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Author Topic:  Can I recommend a book? Harmonic Experience
Paul McEvoy


From:
Baltimore, USA
Post  Posted 5 May 2019 4:57 am    
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I'm a low man on the totem pole experience wise. But I thought I'd recommend this book.

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Harmonic-Experience/W-A-Mathieu/9780892815609

It's the best book on music of any kind I've ever read and has some very applicable steel content. It's a bit hard to explain but extremely readable. It does take some actual practice time to go through, but it has changed my ear and my understanding of music greatly, and it has been entertaining along the way.

It's sort of an overarching study of how music functions, with a close eye on intonation. He talks about the overtone series and how that makes something sound flat or sharp. He goes through each interval and discusses the different intonation possibilities and how you can color a note one way or the other.

It's all done in this system of singing through drones. He talks about doing it with perfectly tuned guitar strings. At this point I use the app TE tuner which can give you just tuned drones.

I went from having close to zero understanding of intonation to probably knowing a bit more than I need. I can say my intonation in general has improved markedly. And my general idea of music has gone up too.

It definitely is a bit of a time commitment to go through but I just did a little at a time. I've only done the first third of the book, at some point I'd like to go back and finish it.

Highly recommended.
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Jeremy Reeves


From:
Batavia, IL, USA
Post  Posted 5 May 2019 6:10 am    
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Yes! Fantastic book. I love it too
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Slim Heilpern


From:
Aptos California, USA
Post  Posted 17 May 2019 6:34 am    
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Thanks for posting Jeremy. On your recommendation I bought the book and have just started to go through it. I love this author's approach!
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Paul McEvoy


From:
Baltimore, USA
Post  Posted 26 May 2019 9:00 am    
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Slim Heilpern wrote:
Thanks for posting Jeremy. On your recommendation I bought the book and have just started to go through it. I love this author's approach!


Glad you like it.

To quote my best music teacher (a genius dude) “it’s the only book on music I didn’t feel dumber for reading”
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Slim Heilpern


From:
Aptos California, USA
Post  Posted 26 May 2019 9:14 am    
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Paul McEvoy wrote:
Slim Heilpern wrote:
Thanks for posting Jeremy. On your recommendation I bought the book and have just started to go through it. I love this author's approach!


Glad you like it.

To quote my best music teacher (a genius dude) “it’s the only book on music I didn’t feel dumber for reading”


Great quote, and actually meant to thank _you_ for the post, Paul Smile.
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http://slimandpenny.com
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Paul McEvoy


From:
Baltimore, USA
Post  Posted 26 May 2019 3:31 pm    
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No problem. Btw the iphone apps itablapro and TE Tuner have amazing drones for using with the book. Highly recommended.
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Jacek Jakubek


From:
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 1 Aug 2019 11:07 pm    
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Thank-You for recommending this book. I bought it and find it fascinating. I also bought another book by this same author called "The Listening Book," which is shorter, and has brief, 1-2 page chapters on music philosophy and some practical practice related stuff too.

For example, check out this excerpt (there are more) on improvisational ideas from one of the chapters called "The art of returning"
"One of the most enjoyable forms for the improviser is the rondo, a piece of music made up of several sections, described symbolically as A B A C A D A E, and so on. The A is called the return. It is interspersed with new material - B, C, and so on, called episodes, which are different from each other and from the return. The first task is to make up a recognizable phrase to which the music can convincingly return..."

Great stuff.
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Paul McEvoy


From:
Baltimore, USA
Post  Posted 2 Aug 2019 7:59 am    
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Jacek Jakubek wrote:
Thank-You for recommending this book. I bought it and find it fascinating. I also bought another book by this same author called "The Listening Book," which is shorter, and has brief, 1-2 page chapters on music philosophy and some practical practice related stuff too.

For example, check out this excerpt (there are more) on improvisational ideas from one of the chapters called "The art of returning"
"One of the most enjoyable forms for the improviser is the rondo, a piece of music made up of several sections, described symbolically as A B A C A D A E, and so on. The A is called the return. It is interspersed with new material - B, C, and so on, called episodes, which are different from each other and from the return. The first task is to make up a recognizable phrase to which the music can convincingly return..."

Great stuff.


Glad you liked the book! I got throught the first third and then stopped. I'd like to get back to it. It's helped me a ton.

I tried the other book but didn't get into it. I'll give it another shot.
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Earnest Bovine


From:
Los Angeles CA USA
Post  Posted 2 Aug 2019 9:08 am    
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I'm half way thru this book now and enjoying it a lot. Of course I was skeptical at first, wondering how deep into harmony we could actually get with an author (W.A. Mathieu) who spent 25 years studying with an Indian master of drone-based music (i.e. no harmony), but my doubts were entirely unfounded. I got a nice surprise yesterday when I googled him and learned that he was an arranger for Stan Kenton (an entire album) and Duke Ellington.

Some of the language is awfully new-agey but he does stop short of worshiping crystals and essential oils, and really the book is about the _experience_ of harmony, so that stuff is quite appropriate, and despite my tendency to approach sounds mathematically, his descriptions do match my experiences.

I have a couple of minor nits to pick: he seems to think there are no other choices besides equal temperament and just intonation, and he ignores inharmonicity altogether. But he does emphasize singing over a drone while listening carefully, and any time that you sing or play a fretless instrument while listening carefully, you are not ignoring inharmonicity.
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