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Music Theory / It's about time
« on: March 09, 2016, 04:10:01 PM »
About time, its measure, and "being" in time:

 The difference between cardinal and ordinal numbers...

 Yes, but I figured this out before I knew what they were called.

 Babies are certainly 'zero' at birth and their age counted in smaller increments than years. How numbers are used to measure matters of time is different from other measuring systems; there is no "zero," and everything begins at "1."

 Identity/being is synonymous with "being in time."

 I never heard of a baby being called 'zero years old' all the way until it reached age one. They always say it in fractional divisions, like days, weeks, and months. "Zero" is not used in matters of time. At least, it wasn't always until digital clocks and military time.

 It seems that "zero" is avoided when dealing with time (not military, but look at any conventional clock).

 The calender year starting 2000 does not mean 'we have completed 2000 years' but rather 'we are celebrating the beginning of our 2000th year'.

 In birthdays, we celebrate completion, in calendar terms we celebrate the start of the new time period.

 Implicit in these statements are the terms "start" and "complete," which refer to durations of time. "Duration" implies "being in time."

 It wasn't always possible to own zero sheep. Now we see this as measuring "quantities."

 Time is in a sense quantitive (as in an hourglass), and it can be measured; but time differs from other quantities in that time is duration and being.

 This is obvious to any computer-music operator who deals with musical measures (which begin at the start of measure 1, and SMPTE time code, which begins on 0:00:00:00. The measure is a duration to be experienced; the SMPTE code is time as a quantity, to be measured.

 Western music has gradually deviated from the notion of time as an "experienced duration of being." During early chant, it was. This all ties-in with the doctrine of Privatia Boni.

Music Theory / East and West in music
« on: March 09, 2016, 04:04:36 PM »
It's possible to construe that the system of tonality itself, based on an hierarchy of sonance in relation to a single tonic note, as the harmonics of a fundamental note relate, is a "sacred" concept, since it relates every diverse harmonic function to a tonic, which becomes the "great note,' metaphorically representing God, "the one." These harmonic functions of Western tonality are based on the division of the octave into 12 notes, which was derived from Pythagoras' (imperfect) cycling of the 2:3 perfect fifth, with its inverted counterpart, the 4:5 perfect fourth.

 Fifths are a value of 7 semitones, and fourths are 5 semitones. These are the only two intervals which do not coincide within the octave or divide it evenly until many cycles of projection are completed; in the case of fifths, 12 x 7 = 84, and for fourths this is 12 x 5 = 60. These are the main harmonic stations of traditional tonality, which is based on root movement by fifths as being most closely related.

 12 is not divisible by either of these intervals, so an 'outside the octave' common denominator must be used. This makes these intervals "outgoing" by nature.

 The other basic intervals (of the 6 possible basic intervals, not counting inversional counterparts0) can be divided into 12:
 1 (m2)
 2 (M2)
 3 (m3)
 4 (M3)
 6 (tritone)

 These are intervals which coincide in their cycles or projections within the octave, and divide it symmetrically, so I call these "inward-going" intervals.

 Conversely, systems which are not tonal (based on harmonic models), but use local tone-centers and small divisions of the octave (geometric systems), like Bartok and most modern systems which diverge from harmonic-based hierarchies, are "inner-directed."

 These two different systems represent what I have earlier called "Western" (outward-directed, objective), and "Eastern" (inward-directed, subjective).

 If we continue to stretch this metaphor, we can see that each system represents a different way of conceiving a religious system, or approach to the sacred.

 The Western represents an objective, outer system which must be approached in a receptive (and many times literal) belief in a God 'out there' which is part of the objective scheme of things. If anything, we are merely small extensions of this great oneness, if that. Until we establish a connection, we are separated.

 The Eastern represents a 'going within,' a diametric reversal, where we are connected internally with the sacred. For me, this is a more inclusive model, as every being is assumed to have an inner connection with the sacred, with no recognition of external symbols necessary. For me, this precludes the establishment of 'objective' belief systems of religion.

 On a number line, these two approaches, the inner and outer, can be seen as two directions to infinity: The Western going to the right, in ever-increasing numbers, from 1 into infinity; The Eastern going to the left, from 1 towards zero, in ever-decreasing degrees of fractions.

