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Old 22nd November 2017, 03:42 AM   #1
calebprime
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Recommend some Atonal Music

I was asked to recommend some atonal music.

The perpetrator of the request was a large white canine, approximately 6 foot 5 and weighing 120 pounds, prominent belly, with sagging jowls and red hair. I heard him say his destination was "sometimes". On foot.



This first version is off the top of my head only! Maybe to be followed by revised and amended list.

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


Let's begin before atonality, and cover the transition.

Heh. Bach. Some fugues are so chromatic that they're almost atonal

Mozart -- Dissonance quartet intro, fugue in Jupiter, other chromatic moments, multiple bands at once in Don G.

Wagner
Bruckner
--------------------
Mahler -- last works verge on atonality at times
Hugo Wolf -- so chromatic and extreme that he's almost atonal

Schoenberg 1 -- Up to Gurrelieder

(but not Liszt, who was always a show-off)

Scriabin, his piano music but not his orchestral music, which sounds bombastic

Szymanowski wrote the orchestral music that Scriabin seemed to be going for,
and it too is often extremely bombastic. Wagner with his silk underwear removed, plunged into vast panerotic orgies. Sometimes magic, sometimes overwritten. Amphibious -- half in, half out.

Shostakovich -- the preludes and fugues for piano, the string quartets (mostly astringent and elusive but very good and very unique)

Sibelius

Not Max Reger, who is merely overstuffed, overelaborate, like a lesser William James


Ives tonal

Bartok tonal

Stravinsky tonal

Samuel Barber tonal

Copland tonal

Messiaen tonal (maybe one piece out of four or five)

Carter tonal -- imo never had the ear of a Copland or an Ives, but had a sense of design and a work-ethic. Many of his early pieces are sort-of tonal.


Brits: Tippett, B. Britten, Walton
=================================

(Atonal Side, or composer's atonal)

Schoenberg atonal
Berg (both Berg and Webern apprenticed with tonal works)
Webern

Ives atonal

Bartok atonal

Stravinsky atonal

Samuel Barber atonal

Carter atonal -- Variations for Orch. more accessible than Piano Concerto


Varese


Dallopiccola

Peter Lieberson

Mario Davidovsky

Boulez -- try Repons, other pieces from this (fairly late) period


===================================
Rock and Jazz

The canine individual already knows these cats

Zappa
Eric Kloss
Pat Martino
Miles Davis
Coltrane
Mcoy Tyner
Jarrett
Jaki Byard
Hermeto

some recent fave pianists who can play out if they choose: Billy Childs, Stephen Scott,


Heh. Bill Evans. Give the man enough cocaine and enough chord changes, and he could approach atonality through sheer gabbiness

Hiromi (just so that varwoche doesn't have to så¥ it)
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Old 22nd November 2017, 05:19 AM   #2
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I've always been fond of Stravinski's Symphony of Psalms. Is it strictly atonal? Perhaps not so much.

[arrogant opinion]
I think eventualy the atonal movement just got ridiculous about trying to sound non musical, and just became (as my wife calls it) clanging noise.
Chords and intervals sound nice. Tonality sounds nice. Too much dissonance gets to be a horrid mess after a while
[/arrogant opinion]

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Old 22nd November 2017, 05:29 AM   #3
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Hindemith

Sparrow: I agree.

There is one aspect of personal taste, how much disorder you'll accept in a piece.

I notice my friend Bruto, whose taste is in some ways similar to mine, can't accept Ives. It's not hard to imagine why. Ives wrote some half-baked, noisy music.

But I think Ives is important because of all the effective, amazing music he did manage to write that could be heard -- I mean that most of it is sort of problematic, but not over-the-edge noise.
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Old 22nd November 2017, 05:54 AM   #4
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Should Charles Mingus or Theolonius Monk be in there?
(I always get those two names mixed up.)
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Old 22nd November 2017, 06:37 AM   #5
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Yes, as brilliant expanders of tonality who came close to atonality at times.

Ginastera. (sp?)

Roger Sessions, but not serial Sessions, and only when he wanted to be pretty.

Sessions was capable of great ugliness.

Sessions came to talk to the young composers at NEC, as a very old man. The only thing I remember was that he was so old that when he said, slowly, haltingly, " I......had.........(pause).....a....wife.....once. .." you realized he wasn't so good on specifics any more, and the wife had happened a long time ago.

I don't like the atonal Prokofiev. He never figured it out, imo.

Nancarrow, if you don't mind clattering ugliness -- now there Sparrow's wife would rightly object.

Ruggles for a lesson in trying to maintain continual tension/ecstasy -- it can't be done, but he tried to.



I wouldn't do Mingus and Monk justice by trying to sort them out. Very different, but they almost sound the same in quick description.
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Old 22nd November 2017, 08:54 AM   #6
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Henze -- some pieces, some of the time


For the next phase, let me start going through my CD collection.

