Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves)

Posted by: Gary D.

Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/03/12 05:09 PM

Debussy Preludes Book II

I talked about some interesting notation choices in this piece, the second prelude of Book II.

The above link is to the whole book.

Keystring has agreed to add images here of specific parts of the prelude. I always have trouble uploading pictures to this site.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/03/12 05:17 PM

Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/03/12 05:19 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring

Here is the place in question, four major chords with unusual spellings.

Check out, starting with: un peu en dehors, at the ppp mark. smile
Posted by: landorrano

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/03/12 05:24 PM

What page is this on the score?
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/03/12 05:37 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
What page is this on the score?

From page 8 to page 9. I merged two pages together, for the section...
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/04/12 08:42 AM

The last time this came up I was too shy to say anything in public, but now that it's come around again here's what I see (with some help from LoPresti for learning to tolerate having radically different chords in the top vs. bottom staff):

On the top staff, respelling, Debussy has four major chords in root position with the root doubled: A, Eb, F#, C. (Or maybe A, D#, F#, C, since everything else has sharps, not flats, including the A# half-diminished seventh chord in third inversion in the left hand -- a.k.a. a rootless (F#)9/G# chord.)

There's a pattern to the chords: the roots in the top staff travel up a tritone, up a minor third, down a tritone, and (leading into the next measure) down a minor third.

My new theory for why Debussy chooses the spellings he does is to minimize the numbers of accidentals and notes being accidentalized and then de-accidentalized, or re-accidentalized, in the same measure.

My other theory is that the accidentals have to do with some sort of non-standard scale(s) that is implied by the chords, either together or individually.

OK, go ahead. Explain how I have it all wrong.

Mostly in the face of this music I feel that the little bit of theory I know is far too poor to describe what Debussy is doing.

And this is only based on looking at it; when I got home last night I forgot to try this out at the piano to listen to it. (Shame, shame.) I'll try to remember tonight.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/04/12 04:48 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88

OK, go ahead. Explain how I have it all wrong.

I glanced through what you wrote, and I would never say you "have it all wrong". I didn't post this as a gotcha. I didn't want to play the know-it-all. I simply thought it would be good for everyone to have concrete examples of tricky notation to talk about. It would take people out of the world for the theoretical and put them into the world of the practical.

This particular example actually illustrates how the practical and the theoretical come together.
Quote:

On the top staff, respelling, Debussy has four major chords in root position with the root doubled: A, Eb, F#, C. (Or maybe A, D#, F#, C, since everything else has sharps, not flats, including the A# half-diminished seventh chord in third inversion in the left hand -- a.k.a. a rootless (F#)9/G# chord.)

I think you are very close to right. In fact, there is no reason why what you are describing is not right. Here is what I see:

1) He has in mind some tonality. It's not always easy to see, but it could be C# minor. The last chord in the whole piece is C# major, so that's at least a place to start.
2) He continues to repeat a G# in the bass. That at least suggests some kind of dominant feeling. In more conventional music, you might have: A#7(5)/G# to G# to C#m. But he just sort of leaves that half-diminished chord floating, and eventually simply jumps to F#, the chord.
3) The middle staff is a melody in octatonic. E F#- G A--A# B#-- C# D#--E. Not all of it is there, only: E F#- G A--A#, although C# is in the following chord, major.
4) The roots of his major chords (A, D#, F#, B#) all follow from the octatonic scale. A, D#, F#, B#. The remaining notes in his major chords follow that, and they also follow the spelling a combination of the C# minor scales, if you consider natural and melodic minor.
5) The roots of the major chords form a diminished chord, which itself is also contained in the octatonic scale. This also shows why jazz players will often talk about such scales "belonging" to a particular chord. Obviously it will go great with a vii°7 chord, for example.
6) When you get all done, the only note that is not part of the octatonic scale is G#, which is both in the bass and doubled as the bottom note of the LH chord.
Quote:

There's a pattern to the chords: the roots in the top staff travel up a tritone, up a minor third, down a tritone, and (leading into the next measure) down a minor third.

That's what I see. smile
Quote:

My new theory for why Debussy chooses the spellings he does is to minimize the numbers of accidentals and notes being accidentalized and then de-accidentalized, or re-accidentalized, in the same measure.

That, again, is what I see (and hear).
Quote:

My other theory is that the accidentals have to do with some sort of non-standard scale(s) that is implied by the chords, either together or individually.

This is where it gets really interesting. Is it a non-standard scale? My own ear tells me that I have heard Liszt use this scale, so he may have been one of the Romantics to exploit it. I have played almost none of his music, so maybe other people who have will weigh in here.
Quote:

Mostly in the face of this music I feel that the little bit of theory I know is far too poor to describe what Debussy is doing.

I think you were very close to having the whole thing. If it makes you feel any better, I did not see the octatonic scale at first. I SHOULD have seen it, but Debussy, like all great composers, has a way of disguising what he is doing, and it's not easy to see of hear all of this. smile
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/04/12 05:23 PM

Thank you Gary! Octatonic -- nice to know there's a method to the madness here. So, going to that big F# chord, there doesn't seem to be any preparation, just, bang, he's there. Do the preceding two chords count as preparation in octatonic, or is this just part of what Debussy does: noodle along one way and then pick a chord, any chord, and settle on it?
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/04/12 06:33 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Thank you Gary! Octatonic -- nice to know there's a method to the madness here. So, going to that big F# chord, there doesn't seem to be any preparation, just, bang, he's there. Do the preceding two chords count as preparation in octatonic, or is this just part of what Debussy does: noodle along one way and then pick a chord, any chord, and settle on it?

Debussy was thoroughly grounded in what we call today "Common Practice". When he began to break away from conservative rules, he had to face critics. Nothing new there.

Today we here jolts like this and think nothing of it:

C, Gb, C, parallel major chords. This creates an effect. If you think about it, that is a tritone jolt. When you use root position triads to do this, you are literally using parallelism.

Similar: Play Am, Fm, Ebm. Those are the only three chords John Williams uses in the Darth Vader March, but of course he leaves himself free to keep moving the theme to different keys.

I think the reason Ed keeps arguing for rudiments is that when you jump into the world of "no rules", your choices are infinite. Just using hit and miss methods, you are unlikely to GET out of the box without running into pure chaos.

If we listen to totally untrained and inexperienced players try to "make up music", they end up with a combination of standard, cliche ideas, and odd things that just don't seem to have any reasoning behind them.

There is a reason why composers in the Barogue and Classical period could write so many symphonies, but Beethoven could only write nine. Brahms only four. The fact that Mahler wrote so many is astounding.

If you sit down to write music with no rules, no starting place, it is quite frightening. I don't know anyone who composes without some kind of organization. For instance, in order to write something that sounds totally outside of any tonal base takes PLANNING. It is a bit like planned chaos.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/04/12 11:43 PM

So now I've played through those measures, and as I thought they might, they shimmer. I wonder if shimmering is how I experience diminished harmony? I basically have these qualities of music that I hear (in general I mean, not specifically in this piece)): normal, sad, wierd, shimmering, and fauve.

Have also hunted up Claudio Arrau playing it, and I can actually hear that the harmony is unusual! Yay! This is remarkable for me and my recalcitrant ears to be able to notice. Then there are some parts that sound less unusual, so when I get the whole score printed out (I only printed out the one page, silly me), I can look and see if they correspond to Debussy actually doing less unusual things with the harmony.

This is fun! I really like diminished chords.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/05/12 12:59 AM

Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/05/12 01:01 AM

Here is yet another interesting point, and for this one I have only an idea of why the spelling here was chosen. This involves measure 1, 2 and 3 only, and the question is about the kind of chords Debussy may have had in mind...
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/05/12 02:00 AM

Well, here the spelling seems to be chosen like this: if he has a note in the key signature, he uses it. If he has a white note not in the key-signature, he naturals it. If he has a black note not in the key signature, he uses its sharp name, which is a sensible choice given that it's a sharp key signature.

One way to see his opening chord is as F#7 in first inversion over a random G natural.

So what about that G natural? Inspecting the physical notes played, one discovers that, despite appearances, the bottom three notes of this chord are a basic Gdim triad (can I call it a triad if it's not written as a snowman? I'm going to, because its sound is the sound of a triad. So now it's like he's experimenting with a chord that starts out one way on the bottom (Gdim) and ends up another way on top (F#7). I don't know if there's a name for that.

In the second measure he moves everything down a whole step, and has Fdim that morphs into an E7 on top, and then in the third measure he moves back up a wholestep to where he started. But wait! He layers on even more, in the form of an outlined C# harmony in the low bass of the second measure, which rises a wholestep with everything else in the third measure, to D#.

So that gives us, in the second measure, the notes (not in this order): C# D, E F, G#, B. Which are most of the notes of our friend the octatonic scale (just missing G natural and A#). (And then by parallelism a different octatonic scale in the third measure).

Not that my ears can name any of this when I listen to the piece. It just sounds strange (in a good way) and shimmery and wonderful. But perhaps writing with these unifying ideas gives structure to the piece, so that unusual as it is, it hangs together with the unusualness being related instead of random.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/05/12 03:18 AM

I'm stumped. I posted this, not to show how smart I am, but to get input as to what is going on. My interest is that I think Debussy here is about 1/2 century ahead of himself. It reminds me of something I would expect to hear from the 2950s and later. It's "smokey".

Basically when you have notes clustered together, it is very harsh, but when they are used in open-voicing, almost anything seems to work.

The core of what I HEAR is this:

D#7(#9) and C#7(#9). The opening chord is where I consider it "rootless", because it reappears WITH a root in M3.

The problem is that b9 is there too.

Second problem: it is spelled completely incorrectly IF that is what Debussy had in mind.

So I can stick this chord and its voicing into my "toolbox", but I just have to pull the sound into my body and get the shape of it into my hands. I have no idea what to call it.

My big question: was he using a chord that we expect in jazz, in the 20th century, before anyone else thought of using it, notating it or naming it?

I don't know... frown
Posted by: drumour

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/05/12 05:50 AM

I looked up E. Robert Schmitz's take on this in the hope that it would clarify. But I'm afraid it (perhaps deliberately) obfuscates. I think one of Debussy's aims in the opening of this piece is to avoid tonality-related pulls and tensions. A big tool here and throughout is parallelism. The there and back again of the first three chords is subverted by the bass line so that there is no feel of tonic-something-tonic and also, in such a short space, by the F#9 being two beginnings of two quite different phraselets. The chromaticism at the end of the second phraselet is arbitrary in a tonal sense.

Another way of trying to understand this music is as counterpoint where the lines can be of a variety of thickness, or of complexity, or colour. It would also be interesting to compare Debussy's use of minor (flattened) 9th harmony here with Beethoven's use of the same chords which prevades his works and helps to give that special Beethoven sound.

Sorry if this is garbled.

