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#1591132 - 01/05/11 12:53 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: gsmonks]
Derek Andrews Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/11
Posts: 62
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Some good examples of this are found in this thread. There is the prevailing assumption, for example, that the rules were arrived at arbitrarily, or simply as a matter of convention. Assumptions like this are the direct result of a lack of knowledge.


I think it must be a mix, don't you? I think it is pretty clear that concord intervals are really "there" in nature. That's something we can observe objectively; it is a fact. To go from there and start tempering the concords to get at more playable keys or to sacrifice certain sounds for the sake of others is where subjectivity comes in. After that, if you want to continue emphasizing certain sounds, there will probably be objective guidelines for producing that emphasis (common practice era theory).

Rhythm on the other hand, as I brought up in another thread, seems more arbitrary to me. Can anyone come up with an objective reason why notated baroque music would predominantly follow certain conventions of meter? I can't think of one. So I'm willing to bet that the reasons for the way the old music sounded is a complex mix of things. Thirds exist. They liked thirds (and sixths, and tenths and etc.), and found objective rules to emphasize them. They decided they liked even rhythm better, but as far as I can tell this was more like an arbitrary choice than an objective reason.

*edit* the only reason I can think of was that it is easy to notate even rhythms, and takes more thought and effort to notate uneven rhythms. I know some older "fantasias" were written with only suggestive note values, and no barlines..so I guess that is the closest we ever came to notating free rhythm pieces. Probably the only true way for recording music with complex rhythm is to record it. I'm not certain how far I will personally go with rhythm in the context of baroque, but I find it an interesting personal discovery that this is orthogonal to the baroque sound and can be incorporated or not incorporated, yet still sound baroque (to me, personally).


Edited by BBB (01/05/11 01:10 PM)

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#1591133 - 01/05/11 12:57 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: keystring]
Derek Andrews Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/11
Posts: 62
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: keystring
About parallels "wrong", I found the passage in my theory book:

Quote:
This parallel movement produces what is called parallel or consecutive 5ths and 8ves, which are a particular style featured belonging to medieval times. Many people are under the impresion that to write consecutive 5ths or 8ves is wrong. This is a false impression created by many theorists; to write consecutive 5ths or 8ves is to write in the style of the medieval period. Such interval combinations, however, are not characteristic of the common practice period, and should be avoided when writing in this harmonic style.**


BBB, did you have a chance to listen to the links that I posted? These explain the different temperaments and how they are chosen by violinists, when, and why, but also lets us hear.


**Materials of Western Music, W. Andrews, M. Sclater, p. 64

I haven't had a chance to check that out yet, but I may at some point, thanks for the link. I can't imagine learning to play in different temperaments by ear with a fretless instrument, that there is anyone out there that can do that truly amazes me! It's enough for me to painstakingly tune my clavichord and then forget about it for a few months while I enjoy it in fresh tuning. Cool thing is, this instrument lets me get away with vibratos despite not forcing me to have an exceedingly precise "real time tuning" ear.

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#1591164 - 01/05/11 01:33 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Derek Andrews]
keystring Online   content
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Well, there is a musical feel side to it. I was an adult violin student but had to break off my studies. I couldn't relate to the technical mathematical kind of explanation, but I could relate to it otherwise. I had movable do solfege as a kid, and you get that movement up and down the scale or mode that gsmonks was talking about. You are also singing Ti (^7) closer than a half step to Do, and Mi Fa (^3 ^4) are closer than a half step. This enhances the feeling of the movement of tendency tones and the sense of being in that key. I never knew I was doing that because it seemed so natural. This is something happening in melodic line.

The other intonation is for harmony, for example when you play doublestops = 2 notes sounding together. You don't think mathematically: you listen for a sweet sound where it clicks together.

Then there are these musical effects that you reach for, which is in one of the other masterclass lessons in that clip. Math can only get you that far.

I understand that wind players have to do another kind of listening because of the physics of their instrument. So maybe every type of instrument gives us different kinds of insights.

Btw, the clavichord sounds like a cool instrument from what you have described.

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#1591190 - 01/05/11 02:01 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: keystring]
Derek Andrews Offline
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Registered: 01/04/11
Posts: 62
Loc: PA
keystring: I enjoyed that last post. I wonder if singers have to think about intonation in a similar way to violin players? My sister encountered challenges while singing with a band. She received pressure to have everything autotuned, but turned it down and preferred to deal with the acoustic challenge of singing with a variety of instruments. The keyboard of course is tuned in equal temperament, but I'm not sure how guitars work. I *think* they would be in equal temperament, but I feel like I've read that they sometimes don't quite mesh with keyboards either. I'm not even sure what the autotuner does, maybe it puts everything into mathematically perfect intervals no matter what key something is being played in, producing an unrealistically perfect harmony. It'd be interesting to find out what autotuning really does: equal temperament, or absolutely pure concords wherever possible?

gsmonk: I didn't mean to imply I thought that composers/musicians of the past never used math to study temperament, of course they did, I only meant to suggest that perhaps not every single one of them bothered with it and they learned a practical, sound based way of tempering scales. That this is possible and approachable today suggests to me that it was possible and approachable in the past. I of course could be wrong, I'm still a n00b to the world of non equal temperament.