There are a lot of excellent composers who aren't on the tip of my tongue.
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Old 22nd November 2017, 08:58 AM   #7
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Composers who -- as the pooch knows -- are huge, therefore they have things I love and hate:
Ives 65
Hindemith 45
Stravinsky (95% love)
Schoenberg (45% love)
Bartok 65
Shostakovich 35

medium-sized composers:
Copland 55

Small but have their pleasures:
Nancarrow 15


Tiny little pieces of matter stuck to things:
Virgil Thompson .5
John Cage .05
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Old 22nd November 2017, 09:06 AM   #8
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not atonal, but oddly tonal:

Wendy Carlos -- microtonal

Meredith Monk -- ECM weirdness, vocalist

I'm listing them in the same post only because I just thought of them, not because they especially belong together.
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Old 22nd November 2017, 11:14 AM   #9
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One Direction
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Old 22nd November 2017, 01:11 PM   #10
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Chick Corea, of course

Oh, and just ask me for specific pieces, though that might take me longer.
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Old 22nd November 2017, 03:10 PM   #11
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What's with this? Standing in the audience, it sounded kind of atonal to me at least in layman terms:

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE
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Old 23rd November 2017, 04:57 AM   #12
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cd collection:

Kalevi Aho
Arthur Berger -- wrote both neoclassical and astringent but good chamber pieces
Morton Feldman -- we can talk about whether you like this soft, spacey music
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Old 23rd November 2017, 07:37 AM   #13
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Walter Piston -- the symph. from early to late get more atonal
nice gray area, unique but not too far from Hindemith

both of their stocks have appreciated nicely in the last few years
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Old 23rd November 2017, 08:46 AM   #14
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<snort>

The defining characteristics of atonality elude my puny ear/brain. I can identify obvious atonality, but I'm not so sure about the borderline examples. I enjoy stealth modernism, sounding 'normal' until I focus in. e.g. Rubalcaba is frequently in a weird tonal space, but I'm not sure it would be considered atonal.

Rambling on... There's a passage in Concerto for Orchetra I wish I could describe short of posting YouTube and noting the elapsed time, which asks a lot of Caleb's time.

I need to re-discover Hindemith without buying a turntable.
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Old 23rd November 2017, 10:48 AM   #15
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Maybe there's a psychological def -- music which to a given listener doesn't conform to tonal expectations at least, or doesn't have an intelligible center of tonality (an imaginary pedal-tone or series of pedal-tones around which the rest of the pitches seem to be organized.)

Then a historical def -- music from Schoenberg 2cnd quartet onward.

All the stuff I've been listing is impure atonality except for perhaps Webern.

Everything I like has tonal referents, associations, gravity, tension and release, etc.

The gray area -- from mid-period Schoenberg all the way to Rubalcaba.

I bet R hears it all tonally, but it exceeds what we as listeners can hear, so it sounds "almost atonal".

I've always been interested in the gray area, to the exclusion of things that seem "too atonal" or on the other hand too simple.

In my travels, I've encountered at least three composers who didn't like to mix tonal and atonal thinking -- that this was some kind of punning or double meaning. Fie on their houses. Let their children perish.
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Old 23rd November 2017, 12:02 PM   #16
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The Ur-piece of tonality is the drone bass.

As it moves up in register, though, a given drone bass becomes not a bass any more, and can be re-interpreted in more and more ways within strictly harmonic frameworks.

A single tone then becomes not definitive, but ambiguous as it moves up. Indian music, with high-register drones.

Western music to a large extent is about re-interpreting medium-to-high register drones so that their meaning or color changes.

A single sustained high tone is harmonically ambiguous. More tonally-strong than a single tone, then, is a series of tones that behaves according to (tonal) expectations.

Western music is also about harmony with independence of melodic voices, either in counterpoint or homophony, as in Bach chorales.

This principle of independence of voices is, in embryo, almost the principle of atonality waiting to happen: freedom, elaboration, independence, anarchy, argument. When you have voices moving in and out of a harmony via a passing-tone, you already have the seeds of atonality in that simple elaboration.

It's only when the referent becomes too elaborated that it begins to be obscured, that we're in my preferred zone here. Not fully simple, not fully obscure.

Atonality is very much like lack of perspective or weird perspective in painting, and like language without enough solid referents that you can understand what is being said.

There is a transition from See Dick Run, through the entire career of Joyce, ending in modernist overreach, if you will. The book that no-one read past page 60, Finnegans Wake, the atonal book.

Cubism is something like serialism -- codified lack of/altering of perspective.
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Old 24th November 2017, 01:43 AM   #17
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I don't recommend atonal music. It is disappointing stuff.
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Old 24th November 2017, 05:09 AM   #18
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I'm not familiar, but I think these are good:

Roussel (more tonal than atonal)
Rubbra
Rautavaara
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Old 25th November 2017, 09:43 AM   #19
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Takemitsu (except one piece was an attempt to use jazzoid music, and it was lame, not sure of title)
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Old 26th November 2017, 07:48 AM   #20
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Penderecki -- whose study wasn't famous until he called it "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima" -- mixed rec. -- some pieces brutally schematic

Partch
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Old 26th November 2017, 09:57 AM   #21
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Do you consider A Love Supreme atonal? I don't, except for during the solos maybe, and even then I hear* the tonal, thematic parts.

* Taking into account the temporal aspect -- tonality that "lingers" from earlier in the piece.
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Old 26th November 2017, 11:44 AM   #22
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Atonal music?

I recommend ear plugs.
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Old 26th November 2017, 11:48 AM   #23
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I still think the Berg Violin Concerto ranks among the best atonal pieces.
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Old 26th November 2017, 12:34 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by sir drinks-a-lot View Post
I still think the Berg Violin Concerto ranks among the best atonal pieces.
yessir.
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Old 26th November 2017, 12:35 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by varwoche View Post
Do you consider A Love Supreme atonal? I don't, except for during the solos maybe, and even then I hear* the tonal, thematic parts.

* Taking into account the temporal aspect -- tonality that "lingers" from earlier in the piece.
Yeah, always tonal.

maybe I'll listen later today to see how out it gets...
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Old 26th November 2017, 01:56 PM   #26
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Thanks Calebprime!

I didn't expect that you'd start a thread. Awesome! (listening to The Beatles...).
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Old 26th November 2017, 04:03 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
The Ur-piece of tonality is the drone bass.
Sorry. Ur-piece? But I'm guessing you're saying something like there's nothing more tonal than a drone bass.

I'm biased by western harmony, and tend to think of tonality in terms triads. I can't help it. In terms of gravity, a drone bass (modal?) is a bit of a black hole, whereas triadic based tonal music allows for little satellites here and there. Sorry, more silly analogies later.

Quote:
As it moves up in register, though, a given drone bass becomes not a bass any more, and can be re-interpreted in more and more ways within strictly harmonic frameworks.
You mean, like Em can be interpreted as G6? Or you mean something different, and/or more complex?

Quote:
A single tone then becomes not definitive, but ambiguous as it moves up. Indian music, with high-register drones.
So you're more or less equating bass stability with tonality (I'm not sure if I'm being precise), and if there isn't something we can call a bass, even if it's functioning as a drone, the whole harmonic structure is really perceived differently, and that leads, potentially, to atonality?


Quote:
Western music to a large extent is about re-interpreting medium-to-high register drones so that their meaning or color changes.
You mean by way of parsimonious voice leading, for example?

Quote:
A single sustained high tone is harmonically ambiguous. More tonally-strong than a single tone, then, is a series of tones that behaves according to (tonal) expectations.
This is getting interesting. I need time to digest it. I'm really interested in the theory.

Quote:
Western music is also about harmony with independence of melodic voices, either in counterpoint or homophony, as in Bach chorales.

This principle of independence of voices is, in embryo, almost the principle of atonality waiting to happen: freedom, elaboration, independence, anarchy, argument. When you have voices moving in and out of a harmony via a passing-tone, you already have the seeds of atonality in that simple elaboration.
This is great. Thanks for your insights, Calebprime. They're intellectual food to me.

I think I get the idea that creating a 'civilization' of independent voices tends to 'moral flexibility' the more complex it gets, unlike, say, a drone, which is more akin to 'hunter-gathering'. Technology develops upon previous technology. There's always a spark that makes rapid changes start to happen. Yeah, no more silly analogies. You can relax from now on.

Quote:
It's only when the referent becomes too elaborated that it begins to be obscured, that we're in my preferred zone here. Not fully simple, not fully obscure.

Atonality is very much like lack of perspective or weird perspective in painting, and like language without enough solid referents that you can understand what is being said.

There is a transition from See Dick Run, through the entire career of Joyce, ending in modernist overreach, if you will. The book that no-one read past page 60, Finnegans Wake, the atonal book.

Cubism is something like serialism -- codified lack of/altering of perspective.
The thing that bugs me... I tend to think of serialism as a very complex theory, but I'm not really sure it is, in contrast with the complexity developed around tonality. Say... the subdominant-dominant-tonic relation. It looks simple once you're exposed to it, but how long did it take for civilization to discover it?

Since I don't have a theoretical understanding of how atonality works aside from the intuitive 'make sure it doesn't sound tonal', I find it very difficult to understand what is it about a piece which makes it sound appealing. I know sometimes it depends on my state of mind, and of course you can play with rhythmic patterns to give a sense coherence to something atonal. I can reverse engineer the Beatles, some Zappa and some jazz because I have expectations based on my accumulated knowledge, but atonality? How did Pierre Boulez construct his pieces?