John

Here is a snippet from the E. Robert Schmitz paragraph which I promise does not suffer from being taken out of context.

"In the three opening measures one finds that the use of D natural and A# consistently, obviates C# minor and F# minor or major as possible tonalities, despite the prominence of these tones as centers of attention. Are they centers of an, as yet, unnamed series? The closest tonality one can come to in the series of tones present is B minor (allowing for the exchange between G natural and G# as harmonic and melodic forms of the scale), yet nowhere is this tonal center in evidence -- a series of unresolved dominant-family chords?"
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/05/12 11:27 AM

Originally Posted By: drumour
I looked up E. Robert Schmitz's take on this in the hope that it would clarify. But I'm afraid it (perhaps deliberately) obfuscates. I think one of Debussy's aims in the opening of this piece is to avoid tonality-related pulls and tensions. A big tool here and throughout is parallelism. The there and back again of the first three chords is subverted by the bass line so that there is no feel of tonic-something-tonic and also, in such a short space, by the F#9 being two beginnings of two quite different phraselets. The chromaticism at the end of the second phraselet is arbitrary in a tonal sense.

So far my impression is that other people don't quite know what is going on either, but they say so with a WHOLE bunch of words. laugh

Thanks for weighing in. It's too late to change "2950" to "1950". Curse PWs editing system. I know why there is a time limit on changing a post, to keep people from playing games, but I wrote that before I went to sleep. I just got up and it is too late to change it.

My feeling: when you get to bar 3 and the bass note enters, with the 5th, it's pretty strong. I think we could take that same measure, isolated, use is as a V of V, slip to G#7, then resolve to C#m something. And it notates much better in flats. But that doesn't work immediately afterwards unless you flip to sharps.

Probably the problem is trying to somehow get from Common Practice thinking to TOTALLY out the box thinking. But the beginning still reminds me of the kind of thing someone like Bill Evens might have done - not the chord progression, but the chord itself.

Thanks for weighing in. I think maybe I posted this in the wrong forum. frown
Posted by: Studio Joe

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/05/12 11:58 AM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
It's too late to change "2950" to "1950". Curse PWs editing system.


I knew what you meant. I am accustomed to your typos by now.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/05/12 12:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Studio Joe
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
It's too late to change "2950" to "1950". Curse PWs editing system.


I knew what you meant. I am accustomed to your typos by now.

I know. I am always in a hurry to get my thoughts out. If I do not take time to proof, forcing myself to read what I've written out loud, the result is horrendous. Thank God I don't play PIANO that way!!! laugh
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/05/12 01:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary
I think maybe I posted this in the wrong forum. frown

You could always repost it on non-classical and see what they have to say.

I have a question: does every chord have to have a name? Suppose there was a chord, say C D F# G# Bb E. (Voice it however you like: I just made this up.). Would that have to have a name, or would it just be a sound without a name other than just listing the notes?

Is there some boundary or dividing line in music that you hear, first in music that mostly just uses up to seventh chords mostly (including half and whole diminished seventh) like say Bach, and then music that uses these extended jazz chords like Debussy here, and then music that uses nameless chords, like my example chord? This is assimg that there are composers that use nameless chords.
Posted by: currawong

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/05/12 06:13 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
I have a question: does every chord have to have a name? Suppose there was a chord, say C D F# G# Bb E. (Voice it however you like: I just made this up.). Would that have to have a name, or would it just be a sound without a name other than just listing the notes?
Short answer (I wish I had time for the long answer smile ) - no. A name can be a useful label, but it can be misleading the further away from common practice harmony you go. Far better to describe characteristics, and describe how it's used. I personally don't think there's much point in describing GBDF as a dominant 7th if it occurs out of a tonal context, except as a shorthand version of "GBDF". But even so, it isn't shorter, is it. smile
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/05/12 08:58 PM

Thank you, currawong. If you ever get time for the long answer, I'm all ears.

drumour, isn't it F#b9, not F#9? F# A# C# E G. If that's what it is, then Debussy's spelling is perfect in the academic sense.

Now that I'm home playing my nameless chord, I see that it turns out to be the notes of the whole tone scale. Ho ho, and there I thought I had made up something with no pattern at all.
Posted by: currawong

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/05/12 09:14 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Now that I'm home playing my nameless chord, I see that it turns out to be the notes of the whole tone scale. Ho ho, and there I thought I had made up something with no pattern at all.
Someone else is sure to find a pattern in it, even if you don't. smile
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/06/12 01:33 AM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88

I have a question: does every chord have to have a name? Suppose there was a chord, say C D F# G# Bb E. (Voice it however you like: I just made this up.). Would that have to have a name, or would it just be a sound without a name other than just listing the notes?

First of all, as you have now discovered, you accidentally wrote a whole tone scale. It's not a difficult thing to space out all those notes so that they sound good, or interesting. If you play them all clumped together, it's going to sound like a tone cluster. If you space them so that the sound good, you will probably have something recognizable as PART of your chord.

You can take every note in the chormatic scale and space it out in one huge chord, rolled on piano, or block it for orchestra. Since there are an infinite number of ways to combine notes in such a manner, whether you choose to call it a chord or not is up to you. But if it bears no close resemblence to any chord that has a standard name, you either have to invent a name or leave it nameless.

In the end, naming is about grouping and logic, and it is a very practical thing.
Quote:

Is there some boundary or dividing line in music that you hear, first in music that mostly just uses up to seventh chords mostly (including half and whole diminished seventh) like say Bach, and then music that uses these extended jazz chords like Debussy here, and then music that uses nameless chords, like my example chord? This is assimg that there are composers that use nameless chords.

The chords that Debussy is using here I would simply call sharp 9 chords. It is very easy to take the first few measures of what Debussy wrote, respell the chords but change nothing else, then use the D# chord as a form of V and end with some kind of G#m chord. The fact that he did not do that highlights how incredibly important it is to consider chords in context.

A C7 chord is always what it is. But it's not a V7 chord unless it goes to F or Fm. And if it is spelled with an A#, we have a clue about where it is going, but we don't know for sure until we look for a B chord going to E or Em. And if we see that, we can guess that it is not Bach because there will be a parallel 5th (C - G moving to B F#).

That's just a simple example.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/06/12 01:35 AM

Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
I have a question: does every chord have to have a name? Suppose there was a chord, say C D F# G# Bb E. (Voice it however you like: I just made this up.). Would that have to have a name, or would it just be a sound without a name other than just listing the notes?
Short answer (I wish I had time for the long answer smile ) - no. A name can be a useful label, but it can be misleading the further away from common practice harmony you go. Far better to describe characteristics, and describe how it's used. I personally don't think there's much point in describing GBDF as a dominant 7th if it occurs out of a tonal context, except as a shorthand version of "GBDF". But even so, it isn't shorter, is it. smile

thumb
I did not see this post until I answered. I used C7 in a similar example. smile
Posted by: currawong

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/06/12 01:52 AM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I did not see this post until I answered. I used C7 in a similar example. smile
That'd be right. smile
Posted by: Studio Joe

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/06/12 04:26 AM

The Lost Chord by Adelaide Anne Procter

Seated one day at the organ,
I was weary and ill at ease,
And my fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys.

I know not what I was playing,
Or what I was dreaming then;
But I struck one chord of music,
Like the sound of a great Amen.

It flooded the crimson twilight,
Like the close of an angel's psalm,
And it lay on my fevered spirit
With a touch of infinite calm.

It quieted pain and sorrow,
Like love overcoming strife;
It seemed the harmonious echo
From our discordant life.

It linked all perplexèd meanings
Into one perfect[11] peace,
And trembled away into silence
As if it were loth to cease.

I have sought, but I seek it vainly,
That one lost chord divine,
Which came from the soul of the organ,
And entered into mine.

It may be that death's bright angel
Will speak in that chord again,
It may be that only in Heav'n
I shall hear that grand Amen.

Posted by: drumour

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/06/12 01:55 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
...drumour, isn't it F#b9, not F#9? F# A# C# E G. If that's what it is, then Debussy's spelling is perfect in the academic sense...


If I wrote F#7 anyone would know I meant F#A#C#E - not anything else. Similarly, in my musical upbringing, F#9 would expect a G natural forming a dim7 with the upper four notes - anything else would have to be further indicated. Sorry if it wasn't clear, though what I wrote a little later should have clarified it for you. These things are that arbitrary and context is all. I have to work a bit (not much I admit) to read lead-sheet type chord symbols as I wasn't brought up with that system.

John
Posted by: drumour

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/06/12 02:07 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
....The chords that Debussy is using here I would simply call sharp 9 chords. It is very easy to take the first few measures of what Debussy wrote, respell the chords but change nothing else, then use the D# chord as a form of V and end with some kind of G#m chord. ...



Sorry, but I don't think you're right here. Whichever way you look at them (even where you think a spelling could be different and redefine the chord) the 7ths and 9ths in each chord are minor.


John
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/06/12 03:17 PM

Originally Posted By: drumour
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
....The chords that Debussy is using here I would simply call sharp 9 chords. It is very easy to take the first few measures of what Debussy wrote, respell the chords but change nothing else, then use the D# chord as a form of V and end with some kind of G#m chord. ...



Sorry, but I don't think you're right here. Whichever way you look at them (even where you think a spelling could be different and redefine the chord) the 7ths and 9ths in each chord are minor.

No notation is useless. I will upload notation, then we can talk...
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/06/12 03:37 PM


What I had in mind: D#7, C#7, D#7 to G#m, with color tones...

I hear the F# in the C#7 chord as the #9, and the E natural in the C#7 chord as the #9. The voicing would be unusual.

In order to use standard #9 notation with all those sharps you would need to use E double sharp, for instance. In a Db chord it is easy to use E (#9) over the F, but it does not work well in sharps...

The interest, to me, is that you ALSO have b9 too, so E in the D# chord is b9, D in the C# is b9.

I hear it, I play it, I would use this voicing. But I have NO idea how to label it. Which brings us back to what Currawong said:

Not all chords have names, or need them.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/06/12 04:14 PM

Originally Posted By: drumour

If I wrote F#7 anyone would know I meant F#A#C#E - not anything else.

I agree.
Quote:

Similarly, in my musical upbringing, F#9 would expect a G natural forming a dim7 with the upper four notes - anything else would have to be further indicated.

That would be incredibly non-standard. F#9 would mean to me, by default, F#7 plus the 9, and the 9 is G#. All numbers alone are major or perfect intervals, except for 7, which is minor by default and has be labeled maj7 for a M7.

Theses are the forms I have seen most often:

F#9 -- (add G# at the top)
F#7(b9) -- (add G natural at the top)
F#7(#9) -- (add either G double# or A at the top, choice is based on readability as well as theory)
Posted by: Studio Joe

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/06/12 05:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary D

I agree.
Quote:

Similarly, in my musical upbringing, F#9 would expect a G natural forming a dim7 with the upper four notes - anything else would have to be further indicated.

