Musicianship and the logic of music

Musicianship is one of those words that can mean something different to everyone you ask! It is an open ended term that includes all of the following (here is a short list):

  • An understanding of the basics of musical notation including clefs, key signatures, accidentals,  and contemporary  terminology
  • Being able to  recognize the  notes of melodies
  • Knowing what you hear in your head
  • Being able to look at a lead sheet and hear chord progressions without playing them first
  • Being able to hear harmonic modulations from one key to another
  • Hearing altered chords and chromatic harmony
  • Knowing ALL chord forms of chords in major and minor
  • Understanding all chord voicings and having the ability to hear them before playing them
  • Basic understanding of harmonizing melodies
  • Analyzing chords from written notes
  • Hearing ‘target notes’ to get better melodic improvising
  • Better understanding of contemporary styles rhythmically, melodically and harmonically
  • Understanding the natural logic of music
This last point is one that often gets mentioned, yet never truly explained.  There is a natural logic in tonal music (including chromatic tonal music), which can be learned through ear training (another term used with much ambiguity). Ear training (in my humble opinion) should be taught around the natural logic of music, rather than simple interval training or chord recognition. Music happens in real time, and in it’s nature is constantly moving (there is a reason the term “voice LEADING” is used). One must realize that harmony is the RESULT of multiple lines moving, and that the logic of music is recognizing (by ear) the function of the notes. 
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