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#1591191 - 01/05/11 02:02 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Derek Andrews]
gsmonks Offline
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Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 553
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
The subject of rhythm is another biggie, BBB. The foreword of Walter Piston's Counterpoint brought it to my attention back in the early 70's. I can't recall his exact words off-hand, but suffice it to sayt that rhythm is "the road not taken" in classical music. As has been pointed out, there are oodles of examples, but zero explanations. You can purchase books on all types of rhythms from around the world, but no treatise exists on how it works.

I've been working on such a treatise for the past thirty years or so, but I'm afraid it's doomed to remain a work in progress, because the scientific area of the study of rhythm is still in its infancy.

This is not to say that I didn't make some headway. Beyond the notation, I was able to take some inferences in terms of perception and pursue them to varying degrees.

One thing I found is that musicians tend not to have figured out how to make rhythm evolve or progress within a given piece of music. We all know the Darius-Milhaud-type of example of advising young composers to travel the world, so seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. Or was that Captain Kirk? Anyway, we all know examples of musicians who have followed like advice, such as Dave Brubeck and Sting.

Their downfall, however, is that, although they came across interesting things, they were never able to decipher their workings to the point where they could come up with their own constructs, nor could they make their rhythms, new and/or old, progress or evolve.

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#1591197 - 01/05/11 02:14 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Derek Andrews]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 553
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
By the way, BBB, you have to remember that the early singers and composers (of the kind of music we're talking about) worked within a closed, highly regimented system. These guys were singing rigidly controlled religious music. They experienced nothing like the freedom of being able to noodle around in their free time. Every waking hour of every day was a stylised, formalised, structured affair. The notions we have of personal rights and freedoms would have been completely alien to their way of seeing the world and their place in it.

BTW- I think you mean "newb" or "newbie". A noob is something else altogether.

This is an example of how modern urban dictionaries define the term:

<<II. Defining 'Noob'

<<Contrary to the belief of many, a noob/n00b and a newbie/newb are not the same thing. Newbs are those who are new to some task* and are very beginner at it, possibly a little overconfident about it, but they are willing to learn and fix their errors to move out of that stage. n00bs, on the other hand, know little and have no will to learn any more. They expect people to do the work for them and then expect to get praised about it, and make up a unique species of their own. It is the latter we will study in this guide so that the reader is prepared to encounter them in the wil...>>

From urbandictionary.com

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#1591215 - 01/05/11 02:41 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Derek Andrews]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: BBB
Originally Posted By: david_a
I don't think the idea of preferring thirds over fifths holds much water. I would really like to see some kind of evidence and not just speculation, before I would even think it worthy of discussion.


I may not have fully explained my posts. A lot of what I have said is admittedly my personal experience, not something I'd expect everyone to immediately accept at face value.

My experience went like this:
-started playing a kawaii upright piano back in 2000, learning various scales and basic improvisation

-began striving to learn a bit about theory, resulting mostly in failure due to being a terrible student and hating study of any kind

-met Ted Jones, a member of this forum and another forum, and he gave me some practical advice which for whatever reason was way more useful to me than any traditional teaching I had encountered

-I got a lot better at improvisation, particularly romantic improvisation with an emphasis on exploring my own harmonies. I found that without studying much theory, I tended towards traditional harmony without having received specific advice about it from Ted. Thus, there must be a reason why I gravitated in that direction. I must have liked something about the sound.

-Strove to try to improvise in the baroque style, resulting mostly in failure but increasingly small successes over the years. This may be due to lack of talent but probably also due to believing incorrectly that I would have to study music theory for years in order to do so.

-eventually got a digital piano. For whatever reason, I found my skill improved more than I expected, mainly in the romantic idiom. I continued to learn more intuitively during this time about traditional harmony, but still found the baroque sound to be a tough nut to crack.


Now, here's where I reach the point in my experience where for me, all the ideas I've put forth very much do "hold water." Whether or not they make sense to others doesn't matter to me...

I got a clavichord---and within a few short months a wide number of fragmented ideas I had collected over the 10 years I've been improvising all connected, and I suddenly found that improvising in the baroque style made perfect sense to me, and the reason it sounds the way it does makes perfect sense. The vast majority of this revelation is admittedly intuitive, so describing it in an over simplistic manner as I did as "thirds emphasis" is probably inadequate, but it is the best I could do in a single forum post.

