Learning the Italian Language in order to Learn Music Theory

  • #26
jtbell
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When I attend art course in high school, on (Western) Music Theory subject, there are a lot of terms in Italian, especially on tempo (largo, adagio, moderato, allegro), dynamics (piano, pianissimo, forte, fortissimo, crescendo, decrescendo), and curves (legato, portato, staccato).
Don't forget French and German. :oldwink:

Ravel: Valses nobles et sentimentales
1. Modéré
2. Assez lent
3. Modéré
4. Assez animé
5. Presque lent
6. Assez vif
7. Moins vif
8. Épilogue: Lent

Mahler: Symphony No. 4
1. Bedächtig. Nicht eilen
2. In gemächlicher Bewegung. Ohne Hast
3. Ruhevoll
4. Sehr behaglich
 
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  • #27
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Are you going to keep asking this question until you get the answer you want?
OK, I got the conclusion: It is unnecessary to learn the whole Italian when learning music theory, unless you want to be (opera) singer.
 
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  • #28
Aufbauwerk 2045
I can think of many good reasons to learn Italian, but learning an entire language just to understand a few technical words seems illogical. That would be like saying scientists need to learn Greek in order to understand science, because so many scientific words have Greek roots. It makes no sense.

Any good music dictionary lists all the important music terms, including the Italian ones, along with definitions. That's all you need. There are plenty of music theory books in English. Actually the most famous one in history is the Gradus ad Parnassum by Johannes Fux. It was written in Latin. That doesn't mean you need to learn Latin.

On the other hand, I happen to be trying to learn Italian, just because Italian is so beautiful and there is lots of news I want to read and videos to watch in Italian. Also there is obviously lots of famous vocal music in Italian. They also make some great films. The best painters, in my opinion, are Italian. Also, in my opinion, the best architecture. In terms of style, I would say the Italians make the best cars. No one has ever made better violins. Of course the Renaissance began in Italy. Even our system here in the USA is based in many ways on the ancient Roman republic. In my mind, culturally and spiritually speaking all roads lead to Rome. I've found that one-on-one Italians are quite sympatico. So I'm attracted to learning Italian. I don't need a specific reason. I just want to learn it. So I am going to learn it.

By the way I did take some voice lessons when I was young. Sure enough the instructor had me learn how to sing Italian songs, even though at that time I knew no Italian. But I got the translation of those particular words.

If anyone knows some particularly good YouTube channels for learning Italian, maybe they could let us both know?

P.S. my favorite choirs happen to be Italian. For example, the choir of Duomo di Milano and of course the Sistina. This makes me wonder why Italians are so great at music. If I was a professional musician as opposed to an amateur, I would want to study Italian and go there just to learn why Italian music is the way it is. Maybe it's something you need to live there and learn from experience with other musicians. I think it makes perfect sense for someone who is very interested in music to learn Italian.

But as I said earlier, you don't need to learn it just to understand basic music theory. Too bad this is not a music forum. I enjoy discussing this topic very much. But I will stop now because it's a physics forum. Perhaps someone wants to discuss Fourier analysis and synthesis in music software? How about sound synthesis based on physical modeling of instruments or voices? But as Rachmaninoff said, "music is a spiritual activity." I've done some work on music software, including synthesizers and algorithmic composition. Frankly it left me cold. It was nothing more than an intellectual activity. I had to revive myself spiritually by listening to real instruments and real human voices like these.




The music starts after 3:30. Any Italians wish to translate what he says before that? The song is "Va, pensiero" or as we English speakers refer to it "The chorus of the Hebrew slaves" from Verdi's Nabucco. Translations are readily available elsewhere.

 
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  • #29
Aufbauwerk 2045
This is it, now as ESL or Italian as second language in the case of the OP (or third) what would understanding the words mean?
First time I sang it I did not know what it meant, I was not sure who was dead and the woman, the 'true love' never speaks.
Reading it now and I am still not 100%, has she died and they are reunited?

There is some old English in there like 'tis,' 'thee,' 'forsook' and 'fain.'

Would an ESL student gain much from learning old English to sing this?

Two others I just thought of are Mozart's requiem and Carl orffs Carmina burama.
Pronunciation is important BUT learning Latin to appreciate and sing it, is not.
Imo.
In Latin class my teacher was a big fan of Carmina Burana and even though I had problems in that class, he did make Latin come alive by having us sing along with him. I could not pass a Latin test today, but if you learn what the words in a particular song mean it's all the Latin you need to understand that song.
 
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  • #30
symbolipoint
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#28 post of Aufbauwerk 2045 describes good reasons to learn Italian language far beyond just any interest in a few terminologies applied in music.
 
  • #31
Dr. Courtney
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I've had a couple semesters of music theory and not knowing Italian has not kept me from being a fairly successful amateur. I'm the worship director of a small local church, I give introductory lessons in guitar and bass, my YouTube music channel gets over 1000 views a month, and I can play guitar, bass, or keyboards depending on the need. I've also written a physics paper or two relating music theory to physics.

My lack of knowledge of Italian has never been a hindrance to my musical accomplishments. The biggest hindrance to my musical accomplishments is practice time. At 3-5 hours per week, most of my practice time is spent learning new songs and re-learning older songs to have adequate mastery for weekly performances - mostly in church. I'm good enough not to get in the way of positive experiences for the audience and other musicians. But development of real professional level talent would require 20 hours a week or more of practice. Being better at music theory (or Italian) probably would not help much.

When choosing musicians to perform with us, mastery of music theory is hardly a consideration. My biggest concern musically is whether they are willing to practice and have the humility to blend in with the rest of the team rather than trying to show off. Talent wise, they only need to be good enough not to become a distraction to the audience. If they are willing to practice, it's a safe bet they will be improving.
 
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  • #32
pinball1970
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I've had a couple semesters of music theory and not knowing Italian has not kept me from being a fairly successful amateur. I'm the worship director of a small local church, I give introductory lessons in guitar and bass, my YouTube music channel gets over 1000 views a month, and I can play guitar, bass, or keyboards depending on the need. I've also written a physics paper or two relating music theory to physics.

My lack of knowledge of Italian has never been a hindrance to my musical accomplishments. The biggest hindrance to my musical accomplishments is practice time. At 3-5 hours per week, most of my practice time is spent learning new songs and re-learning older songs to have adequate mastery for weekly performances - mostly in church. I'm good enough not to get in the way of positive experiences for the audience and other musicians. But development of real professional level talent would require 20 hours a week or more of practice. Being better at music theory (or Italian) probably would not help much.

When choosing musicians to perform with us, mastery of music theory is hardly a consideration. My biggest concern musically is whether they are willing to practice and have the humility to blend in with the rest of the team rather than trying to show off. Talent wise, they only need to be good enough not to become a distraction to the audience. If they are willing to practice, it's a safe bet they will be improving.
Yes. Practice practice practice.
Ability essential if you want to be a professional. Like many careers.
 

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