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Thread: The explanation of black key pentatonics?

  1. #46
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    So the instrumental melody is not classy?
    Well, the quality of the melody is a matter of opinion; I'm only saying the fact it's played on strings gives it the "classy" flavour (or accentuates that quality, if you think the melody possesses it inherently). Imagine that line played on a group of banjos....
    (Actually, I'd like it like that, but hopefully you see the point )
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    Not in ancient Greece. According to the source you gave me Mixolydian then was Locrian now. Talk about suicidal tendencies.
    Then again other sources say the information is insufficient to extract safe musical conclusions.
    Well, quite.
    I know the Greek modes were not the same as the medieval ones with the same names, but I don't know how (or if) that impacts on the apparent mood we ascribe to what we call mixolydian (or indeed to locrian).
    Firstly, Plato's remarks on the various emotional effects of the Greek modes are no more than a source of amusement to us today. Not only did they use music very differently from how we use it today (with all the historical baggage of classical culture that we're aware of, as well as the impact of African music on modern culture), but the values of their culture were different from ours.
    So there are three levels of difference: (1) modes of different names; (2) different uses of music; (3) different cultural values.

    IOW, it doesn't really matter what they called the mode we now called "mixolydian". What matters is how we hear mixolydian relative to the other kinds of music we're familiar with, and relative to the associations we're learned to attach to those familiar kinds.
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    Yep, but I have one important distinction to make. Compared to last year's fruitcake Conchita, Sweden was very macho indeed.
    Well, yes. No doubt if Conchita was singing Bowie's "Heroes", he'd have to think about how he'd assign the pronouns... "I, I will be king.... and I, I will be queen too, why not?..."

  2. #47
    Registered User ragasaraswati's Avatar
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    Ancient music would sound out of tune to our "tempered" ears but I'm sure it would have had aslo harmonies/melodies familiar to us. When I was young and trying to imagine how ancient music would sound like, I thought it would sound like me messing with the piano having no idea what I was doing. But now I'm sure it would be structured. There is little doubt that when people through the ages were talking about the beauty of music they were talking about structured melodies. Ancient drawings and statues (that were painted by the way) are still beautiful today, so with a time machine alot of music back then most probably would sound beautiful even by our standards.

    Back to the original question of the thread. I thought about the problem this time from the perspective of the construction of D Dorian by 3 P5s up and 3 down. Then at the Ab tritone gap you have the Ab Dorian pentatonic which is constructed by 2 P5s up and 2 down from Ab. Because of their symmetries I believe the problem is simplified. What we need is a prediction of the one by the other. To check after the fact, like for example by looking at the piano, is postdictive. So let's look at the circle of 5ths.

    In green squares - D Dorian. In red squares - Ab Dorian pentatonic.

    circlefifths.jpg

    From this we can predict that a white key scale will have its black key pentatonic version a tritone away from its tonic. Except for F and B that already make a white key tritone.
    Last edited by ragasaraswati; 05-31-2015 at 05:47 PM.

  3. #48
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    Ancient music would sound out of tune to our "tempered" ears but I'm sure it would have had aslo harmonies/melodies familiar to us.
    Melodies, possibly. Harmony, however, wasn't invented until Renaissance Europe - evolving very slowly out of the preceding organum.
    Music before that might have occasionally featured simultaneous pitches, but not with any deliberate harmonic relationship - except that of melodic pitches with a drone. IOW, in the very broad sense ("harmony" = at least two pitches sounding together) I'd agree, but that's not saying very much.
    (Possibly it might have sounded a little like Indian raga, or bagpipe music - those musics seems to have evolved little over the past few centuries at least. No harmony, strictly speaking, in any of those.)
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    When I was young and trying to imagine how ancient music would sound like, I thought it would sound like me messing with the piano having no idea what I was doing.
    Nothing like that, of course. And not only because nothing like a piano existed, or because ancient tuning systems were different.
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    But now I'm sure it would be structured.
    Quite. People back then were not any more stupid, or less sensitive. Quite possibly a lot more sensitive to some nuances of sound than we are today.
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    There is little doubt that when people through the ages were talking about the beauty of music they were talking about structured melodies. Ancient drawings and statues (that were painted by the way) are still beautiful today, so with a time machine alot of music back then most probably would sound beautiful even by our standards.
    Some of it might have. I rather doubt "a lot". Your standards of "beautiful" are based wholly on the culture you grew up in.
    The "drawings and statues" you speak of are representational, so we can judge them from that perspective (how "realistic" they are), and of course if they portray the human form we can judge that, because the notion of an ideal human form is probably pretty much unchanged. A fit human 2000 years ago probably resembled a fit human today quite closely. That's not so much about aesthetics, more about physical function.
    But "beauty" is a changing currency. How we see (eg) the Venus de Milo might in no way resemble how an audience in those days saw it. Quite likely "beauty" wasn't even the point. Art had different functions in ancient societies.
    When we look at a cave painting, our view is coloured by romance, as well as our own learned aesthetic values, never mind ignorance of how that society was organised.

