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A Journey into Sound Part IV -- Melody & Harmony (with videos)

by rg Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 10:16:49 AM EST

Saturday bump up! - In Wales


For anyone just tuning in, I've been writing a series of experimental diaries, trying to mix music videos with words.  I'm not sure how well it's working--do ETers not have as much access to video-friendly connections as I thought; or is music not really an ET concern?  I've got a poll at the end so you can let me know what you think.

(a quick warning: firefox has a known problem with videos: sometimes the videos freeze after exactly 00:02.  If this happens, you can try reloading the page, which doesn't work very often; or you can try viewing the diary at another time (the bug is very temperamental); or you can view the diary in another browser.)

Right, this week:

melody & harmony.

First, I'm going to keep going with the idea that music comes out of the natural sounds around us.  This can be seen clearly with melody:

Blackbird singing (1:34)

Melody is the sequential production of tones.  With the human voice it can sound like this:

Yoko Kanno - Voices (2:18)

(This reminds me of lullabies, a solo voice singing a melody--the ear picks up the movement, hears various repeating patterns, listens to the timbre of the voice.)

If one were to count out how many different tones appeared in that piece one might find there were only five--this would be a pentatonic scale.  If there were seven it would be diatonic--scales describe the various different notes involved in the movement from one octave to the next.

Western ears are tuned to certain scales.  Here's a clip of Marvin Gaye singing--the music has been switched off so it's just Marvin's voice, which kicks in after 20 seconds (before that, it's just Marvin waiting to start.)

Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine (3:12)

Moving away from the human voice, I've heard it said that the first music was repetition of bird song with flutes (and recorders--the name recorder--I hear--comes from its original use, which was to 'record' birdsong.)

I put this piece up last week, but it demonstrates so much I wanted to put it up again.  In particular, it is in contrast to Marvin Gaye's style--Debussy was a pioneer with tonal structure.  This is one of his (many) masterpieces, this time played by Michael Hedges.

Michael Hedges - Syrinx (2:46)

--------------------------

What about if you add another melody to the first one?  Now you have two sets of notes travelling through time, maybe the two melodies hit the exact same note at the same time--and then they move in different directions.  Maybe one voice sounds one note and then, half way through, the other voice sounds another note.  This used to be called harmony but (two voices) is now called 'counterpoint'; harmony now means three or more sounds playing together, but I'm going to call two notes harmony as it has the essential harmonic quality: more than one musical sound happening at the same time.

To demonstrate how two melodies can be played at the same time, I'll turn to Bach.  First, a single melody line (one note at a time):

Bach - Cello Suite No.4 i-Prelude (5:39)

And now, two melodies, played one on each hand.  A way of hearing the two harmonies is as follows:

First, listen to (and watch) only the left hand.  Ignore the right hand, just follow the left.  You'll see it has a melody it is playing.

Then, do the same thing but with the right hand only.

And finally, watch both of them together--you should be able to hear the two melodies and the new sounds that appear (the new melodies.)

(btw, Bach sometimes places up to five (I think it was five!) melodies into one piece--not many people can hear all five, it takes concentration!)

Bach Prelude in c minor Walden Hughes (1:03)

---------------------

Harmony is vertical: it describes tones played at the same time.  Melody is horizontal: it describes tones played one after the other.  Written down in the western style, the two together look like this:

Rachmaninov plays Rachmaninov (3:46)

-------------------------

Put melody and harmony together--you get the music most of us hear around us most of the time.

I've chosen a couple of examples.  First, Summertime, by George Gershwin.  

First version: you hear the harmony in the accompaniment; you hear the melody first (in truncated form) on a french horn (I think it's a french horn_; then on the trumpet, then the voice.

Summertime - Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong (4:59)

Second version: the same melody played to a whole other harmonic structure (and beat.)  The melody kicks in after 30 seconds:

Keith Jarrett - Summertime (4:42)

This is one of the reasons for the successes of covers, where a band takes an old song and plays it a new way--usually (but not always) by keeping the key notes (the melody) and then changing everything around them (harmony, rhythm, and texture.)

