Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 51

Thread: Increasing / Decreasing intervals

  1. #1
    New Member
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Posts
    2
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Increasing / Decreasing intervals

    Assume each tone is played individually. As far as I know the names of intervals (minor second, major third, octave etc.) can mean both a tone increasing or decreasing in frequency. So for example a minor second can mean both C C# (played in that order) but also C B (in that order).

    This is a question of terminology. If I want to specifically indicate a minor second which is decreasing in frequency in a way that makes it unambigious (so it can't mean an increasing minor second), what is the correct musical terminology to indicate it?

    I could simply say "decreasing minor second"
    and it will probably be understood but I'm wondering if that is that the official terminology or something else?

  2. Likes Minor Sixthist liked this post
  3. #2
    Senior Member SuperTonic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,559
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    I think the proper terminology for going down in pitch by a half step would be a descending minor second.
    Last edited by SuperTonic; Jun-09-2019 at 20:31.
    "The longest-lived and those who die soonest lose the same thing. The present is all they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have, you cannot lose." --Marcus Aurelius

  4. Likes Minor Sixthist liked this post
  5. #3
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    4,444
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    8

    Default

    Yes, ST is correct. "A descending minor second" would be the way to say it if the notes were C and B. Note, however, that C to C# is not an ascending minor 2nd, it is an augmented unison or, if one is referring only to its aural effect, a semitone or half step. C to Db would be an ascending minor 2nd.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Jun-11-2019 at 19:37.

    What greater comfort does time afford than the objects of terror re-encountered and their fraudulence exposed in the flash of reason?
    — William Gaddis, The Recognitions

    Originality is a device untalented people use to impress other untalented people and to protect themselves from talented people.
    Basil Valentine

  6. #4
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    13,671
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    You don't want the term "frequency" here. That's a concept in acoustics, not in music theory. "Increasing frequency" - meaning faster vibration of a vibrating body - gives us a higher pitch, but there's no reason to mention that physical phenomenon in referring to the construction of music. Ascending or descending intervals are simply named by the number of scale steps involved.

  7. #5
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    12,343
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    137

    Default

    "Think diatonically" and all will be well.
    What's the distinction between a 'diatonic semitone' and a 'chromatic semitone'?
    Is a 'chromatic semitone' the same as an 'augmented unison'?
    Would C#-C be a 'diminished unison'?
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jun-11-2019 at 21:34.
    "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 don't mind dying, as long as I can still breathe." ---Me

  8. Likes Minor Sixthist liked this post
  9. #6
    Senior Member Minor Sixthist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    NY, USA
    Posts
    299
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    As SuperTonic said, the best answer to your question regarding the correct terminology would be “ascending / descending (given interval,)” rather than “increasing / decreasing.”

    Regarding frequencies: you’re not technically wrong, but intervals are better understood as ratios of frequencies rather than, say, a number line on which notes can be graphed by increasing frequency. You wouldn’t be wrong that a higher note has a greater frequency but the way intervals are best conceptualized is by their ratios. E.g, any given octave represents a frequency ratio of 2:1 from the higher to the lower. Each interval we think of in the diatonic scale has an integer (whole number) ratio.

    I would disagree that a discussion of frequency has “no reason” to intersect with the discussion of intervals. Indeed frequencies can be key in the discussion of acoustics, which is a branch of physics dealing with all matters of sound, but in a question asking if there’s a key definitional difference between ascending/descending intervals - the answer would be no, because the ratios that define each interval remain static, it’s just each end of the ratio would of course have to correspond with the correct half of the interval. From the higher to the lower C would represent a ratio of 2:1 Hz, and from the lower to the higher I guess you could imagine the ratio being 1:2, though typically an octave is simply represented as 2:1 with the implication being that the higher note has a greater frequency.

    Definitionally - and I feel like your question involves aiming to use terms correctly with definitions - intervals might be best understood by the frequency ratios. In fact the measurement of ‘cent’ is actually a logarithm derived from the frequencies of given notes in Hz... in tuning the exacting of the ratio has everything to do with frequency.

    Again, though, the only question you did explicitly ask was best addressed by Super.
    Last edited by Minor Sixthist; Jun-11-2019 at 22:23.

  10. #7
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    13,671
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Minor Sixthist View Post
    As SuperTonic said, the best answer to your question regarding the correct terminology would be “ascending / descending (given interval,)” rather than “increasing / decreasing.”

    Regarding frequencies: you’re not technically wrong, but intervals are better understood as ratios of frequencies rather than, say, a number line on which notes can be graphed by increasing frequency. You wouldn’t be wrong that a higher note is a greater frequency but the way intervals are best conceptualized is by their ratios. E.g, any given octave is represents a frequency ratio of 2:1 from the higher to the lower. Each interval we think of in the diatonic scale has an integer ratio like this, IIRC.

    I would disagree that a discussion of frequency has “no reason” to intersect with the discussion of intervals. Definitionally - and I feel like your question involves aiming to use terms correctly with definitions - intervals are best understood by their ratios, as each basic interval we could think of has a different one. In fact the measurement of ‘cent’ is actually a logarithm derived from the frequencies of given notes in Hs... in tuning the exacting of the ratio has everything to do with frequency.