 Both are based on the starting point of "1," the big note, or the octave.

 La Mont Young was well aware of these ideas, and avoided the use of 5 and 7-based intervals.

Music Theory / How recording profoundly changed music
« on: March 09, 2016, 04:01:17 PM »
Recording changed music in a profound way, especially popular and folk musics. Before, the written score insured that music would be transmitted in an unchanged way, as a 'definitive' form. Folk, popular, and 'ear' music did not have this advantage; as it passed from player to player, it changed and morphed, just like that whispering game we've all played.

 With the advent of recording, now music had an 'ear' memory which was not biological, but was objective and unchanging, just like a written score, perhaps even better.

 Jazz musicians can now learn solos note-for-note, and popular forms of music are now acquiring a stable, unchanging history and tradition, which was formerly the exclusive domain of art music.

Music Theory / 12 is just a number
« on: March 09, 2016, 03:56:41 PM »
The whole tone scale is an 6-tone based on the projection of the major second. The scale's interval content is M2s, M3s, and tritones. It repeats symmetrically; no matter which note you begin on, the resulting intervals are the same. It divides evenly at the tritone.

 Tonality uses the 7-note diatonic scale, and its "dividing point" is the fifth.

 That's because the 12-note chromatic scale was derived from the projection of the fifth; thus the circle of fifths. This is an acoustically-based method.

 But actually, the 12-note scale is an anomaly, an approximation, based on the attempt to close the octave after 212 cycles of 3:2 fifths.

 Thus, "12" is the resulting mathematical result of this error or approximation; there is no acoustic ("tonal") reason for its existence, other than that it approximates fifths. In ET, all these fifths are 2 cents flat, to compensate for this error, and to close the octave, which would otherwise spiral onward into irrational values. No ratio, such as the 3:2 fifth, can be divided into "1" (the octave) as a whole number (such as 12).

 Thus, all the resulting symmetries created by "12" are mathematical in nature, and thus have a way of degrading tonality's supposed "acoustic" nature of ratios, and turning it into a mathematically/geometrically based system. Thus, the "undoing" of tonality was always inherent in the "12" based scale of Pythagoras.

Music Theory / Scriabin vs. Schoenberg: Two Approaches
« on: March 09, 2016, 03:52:02 PM »
Scriabin vs. Schoenberg: Two approaches

The Piano Sonata No. 10 opus 70 by Scriabin is so advanced harmonically, so chromatic, that it verges on the atonal. A wandering, seemingly aimless composition, vague and prolix, melodically almost non-existent, rhythmically diffuse, no discernible pulse...what a refreshing break from the "One-two! One two!" march rhythms and clich├ęd phrasings of most Western, even modern, composers.

 This is what happens when harmonically advanced music, becoming more and more chromatic, loses its melodic charms, and becomes a twisting morass of chromatic chord permutations...all things become vertical, sonorous, spectral, and polyphonic independence dissolves in the rapids of harmonic waves of sound.

Schoenberg knew this is what would happen, so he gave the chromatic morass an ordered sequence; a forlorn strategy which attempted to solidify the waves, to regain the polyphonic lifelines of order. Scriabin, instead, chose to die, to drown, to submit his ego to the water, carefully refined and sealed-over. His intense interest in Madame Blavatsky's philosophy shows that he was inexorably drawn to the unconscious, the non-ego-driven, the animus, the dark side of the moon.

Schoenberg was too directed by his agenda and tradition; to transform Viennese ideology into his own creature; nationalistic to a degree, in that he always wanted to "belong," to be a part of, yet, to accomplish this by subverting it finally? A love/hate mission, unconscious forces of his psyche pulling him in two directions: one is the traditionalist, wanting to fulfill the expectations of society, in traditions of love, marriage, heroic accomplishment; and the other, the outsider, lingering outside the concert halls of Vienna, too poor to gain admission to Wagner, playing a makeshift cello, yet knowing more than any typical Viennese citizen. So, finally he was driven to subvert the very language he mastered so completely, by giving it ordered sequence and polyphonic life again. He will not drown in the chromatic sea, but will conquer it, and tame it.

Scriabin, by contrast, submits to the anima; the darkness engulfs his music, he becomes one, in submission and death, to the vast chromatic ocean of colors. Ahh, yes, the darkness!