I've still got my water. In other words, what I posted was not speculation, it was an attempt at explaining an intuitive revelation, or connection, that I had been striving to make, with my goal of learning to improvise in the baroque style.

I guess my hope was that if I shared these ideas, maybe someone else out there who was interested in this sort of music might get a switch flipped and it might help them. You never know...

Let me translate what I wrote earlier: I think you're completely on the wrong track with the thirds thing. I think this particular intuitive revelation is just a plain old mistake. But if you can show some written evidence, I'm happy to be proved wrong.
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#1591223 - 01/05/11 02:57 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: david_a]
Derek Andrews Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/11
Posts: 62
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: BBB
Originally Posted By: david_a
I don't think the idea of preferring thirds over fifths holds much water. I would really like to see some kind of evidence and not just speculation, before I would even think it worthy of discussion.


I may not have fully explained my posts. A lot of what I have said is admittedly my personal experience, not something I'd expect everyone to immediately accept at face value.

My experience went like this:
-started playing a kawaii upright piano back in 2000, learning various scales and basic improvisation

-began striving to learn a bit about theory, resulting mostly in failure due to being a terrible student and hating study of any kind

-met Ted Jones, a member of this forum and another forum, and he gave me some practical advice which for whatever reason was way more useful to me than any traditional teaching I had encountered

-I got a lot better at improvisation, particularly romantic improvisation with an emphasis on exploring my own harmonies. I found that without studying much theory, I tended towards traditional harmony without having received specific advice about it from Ted. Thus, there must be a reason why I gravitated in that direction. I must have liked something about the sound.

-Strove to try to improvise in the baroque style, resulting mostly in failure but increasingly small successes over the years. This may be due to lack of talent but probably also due to believing incorrectly that I would have to study music theory for years in order to do so.

-eventually got a digital piano. For whatever reason, I found my skill improved more than I expected, mainly in the romantic idiom. I continued to learn more intuitively during this time about traditional harmony, but still found the baroque sound to be a tough nut to crack.


Now, here's where I reach the point in my experience where for me, all the ideas I've put forth very much do "hold water." Whether or not they make sense to others doesn't matter to me...

I got a clavichord---and within a few short months a wide number of fragmented ideas I had collected over the 10 years I've been improvising all connected, and I suddenly found that improvising in the baroque style made perfect sense to me, and the reason it sounds the way it does makes perfect sense. The vast majority of this revelation is admittedly intuitive, so describing it in an over simplistic manner as I did as "thirds emphasis" is probably inadequate, but it is the best I could do in a single forum post.

I've still got my water. In other words, what I posted was not speculation, it was an attempt at explaining an intuitive revelation, or connection, that I had been striving to make, with my goal of learning to improvise in the baroque style.

I guess my hope was that if I shared these ideas, maybe someone else out there who was interested in this sort of music might get a switch flipped and it might help them. You never know...

Let me translate what I wrote earlier: I think you're completely on the wrong track with the thirds thing. I think this particular intuitive revelation is just a plain old mistake. But if you can show some written evidence, I'm happy to be proved wrong.


I don't understand how you can claim this is a mistake when I've clearly stated that it has helped me learn to create my own baroque music. Alright, well maybe it is a mistake and makes no sense at all. Mistake or not, it helped me learn something about baroque music. This wasn't idle discussion or speculation on my part; it was an attempt to explain something which HAS WORKED for me. I didn't expect it to immediately work for others...the process of creating music is an intensely personal enterprise and nobody can be expected to pick up "someone else's" intuition from a few forum posts.

I think the only thing for which we can provide hard scientific evidence is the existence of concords and discords. Beyond that, a personal set of intuitive guidelines, such as my idea of basing everything on thirds and their inversions, cannot be "wrong" if it works for me personally. If it ends up informing or helping someone else, then great...if not...nobody has been harmed by it. so I'm afraid I can't provide "evidence" as I didn't state something for which I need to provide evidence. The only thing I could provide as evidence would be "before" and "after" recordings of myself making an attempt at creating my own baroque music. The problem there is that, I may perceive an improvement, others may perceive all kinds of flaws that I'm not really interested in hearing about, because both the "before" and "after" attempts I may post gave me pleasure when I created them, and do today. That's all I'm after...taking pleasure in personal music making.

*edit* I'll admit in some of my posts I may have made it sound like the old composers must have had some sort of similar simple "emphasize thirds and their inversions" principle that guided them. Perhaps this is where I am wrong; though I still don't see how "right or wrong" applies here, since they very well may have been doing exactly what I described, but never bothered to verbalize it as I have chosen to do for myself. In other words, maybe it was simply taken for granted for years that certain sounds should be emphasized, because of how new and beautiful all those sounds were. Now that post modernism has torn everything down, I find it of personal importance that I discover a good reason "why" the old music sounded the way it did without taking it for granted. What I have described satisfies this, for me.


