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Thread: The Major Second Is Not Dissonant

  1. #16
    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    I'm not conflating anything at all, methinks you are not seeing the wood for the trees because of your particular stance regarding CP and wanting to combat it. I offer you real world stuff for some balance.
    Actually timbre impacts decisively on dissonance and can soften or exaggerate it. The timbral context is also a vehicle for perception, a visceral, physical one too, not cerebral and in this regard the colouring in of our dissonance has a decisive impact on its efficacy either way. Imagine c+d played on 2 muted trumpets at ff and then the same notes on 2 flutes at p. The difference is clear, the dissonance is less abrasive on the flutes. To complicate it further, 2 different timbres can soften dissonance too in the right context because dissonance is sometimes harsher with similar timbres, but this aint Orchestration 101.

    No I'm not thinking about CP at all, but you seem to be, even if only to denigrate it....how disappointing,...
    Last edited by mikeh375; Nov-10-2019 at 16:14.

  2. #17
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    I'm not conflating anything at all, methinks you are not seeing the wood for the trees because of your particular stance regarding CP and wanting to combat it. I offer you real world stuff for a balance.
    Actually timbre impacts decisively on dissonance and can soften or exaggerate it. The timbral context is also a vehicle for perception, a visceral one too, not cerebral and in this regard and the colouring in of our dissonance has a decisive impact on its efficacy either way.
    No I'm not thinking about CP at all, but you seem to be, even if only to denigrate it....how disappointing,...
    I've backed-up my assertions to a much greater degree than you have.
    As far as opposition to CP practice, It's not that I am opposed to it simply because it is CP, but to the fact that CP is to a large extent arbitrary, and not based on visceral factors, but cerebral ones.

    When you say "timbre impacts decisively on dissonance and can soften or exaggerate it," this is a matter of degree, and demonstrates that you do not see harmonic considerations as separate from contrapuntal considerations.

    The true nature of a major second cannot be "cajoled" towards dissonance or consonance by marginal, inessential factors such a timbre. It exists as a ratio, and as part of the harmonic series. Apparently you are not able to "abstract out" the essence of this interval. Your argument is too vague for me.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Nov-10-2019 at 15:11.

  3. #18
    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    oh c'mon MR. Do you really think I "do not see harmonic considerations as separate from contrapuntal considerations'? Really? I've been doing music very well professionally for 30 odd years, I'm no fool and I'm most likely more qualified, able and experienced than you in every aspect of music making. I can assure you I can abstract out of the harmonic series a maj2nds essence, what you can't seem to do is live in the real world of music making and have a pleasant tone in your posts, instead posting damming assumptions that goad. And so yet again we are at loggerheads.

    My posts about timbre don't chime with your agenda, I get that, but take it from a professional, timbral context matters for the composer and the end user when it comes to degrees of dissonance/consonance and their perception.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Nov-10-2019 at 15:50.

  4. #19
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    ...what you can't seem to do is live in the real world of music making.
    I think the ZZ Top/Billy Gibbons example is a very good indicator that I am, indeed, living in the "real world" of music, and that when I listen, no matter the source, I am listening intelligently.

    My posts about timbre don't chime with your agenda, I get that...
    Okay.

    ...but take it from a professional, timbral context matters for the composer and the end user when it comes to degrees of dissonance/consonance and their perception.
    You haven't specified anything in particular. All my examples bolster my argument, that a major second is harmonically consonant.

    Anyway, I thought all this was cleared up in an earlier thread, in which "consonance/dissonance" has two definitions, one for actual harmonic perception, and another for CP/academic/linear thinkers who see tension/resolution as defined by CP practice as being central.

    I still think you are conflating these two opposing views.

    If there's anything you should know about me, it's that I am a vertical/harmonic thinker, and I have posted several blogs about my views on this.

    I think harmonic considerations ALWAYS take precedence over linear/time line considerations, because I see the former as primal and timeless, and the latter as based on time-based notions which are based on and derived from vertical factors, but which pan-out to be more cerebral, especially when filtered through the glass of CP tonality.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Nov-10-2019 at 16:15.

  5. #20
    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post

    I still think you are conflating these two opposing views.

    What, even though I've told you I'm not? Honestly? Think what you want, even the horses mouth isn't good enough for you apparently. Re read post 16 for a simple real world example, you might have missed it as it was an edit. If you had studied orchestration to a high level, you would I'm sure appreciate my valid slant on your OP.

    Yes the interval is consonant to my ears too and all I need is my ears to affirm that. Enough said as I'm writing music at present...with I might add, some added dissonance in the harmony that although much more complicated than a maj2nd, (although that is included too), also sounds consonant to me...and no, CP is not in evidence anywhere apart from the common musical sense aspect.

    I know about your vertical thinking, we've already done this, do keep up. I too am a vertical thinker which stems from my jazz guitar days (remember) with chord construction. My own harmonic theory was influenced by Hanson's involution theories and I regularly use synthetic scales which I like to think I've made up, but probably haven't. These combined with a strong background in CP harmony and counterpoint give me all I need to write freely. Please remember as it's boring typing out the same things again.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Nov-10-2019 at 16:33.

  6. #21
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Arguments that certain sounds "ARE" consonant or dissonant in some Platonic essence are fundamentally absurd and vacuous. Are we talking about music at all on this forum? MUSIC IS AS MUSIC SOUNDS. A major second can sound consonant or dissonant, to varying degrees, in different syntactic contexts, played by different instruments and in different registers.

    If we're not actually discussing music, but want to define consonance and dissonance in abstract physical terms, we have to draw a definitional line in order to say that a given interval is absolutely consonant or dissonant. If such a line is drawn, conversation can proceed rationally. Otherwise it's all just a pseudo-debate between Catholics and Protestants.