    The central point we're debating here - the role of the harmonic series in music - is what it comes down to. That role is not as deep or direct as you seem to assume. Even in the modern world, different cultures deviate from the harmonic series in various unpredictable ways.

    What you're saying is rather like saying if you went back in time more than - say - 500 years, you'd be able to understand English speakers same as you can now. Probably you wouldn't. Pronunciation, as well as vocabulary, was significantly different. Music is a language, and evolves like one. Its grammar is not universal from culture to culture, nor from period to period within the same culture. Neither are its aesthetic values.
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    Back to the original question of the thread. I thought about the problem this time from the perspective of the construction of D Dorian by 3 P5s up and 3 down. Then at the Ab tritone gap you have the Ab Dorian pentatonic which is constructed by 2 P5s up and 2 down from Ab. Because of their symmetries I believe the problem is simplified. What we need is a prediction of the one by the other. To check after the fact, like for example by looking at the piano, is postdictive. So let's look at the circle of 5ths.

    In green squares - D Dorian. In red squares - Ab Dorian pentatonic.

    circlefifths.jpg

    From this we can predict that a white key scale will have its black key pentatonic version a tritone away from its tonic. Except for F and B that already make a white key tritone.
    Yes, but so what? What exactly is the "problem", and how does this observation solve it?
    The point here is that the entire 12-note chromatic scale is formed through P5 calculations. If we continue beyond the 7 notes of D Dorian, still in the outward direction from D, we get those other 5 notes - as the circle of 5ths makes plain, in fact. Nothing more special or remarkable about it, as far as I can see.
    Of course, the Pythagorean comma means we'd arrive at two different Abs, 22 cents different. IOW, one direction (clockwise) would run B>F#>C#>G#, while the other would run F>Bb>Eb>Ab. Ab and G# are not (quite) equal.
    But you could start from any point on the circle and get the same result: P5s (at a pure 3:2 ratio) out from any reference pitch result in two versions of a pitch on the opposite side.
    Same as if you simply go round the circle in one direction, the point you come back to, after 12 steps (making octave corrections on the way), is 22 cents out of tune from where you started.
    Last edited by JonR; 06-01-2015 at 02:52 PM.

  4. #49
    Registered User ragasaraswati's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Melodies, possibly. Harmony, however, wasn't invented until Renaissance Europe - evolving very slowly out of the preceding organum.
    Music before that might have occasionally featured simultaneous pitches, but not with any deliberate harmonic relationship - except that of melodic pitches with a drone. IOW, in the very broad sense ("harmony" = at least two pitches sounding together) I'd agree, but that's not saying very much.
    We don't have decisive data either way. Melodies had a horizontal harmonic relationship so there isn't a reason to asume chords were not used. Lack of notational evidence is not as strong as that of recordings.

    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Some of it might have. I rather doubt "a lot". Your standards of "beautiful" are based wholly on the culture you grew up in.
    The "drawings and statues" you speak of are representational, so we can judge them from that perspective (how "realistic" they are), and of course if they portray the human form we can judge that, because the notion of an ideal human form is probably pretty much unchanged. A fit human 2000 years ago probably resembled a fit human today quite closely. That's not so much about aesthetics, more about physical function.
    But "beauty" is a changing currency. How we see (eg) the Venus de Milo might in no way resemble how an audience in those days saw it. Quite likely "beauty" wasn't even the point. Art had different functions in ancient societies.
    When we look at a cave painting, our view is coloured by romance, as well as our own learned aesthetic values, never mind ignorance of how that society was organised.
    I meant "a lot" in nominal terms, in relative terms probably most would be boring.

    Most surely beauty was, as still is, the point. It's absurd to assume that the artmaker isn't trying to impress the audience with his art. And in most cases he does that with beauty. In the remaining cases he tries to impress with shock-value but by definition something that is shocking is not the norm which reinforces my argument.

    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    The central point we're debating here - the role of the harmonic series in music - is what it comes down to. That role is not as deep or direct as you seem to assume. Even in the modern world, different cultures deviate from the harmonic series in various unpredictable ways.

    What you're saying is rather like saying if you went back in time more than - say - 500 years, you'd be able to understand English speakers same as you can now. Probably you wouldn't. Pronunciation, as well as vocabulary, was significantly different. Music is a language, and evolves like one. Its grammar is not universal from culture to culture, nor from period to period within the same culture. Neither are its aesthetic values.
    The problem by analogy is twofold. Spoken language is a lot more specific in meaning, but also more arbitrary in sound. An example for the former is that there is no musical equivalent for the sentence "bring me a glass of water". For the latter, the sounds "light" and "fos" are very different but they mean the same thing in England and in Greece respectively. Music is quite a bit different. I recall a study that found in sad speech the m3 is used extensively. Even if I go to China, sure I will have no clue what the written language stands for but I would have a ballpark sense for the state of the speaker of the oral language even by telephone, to exclude body language. I would understand whether I'm being asked something or stated something, warned or made fun of, is the speaker friendly or hostile etc. As a final example the song Gangnam Style. I have no idea about the specific message of the song. But there are many musical clues that for instance indicate the message is light-hearted and most probably not about war crimes or the disparity of wealth.


    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Yes, but so what? What exactly is the "problem", and how does this observation solve it?
    The prorblem was stated in the first post. This observation solves it by restating the problem in a simpler form where the solution is obvious.
    Last edited by ragasaraswati; 06-01-2015 at 05:36 PM.

  5. #50
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    We don't have decisive data either way. Melodies had a horizontal harmonic relationship so there isn't a reason to asume chords were not used. Lack of notational evidence is not as strong as that of recordings.
    Well, we hardly have any evidence at all for ancient music. The main reason for assuming chords were not used is that they weren't invented until a few centuries ago.
    That's not say ancient music didn't employ simultaneous pitches in some form - the Greeks had lyres, capable of simultaneous notes, even if that wasn't the way they were played; and the aulos was a double pipe, suggesting a drone against which melodies were played (creating intervals).
    But what we can't do is make any assumptions about how such harmonies were treated or perceived. Our minds are saturated with centuries of western harmony, and inherited aesthetic prejudices. We simply cannot imagine a condition where none of that exists.
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    Most surely beauty was, as still is, the point. It's absurd to assume that the artmaker isn't trying to impress the audience with his art.
    Not absurd at all.
    However, I'd accept the broad sense of "impress". Art has always been about display and instruction, about religious symbolism, whether or not it had any aesthetic role. IOW, it was generally a way of saying "this is how things are" (or were or should be), rather than "this is what I think about the world".
    The modern view of art as personal expression, the response of "gifted geniuses" to the world as they see it, is a very modern Romantic notion.

