concerned they tend lean towards the cage system and never deal with the cell method. Only two books come to mind that deal with the cell method. Again they don’t deal with chord voicings and if they do they don’t deal with inversions or spread triads. No jazz guitar book addresses +6, n6, or various types of modulations. Not mention giving musical examples from repertoire. However, there are still many things left out. For example, 20th century composition techniques, double chromatic medians, many other things. But then the book would be 500 pages. Is there any thing new? Most things no, but some of the concepts one would have grab theory text book and learn it on the guitar and then find musical examples in the repertoire.

crazyrach97
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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by crazyrach97 » Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:19 pm

I've been reading through the thesis for a couple of weeks now and just ordered a copy of the commercial book. It's expensive, but maybe some sales will inspire Dr. McFadden to write a volume 2. ;-)

D.Cass
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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by D.Cass » Tue Jul 31, 2018 6:23 pm

crazyrach97 wrote:
Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:19 pm
I've been reading through the thesis for a couple of weeks now and just ordered a copy of the commercial book. It's expensive, but maybe some sales will inspire Dr. McFadden to write a volume 2. ;-)
So, what is your take so far? I notice that you come from a rock/blues background so I imagine the thought process is similar as far as position and patterns. What is your take on the scale approach? Is it similar or different than how you have learned scales? I am intrigued by how effective the cell method is. I once created a theory, fortboard logic class, course built on the idea. I noticed it sticks with students more than the traditional 5 position approach. Since it really breaks scales down to a couple of finger patterns.

crazyrach97
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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by crazyrach97 » Tue Jul 31, 2018 6:51 pm

I think overall it's really solid, bearing in mind that when it comes to classical I'm not really a qualified judge but I DO know theory really well. I'm not sure what I think of the scale cells yet. I'm so used to thinking in three notes per string for diatonic scales that I have to get out of that mindset before I form an opinion. I've read the whole thing, but I'm going to start working in earnest from it once I have a real copy I can put on a stand.

mainterm
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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by mainterm » Tue Jul 31, 2018 10:56 pm

2handband wrote:
Mon Dec 26, 2016 2:23 am
Edited to add: It's worth mentioning that Aguado's first guitar method contained what I gather was a pretty damned comprehensive (for it's day) discussion of theory and harmony. I'd love to look that over in depth but it's never been translated and I don't read Spanish. Or I shouldn't say it's NEVER been translated... Editions Orphee did a translation a few years ago but opted at the 11th hour to just publish the exercises and not the text. Ophee's explanation of this makes no sense to me, and I suspect the truth is that they wanted something they could retail for $20 or less. I'd happily pay top dollar for a modern edition with a full translation.
Well here's what McFadden has to say about Aguado's 1825/6 Escuela (page 22):

"Aguado's method is obviously thorough but there is no real attempt at direct integration between theoretical principles and their application on the guitar. It discusses harmonic elements but ultimately, it is not intended as a method for harmonic practice on the guitar and thus has little to offer the modern student of fretboard harmony."

From my perspective, the above is arguable to say the least. When western civilization decided to start writing things down (like inventing music notation), it wasn't necessarily because they didn't know how to before...

In general, McFadden's treatment of the historical sources, his assertions about them and the overall tone in that section of the paper has turned me off the whole business.

It seems from other posts in this thread that there's some good practical information later on and perhaps this is a valuable contribution to the literature - a publisher certainly thinks so. And that is just fine.

crazyrach97
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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by crazyrach97 » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:25 am

mainterm wrote:
Tue Jul 31, 2018 10:56 pm
2handband wrote:
Mon Dec 26, 2016 2:23 am
Edited to add: It's worth mentioning that Aguado's first guitar method contained what I gather was a pretty damned comprehensive (for it's day) discussion of theory and harmony. I'd love to look that over in depth but it's never been translated and I don't read Spanish. Or I shouldn't say it's NEVER been translated... Editions Orphee did a translation a few years ago but opted at the 11th hour to just publish the exercises and not the text. Ophee's explanation of this makes no sense to me, and I suspect the truth is that they wanted something they could retail for $20 or less. I'd happily pay top dollar for a modern edition with a full translation.
Well here's what McFadden has to say about Aguado's 1825/6 Escuela (page 22):

"Aguado's method is obviously thorough but there is no real attempt at direct integration between theoretical principles and their application on the guitar. It discusses harmonic elements but ultimately, it is not intended as a method for harmonic practice on the guitar and thus has little to offer the modern student of fretboard harmony."