That would be incredibly non-standard. F#9 would mean to me, by default, F#7 plus the 9, and the 9 is G#. All numbers alone are major or perfect intervals, except for 7, which is minor by default and has be labeled maj7 for a M7.


thumb
Posted by: drumour

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/06/12 06:39 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.

What I had in mind: D#7, C#7, D#7 to G#m, with color tones...

I hear the F# in the C#7 chord as the #9, and the E natural in the C#7 chord as the #9. The voicing would be unusual.

In order to use standard #9 notation with all those sharps you would need to use E double sharp, for instance. In a Db chord it is easy to use E (#9) over the F, but it does not work well in sharps...

The interest, to me, is that you ALSO have b9 too, so E in the D# chord is b9, D in the C# is b9.

I hear it, I play it, I would use this voicing. But I have NO idea how to label it. Which brings us back to what Currawong said:

Not all chords have names, or need them.



I think I have more respect for the composer. What you appear to be doing is changing the notational spelling to suit your particular view of the harmony. One of the things we should recognise with great composers is that they were competent at their craft and that we should look at what they wrote, not what we would like them to have written. You seem to want the opening progression to be a kind of V v of V V I in g# minor and you've modified the key signature to support your thesis. You go on to justify your proposition by deciding that any notes that do not fit in with your theory are jazz-like added notes. (That aside, none of the chords you have written in the first 3 bars are #9 chords - in each the 7th and 9th are minor.)

"I hear the F# in the C#7[D#7?] chord as the #9, and the E natural in the C#7 chord as the #9. The voicing would be unusual. "

This is bizarre, really. If the first chord were D# something or other with the root omitted, then the 9th would be an E which in this case is natural making it, in your hypothesis, minor. Similarly, the 9th in a C# chord is a D. Regardless of what you tell yourself you're hearing, you really appear to be getting into quite a tangle.

I don't think it serves any purpose to try and understand the opening of this piece in terms of a tonal cadential progression - it is not a simple tonal progression with jazz-like dressing up of the chords. Also each of the chords as written by Debussy can be easily rearranged as a stack of thirds making minor 9th chords. Everything Debussy does in this opening is designed to subvert the dynamics of tonality and to weaken any sense of cadential, or any other, pull.

Where did you get your g# minor chord from in bar 4? Bars 4 and 5 do their utmost to not be a cadence - if anything the point of repose (not resolve) is on a minor. You're trying to force this music into a jacket it was never intended to fit.

John
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/06/12 08:54 PM

Originally Posted By: drumour

I think I have more respect for the composer.

Well, considering that:

1) I play this piece...
2) I love it...
3) I have played a great deal of Debussy's music, and Debussy is probably in a tie for my favorite piano composer...
4) His genius and openness to new things (in his time) has been something I have admired hugely my entire life...

I don't know how you figure you have more respect for Debussythan I do. That seems to me like some kind of bizarre p*ssing contest, and I don't know why in heavens this is going on...
Quote:

Where did you get your g# minor chord from in bar 4? Bars 4 and 5 do their utmost to not be a cadence - if anything the point of repose (not resolve) is on a minor. You're trying to force this music into a jacket it was never intended to fit.

No, I'm really not. I threw out an idea. Some of my ideas are really good, some of them are OK, and some are duds. If everyone else agrees that I am totally off-base, that none of what I have thrown is worthy of thought, even for a moment, then I'll just deal with that. smile

At least you took a look at what I presented and gave me feedback. Thank you for that, and there is no sarcasm in that at all. Silence is frustrating...

Gary
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/06/12 10:49 PM

Let's see if I have my understanding straight:
Originally Posted By: drumour
F#9 would expect a G natural forming a dim7 with the upper four notes.
John

I understand the 9 chord to be like a major 2nd chord which is a octave above the tonic in root position - it's sort of a diatonic name. So a major 2nd above F# is G#, therefore a 9 chord would be G#.

Then a flat 9 (b9) chord would be a half step below that, like a minor 2nd above the octave. That would give us G natural. So going by that, G is a b9.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 12:29 AM

Originally Posted By: drumour"I hear the F# in the C#7[D#7?
chord as the #9, and the E natural in the C#7 chord as the #9. The voicing would be unusual. "

Thank you for correcting that.

Yes, I meant D#7. And by the way, I realize very clearly that you could look at that chords as simply an F#7 chord with a G in the pinky of the LH chord. That is how I FEEL it, in my hands. The only point I wanted to make was that by putting G in the bottom of the chord, what would normally F#7(b9), with a G natural, is normally not voiced so that the b9 is on the BOTTOM.
Posted by: drumour

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 04:48 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Let's see if I have my understanding straight:
Originally Posted By: drumour
F#9 would expect a G natural forming a dim7 with the upper four notes.
John

I understand the 9 chord to be like a major 2nd chord which is a octave above the tonic in root position - it's sort of a diatonic name. So a major 2nd above F# is G#, therefore a 9 chord would be G#.

Then a flat 9 (b9) chord would be a half step below that, like a minor 2nd above the octave. That would give us G natural. So going by that, G is a b9.


I think it's simply that I was brought up in a system that was not affected in any way at all by lead sheets and jazz terminology. The standard C7 would be C E G Bb and the standard C9 would be C E G Bb Db. The context of this is a grammatical explanation of the diminished 7th as a substitution for, for instance, a secondary 7th chord. It has its own logic I suppose whereas your explanation expects something different from 7 and 9. Why would you expect unmodified 7 to always mean minor 7th and unmodified 9 to mean major 9th? That's not consistent. It's just different conventions.

John
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 08:42 AM

Drumour, what I learned first was "classical" Roman Numeral type terminology, and again in formal written theory, designating chords as major, minor, augmented, and diminished. Then there were the inversions, so that if you saw CEA this was a first inversion minor chord and if it occurred in C major, then it was a vi6 - whereas in letter name terminology it could be a C6 depending on how you hear it. As I understand it, the advantage of letter name ("lead sheet") chords is that you write what you hear without needing a context or function. For example, Dm is a chord which is minor with a root D and has the notes DFA. If F is on the bottom you still write that you hear this D minor sound, by writing Dm/F. In conventional notation your Dm is ii in C major, or vi in F major, and if the key or function are ambiguous at this point you're in trouble. There is a different reason for writing ii and for writing Dm, and it serves different purposes. You're looking at the chords in different ways.

Going off on a tangent but with some reason: when the RCM revised their exam syllabus and the texts going with it, they expanded their "classical" arsenal. They now use Roman numerals (as before), plus figured bass, plus letter names, plus solfege names. Each reflects a different angle of music.

When I looked at letter names in chords, it seems that they were built as if the root of the chord was sitting in an imaginary major key, as if the naming was diatonic, but some of it involved quality. It seems that the names are mostly standard but not always. So first you have your major,minor, augmented, and diminished chords such as C, Cm, Caug, Co (floating o). But with the Cdim people also see that the 5th is smaller so it could be a Cm(b5). We're seeing G that normally occurs in a minor chord which normally is also part of a diatonic scale, and instead of being in its normal 5th above the root it has been flatted. It seems that individual letters that get designated separately are all see diatonically as they come from the root. So the 6 in C6 refers to the major 6th coming from the root. The 9 is like the 9 you have in classical, meaning it's like a M2 but an octave above, with the root position root of the chord being your reference point.

It seems to be a mishmash that's been cobbled together, sometimes looking at chord quality, sometimes at positions from the root - whatever it is that people feel in the their fingers and ears. The important thing here is that we all use the same terminology. What is important is that when we say we hear or see something, others will understand what we are referring to, rather than thinking we are referring to something else.

So for the group at large: C#E#G#BD , Do you see the D as a 9 or a b9? If you had C#EGBD, the first four notes would be a half diminished chord - would the D still be a b9 if you saw b9 for the first one?
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 09:01 AM

About the idea of "disrespect" for the composer: What I'm understanding is that as musicians we get a subjective feel for what the music is doing and where it is going. Composers like Debussy are subtle, and Debussy liked to experiment and break new ground. He was going by an inner sound which he had to get on paper. We have these million theory rules that explain how music works, but which also put music into a box preventing us in part from getting at the music. In addition, composers did not always adhere to those rules when they had the music in their inner ears and being - they used them and bent them. The rules themselves are an attempt to describe what happens in existing music. I remember in conventional theory when learning about 4 part harmony of which Bach was a master, and we were told what Bach did but we should never break the rules that Bach broke. Obviously Bach had gone past the rules.

So what if you feel a "something" in the music? What if personally you feel it pulling in some direction? One way, in person, would be to play it as it was written, then play it where you logically expect it to go (but it doesn't), and say "See what I mean?" The other musician may say "No, what I hear underneath is this." and he plays what he hears.

See, the magic of great composers is that they tease us, making us think we're about to turn left, and suddenly we've gone up and around. To see the effects and try to express them is not disrespect but an invitation for similar exploration. When we are young we are playful with things, and the greatest learning happens that way. Later on we get taboos, and above all we get the notion of Correct Answers, Correct Names --- our composer is put in a box, and that box has a wall separating us from the composer. On one hand the conventions help us see things. On the other, they force us to pigeon-hole everything a composer does. So if some musicians relate to "where else the music might go but doesn't" to describe their experience, do we harumph in response, or do we see what additional things we may hear?

I've read some of the official write-ups about "what Debussy did". They leave me cold and don't seem to get to the heart of the matter. It reminds me of something I once heard, "I dissected a cat to get at its nature and ended up with a non-working cat." Sort of.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 09:04 AM

Originally Posted By: drumour
Why would you expect unmodified 7 to always mean minor 7th and unmodified 9 to mean major 9th? That's not consistent. It's just different conventions.
John

That is the pattern that I've seen commonly used. I surmised from what I saw the 9 is used a bit like figured bass, where you count from the root and think diatonically. The 7 would be the exception because the role of the minor 7 is such a strong one in music, that it has become the default.

The important thing is to find out what the most commonly convention is, so that there are no misunderstandings in this international community.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 09:05 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
So for the group at large: C#E#G#BD , Do you see the D as a 9 or a b9? If you had C#EGBD, the first four notes would be a half diminished chord - would the D still be a b9 if you saw b9 for the first one?

RCM uses a system where only the 7 is minor by default. So in both C# E# G# B D and C# E G B D, the D is b9. C# E# G# B D would be C#7(b9). (Not sure why, but they always insert the 7 explicitly in the case of a b9.) C# E G B D... might be C#ø7(b9).
Posted by: drumour

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 10:33 AM

The "9th" terminology is obviously an interesting but trivial matter, which I initially clarified for this thread. I believe how I learnt this gives it a consistency which I as yet cannot see from the alternative given here. I have no especial interest in defending a position on this.

