What Are the Components of Music?

An interesting phenomenon that occurs frequently with new music students is a lack of understanding towards what is actually involved with the study of music; in other words- the ‘what’ is often misinterpreted with several esoteric attributes that make up the already technically skilled musician.  Terms such as feel, emotions and interpersonal connection are often over used when surveying groups of young music students when they are asked what they are seeking to achieve when learning to play the bass guitar.

In the Western music system, there are two basic components- tonal and atonal music.  Although controversial, several modern composers including Arnold Schoenberg (a pioneer of 12-Tone Row composition) believed that his music was not atonal because the highly trained ear could recognise the music changing keys at a very rapid pace.  Whether or not this is a musical or opinionated fact, we do know that 99.99% of everything you will play and hear will fall into the category of tonal music, which succinctly put is based around either a major or minor tonality; or a combination of the two.

John Patitucci Bass

Bassist Extrodinaire John Patitucci

Breaking things down further, we want to take a look at the actual musical components that make up the major/minor Western music system.  In order to make this list complete we need to look at it through the eyes of a composer.  Composers are the people who control the reins of music; they are also the ones who set the different trends regardless of style, system and home.  If you were to embark on a study of musical composition, these would be the main topics of study:

  1. Melody
  2. Rhythm
  3. Harmony
  4. Counterpoint
  5. Compositional Form

John Patitucci once said to me, “In order to create creative bass lines, you have to think like a composer.”  In order to think like a composer, you have to understand the individual components that make up the greater whole of a musical composition.  These components take precedence to the attributes, such as feel and emotions that only come as a result from being able to play your instrument properly.  In other words, if you do not understand what tonalities are; have little understanding about the components of music and have developed very little applied technical study to you bass guitar, no matter how hard you try to will it, you will not be able to make something feel good or attach any emotions (other than frustration) to your music.  On the other hand, if you have learnt the components of music and develop the technical skills required to play your bass guitar, it will be the quality of your music that will transmute these attributes (such as emotions, feel and groove) to your audience at the point of your performance.   I like this because it removes the ego from the equation.  Far too many musicians believe that they are ‘curing cancer’ and many of them eventually loose themselves in their own self importance. 

In conclusion, developing the technical skills to qualify you to be a competent musician is the cornerstone to fostering such attributes as tone, time, touch and taste.  There is no greater feeling when a student begins to get this and their improvement starts to soar to new heights as a result.

My Email Correspondence Course is a great way to begin to actualise these very concepts.  This is a highly personalised course that is personally taught and evaluated by me.   If this sounds like the next step in your musical evolution, then feel free to contact me on heyjoe@joehubbardbass.com

PS Don’t forget to leave your comments or questions below and also feel free to share this article on Twitter and Facebook!

Warmly

Joe

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2 Responses to What Are the Components of Music?

  1. Ian Purves says:

    I think Schoenberg also said that “there is still lots of music to be written in C major”

  2. EDDIE Eatmon says:

    i still have your first book Joe with jaco transcriptions as well as mark king Stanley and many others ,what a grear educational tool for me over the years,happy to see you back playing and teaching,very precise and easy to understand keep up the great work,i will be learning from you….thanks

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