Second example: Favourite Things, by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

First the Julie Andrews version:

My Favourite Things - The Sound Of Music (1:08)

That has the voice to the fore (it starts spoken, then moves into singing.)  The next version also has a voice to the fore--the sax of John Coltrane.  If you listen carefully to the Julie Andrews version, you'll hear that it does harmonic things at certain points; for my ears, John Coltrane makes the same changes but uses longer time frames.

John Coltrane - My Favorite Things - 1961 (10:35)

--------------------------

Some people prefer the dense riches of harmony; others prefer the sing-along-able quality of a melody (and yet others like melodies that are impossible to sing, like Syrinx)  (and yet others prefer all of the above and more!)

---------------------------

Time to finish.  Melody; harmony.  What have great composers done with these?  Here's a single example, nine minutes long; the initial melody is simple enough, just three tones: first there's a tone, then there's a second tone one step down, then back to the first tone, then up a half step (semitone), then back to the starting note--it's a four beat--and then--Stravinsky does Stravinskian things to it.

Stravinsky Conducts Firebird (9:08)

As always, I'd like these diaries to be collective adventures.  Please post your favourite melodies, harmonies, interesting juxtapositions, one or two videos per comment with a few words of explanation if they might help the listener appreciate better what he or she is about to hear.

------------------

Previous diaries:

Part I
Part II
Part III

Poll
Is this an experiment that has come to its natural end?
. yes 0%
. no 66%
. I'd like to watch the videos but--I can't, sorry! 16%
. Music's not my thing, really. 16%

Votes: 6
Results | Other Polls
Display:
Here's another take on Summertime, this time by the Bill Evans Trio:

I realise there hasn't been any rock content in the diary; part of the work with the diaries is hunting out the lesser-heard pieces.  But coming up to date, at least  bit, here's a famous melody.  I like it in this context because it starts with a melody on the guitar, which is followed by a different melody on the voice.



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

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 01:29:55 PM EST
Doh!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 02:38:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Melody is not "a sequential production of tones."  An Alberti bass is not a melody.  There are literally an infinite number of examples that can illustrate the problems of this definition.

Harmony is not two tones sounded simultaneously.  There are two distinct problems with this definition.  First, the number of tones -- you really do need three, at least if you're talking about functional harmony.  You need that third tone to give you your triad, which as we all learned in music theory is the basis of functional harmony.  In context, two tones can suffice but you have to have the right context.  Second, an arpeggio is not sounded simultaneously but you get your harmony anyway.

Two melodies playing together do not necessarily make counterpoint -- they will (if they are nonparallel melodies) make some form of polyphony, though.  

Bach did not employ five melodies simultaneously, but he did write the occasional five-voice fugue.  There is the quodlibet but that's only four melodies.  :-)

I will mercifully stop now.  I hope the following negates any pain I may have caused:

<object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/fmoEaiV0b3A&hl=en"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/fmoEaiV0b3A&hl=en" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object>

here's the score in PDF for anyone who wants to follow along:  http://www.icking-music-archive.org/scores/g.gabrieli/gabcan2part.pdf

by greg whitman on Thu Apr 10th, 2008 at 03:43:03 AM EST
sorry I should have rtfm

by greg whitman on Thu Apr 10th, 2008 at 03:47:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, fantastic!  I don't know who or what it is--

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2008 at 05:12:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, I checked it out.  Giovanni Gabrieli.  It's excellent!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2008 at 05:14:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some working definitions I've found more useful:

Melody - foreground, in the sense of being the most obvious line that people hear and remember

Harmony - background and foundation AND/OR added colour around the melody

Counterpoint - means different things depending on which century you're in. But truly independent lines are rare. A lot of so-called counterpoint is really harmonic colour with pretensions to independence or - in polyphonic music - the same line chopped up, delayed and repeated so it plays against itself.  

