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A Jouney into Sound Part IX -- :Language

by rg Sat May 17th, 2008 at 08:52:07 AM EST

Swinging by to bump some sound! - In Wales


So...a language...in western music there is a language, easy to follow, do re mi fa so la si do!  There it is.

Three blind mice.  Those notes are 'mi' 're' 'do'.  Frere Jacques.  Those are the same notes in a different order, 'do' 're' 'mi' 'do'.  

Now, 'do' 're' 'mi'--that 'mi' covers two different tones.  There's the major--third, because do (1) re (2) mi (3)--so there's a major third and a minor third.

Here's an example of the minor third but...also, it is an example of how the minor third is the root note of the major chord closest to the minor chord, so when the chorus arrives, listen to the rise--minor to the major into which "fade" and then an interesting chord that could be--ach--

radiohead street spirit (4:13)

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrZTNhW44-o

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Major

Segovia.variazioni su mozart (Sor) (3:32)

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4FpPhtQzJg

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The second, third, sixth, and seventh notes are pairs, one is called major and the other is called minor, where minor and major describe the distances from the root note--major being the larger distance.

Across these twelve notes run relationships, so the western major scale is:

Root, Major 2nd, Major 3rd, Perfect Fourth, Perfect Fifth, Major 6th, Major 7th, Octave

The sound is the sound of a person playing the white notes one after the other, going up a piano keyboard and starting at C.

But what if the person playing didn't know where C was and just picked a white note at random and it turned out to be G?

--that's the Mixolydian mode.  It goes

Root, Major Second, Major Third, Perfect Fourth, Perfect Fifth, Major Sixth, Minor Seventh, Octave

That minor seventh sounds like this:

Air - Sexy Boy (3:55)

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wouKI_myXxk

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Other Scales

Other musical forms.

Echos - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The noun echos in Greek means "sound" in general. It acquired the specialized meaning of mode early on in the development of Byzantine music theory (ca. 14th century or earlier). In general, the concept of echos denotes the scale, intervallic structure as well as a set of more or less explicitly formulated melodic rules and formulae that represent a certain category of melodies within the musical genre. As such, echos is the basis for composing or improvising new melodies that belong to it, as well as for properly performing existing pieces that have been written in it. These rules include the distinction of a hierarchy of degrees (tones, notes), where certain degrees figure as "dominant" notes around which the melody will revolve prominently, or on which the melody will end most of the time. However, only very late stages of the theory (19th-20th century) actually provide systematic descriptions of echoi, while earlier stages use mostly diagrams, indirect descriptions and examples. Explicit detailed descriptions must still be provided based on extensive analysis, as is the case with modal phenomena in numerous other cultures.

Greek Orthodox Christian Byzantine Music (8:34)

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1P5FZkqWBuU

Language

I can't speak or understand the words of the above piece.--I like the youth and accuracy, there are no instruments, only voices making a series of rises and falls in pitch, where vibrations interact, and those interactions are given names and structured in various ways.

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Makam - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In Turkish classical music, Mevlevi music, and some Mosque music, a system of melody types called makam (pl. makamlar) provides a complex set of rules for composing. Each makam specifies a unique intervalic structure (cinsler) and melodic development (seyir).[1] Whether a fixed composition (beste, şarkı, peşrev, âyin, etc.) or a spontaneous composition (gazel, taksim, Kuran-ı Kerim, Mevlit, etc.), all attempt to follow the melody type.

Turkish makam's closest relatives include maqam in Arab music and echos in Byzantine music. More distant modal relatives include those of Central Asian Turkic musics such as Uyghur music, muqam and Uzbek music, shashmakom. The raga of Hindustani (North Indian) classical music seems employ similar modal principles.. Some scholars find echoes of Turkish makam in former Ottoman provinces of the Balkans.[2] All of these concepts roughly correspond to mode in Western music, although their compositional rules vary.

Marzya ( Maqam & Gorani Dewanam ) - 7:28

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwOpv1fZSgA

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Phew!  

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Moving east,

Hanami - Cherry Blossom or Sakura Songs Category - Mama Lisa's Blog

Sakura Sakura
(Japanese Transliteration)

Sakura sakura
Noyama mo sato mo
Miwatasu kagiri
Kasumi ka kumo ka
Asahi ni niou
Sakura sakura
Hana zakari

Sakura sakura
Yayoi no sora wa
Miwatasu kagiri
Kasumi ka kumo ka
Nioi zo izuru
Izaya izaya
Mini yu kan

Cherry Blossoms, Cherry Blossoms
(English Translation)

Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Blanketing the countryside,
As far as you can see.
Is it a mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the morning sun.
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Flowers in full bloom.

Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Across the Spring sky,
As far as you can see.
Is it a mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the air.
Come now, come,
Let's look, at last!