I still think, but am happy to agree to disagree, that the proffered reading/interpretation of the first 5 bars of this piece was in terms that wouldn't become valid for several decades after it was written and then in a different genre not related to what Debussy was writing here. My feeling is that whilst it tries to expand our and the writer's understanding, it appears to be forcing a context on the music that could not have existed when it was written. Feuilles Mortes is part of Debussy's creating a new music that was not tonal and not jazz nor even a precurser of jazz. Debussy wrote the notes he wrote and I think it more beneficial to try to understand what he wrote and not what he could have otherwise written.

John
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 11:02 AM

[cross-posted]

Gary, I haven't had a chance to play through your experiment yet; hopefully I will remember to print it out and try it tonight.

In the meantime, what do you think about my idea (from the post right after you first posted these first few measures of Feuilles Mortes) that he's suggesting an ocatonic scale? (Yes, officer, this nice man named Gary gave me this new hammer called Octatonic and now everything looks like a nail... I mean scale! laugh .)

Here's something else curious. In these measures he crosses the left hand thumb with the right hand thumb. For example, in the first measure, the lower staff has F#4 while the upper staff has E4. Why is that? I have no idea. Any thoughts?

If we uncross those notes, and give E4 to the LH and F# to the RH, then we have two chords that both share F# A#. Gdim7 in the LH (in root position, enharmonically spelled for the middle notes) and F# in the RH (also in root position). Could Debussy be experimenting with the sound of completing the inner notes of a chord in two different ways? So there's a dissonance between LH and RH, but also a consonance, which makes the piece shimmer and sound open harmonically, but without sounding chaotic.

What bugs me about the jazz chord names like #9 is that basically it just gives you a system where you can take almost any set of notes and give them a name and say "there, I've captured it". That's because every note of the scale appears as one of the scale degrees 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and if you allow #s and bs then you can get any note of the chromatic scale too. And then if you allow weasel words like "color notes" you can fit anything at all into this system!

I apologize, Gary, this sounds like I'm disrespecting you, and I don't mean it that way, it's rather a visceral response I've had to extended chords since the beginning. Just call me Ms. Can't Even Cope With It When Bach Breaks The Rules. For people like you for whom the name evokes a very powerful aural sense, which then relates that set of notes to other sets with the same name that you've heard, I can see how it can be a very powerful tool. I'm just resisting it kicking and screaming every step of the way.

But another, hopefully more respectful and thoughtful, thought about the #9 name is this: Debussy presumably wasn't in a world yet where he had those names, to conceptualize what he was doing as "#9 plus color notes". So he was in a world where he had common practice harmony, and experimenting with "but what if I put THESE sounds together?" and discovering certain combinations of sounds that give his music a shimmer, and an openness, and breaks out of the predictability of in-the-box chord progressions. You're in a world where you have rootless #9, and rootless #9 plus color notes, as aural experiences, and so when you hear something that sounds similar, you can say "ah! THIS sounds like THAT!"

My experience is different, so I come up with different explanations: I'm really bad at aural stuff, but my experience in my mostly visual world of music theory really only includes up to seventh chords, so when I look at this music, I see things like what I have experience of, so I come up with explanations that involve a major chord on top of a diminished seventh chord. And if I had better ears to be able to hear what I can analyze visually, maybe I'd report also a "THIS sounds like THAT!" experience, but my experience would be "sounds bichordal, major above diminished 7."

I recently had the privilege to hear the premiere of a piano piece, and to hear the composer talk about it afterwards. He said that he had based it on the overtone series of the very very low note he starts the piece with (I forget exactly which note, I don't think it was as obvious as A0... maybe I'll write and ask him). Anyway, looking at the music presumably it would be possible to analyse the harmonies in it and come up with chord names that capture some or all of the notes being played. But wouldn't that be missing the point? Unless you also then linked the chord names back to the overtone series, like saying (this is just made up), "ah, the E13 chord is powerful because it captures the 6th overtone of E" or something like that. But even that would be missing the point, because in this piece it's not just the pitch classes, but in fact the specific register of the pitches that is important. For example (again, I'm just making this up) perhaps the 6th overtone of E1 is in the middle of the piano but the 12th overtone is way to the right. So then you can't just revoice the chords to mush all the notes together in just one or two octaves, but you HAVE to have them all spread out in exactly the way the composer chooses.

So maybe there's something similar with Debussy, where to come up with a satisfying way to describe what he's doing in these first three measures (and beyond), we have to be able to enter into his world and understand what he was trying to do.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 11:09 AM

John, I think we all agree on what you just wrote in summary. Now, how do we as individuals come to understand or get the feel for the music? It is not just by comparing it to rules and see how it deviates from them. I can see fiddling around with it and playing other things that are not there as a way of getting that picture. It is like when you encounter an object for the first time, if you are as disinhibited as a child, you might shake it, taste it, throw it, turn it at odd angles, do all kinds of weird things with it - and then you have some feel for what this new thing is in your bones rather than just in your head. This is not non-intelligent, because music is in fact concept materialized in sound happening over time and felt in the body. So why not explore it that way? Why not dare to do this as well, if you are so inclined?

I don't know if I'm right, but I saw the experiment as a way of saying "Do you hear this as well?" and also "What do you hear? Is it different? If so - how?"

With simpler music, since I am also a learner, I have mentally done something different. I will see music that for example starts hovering on G7. I expect it to go to a C chord or Cm chord and suddenly the composer does a strange turn and says "Haha! Fooled you!" The only way to be consciously aware of why this works, and what it is that affected you, is to be aware of what you expected to hear. So mentally I might be doing what was on paper here -- playing the resolution in my head that the composer did NOT put in --- mentally playing other possible resolutions that he did not go to. My delight is much greater through this exercise.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 11:21 AM

We did the same thing in a poetry class I took in college: tried out alternative words or ways of saying a line, to appreciate by comparison the effect of what the poet actually did write, and to understand the specific point of the poet's choices.

Everytime we look at medieval music without using hexachords, or writing it in notes rather than neumes, we're looking at music in a system not envisioned by the originators of the music. And the people who first started to write down neumes were using a system not envisioned by the oral originators of the chants. So on the one hand new systems are useful.

And on the other hand going back to how the originators did it can also be instructive. There's some early music group, I believe it's Anonymous 4 but don't quote me, that sings from the neumes rather than modern notation, because they feel it helps them get the nuances of the music better. And going back even further, I bet it would also be instructive to learn a chant purely by ear.

Did Debussy start out writing in the common practice of his time? What are some of these early pieces? And are there early pieces of his where we can see his first steps into his new harmonic language?

Gary, does Feuilles Mortes sound like any of Debussy's other pieces? Maybe looking at them would suggest some of the commonalities of how he achieves what he does.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 11:37 AM

P88, I know where you are coming from. I had decades of only knowing solfege notes from childhood. I heard things but there was no name for anything. If you imagine Helen Keller, blind and deaf, reaching for an apple and with no idea that others experience this apple and have a name for it, or concepts such as "fruit" which she probably sensed was a group of common things - knowing, but not having concepts and names formed by society - that was me in music. But the concepts that I sensed were mostly in Common Practice music. When I finally started music theory, the idea of Domininant, Subdominant, Tonic went well with what I already sensed in Sol, Fa and Do, and heard in music.

I then set out to learn formal theory. Roman Numeral analysis went well with what I already sensed with my relative pitch. I could hear the tonic "Do" or the I chord. In a sense, G major, C major, or F major, "sound the same" in the keys of G, C and F major respectively. I had little ear for pitch per se.

The huge jump came for me some years ago when I was asked to sing major scales with precise attention to pitch throughout, while being aware of solfege qualities but also aware of pitch which I was to name while singing it. It's the first time I was consciously aware of pitch as a thing by itself. In C major there was a G which was Sol. In D major "there it is again - same G - same sound but different role", and by golly, in G major that G was there again. I've always sung in tune, and in choirs the weak singers used me as a reference. But I had never been aware of pitch as pitch.

These chord names as letter names are the same thing. And they are relatively new to me. Here we have another perception of music. A Cm chord has the minor quality, and it has those particular pitches. It has the same quality even if it is noted CD#G. Being able to hear and perceive a chord "as it is" without attribute gives another way of perceiving ---- not instead of, but another angle. In a lot of music the Roman Numeral stuff doesn't work - like what if it's outside of any key at that moment? This also brings us in the world of the jazz musician and similar, who relate to notes differently.

It is disconcerting to come at new angles of music. The structures we have learned are reference points. I will not abandon what I learned (and am learning) in the traditional formal theory. But I know it doesn't always apply, and that it does not give a full picture. So I like other ways of seeing. The music itself is real, and that is the ultimate thing.

Years ago our high school English teacher had us read The Crack in the Cosmic Egg by Pearce. The author proposes "reality" which is everything, both what we can and cannot perceive. We create constructs of that reality which helps us deal with and comprehend it. But in so doing we also assign particular relationships between things, and we filter out what doesn't belong. We need that kind of construct to orient ourselves. But thus you get Western medicine built on diseases and material objects such as hearts and oxygen, and Eastern medicine built on energy flows, yet the same living body. When we are in one reality we tend to translate the other into our own terms. To really enter someone else's reality can be disorienting, so we resist it. But if we can consciously switch without getting disoriented, then we have the ability to see things from many angles - it enhances our understanding. I do it rather carefully, because I don't want to find myself in a place of chaos where nothing makes sense because everything is possible in every way.

I think that what I hold on to is that the thing itself exists and makes sense unto itself. If music is well written and works, then something real is there.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 12:51 PM

keystring, that's a fascinating story to me. I'm not sure what I have. I do have some sense of vague pitch location -- low, middle, high. But much less sense of the function of pitches, except for certain melodic phrase endings: ti-do, and mi-re-do, and (when I concentrate) do-te-do for natural minor endings. And do-sol (down)-do for the bass line. This is really only just for singing these things; I don't know if I can recognize them when I hear them, unless I hum them after hearing them.

When I took my music theory course, I spent the whole course trying to hear the difference between I and V. Never succeeded. MONTHS after the course was over, I realized I was listening for the wrong thing. I was trying to listen for a difference in chord quality, but I and V are BOTH MAJOR CHORDS! (I'm shouting in all-caps but this is to reflect the force of this realization when I finally had it.)

So what I should have been listening for is, I guess, a change in the root of the chord, or which notes were in the chord, or something. But I don't have anywhere near a good enough sense of which pitches are where in a given heard diatonic scale to do that yet. (STILL no such sense, about 8 years after taking that course! Although it's only in the past month or so that I've been able to pinpoint what I think the problem is.) I can hear that a chord is a different set of notes, because the notes go higher or lower than the previous chord, but I can't tell if it's the same set of pitch classes or a different set; that is if it's functionally a different chord or not.