    Again, though, the only question you actually did ask was best addressed by Super.
    Did you win or lose that debate with yourself?

  11. Likes Minor Sixthist liked this post
  12. #8
    Senior Member Minor Sixthist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    NY, USA
    Posts
    299
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Did you win or lose that debate with yourself?
    Evidence for lost: wrote a bunch on what was not explicitly asked; for won: it was all worth it to correct you?
    Last edited by Minor Sixthist; Jun-11-2019 at 22:43.

  13. Likes Woodduck liked this post
  14. #9
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    13,671
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Minor Sixthist View Post
    Evidence for lost: wrote a bunch on what was not explicitly asked; for won: it was all worth it to correct you?
    It would have been, if only.

  15. #10
    Senior Member Minor Sixthist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    NY, USA
    Posts
    299
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    You don't want the term "frequency" here
    ...
    there's no reason to mention that physical phenomenon in referring to the construction of music.
    Hmm...so you wouldn’t agree that my point on frequency ratios suggests that there could, indeed, be a reason to mention frequencies in a question about intervals and their terminology?

    Just purely playing Duck’s advocate, though with due deference, as always. Most of all a question for potential self-improvement.
    Last edited by Minor Sixthist; Jun-11-2019 at 23:07.

  16. Likes Woodduck liked this post
  17. #11
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    13,671
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Minor Sixthist View Post
    Hmm...so you wouldn’t agree that my point on frequency ratios suggests that there could, indeed, be a reason to mention frequencies in a question about intervals and their terminology?

    Just purely playing Duck’s advocate, though with due deference, as always.
    There could be a reason for anything one wants to do. But do we want to do that particular thing - i.e. bring in the physics of acoustics - here? The OP just wants "unambiguous terminology" to describe movement by a half step. What terms could be less ambiguous than "movement by a half step"?

  18. Likes Minor Sixthist liked this post
  19. #12
    Senior Member Minor Sixthist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    NY, USA
    Posts
    299
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    There could be a reason for anything one wants to do. But do we want to do that particular thing - i.e. bring in the physics of acoustics - here? The OP just wants "unambiguous terminology" to describe movement by a half step. What terms could be less ambiguous than "movement by a half step"?
    Understood.
    Sometimes I worry I 'miss the point' more than I should... am I becoming a big TC bloviator?

    I only meant to earn that title in 30 or so more years.
    Last edited by Minor Sixthist; Jun-11-2019 at 23:32.

  20. Likes Woodduck liked this post
  21. #13
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    13,671
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Minor Sixthist View Post
    Understood.
    Sometimes I worry I 'miss the point' more than I should... am I becoming a big TC bloviator?

    I only meant to earn that title in 30 or so more years.
    Don't worry. The prize for Big TC Bloviator is coveted by many and the competition is fierce. Why, I've racked up over 13,000 posts in little more than 5 years, but I dare not take even a brief vacation lest I return and find the title stolen from me. My money is on paulbest (836 posts since April, 837 by the time i finish writing this...OOPS! 838!)

    EDIT: 839!... OOPS...
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jun-11-2019 at 23:52.

  22. Likes Minor Sixthist, Becca liked this post
  23. #14
    Senior Member Minor Sixthist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    NY, USA
    Posts
    299
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Don't worry. The prize for Big TC Bloviator is coveted by many and the competition is fierce. Why, I've racked up over 13,000 posts in little more than 5 years, but I dare not take even a brief vacation lest I return and find the title stolen from me. My money is on paulbest (836 posts since April, 837 by the time i finish writing this...OOPS! 838!)

    EDIT: 839!... OOPS...
    Well, at the evident rate you'd better hope there's not an upper limit on that 'edit' feature...

  24. Likes Woodduck liked this post
  25. #15
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    12,343
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    137

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Minor Sixthist View Post
    As SuperTonic said, the best answer to your question regarding the correct terminology would be “ascending / descending (given interval,)” rather than “increasing / decreasing.”
    That logic fails when considering the "augmented unison."

    There is no such thing as a "diminished unison," because, even when diminishing it, the unison interval increases in size.

    Music Theory for Dummies, p.113: "There is no such thing as a diminished unison, because no matter how you change the unisons with accidentals, you are adding half steps to the total interval."

    Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory: A Complete Self-Study Course for All Musicians, p. 153: "Since lowering either note of a perfect unison would actually increase its size, the perfect unison cannot be diminished, only augmented."

    For me, I can't help but question the standard terminology, since a "unison" is not an interval; it is "zero" in terms of distance.

    But apparently to the CP mind, traveling "backwards" from a unison, thus "diminishing" it, is verboten, unless, by the existing logic, we are considering only the distance of an interval (increase or decrease) rather than its ascent or descent. Does anyone follow this logic?

    If so, then what is the CP reason that "diminished unisons" cannot exist, in terms of nomenclature and staff, accidentals, scale context, etc.?
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jun-12-2019 at 12:48.
    "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 don't mind dying, as long as I can still breathe." ---Me

Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •