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  • Cipher system?

    Never heard of it.



    Anyone ever use it?



    http://www.thecipher.com/3_minute_intro.html
    Originally Posted by jonfinn


    (Yoda: "Practice you will. Discouraged, frustrated and inadequate you will feel. Give up you must not for failure you will guarantee.")

  • #2
    I only looked at it briefly. But to be honest I got a little turned off at the part where it says it never uses standard notation. I lost interest because it seemed like it was re-inventing the wheel. But that opinion is only based on a quick look.



    BTW nice signature!!!
    Thinking too much produces exactly the opposite of the intended outcome.

    Comment


    • #3
      Waste of time, IMO. Like any note numbering system based on semitones, it might be useful for atonal music, but not for the tonal music that I guess 99.99% of us play.

      It's one of those systems we see now and then developed by people who think that diatonic note letters (with their sharp and flat variations) is somehow complicated, and a mathematical system of numbering half-steps is simpler, cleaner, makes more sense. Unfortunately it doesn't, and suggests these people really know nothing about music, or are just not interested in music; they're interested in pretty patterns instead. You can tell from the website - its language and structure - that this guy loves math.



      There's a revealing comment on one of the other pages:



      "Remember, the Major scale bias per-say is not the problem. The fact that the Major scale is a seven tone thing is. Any seven tone scale used to underpin and contain twelve tones would generate an equal amount of disorder." [my emphasis]



      Leaving aside his mis-spelling of "per se" , he feels a 7-note scale is "problem" and a source of "disorder". This betrays a lack of understanding of how 7-note scales evolved, and puts him at odds with at least 2,000 years of western musical culture. It ought to be obvious that if one thinks there is something wrong with 7-note scales, then - if the plan is to explain and understand music - maybe one needs to adjust one's thinking.

      As I said, for 12-tone music, such ideas can make sense. If he was saying "abandon scales and follow Schoenberg et al", fine. But he isn't; he's trying to use his system for tonal music.



      There is plenty of other wrong-headed nonsense on this page (mixed in with facts, admittedly), if you want an amusing read:

      http://www.thecipher.com/intervals_1.html
      ...

      Comment


      • #4






        Quote Originally Posted by JonR
        View Post

        There is plenty of other wrong-headed nonsense on this page (mixed in with facts, admittedly), if you want an amusing read:

        http://www.thecipher.com/intervals_1.html




        From that link he says:

        But the numbers used in music theory are not numbers in the normal sense of the word. They
        Originally Posted by jonfinn


        (Yoda: "Practice you will. Discouraged, frustrated and inadequate you will feel. Give up you must not for failure you will guarantee.")

        Comment


        • #5
          Music for spies. Too many good people were lost the old sharps and flats way.



























          Originally posted by Unconfigured Static HTML Widget...







          Write Something, or Drag and Drop Images Here...

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          • #6






            Quote Originally Posted by NewGuyonGuitar
            View Post

            From that link he says:

            But the numbers used in music theory are not numbers in the normal sense of the word. They
            ...

            Comment


            • #7
              Rats. I thought it was a short cut system that was going to make things super duper easy.



              Thanks for the reponse, JonR.
              Originally Posted by jonfinn


              (Yoda: "Practice you will. Discouraged, frustrated and inadequate you will feel. Give up you must not for failure you will guarantee.")

              Comment


              • #8
                Honestly, I'd suggest investigating it if it makes sense to you. If it helps you understand better, then by all means dig in.



                The cautionary tale I'm trying to warn you about (Perhaps Jon R feels similarly?) has to do with people's agenda's. This author spends a fair amount of time criticizing the current system. He's right on every point he makes. However, being able to speak fluid Taiwanese does you almost no good if you're hanging out in Norway. Very often, new systems end up creating as many problems as the current ones. Most pros see the current system NOT as "the best", but rather "the same language everyone else speaks."



                Learn the current system and you speak the same language as everyone else. Learn his and that number drops significantly.



                On shortcuts: There are a million shortcuts. But many aren't meaningful until you've taken the long road. I sooo wish that were different. But so far I haven't seen evidence.



                My advice if you want to speed up your learning curve: Take on the most difficult musical challenge you can think of. Dive right in to the deep end. Get used to the idea that every single practice session will feel like self-torture. Keep at it until you succeed. Why does that work? Because once you master it, it's a big boost in confidence. Everything AFTER that will feel easier.













                Quote Originally Posted by NewGuyonGuitar
                View Post

                Rats. I thought it was a short cut system that was going to make things super duper easy.



                Thanks for the reponse, JonR.




                Thinking too much produces exactly the opposite of the intended outcome.

                Comment


                • #9






                  Quote Originally Posted by jonfinn
                  View Post

                  Honestly, I'd suggest investigating it if it makes sense to you. If it helps you understand better, then by all means dig in.



                  The cautionary tale I'm trying to warn you about (Perhaps Jon R feels similarly?) has to do with people's agenda's. This author spends a fair amount of time criticizing the current system. He's right on every point he makes. However, being able to speak fluid Taiwanese does you almost no good if you're hanging out in Norway. Very often, new systems end up creating as many problems as the current ones. Most pros see the current system NOT as "the best", but rather "the same language everyone else speaks."



                  Learn the current system and you speak the same language as everyone else. Learn his and that number drops significantly.



                  On shortcuts: There are a million shortcuts. But many aren't meaningful until you've taken the long road. I sooo wish that were different. But so far I haven't seen evidence.



                  My advice if you want to speed up your learning curve: Take on the most difficult musical challenge you can think of. Dive right in to the deep end. Get used to the idea that every single practice session will feel like self-torture. Keep at it until you succeed. Why does that work? Because once you master it, it's a big boost in confidence. Everything AFTER that will feel easier.




                  I appreciate those comments, Jon. The Cipher stuff was written well, and he states that the old system is outdated and confusing. Well, I feel a little confused about music theory, as I'm a novice, so I latched onto the idea that he may have found a better way.



                  My two biggest theoretical barriers at the moment are, learning the note names on the fretboard, and learning intervals. I think there's a fair amount of brute memorization involved which is something I don't relish. I'll take your advice though, and dig in, and see what happens.
                  Originally Posted by jonfinn


                  (Yoda: "Practice you will. Discouraged, frustrated and inadequate you will feel. Give up you must not for failure you will guarantee.")

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Anyone who infers the system "doesn't work" is either; trying to sell you something. OR fails to understand the system. There is NOTHING deeply wrong with the system we use. There are little funny elements to it. But overall - frankly - I marvel at it. It is TRULY incredible that we have been able to capture sound onto paper. Think about it - we have access to songs written in a dark studio hundreds of years ago in countries we've never visited. There is no other written language that comes close to that.



                    I agree with Jon 100% (both! but I am referring to MR Finn). I don't really get why any musician would want to learn a system that nobody else uses. People who use other systems have a SOLID grasp of the one accepted.



                    There are no short cuts - I think the day people accept this is the day they get down to work. The search for them will end up convoluting your journey.
                    Blog: sixstringobsession
                    Subscribe to my YouTube channel

                    Comment


                    • #11






                      Quote Originally Posted by jeremy_green
                      View Post

                      Anyone who infers the system "doesn't work" is either; trying to sell you something. OR fails to understand the system. There is NOTHING deeply wrong with the system we use. There are little funny elements to it. But overall - frankly - I marvel at it. It is TRULY incredible that we have been able to capture sound onto paper. Think about it - we have access to songs written in a dark studio hundreds of years ago in countries we've never visited. There is no other written language that comes close to that.



                      I agree with Jon 100% (both! but I am referring to MR Finn). I don't really get why any musician would want to learn a system that nobody else uses. People who use other systems have a SOLID grasp of the one accepted.



                      There are no short cuts - I think the day people accept this is the day they get down to work. The search for them will end up convoluting your journey.




                      I know your stance on short cuts, Jeremy. I've read them in other posts. I actually stumbled across the Cipher site looking for guitar charts.



                      I had some hope that Cipher guy found the key to quick and complete understanding of the guitar with his new system, and that all you old-timers were just too set in your ways to appreciate the True Path he is trying to show us.
                      Originally Posted by jonfinn


                      (Yoda: "Practice you will. Discouraged, frustrated and inadequate you will feel. Give up you must not for failure you will guarantee.")

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Set in our ways ... more like - been there, done THAT! You see a lot of "systems" come and go in 30 years of playing : )



                        Don't get me wrong - not implying you particularly are looking for shortcuts - we ALL do. As I have said in the past I used to ALWAYS seek out these kinds of searches and i truly believe they held up my progress to an extent. I needed a teacher/mentor to kick my ass but only had one guy do it back then. So I come by my beliefs honestly.



                        Having said that, I also believe that you really should check out EVERYTHING.. you never know where, or in what form inspiration will strike. Just be very much aware that you are on a back road. Remember, a LOT of very intelligent and talented people came before us. You need to put some faith that all these others who spent lifetimes creating and refining these rules weren't idiots.



                        Do breakthroughs happen? Sure, but they are almost always just a newer way to present older information. These days they also usually come with a marketing angle to boot.



                        Your time is almost always better spent actually playing.



                        If you took 2 people of similar physical co-ordination/creativity (impossible I know) and locked each in a room for a year. Guy A - with just a stack of albums and a guitar. Guy B - with lesson DVDs and scale/theory texts, albums and a guitar. I pretty much guarantee you Guy A would be the one you would rather hear. The answer to all your problems are on either side of your head. Develop those - and you won't need any fancy system. Just my 2 cents(that I know you likely know already! : )
                        Blog: sixstringobsession
                        Subscribe to my YouTube channel

                        Comment


                        • #13






                          Quote Originally Posted by jonfinn
                          View Post

                          Honestly, I'd suggest investigating it if it makes sense to you. If it helps you understand better, then by all means dig in.



                          The cautionary tale I'm trying to warn you about (Perhaps Jon R feels similarly?) has to do with people's agenda's. This author spends a fair amount of time criticizing the current system. He's right on every point he makes.




                          Well, only from a bizarre perspective.

                          What he's doing is a bit like pointing out that boats have no wheels, so how can they ever make a sensible mode of transport?

                          It's "correct" if one is talking about transport on land of course. But that's not what boats are designed for. They're designed for transport on water, and work perfectly there. In the same way as cars with wheels don't...

                          His system is tantamount to suggesting we put wheels on boats so that they will work better (in the water). (If he was suggesting boats ought to come on land, then he's have a point, but he isn't. He's talking about water, but thinking from land.)



                          IOW, music theory is designed (has evolved) to describe music as it is. There's no reason why anyone would deliberately design music theory to be confusing, or to not match how music actually works.

                          Of course it's true that it's an old system (ancient in some respects), and that music moves on, requiring occasional adjustments to the theory if the theory is to remain up to date and relevant.

                          But the music we generally play has hardly moved on at all in hundreds of years - at least not in the respects the cipher system is trying to address.

                          As I said before, if we had all adopted Schoenberg's principles a century ago and thrown out our whole key system, so that all music today was 12-tone, then the cipher system would make sense. But it would also be very surprising if such a system hadn't already been in place since then. We wouldn't need anyone telling us that the previous 7-note system was idiotically outdated!






                          Quote Originally Posted by jonfinn
                          View Post

                          However, being able to speak fluid Taiwanese does you almost no good if you're hanging out in Norway.




                          Quite!

                          The "language" of music is precisely what the conventional system describes. The cipher system is proposing an irrelevant language.

                          Or - to extend the metaphor - it's a little like those suggestions for improving the spelling of English so it looks like how it sounds.

                          Sorry, I mean "thoz sujeshchunz fur improoving the speling ov inglish so it looks lyk how it sownz."

                          Or (seeing as those ideas have some grain of merit) deciding that a different word order would be more logical. Eg, one might arbitrarily decide that (say) German word order was more logical, so we would like Yoda end up speaking!



                          The point is that music theory describes the "grammar" of music, as it is "spoken". There's no sense in inventing a new grammar until people start speaking in a new way, en masse. IOW, it has to depend on "common practices". People will decide how they want to make music, in the same way they will decide how they want to speak. New coinages and neologisms occur all the time. If and when they are adopted widely enough, then they enter dictionaries and become part of the rules of grammar.

                          The same process (pretty much) happens in music. People try new stuff all the time. But unless it catches on, no one pays much attention.

                          Music - like language - has to communicate. That means it has to work with tried and tested formulae to begin with. And even the most avant garde rock bands do that.



                          It's true there are some aspects of modern music that conventional theory struggles to describe. But none of those are addressed by the cipher system, which concerns itself only with criticising those aspects of theory which are still useful! Ie, notes, and how we label and count them.







                          Quote Originally Posted by jonfinn
                          View Post

                          Very often, new systems end up creating as many problems as the current ones. Most pros see the current system NOT as "the

                          best", but rather "the same language everyone else speaks."




                          Precisely. The very fact that it's universal is the main thing in its favour. Those who understand it accept the little idiosyncrasies, the same way we accept the oddities of the English language (as a result of its history and development). It's what we've got. We're used to it.

                          (Eg, the famous example of spelling "fish" as "ghoti" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghoti)

                          We don't seek to redesigh English just because some people who can't speak it very well have some trouble with it. (That would be an act of generosity towards foreigners, no doubt, but I don't expect the Chinese to redesign their pictograms so I can speak it more easily...)
                          ...

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                          • #14






                            Quote Originally Posted by NewGuyonGuitar
                            View Post

                            I know your stance on short cuts, Jeremy. I've read them in other posts. I actually stumbled across the Cipher site looking for guitar charts.



                            I had some hope that Cipher guy found the key to quick and complete understanding of the guitar with his new system, and that all you old-timers were just too set in your ways to appreciate the True Path he is trying to show us.




                            I've no doubt it worked for him.

                            This is where these new ideas come from all the time: someone gets into difficulty with some area of study, and sees a way that makes more sense to them. So they invent a personal new system.



                            That's fine, but some of them obviously think that what works for them ought to work for everyone. It doesn't seem to strike them as odd that - if this is such a great new idea that will work for everyone - no one has come up with it before? (A minority of those - not the Cipher guy I think - then get into conspiracy theories to explain why the "stupid" old system has stayed in place for so long. It's some faceless authority forcing people to learn the same old outdated way...)



                            I'd agree that this guy writes quite well (apart from the odd grammatical error), his site is well designed, and he has ordered his material very coolly and efficiently. He's obviously a math-head, which is not a bad thing (as a kid I was much better at math than music). But like I said, I just think he is wrong-headed, looking at music from the wrong angle. In his ideas on counting and numbering, he sees a problem where there is really none; and fails to see a connection where there is a very strong and essential one (which explains what he seems - or pretends - not to understand).



                            The obvious fact that the octave (and the guitar fretboard) divides into 12 doesn't mean that our musical system is a 12-tone one. It's a 7-tone one, because we always select 7 notes from those 12 divisions, and commonly in very few arrangements ("scales"). So the fact that we use 7 letters and count in 7 makes perfect sense. If we were to count in 12 (semitones) that would make music harder to understand, not easier.





                            My view on music theory (FWIW) is:



                            (a) you should accept the conventional system; it's worked fine (despite its few idiosyncrasies) for 100s of years, with occasional modifications when necessary. There is no evidence that musicians are dissatisfied with it, not in significant numbers. Nor is there any evidence of a fascist music theory conspiracy imposing a dead system on everybody in the face of widespread public protest...



                            (b) you don't need to understand any of it to be a musician. Treat it as a body of knowledge you should be curious about, but which will not make you a better player (any more than understanding the internal combustion engine will make you a better driver).



                            (c) it's a system of labelling the sounds you are learning to make, that's all. It doesn't "explain" anything (any more than English grammar "explains" why we speak the way we do), although it should make musical information easier to handle and organise. In the main, it will enable you to communicate with other musicians - which is the main reason that any new system is a bad idea (whatever other intrinsic merit it might have).



                            (d) If you find it difficult or confusing - forget about it. The point of theory is to make music easier (to comprehend and talk about). If it doesn't do that, either you're doing it wrong, or you just don't need those concepts yet. IOW, you see no connection between the sounds you know and the theory of them. When you do, then it will make sense (at least as a useful labelling system).

                            Eg, you probably know how to play a "G7" chord. Do you need to know why it's called "G7"? No. Do you need to know where it comes from and how it's constructed? That might be helpful, later, but you can work without that.

                            Of course, if you're curious about those things, that's a different matter. Curiosity should mean you enjoy study, so you do it for its own sake, not because you think you need to know. (You don't.)



                            What's "difficult" about learning guitar is technical, physical stuff: getting your fingers to do those stretches, to hold down those chords, to change those chords fast enough, etc. That's hard. The rest of it isn't. There may be "challenges", but only in the sense that for a mountaineer a new mountain is a "challenge" . (The more "difficult" you might think it is, they more excited they will be by it.)

                            Do kids find music difficult? No, they just think it's fun. That's how they get good so easily. (If they don't get good, it's because they stop having fun and give up for that reason. Who cares? They find something else that's more fun, and everyone should be happy about that.)





                            Personally, I was playing music for some 15 years (including gigging in rock and jazz bands) before I got into theory. I did already know how to read music (and the notes on the fretboard) but little else. What got me started was wondering why a maj7 chord sounded sad? That's how little I knew about what music theory was for. But I was just curious about the whole thing: history, science and psychology of music, not just theory.

                            I never thought of it as a way to improve my musicianship. I thought I was playing (and writing) fine. I knew very well (from experience) that being a better musician was about listening and playing: ear training and technical practice. Those were the areas where I needed to improve (and always do). Theory was - and is - an intriguing sideline, that's all.



                            I'm right with jeremy here. I know I'm an "old guy who's set in his ways" (dammit I'm 62; it feels like only yesterday I was 19... ). I do know that there are lots of things in music theory that can seem strange, confusing and illogical. I also know that there's lots of stuff going on in modern music that conventional theory doesn't address at all. Both those things might suggest the old ways ought to be thrown out, or at least fundamentally overhauled.

                            But it's important to realise what music theory is, and what it isn't (what it doesn't claim to be). It isn't "theory" in any scientific sense, for a start. (Not something that can be proved or disproved, not a system of laws that are right or wrong...) As I said before, it's more like a grammar of the language of music. It's describing the common practices in music, discerning patterns and apparent formulae.

                            Eg, if a C chord commonly follows a G7, that's not because a book says it must. It's because most people like the sound when it does - so they do it often enough that it becomes a "rule". And a theorist can then give the practice a name, which will describe the same thing when A7 goes to D, or B7 goes to E.

                            But that name (and rule) is no use to you until you hear that sound, and realise that (in one important sense) B7-E is the same as A7-D and G7-C (and D7-G, etc). That's when you get the connection



                            The things in modern music (thinking of rock) that theory doesn't address are to do (mainly) with timbre and volume, and partly with rhythm. But things like notes, intervals and chords in rock generally follow rules that Mozart and Beethoven would have understood and used, and conventional theory covers them well (if you want it to). So there is no sense in trying to invent a new way of looking at notes, intervals and chords. That much of theory - at least! - works fine.



                            (Many say that piano makes theory easier to understand than guitar does, but that only applies to notation and (to some extent) to harmony. Guitar doesn't show you which notes are sharps and flats, and makes some chord forms difficult. But at least it shows you clearly the difference between a whole step and a half-step.)
                            ...

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