 These two composers might seem to represent two diametrically opposed solutions to the increasing chromaticism of the 20th century. Scriabin, Dionysius, submitting beautifully and completely to the unconscious drives of chaos and feeling; Schoenberg, Apollonian, feeling the same forces, attempting to control the dragon, to create himself as a heroic victor over the forces of illogic and diffuse intuition; then submitting to its consequences. A removal of ego, but on his terms.

 The modern world, with its relentless logic and order, seems to be the counterpoint to Scriabin's 'psychedelic' vision of color and mysticism; perhaps this is the "corner" to which we moderns relegate out art, as a reminder of the squelched creative forces within each of us. "The darkness" is forbidden; the "void" of the unconscious is "counter-productive" in an industrialized oligarchy. So we declare Scriabin the winner, as a prize Pomeranian lap-dog, a reminder of the darkness, tamed, domesticated, rendered harmless as a curiosity.

 It might appear that we moderns need Scriabin more than we need Schoenberg's logic. In the end, perhaps both composers created their own version of the darkness, coming from diametrically opposed directions.

 For me, and I have given this much consideration, it means that the increase of chromaticism leads to inevitabilities; inevitabilities which are manifest as qualities; namely, less defined melody, and less defined harmony and tonality. This is a simple statistical fact of increasing the number of notes from 8 (tonality) to 12. Redundancy and repetition is decreased, so pattern-recognition becomes more difficult. Like tonality, the brain tends to derive meaning through simplification and reduction.

Schoenberg saw this as well, and gave the chromatic scale a specific sequence, or ordering, which not only defines it melodically, but gives it a horizontal dimension which takes the place of harmonic function (which is manifest horizontally as well as in terms of vertical sonance). Since harmonic meaning was inevitably taken away by chromaticism, Schoenberg decided to replace harmonic meaning with sequences of intervallic relations which give a sense of sonance and vertical movement, yet remain harmonically vacant in the traditional functional sense.

Scriabin, by contrast, chose to remain in the morass of increasingly dense and ill-defined, ambiguous (chaotic?) harmonic chromaticism, which is the inevitable consequence of increasing chromatic density. In terms of harmonic function (tonality), this means an increasing ambiguity, and in a sense, an increasing "meaninglessness" in harmonic terms.

 Yet, Scriabin's late works are indeed tonal, if you've got the ear/brain to handle it; yet, they are on the verge of atonality because of the extreme chromaticism.

 This is the premise: that one had to either remain in the harmonic hierarchy, which was becoming its own undoing, or depart into uncharted territories, and create a new hierarchical system of relations, as Schoenberg did.

 If one wishes not to admit that this change was historically inevitable (although things happen in sequence), then the numbers speak for themselves; 12 is more complex than 8, and produces more cross-relations. But one can choose not to recognize number in relation to music, and see it as purely art, with no dimension of number affecting it.

 If one wishes (on artistic grounds) not to accept this inevitability as inevitable, then there is no point in arguing the point, as it becomes a matter of metaphysics or style.

 Yet, the entire 12-note division of the octave is arbitrary and imperfect; but its hierarchy of vertical sonance relations and horizontal functions is based on natural harmonic principles; "1" is divided into fractional subservient parts.

 Thus, as it has ever been, music represents the struggle between natural sensual factors and geometric constructs.

Music Theory / Where does Debussy lie in the tonal spectrum?
« on: March 09, 2016, 03:48:18 PM »
Debussy is an easier listen, but I would not label him as 'atonal' just because he is 'not tonal' in the traditional sense. 'Atonal' means "having no tonal center," and this is not the case with Debussy.

 Debussy worked freely, ignoring function, and his music was tonal or 'tone-centric' in places. However, it could suddenly shift into a different region. We might hear a 'cadence' or resting point, but these are not prepared, as they would be in tonality.

 Another factor in the argument that Debussy's music is not 'atonal' (yet not functional in a tonal sense) is his use of scales, such as the pentatonic, whole-tone, diminished, and 'synthetic' scales, such as the lydian with flat-7 scale.

 To use a scale implies a 'starting point' which proceeds upward through the octave, until the starting pitch is reached again in the next higher octave. This in itself implies and creates, to our ears, a sense of tonality, since scales are like "indexes of pitches" which can be drawn upon freely, in any order (unlike tone-rows), and which can have their own harmonic function by building triads and stacking thirds on top of any scale note.

 Additionally, these 'synthetic functions' do not need to have arbitrarily assigned functions; the functions arise naturally as a result of their degree of dissonance in relation to the starting 'root' note. The functions will be ranked (by our ears) in terms of the most consonant being the most important or related harmonically to the tonic note, and so forth, towards the most dissonant. This is a self-evident 'harmonic truth' which applies to any scale, whether it be 'world music,' folk music, or any tone-centric music.

Music Theory / Whence Music?
« on: March 09, 2016, 03:44:33 PM »
Without getting into what 'tonal' means, or how it is used, I think it's apparent that most people would identify music of a thousand years ago as clearly "tonal," although strictly speaking, Gregorian chant is not tonal in any sense, and is not even 'unambiguously tone-centric,' since it sometimes leaves us 'hanging in the lurch' tonally, not ending phrases on the note we thought was tonic, and other vestigial effects of those stiff little, inflexible tetrachords.

 What people mean, is that old music sounds 'sonorous' and full of delightful harmonic color, and is consonant or less consonant by degree, but is definitely not easily confused with that dissonant stuff that arrived after 1900.

 Broad interest in the living, ongoing, evolving tradition of musical thinking and practice we used to call 'classical music' did, indeed seem to decline, and 'classical music' became a 'living museum' of older practices. Beethoven anyone?...While the actual thinking process and creation of such music became relegated to the ivory towers of academia, the New York City loft scene, and vinyl LP cut-out bins of K-Mart.

 So, who's right, and who's wrong? Did composers exceed the limits of what the common ear can stand? Just because we can now base an entire composition on principles derived from dissonant sets of notes, should we?

 The 'ear' seems to have lost. Listening to music itself, any music, is now a dying art. Just listening, I mean. It's like reading. You do it alone, preferably in the dark. "Real" music is to be used in 'real' ways: to dance to, to advertise beef, to accompany more important dramatic action, like TV shows and movies.

 Who really needs 'music itself' these days? People who love music itself, I hope.

Music Theory / The Idea of "Definitive Versions"
« on: March 09, 2016, 03:41:24 PM »
A score can't be 'definitive' like a performance is definitive, because a score is a written form of recording an idea, and a sound recording is an aural way of recording an idea (performance). Therefore, since music is ultimately manifest as sound, a written score can never be as fully realized and complete as a sound recording, in a performance sense. However, written scores are detailed instructions, so a complex idea involving a hundred musicians is not possible without the score as a set of unchanging instructions, embodying a consistent 'unchanging' musical idea, resulting in a more-or-less consistent result.
 The hesitancy of traditionalists to see any recorded version of, say, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as 'definitive' is based on the mythology of the pre-recording era, when the composer was at the top of the hierarchy, because 'the score as idea' was his, and was the only fixed version which was an essentially unchanging set of instructions and musical ideas. The score was not simply a set of unchanging instructions, though; the score embodies a consistent 'unchanging' musical idea, thus it is a written recording of a musical idea, and in written form it takes on the characteristic of an 'idealized' Platonic musical idea. Thus, the mythology arose of the score (as ideal Platonic idea), as being 'definitive' in that sense, like written scripture. "In the beginning was the word." And the conductor said, "Let there be sound," and there was sound. Classical music hierarchy is: Conductor at top, as "God," with the sacred Platonic idea; then conductor as demi-god, bringing the Word to light, manifesting "God's" will.
 since it is irrelevant to an aural approach to creating music.

 The written score has always been a 'set of instructions,' and still is. If Frank Sinatra used Nelson Riddle's orchestra in a recording session, Riddle's written charts would still be just a 'set of instructions,' but in popular music, they are not revered, or seen as the ultimate goal; the ultimate goal of a Frank Sinatra recording session/performance would be to 'create a definitive recording of a definitive performance.' This, in order to create a 'definitive artifact,' i.e, a record which can be sold and listened to.

 In classical music there are authored musical ideas and aesthetic approaches and styles, such as Beethoven's, which exist in the abstract, as written scores, as potentialities, and also as historic artifacts, like books.