Hiromi Uehara - Sakura Sakura

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggL_2hk9DyI

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Rāga - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rāga (Sanskrit, lit. "colour" or "mood"; or rāgam in Carnatic music) refers to melodic modes used in Indian classical music.[1] It is a series of five or more musical notes upon which a melody is founded. In the Indian musical tradition, ragas are held in different times of the day. Indian classical music is always set in raga. Non-classical music such as popular Indian film songs sometimes use ragas in their compositions.

Rāgini is an archaic term for the 'feminine' counterpart to a raga.

Ravi Shankar - Raga Rangeela Piloo (9:02)

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzN2gUGYUGc

Fantastic!

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Youlan

Jieshi Diao Youlan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jieshi Diao Youlan (碣石調幽蘭) means "Solitary Orchid in the Stone Tablet Mode" or just "Solitary Orchid" ("Secluded Orchid" or "Elegant Orchid" in some translations). It is the name of a piece of music or melody for the guqin which was written before AD 908, and is possibly the world's oldest surviving piece of written music.

The myth I read attributes the song to Confucius.  In the myth, he wrote out instructions, mostly verbal descriptions of what the player was to do.

Here's the oldest copy, AD908

Confucius.  I hear you have written a song.

Yes.  Would you like to hear it?

Of course!

youlan (4:57)

(Note: the image is out of sync with the music.)

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibILogXTJoI

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Other Musical Scales

In the East (or the very very far West, from where I'm sitting) they have, historically, used a pentatonic--five note scale.  Do Re Mi Fa Sol....Do  Or maybe Do Mi Sol La Si....Do.  There are names for the variations, but overall it's five notes, less notes than the seven-note--diatonic scale (Do Re Mi Fa Sol La  Si....Do)

For me, this means they give emphasis in other areas, length of note, tone, overtones, leaps and drops, then there are the words which, again, I can't understand.

Joroogiin Joroo - Biligbataar (4:20)

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuSSKkLJqSQ

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Here's music playing according to a system of scales (=note relationships)--plus a dancer.

Jivula, Maqam Gulab (2:39)

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEeXOt4V6fY

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Languages

Language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A language is a system of visual, auditory, or tactile symbols of communication and the rules used to manipulate them. Language can also refer to the use of such systems as a general phenomenon. Language is considered to be an exclusively human mode of communication; although animals make use of quite sophisticated communicative systems, none of these are known to make use of all of the properties that linguists use to define language.

There'll always be more than one system--on off, yes no, maybe, sort of, well, it depends you see, oh yeah, my move--heh!

If a system doesn't work for you, if there are others that work better for you and you can join them, why not?--systems, because different areas of human behaviour enjoy different modes---

But you have to practice if you want to improve your accuracy; if you don't practice, the chemistry doesn't happen, the system forgets, maybe remembers the essentials--but there's a learning curve on re-entry--

And falling off....floating down into all the knowledge...

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Okay!  Nine down, three to go.  This last track I would describe as coming from the electric guitar tradition, using a minor third, a minor second, a minor sixth, perfect fifth, lots of others, I'm sure--major and minor are distances, all notes are at a distance, one from the other--without prejudice to any distance; each distance can be given a name and a description can be given of its relationships with the other distances.

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%:7)

Display:
Cognitive Daily: Non-musicians can identify minor-key tunes, but only when labeled "sad"

A team led by Andrea Halpern created 35 short tunes [...] Each tune was then modified to have a minor-key and major-key variant -- this involved changing just a few notes in each tune. Then three expert musicians rated each clip for musicality and how "major" or "minor" each clip sounded. The 24 best examples of tunes with readily-identifiable major and minor keys were selected for study.

The researchers then played the clips for 18 musicians, with over 8 years of musical training, and 18 non-musicians, with less than 6 months of training. The listeners were first briefly trained either to recognize major/minor keys or "happy" and "sad" music. Several examples of each type were played, and then for seven clips, the listeners were asked to identify whether it was major or minor (or happy or sad), and given feedback on whether their answers were correct.

Finally, they were tested on new clips, while wearing a cap which had 30 electrodes designed to measure electrical activity in the brain. The data was collected on an EEG device.

Regardless of whether they were trained to recognize happy and sad music or major and minor keys, the musicians were extremely accurate, averaging about 90 percent correct. But non-musicians had a different result:

When they were trained in the major-minor method, non-musicians averaged just 63 percent correct for tunes in a major key. What's more, after the experiment, participants were asked what strategy they used to respond, and many non-musicians said they just listened for whether the music sounded happy or sad. Those who used this strategy averaged 75 percent accuracy, while the remainder who used no strategy were just 53 percent accurate -- statistically no better than chance.

My understanding from your diaries is that major keys are more harmonic (their intervals represent "smaller" fractions), aren't they?