    Ideas of "beauty" could still have been part of earlier art, even primitive art, but we don't know what "beauty" meant to them. In the main, art told stories for didactic purposes (to people who were generally illiterate), or - in primitive art - had some kind of magical purpose, as if representing something conferred symbolic power over it. (Drawing something is like touching - or even embracing - what is otherwise untouchable. That's its magical power. As a trained professional artist, I know this very well... "Beauty" is a very sophisticated, modern idea in comparison.)
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    The problem by analogy is twofold. Spoken language is a lot more specific in meaning, but also more arbitrary in sound.
    Good point.
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    I recall a study that found in sad speech the m3 is used extensively.
    Maybe, but it's also use in children's playground taunts.
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    Even if I go to China, sure I will have no clue what the written language stands for
    Well we're not comparing written forms of the language, only its sounds...
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    but I would have a ballpark sense for the state of the speaker of the oral language even by telephone, to exclude body language. I would understand whether I'm being asked something or stated something, warned or made fun of, is the speaker friendly or hostile etc.
    I can believe that for many other languages, but I think Chinese is a bad example. As a tonal language, they use pitch change for specific meanings different from how we use inflection in English or similar non-tonal languages.
    "Friendly" or "Hostile" might be obvious simply through the volume or general level of pitch - someone screaming gibberish at you is obviously not being friendly! Likewise, laughter is a universal indicator, not connected with language differences.
    But more subtle distinctions might easily be lost. Even in English, pitch inflection is used in different ways. In Britain and the US we're used to a rising inflection signalling a question, but in Australia it can accompany a simple statement.
    Personally I would have no clue whether a Chinese person was asking or stating something, or warning or making fun of me. Not if their voice was fairly level in dynamics, and they weren't laughing...

    I do agree that music is more universal than spoken languages, but only in the most obvious aspects: eg the musical equivalents of anger or laughter, which generally mimic their vocal equivalent. Music that is loud and dissonant sounds - one would think - angry or scary; music that is soft and gentle sounds soothing... although whether that equates to "friendly" might be debatable (we could be being seduced, hypnotised or conned). Likewise, loud and dissonant music might indicate enthusiasm, excitement, especially if the tempo is fast. Fast and slow are pretty reliable indicators of mood in music, and are probably universal. Consonance and dissonance less so; their meanings - like pitch differences, melodic shape - are more culture-specific.
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    As a final example the song Gangnam Style. I have no idea about the specific message of the song. But there are many musical clues that for instance indicate the message is light-hearted and most probably not about war crimes or the disparity of wealth.
    Yes, but those clues are in the tempo and production (let alone the video...). Not in the use of consonance/dissonance. It's clearly an uptempo dance track, in a familiar western style. The use of harmony is minimal, communicating little if anything. (But the generic minor key riffs do make a good comparison with Sweden's "Heroes" in this respect... )
    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    The prorblem was stated in the first post. This observation solves it by restating the problem in a simpler form where the solution is obvious.
    OK. Does that mean the thread is now at an end?
    Last edited by JonR; 06-02-2015 at 11:00 AM.

  6. #51
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    There's still no math yet.

    12-7=5

    Voilà.

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    Facetiousness aside, the thing you're looking for is tritone substitution.

    If instead you compared C major to F# major (or alternatively both pentatonics,) you'd have overlaps (or absence) on F(Enharmonic E#) and B, a tritone whose "normal" usage is to lead or cadence into either Cmaj or F#maj.

    Hence, what you're showing is that when you replace a V7 with the dom7 chord a tritone away to the same effect, you're using the chord from the scale that's a tritone away that has the same tritone tension of interest within it.
    Last edited by Subt1; 06-03-2015 at 02:55 AM.

  8. #53
    Registered User ragasaraswati's Avatar
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    That's right, two scales of the same type a tritone away share the same tritone. The tendency of F-B is not just to resolve to E-C, but also F#-Bb.

  9. #54
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ragasaraswati View Post
    That's right, two scales of the same type a tritone away share the same tritone. The tendency of F-B is not just to resolve to E-C, but also F#-Bb.
    Enharmonic/semantic note:
    F-B resolves to E-C (key C);
    F-Cb resolves to Gb-Bb (key Gb); or
    E#-B resolves to F#-A# (key F#).

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