It's very, very hard to think of music which is pure harmony with no sense of melody at all. In classical music you often get boilerplate writing at cadences where the melody disappears and you get your II-V-I without much else happening. But elsewhere there's usually a strong sense of a melodic line, even when the focus is moving between the voices.

Backing vocals, keyboards, bass and guitar - harmony, counterpoint or just part of the furniture?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2008 at 06:40:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can certainly hear a main melodic line in her singing, the guitar does a solo at a certain point.  For me (maybe just for me!) the furniture part--the magnolia part--is the (for my ears clumpy) four beat.

Maybe to the extent one wants or needs to take the music apart for specific purposes, certain tonal effects (over time) can and are given specific names--music theory is the study of all that.  It depends what the focus is maybe--as you say.  Also, I suppose that overtones (as I understand them--I mean, those extra tones that appear around the original tone) create an automatic harmonic structure for any series of tones--I was thinking of using a piece with someone whistling, as "the bit you can whistle" is one version ("Bloody racket.  Where's the tune?  You can't whistle that, can you?") of what the melody is.  There's a piece by Neil Finn called "Try Whistling This"--a test of whistling skill?




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

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2008 at 07:06:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's worth trying to filter out the main melodic line and the beat to listen to the individual elements.

I can hear:

Bass line (it's there, and it's sort of independent, but it's not that interesting)
Keyboard elements - lots of filled out harmonies and a couple of extra lines
Backing vocal harmonies - quite complicated
Extra guitar lines - one part where it plays a very simple line which is mostly a held note and some embellishments
And more...

Most of this is already happening before the bass and main drums come in at around 18s, and you could easily spend some time playing that section over and picking apart everything that's on the track.

There's a surprising amount going on - as there is in a lot of chart music.

People tend to remember the melody line and aren't consciously aware of the rest, so they'll either not hear it at all or hear it as filler. But listening to it can be - interesting.

Also interesting that you don't like the beat. Caroline Corr often seems to drag the snare beat slightly and make it late. It's probably my least favourite thing about the band.

Meanwhile ¨Try whistling this¨ is a bit of a cheat. I'd hear it as:

Voice melody
Piano countermelody (which sometimes disappears)
Piano harmony and colour around the countermelody
Occasional embellishments and decorations

You couldn't whistle it because a lot of the movement and interest is in the countermelody, hidden under the sung part which is simpler and not as interesting - as you can hear when he stops singing.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2008 at 07:39:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, I liked those initial voice harmonies, I was thinking: yeah, they can take this somewhere, but then the beat thudded in.  Sounds to me like they used some muck-around-with-the-voice tech. in there; when the drums came in I thought, "I wonder how this would sound...in seven".  But I admit I have a clunky-drummer nerve; same thing I got with U2 way back, and then with Radiohead--the music was interesting (for me), but the beats--oh so clunky!

It's not something I can explain though--but it could have something to do with lateness--or even just thumping the beat on the beat, not much movement around it.  I'd compare it to the drummer playing Shoreline 7/4 in the Part III diary, who--for my ears--gave that lovely rush--and I have to say, watching the jazz trios and quartets, the sounds of those kits in the late fifties early sixties--

But a triple-gah because that's a discussion for the other diary!  All the various elements come together in my head, start with one thread, keep following and soon enough I jump threads somehow--

Any theories about that four beat?  Listening to that piece again, there's a lot of musical ability being squashed by that...clumpiness.  Thing is, when other pop songs do muck about with the internals I still get that overall sense of clump rather than dance.  (While I've been noticing that dance tracks which I presume--it's been a while--are specifically designed for audiences that dance go for the two--oom pah oom pah.  Boom chit boom chit, or even just the boom boom, boom boom.  Do fiendish wizards have theories about these four beats that they apply because in order to do X (sell product, I suppose)...for some reason the clumpy-four....turns minds to thoughts of consumption?