Edited by BBB (01/05/11 03:09 PM)

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#1591594 - 01/06/11 01:54 AM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: gsmonks]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11174
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: gsmonks

There were no intervals at the time because there was no polyphony. Plain chant consisted of a single line of music.

How are you defining interval? If I sing the pitch C and then sing the pitch D, then I have moved up a step, which is an interval or distance between two notes. I think that you are saying that there were no harmonic intervals, meaning that one voice sings C, while another sings D, so that we hear C and D at the same time. That is what I tried to clarify the first time round.

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#1591603 - 01/06/11 02:26 AM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Derek Andrews]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: BBB

*edit* I'll admit in some of my posts I may have made it sound like the old composers must have had some sort of similar simple "emphasize thirds and their inversions" principle that guided them.
This was exactly where I misunderstood you, and is exactly what I think there is no evidence for.

I have heard quite a bit of music in neo-baroque styles, and some of it I have liked as music; but I have never found any of it even remotely convincing, as baroque music.

But if what you're saying is that you have found a satisfying theory that fits your own neo-baroque music, separate from real baroque music (criteria number one for "real baroque" being that its composer's musical education was completed in the 17th or early 18th century), then that makes perfect sense.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1591633 - 01/06/11 04:50 AM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: keystring]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 553
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: gsmonks

There were no intervals at the time because there was no polyphony. Plain chant consisted of a single line of music.

How are you defining interval? If I sing the pitch C and then sing the pitch D, then I have moved up a step, which is an interval or distance between two notes. I think that you are saying that there were no harmonic intervals, meaning that one voice sings C, while another sings D, so that we hear C and D at the same time. That is what I tried to clarify the first time round.


An interval is the distance between two notes. During the plain chant era there were descriptions of how notes moved, which was by step or by leap. The distance between notes wasn't a consideration.

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#1591636 - 01/06/11 05:00 AM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: david_a]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 553
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: BBB

*edit* I'll admit in some of my posts I may have made it sound like the old composers must have had some sort of similar simple "emphasize thirds and their inversions" principle that guided them.
This was exactly where I misunderstood you, and is exactly what I think there is no evidence for.


That's incorrect, David. The pre-and post-Palestrina era is the very embodiment of such evidence. The ideal at the time was to achieve perfect sonority (which is why the nomenclature of the day was full of such affectations as the term "perfection", referring to perfect octaves, fourths, fifths, and because of "just" intonation, thirds and sixths).

Fourths and fifths were deemed dissonant at the time, whereas unisons, thirds and sixths were given preferential treatment.

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#1591733 - 01/06/11 09:25 AM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: david_a]
Derek Andrews Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/11
Posts: 62
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: BBB

*edit* I'll admit in some of my posts I may have made it sound like the old composers must have had some sort of similar simple "emphasize thirds and their inversions" principle that guided them.
This was exactly where I misunderstood you, and is exactly what I think there is no evidence for.

I have heard quite a bit of music in neo-baroque styles, and some of it I have liked as music; but I have never found any of it even remotely convincing, as baroque music.

But if what you're saying is that you have found a satisfying theory that fits your own neo-baroque music, separate from real baroque music (criteria number one for "real baroque" being that its composer's musical education was completed in the 17th or early 18th century), then that makes perfect sense.


Well I can't really argue with that as I'm not 340+ years old! =)

So you've never heard any modern composer, well known or not well known, anywhere in the world, compose convincing baroque music? I'm certain I've heard some talented amateurs compose very good baroque music. They aren't going to sound exactly like bach nor should they. But it's definitely baroque.

Also, while I can't learn directly from a living "real" baroque composer, they certainly left behind a gigantic pile of music for me and other like minded amateurs to learn from. So you're right, my process may end up totally different from the way they really did things back then...but why would I want it to be exactly the same?

So, since Meade Lux Lewis, Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and so forth are all dead, does that mean my father is not a "real" boogie woogie player because he didn't learn to play in the same era?


Edited by BBB (01/06/11 09:29 AM)

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#1591741 - 01/06/11 09:31 AM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: gsmonks]
Derek Andrews Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/11
Posts: 62
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: BBB

*edit* I'll admit in some of my posts I may have made it sound like the old composers must have had some sort of similar simple "emphasize thirds and their inversions" principle that guided them.
This was exactly where I misunderstood you, and is exactly what I think there is no evidence for.


That's incorrect, David. The pre-and post-Palestrina era is the very embodiment of such evidence. The ideal at the time was to achieve perfect sonority (which is why the nomenclature of the day was full of such affectations as the term "perfection", referring to perfect octaves, fourths, fifths, and because of "just" intonation, thirds and sixths).

Fourths and fifths were deemed dissonant at the time, whereas unisons, thirds and sixths were given preferential treatment.


Yes, when I initially just said "thirds," I really meant "thirds and their inversions." So thirds, sixths, tenths and their even wider equivalents.

