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Thread: Harmonic Centricity

  1. #16
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I can concur with that, but I still stand behind the statement that basic harmonic centricity (basic tonality) is established by using models and tendencies which are derived from the harmonic series, and this is true of all music.
    OK, but the first part of that is just a tautology. Tonalities are based on harmonic centricity by definition and are thus derived from the harmonic or natural overtone series -- in significant part, but as often is the case, including in Western music, with significant modifications as well.
    You say this principle applies to "all music", including music not based on any tonal hierarchy, a/k/a (by some) atonal music, which is fine, though some musicologists say the opposite, such as this guy I just found on the 'net:
    http://www.austinpattytheory.com/mus...and-atonality/
    No need to debate that one endlessly. Suffice it to say at the very least that harmonic centricity is not the only game in town with music such as the Webern example he cites, even if hints of it remain.
    More importantly, as Woodduck has already said, all systems of tonal music (and atonal too) are learned. They are not based solely on the natural harmonic or overtone series, among other reasons because harmonic centricity is not the only thing that comprises even tonal music, or on any other single innate natural principal. There is an intellectual process that comes into play with human sound expression that involves the manipulation of natural sounds to specific human purposes. And you can shrug off psycho-acoustic phenomena all you want, but the divergence of various Western systems of temperament from the natural harmonic series is a wonderfully simple and clear example of how humans hear what they want and expect to hear, really what they have learned to hear (to use Woodduck's term), rather than what you might expect them to hear from the principles you cite.

  2. #17
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    ...Tonalities are based on harmonic centricity by definition and are thus derived from the harmonic or natural overtone series -- in significant part, but as often is the case, including in Western music, with significant modifications as well.
    OK, we agree on this point, with the caveat that the "actual" harmonic series can be the "model" that a scale is based on, and need not be slavishly adhered to. In this sense, all scales and divisions of the octave are "harmonic models."

    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    You say this principle applies to "all music", including music not based on any tonal hierarchy, a/k/a (by some) atonal music, which is fine, though some musicologists say the opposite, such as this guy I just found on the 'net:
    http://www.austinpattytheory.com/mus...and-atonality/
    No need to debate that one endlessly. Suffice it to say at the very least that harmonic centricity is not the only game in town with music such as the Webern example he cites, even if hints of it remain.
    No, the overall long-form in serial music is not based on a tonal hierarchy, but any pitched sound is tone centric within itself. Therefore, at each moment and sound event, serial music presents a tone centric event, but only at that moment. If this is too literal fore you, so be it.

    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    ...More importantly, as Woodduck has already said, all systems of tonal music (and atonal too) are learned.
    The system is learned, not the fact of tonality/tone centricity. If a simple folk music is based only on simple harmonic concepts, such as the way its scale divides the octave, then there is no "system" to be learned; the ear understands it intuitively.
    Western music, on the other hand, has one of the most complicated and cognitively demanding "systems" of any music, with its drawn-out narrative progressions and procedures.

    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    They are not based solely on the natural harmonic or overtone series, among other reasons because harmonic centricity is not the only thing that comprises even tonal music, or on any other single innate natural principal.
    I never said that harmonic centricity was the only thing that comprises various systems of music; only that all music stems from this harmonic phenomenon. Where it goes from there is anybody's guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    ...There is an intellectual process that comes into play with human sound expression that involves the manipulation of natural sounds to specific human purposes. And you can shrug off psycho-acoustic phenomena all you want, but the divergence of various Western systems of temperament from the natural harmonic series is a wonderfully simple and clear example of how humans hear what they want and expect to hear, really what they have learned to hear (to use Woodduck's term), rather than what you might expect them to hear from the principles you cite.
    I don't think that the divergence of the tempered fifth by two cents from the "actual" harmonic series makes any difference; fifths and fourths still do what they do.

    Please remember that the "actual" harmonic series is used as a model, not to be taken literally. Any division of the octave (such as an arbitrary length of bamboo chosen to make a flute, and pierced with an arbitrary number of holes, making an arbitrary scale) creates a "model" of the harmonic series, because it has a fundamental (root) note and subsidiary notes which are in relation to that.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-25-2018 at 19:51.
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  3. #18
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    The system is learned, not the fact of tonality/tone centricity. If a simple folk music is based only on simple harmonic concepts, such as the way its scale divides the octave, then there is no "system" to be learned; the ear understands it intuitively.
    Western music, on the other hand, has one of the most complicated and cognitively demanding "systems" of any music, with its drawn-out narrative progressions and procedures.
    There is the important point on which we disagree, and where I agree with Woodduck. All music, whether "simple folk music" or sophisticated "Western music" (a rigid, artificial, and rather condescending distinction, I think) is learned. Exactly as with spoken language, no music is intuitively understood, at least not fully. But the human mind has an amazing capacity to learn, especially when it is young.