Or maybe it's just me ~:)

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

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2008 at 08:57:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I could be wrong, but I think what makes the melody difficult to whistle on first listen is that he makes a key change such that a major turns to minor but resolves to a major with a raised fourth (I like raised fourths!)...greg knows more about this than me, though so his input will be more accurate--like with most things, I can work it out if I have enough time, but it's not a natural thing (and by natural I mean like Keith Jarrett's uncanny ability to see the entire harmonic patterns spreading out from each note he plays--but...what's the word, I read it the other day, not gestalt, the thing the right brain does--parallel processing, taking the picture in in one huge instant....heh....me ramble?)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2008 at 09:04:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's very, very hard to think of music which is pure harmony with no sense of melody at all.

a good accompanist can infer and elicit melody by framing it with intelligent harmony. when that happens the blend is perfect and the melody appears out of the harmony like a mushroom out of the loam.

melodies can be harmonised ad infinitum, reverse doesn't work so well! (unless you go all schoenberg! more maths than music, tho' many will disagree!)

symbolically melody is the triumph of the individual, harmony is the magic of cluster to invite melody out to play, a field for her to run, a skyscape to fly.

melody alone has tension and release with silence...when there is harmony there is conversation, banter, innuendo, humour.

it's very hard to think of music that has no rhythm.

melody and percussion started the ball rolling, harmony took much longer to evolve, and it's still evolving.

polyrhythm is to beat as harmony is to melody! thickens up the custard, spices up the soup.

rambles from the latenight zone...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 10:02:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
;)

Me no nothing?  Impossible!

Hey, did you see Stravinsky at the end, wonderful conducting (well, I say that but I didn't have to play along--it looks wonderful to me) and such excellent playing by the orchestra and Stravinsky uses the audience applause to...add to his applause for their excellent playing--

greg, do you fancy writing (or helping to write?--or hey, I can string pieces together, the words are to stop it just being video-video-video - I like the idea of describing the theme in some way--but--yes!--terms have technical meanings well-defined, and you clearly know the technical aspects at levels well beyond--...ach...music video diary: how to improve the structure?)...but I'm also thinking that this project is failing to engage the ET readership--all suggestions welcome!

(I was thinking 'timbre' would be the next theme--but I'm not---ach!)

What an excellent comment!  Now I must listen to the Gabrieli piece again--while following along with the score (Rachmaninov playing Rachmaninov!  Following the score was....staring at a work of art as the work of art was played...greg, I'm failing miserably to say--thanks for the comment!

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

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2008 at 05:37:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I like to write and I would be happy to help out with this project.  I will write to your email and we can take a stab at collaboration.  My expertise is limited to what we in the U.S. call "art music" for lack of a better term -- what is also referred to as "classical" which is also terminologically confusing because the classical era is really a subset of all art music.   I have seen students struggle with terminology and therefore hate music theory when really it can be quite rewarding once you get beyond all that.

Melody and harmony are abstractions.  The books on harmony by Heinrich Schenker and Arnold Schoenberg are probably too technical for most people but they shouldn't deter an intrepid explorer like yourself.

I personally don't like Stravinsky's conducting that much (I only watched a little bit).  He elicits a performance that is a little too emotionally sterile for me.  But Stravinsky is one of my favorite composers.

And now for something completely different:  a sung melody with supporting harmony played on piano (I'm only referring to the first song in this clip -- this was by far the best performance I could find on YouTube):

by greg whitman on Thu Apr 10th, 2008 at 12:10:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had no time for your diary and I'll be off-line until Sunday afternoon, but for now one video:

M83 - In The Cold I'm Standing - 04:05

(BTW, what time signature is this?)