I still probably failed the test in the article.

by das monde on Tue May 13th, 2008 at 11:23:28 PM EST
Here's the chart I found about the frequenciess:

Interval (music) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

# semitones
Interval
class Generic
interval Common
diatonic name Comparable
just interval Comparison of interval width in cents equal
temperament just
intonation quarter-comma
meantone
0 0 0 perfect unison 1:1 0 0 0
1 1 1 minor second 16:15 100 112 117
2 2 1 major second 9:8 200 204 193
3 3 2 minor third 6:5 300 316 310
4 4 2 major third 5:4 400 386 386
5 5 3 perfect fourth 4:3 500 498 503
6 6 3
4
augmented fourth
diminished fifth
45:32
64:45
600 590
610
579
621
7 5 4 perfect fifth 3:2 700 702 697
wolf fifth 737
8 4 5 minor sixth 8:5 800 814 814
9 3 5 major sixth 5:3 900 884 889
10 2 6 minor seventh 16:9 1000 996 1007
11 1 6 major seventh 15:8 1100 1088 1083
12 0 0 perfect octave 2:1 1200 1200 1200

So I think you're right--music is one of those langauages where I'm close to illiterate--I can read a bit, but not much--certainly not enough to confidently sight-read western notation.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 03:37:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I failed (my guess we major then minor) then it is entirely on my unmusical hearing. I remember, when we had to sing in a choir at school, girls standing in front asking not to sing but just move lips :-]

I get a lot of information from your diaries. This is the case when you think, if only I would had known that back then... when I was given to try things without a clue.

A ridiculous question: how does "most unharmonious" piano music (with most or all intervals pretty ugly) sound? Maybe you came across something while making the dissonance diary...

by das monde on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 04:36:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a good question and there are plenty of different answers.  If we liberate our minds from the ideal of beauty and ugliness--

Thus, Western musical history can be seen as starting with a quite limited definition of consonance and progressing towards an ever wider definition of consonance. Early in history, only intervals low in the overtone series were considered consonant. As time progressed, intervals ever higher on the overtone series were considered consonant. The final result of this was the so-called "emancipation of the dissonance" (the words of Arnold Schoenberg) by some 20th-century composers. Early 20th-century American composer Henry Cowell viewed tone clusters as the use of higher and higher overtones.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consonance_and_dissonance

(Debussy & Stravinsky are about as liberated as I get...)

So--the most naturally dissonant intervals--where the frequencies are all clashing (and this can be effected by pitch, too--so that two notes played far apart on the keyboard have different vibrational relationships, and if you swap notes over you get different effects (e.g. play a low A and a high C, then play a low C and a high A)--would not be called ugly--(but I might hear them as ugly because the lack of resolution would disturb my ears, say)--it would be called "sound"--and "organised sound" is one way of starting to think about defining music (etc!)

Schoenberg is famous for developing the twelve tone series, where each of the twelve semitones in a standard western octave are played in succession, no repetitions of notes until the series (all twelve notes) has been played.

Schoenberg is okay (I'm at work so I can't go searching); Webern is the name I would most associate with "most or all intervals pretty ugly".  

I'll tell you my theory; but have a listen, it's certainly music that is attempting to do specific things--maybe post up what you found?

So: serialism, twelve tone, Schoenberg, Webern, Cage...

Atonality in its broadest sense describes music that lacks a tonal center, or key. Atonality in this sense usually describes compositions written from about 1907 to the present day where a hierarchy of pitches focusing on a single, central tone is not used as a primary foundation for the work. More narrowly, the term describes music that does not conform to the system of tonal hierarchies that characterized classical European music between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.

More narrowly still, the term is used to describe music that is neither tonal nor serial, especially the pre-twelve-tone music of the Second Viennese School, principally Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg, and Anton Webern.

Composers such as Alexander Scriabin, Béla Bartók, Paul Hindemith, Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky, Edgard Varèse, however, have written music that has been described, in full or in part, as atonal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atonal_music

(As I wrote, for me Stravinsky and Debussy are both everything tonal and most things beyond, whereas some of the other names never did anything tonal--or very little.)

Right, my theory:  you see, the a-tonal serialism was (let's say) developed before, during, and after WWI--so there was a technical element (developing Debussy et al's developments, natural movements in the western musical tradition); but I think there was also a moral element--

--well, my theory is that with serialism etc they (in their own words) wished to pare music back to its bare bones, lose all the superfluous sounds--

--but as you wrote above, the harmonics are already creating definite patterns within a single note--specific resonances, so (for me) music that refuses to enter tonality (there are rules about how many major intervals you can have together etc...so it's not just "choose, mix and match"--there's an element of "you must not be tuneful")--

Anyways, Webern--and Berg; I have a friend who enjoys Berg, can't tell you which pieces--a piano concerto?  I'll find out this evening, let you know.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:11:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
whereas some of the other names never did anything tonal--or very little

That's sloppy--I'll take it back.  Really I'd like to find a few examples, but I can't until late tonight.  It's a whole musical period and I don't want to prejudice ideas--of course, they all understood tonality, so in at least one way (by not being tonal) there is tonality (the lack of something--the shape its absence creates)--ach!  I mean, I'm very happy to be corrected by those who know more about these composers and this period.