Also, my original post is an over simplification. I think it is clear that the baroque composers enjoyed dissonance as well, but they, perhaps subjectively, decided to always treat dissonance as something that "arouses the passions" and consonance as something that "calms them." (I recall reading a similar statement in CPE Bach's True Art of playing Keyboard Instruments). This is where the objective "finding consonant intervals in nature" starts to blur into the subjective. I think if I were to imagine myself as someone experimenting with musical intervals back then, I'd probably find consonant intervals more pleasing than dissonant ones *at first*. I might, because of religion or what not, believe that the consonant intervals were placed there by God. I might derive more pleasure from them as a result of all of these things. Then, I might proceed to consider dissonance as something that I would want to always tend dowards consonance. To me, all this seems like a natural, human reaction to initial discovery of sounds in nature. Today of course, we can let dissonances stand on their own and be interesting entities in and of themselves. But back then, they kept that "initial reaction" to consonance and dissonance as a guiding principle for their composition.

To me, that "initial reaction" seems to be one that I share. I love the sound of dissonance resolving into consonance (or proceeding from consonance to dissonance and then anticipating resolution at some point), it gives me a lot of pleasure. More so than compositions which are based entirely on standing, non functional dissonant intervals. Or compositions that simply ignore the interplay between consonance and dissonance. Sometimes there are composers which, while composing, do not pay attention to this, but still produce an interplay between consonance and dissonance that I enjoy.

It took me a long time to finally arrive there after listening very broadly, and indeed sometimes enjoying a lot of the weird modern stuff. I think the furthest I can still go and enjoy it is late scriabin...when you get up to schoenberg and all the rest I don't understand it. I like to improvise it sometimes, that can be fun, but as music I don't value it.


Edited by BBB (01/06/11 09:46 AM)

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#1591781 - 01/06/11 10:14 AM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: gsmonks]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11174
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: gsmonks

An interval is the distance between two notes. During the plain chant era there were descriptions of how notes moved, which was by step or by leap. The distance between notes wasn't a consideration.

Are you defining intervals as the distance between two notes that are sung at the same time, i.e. harmonic intervals?

If there are two stones which are 2 feet apart, and if I stand on those two stones at the same time, then my feet are 2 feet apart. If I hop from the first stone to the second stone, then I have hopped 2 feet. The 2 feet refers to that distance, and that distance doesn't change. That is how I understand interval and how it's taught over here.

When the music was sung in plain chant, they sang along the gamut, and the notes of that gamut were spaced a certain distance from each other. They sang one note, and then the next note, and by doing so they traveled a given distance, which I understand to be the movement of an interval. When you write of step or leap, I have always understood that to also involve a certain distance that is being traveled. In a modern major scale, when you move from Do to Mi, then you have skipped Re, but there is also a distance from Do to Mi which you have traveled.

When I read that there were no intervals, then I read that to mean that there was no distance between two notes even melodically, and that made no sense, and precisely why I got stuck on that sentence. But if you say there were no *harmonic intervals*, because no two notes were ever sung at the same time, then that does make sense.

We are taught to think of harmonic and melodic interval, then do you consider that to be a misteaching? This is the point where I am stuck with your explanation. It DOES make sense if you are thinking of interval as only concerning when two notes are produced at the same time.


Edited by keystring (01/06/11 10:43 AM)

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#1591931 - 01/06/11 01:12 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Derek Andrews]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 553
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Yes, Keystring, I was referring to harmonic intervals.

The monks would rise at the crack of dawn for Matins, sing plain chant for a while from little books containing 4-stave scores, go do their morning chores while a few of their number prepared some gruel, had breakfast, then went out working. They didn't think anything about the music, as it was a devotional matter like prayer.

Matins was part of the Liturgy, and during such events the public would enter the abbey. The monks were hidden from sight by curtains and/or a heavy latticework.

The harmonic/melodic aspects of music are indeed taught in a muddled way today. I've been quite taken aback at how poorly these subjects are taught in most modern universities.

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#1591939 - 01/06/11 01:18 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Derek Andrews]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 553
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
BBB, the difference between Palestrina's and Bach's counterpoint is dissonance. Palestrina and his contemporaries used none, Bach's is full of 4ths, 5ths, diatonic 7ths, accented passing notes, pedals at various intervals, suspensions and appoggiaturas. The beauty of the sound of Baroque music is produced through the liberal use of dissonance, just as the etherially sublime sound of Palestrina's music is produced by the utter lack of dissonance.

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#1591947 - 01/06/11 01:27 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: gsmonks]
Derek Andrews Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/11
Posts: 62
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
BBB, the difference between Palestrina's and Bach's counterpoint is dissonance. Palestrina and his contemporaries used none, Bach's is full of 4ths, 5ths, diatonic 7ths, accented passing notes, pedals at various intervals, suspensions and appoggiaturas. The beauty of the sound of Baroque music is produced through the liberal use of dissonance, just as the etherially sublime sound of Palestrina's music is produced by the utter lack of dissonance.