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

by DoDo on Fri Apr 11th, 2008 at 04:35:06 PM EST
Whatever, another:

Muse - Map Of The Problematique - 04:15

(I can't decide if this is 4/4 or something more complex in the first two minutes)

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

by DoDo on Fri Apr 11th, 2008 at 04:52:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah yes, interesting--it's eight beats but the emphases are shifted from the normal "One two THREE four".  I love the non-moving riff which starts at 0:16, he doesn't keep it up for long but I've always enjoyed it when the solo doesn't move note, everything else moves around it.  When he starts playing other notes (0:24) it reminds me of New Order--sort of (vaguely!) the same idea at the start of Everything's Gone Green (4:20)

Back to the Muse track, the four beat kicks in clear at 0:40 when the snare starts hitting the three--One two THREE four One two THREE four--

Then the singer starts up (reminds me of Bono!)--

And then a great drum flourish at 2:11--I wonder what it would sound like if they'd kept that rhythm through the song--and dropped the drums while he was singing, just used the opening keyboard riff...heh!

Towards the end the drummer starts whacking a cymbal on the first beat: CRASH and boom and WHACK and boom--

ABout 3:56 he starts doing things with his hi-hat--but there's that snare on three (I think I'm picky about snares on three!--hard to do without slowing...something....heh....I'd call that snare on three the 'commercial' aspect of the song's sound world.)

And then the drummer gets to whack out to the end!

(On a re-listen, the drumbeat before the snare starts playing reminds me of Killing Joke)

Here's an example of the way I like a four beat: Lots going on with the bass drum, syncopation, that kinda thing, and a speedy snare on the three--or maybe I just got it all wrong!

Iggy Pop - I'm Bored (2:43)--four four kicks in at 0:16



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

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Apr 11th, 2008 at 07:30:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, I like that one--reminds me a bit of Sigur Ross but without drumming--so I'd say this was 'ambient' by which I mean 'no specific beat patterns'--I think it's overall based on a four, which I worked out (decided) by trying to count the chord changes, see if there were four chords spread over a long time scale, but I think it's a bit more complicated than that, esp. at the end.

Another band it reminded me of, though on a re-listen the connection is the guitar sound and it may just be in my head--is My Bloody Valentine.

First up, To Here Knows When (4:43), which is a four beat but as the song progresses the beats get drowned in washes of guitar.

And then, as a contrast, from their earlier days, Kiss (3:51) I think the intro count goes:

5 3 4
5 3 5
5 3 6
5 3 8

(could be wrong!)

-----------

On a technical note, are you having any problems with videos stopping then starting then stopping then starting?  The same thing happens over at youtube--some videos run okay, but others keep stopping/starting(and it seems to be at all different times of day and night.)

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

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Apr 11th, 2008 at 06:58:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, In Wales!  btw, next week's theme will be timbre--and the intention is that it'll be a co-production with greg (see his comment about melody and harmony); hopefully we'll be able to put our two sets of ears and brains together and come up with something worth listening to--and reading.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 10:42:33 AM EST
One more thing--if anyone else would like to (help me) write a diary in this series, just drop me a line.  I'd like this to be as collective a production as possible.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 11:30:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No problem! I still need to catch up with last week's and then I'll get to listening to this one too :)
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 11:51:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the things not often discussed (anymore) is how the steps of the scale are defined. This is called "temperament" in the musicological world.

The belief by the early church in the perfectibility of the universe led to rules that mostly focused on small integers and simple geometric shapes.

The most absurd instance was the insistence that the earth was the center of the universe and the the orbits of the planets were circles, but something similar happened in music.

By using simple ratios one can get close to the common western scale. The easiest way to demonstrate this oneself is to pluck a stretched string and then stop it length at various points. Stopping at the middle produces an octave (1;2), 3:2 produces a fifth, etc.

The problem is that when one divides the scale into 12 steps the ratios are slightly off. Music theorists struggled with the discrepancy for several hundred years and rather than give into the actual mathematics of the situation they invented all sorts of fudges. These are called "temperaments", and the most famous is the one used by JS Bach in his "Well Tempered Clavier". The correct mathematical solution to dividing an octave into 12 equal parts is that each step's frequency has a ratio to the next of the 12th root of 2 - an irrational number (1.059...).