From my perspective, the above is arguable to say the least. When western civilization decided to start writing things down (like inventing music notation), it wasn't necessarily because they didn't know how to before...

In general, McFadden's treatment of the historical sources, his assertions about them and the overall tone in that section of the paper has turned me off the whole business.

It seems from other posts in this thread that there's some good practical information later on and perhaps this is a valuable contribution to the literature - a publisher certainly thinks so. And that is just fine.
Unfortunately I can't read the theory section of the Escuela. It is in Spanish. :(

Regardless of whether McFadden's assessment of historical sources is accurate or not, I don't think it's a good indicator of the value of his own work.

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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by guitarrista » Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:24 am

For those who have read at least chapter 3, section iii of the dissertation: is it clear to you why the scale cells 1,2,3 and 4 (major and separately harmonic minor) are in the particular form they are? I didn't get a clear sense of the rationale for the specific choices of defining each and presenting it. I went through this some months ago, but as far as I can remember, I think the 4 cells for each are not all scale cells possible given their definition.
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D.Cass
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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by D.Cass » Wed Aug 01, 2018 7:09 am

Well if you combine no1 and no4 you have an instant 2 octave scale. No. 1 and no 4 is a scale in 2 positions. What is odd is typically no 1 and no. 2 are considered the same cell, not mention no 1 and 4 are viewed as the same cell. Also he doesn’t go into detail on how transpose the cells to and adjencent string. There are 3 cells for each scale. He drops the third one probably because it is not popular to play considering that it start with 2 whole steps and requires a stretch. Is it complete thorough in the scales; no not at all. However, that in itself could be a book. What find intriguing is that starts break down a major scale to a couple of basic fingering without having know to much about the notes. It seems like a good starting point, but by no means an ending point. The down fall of the cell method is takes awhile to stitch them all together, but most will have stronger understanding of scale construction. Maybe that answers your question

crazyrach97
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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by crazyrach97 » Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:39 am

D.Cass wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 7:09 am
Well if you combine no1 and no4 you have an instant 2 octave scale. No. 1 and no 4 is a scale in 2 positions. What is odd is typically no 1 and no. 2 are considered the same cell, not mention no 1 and 4 are viewed as the same cell. Also he doesn’t go into detail on how transpose the cells to and adjencent string. There are 3 cells for each scale. He drops the third one probably because it is not popular to play considering that it start with 2 whole steps and requires a stretch. Is it complete thorough in the scales; no not at all. However, that in itself could be a book. What find intriguing is that starts break down a major scale to a couple of basic fingering without having know to much about the notes. It seems like a good starting point, but by no means an ending point. The down fall of the cell method is takes awhile to stitch them all together, but most will have stronger understanding of scale construction. Maybe that answers your question
Well, just based on reading through it I think the whole scale cell concept might be a weak point. I'm not going to judge till I've worked through the book in detail, but it's the thing that makes the least sense to me. If he's looking to promote fluency it just doesn't seem as efficient. I wonder if maybe this is an area where the rock/jazz world has come up with systems that are better than the ones classical guitarists are still using?

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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by D.Cass » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:04 pm

I absolutely agree with you that jazz/rock world are far ahead of the game when up comes to learning scales. The traditional classical method, or at least what I have seen, would be to write out all the scales. For example, Aaron Shearer’s scale book, which is 269 pages of scales, written in each position, with scale patterns, and position shifts. Contemporary music based books have condensed down to less than 100 pages and include a lot more scales. Now, if you already know how scales work and are fluent in scales then yes that portion of the thesis is would be not be it’s strong point. But it is a nice attempt to try to bridge the gap between the two universes.
To be honest I have not worked or read through the whole desertation, only skimming through it. But on a few glossing over it contains enough information to work congruently with a college level theory classes.

crazyrach97
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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by crazyrach97 » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:09 pm

D.Cass wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:04 pm
But on a few glossing over it contains enough information to work congruently with a college level theory classes.
I ran that by my boyfriend, who has a music degree. He says the way it reads to him is that the book is really intended to be used AFTER a student has gone through first year theory. That it would be more logical to run it congruently with a second year theory class.

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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by D.Cass » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:33 pm

Maybe, maybe not. It would depend on how much time one would spend on each section. I by no means disagree with him. It would make a lot he makes a lot sense to do that. Point is that the material is presented in the same fashion. Which I cannot think of any approach that does that.