    Edit: As for your comment that "any pitched sound is tone centric within itself", I cited a musicologist I found after 20 seconds of searching on google who goes to great lengths to say the opposite. You can argue that with him, it doesn't mean much to me. And as for "simple folk music", why not take a break from Schoenberg and consider Bartok's folk music studies, for example Mikrokosmos and 44 Duos for two violins. It isn't quite as simple as you suggest.
    Last edited by fluteman; Jul-26-2018 at 15:13.

  4. #19
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    There is the important point on which we disagree, and where I agree with Woodduck. All music, whether "simple folk music" or sophisticated "Western music" (a rigid, artificial, and rather condescending distinction, I think) is learned. Exactly as with spoken language, no music is intuitively understood, at least not fully. But the human mind has an amazing capacity to learn, especially when it is young.
    "If a simple folk music is based only on simple harmonic concepts, such as the way its scale divides the octave, then there is no "system" to be learned; the ear understands it intuitively."

    Intuitive: That's not quite the same as "learned," yet it does require an intuitive grasp of sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    As for your comment that "any pitched sound is tone centric within itself", I cited a musicologist I found after 20 seconds of searching on google who goes to great lengths to say the opposite. You can argue that with him, it doesn't mean much to me.
    I did not interpret it that way. The musicologist called prominent tones in atonal music "focal pitch points," which amounts to the same thing. A single note taken in isolation belongs to no hierarchy of other pitches, and has no relation to other pitches. It is "centric within itself," as I said.

    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    And as for "simple folk music", why not take a break from Schoenberg and consider Bartok's folk music studies, for example Mikrokosmos and 44 Duos for two violins. It isn't quite as simple as you suggest.
    That's quite different than the example I cited, which would represent Man's simple intuitive grasp of pitched sound. Conversely, it's not as complicated as you suggest.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-26-2018 at 17:56.
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
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    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

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    "I am the spirit of dead zebras." - It came to me in a dream

  5. #20
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    " Conversely, it's not as complicated as you suggest.
    But complicated enough that it must be learned, and can't simply be intuited. That is the whole point behind Bartok's Mikrokosmos and For Children, both of which are educational works that make use (very intelligent and sophisticated use) of folk music.

  6. #21
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    But complicated enough that it must be learned, and can't simply be intuited. That is the whole point behind Bartok's Mikrokosmos and For Children, both of which are educational works that make use (very intelligent and sophisticated use) of folk music.
    Be that as it may, I still maintain that simple harmonically centered music and its creation are a basic part of Man's birthright, just like spiritual awareness is, and that musical sense is natural and intuitive; not a product of being "civilized," or learned by enculturation. It transcends all culture, and is universal.
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
    -Confucious

    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

    "We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made us." -Jean-Paul Sartre

    "I am the spirit of dead zebras." - It came to me in a dream

  7. #22
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Also, it occurs to me that some people like to think that "Man created Man" and that Man is an isolated self-contained crature who is not "tuned in" to any sort of universal knowledge or awareness. This is certainly not the view of most composers, like Beethoven, Messiaen, Cage or any number of the "greats." They all had some awareness of 'the sacred' and 'spiritual' dimension of music.
    What, then is the meaning of music which does not include the human elements of "resonance" and empathy? It seems that it would be on the verge of being emblematic or simply an agreed-upon term, with no real connection to human psychology or the fact that "God gave us brains."

    In my view, "psychological phenomena" can be linked to music and to spirituality, or a sacred sense of being, before it has to be connected to any religion, which in my view comes after the fact.

    In fact, it sounds like you are saying that music works by itself apart from any connection to our psychology as humans. How could that be?
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
    -Confucious

    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

    "We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made us." -Jean-Paul Sartre

    "I am the spirit of dead zebras." - It came to me in a dream

  8. #23
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    I was trying to say exactly the opposite of that.
    Last edited by fluteman; Jul-28-2018 at 14:47.

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