 This Platonic aspect of classical music exists before the performance, and has taken of an aura of 'reverence' among both players and listeners. This hierarchy in classical music still persists in the organization of recordings "by composer," not always by performer.

 In popular music or jazz, which is composed and performed in recording studios from essentially aural ideas, this separation of composer/performer does not exist; as in aurally-transmitted unwritten folk music, the performance is the origin of musical ideas, and in many cases the performer is the 'composer.' John Coltrane performing an extended saxophone solo on "My Favorite Things" is the important creative aspect of jazz, and is most valued, not the song by Rogers and Hammerstein, which is only the vehicle for Coltrane's improvisation. The performer is at the top of the hierarchy.

 There are classical traditionalists who insist that the performer is only a servant of the composer, and should not intrude.

 Oral and aural traditions transmit ideas by ear, and they are stored in 'biological memory,' unwritten. Thus, these sorts of ideas change, and are not consistent. Written scores introduced the idea of authorship, and music which could be more consistent and true to the composer's intent. Plus, we're talking large groups of musicians here, not four or five guys sitting around a fire, or four Beatles in a studio.

 Classical music puts the emphasis on the composer; the performers in an orchestra are employees following instructions in an hierarchy which puts composer and conductor on top, and performers to the lower parts of the pyramid. Classical music, in this regard, is an hierarchy of power which parallels the social power structure, rather than the 'tribe' or individual or jazz group.

 In popular and folk musics, the performer is at the top of the hierarchy; and with the advent of sound recordings, their performances can now have a consistency which rivals the former domination of the written score.

 While not even Schumann himself would have expected, or wanted, every performer of his work to render it in an identical manner, nor would he have wanted them to change, or add notes.

 The point I wish to make is that written scores are more consistent in preserving unchanging ideas than aurally-performed music in the era before sound could be recorded."definitive."

 The Beatles record catalogue is definitive, since they are recorded artifacts. Popular recordings which are conceived and created as 'definitive artifacts' such as Pet Sounds, Beatle albums, etc, are easily seen as 'definitive.'

 Not so in classical; its history, in the era before recording, created a different paradigm, as I have explained.

Music Theory / Understanding Music
« on: March 09, 2016, 03:38:25 PM »
Some guy (I can't recall exactly who) said that "music is just sound." That's pretty Zen! It's also a way, and to a point, and in certain cases...

 Remember that music is a language of sound.

 It would be somewhat disingenuous to say that "The English language is just sounds."

 "But," you retort, "the English language is more specific in meaning than music; music is vague, more abstract, etc."

 That's true, but music, tonal music specifically, is a certain kind of sound. We understand music, generally, ans as distiguished from noise, as being sustained pitch. This is what distiguishes talking from singing.

 Singing, and music, are sustained pitches.

 Talking is sibilance, noises, short bursts of vocalizations; not music, in other words.

 So, music is a sound language of sustained pitches of certain frequencies, which sustain, and are recognized as notes, or musical pitches.

 This 'sound language' is based on the way our ears hear. In almost all music, this is tonality, where our ears hear tone centers, because of the way we perceive pitch; based on a harmonic model, where we hear a fundamental note with higher partials, and the partials are all related to that one fundamental pitch: this is the tonality of music, in hearing tonal centers.

 So, if it is "music," it is a certain kind of sound; and almost all music is based on hearing natural tone centers, which is a manifestation of what our ears tend to hear. In tone-centered music, which almost all music is, even folk and ethnic musics, the 'structure' of the sound is audible, and makes sense to our ear/brain, because that's the way our ears hear things: with a bass note on bottom, and higher notes above it. We tend to hear the higher notes in relation to the bass note; the bass note becomes a 'fundamental pitch' or tone-center, to which the higher notes refer to in a less dominating way. This is the 'usual' way music is made and perceived. It seem to come naturally to people the world over.

 Ok, now that we've defined the norm, here are the exceptions. We have expanded the notion of what music is, from the 'natural' paradigm described above. Electronic music is 'just sound' in many cases, Wendy Carlos and Tomita being notable exceptions. John Cage wants his music to be 'just sound,' so he has devised all sorts of ways of structuring it. Lots of percussion, which is not sustained pitch, but can be done very musically. This brings us to the point that music is not "all pitch." It can be dominated by the other elements: rhythm, and timbre, if we wish.

 Serialism is not 'just sound,' because the organization of the pitches is arrived at using a hidden process, not audible 'as a process' of structure. True, it ends up being, ultimately, 'just sound,' but unlike the 'natural' paradigm of music explained above, the structural elements are determined by a mathematical process which is in its essence not related to the ear or the way it hears. The ear will ultimately determine its 'sound meaning' when it is ultimately heard as 'just sound,' but that is a secondary effect; the true structural essence of the music is abstract, and separate from the sound aggregate it ultimately produces.

 So, sometimes "music is a certain kind of sound in which the generating principles are based on natural principles of pitch perception;"

 sometimes "music is just sound in which the sounds are unrelated to the natural music paradigm and are just sounds;"

 and sometimes "music is based on mathematical or geometric structuring principles which are not as directly related to the natural principles of pitch perception as the original music paradigm."

 This leads to the conclusions that:

 Tone-centered music based on natural principles of pitch perception is "understandable" in a universal and self-evident way; because of our ears;

 Music based on "sound being just sound," even if unpitched or exclusively rhythmic or based on noise, is understandable in a universal ans self-evident way if it is conceived of and perceived as music;

 But music in which pitch material is generated using geometric/mathematical procedures, and is not based primarily on natural pitch perception, and in which the resulting pitch structures, as sound, are separated from their generating principles and are not direct manifestations "in sound only" of these generating principles (i.e., a 'hidden' process), is not music that is universally "understandable' in a self-evident way.

 Note that these conclusions do not contradict the fact that "sound is just sound" or "music is just sound;" nor do these conclusions contradict that music can be liked, regardless of whether we understand it.

 The conclusion is that "understanding" music is not necessarily conveyed by the sounds themselves, but is sometimes a 'hidden' process.

Music Theory / Dividing the Pulse into Three
« on: March 09, 2016, 03:35:26 PM »

4/4 is 4 beats a measure (top number), with quarter note (bottom number) as the note division.

 The key word here is "beats." 120 beats per minute could expressed by any note division (the number on bottom): 1(whole note), 2 (half note),4 (quarter note),8 (eighth note),16 (sixteenth note), 32 (thirty-second note), 64 (sixty-fourth note).

 Notice: note values (divisions) go by 2's: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32.

 How many "beats" is the top number. 4/4 has 4 beats, 4/8 has four beats, 4/16 has four beats, 4/32 has four beats, etc.
 3/4 has three beats, 3/8 has three beats, 3/16 has three beats, etc.

 The trick is, if you want to divide a "pulse beat" into three. This is common in most blues & r&b songs.

 The note values go by 2's, so if you want a "3" note, you must use a dot: dotted quarter equals 1-1/2 quarter notes (or three eighth notes), dotted eighth note equals 1-1/2 eighth notes (or three sixteenth notes), etc.

 We cannot put this "3" into the bottom number of a time signature. There is no "3/3" or "4/3."

 We have to write it this way: 6/8 or 12/8.
 __________________________________________________ _______________________

 6/8 means "six beats in a measure, eighth note gets one beat." 123/456, 123/456, 123/456, 123/456, etc.

 Notice how there are 2 "main pulses" not able to be written into our signature system: on 1 and 4. Each main pulse is divided into three: 123/456, with two main pulses in each measure. This is usually the bass pulse, and bass drum pulse.
 __________________________________________________ ___________________________

 12/8 means "12 beats in a measure, eighth note gets one beat." 123/456/789/10 11 12.

 Notice how there are 4 "main pulses" not able to be written into our time signature system: on 1, 4, 7, and10. Each main pulse is divided into three: 123/456/789/10 11 12, with four main pulses per measure. This is the 'walking bass' heard in blues: 1,4,7,10. 1-2-3-4. Boom boom boom boom.

Music Theory / Music Today
« on: March 09, 2016, 03:32:54 PM »
The paradigm of classical music (as distinguished from folk, popular, or ethnic, ceremonial, etc) is that it is scored. The rerason that it is scored is for two reasons:

 A.) it "records" the music in precise, unchanging form (before audio recording was possible), and

 B.) it makes it possible to coordinate larger groups of players than folk or popular are able to control.

 There are contrasts which this creates, and consequences to this:

 C.) Music-making takes the creation of musical ideas away from the individual performer or small group, as in folk, and music making becomes a matter of performing only, and 'reading' and performing what is before the player in written form, with the composer as primary creator; i.e., it transforms what was once an exclusively'creative performance' into a written, primary act of creation by the composer, which can be reproduced and transported as pure 'idea;' this is not separated in folk or jazz, where performance is part of the creative act;

 D.) Scoring takes music out of the exclusively aural "ear" realm, and gives it a visual bias, as it is in written form, for reading, and becomes an "eye" form, more visual in nature; music in written form acquires qualities which the 'ear' mode cannot duplicate as easily; visual, written ideas can change constantly, with not as much need to remember long sequences or series of changes; human biological memory is no longer dominant, with all its weaknesses.

 With the advent of sound recording, we can now record any audio event precisely, resulting in these new differences:

 A.) is less relevant and important; and making it easier and faster to preserve performances in unchanging form;

 B.) is still relevant, in that large groups can be handled;

 C.) is less relevant, in that audio recording gives the 'ear' dimension much more power of precision, and precise performances without variance can be captured, in permanent form; it facilitates and empowers the 'performer as creator' paradigm, such as The Beatles writing songs by ear in the studio, without scoring;

 D.) is still relevant, in that scoring, a visual mode of perception in written form, facilitates ideas which can be more precise, or change more frequently, are very uniform and consistent, and are not reliant on biological memory.

 So, audio recording has changed the actual paradigm of classically scored music vs. 'ear' music. Either form can still be used by itself, independently, with all its stregths and weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages; but audio recording has empowered the 'ear' mode. and scored music has consequently lost some of this power, but has retained other aspects.

 Electronic music which is done on tape, without score, or performed in small groups, as with Stockhausen's ensembles (Kontakt, Prozession, Mikrophonie, Kurzwellen) is using the 'ear' paradigm.
 Varese is composing intuitively, with pure sound, but is doing so with traditional orchestral forces. He occupies a middle ground.

 Music which is scored, like Ligeti or Lutoslawski, but which is to a degree indeterminate, is also in the middle.

 It seems that the more 'independence' sound itself is given, departing from the predetermined control of precise scored instructions, the more it departs from the traditional paradigm.

 Computers allow a precise control of sound events without scoring as well, using a different form of visual language. This is what distiguishes Milton Babbitt's RCA Synthesizer works from "free" electronic works like Posseur and Varese's Poem Electronique.

 Terry Riley is a middle-grounder as well, since actual performance and improvisation is integral to his performance works (Poppy Nogood, Sri Camel), but is contrasted by scored works, such as his scored string quartet pieces and the semi-indeterminate scored piece "In C."

Music Theory / Why tonality is harmonic, and serialism is not
« on: March 09, 2016, 03:31:05 PM »

I've never said that atonal music was "not harmonic" (whatever is meant by that); I say that atonal music is not based on a harmonic model.

 Of course, all music using pitches is "harmonic" and has sonority.

 In the case of 12-tone music, the original, retrograde, inversion, and retrograde inversion forms are well-suited for tone rows, because tone rows are melodic (not harmonic or vertical).

 Try to apply this to tonality, and you can't, in this sense: a scale can't be "inverted" or "reversed" (this has no meaning) because it is only an abstract index of notes, with no order. Melodies can be inverted in tonality, but not scales.

 Scales are conventionally depicted as a sequence of notes from low to high, as if they were "progressing" through time horizontally, but this is only a convention. Scales do not actually "exist" as realized musical entities; they are just an index of notes, with a starting point, which covers that octave.
 __________________________________________________ _____________________________

 Tone rows are melodic musical entities, unlike scales, because they are horizontal, melodic entities (intervallic relations, regardless of pitch) with order, which must proceed in a sequence of time, like a melodic construct, in order to have meaning. The intervallic relations of a tone row are fixed, similar to a melody, but are really about interval relations.