Because of this thread I actually listened to a bit of Palestrina today on youtube, I had never done so before. This is certainly a learning experience. Wouldn't you agree, however, that even with the liberal use of dissonance in Bach's time, there was still this strong tendency towards things aligning in triads, or moving in parallel thirds and sixths etc. In other words---the baroque composers found more creative ways to accentuate the satisfaction of aligning on thirds (triads) with dissonance. It wasn't until much later that dissonant chords began standing on their own for longer and longer periods, until they were no longer functional chords.

From what little I listened to of Palestrina, it sounds like he does use dissonance, but resolves it much more quickly than one often hears in later music. The effect is much smoother. I'm also fascinated by the intonation of human voices singing this kind of music, it is really gorgeous.

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#1591962 - 01/06/11 01:47 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: gsmonks]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11174
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Yes, Keystring, I was referring to harmonic intervals.

That clears everything for me. Thanks. smile

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#1591969 - 01/06/11 01:55 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: gsmonks]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: BBB

*edit* I'll admit in some of my posts I may have made it sound like the old composers must have had some sort of similar simple "emphasize thirds and their inversions" principle that guided them.
This was exactly where I misunderstood you, and is exactly what I think there is no evidence for.


That's incorrect, David. The pre-and post-Palestrina era is the very embodiment of such evidence. The ideal at the time was to achieve perfect sonority (which is why the nomenclature of the day was full of such affectations as the term "perfection", referring to perfect octaves, fourths, fifths, and because of "just" intonation, thirds and sixths).

Fourths and fifths were deemed dissonant at the time, whereas unisons, thirds and sixths were given preferential treatment.
OK, thanks! What are some historical source readings for this?
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#1591977 - 01/06/11 02:04 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Derek Andrews]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: BBB
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: BBB

*edit* I'll admit in some of my posts I may have made it sound like the old composers must have had some sort of similar simple "emphasize thirds and their inversions" principle that guided them.
This was exactly where I misunderstood you, and is exactly what I think there is no evidence for.

I have heard quite a bit of music in neo-baroque styles, and some of it I have liked as music; but I have never found any of it even remotely convincing, as baroque music.

But if what you're saying is that you have found a satisfying theory that fits your own neo-baroque music, separate from real baroque music (criteria number one for "real baroque" being that its composer's musical education was completed in the 17th or early 18th century), then that makes perfect sense.


Well I can't really argue with that as I'm not 340+ years old! =)

So you've never heard any modern composer, well known or not well known, anywhere in the world, compose convincing baroque music? I'm certain I've heard some talented amateurs compose very good baroque music. They aren't going to sound exactly like bach nor should they. But it's definitely baroque.

Also, while I can't learn directly from a living "real" baroque composer, they certainly left behind a gigantic pile of music for me and other like minded amateurs to learn from. So you're right, my process may end up totally different from the way they really did things back then...but why would I want it to be exactly the same?

So, since Meade Lux Lewis, Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and so forth are all dead, does that mean my father is not a "real" boogie woogie player because he didn't learn to play in the same era?
Regarding "real baroque": My point is that we modern people can't un-hear Mozart, Mahler, the Beatles, and Boulez. Everything we make is influenced by our environment, and by what has come before us.


Regarding your father: Player vs. composer is an important distinction. Your father's boogie woogie style, in his own compositions, is a little different from theirs (I expect), even if he plays Pete Johnson's music just the way Johnson himself did. Imagine the huge difference there could be in new boogie woogie music two hundred years from now! (Though there might be less difference because that style is not so convoluted & complex as baroque.)
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#1592027 - 01/06/11 03:41 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Derek Andrews]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 553
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
The best thing to do, David, is find a book or two on Palestrina that goes into his music in detail. I studied his music in university well over thirty years ago, and the only material we had to work with was notes taken in class and the music itself.

This looks like it might be promising:

http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Sixteenth-Century-Counterpoint-Palestrinas/dp/1880157071

BBB, that's exactly it- Bach counterpoint assimilated Palestrina's counterpoint. That's what is meant by the term "classical" music. The basis of the Western Classical musical tradition is the underlying classicism, which continues unbroken from its earliest origins to the present day. The classicism in question follows the rules of taxonomy, and has its analogue in Western thought. Like DNA, nothing simply pops into being. Everything is contingent upon the existing state of the form. In a very literal sense, Western classical music evolves over time.

Classical music is like art and ballet and the English language. They are forms built by assimilation, through which a line (tradition) is drawn. A few forms came together at the beginning, a revelation like Pythagoras' realisation that all the modes were part of a single system took place (the realisation of the underlying classicism), and the process of assimilation and evolution continued on from there. Newer forms were assimilated after being fitted into the scheme of things, the way a taxonomist fits a newly discovered life-form into the Tree of Life.