(btw, Pierre Boulez is the composer/conductor to search for--there are plenty of pieces on youtube--also interviews.)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:17:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for describing that much already. Just curious, how crazy people can be ;-)
 
by das monde on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:32:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's an explanation of Schoenberg's twelve tone method--note at 01:37 what is written on the front sheet of his Composition with Twelve Tones:

To understand the very nature of creation, one must acknowledge that there was no light before the Lord said "Let there be light".

So....religious ideas, light and dark, moral confusions...I see it growing out of that (the way I see Heidegger's philosophy caught in religious ideas put against world events--Heidegger was german, Schoenberg was austrian--there's a tortuousness I find in both--not party people; committed to ideals that were going strangely wrong--heh...that's my reading!)  

Anyways, here's the film (5:23):



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 01:10:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Schoenberg had this weird political idea that serial music was 'more democratic' than tonal music because instead of having a centre and a key note, all of the notes were equally important.

But instead of having a key note there's an equally rigid tone row, which gives the notes very little freedom of movement. The row is fixed and although you can do all of things to it - play it backwards, forwards, upside down, and so on - it's the one element that you're not allowed to change directly.

So it's not really free at all, and it doesn't sound democratic. Hardly anyone enjoys listening to it, because it usually sounds angular, ugly and sterile. It's more of a mechanised collectivisation of music - shifting blocks around for the sake of a process which most people can't hear directly.

I don't understand why composers didn't just cut loose and compose completely in freeform, where the notes could go wherever they wanted to go without that kind of arbitrary structure. But apparently composing without a predefined structure and method was too frightening, too much of a challenge and not nearly serious enough.

Which is odd, because it would have been much more 'democratic' than the tone row idea.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:20:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I would say there's only so much freeform you can do with a piano--fixed notes--and Debussy, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky did what you describe--cutting loose and composing freeform--but composing rather than a live improvisation (a la Keith Jarret)--so I suggest they were completely free (or became free) to use sounds as they preferred.  

Especially, I think Stravinsky's use of horns is very free--I think of brass and woodwind as being less needy of exact tonal relationships (I don't know--because in themselves their sound worlds are fairly variegated--)

Then (in my theory) came WWI and tonality was frivolity was not understanding the depth of resonance--tonality was a pretending that there could be consonance in a world where--etc....

The next move was to use synthesised sounds (Messiaen's use of the Martenot)--and then...well...but yeah!  I think there is a wide space for compositions that experiment with the full range of tibral expressions available through whatever instruments can be brought together:

To get people to repeat the music at other moments and in other locations, it has to be created in a medium where re-production is possible--so there's a technical apsect--but anyways, I think the freedom to work without predefined structure and method arrived with (or just before) Beethoven.  For my ears, the serialist exercises sound much better played on a classical guitar--so timbre has a lot to do with it--

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:56:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rg:
Well, I would say there's only so much freeform you can do with a piano--fixed notes--and Debussy, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky did what you describe--cutting loose and composing freeform--but composing rather than a live improvisation (a la Keith Jarret)--so I suggest they were completely free (or became free) to use sounds as they preferred.  

Debussy was famously fond of non-harmonic scales like the whole-tone, and his music is often constrained by that. Prokofiev and Stravinsky are closer to what I had in mind, and I think they were more successful because they're both listened to more than Webern is now.

But I think the problem with serialism was that it wasn't about structure, it was about structure which only existed on paper and had no acoustic justification. All of the other development until then had been about the sound, and about using tonality as a language for metaphors.

Serialism was about an idea which was divorced from the sound. It was a single method which didn't allow any freedom to include metaphor, but it was a metaphor, and if you used it there was only one thing you were allowed to say - which was mostly a tortured and angtsy squeak-bang-thud.

So music went elsewhere, to jazz, which was much more free harmonically while still having enough structure to be non-trivial.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 07:48:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Debussy was famously fond of non-harmonic scales like the whole-tone, and his music is often constrained by that.

heh....I suppose each piece is constrained in some way if it has structure (even 4'33--which is time constrained)...I don't think of Debussy as constrained simply because he acted completely freely within the possibilities of (mainly that I've heard) the piano, but yeah, with his own constraint that he loved certain timbres, certain elegant effects--which I like too!  And I'm sure there are pieces of his that demonstrate the opposite of whatever another piece demonstrates.

it was about structure which only existed on paper and had no acoustic justification

That describes my feeling exactly, and yeah about the jazz break-off, in classical it's there with Ravel (and others of course, but I remember it specifically with Ravel's piano concerto)--

later on I'll post a piece of serialism written for the classical guitar, I do think timbre comes into it, and I suppose a composer could write dynamic markings onto their twelve tone series inversions etc. such that the notes are random (at least in the originating order) but the attack, forte piano, slurs etc. are set by the composer--

Still, it's not a natural sound world for my ears--I can maybe admire a piece and maybe find interesting dynamics, but my ears need some tonality--or maybe the one atonal piece, just to show it can be done, but not a series of them....

...I have friends, though (musicians) who very much appreciate, for example, Webern and Berg--so there's also a playability aspect--for some musicians there's an enjoyment in playing musical inversions, pallindromes etc.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 08:24:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's the classical guitar piece:

The Atonal Space composition, I had composed back in 1988, when 25 years old, a time when I was studying music at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Atonality, music having no tonal center or key, brought forth by an ordered musical system, was fascinating to me. Just following the guidelines to achieve this "absence of gravity" in music will result in Atonality. This system was uncovered by Arnold Schoenberg, a composer from the early 1900's.

5:27



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 01:02:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But apparently composing without a predefined structure and method was too frightening, too much of a challenge and not nearly serious enough.

i think it was more the desire to encode a protocol that all could centre around and then elaborate, like the difference between tossing a ball around and playing cricket.

an agreement that all use a point of reference to jam off of.

self-organising?

before we made these agreements, we probably did a much more random kind of thing, not serious maybe, and as for frightening...lol!

i guess you had to be there...

i get that you're probably referring to the illusion of safety one opts for by 'following the rules', rather than some kind of rawer anarchic approach.

but one is free to do that, the benefit of having rules is that they create some form to the culture, which then bathes children as they grow, and can draw its power to be so very evocative, resonating with ancient memories, maybe back to the dna level.

this helps explain why foreign music takes much longer to get the average head around.

i love the dalai lama's dictum ' learn the rules, so that you learn how to break them correctly', and i think music shows it to be true, tho' it goes even further.

of course the notion of what's correct sets off a whole other relativism, lol.. where do these agreements come from? how long do they last historically?

my guess is music and its rules are a self-emerging process, embedded within us, but dependent on synergy between local materials and regional sounds of flora and fauna to imitate, to flower.

i also think that western music is attracting more new listeners in asia than vice versa, but i could be wrong. same with s. america, or russia.

same with wine and sake or tequila or vodka...

it would be droll if aliens arrived and played music that was actually earthier than what most people have on their ipods here.

cause a lot of what people enjoy on earth sounds pretty alien to me!

except jimi, natch...

the blues and jazz habit of smudging notes, messing with the microtones, makes music come full circle for me, it knows the rules, there is a tonal 'homepage', but you can sally off where it gets lawless.

how far you go, and how long you stay, is the challenge presented by minds and hearts and nervous systems who haven't heard the rules broken so intelligently (or charmingly, another Great Indefinite!) before, and can only stand so much of what tilts over into chaos for them, and the fruit starts to fly, or beer bottles if you're in tornado country.

took me a long time to get coltrane for that reason...

fascinating series, rg!

when i get broadband, i'm gonna take a whole weekend and play all those youtubes, man what a treat, like waiting for xmas!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 06:54:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
before we made these agreements, we probably did a much more random kind of thing, not serious maybe, and as for frightening...lol!

Back in the day, composers would write "Cadenza", which means "Make the next bit up as you like"--an improvisation section, found in a piano concerto, say.  So the beginning of Beethoven's 5th Piano concerto starts with cadenzas--that Beethoven wrote out!  "Hey, that's the solo--now play it."

I was told that Bach was in the habit of writing out ornaments (trills and such) in full, whereas most composers left it to the musicians how to embellish--the sign was an idea not a list of specific notes.

So, piano concertos as rock gigs, with built in solo moments--and then the solo parts slowly get filled in (the composer might write in a few bars with the idea that the player can improvise around that structure etc.)

And--hey--listening to the whole series--!  I think most diaries take about an hour (or so) to listen to.  I really do think they make a lot less sense without the music--a lot of the comments following videos are coming out of the various sound worlds presented by the preceding video (well, that's my idea, whether it works...heh!)--in this diary, I felt the Sor piece played by Segovia said everything--once the context had been set for minor-major with the intro and the Radiohead piece--

So--let's hope you get broadband soon!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 07:16:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was told that Bach was in the habit of writing out ornaments (trills and such) in full, whereas most composers left it to the musicians how to embellish--the sign was an idea not a list of specific notes.

That was allegedly Glenn Gould's excuse for improvising when playing Mozart. If that's true, then it explains why I find Mozart's piano concerto solos rather bland :-)

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 07:25:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yes, exactly!  Mozart was a riff monster; his gigs were just that: one off gigs.  The orchestra could play the piece, then at the certain moment he would play his solo--a solo by Mozart!

Most musicians now would play pre-written notes, so no improvisation.  I found this with a quick google, though:

The orchestra's favorite part of a concerto, someone once joked, is the cadenza - the section at the end of a movement when the orchestra stops playing and the soloist is on his own for a minute or two. But some listeners in the audience can't wait for the "real" music to start again, when the orchestra gets back to work.

Why do these listeners get impatient? Perhaps because the cadenza rarely lives up to what it's supposed to be - a fantasy that sounds improvised, with enough of the unexpected to keep you on the edge of your seat. Nowadays, in a Mozart concerto, most pianists play a cadenza that was composed well ahead of time (sometimes by Mozart for a student, sometimes by someone more recent). Too often, it's obvious that everything was planned in advance.

But not when the pianist is Robert Levin. Like Mozart himself in concerts, Levin makes up his own cadenzas on the spot. Hearing him plunge in after the orchestra stops is like watching someone walk a tightrope without a net. In a Levin cadenza, anything can happen.

http://www.bsherman.org/levinstagebill.htm



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 08:30:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Moazrt literally grew up improvising. He was taken on a tour of Europe when he was ten, and he'd improvise fugues and arrangements with a blindfold on, or the keyboard covered with felt so he couldn't see the keys.

The tour was a double act with his sister who was only a few years older - rated a much better performer, but not such a creative improviser.

He'd have been horrified by the modern idea of 'Here's the piece, these are the notes, play it exactly as it's written or we shoot you.'

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 08:49:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The tour was a double act with his sister who was only a few years older - rated a much better performer, but not such a creative improviser.

I try to think of famous women composers - aren't they more rare than women mathematicians? What are the most famous names in this list?

by das monde on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 10:27:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that the list includes Fanny Mendelssohn (maiden name) and Clara Schumann (married name). This inconsistency gives away the fact that the compiler of the list regards them as famous because they were related to a famous male composer, rather than in their own right.

The Deutsche Bahn does better than Wikipedia. They have (had? Anyone know where you can find a list of named trains?) a train named after Fanny Hensel.

One of the most famous names in the list is probably Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, but not as a composer. A few years ago (probably 1998), Münster had a festival dedicated to her, which included some compositions by her father, who taught her music. A rare instance of a male composer being remembered only because of his relation to a female one.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 04:30:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Deutsche Bahn does better than Wikipedia. They have (had? Anyone know where you can find a list of named trains?) a train named after Fanny Hensel.

Here is the current list. But DB, and others, are reducing the number of named trains (why, I don't get it - how is it a problem to regular interval timeplan?...). However, I don't find any trace of an EC/IC/ICE Fanny Hensel in the past, either.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon May 19th, 2008 at 08:37:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Strange. I have a clear memory of riding in this train. It might have been another country, but that seems unlikely.

I wonder whether they could be reducing the number of named trains to prepare the ground for Austrian-style sponsorship of trains? They have awful things like "Hollywood Filmkomplex" and the like. The most annoying is the "WIFI-express". With a name like that you expect to have WiFi on board, only to discover that WIFI is Austrian for Wirtschaftsförderungsinstitut - and that they don't regard installing WiFi as an appropriate form of Wirtschaftsförderung...

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue May 20th, 2008 at 05:41:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Strange. I have a clear memory of riding in this train.

Could you narrow it down to train type (e.g. EC/IC/ICE/etc.), and roughly which year?

Austrian-style sponsorship of trains

Heh... last week in Vienna, I too saw that "Hollywood Megaplex" train, and also "EZA Fairer Handel" and some expresses named for web addresses...

But, seriously, ÖBB still kept nice names like "Mozart" and "Allegro Don Giovanni" and has room for sillyness like "Willkommen im Parlament", so I don't get what rides DB. (And DB has effects beyond borders - say, why drop the decades-old "Hungária" name for EC 170/171 Budapest-Hamburg and "Ján Jesenius"->"Alois Negrelli" for EC 170/171 Budapest-Berlin?)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 20th, 2008 at 08:22:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think around 10-15 years ago. Maybe ICE, but I'm really uncertain about this.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue May 20th, 2008 at 08:32:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then quite likely ICE. The names of ICE runs were culled in 2002 (some came back later; while naming of the trains themselves for cities started), so there were lots of short-lived names.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 20th, 2008 at 10:06:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a joke in music circles that classical musicians ain't got no soul and jazz musicians ain't got no technique.  Like all snark there is more than a bit of truth there.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat May 17th, 2008 at 12:03:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Creativity requires constraints to be effective? Some people need more constraints than others?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 07:27:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
bingo...freedom is meaningless unless there's something to be free from.

its exactly this tension and release that makes art art, i reckon.

the tension as someone pushes at the rules, and the release when they fold back into the groove, whether rhythmic, melodic or harmonic.

coming home! the further and riskier the journey, the sweeter the return...

but if you try to lead people too far from what they recognise, they'll fall away, so if you want the support of your listeners you have to gauge how far out they can handle it. or you could die, as that always raises the 'appreciability', a la nick drake.

if you don't invite them to savour some new 'way round the block', you're muzak!

elevator music, where if you shut your eyes you can see the musicians sneaking looks at their watches to see how long before they can knock off and go get drunk....to wash off the memories of the pallid melodies, charmless arrangements, flaccid orchestration, trite piled on shite...

sure makes you appreciate 'silence', (if there is such a thing!)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 02:15:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's one of those mornings--I didn't finish my theory.  So, whereas the rigorous astringency of a-tonality is considered by some to be "nothing but the essentials", my theory is that, in fact, it is "nothing but the ornaments"--because it refuses to engage with the basic harmonic overtone patterns--so all the bones (that's my theory--that the octave is the basis and then the fifth, through harmonic resonance experiments--e.g. listening to octaves and notes played with the fifth above them) become ornamented with ever more elaborate movements--so for me, if you remove the entire tonal skeleton you are left with ornament and rhythm--I'm thinking of Stravinsky again, how he enjoyed that, seep away the tonal base, bang bang!  Rush, sweep, now play two major thirds against a minor seventh, bang!  In and out and round about...heh...

Anyways, that's the end of my theory!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:33:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What are the most famous pieces that do not use (in a weaker or stronger sense) the few most basic intervals?
by das monde on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:46:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Rite of Spring is the most famous piece that comes to mind (I keep mentioning that piece)--check out any clips of it, see how long you can hear basic intervals before you hear other basic intervals playing in sync and with no preference one against the other--well, that's my first example.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:59:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here you go, right from the start--using all kinds of intervals (7:46).



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 12:59:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Copland's Appalachian Spring the doppio movimento based on the Shaker hymn 'Simple Gifts' starts with the oboe and bassoon in 9ths - an interval normally avoided.  Play it on the piano and it sounds like crap.  In the concert hall ... it works.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat May 17th, 2008 at 12:12:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Webern:

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:11:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, thanks! How is this called, "A post-apocalypse nightmare"?
by das monde on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:26:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Variations for Piano op. 27

But I like your name better.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:41:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
das monde:
My understanding from your diaries is that major keys are more harmonic (their intervals represent "smaller" fractions), aren't they?

It's interesting that you can split the scale into equal steps without breaking anything too badly, so it could just be that there's a tendency to pick the first X ratios which can be distinguished by a typical listener and can be made practically distinct on an instrument.

If you try to work with a finer split you get more notes than people can hear, can play, can write, and can be bothered to remember.

So scales will tend to have a small number of notes - 5, 7, 12 - modified by local rules about ordering, ornaments and intonation, which will give each scale its flavour. Scales based on harmonics seem to be the most natural, but others are possible, and the exact ratios will always be a little fuzzy, and not quite perfect physics.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:06:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It appears that the world is very lucky with the 12 tones.

Why do we not use a ten-tone or twenty-tone equal-tempered scale? Is there something special about twelve?

The answer is: Yes, the twelve-tone equal-tempered scale is remarkable. The nearly perfect intervals seen in the table above are not typical of other equal-tempered scales. Consider the six basic consonant intervals less than an octave (described above): 3/2, 4/3, 5/4, 6/5, 5/3, 8/5. The twelve-tone equal-tempered scale is the smallest equal-tempered scale that contains all six of these pure intervals to a good approximation - within one percent.

Let's compare the twelve-tone equal-tempered scale to some other scales.

    * All equal-tempered scales with 14 notes or fewer (except the twelve-tone equal-tempered scale) contain at most only two of the six basic intervals within one percent.
    * Several equal-tempered scales with between 15 and 30 notes (notably the 19-tone and 24-tone scales) contain all six basic intervals, but in none of these scales are the intervals more nearly pure than in the twelve-tone equal-tempered scale.
    * The 31-tone equal-tempered scale has all six basic intervals to a good approximation, some with better accuracy than the twelve-tone scale, but the most important fifth (3/2) interval is less accurate than in the twelve-tone scale (218/31=1.495). Some Indonesian music actually uses a 31-tone equal-tempered scale.
    * The 41-tone equal-tempered scale is the first with a better fifth (3/2) interval than the twelve-tone scale (224/41=1.5004).
    * The 53-tone equal-tempered scale has all six basic intervals with a better accuracy than the twelve-tone scale (231/53=1.49994).

by das monde on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:38:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That has probably something to do with continued fractions.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 05:46:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To approximate the major fifth 3:2 ratio, approximations of log[2](3/2) are needed. The partial quotients of the continuous fraction are

[0, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 1, 5, 2, 23, 2, 2, 1, 1, 55, 1, ... ]

the first few approximants are

0, 1, 1/2, 3/5, 7/12, 24/41, 31/53, 179/306, 389/665, 9126/15601, ...

so the 5, 12, 41, 53, 306, 665 tone scales as good for the 3:2, 4:3, 8:3... harmonics as you can cope for. Especially 12, 53 and 665 tone scales are good, because the next partial quotients 3, 5 or 23 are large. (The devil must be using the 666-scale.)

What about other important ratios?

The continuous fraction for 5:4 is [0, 3, 9, 2, 2, 4, 6, 2, 1, 1, 3, 1, 18, 1, ...]
with the first two approximants 0, 1/3, 9/28, 19/59, 47/146, 207/643, 1289/4004...
Here we have 1/3=4/12 (and there is nothing better until the denominator 28). This luck is a bit of coincidence.

The continuous fraction for 5:3 is [0, 1, 2, 1, 4, 22, 4, 1, 1, 13, 137, 1, 1, ...]
with the first two approximants 0, 1, 2/3, 3/4, 14/19, 311/422, 1258/1707....
Here again, 2/3=8/12 and 3/4=9/12 (and there is nothing better until the denominator 19), which must be very convenient for the major and minor subtonalities...