I'm starting to study harmony, and (following your advice) making myself play through the examples and exercises. One of the very first exercises is to write a single chord in four-part harmony in several different voicings. So I did, and I played them. I could hear that different pitches were being played. But I couldn't hear that it was all the same chord vs. being different chords. Maybe what I need to try is some comparative exercises: playing I-I-I in three different voicings, and then I-V-I, and see if I can hear the difference between I-I-I moving around the keyboard vs. I-V-I moving around the keyboard.

It's frustrating to on the one hand have enough sophistication to enjoy Boulez and Stockhausen without thinking they're just noise, and on the other hand to not even be able to distinguish tonic from dominant.

I have recently made a tiny bit of progress: hearing a major chord, I can hum the root. And after that I can sing the fifth based on what I hear (rather than jumping to it by knowing how to sing a fifth, which I don't really: if I try to sing a fifth I'm as likely to hit a tritone or a minor sixth as a perfect fifth), and (miracle of miracles) after that, the third (again, based on what I hear, rather than any reliable ability to sing intervals).

I used to only be able to hum the fifth, because that is the highest note and so stands out the most.

Here's another wierd thing. I can sing an ascending and descending scale in successive thirds -- do mi, re fa, mi sol, etc. -- because I know what it sounds like from practicing it on the flute a lot. But I can't tell you from the sound which of those thirds are minor vs. which are major. So I can reproduce this fine distinction of minor vs. major thirds in a subtle pattern, but I can't consciously hear it.

It's so frustrating to be so stupid this way. You mentioned somewhere about finding a good teacher for harmony. I feel the same way about ear-training. I am learning a lot from this forum, and Ed has made some very good aural suggestions for me. But how wonderful would it be to have an in-person teacher, who could spend an hour a week with me, doing simple exercises, and praising me when I get it right, and gently correcting me when I get it wrong, and observing if there are patterns in what I get wrong, and giving me suggestions for how to get it right more often, and giving me a tailor-made set of exercises to practice and music to listen to over the coming week. Like piano lessons, but for the ear. Oh well, I may just have to spend my whole life with just my categories of normal, sad, wierd, shimmering, and fauve. Sort of, I guess, the way red-green color-blind people can't distinguish those colours but come up with a way to cope with traffic lights anyway.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 01:52 PM

There was the time that I was teaching theory, and one of the things I wanted was to include hearing. We were in different countries, and my student had a different language and even our alphabet was unfamiliar. I got excellent advice from a violin teacher friend of mine who has been teaching for 40 years and has an amazing ear. She said to allow the hearing to start unfolding. It is not a matter of hearing a precise thing, but of starting to be aware of differences. First there will be an awareness, but you don't know what you are aware of. This is what happened, especially since I did not set up anxiety about "right answers".

We had a "star sound" which would be the focus of the day or the week - like listening for a major third all day, playing it etc. The shofar usually plays a P5 and it happened to be one thing we found. One day my student contacted me. She heard a shofar and it sounded "wrong" but she didn't know why she had that impression. When I listened to the link, this shofar was playing a minor third. She was not able to identify this, but she WAS able to hear that it was not the "shofar interval" (P5) that she expected to hear. Her hearing was opening up, because she was recognizing something. It grew from there.

In a similar vein, I have the Goetschius book on musical form. He has students study umpteen sections of music to find a given thing he is teaching. He says that for some of the passages, some of us will not be able to find it. He says not to fret, because our ears are developing and later on we simply will be able to hear what we can't hear right now.

Our modern books define everything, and nothing is studied which is not defined. It all has to be here right now immediately. I suspect that this is now how learning works, because our ears and sensibilities are also developing through experience.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 03:36 PM

Doctor Detail checking in late (as usual).

Originally Posted By: keystring
I understand the 9 chord to be like a major 2nd chord which is a octave above the tonic in root position - it's sort of a diatonic name. So a major 2nd above F# is G#, therefore a 9 chord would be G#.

Then a flat 9 (b9) chord would be a half step below that, like a minor 2nd above the octave. That would give us G natural. So going by that, G is a b9.

Technically correct. in a round-about way.

Originally Posted By: drumour
I think it's simply that I was brought up in a system that was not affected in any way at all by lead sheets and jazz terminology. The standard C7 would be C E G Bb and the standard C9 would be C E G Bb Db. The context of this is a grammatical explanation of the diminished 7th as a substitution for, for instance, a secondary 7th chord. It has its own logic I suppose whereas your explanation expects something different from 7 and 9. Why would you expect unmodified 7 to always mean minor 7th and unmodified 9 to mean major 9th? That's not consistent. It's just different conventions.

John,
You are right that what you describe about a 7th seems inconsistent (see below), but there are NO different conventions. There are clearly defined rules governing the construction of chords based upon extensions of triads, and they are independent of key signatures.
[1] The base triad, major, minor, diminished, and augmented, are first formed as usual.
Major triad = root + major 3rd + perfect 5th
Minor triad = root + minor 3rd + perfect 5th
Augmented triad = root + major 3rd + augmented 5th
Diminished triad = root + minor 3rd + diminished 5th
[2] The extension of a 6th is always major unless otherwise indicated.
[3] The extension of a 7th is a “special case". With major, minor, and augmented triad bases, it is always minor unless otherwise indicated. With the diminished triad base, it too is diminished, unless otherwise designated.
[4] The extension of a 9th is always major unless otherwise indicated.
[5] The extension of an 11th is always perfect unless otherwise indicated.
[6] The extension of a 13th is always major unless otherwise indicated.
[7] I could go on to write that the suspension of a 4th is always perfect unless otherwise indicated, but everyone gets the idea.

Gary does not like it when I assert that these are THE formulae. They are what they are, and I can not help it!
Ed
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 03:53 PM

Just FYI, I've been following this with great interest. Fascinating topic! Keep going!
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 03:59 PM

I just need to say that I've also been following the thread, but due to my total lack of time I have been trying to stay away... I have promised Gary to pay a respectful visit to the music and see what I can make out of it...

but it will come at a later time (tonight or tomorrow anyhow)...

Caught another post and wrote my reply, so here it is:

Notation can be simplified for ease of reading. When we're looking at tonal music everything seems to make sense, so the C Eb Gb Bbb chord wouldn't be spelled this way, because of the Bbb. The Cdmi7 (not sure about the spelling of such chords in that way. I work in notation) would be the VII chord of Dbminor, which itself would be the relative of Fbmajor (imaginary scale)... So you won't meet that particular chord you mention.

Same goes for C D# G. It IS Cm and in tonal music this wouldn't be present.

______________________

But this is not tonal music we're talking about in the classical sense. I bet I've written plenty of obscure stuff, if you look at them in a harmonic sense, but the idea is that melodic wise (especially in mutli instrumental music) it simply works... If I've got a cello playing CG on the bottom two chords and a trombone playing C# D# E (so it could be playing C#m scale over C major implication) you could come up with that in the melody.

The melody plays an important part in the notation, even of harmonies.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 04:23 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti

[1] The base triad, major, minor, diminished, and augmented, are first formed as usual.
Major triad = root + major 3rd + perfect 5th
Minor triad = root + minor 3rd + perfect 5th
Augmented triad = root + major 3rd + augmented 5th
Diminished triad = root + minor 3rd + diminished 5th
[2] The extension of a 6th is always major unless otherwise indicated.
[3] The extension of a 7th is a “special case". With major, minor, and augmented triad bases, it is always minor unless otherwise indicated. With the diminished triad base, it too is diminished, unless otherwise designated.
[4] The extension of a 9th is always major unless otherwise indicated.
[5] The extension of an 11th is always perfect unless otherwise indicated.
[6] The extension of a 13th is always major unless otherwise indicated.
[7] I could go on to write that the suspension of a 4th is always perfect unless otherwise indicated, but everyone gets the idea.

Also correct. We have to understand that this means when naming chords in letter names: "extension of a 9th is always major unless otherwise indicated" means that CEGBbD will be called C9, because the D is major, and that the "unless otherwise indicated" means that if we write C7(b9) we have "otherwise indicated" that the 9 is not major. If I did not know this already, I would not have understood that from that list.

I have not seen anyone protest to these formulae, only to the idea of triads being the only choice for some kinds of chords, which you yourself corroborated later on.

I did not use names like "extension" because I don't know which members reading this are familiar with theory labels. Therefore I prefer to explain it in a "technically correct" way, rather than sounding knowledgeable by using terminology that not everyone will know.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 04:33 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
What bugs me about the jazz chord names like #9 is that basically it just gives you a system where you can take almost any set of notes and give them a name and say "there, I've captured it". That's because every note of the scale appears as one of the scale degrees 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and if you allow #s and bs then you can get any note of the chromatic scale too. And then if you allow weasel words like "color notes" you can fit anything at all into this system!

Well, if we couldn't, then it wouldn't be much of a system, would it?

This takes us into the many facets of analysis and theory. If we were simply concerned with the sound itself -- truly the only REAL part of the music -- we wouldn’t need any of these da*mn*ed letters and accidental signs and numbers, or the formulae to build these troublesome stacks of notes. Where it gets sticky is when we are attempting to pass this along to someone who can not hear it first hand; or where we are trying to put our arms around it to reproduce it in another medium.

A surprisingly large number of bebop players drew heavily upon Debussy’s sounds when they were working to “keep away from” standard key centers. So let us look at this problem from a completely different perspective:

It’s 1950. I am a self-proclaimed jazz musician, experimenting, and looking for a different harmonic language. I am grounded in major and minor triads, and a few seventh chords. I have listened to a Russian named Igor <Something>, and really can’t figure him out at all. I do have friends still left from that HOT jazz scene in Paris, and they are acquainted with this French composer named Claude <Something> (they pronounce his first name funny!) Anyway, they are trying to figure how to send to me on paper some of this guy’s harmonic sounds. He doesn’t just use regular chords, and his scales are different, too. I heard something he wrote, and it isn’t as bad as that Russian guy. Oh yea, and then I need to notate this stuff so that my quintet can follow it.

When we need to transfer musical KNOWLEDGE, and can not do it with just the sound, theory steps in. When the music becomes complex, our theory must follow suit.

Ed
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 04:39 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Gary does not like it when I assert that these are THE formulae.

I don't disagree with a single word you wrote. Not one.

We have a communication problem. I present alternate spelling for diminished CHORDS and augmented CHORDS, stressing that they do not always appear as triads, and I explain why.

I explain some things in ADDITION to what you presented, not INSTEAD of it. wink
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 04:55 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
. . . "extension of a 9th is always major unless otherwise indicated" means that CEGBbD will be called C9, because the D is major, and that the "unless otherwise indicated" means that if we write Cb9 we have "otherwise indicated" that the 9 is not major. If I did not know this already, I would not have understood that from that list.

KeyString,

I know you know this stuff cold! I was only picking on you with the "round-about way", because, major second is TECHNICALLY not a ninth.