Today I tried to improvise something on the piano (I'm calling it 'serial suicide'). First thing that came to mind: arpeggio of tritone with forth on top, similar motif a half step below... play chromatically... jump to another part of the octave, something similar... go down a fifth (trying to make it sound familar within its unfamilarity)... I tried to find melodic patterns... difficult within serial suicide. Rhythm is important, it's where I tend to find the tension and the fun. I don't know... after a while I thought that I would resolve it and connect it to a whole different tune, precisely because that would be unexpected, in an antiwagnerian antidramatic way.

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Old 27th November 2017, 08:07 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
The Ur-piece of tonality is the drone bass.

As it moves up in register, though, a given drone bass becomes not a bass any more, and can be re-interpreted in more and more ways within strictly harmonic frameworks.

A single tone then becomes not definitive, but ambiguous as it moves up. Indian music, with high-register drones.

Western music to a large extent is about re-interpreting medium-to-high register drones so that their meaning or color changes.

A single sustained high tone is harmonically ambiguous. More tonally-strong than a single tone, then, is a series of tones that behaves according to (tonal) expectations.

Western music is also about harmony with independence of melodic voices, either in counterpoint or homophony, as in Bach chorales.

This principle of independence of voices is, in embryo, almost the principle of atonality waiting to happen: freedom, elaboration, independence, anarchy, argument. When you have voices moving in and out of a harmony via a passing-tone, you already have the seeds of atonality in that simple elaboration.

It's only when the referent becomes too elaborated that it begins to be obscured, that we're in my preferred zone here. Not fully simple, not fully obscure.

Atonality is very much like lack of perspective or weird perspective in painting, and like language without enough solid referents that you can understand what is being said.

There is a transition from See Dick Run, through the entire career of Joyce, ending in modernist overreach, if you will. The book that no-one read past page 60, Finnegans Wake, the atonal book.

Cubism is something like serialism -- codified lack of/altering of perspective.
Originally Posted by Dani View Post
Sorry. Ur-piece? But I'm guessing you're saying something like there's nothing more tonal than a drone bass.

I'm biased by western harmony, and tend to think of tonality in terms triads. I can't help it. In terms of gravity, a drone bass (modal?) is a bit of a black hole, whereas triadic based tonal music allows for little satellites here and there. Sorry, more silly analogies later.

You mean, like Em can be interpreted as G6? Or you mean something different, and/or more complex?

So you're more or less equating bass stability with tonality (I'm not sure if I'm being precise), and if there isn't something we can call a bass, even if it's functioning as a drone, the whole harmonic structure is really perceived differently, and that leads, potentially, to atonality?


You mean by way of parsimonious voice leading, for example?

This is getting interesting. I need time to digest it. I'm really interested in the theory.

This is great. Thanks for your insights, Calebprime. They're intellectual food to me.

I think I get the idea that creating a 'civilization' of independent voices tends to 'moral flexibility' the more complex it gets, unlike, say, a drone, which is more akin to 'hunter-gathering'. Technology develops upon previous technology. There's always a spark that makes rapid changes start to happen. Yeah, no more silly analogies. You can relax from now on.

The thing that bugs me... I tend to think of serialism as a very complex theory, but I'm not really sure it is, in contrast with the complexity developed around tonality. Say... the subdominant-dominant-tonic relation. It looks simple once you're exposed to it, but how long did it take for civilization to discover it?

Since I don't have a theoretical understanding of how atonality works aside from the intuitive 'make sure it doesn't sound tonal', I find it very difficult to understand what is it about a piece which makes it sound appealing. I know sometimes it depends on my state of mind, and of course you can play with rhythmic patterns to give a sense coherence to something atonal. I can reverse engineer the Beatles, some Zappa and some jazz because I have expectations based on my accumulated knowledge, but atonality? How did Pierre Boulez construct his pieces?

Today I tried to improvise something on the piano (I'm calling it 'serial suicide'). First thing that came to mind: arpeggio of tritone with forth on top, similar motif a half step below... play chromatically... jump to another part of the octave, something similar... go down a fifth (trying to make it sound familar within its unfamilarity)... I tried to find melodic patterns... difficult within serial suicide. Rhythm is important, it's where I tend to find the tension and the fun. I don't know... after a while I thought that I would resolve it and connect it to a whole different tune, precisely because that would be unexpected, in an antiwagnerian antidramatic way.

Heh. Pardon the silly Ur-language. The land of Ur was the very first land, where the simplest people presumably went about their simple, drone-y ways.

A solid idea -- a hill I'd die fighting for, as JoeBentley (sp) would say -- is the low-interval limit which I'd like to try to link to a theoretical "lowest note" around 20 hz., [which has a nice relation to the 40-hz binding frequencies observed in the brain]. * The exact frequency is not important, the important thing is that around 20 or 16 hz, the sensation of a bass note gives way to a sensation of a rapid flapping, a rapid oscillation or rhythm.

I'd say that the lowest interval is approximately that interval's place in the overtone series based on that 20-hz. note.

Anything that violates this simple integer-over-lowest-bass is more and more dissonant based on precisely...

No, not precisely.

No, no exact important scales of dissonance are possible! There is only a general sense, and the sense that things either belong in the overtone series first, or not in a given sonority. Then the complex stuff happens, and we can throw that simple model out. Music happens.

Still, it's worth considering the radically naked overtone series, because some experimental and avant-garde, electronic musics are based on it, directly.




* This I'm making up and it doesn't matter. The important thing is the harmonic sensation of a real harmonic bass or not.
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Old 27th November 2017, 08:18 AM   #29
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One-note piece with drone in bass: In one sense, (if you went to Berklee they even said this explicitly) you can do anything over a drone, so it's not definitive of anything, but it really is: Everything you play over it becomes defined by it, becomes "magnetized", become part of its resonance, its expectations.

But as a drone moves up in register, it ceases to become only a fundamental, so it becomes possible within the lower-interval limit to define it in more and more harmonic overtone functions as it moves up.

I'm sure you've experienced what I call The Unbearable Lightness of One-Note (Or One-Chord) Music? That is, music that was intended to be so tonal, but surprisingly even when it gets displaced by a step or two, the effect might be jarring but not impossible, so a drone can go anywhere. Because it can go anywhere, it's unbearable, like a droning insect or like a droning leaf-blower. Undefined. No intelligence in one-note.

So What.

Impressions.

(Both examples of elaboration by-mode, and neighbor-motion of root of mode, causing maximum change of pitches)

But one-note changing in relation to any other note becomes meaningful.

A note is not meaningful, but an interval is.

An interval or set of notes that are elaborated -- gone next-door-to and returned to, as you rightly say, -- is a much stronger tonality than just one note.

But as soon as you add strengthening, interesting elaborating tones, you start to build in the seeds of potential atonal anarchy. Slippery slope of jaded addicted sophistication of fornicating evil tritone black male on feet.

Sorry for the purple prose. There actually was a guy who ran the music store in town who used to warn us kids to avoid the evil tritone.

I always cheerfully employed highly tonal rows, even super-trick rows that ensured harmonic results in several different ways at once.
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Old 27th November 2017, 02:02 PM   #30
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It seems that there are several ways that the word "atonal" is used when speaking of music. I think the most common use is probably to just describe music with lots of chromaticism (non-diatonic tones) or music that is sort of what is called "outside" in the jazz idiom. Or even music that discards the twelve equally tempered notes we generally employ in western music - stuff like Merzbow, maybe.

I was taking it to mean "atonal" in the more formal sense, where each of the twelve notes of the chormatic scale are given equal function, such that none of them can be rightfully called the tonic. Tone rows and all that.

Zappa does some great twelve tone stuff in parts of the tune The Adventures of Greggery Peccary. Or at least it sounds so - I haven't worked out the notes, but the sound immediately suggested a tone row to me.
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Old 27th November 2017, 02:11 PM   #31
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Robert Simpson -- in the looser, not-really-atonal sense that I like.

listening as I type to Symph. 9.

I wouldn't be surprised if these were tone-rows carefully designed to resolve one after the other, even cycle-of-4ths.

This is spun carefully out of the same intervallic material over and over, in any case, with deliberate clashes against the pedals.
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Old 28th November 2017, 03:31 AM   #32
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Dani, I'm going to try to sort out some different areas of discussion, theory.
In no particular order:

-- What you're talking about with voice-leading is I think called Neo-Riemannian theory. There are whole huge dreary compendiums of the stuff. It is the going cottage industry for employing grad students and teaching assistants etc. in music theory. I just bought about five of these books, I may read them.

-- For a brief shining moment with serialism, it was as if composers could write books talking shop with other composers. Serialism made for good shop-talk. There was also a spirit of interdisciplinery research shown in the good books on music theory that were written by composer-theorists. Then that stopped, either because publishing changed, or the scene changed. I don't see books like that any more, even in serious music bookstores.

-- My approach with serialism is this: Generation of material is one thing, taste is another, hearing is another. A slightly augmented set of standard serial techniques is an excellent toolbox for generating pitch-material. It can be used to generate macro pitch sequences lasting the entire piece, or surface tunes that go by quickly. The virtue of the box of techniques is that everything is at least logically related. The composer can also insist if she wishes, that the musical results of such techniques are also always about being audibly related. I myself do insist. Others don't.

-- I've witnessed even fairly bright composers (I'm thinking of you, Daniel F.) who get bogged down in tedious and strict definitions of what serialism "must" be or ought to be "in essence". (It has to be about "interval fixing" or something.) No.