 These intervallic relations are ordered, because it would make no sense to stack them vertically; they are not designed to be harmonically useful in that sense, since they contain all 12 notes, and register is not specified (in serial music, anyway): pitches, in the harmonic sense, are not the important thing in tone rows; intervals are.

 The idea of melodic inversion, retrograde, etc, is applicable to tonality, but only in the melodic sense. You can't "invert" a scale because it is not horizontal entity.

 What are scales useful for, then? They are unordered, so there are cross-relations between every note in the scale with every other note. What does this mean? It means that scales have a harmonic content, unlike tone rows.

 What are harmonic content, and cross-relations in a scale? I means this: every note is related to every other note:

C Major scale: C-C-E-F-G-A-B

 Relations: First note, C:
 C-D; C-E; C-F; C-G; C-A; C-B

 Then, next note, D:
 D-E; D-F; D-G; D-A; D-B

 Then, next note, E:
 E-F; E-G; E-A; E-B

 Then, next note, F:
 F-G; F-A; F-B

 Then, next note, G:
 G-A; G-B

 Then, next note, A:

 These intervals can be counted, to come up with a "harmonic content" of the scale:
 minor thirds: 2 (E-F, B-C)
 major seconds: 5 (C-D, D-E, F-G, G-A, A-B)
 minor thirds: 4: D-F, E-G, A-C, B-D)
 major thirds: 3: C-E, F-A, G-B
 fourths: 5: C-F, D-G, E-A, G-C, A-D
 tritones: 1: (B-F)

 20 relations; with 6 basic interval types (the rest are inversions): m2/M7, M2/m7, m3/M6, M3/m6, 4th/5th/, and tritone.

 You can't do this with a tone-row, because the relations are restricted by ordering:
 C-C#-D-D#-E-F-F#-G-G#-A-A#-B (chromatic set)

 C-C#, C#-D, D-D#, D#-E, E-F, F-F#, F#-G, G-G#, G#-A, A-A#, A#-B, B-C

 There a 12 interval relations. This is not a good row because the intervals are all the same, minor seconds.

Music Theory / Learn to make music by yourself!
« on: June 05, 2014, 09:02:42 AM »
Learn to make music by yourself. Your goal should be to create music with an instrument. Whenever you pick up your instrument, make music. Be rhythmic, be driven, hear the music in your head an and play it. If you are playing a solo, imagine the beat and the accompaniment. Always play ideas. If you keep after this, you will find that you don't really need other musicians, unless they can add, embellish, or complement what you are doing. In fact, they can hinder you, and distract you, or create a negative aura around you. You don't need anybody else to make music! Make music by yourself, for yourself, for your own entertainment, and you will find that other people will become your audience.

Gear Talk / Lexicon JamMan
« on: June 05, 2014, 08:48:35 AM »
A great looper. I found mine used, and it has the extra RAM cards, so it gets over a minute in delay time; long enough to play an entire progression and then solo over it.

My favorite thing, though is just looping, doing 'drone' compositions and recording them.

Gear Talk / The Roland GP-100 modeling preamp
« on: June 04, 2014, 10:46:28 AM »
I love this thing! I have two now, one for studio and one for gigs. Among its many attractive features, some of my favorites are:

The Marshall simulations are very good, emulating the old Roman numeral "I & II" inputs.

It has a good "backwards guitar" effect, which samples segments of your playing and actually plays them back in reverse.

The effects can be configured in any order, which is very handy.

The Midi interface allows control over any aspect of an effect. I especially like being able to program a wah pedal to turn on or off by stepping all the way forward, like a vintage foot switch. This is done by programming the MIDI command to operate in the high range of the pedal's travel, from 126 to 127 (instead of 0-127).

Plus, this MIDI feature allows you to custom-tailor the range of the wah, and its physical travel...the parametric wah is a trip.

My latest trick is to program the treble knob of the preamp into the pedal, to get a "Speedy West" -type tone-wah effect, like the old vintage steel guitars, or Roy Buchanan's pinky-controlled "crying Tele" tone effect. Coupled with a harmonizer set for a M2, it gets a startlingly real "talking steel" effect, just short of using a vocoder.

The only thing this doesn't have is a ring modulator...

I can turn the Send/return on or off, with a pedal or footswitch, to go into "looping" effects with my Gibson Echoplex Digital Pro or Lexicon Jamman...

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