Since this is an irrational number the intervals that should sound harmonious such as the fifth and third are actually discordant and beat. Western ears no longer notice this, but many other cultures use different musical step sizes and/or have other than 12 notes to the scale.

There are many sites where one can hear examples of this, sometimes the differences are subtle and require retraining one's ears, sometimes (as in Indian and other Asian music) the differences are quite noticeable. Even in western culture jazz and blues musicians don't stick to the standard pitches, but "bend" the notes.

Over the years I've tried different tunings on my harpsichord, some can really throw pieces into a different light. The key that a piece was written in used to make a big difference when instruments didn't used equal note steps, now it is mostly just nostalgia when someone choses a key for a piece.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 11:58:18 AM EST
I have a friend who needed his piano tuned.

"How would you like it?" said the piano tuner.

"A bit sharp at the top and a bit flat at the bottom."

Any pieces you could offer us so we can hear an example or two?

btw, in case anyone doesn't know how to post a video (just in case!):

  1. go to youtube
  2. find the video you like
  3. copy address from address bar (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFuyvbK_6Cw)
  4. take out the first part (i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=).  This leaves you with the code for the video (in this case the code is   fFuyvbK_6Cw)
  5. Type two open brackets   ((
  6. Type youtube  ((youtube
  7. Add a space, then the code  ((youtube OMZODtaf4d4
  8. Close it with two close brackets ))

It should look like the following, but without the asterisk (hat tip to Migeru for this technique)

((*youtube fFuyvbK_6Cw))

Take away the asterisk (don't leave a gap)

and you get this (4:22):

---------------

And now a silly story: the same friend who has his piano tuned sharp at the top and flat at the bottom was talking about the microtonal keyboard:

"It reproduces," he said, "almost exactly the sound of an out-of-tune piano."

Of course, it depends what you play!

--------------

Hey, thanks for the comment!



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

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 12:35:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually all pianos (at least grands) are tuned sharp at the top and flat at the bottom, it's called stretched octaves in the trade.

This is supposed to compensate for how the ear hears as well as for the fact that piano strings, being thick, are not true harmonic resonators, but tend to have harmonics which are off pitch. It's why good piano tuners don't use electronic devices when tuning.

On the other hand I do use one on my harpsichord because all the octaves are true and one has to adjust one octave and them make all the others match. Tuning octaves is easy, you just listen for a lack of beats. Modern electronic tuners even show how far off pitch a note is so it is easy to set other temperaments if one knows the deviation from equal in cents (hundredths of a note).

There is a just intonation group in NYC which tries to play everything in pure tuning. During the annual Bach festival on local station WKCR they invite the director on for a segment to illustrate how tuning affects the sound. Now the station is online as well so people can hear it everywhere. The festival starts up a few days before Christmas each year and runs for 7-10 days.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 01:32:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have perfect pitch and anything even slightly out of tune makes me irritable and angry.  
by zoe on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 04:22:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's not exactly an advertisement for perfect pitch.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 04:47:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well, that's what I blame it on
by zoe on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 05:02:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've found the slide guitar the biggest help in de-tuning my ear.  I was trying to learn indian scales, with the microtones.  I found some texts which explained the principles and I realised I could practice on a guitar if I had a slide, just slide up and down--hunt out the pitches.

--I'm intrigued now by perfect pitch; it reminds me of my thing about the three of the four beat--or whatever it is--the 'pap' beat, somehow it lacks ooomph.  The next track has been ooomphed.  They put in the drum beat I don't like--at 1:30, but only for a little while, quite a variety in there.  It's got that perfect pitch thing, they tune the synths to the exact co-ordinates, beyond the capacity of the human ear to discern the shades, and then overlay with what you like!