Doctor Detail says: careful with your Cb9 above, or we'll be back into another Fb9 thread. You are obviously writing about a C(b9), and NOT a Cb(9). Yet another example of the shortcomings of our notational system.

What I posted above were only the rules for constructing extended chords based upon triads. Obviously, there are many types of chords that are NOT based upon triads.

Ed
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 04:55 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti

When we need to transfer musical KNOWLEDGE, and can not do it with just the sound, theory steps in. When the music becomes complex, our theory must follow suit.

The whole post is well put. The thing is that theory is created so we can work with music and describe music. It has to suit what we are working with. It's just like the rules of Organum or the concepts of "perfect" and "imperfect" time of early music will not fit our music today, but to understand their music we need to use their "language". The more angles we have to get at music, the more we can access. I don't even know if it is always a matter of complexity, or just of going along a different path.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 05:00 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: keystring
. . . "extension of a 9th is always major unless otherwise indicated" means that CEGBbD will be called C9, because the D is major, and that the "unless otherwise indicated" means that if we write Cb9 we have "otherwise indicated" that the 9 is not major. If I did not know this already, I would not have understood that from that list.


Doctor Detail says: careful with your Cb9 above, or we'll be back into another Fb9 thread. You are obviously writing about a C(b9), and NOT a Cb(9). Yet another example of the shortcomings of our notational system.
Ed

Yup re: C(b9) vs. Cb(9). Good catch! smile

Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 05:11 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring

I have not seen anyone protest to these formulae, only to the idea of triads being the only choice for some kinds of chords, which you yourself corroborated later on.

Exactly. thumb

My POV. There are alternate spellings for dim and aug chords. The question is about WHEN to teach them.

Explaining this will lead to another round-and-round cluster-frack and will get us nowhere. I want to stick to concrete things, and then we can discuss WHY they work and in WHAT context. wink
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 05:25 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
A surprisingly large number of bebop players drew heavily upon Debussy’s sounds when they were working to “keep away from” standard key centers.

Maybe this is why Gary hears jazz-like sounds in this: not because Debussy was predicting jazz 50 years ahead of his time, but because the jazz players were borrowing Debussy's sounds 50 years later.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 05:51 PM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas

Caught another post and wrote my reply, so here it is:

Notation can be simplified for ease of reading. When we're looking at tonal music everything seems to make sense, so the C Eb Gb Bbb chord wouldn't be spelled this way, because of the Bbb.

It would if the next chord is C Eb Gb Ab moving to Db; that is the default spelling for such resolutions. It is what Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, etc. did. That's why I teach multiple spellings for dim7 chords, Nikolas.

But looking at the dim7 practically, almost the first place my students see it is Fuer Elise, and there it is E G Bb C#. I'm not about to tell them, at that point, that you COULD get there by starting with C# E# G# B, LOWER everything to C# E G Bb, INVERT to E G Bb C#, then FINALLY resolve to Dm, which is what Beethoven does.
Quote:

Same goes for C D# G. It IS Cm and in tonal music this wouldn't be present.

You will find that in Mozart, but for a reason. He moves from that to C E G, and he is thinking, most likely, that the D# is non-harmonic, much like a long appoggiatura, and will resolve. I've seen it in the music of many famous composers, and I'm aware of it because students say: "Why did he write it that way?"

In Debussy I think we often come to a sort of "Non-Man's Land". His music is not atonal. It is more like tonality, bent, stretched, combined with parallelism, combined with unusual scales, in two keys at the same time, etc. There comes a time when ANY notation will lead to "bumps", and getting rid of one just makes another bump appear in a different place. wink

Thanks for weighing in, since I know you are really busy right now!
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 06:09 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
A surprisingly large number of bebop players drew heavily upon Debussy’s sounds when they were working to “keep away from” standard key centers.

Maybe this is why Gary hears jazz-like sounds in this: not because Debussy was predicting jazz 50 years ahead of his time, but because the jazz players were borrowing Debussy's sounds 50 years later.
The history of jazz and the influences toward its growth is very interesting. There is a series floating around on the Internet in something like 20 or more 20 minute segments.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 06:24 PM

Originally Posted By: drumour
The "9th" terminology is obviously an interesting but trivial matter, which I initially clarified for this thread. I believe how I learnt this gives it a consistency which I as yet cannot see from the alternative given here. I have no especial interest in defending a position on this.

It's trivial if you do not deal with letter chord notation. That notation is not confined to lead sheets. You will find it in lots of things that are fully written out. Your lack of interest in this kind of music does not make it trivial
Quote:

I still think, but am happy to agree to disagree, that the proffered reading/interpretation of the first 5 bars of this piece was in terms that wouldn't become valid for several decades after it was written and then in a different genre not related to what Debussy was writing here.

I never said it was. You are totally misunderstanding everything I set out to do. What we have is this:

M1, some kind of chord
M2, same chord, down whole step, but now with bass notes added
M3, take M2 and transpose it back up

So far we have typical Debussy parallelism. We both know that he takes a chord, at any time, and simply moves it around simply because it is the sound he likes. Then where does he go? Just somewhere else. Impossible to fully describe.

I was simply saying that chord X may have a sound to it that we recognize, out of context, and that same exact sound may be used in many other places, going to different places. I am simply examing something interesting from as many angles as possible.
Quote:

My feeling is that whilst it tries to expand our and the writer's understanding, it appears to be forcing a context on the music that could not have existed when it was written.

Of COURSE it did not exist then. That's what makes is so amazing. Debussy was a pioneer. I think you are looking at it the wrong way. It is not about what DEBUSSY was thinking. It is about the influence he had on others, and still has on them. We get to use these cool chords and then play with them. They are like cool toys. Playing with them does not in any way negate the genius of the composer.
Quote:

Feuilles Mortes is part of Debussy's creating a new music that was not tonal and not jazz nor even a precurser of jazz. Debussy wrote the notes he wrote and I think it more beneficial to try to understand what he wrote and not what he could have otherwise written.

Well, it is quite easy to sit back and knock holes in what I am presenting. So why don't you take a crack at it? I might agree or disagree with you. Meanwhile, Debussy's reputation is quite safe, I think. wink
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 06:25 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
A surprisingly large number of bebop players drew heavily upon Debussy’s sounds when they were working to “keep away from” standard key centers.

Maybe this is why Gary hears jazz-like sounds in this: not because Debussy was predicting jazz 50 years ahead of his time, but because the jazz players were borrowing Debussy's sounds 50 years later.


BINGO!!!

Carrying this a philosophical step further, ponder this:
We are all hearing simply sounds, from Debussy and from (let us say) bebop. SIMPLY SOUNDS. The reason that there are significant similarities in these sounds is because one was heavily influenced by the other. A quick look at the calendar, to which you refer, will reveal who influenced whom.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 06:45 PM

Because of the music I work on, I very rarely use letter chord naming... It simply can't work with my works: (for example): CLICK HERE

So...
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 07:18 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
A surprisingly large number of bebop players drew heavily upon Debussy’s sounds when they were working to “keep away from” standard key centers.

Maybe this is why Gary hears jazz-like sounds in this: not because Debussy was predicting jazz 50 years ahead of his time, but because the jazz players were borrowing Debussy's sounds 50 years later.

You are EXACTLY right!

This is what I was after starting this thread:

1) At the time I presented the four "weird" major chords, I was lost myself. I did not yet see the octatonic scale, but in this case I am relatively certain that Debussy was using it. The main melody clearly uses it: E F# G *** A# to C#. The LH uses A# C# E. The RH chords sync in spelling with the octatonic scale. Only the bass, working almost like a pedal tone, does not fit that scale.

2) In the beginning, there are very interesting chords. By M3 we have all sorts of things. We have an F#7 chord over a G dim7 chord. It's hard to see, because the thumbs cross, but it can break up that way, and it's easy for the hands to feel those positions and instantly memorize the notes, if that is all we are after.

But in M3 there is also the 5th added in the bass. That creates, for my ears, an extemely interesting and ambiguous chord, and since the spelling does not show either a D# or D#m triad as its "base", it makes me wonder if Debussy chose his spellings for theoretical reasons OR for ease of performance (reading), and that also makes me ask why he overlaps the thumbs, something that is quite common in Schumann and Rachmaninov, just to name two composers who do this.

This was all I was after. I was asking questions, not asuming any speculations are correct. I did not set this up to play the big-shot, and I did not have set answers in mind when I presented my own thoughts.

I wanted something concrete to talk about, and I would like to continue uploading music itself just as I have in this thread, to discuss points, rather than trying to discuss abstract theory, dealing ONLY with rules without seeing how they are applied.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/07/12 07:31 PM

Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Because of the music I work on, I very rarely use letter chord naming... It simply can't work with my works: (for example): CLICK HERE

So...

I totally understand, Nikolas. For the record, I find typing letters to be pure H*LL. I just want to go straight to notation.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 01:59 AM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88

In the meantime, what do you think about my idea (from the post right after you first posted these first few measures of Feuilles Mortes) that he's suggesting an ocatonic scale? (Yes, officer, this nice man named Gary gave me this new hammer called Octatonic and now everything looks like a nail... I mean scale! laugh .)

I think this may lead to a dead-end, for this reason:

An octatonic scale contains four different major chords. But that does not mean that if a composer does this, with major chords:

C, Eb, Gb, A, C

That the composer is thinking octatonic. In fact, if he were, it would produce the same unusual major chords that occurred in the Debussy section with the odd spellings.

Let's construct an octatonic scale but use all sharps, then respell chords to see what we could get:

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

I extended it.

We see immediately: B major, D major, F major, A major

Then: B7, D7, F7, G#7 (Ab7)

We will have to use enharmonics. But the reason this seems an odd way to think is that I lose touch with the scale. If, on the other hand, I simply look for these:

B dim7, C dim7 (invert any way you want), then I start HEARING the scale. It is like a successions of leading tones, with each one moving to the next note in a dim7 chord.

In addition, since a half-diminished chord is simply a dim7 with one note 1/2 step higher, we have four of them:

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

leads to B D F A, D F A C, F Ab B Eb, G# B D F#

Bøm Dø Fø G#ø

Some respelling is necessary.

There will be four of other chords, all with roots relating to the notes in a dim7 chord.

But for me I associate this scale mostly with dim and half-dim chords. I don't know if anyone else hears it this way. I THINK that improvisers do, but I would have to check with the jazz people who specialize in that kind of playing.
Quote:

Here's something else curious. In these measures he crosses the left hand thumb with the right hand thumb. For example, in the first measure, the lower staff has F#4 while the upper staff has E4. Why is that? I have no idea. Any thoughts?