So the 12 is helped by the fact that it is richly divisible.

by das monde on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 06:44:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, that's exactly what I had in mind.

Pity the pythagoreans didn't know about logarithms.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 06:50:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i never saw those words put together before...

amazing, thanks.

12 is a number that has such mythic resonance.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 07:05:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was reminded of Backgammon--I had a few games last night--I think there's something very ancient about those two cubes (six sides)--it seems that to play Backgammon well you have to understand percentages--statistics--and twelve is a large enough number to create adequate subtlety--

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 07:19:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Taking the diary way OT (I can't post videos where I am, otherwise I'd be--posting music videos!)

Dice were probably originally made from the ankle bones (specifically the talus or "astragalus") of hoofed animals (such as oxen), colloquially known as "knucklebones", which are approximately tetrahedral. Modern Mongolians still use such bones, known as shagai, for games and fortunetelling. In addition to bone, ivory, wood, metal, and stone materials have been commonly used. Recently, the use of plastics, including cellulose acetate and bakelite, is nearly universal. It is almost impossible to trace clearly the development of dice as distinguished from knucklebones, because ancient writers confused the two. It is certain, however, that both were used in prehistoric times.

Dice have been used throughout Asia since before recorded history.

The oldest known dice were excavated as part of a 5000-year-old backgammon set, at the Burnt City archeological site in south-eastern Iran. Excavations from ancient tombs in the Harappan civilization,[4] seem to further indicate a South Asian origin. Dicing is mentioned as an Indian game in the Rig Veda, Atharva Veda[5] and Buddha games list. It is also mentioned in the great Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, where Yudhisthira plays a game of dice against the Kauravas for the northern kingdom of Hastinapura.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dice#History



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 07:30:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wish I knew a couple of friends nearby who played backgammon, or better still a cafe where you could play. I find playing it relaxing and stimulting at the same time

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat May 17th, 2008 at 12:45:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's because you're not a mathematician :-P

There is a comment somewhere else in this thread quoting an article with the question of why we don't use 10 regular intervals. The Babylonians knew that 12, 24, 30, 60 and 360 were richly divisible, that's where their number system comes from and note the only place it survives is in astronomy and timekeeping.

There is nothing new under the Sun, etc.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 07:20:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i love how you give our Great Solar Father His Own Capital, lol...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 11:15:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You might like to explore the music of Harry Partch. Not only did he use his own scale, but he invented his own instruments to play it.

Here's a site devoted to him:
http://www.harrypartch.com/

A search on YouTube brings up a multipart BBC documentary about him.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 03:18:25 PM EST
What advances in music tonalities will come from these fellas?

The lights dimmed, the sold-out hall grew hushed and out walked the conductor -- shiny, white and 4 feet, 3 inches tall.

ASIMO, a robot designed by Honda Motor Co., met its latest challenge Tuesday evening: Conducting the Detroit Symphony in a performance of "The Impossible Dream" from "Man of La Mancha."

"Hello, everyone," ASIMO said to the audience in a childlike voice, then waved to the orchestra.

As it conducted, it perfectly mimicked the actions of a conductor, nodding its head at various sections and gesturing with one or both hands. ASIMO took a final bow to enthusiastic shouts from the audience.

by das monde on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 10:34:38 PM EST
Now seriously...

every once in a while when I get to ET and try to click to a youtube video and I only see it for 2 minutes... and then .. no other youtube I try to see works... I have to restart computer.

I use opera... could anyone explain it to me what is going on? I have read that there is some problem with firefox... is this soemthing similar?

why is it random?.. of course there must be soem series fo events which trigger it.. but what events?

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 07:36:55 AM EST
Anyone got any suggestions?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 09:38:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I said at other times, this is not a problem with Firefox; it is primarily a problem with newer versions of Flash, which will cause problems of varying degrees to people with different browsers and different computer memories.

Until now, it apeared that Firefox 3.0 beta and M$ IE produces the least problems. However, maybe Flash updated itself again, because lately, my Firefox 2.0 on the home computer only produces the same error as IE: after I play 3-5 videos on a page, if I try any more, it says "We are sorry, video no more available" - a problem solved by page reload.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon May 19th, 2008 at 08:49:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I love this series.

Was it here at Eurotrib that someone posted the youtube explaining how all negro spirituals are based on a pentatonic scale - only the black notes on the piano?  I can't remember where I saw that.

by Maryb2004 on Sat May 17th, 2008 at 01:07:09 PM EST
I don't remember that video (but my memory...)...here's Aretha Franklin singing Amazing Grace--which is pentatonic (her singing starts at 1:19--video is ten minutes long!)

btw, I was told last week that in writing gospel music they use different shapes for the noteheads, so the part at the bottom in this picture...

...will be thinner or rounder (I haven't seen any music written this way so this is what I've heard)--to instruct the singers how to pronounce/attack/shape the sounds.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat May 17th, 2008 at 03:00:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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