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Re: [ARSCLIST] Are we at the end of the road musically??

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Karl Miller" <lyaa071@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> I am reminded of the time when I was taking my Freshman Harmony classes in
> college. It was 1965 (and yes, we had access to a computer then---a very
> large one). A group of us felt that common practice harmony was contrived
> and that it was so formula driven (we were using the Piston
> text...which, oddly enough is more humanistic than some), that all of our
> work was suited to the "mindless" computer. So indeed every week we worked
> with a programmer to add the new chapter of Piston to our harmony
> knowledge base and let the computer do our assignments for us. Without telling
> teacher what we were doing...we were always marked down for a "lack of
> creativity."
> Of course our approach was not new, even if we thought we were forward
> thinking at the time. Back in 1957 Lejaren Hiller "composed" the Illiac
> Suite. He fed several harmonic styles into the computer which then, in
> turn, took some basic materials and wrote a piece (several movements, each
> in a different style). The last time I listened to the recording, probably
> 20 years ago, I remember it sounded uninteresting, however, that might
> have been my having brought some preconceptions to my listening.
> As far as the technology effecting music...I believe it has indeed
> effected music throughout history. I consider the development of
> instruments, changes in the "technology" of notation...consider the
> Italian trecento and their obscure syncopations...plus I believe that the
> technology of recording...a point discussed in many books, has
> even effected how we play acoustic instruments.
Now, here I shall cite from my book on sonic/musical theory and
acoustics (which, sadly, I can't find, so I can't give title,
author, usw.). The author says that our perception of "harmony"
between/among musical tones is pretty well "part of our ROM BIOS."

It depends on the mathematical relationships between not only
the notes themselves (their frequencies) but also between/among
all of the new frequencies created by <the sonic equivalent of
"heterodyning">. Intervals of halftones, for example, create
a "heterodyne" that our ears/minds find distasteful...and this
seems to be inherent, not learned. Frequencies we percieve as
"in harmony" have fixed mathematical relations, as do any
"heterodyne" frequencies created. Thus, apparently one
doesn't have to be a musician to find, say, B and Bb to
aurally clash!

As I noted before, he also says that there are a limited number
of different frquencies our minds/ears can perceive as distinct
"notes." IIRC, if we use A=440, a 445Hz tone is still perceived
as an A (and, one supposes, a slightly out-of-tune A by someone
with "perfect pitch?")...

Yet, much of characteristic "blues music" is dependent on
instruments that can mimic the human voice in moving smoothly
from note to note...

Steven C. Barr

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