Edited by gsmonks (01/06/11 03:44 PM)

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#1594296 - 01/09/11 10:17 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: gsmonks]
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2629
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
This isn't directly related to this discussion but covers many points and some most here have never thought of. Composer John Winsor has made his book Breaking the Sound Barrier available for public consumption. I have found much of what he has to say enlightening and instructive. He covers the development of music theory and composition from pre-organum to the present. I highly recommend reading it for anyone with an interest in composition. Don't expect to get through it in a day.

http://www.john-winsor.com/

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#1594420 - 01/10/11 03:10 AM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Derek Andrews]
Nikolas Online   content
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Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 4994
Loc: Europe
Ok, I might be a bit off, since I don't have tons of time to read every reply (soooo sorry about that), but...

"Rules" in theory/harmony/counterpoint/etc are there for the simplest of reasons: Some people analized what the composers of the past were doing and broke them down to rules. If you want to 'copy' that style then you have to follow the rules. If not, by all means do whatever you please.

It's simple as that. (and the parallel fifths in the Ravel concerto in G sound OH SO AMAZING, btw...).

As far as aesthetics are concerned, I'm not exactly sure on what to say: Yes, aesthetics can be taught (and have been taught for so many years, regardless if we're talking about composers or performers). And yes, personal filters play a hugely important role in what our output is. The question of why something sounds good has to do with our own ears (who else knows how WE listen to things?), with our own taste in music (our parents were putting Marilyn Manson when we were young and now that's all we can hear), our training (our piano teacher was a b * i * tz...) and so on.

Universal rules do seem to be somewhere in there, at least based on western music. The minute, though, you step outside the western modes and styles, you enter a world of microtuning, weird time signatures (traditional songs in Greece have 7/8, 9/8, 23/8 (!!!) and 15/16 (!!!!!) as time signatures for example and the same applies for most of Balcan). Is anyone capable of putting THAT down to universal rules?
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#1594509 - 01/10/11 08:40 AM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Steve Chandler]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 553
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
This isn't directly related to this discussion but covers many points and some most here have never thought of. Composer John Winsor has made his book Breaking the Sound Barrier available for public consumption. I have found much of what he has to say enlightening and instructive. He covers the development of music theory and composition from pre-organum to the present. I highly recommend reading it for anyone with an interest in composition. Don't expect to get through it in a day.

http://www.john-winsor.com/


Thanks for the link! I shall certainly read it!

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#1594513 - 01/10/11 08:47 AM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Nikolas]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 553
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Ok, I might be a bit off, since I don't have tons of time to read every reply (soooo sorry about that), but... "Rules" in theory/harmony/counterpoint/etc are there for the simplest of reasons: Some people analized what the composers of the past were doing and broke them down to rules.


You really should have read what came before, Nikolas, because that's dead wrong. The rules were there from the beginning, and evolved right along with the music. In fact, in many cases they were there before the music- that the music evolved out of the rules. For example, Pythagoras unified the modes (what few there were), which in the process created new modes, which later were studied in terms of possibilities, in keeping with the underlying classicism of the day, before people actually began using them.

Likewise, the rules of voice-leading came from plain-chant, before there was polyphony (multi-voice writing).

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#1594766 - 01/10/11 03:12 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: gsmonks]
Nikolas Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 4994
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Ok, I might be a bit off, since I don't have tons of time to read every reply (soooo sorry about that), but... "Rules" in theory/harmony/counterpoint/etc are there for the simplest of reasons: Some people analized what the composers of the past were doing and broke them down to rules.


You really should have read what came before, Nikolas, because that's dead wrong. The rules were there from the beginning, and evolved right along with the music. In fact, in many cases they were there before the music- that the music evolved out of the rules. For example, Pythagoras unified the modes (what few there were), which in the process created new modes, which later were studied in terms of possibilities, in keeping with the underlying classicism of the day, before people actually began using them.

Likewise, the rules of voice-leading came from plain-chant, before there was polyphony (multi-voice writing).
I'm sorry but I deadly dissagree!

First of I find that not reading the entire thread has little to do with me being wrong or not, or with what I said. I just mentioned that to make sure that if I was repeating what someone else said there was this simple reason.

Other than that I don't write tonal music and I hardly use any 'rules' (parallel fifths and the such), or voice leading as you might know it. Of course everything evolves in time and of course everyone works with some kind of 'rules' (otherwise we would be talking about million monkeys hitting the keys of the piano), but it remains that the rules mentioned by BBB seemed to go towards aesthetic rules of the past, which are there for the specific aesthetics and not in general...

