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attempt to discuss theory

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(@sapho)
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Joined: 20 years ago
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Topic starter  

On another forum I attempted to discuss music as it correlates to colour. There has been an ongoing belief by some that visual artists can't talk about music and musicians can't talk about the visual arts. Alot of research has been done on the topic of colour and music and I've read up on it a bit before contributing to the discussion. When the other guy mentioned 'not liking the 'messy' C chord' and 'the triad in a Japanese scale pattern' I tried to offer an example of how colour can be associated with music tones using as an example the Japanese scale pattern that I found on this site under 'exotic scales' : C,Db,F,G,Ab,C. Well, a keener attacked me by saying that my example of a Japanese scale pattern doesn't exist and that I shouldn't 'impose my western culture on eastern music'. There are many kinds of Japanese scale patterns and I just pulled one from the list given. My point was to relate primary, secondary and complementary colours to a C scale pattern, first, and then onto the Japanese scale pattern. Apparently there is no C chord in eastern melodies and my attempts to derive a 1,3,5 chord pattern from the Japanese scale pattern was fodder for him to accuse me of imposing the western C chord upon Japanese music. Apparently there are major differences between eastern and western chord patterns. Wasn't it a bit unfair to attack me on a racial/cultural basis? Couldn't he have informed me that eastern chords aren't derived the same way as western chords without making it into a racial/cultural dominance issue? What do the theory gurus on guitarnoise think? I'd much appreciate another's opinion on the matter.

Portamento - The ability to move from a wrong note to the right one without anyone noticing the original mistake.
Harmonics - The buzzing sound that string instruments make.
Impromptu - A carefully worked out composition.


   
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(@nicktorres)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

I'm no guru, but attacking someone for suggesting a different way of looking at things is narrow minded.

Theory isn't a set of rules. It's a compilation of observations over time.

If someone with Synesthesia wrote the books, perhaps they would be in color.

Something to think about, everyone inserts bias into their observations based on their own experience. The only way that you could know that Japanese music sounds "different" is by basing it on your familiarity of the western scale.


   
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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

Holy cow! I was part of a nearly identical discussion this week - not exactly the same, but close.

The other discussion I was in started out with somebody referring to 'the Japanese scale', which he'd gotten off the internet. In his case, the racial/cultural bias started off with the naming of the scale. You've sidestepped that, calling it just a scale pattern - nicely done :)

The scale you show is the Kumoijoshi. It's one of about five scales that make up most traditional music in Japan. They're all pentatonic, and about half of them probably came from China originally.

There are two problems with what you presented, and yeah, they do show a cultural bias - even if you're not aware of it. I guess that's what biases are, huh?

First is the fact that harmony doesn't exist in traditional Japanese music. Like early Western music, it's entirely melodic... even when the traditional instruments, the koto, the samisen, the shakuhachi, and the voice, play at the same time, they're essentially playing in unison with a bit of decoration.

Second is the fact that unlike Western scales, the Japanese scales are not tempered. Since they don't have harmony, they don't need temperment. Hence, their Db and Ab are not the same as ours - even if you did form chords based on their scales, they wouldn't sound the same as chords based on our approximation of their scales.

Why not re-frame your idea in terms of altered chords? It seems to me your idea is sound - it's just the choice of imposing Western harmony on a non-Western music that's getting you flamed.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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(@sapho)
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Joined: 20 years ago
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Topic starter  

Nick and Tom are the GN gurus of the year and if it weren't for you guys I'd be feeling totally 'bullied' right now. And not only do you make the hurt feel better you explain what happened in clear, coherent terms so that it becomes a learning experience which is what it's all about. I have alot to learn about eastern music as compared to western music and perhaps I spoke about things I didn't clearly understand which got me in trouble. It's the principle of it that matters. Similar attacks are made when I teach English to non-native English speakers. There are some who believe that by doing so is 'imposing' English on others. It's a thankless job but somebody's got to do it. When I see 'elite-types' talking over the heads of others I can't help but try to square things up a bit. This particular discussion was an interview of a rather complex musician by a visual artist who was berating herself that she didn't understand high level music. If someone is good in the visual arts can't they transfer these skills onto the music arts? At least in terms of critiquing and discussing the subject? Everyone's a member of the club just not everyone is proficient at music or visual arts. For that statement I'll probably be accused of being 'populist' or worse a 'liberal.' Quel horreur!

Portamento - The ability to move from a wrong note to the right one without anyone noticing the original mistake.
Harmonics - The buzzing sound that string instruments make.
Impromptu - A carefully worked out composition.


   
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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

She didn't understand high level music...