And then--heh...I thought it was humorous, that huge ant with the words 'The Reality of Destruction'--but who could notice when there's orgasms--or was it just the one, or their mate into a mic--trying to make a serious point about female sexuality and its constrictions in the new a--destroy those barriers, the giant X-Ray of an ant is here--reality--plus an orgasm or even two!  Or three!  

Now--cough cough!  

anything even slightly out of tune makes me irritable and angry.

A bloke once said to me, "Tom Waits?  Ugh!  I can't stand him.  I mean, I like the music--but that voice!"

~:7o (:

Now our sound worlds can start matching up--hey, how about a video with a melody that's sung or played such that your ears are singing ahhhhhhh!  I am a HUGE FAN of beautiful notes hit beautifully.  And I'm always happy to hear someone else's choices!

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

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 06:00:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rg:

"It reproduces," he said, "almost exactly the sound of an out-of-tune piano."



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 07:35:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I was young, I never got Les Dawson--I'd heard the piano playing but it hadn't really registered--he knew what he was doing, he was an accomplished pianist who'd incorporated humour--well, when I first just recently re-listened to this guy following, and I must have seen a Les Dawson clip soon after--because it went-- kerching!

Also known as Melodius Thunk:



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

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 08:50:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(2:58 -- worth watching to the end)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 08:52:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Definitely worth watching.

Your comments about Les resonate with my experience. I remember having a conversation with a pianist about 15 years ago, drunkenly discussing musicians, when he came out with the statement that Les Dawson had to be a severely talented pianist, to be able to play things wrong enough to set your nerves on end, but still be recognisable as the tune they were failing to be.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 09:43:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
aka 'the loneliest monk'

well it beats elephant gerald!

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 09:38:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Apr 13th, 2008 at 05:17:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Monk is in the long tradition of playing a theme and variations. The only difference between his style and that of Baroque composers is that he substitutes harmonic variations whereas they used rhythmic changes (called "divisions" in the Elizabethan period).

Monk also used lots of seconds, ninths and other intervals that were "forbidden" by the rules of classical harmony.

I find it interesting that the biggest development of the past 30 or so years has been a transition to rhythm as the primary musical language rather than melody. In the classical world this began with Terry Reilly, Steve Reich, Glass, etc. In the pop world it has mostly been seen in the rise of rap and its spinoffs which is really a form of rhythmic declamation (like Greek theater).

Modern crossover groups (at least in the NYC area) seem to focus on short phrases which get repeated using changes of rhythm or meter.

I heard a traditional lieder recital yesterday on the radio and I can't imagine the younger generation sitting still for such an abstract form of music these days.


Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Apr 13th, 2008 at 01:13:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't understand why you don't include a link to the YouTube clip above or below the embed macro, given that Firefox has a problem with the old version of the embed code use by the youtube macro for the European Tribune.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 03:01:29 PM EST
I didn't think of it until a couple of days ago--(me slow!)--next time, links to follow pics.

given that Firefox has a problem with the old version of the embed code use by the youtube macro for the European Tribune.

Is it just a scoop/ET problem?

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

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 03:29:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean changing the code of the youtube macro would solve the problem ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 07:26:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure the big problem with freezing videos on 2 seconds wouldn't be solved by that change, as till you've killed that window, and sometimes till you've restarted firefox, you still get the problem when you've opened an individual comment as its own page, or independently on youtube.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Apr 12th, 2008 at 09:47:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I never had any trouble with unfreezing one in YouTube itself. As soon as I switched to iPod format, it unfroze.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Apr 13th, 2008 at 06:05:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I can see, changing to iPod videos (adding &fmt=18 to the end of the v= string) fixed all the frozen ones from here that I could track down on YouTube through text search and get to freeze inside YouTube ...

... now, I've never seen the freeze anywhere else that I embed videos, and those would be places where I copy and paste the embed code from YouTube rather than use a scoop macro ... but that could just be that I never happened to have used one of the videos that freeze.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Apr 13th, 2008 at 06:03:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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