Quote:
Likewise, the rules of voice-leading came from plain-chant, before there was polyphony (multi-voice writing).
So in this example... If I disregard the 'rules' of voice leading I'll either:
a. End up in something awful (highly doubt that).
b. End up in a different aesthetic that the rules lead me to.
c. don't know/don't care.

The rules ARE there to produce a somewhat defined aesthetic result! Unless we are talking about some other kind of rules, in which case I do appologize... wink
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#1594869 - 01/10/11 05:14 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Nikolas]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 553
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Originally Posted By: gsmonks
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Ok, I might be a bit off, since I don't have tons of time to read every reply (soooo sorry about that), but... "Rules" in theory/harmony/counterpoint/etc are there for the simplest of reasons: Some people analized what the composers of the past were doing and broke them down to rules.


You really should have read what came before, Nikolas, because that's dead wrong. The rules were there from the beginning, and evolved right along with the music. In fact, in many cases they were there before the music- that the music evolved out of the rules. For example, Pythagoras unified the modes (what few there were), which in the process created new modes, which later were studied in terms of possibilities, in keeping with the underlying classicism of the day, before people actually began using them.

Likewise, the rules of voice-leading came from plain-chant, before there was polyphony (multi-voice writing).
I'm sorry but I deadly dissagree!

First of I find that not reading the entire thread has little to do with me being wrong or not, or with what I said. I just mentioned that to make sure that if I was repeating what someone else said there was this simple reason.

Other than that I don't write tonal music and I hardly use any 'rules' (parallel fifths and the such), or voice leading as you might know it. Of course everything evolves in time and of course everyone works with some kind of 'rules' (otherwise we would be talking about million monkeys hitting the keys of the piano), but it remains that the rules mentioned by BBB seemed to go towards aesthetic rules of the past, which are there for the specific aesthetics and not in general...

Quote:
Likewise, the rules of voice-leading came from plain-chant, before there was polyphony (multi-voice writing).
So in this example... If I disregard the 'rules' of voice leading I'll either:
a. End up in something awful (highly doubt that).
b. End up in a different aesthetic that the rules lead me to.
c. don't know/don't care.

The rules ARE there to produce a somewhat defined aesthetic result! Unless we are talking about some other kind of rules, in which case I do appologize... wink


Nikolas, you should really go back and read. Your comments are incorrect, and sticking to your guns and not making a single attempt to listen to the facts is only serving to derail this thread.

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#1594875 - 01/10/11 05:27 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Nikolas]
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2629
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
The rules as they are taught now are intended to apply toward common practice tonality. Since this style of composition is generally frowned upon in academic circles it is not what's taught in college composition classes. The reality is parallel fifths have a very strong and particular sound. They tend to be be noticeable, therefore inadvertent use is a mistake that will be noticed. However, if you use them deliberately then indulge the sound by making them obvious.

Of course I haven't always taken this advice in my own music as there are ways to disguise parallel fifths (in a rich harmonic environment with lots of 7ths, 9ths etc, they tend to get lost). It's a bit like disguising ginger with garlic. My point is you should always be thinking about what you're doing and know why you're doing it.

To use a painting metaphor, a common thing done now is mixing media, a bit of watercolor here, some acrylic there, some charcoal elsewhere. It's easy to do such mixed media badly, the challenge is to make it look like it all belongs together. One concept might be a picture that starts as a charcoal sketch on one side and progresses through watercolors to full on oil paint by the other side. It's an obvious concept, that expresses evolution and it has probably already been done many times, but it's a concept that's supported by the technique. And that's really the bottom line. It's one thing to break the rules, but in so doing to you accomplish something expressive? If the answer is yes then what's the problem?

There will always be idiot critics like the one who complained that Cesar Franck used an English Horn in his Symphony and everyone knows an English Horn doesn't belong in a symphony. It's funny, because history has judged that symphony rather well. It's one of the more popular in the orchestral repertoire.

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#1594943 - 01/10/11 07:39 PM Re: Why do "rules" exist? [Re: Derek Andrews]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 553
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Parallel 5ths are an exceptional example. Composers stopped using them when they fell out of fashion, which is one issue attached to them. Their second major issue is that, when it comes to rules of voice-leading, they are best avoided in contrapuntal writing, which is where they were originally excluded.

As a convention they fell out of favour because to the generation of composers immediately following the era of parallel harmonies, they sounded old-fashioned.

As a rule in voice-leading, primarily in counterpoint, they were avoided because parallel movement of that type interferes with the independence of the individual voice to which that movement belongs.

In contrapuntal terms, parallelism of any kind detracts from individual melody. This is not a bad thing when intended in an harmonic context, because many composers use an "organ-stop" technique when writing for full orchestra, whereby parts move in parallel, using instruments and voicings to create false harmonics. Bartok and Ravel were masters of the technique. There are examples to be heard in both Concerto For Orchestra and Bolero.

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