Yes, I do, but stating them will probably get me shot by the Notation-Police. In my opinion the idea is that by exchanging those notes, you will be able to balance or "voice" the notes differently. For me that doesn't make a difference in sound, but you have to try it yourself and draw your own conclusions. I don't see that overlapping the thumbs makes any harmonic difference.
Quote:

If we uncross those notes, and give E4 to the LH and F# to the RH, then we have two chords that both share F# A#. Gdim7 in the LH (in root position, enharmonically spelled for the middle notes) and F# in the RH (also in root position). Could Debussy be experimenting with the sound of completing the inner notes of a chord in two different ways?

In this case I don't think so. If you move to the last page, P. 10 top, dans le sentiment du début, you will see something very similar. It is not the same, of course, but IF he wanted to keep the same chords in both hands, he would have to untangle the thumbs because now the hands are split by an extra octave.
Quote:

So there's a dissonance between LH and RH, but also a consonance, which makes the piece shimmer and sound open harmonically, but without sounding chaotic.

It's also like an upside down F#(b9) chord. To put the G on the BOTTOM gives a totally different sound. That chord puts a dim 7 chord in the chord, like F# plus A#dim7. If you take that G off the top and put it on the bottom, you get something very close to what Debussy has.
Quote:

What bugs me about the jazz chord names like #9 is that basically it just gives you a system where you can take almost any set of notes and give them a name and say "there, I've captured it". That's because every note of the scale appears as one of the scale degrees 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and if you allow #s and bs then you can get any note of the chromatic scale too. And then if you allow weasel words like "color notes" you can fit anything at all into this system!

That's a pretty standard chord today. It has a "funky" sound. I hear it as a chord that has a dominant 7 chord sound to it, but it is as if the minor 3rd is there OVER the major 3rd. Depending on key, you may see the "color tone" written as either #9 or b10:

C E G Bb D#

OR

C E G Bb Eb

Try voicing it this way:

C G Bb///E G Bb D#, notes befor slash with LH, after slash with RH. You may even HEAR funk in that...
Quote:

I apologize, Gary, this sounds like I'm disrespecting you,

Not all all... smile
Quote:

But another, hopefully more respectful and thoughtful, thought about the #9 name is this: Debussy presumably wasn't in a world yet where he had those names, to conceptualize what he was doing as "#9 plus color notes".

First of all, the #9 idea only holds up in the beginning. Later, when the idea returns, he uses a pedal C#, so it won't work there. And even if we think of F#7 and E7, the 7s disappear, but the odd "raised root" sound remains.

Names are for convenience, for grouping, and they help immensely in memorization. But I would say that Debussy was in his own world, and even though since his time jazz (and other styles of music) have used his sounds and voicings, obviously in different concepts, I don't think most of the world has CAUGHT UP to Debussy in the year 2012. His music still sounds "fresh" to me, not old at all, not like something in a museum.

But isn't that what genius is all about? wink

By the way:
Quote:

"THIS sounds like THAT!" experience, but my experience would be "sounds bichordal, major above diminished 7."

I hear that too. But since F#7/G dim7 shares three notes, I basically hear, in M1, F#7 with a color tone on the bottom. Something has been altered, and it sounds cool.

And exactly how we hear things does not necessarily add to or detract from our pure enjoyment of the sound, just as a sound, without name or description.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 03:18 AM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
RCM uses a system where only the 7 is minor by default. So in both C# E# G# B D and C# E G B D, the D is b9. C# E# G# B D would be C#7(b9). (Not sure why, but they always insert the 7 explicitly in the case of a b9.) C# E G B D... might be C#ø7(b9).

The reason for that - look at these chords:

Cb9

Is it C plus b9?
Cb plus 9?

The answer is that it is always a Cb7 chord plus 9, never the other.

7 is always assumed when you go beyond the octave. So C9 means C 3 5 7 9, and 7 is always m7, by default.
The 7 is added to make clear what the root is when adding "b" might cause confusion. C7b9, C7(b9), C7-9 all do that. Cb9 doesn't, when the root is Cb.

There is a shortcut, but it is non-standard: C-9. The reason this CAN work, as a shorcut, is that you will never mistake "-" for "b". I tend to use + and - instead of # and b, for that reason. However, there is a tiny change that someone will read "-" as meaning "m" and so will end up with this:

Cm9, C Eb G Bb D

I use Cm7-5 instead of Cm7b5 or Cm7(b5) because it is faster. You can be as cryptic or non-standard as you wish, for yourself.

We tend to use more "standard" symbols when writing for others, since not doing so will cause confusion and mistakes.
Posted by: LoPresti

Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 10:46 AM

Gary,

I, too, prefer the use of the minus (-) sign to indicate lowering a pitch one-half step, and the plus (+) sign to indicate raising a pitch. In addition to relieving the ambiguity about which you just wrote, these do not carry the specific connotations of sharps or flats. In that sense, they are a little more universal.

So, if I want an E-flat augmented seventh chord, correctly spelled Eb + G + B + Db, I would rather see it as:
(Eb+7) -or- (Eb aug7) , as opposed to
(Eb7 #5), for the simple reason that the sharp (#) character strongly implies an actual SHARP, which the note B obviously is not.

Similarly, if I want a B minor seventh chord with a diminished fifth, correctly spelled B + D + F + A, I would rather see it as:
(BØ7) -or- (Bm7 (-5)) , as opposed to
(Bm7 b5). Here again the flat (b) character strongly implies an actual FLAT, which the note F obviously is not.

In the real world, we are faced with common usage, that is frequently a changing "mixed bag" of stuff, and musicians working in that world adapt. But it is nice, whenever we can, to return to what is theoretically correct (or, at least, "more correct".)

I recently purchased the Hal Leonard Sixth Edition of their REAL BOOK (a modern, legal version of the old "fake books"). As you know, Hal Leonard is a highly respected name in the jazz and popular music publishing field. For their chord symbols, that use BOTH sharps AND + to indicate raised pitches, and BOTH flats AND - to indicate lowering. So there you go.

Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 10:55 AM

Interesting, thanks Gary and Ed. I find I prefer the # and b notation because I always have to think what - and + mean in this context. And, for whatever wierd reason, I never get confused thinking # and b in chord symbols mean an actual # or b, as opposed to up or down a half-step from normal. And + and - always makes me think "add this note" or "leave this note out". For example Eb+7 makes me think the same thing as Eb7, (even though logically you could say, well if it means the same thing (which it doesn't, I know now) why would it be written differently?). I could get used to + and - though, I'm sure. Now I'm curious to look in my (neglected) heap of pop music books and see what symbols they use.

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
I recently purchased the Hal Leonard Sixth Edition of their REAL BOOK (a modern, legal version of the old "fake books". As you know, Hal Leonard is a highly respected name in the jazz and popular music publishing field. For their chord symbols, that use BOTH sharps AND + to indicate raised pitches, and BOTH flats AND - to indicate lowering. So there you go.

Do they use them both on the same chord symbol? Or do you mean sometimes they use #/b and sometimes they use +/-?
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 11:16 AM

When I first encountered people talking about "flatting" and "sharping" notes, I resisted it. To me you raise and lower a note, and this is something that I hear. I think my beginnings with Solfege have something to do with that because the primary school teacher used an upright solfege board and would point to the symbols as we sang. The higher notes were literally higher. Recently I've become complacent, and started using "flatting" and "sharping" myself, and also writing symbols such as "b9". This has built some bad associations, which I have just caught on to. The letter name symbols themselves are relatively new to me and not as real as other things. Recently when someone says "B minor" I might play Bb major, because the idea of flats and the idea of quality and lowering have gotten mixed up in assocations. I am definitely going back to "-" to mean lowering something. In fact, in the Horwood book, there was B- which meant B minor, but that's another story.

A question for everyone. In your subjective experience, is Db a distinctive pitch and note on the piano that you feel in your psyche and bodies, or is Db a D which is brought down one key?
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 11:17 AM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
. . . I find I prefer the # and b notation because I always have to think what - and + mean in this context. And, for whatever wierd reason, I never get confused thinking # and b in chord symbols mean an actual # or b, as opposed to up or down a half-step from normal. And + and - always makes me think "add this note" or "leave this note out".

Well now, here we get even further out on this perilous limb! Obviously, the symbol (+) , in anything but music, means "plus" or "Add". And, of course, we have occasions where we "add" notes (your favorites: color tones) to chords:

D7(add 2) -- correctly spelled D + E + F# + A + C .

So, how does one DECODE D+9(add 6)? My headache is starting to return . . .
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 11:28 AM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
I recently purchased the Hal Leonard Sixth Edition of their REAL BOOK (a modern, legal version of the old "fake books". As you know, Hal Leonard is a highly respected name in the jazz and popular music publishing field. For their chord symbols, that use BOTH sharps AND + to indicate raised pitches, and BOTH flats AND - to indicate lowering. So there you go.

Do they use them both on the same chord symbol? Or do you mean sometimes they use #/b and sometimes they use +/-?

I have not yet found that exact situation, where they use both the b symbol and the (-) symbol on the self-same chord, but there are 462 tunes, most of which are harmonically complex, so I will not be surprised when it comes up. They do use the different indicators within the self-same tune frequently.
Ed

Posted by: LoPresti

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 11:52 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Recently I've become complacent, and started using "flatting" and "sharping" myself, and also writing symbols such as "b9".

Yup! You say complacent, I call myself lazy when I do this, but I read these equally instantly, with no indecision.

Originally Posted By: keystring
A question for everyone. In your subjective experience, is Db a distinctive pitch and note on the piano that you feel in your psyche and bodies, or is Db a D which is brought down one key?

LUSH LIFE by Billy Strayhorn. It could not EXIST in any other key (Db major).

Puccini takes his lovers deep into the flat keys (Ab, Db, and especially Gb (Eb minor)) for their more impassioned duets, and it could not be any other way. The strings are so dark in that territory!
Ed
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 12:10 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: keystring
Recently I've become complacent, and started using "flatting" and "sharping" myself, and also writing symbols such as "b9".

Yup! You say complacent, I call myself lazy when I do this, but I read these equally instantly, with no indecision.

I should correct an impression. I was complacent only in accepting what the majority was calling things. It is my diligence which did me in: I carefully labelled every lowered note with "b" and after a while I began to associate this "b" with lowering, so the associations got muddled. As a teacher I know about associations. These symbols are relatively new to me. They are still forming. It is best to keep b meaning "flat", and use it for other things. After reading this thread it dawned on me that the new habit of writing "b" to mean "lower a note" is creating this new problem.

Originally Posted By: keystring
A question for everyone. In your subjective experience, is Db a distinctive pitch and note on the piano that you feel in your psyche and bodies, or is Db a D which is brought down one key?
Quote:

LUSH LIFE by Billy Strayhorn. It could not EXIST in any other key (Db major).