-- Instead, serialism to me as a composer is a generative technique, nothing more or less. It has to produce audibly related results. It also has to produce pleasing, musical results, which means I have to cherry-pick insanely to get the unlikely coincidences or tonal contrapuntal combinations.

-- To me, logical relations in composition are there to produce only the psychological result of hearing a resemblance. This sounds like this. It's like this, but different in this way, same in that way.

-- Therefore, mathematical invariance is less interesting than related variance.

-- Consider what happens, for example, when a melody changes from major to minor. It's an inexact transformation or resemblance when considered literally. At a higher level, I suppose it's perfectly systematic, but not from the pov of serialism.

-- Serialism was never a complete system in anyone's hands -- everyone was using some of the same techniques but making it up as they went along, too.
(Even Babbitt and Wuroninen)


-- What I'm talking about with harmony is best observed with synthesizers and computer-controlled tuning that can be set up quickly, as with Scala format.
If you (Dani or anyone else) take that path, it opens up a whole meaningful territory of harmony in 3D and living color, if you will.

-- Harmony with only 12 tone tuning is like 2D checkers. However, there are plenty of people who could and can do more with 3 notes than I can do with 60, so it's not a question of virtuosity or musicality.

-- It's only that 12-tone 2D thinking is a sort of theoretical limited Flatland. It can be a revelation to experience something more 3D.

-- Obviously for people whose musicianship exceeds their theory (most good musicians) the 2D aspect of 12 tones doesn't occur to them at all -- they're fully capable of transcending the limits of their own thinking in their music-making all the time.

-- JI theory (7-limit, 11, 13-limit) is something I sort of live with every day, but don't try to understand all that systematically. It means that intervals like 7/4, 11/4, 18/13, become real intervals, become real consonances, become meaningful.

-- I mention low interval limits because I've talked to musicians who don't seem to understand what bass is, what inversions are, what the overtone series is.

-- Heck, there was a kid at the MIT experimental studio before it became part of the media lab, this kid was from Juilliard. This kid, who had been at Juilliard for several years as a comp student, didn't know that an octave was a 2:1 ratio. This is the degree to which standard music theory as it's taught is sort of divorced from reality.



Well, top of head. See if any of this clears anything up.
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Old 28th November 2017, 05:32 AM   #33
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Atonal composers for today:

Stockhausen -- I like the early concrete pieces -- kontakte, gesang, hymnen, etc.

Donald Martino -- overrated in these parts in his time. He was at least a good atonal composer with a worked-out system and a beautiful pen. Probably neither his theoretical work nor his music will survive even the next 50. Had LPs with beautiful covers on Nonesuch back in the day.

A trace of lyricism in these busy, detailed textures.
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Old 28th November 2017, 12:10 PM   #34
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The Kronos does a very good Berg string quartet. in the gray zone tonally.

They get it very in tune, fairly light on the vibrato, straight 12-tone tuning. Not so easy.
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Old 30th November 2017, 03:04 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
...I'm going to try to sort out some different areas of discussion, theory.

...
My thoughts always drift in the direction of JI theory, which can help inform your practice, if...

But that's only my project.

Two good books:

Tom Johnson __Other Harmony__ beyond tonal and atonal

and

Dave Liebman __A Chromatic Approach to Jazz Harmony and Melody__


with the reservation that these are grab-bags full of ideas and techniques, but without taste. You have to provide the taste.

Both are by composer/players for composer/players, one reason I like them.
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Old 30th November 2017, 10:49 PM   #36
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My taste for truly atonal music is limited, but some has great appeal, and I second the suggestion somewhere above of Berg's violin concerto.

Another composer I like who I think well worth further looks is Kurt Weill. Of course we all know Weill as a composer of some of the most hummable tunes around, but in his earlier incarnation he kept his melodic gift wrapped in an atonal package, and the result could be quite interesting. As time progressed he became less shy about being a lyrical composer as well as atonal, and the combination (or perhaps the struggle) can be quite striking. I think the violin concerto is quite intense and occasionally beautiful, and his second symphony, by which time he's getting quite melodic, is great.
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Old 6th December 2017, 02:00 PM   #37
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I checked Berg's Violin Concerto and I liked it very much. I think I hear some quasi tonal qualities, like actual chord progresions that make sense. I hear some augmented chords too, not sure though. Which makes me think: their symmetric and regular nature (both the chords and the scale) and the augmented fifth are perfectly suited for atonality. Thinking of its use in movies right now.

Berg's Violin Concerto is beautiful. Oh, I see it premiered in El Palau de la Música, Barcelona! I began studing music there when I was I kid. I ended up hating it . Life is like a boomerang sometimes.

Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
Heh. Pardon the silly Ur-language. The land of Ur was the very first land, where the simplest people presumably went about their simple, drone-y ways.

A solid idea -- a hill I'd die fighting for, as JoeBentley (sp) would say -- is the low-interval limit which I'd like to try to link to a theoretical "lowest note" around 20 hz., [which has a nice relation to the 40-hz binding frequencies observed in the brain]. * The exact frequency is not important, the important thing is that around 20 or 16 hz, the sensation of a bass note gives way to a sensation of a rapid flapping, a rapid oscillation or rhythm.

I'd say that the lowest interval is approximately that interval's place in the overtone series based on that 20-hz. note.

Anything that violates this simple integer-over-lowest-bass is more and more dissonant based on precisely...

No, not precisely.

No, no exact important scales of dissonance are possible! There is only a general sense, and the sense that things either belong in the overtone series first, or not in a given sonority. Then the complex stuff happens, and we can throw that simple model out. Music happens.

Still, it's worth considering the radically naked overtone series, because some experimental and avant-garde, electronic musics are based on it, directly.




* This I'm making up and it doesn't matter. The important thing is the harmonic sensation of a real harmonic bass or not.
Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
One-note piece with drone in bass: In one sense, (if you went to Berklee they even said this explicitly) you can do anything over a drone, so it's not definitive of anything, but it really is: Everything you play over it becomes defined by it, becomes "magnetized", become part of its resonance, its expectations.

But as a drone moves up in register, it ceases to become only a fundamental, so it becomes possible within the lower-interval limit to define it in more and more harmonic overtone functions as it moves up.

I'm sure you've experienced what I call The Unbearable Lightness of One-Note (Or One-Chord) Music? That is, music that was intended to be so tonal, but surprisingly even when it gets displaced by a step or two, the effect might be jarring but not impossible, so a drone can go anywhere. Because it can go anywhere, it's unbearable, like a droning insect or like a droning leaf-blower. Undefined. No intelligence in one-note.

So What.

Impressions.

(Both examples of elaboration by-mode, and neighbor-motion of root of mode, causing maximum change of pitches)

But one-note changing in relation to any other note becomes meaningful.

A note is not meaningful, but an interval is.

An interval or set of notes that are elaborated -- gone next-door-to and returned to, as you rightly say, -- is a much stronger tonality than just one note.

But as soon as you add strengthening, interesting elaborating tones, you start to build in the seeds of potential atonal anarchy. Slippery slope of jaded addicted sophistication of fornicating evil tritone black male on feet.

Sorry for the purple prose. There actually was a guy who ran the music store in town who used to warn us kids to avoid the evil tritone.

I always cheerfully employed highly tonal rows, even super-trick rows that ensured harmonic results in several different ways at once.
Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
Dani, I'm going to try to sort out some different areas of discussion, theory.
In no particular order:

-- What you're talking about with voice-leading is I think called Neo-Riemannian theory. There are whole huge dreary compendiums of the stuff. It is the going cottage industry for employing grad students and teaching assistants etc. in music theory. I just bought about five of these books, I may read them.

-- For a brief shining moment with serialism, it was as if composers could write books talking shop with other composers. Serialism made for good shop-talk. There was also a spirit of interdisciplinery research shown in the good books on music theory that were written by composer-theorists. Then that stopped, either because publishing changed, or the scene changed. I don't see books like that any more, even in serious music bookstores.

-- My approach with serialism is this: Generation of material is one thing, taste is another, hearing is another. A slightly augmented set of standard serial techniques is an excellent toolbox for generating pitch-material. It can be used to generate macro pitch sequences lasting the entire piece, or surface tunes that go by quickly. The virtue of the box of techniques is that everything is at least logically related. The composer can also insist if she wishes, that the musical results of such techniques are also always about being audibly related. I myself do insist. Others don't.

-- I've witnessed even fairly bright composers (I'm thinking of you, Daniel F.) who get bogged down in tedious and strict definitions of what serialism "must" be or ought to be "in essence". (It has to be about "interval fixing" or something.) No.

-- Instead, serialism to me as a composer is a generative technique, nothing more or less. It has to produce audibly related results. It also has to produce pleasing, musical results, which means I have to cherry-pick insanely to get the unlikely coincidences or tonal contrapuntal combinations.

-- To me, logical relations in composition are there to produce only the psychological result of hearing a resemblance. This sounds like this. It's like this, but different in this way, same in that way.

-- Therefore, mathematical invariance is less interesting than related variance.

-- Consider what happens, for example, when a melody changes from major to minor. It's an inexact transformation or resemblance when considered literally. At a higher level, I suppose it's perfectly systematic, but not from the pov of serialism.

-- Serialism was never a complete system in anyone's hands -- everyone was using some of the same techniques but making it up as they went along, too.
(Even Babbitt and Wuroninen)


-- What I'm talking about with harmony is best observed with synthesizers and computer-controlled tuning that can be set up quickly, as with Scala format.
If you (Dani or anyone else) take that path, it opens up a whole meaningful territory of harmony in 3D and living color, if you will.