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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by guitarrista » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:54 pm

D.Cass wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 7:09 am
Well if you combine no1 and no4 you have an instant 2 octave scale. No. 1 and no 4 is a scale in 2 positions. What is odd is typically no 1 and no. 2 are considered the same cell, not mention no 1 and 4 are viewed as the same cell. Also he doesn’t go into detail on how transpose the cells to and adjencent string. There are 3 cells for each scale. He drops the third one probably because it is not popular to play considering that it start with 2 whole steps and requires a stretch.
Ah yes, thank you; the apparent oddities are coming back to me now.

Of the four major scale cells, #1 and #2 are identical, and further, #4 is identical to both #1 and #2 in diatonic progression (well it has to be) but its shape on the lowest of three strings is shifted by one fret because of the 3rd to 2nd string transition (major third vs. a fourth for all others) which is how it is introduced. So really #1, #2, and #4 are the same, as you say, except for the slight shift in shape when applying over string where the lowest two are g and b. Then #3 is odd looking and the only 4-string cell of the four.

Of the four minor scale cells, #1 and #2 are identical. Then #3 and #4 are identical in diatonic progression but shape in the second highest string shift by one fret because one of them spans through the 3rd-to-2nd string interval of a major third, whereas the other one does not.

I don't get the thinking behind these choices. If we are covering all the ways a shape can shift because of the major third oddity on the guitar, then there are other cases not addressed. (e.g. the shape-shift falling on the middle string of the 3-string scale cell rather than on the lowest as shown in major #4; or on the highest string). I guess these are excluded because the horizontal span might be 5 frets instead of 4? (so what); but this is not explained.
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mainterm
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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by mainterm » Wed Aug 01, 2018 8:43 pm

crazyrach97 wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:25 am
mainterm wrote:
Tue Jul 31, 2018 10:56 pm
2handband wrote:
Mon Dec 26, 2016 2:23 am
Edited to add: It's worth mentioning that Aguado's first guitar method contained what I gather was a pretty damned comprehensive (for it's day) discussion of theory and harmony. I'd love to look that over in depth but it's never been translated and I don't read Spanish. Or I shouldn't say it's NEVER been translated... Editions Orphee did a translation a few years ago but opted at the 11th hour to just publish the exercises and not the text. Ophee's explanation of this makes no sense to me, and I suspect the truth is that they wanted something they could retail for $20 or less. I'd happily pay top dollar for a modern edition with a full translation.
Well here's what McFadden has to say about Aguado's 1825/6 Escuela (page 22):

"Aguado's method is obviously thorough but there is no real attempt at direct integration between theoretical principles and their application on the guitar. It discusses harmonic elements but ultimately, it is not intended as a method for harmonic practice on the guitar and thus has little to offer the modern student of fretboard harmony."

From my perspective, the above is arguable to say the least. When western civilization decided to start writing things down (like inventing music notation), it wasn't necessarily because they didn't know how to before...

In general, McFadden's treatment of the historical sources, his assertions about them and the overall tone in that section of the paper has turned me off the whole business.

It seems from other posts in this thread that there's some good practical information later on and perhaps this is a valuable contribution to the literature - a publisher certainly thinks so. And that is just fine.
Unfortunately I can't read the theory section of the Escuela. It is in Spanish. :(

Regardless of whether McFadden's assessment of historical sources is accurate or not, I don't think it's a good indicator of the value of his own work.
crazyrach97 - I think you are coming from a good place, enthusiastic, ready to dive into various materials, curious, dedicated - keep going. I'm just adding to the discussion, not trying to single your post out for dispute.

So, I don't read Spanish either, but it's not that hard to work out the gist of what Aguado's getting at with a combination of guitar knowledge/skill and internet translation. If one carefully examines the figures and musical examples further clues to intent are found. Of course it would be nice if all of these primary sources were translated, but translators make mistakes too. Modern research methods/standards imply or outright require that serious academic examination of sources requires language skills to match.

McFadden's dissertation is entitled "Fretboard Harmony for University Study: Method and Historical Context" - the historical context bit is perhaps just a distraction as the treatment he gives to modern conception of functional/CPE music theory applied to fretboard knowledge (the Method bit) is far more elaborate and is clearly where the bulk of his energy as a thinker/practitioner was spent. As I mentioned - I think this is fine. For me, the Method he proposes is a bit over complicated and lacking in practical applications. I suspected that his high-level fly by of historical sources was lip service to historical context, while the real aim was to outline his method. Maybe his advisors explained that he needed to do more than just layout a method and so he begrudgingly dug some holes in the history yard... I don't know. Just speculation.

Going back to historical context however: Rameau's ideas and the various lives they took on through subsequent theorists and composition teachers were well established by the time Sor or Aguado were writing guitar methods. It was already mentioned in this thread that Aguado in his 1843 method dropped the theory from his 1825/6 Escuela - this was a choice. The implications of this choice are pretty deep. You'll find plenty of posts/threads on DC about this too - it's one of the contentious, divisive topics (how much music theory does a guitar performer need? ... ready, aim, fire). Sor too states in his method (Merrick trans.):

"To know the nature of them, it is unnecessary to learn that the major third consists of two tones, the minor third of a tone and a half; that the diatonic scale, in the major mode, has three major thirds and four minor thirds; that the major thirds a reproduced by the tonic, dominant, and subdominant, and the minor thirds by the submediant, mediant superdominant, and the lead note. It is necessary merely to know the proportion of the scale, ..."

(emphasis mine)

and later:

"Having established my system for thirds, no more was necessary for me to do than to establish one for sixths, in order to have a positive rule for the fingering of all chords imaginable. I shall not relate all the reflections that I made on the subject, because I should not be understood but by harmonists, and because, as long as I can avoid language not comprehensible for every body, I shall not employ it."

(emphasis mine)

I've just pulled these up quickly, but these statements open an interesting topic for exploration: given the historical record of guitar methodologies, what is the case for application of CPE harmonic analysis to fretboard mastery? I mean McFadden assumes that there is a strong case with no counter argument. There is no shortage of opinions on this, but has anyone objectively studied the relation between knowledge of functional harmony and improved instrumental performance? For my part I'm not convinced yet that McFadden's approach isn't actually damaging - not saying it is, but also that it isn't...

Anyway, wrote too much on that one. Not a good enough writer to be allowed to do that. I'll be quiet.

crazyrach97
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Re: Mcfadden thesis will blow your mind...

Post by crazyrach97 » Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:35 pm

mainterm wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 8:43 pm

Going back to historical context however: Rameau's ideas and the various lives they took on through subsequent theorists and composition teachers were well established by the time Sor or Aguado were writing guitar methods. It was already mentioned in this thread that Aguado in his 1843 method dropped the theory from his 1825/6 Escuela - this was a choice. The implications of this choice are pretty deep. You'll find plenty of posts/threads on DC about this too - it's one of the contentious, divisive topics (how much music theory does a guitar performer need? ... ready, aim, fire). Sor too states in his method (Merrick trans.):

"To know the nature of them, it is unnecessary to learn that the major third consists of two tones, the minor third of a tone and a half; that the diatonic scale, in the major mode, has three major thirds and four minor thirds; that the major thirds a reproduced by the tonic, dominant, and subdominant, and the minor thirds by the submediant, mediant superdominant, and the lead note. It is necessary merely to know the proportion of the scale, ..."

(emphasis mine)

and later:

"Having established my system for thirds, no more was necessary for me to do than to establish one for sixths, in order to have a positive rule for the fingering of all chords imaginable. I shall not relate all the reflections that I made on the subject, because I should not be understood but by harmonists, and because, as long as I can avoid language not comprehensible for every body, I shall not employ it."

(emphasis mine)

I've just pulled these up quickly, but these statements open an interesting topic for exploration: given the historical record of guitar methodologies, what is the case for application of CPE harmonic analysis to fretboard mastery? I mean McFadden assumes that there is a strong case with no counter argument. There is no shortage of opinions on this, but has anyone objectively studied the relation between knowledge of functional harmony and improved instrumental performance? For my part I'm not convinced yet that McFadden's approach isn't actually damaging - not saying it is, but also that it isn't...

Anyway, wrote too much on that one. Not a good enough writer to be allowed to do that. I'll be quiet.
We have a copy of the Tecla 1843 method here in the house. True that Aguado dropped the theory, but he also specifically said everyone who is serious should learn it separately and what he could fit in a method wouldn't be adequate for the purpose. He actually suggests learning solfege BEFORE taking up the instrument, believe it or not! So I think Aguado was still in favor of guitar students studying harmony. Sor I'm not so sure... I need to read his method again. It seems strange to me that he of all people would downplay the need for it.

I'm personally a huge advocate of fretboard mastery, but I'm also not an experienced classical musician. I come from a world where if you can't get around the fretboard fluently in realtime you're screwed.

Good idea about running the Escuela through online translation. I'll have to do that. We have the Orphee edition that just has the music. My BF basically lives and breathes 19th century classical so there really isn't much of that stuff we don't have!

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