Puccini takes his lovers deep into the flat keys (Ab, Db, and especially Gb (Eb minor)) for their more impassioned duets, and it could not be any other way. The strings are so dark in that territory!
Ed

That makes sense and I would tend to agree. If this involves strings there is also another factor: In Ab major, the only note that can resonate with an open string is G, and so there is a particular "less shiny" quality.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 01:11 PM

I have an idea about the crossed thumbs. If you look at m.3 and ignore the bottom notes in each hand, you have a D#m7 chord. So putting the G on LH pinky and the E on RH thumb gives you two chords where the unusual notes are at the bottom of the hand/chord as written, to emphasize that these are the different notes.

OK, that might be an idiotic theory.

Question: do the clusters in mm.6-9 have names? I'm finally able to sit down at the piano and play^H^H^H^H limp through these measures, and I love the sound of those chords. (They don't have to have names, I'm just wondering if this powerful naming convention has got its organized classifying fingers on these lovely chords.)
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 02:00 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Puccini takes his lovers deep into the flat keys (Ab, Db, and especially Gb (Eb minor)) for their more impassioned duets, and it could not be any other way. The strings are so dark in that territory!

That makes sense and I would tend to agree. If this involves strings there is also another factor: In Ab major, the only note that can resonate with an open string is G, and so there is a particular "less shiny" quality.

Yup, and I am going to give old Giacomo even more credit that the "less shiny" sound quality. Years ago, when I was working closely with string sections, I could see and feel the UNREST building when the orchestra moved away from "familiar ground", key-wise. The change in the air was palpable! The brass were decidedly uneasy in the more "sharp keys", now having to concentrate carefully on intonation, where the strings were merrily singing away. However, because the strings are SO EXPRESSIVE, when they were uneasy, EVERYTHING changed!

And here is where Old Jack receives my very deepest admiration: He takes us, his listeners, his players, and his lovers, through fairly familiar territory much of the time: G major, Bb major, D minor, E major. The melodies are soaring! The harmonies rich and shifting. But then, at exactly the right moment, when we do not think the emotion can possibly build any further, he pulls us right out of our skin with a modulation to Db major! Those prized strings, now referring to each individual player, are digging DEEP within themselves, full adrenaline, restless, and searching for the pitch, vibrato more intense, using EVERYTHING, in the same way our lovers are searching their tormented souls.

Pretty mystical stuff!
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 06:18 PM

Ed, this has taken a fascinating turn. Do you have a particular piece or two in mind to listen for this?
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 06:41 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
Question: do the clusters in mm.6-9 have names? I'm finally able to sit down at the piano and play^H^H^H^H limp through these measures, and I love the sound of those chords. (They don't have to have names, I'm just wondering if this powerful naming convention has got its organized classifying fingers on these lovely chords.)

I think I've figured it out. Leaving out the inversion information:

m. 6: C#ø7, B(add 2)
m. 7: Bb(add 2), B(add 2)
mm. 8+9: G#m(add4), and then a bunch more parallel minor(add4) chords.

But it's interesting to me that these very mysterious (to me) chords, can be given names. I may have to rethink my exasperation with the names and accept that it's a powerful tool smile .

Now it has me wondering about sounds... do people hear add2 and add4 chords as having a particular root, or do they hear them more mysteriously than that?
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 07:23 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Years ago, when I was working closely with string sections, I could see and feel the UNREST building when the orchestra moved away from "familiar ground", key-wise. The change in the air was palpable! The brass were decidedly uneasy in the more "sharp keys", now having to concentrate carefully on intonation, where the strings were merrily singing away. However, because the strings are SO EXPRESSIVE, when they were uneasy, EVERYTHING changed!

Good point about "easy" being different keys for wind and string players.

The moment you move to "hard keys" for brass, they have to use more valves or longer positions (trombone). More tubing means a more "brittle" sound combined with higher harmonics on any given fingering/position, which also results in more "clams". And the intonation totally changes...
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/08/12 11:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
The moment you move to "hard keys" for brass, they have to use more valves or longer positions (trombone). More tubing means a more "brittle" sound combined with higher harmonics on any given fingering/position, which also results in more "clams". And the intonation totally changes...

Precisely! (Have you been studying the Rimsky-Korsakov PRINCIPLES. . . . again? )

Originally Posted By: keystring
Ed, this has taken a fascinating turn. Do you have a particular piece or two in mind to listen for this?

I do not wish, in any way, to detract from this excellent Debussy discussion and analysis, so I shall mention a couple, and leave it at that. Dear Old Jack did not write much for the piano, unfortunately, so it will probably be of minimal interest here. Even if he had, the exceptional phenomena about which I am writing would not really apply to a well-tempered clavir, all key centers being created equal.

La Boheme - Act I - Che gelida manina (What a cold little hand . . .) From here through to the end of the Act.
(Originally, the very ending was written in Db major, for the reasons I mentioned. Several modern productions have transposed it down to C , because the high Db in the soprano is pianissimo, and off stage = too shrill!)

Act III - O mia vita! plus the quartet - Dunque è proprio finita. (Well this is really the end.)
(Every immaginable key, ending in Gb major, as I recall.)

Tosca - Act I - Ah, que gli occhi (Oh, those eyes!) (Wandering modulations, including through Gb, Db, and Ab. )

Act II - Vissi d’arte (Tosca laments having lived for her art, a gentle, chaste life. And now she must choose between seeing her lover put to death, or she, herself, killing his captor! Her prayer ends, “And now you leave me this?”) Primarily Eb minor! (what else?)

Act IV - E lucevane le stelle (Mario, on death row, recites a childhood poem, and muses that with death so near, he has never before loved life so much!) Stay with it: B minor, B major, F major, and the inevitable Gb major, ending in Eb minor!

Madam Butterfly - Act I – Cio Cio San’s grand entrance. Ab major to Db major, as I recall. Note liberal use of pentatonic scale (not TOO stereotyped!)

Turandot - Act I - Non piangere, Liu - (Do not weep, Liu) - (Duet, becoming a trio, becoming a sextet, building to a cast of thousands) In Ab minor if I recall correctly (Yes! Count those flats!) Stay with it through the end of the Act - Eb minor.

WARNING: This stuff is highly addictive! DO NOT use with wine, or when you have anything else to do.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/09/12 05:09 AM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Precisely! (Have you been studying the Rimsky-Korsakov PRINCIPLES. . . . again? )

Well, I started out teaching brass. I was lead euphonium player, long ago, in the FSU Wind Ensemble. This is the wrong place to talk about it, but I LOVE the primitive sound of valveless horns in Beethoven's symphonies. With the hand stopping (bell) and dangerous overtones that have to be played with precision, it is like watching a high-wire act with no net.

It's raw, primivite, and in something like the Eroica, it is hair-raising. I'll let you draw your own conclusions of what it does to put the strings in Eb. It's great for the brass!
Quote:

I do not wish, in any way, to detract from this excellent Debussy discussion and analysis, so I shall mention a couple, and leave it at that. Dear Old Jack did not write much for the piano, unfortunately, so it will probably be of minimal interest here. Even if he had, the exceptional phenomena about which I am writing would not really apply to a well-tempered clavir, all key centers being created equal.

No, but Debussy wrote some pretty fine music for orchestra. Ed, I don't care where discussions wander. No one owns a thread. It's most fun when we weave from one interesting thing to the next. If anyone feels that his or her point is being ignored, it is an easy matter to jump in with new points or new questions. Sincere people are never ignored for long, and your PADS point plays into what I have long felt: if someone is not part of the discussion, we get to decide where it goes. wink

I don't want to completely derail everything, but the quality of sound leads inevitably to tuning, and that goes off into a MILLION directions, all of which are interesting to me.

I have one more interesting spot to throw out in the Debussy, but I am in no hurry. Most of all I regret the fact that it is so hard to link to pictures that show the music we talk about. Talking about music, when we can neither see nor hear it, is almost unbearably frustrating!
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/09/12 09:51 AM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Well, I started out teaching brass. I was lead euphonium player, long ago, in the FSU Wind Ensemble. This is the wrong place to talk about it, but I LOVE the primitive sound of valveless horns in Beethoven's symphonies. With the hand stopping (bell) and dangerous overtones that have to be played with precision, it is like watching a high-wire act with no net.

It's raw, primivite, and in something like the Eroica, it is hair-raising. I'll let you draw your own conclusions of what it does to put the strings in Eb. It's great for the brass!

Gary,

You did not, by any chance, play a double-bell, did you? One of the most facinating, and beautiful instruments ever!

My great-grandfather, before becoming a conductor, majored in BOMBARDINO! I, too, love the Eroica, but it is hard to find played with natural horns.

I also appreciate the invitation to change subjects, but like Claude, Giacomo deserves a thread of his very own. And probably no surprise, but La Mer is my favorite Debussy.
Ed
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/09/12 01:41 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Well, I started out teaching brass. I was lead euphonium player, long ago, in the FSU Wind Ensemble. This is the wrong place to talk about it, but I LOVE the primitive sound of valveless horns in Beethoven's symphonies. With the hand stopping (bell) and dangerous overtones that have to be played with precision, it is like watching a high-wire act with no net.

It's raw, primivite, and in something like the Eroica, it is hair-raising. I'll let you draw your own conclusions of what it does to put the strings in Eb. It's great for the brass!

Gary,

You did not, by any chance, play a double-bell, did you? One of the most facinating, and beautiful instruments ever!

My great-grandfather, before becoming a conductor, majored in BOMBARDINO! I, too, love the Eroica, but it is hard to find played with natural horns.

I also appreciate the invitation to change subjects, but like Claude, Giacomo deserves a thread of his very own. And probably no surprise, but La Mer is my favorite Debussy.
Ed

I have a set of recordings with Norrington, all the Beethoven symphonies.

You can hear the horn players practically shoving their fists into the bells as they play notes that do not exist on an un-stopped horn. It is SO different in sound. For something like the 6th I prefer a modern orchestra, but the 3rd, 4th and 7th symphonies are very cool to listen to that way.

I heard John Eliott Gardiner conducting one of those recently - on the radio driving home. It was from a live concert. I think it was the 7th. The energy was indescribable.

And I have a double-balled eublonium. As a student I played a Besson, but I have never been blessed with much money, so when I bought my own instrument, I found one of those double-belled instruments for what was a "song". When I gigged I did not get much chance to play brass - no one else to play keyboard for me - but if I got someone who could play, I used the small bore, small bell for playing. It's a fun instrument. smile
Posted by: keystring

Re: Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/09/12 01:45 PM

Just a short note - I'm not doing a PADS - thanks for the list of music. I'm heading the warning:
Quote:
WARNING: This stuff is highly addictive! DO NOT use with wine, or when you have anything else to do.

Waiting to get my work squared away and then it's on to some heavy duty listening. smile
Posted by: LoPresti

Notation challenges: Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) - 05/09/12 02:26 PM

No suspicion of P.A.D.S. here. You have a clean bill of health with us!

One additional thought about listening to EXCERPTS - one does not fully experience the valleys before being rocketed to the top of the mountain, and visa-versa. Nevertheless, highlights are highlights, with or without the "preparation".