Re: [Harp-L] Reading music

Learning theory/reading music creates "mental block" in a lot of people. Sort of a frozen fear of the unknown.

It helps to remember that music came first. The theory/reading came later to try to quantify the music. Theory is not set in stone, as so much of what you learn theory wise you also learn the exceptions to the rules. 

Don't approach it as a monumental task. There are music appreciation courses on CD and at community colleges that can introduce you to this arena (mostly through classical music) with a minimum of anxiety. It becomes big fun as you start to develop a sense of ability to hear "inside" the music and understand what is going on from an emotional/intellectual combination.

To me, music is all about tension/release. I learned Shanker Layer Analysis of music in college. By backing up layer by layer, almost all great symphonies can be analyzed as a V-I progression, the ultimate simplified tension/release musical state. (V-I sounds like "A-men" - the religious musical endings many of us are familiar with. The tension is produced by singing the "A" part, which doesn't release the tension or resolve till you sing "men").

This is a good place to start.

-----Original Message-----
From: Aongus Mac Cana <amaccana@xxxxxxxxxx>
To: harp-l <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Mon, Jan 31, 2011 6:32 am
Subject: [Harp-L] Reading music

I agree with those who say it is worthwhile to learn to read music and I
aspire to do so. However at age 74 I have cut it a bit fine. 
In the loose group of musicians I sometimes try to play Irish trad with,
they dish out sheet music of the tunes we are playing to all who require it.
I notice that the youngsters who have received some formal music teaching
all seem to need the written music and in fact seem almost lost without it.
I on the other hand take the sheet music, but only use it "for forensic
dissection of the bar or two I can't get by ear, in the privacy of my own
A few years ago I picked up a seriously cheap book called "The Right Way to
Read Music" in a bookshop in Clifden, Co. Galway. This book I found to be a
very accessible source of all the musical theory "I needed to know". I think
it is still available "for buttons" new and secondhand from Amazon and the
There is a world of difference however in knowing what the notes are and
being able to sight read fast enough to play what you see. 
In my fifties I learned how to touch type from a cheap and cheerful computer
instruction programme. I hoped, on my retirement that I would be able to
apply the  same methodology to learning music reading, but alas have not
succeeded so far. However some very  helpful prominent harp-l listers have
volunteered me useful tips off line, for which I am very grateful. I will
express my gratitude by not naming them - I reckon they have troubles enough
already without being deluged with requests for enlightenment.
Aongus Mac Cana


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