Aaron Copland, in his wonderful book "What to Listen for in Music" writes this in his first chapter:

It has often seemed to me that there is a tendency to exaggerate the difficulty of properly understanding music. We musicians are constantly meeting some hones soul who invariably says, in one for or another: "I love music very much, but I don't understand anything about it." My playwright and novelist friends rarely hear anyone say "I don't understand anything about theater or the novel." Yet I strongly suspect that those very same people, so modest about music, have just as much reason to be modest about the other arts. Or to put it more graciously, have just as little reason to be modest about their understanding of music.

Everyone really is a member of the club. Very well put, Sapho :)

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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(@greybeard)
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Joined: 21 years ago
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In the East, his behaviour would have resulted in a great loss of face. Politeness and deference are most important features of Eastern culture.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


   
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(@sapho)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 133
Topic starter  

Greybeard too is one of the greatest GN gurus.
In response to the following comment I'm still wondering what is a 'messy C major?' I wonder how 'high level' I have to be before I see a C major as 'messy.' It sounds a bit derisory towards western music. Maybe western music can become tiresome to some people in it's familiarity.

"What about drawing the connection more directly between frequency (sound) and wave length (colour)? And leaving out all this messy "C major" business?"

Portamento - The ability to move from a wrong note to the right one without anyone noticing the original mistake.
Harmonics - The buzzing sound that string instruments make.
Impromptu - A carefully worked out composition.


   
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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

What's "high level"? The avant-garde composer Philip Corner did a composition in the 60s titled "C Major Chord". The piano score has the notation "You can do anything you want, as long as it's a C major chord".

The wavelength/frequency thing won't fly though... light comes in different colors because it's a photon moving along a specific wavelength; sound comes in different pitches because it's a compression and rarefaction of the medium itself (usually air) at a specific rate. You can have colors without a medium, but not sound. One's an electromagnetic phenomenon, the other simply physical.

If sound WAS a wave... well, A=440 is 440 vibrations per second; light travels just under 300,000,000 meters per second, so if A were a wave, it'd have a length of about 681 kilometers. In electromagnetics, a long wavelength would be something like radio waves... maybe 20 meters, or about 34,000 times 'faster' than A440.

(I was the only music major who took physics as an elective in college!)

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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(@sapho)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 133
Topic starter  

That's amazing, Tom. The next time I'm feeling intimidated by a so-called 'complex musician' I won't hesitate to check out their claims here on GN.

Portamento - The ability to move from a wrong note to the right one without anyone noticing the original mistake.
Harmonics - The buzzing sound that string instruments make.
Impromptu - A carefully worked out composition.


   
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 BMG
(@bmg)
Eminent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 23
 

Google for Alexander Scriabin.

Late Romantic period Russian composer and considered a genius
by most. Certainly more genius than anyone since....about
1920...

Some say he had "colored" hearing.

BMG...learning player and composer of "Skulk Music"
Skulk means:
To lurk, creep, or glide about unseen. Usually with hostile intentions.


   
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 BMG
(@bmg)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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Scriabin wrote five symphonies, including the Divine Poem (1903), the Poem of Ecstasy (1907), and the Poem of Fire or Prometheus (1909). His ten piano sonatas are staples of many pianists' repertoire, with the Fifth being perhaps the most popular, while the Seventh (White Mass) and Ninth (Black Mass) follow close. Vladimir Horowitz in his late sixties began playing the Tenth, and it remains today in vogue among more daring virtuosi.

Scriabin's hundreds of preludes, études and poems are considered masterpieces of 20th century pianism, and his "titled" pieces such as Fragilité, Satanic Poem, Etrangeté, Désir, and Caresse Dansé, are greatly admired. Scriabin's style changed enormously as he progressed. The early pieces are romantic, fresh and easily accessible, while his later compositions explore harmony's further reaches. It is thought by scholars, that had Scriabin lived beyond his brief 43 years, he would have preceded the Austrian school of duodecaphony, and Moscow would have become the center of atonality.

More links...
http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/7018/

http://innerchangemag.com/Bradley-synesthesia.htm

BMG...learning player and composer of "Skulk Music"
Skulk means:
To lurk, creep, or glide about unseen. Usually with hostile intentions.


   
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(@sapho)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 133
Topic starter  

Thanks for your input BMG. I'll check out Scriabin.
Here's also some more information on colour music.
http://home.vicnet.net.au/~colmusic/maistre3.htm

Portamento - The ability to move from a wrong note to the right one without anyone noticing the original mistake.
Harmonics - The buzzing sound that string instruments make.
Impromptu - A carefully worked out composition.


   
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(@rockhard)
Eminent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 13
 

duodecaphony, now there is a word I was not familar with. My how this forum has helped me expand my theoretical understanding of music.

My Karma Ran Over My Dogma


   
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(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5840
 

duodecaphony: the noise generated by 12 children. :D

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


   
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