-- Harmony with only 12 tone tuning is like 2D checkers. However, there are plenty of people who could and can do more with 3 notes than I can do with 60, so it's not a question of virtuosity or musicality.

-- It's only that 12-tone 2D thinking is a sort of theoretical limited Flatland. It can be a revelation to experience something more 3D.

-- Obviously for people whose musicianship exceeds their theory (most good musicians) the 2D aspect of 12 tones doesn't occur to them at all -- they're fully capable of transcending the limits of their own thinking in their music-making all the time.

-- JI theory (7-limit, 11, 13-limit) is something I sort of live with every day, but don't try to understand all that systematically. It means that intervals like 7/4, 11/4, 18/13, become real intervals, become real consonances, become meaningful.

-- I mention low interval limits because I've talked to musicians who don't seem to understand what bass is, what inversions are, what the overtone series is.

-- Heck, there was a kid at the MIT experimental studio before it became part of the media lab, this kid was from Juilliard. This kid, who had been at Juilliard for several years as a comp student, didn't know that an octave was a 2:1 ratio. This is the degree to which standard music theory as it's taught is sort of divorced from reality.



Well, top of head. See if any of this clears anything up.
Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
My thoughts always drift in the direction of JI theory, which can help inform your practice, if...

But that's only my project.

Two good books:

Tom Johnson __Other Harmony__ beyond tonal and atonal

and

Dave Liebman __A Chromatic Approach to Jazz Harmony and Melody__


with the reservation that these are grab-bags full of ideas and techniques, but without taste. You have to provide the taste.

Both are by composer/players for composer/players, one reason I like them.
Oh, now I understand what you were saying about drones (the modal jazz examples helped).

I checked superficially what the Neo-Riemannian theory was about before because you mentioned it here some time ago, in a Beatles thread. Seems interesting. I read about the three basic transformations. Well, nothing too surprising, but it's good to systematize stuff that makes sense. I have too many things to learn, but I'll look into it sooner or later.

I didn't know about ratios and the mathematical and physical aspect of music until recently. It's fascinating. What does 7/4 sound like? Some type of sixth with some added spare change?

What do you mean when you say:

"I'd say that the lowest interval is approximately that interval's place in the overtone series based on that 20-hz. note."

Are you saying that a 20hz->40hz is the lowest frequency interval that makes sense to human ears?
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Old 6th December 2017, 02:20 PM   #38
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I mean that in this construct, the lowest allowed harmonic octave 2:1 is ca. 40 hz. to 20 hz.

the lowest harmonic fifth 3:2 is ca. 60 hz. to 40 hz.

The lowest fourth 4:3 is ca. 80 to 60 hz.

The lowest major third is ca. 100 hz. to 80 hz.

The lowest minor third 6:5 is ca. 120 hz. to 100 hz.



-----

What is it to be lower? It is to be muddy, unintelligible, dissonant.


Intervals above this 20 hz root. (give or take) in the overtone series as described are perfectly consonant.

The other intervals don't get a wrist-band and don't get through the door.
They are excluded. Contaminated. Spicy. Wrong. Other. Bad. Dirty. Unclean. Hideous. My Mother Said No, caleb don't touch that.
Wash your hands afterward.

Dani. I have no idea at the moment whether that 20 hz. basis as lowest sounds right. I'll check it, or I hope you do.

What I'm describing, though, is quite a robust effect of muddiness as you get too low. And: important consequence: microtuning the intervals exactly changes how pure, clean, acceptable they can seem. Perfect JI intonation is least muddy, usually.
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Old 7th December 2017, 02:25 AM   #39
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Crap. Hate new computer. Lost post again.

Anyway, the notion of low-interval limits would be a piece of Static Harmony, which would -- in an ideal music theory -- cover just intonation, scales, ratios, intervals, triads.

This would be half of the course. The other half would be Applied Harmony, or Harmony in Motion. This introduces all the complexities that come with practice, with motion, elaboration, tension & release, passing-tones, counterpoint, melody, contours.

Static Harmony includes the lattice, which in a sense already implies moving beyond the limits of a static, unchanging view, because it is endless.

https://www.google.com/search?q=musi...w=1280&bih=664
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Old 7th December 2017, 02:33 AM   #40
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Without being clear about basic grounding of harmonic concepts, students make absurd mistakes about what they say about harmony, and how they analyze the lit.

For example, the person who thought it was significant that a particular C major triad was in "6 4 position" (second inversion, or G in the lowest position) when the lowest note was a G2 -- that is, not a note in the bass register. No, the chord simply had no functional bass. It wasn't relevant to say it was "in .[].. position."

Without theory and practice actually helping each other, as they rarely do with most musicians, it's easy to take a cynical view of theory as just some idle philosophy. Musicians who take this view never innovate in fundamental musical ways, however innovative they may be in extra-musical ways, or however good they are.
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