    So which is it? Are we talking music or physics, and what is the operative - operative, not sole - definition of consonance/dissonance?
    Last edited by Woodduck; Nov-10-2019 at 17:36.

  7. #22
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    ...

    So which is it? Are we talking music or physics, and what is the operative - operative, not sole - definition of consonance/dissonance?
    I don't see any conflict between a music and physics definition of consonance/dissonance. Intervals are consonant to the extent that their overtone series align, due to the way our ears work. The unison is maximally consonant, the octave, fifth, forth, major third, minor third, major second, etc, are progressively more dissonant. A dissonance can be more or less noticeable depending on the context. A dissonance can give character to an otherwise consonant harmony, or can add frisson when it resolves to something more consonant. Just as pure alcohol taste like poison, but adds just the right taste to a fine wine, beer or cocktail.

    Weird that we are still talking about this.
    Last edited by Baron Scarpia; Nov-10-2019 at 19:32.
    There are two kinds of music, good music and the other kind. - Duke Ellington.

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  9. #23
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Right so the M2 is a ‘dissonance’ because it is a tighter ratio than 6 of the 11 intervals (3,4,5,7,8,9). Its a spectrum and the M2 is on the dissonant half

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    I don't see any conflict between a music and physics definition of consonance/dissonance. Intervals are consonant to the extent that their overtone series align, due to the way our ears work.
    That's only one way of defining dissonance.

  11. #25
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    Right so the M2 is a ‘dissonance’ because it is a tighter ratio than 6 of the 11 intervals (3,4,5,7,8,9). Its a spectrum and the M2 is on the dissonant half

    That may be true in just intonation, using ratios, but not so in ET. The ET major third (386.31 cents) is off 13.69 cents; more than the major second, at 203.9 cents (9:8).

    Eleven intervals? 3 is eliminated as explained above, and 4 or 5 are eliminated (take your pick). The fourth is an inversion of the fifth, so that doesn't count as two intervals; there are only six: m2, M2, m3, M3, P4 and tritone.

    I'm not sure what you mean by 7, 8, and 9.

    Clearly, the fifth (fourth) and second are preferred intervals in equal temperament; the major third (considered a "consonance" in CP theory) is NOT.

  12. #26
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    That's only one way of defining dissonance.
    You can't define a comparative term except as a ratio; dissonance and consonance are ratios, not quantities.

    1/2 can mean half of anything: half of a million dollars or half of a dime.

    Ratios, and consonance/dissonance, are not quantities; they are relationships.

    Therefore, consonance/dissonance cannot be "defined" or identified as such unless we use ratios. The smaller and simpler the ratio, the more consonant it is.

    The subjective "context" argument is vague and un-Platonic.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Nov-11-2019 at 07:03.

  13. #27
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Arguments that certain sounds "ARE" consonant or dissonant in some Platonic essence are fundamentally absurd and vacuous.
    Yes, that is correct. They must be compared. You can't define an interval as "consonant" or "dissonant" unless you compare it to other intervals; dissonance and consonance are ratios, not quantities.

    1/2 can mean half of anything: half of a million dollars or half of a dime.
    Therefore, an interval such as the major second cannot be "defined" or identified in terms of consonance/dissonance unless we use ratios. The smaller and simpler the ratio, the more consonant it is.

    The major second (ideally a 9:8) is one of the more consonant of all the intervals, at 203.9 cents, only 3.9 sharp of the ET M2 of 200 cents.

    That's already better than the major third, which is 4:5 (386.31 cents), off by 13.69 cents from the ET M3 of 400 cents.



    Are we talking about music at all on this forum? MUSIC IS AS MUSIC SOUNDS. A major second can sound consonant or dissonant, to varying degrees, in different syntactic contexts, played by different instruments and in different registers.
    I disagree; intervals must be compared to each other. If the relative consonance of a M2 is "overcome" or "superseded" by a M3 in an ET composition, this cannot be based on actual "consonance/dissonance" as a ratio comparison; it is coming from some other quarter. If this is "keynote" comparison of tonality (D in relation to the idea of C as a keynote, not an actual sound), then you should be prepared to admit that this is also a "Platonic" idea. (No pun intended with the use of "Pla-tonic.")

    If we're not actually discussing music, but want to define consonance and dissonance in abstract physical terms, we have to draw a definitional line in order to say that a given interval is absolutely consonant or dissonant.
    That's not possible, since consonance and dissonance are comparative terms; they do not denote one thing, but a relationship of degree.



    If such a line is drawn, conversation can proceed rationally. Otherwise it's all just a pseudo-debate between Catholics and Protestants. So which is it? Are we talking music or physics, and what is the operative - operative, not sole - definition of consonance/dissonance?
    Quadrivium: music is both physics and art.

  14. #28
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post

    It's actually amusing that after making the absolute statement that a major second is not dissonant, you begin citing musical contexts in which it's considered pleasant.
    I did not make an "absolute" statement by saying that a M2 is not a dissonance, as CP theory considers it. I understand that consonance/dissonance are comparative terms, not absolutes.

    Musical contexts? Pleasure? What are we talking about now? Do I misremember, or did you not recently denounce me as an "academic" in some earlier discussion for pointing out that the perception of dissonance is context-dependent? Yes, a major second can sound pleasant in certain musical contexts. So can any other interval. Pleasure is beside the point.
    The perception of dissonance is not dependent on any context which "considers" it as such, for systemic reasons such as CP tonality procedural practices.

    I'm only interested in sounds as sounds, as harmonic entities, not as abstract components of a system.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Nov-11-2019 at 15:03.

  15. #29
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Your "scientific" standard of acoustic consonance and dissonance is not a necessary standard, but merely the one you prefer. Using a different, obvious, and common standard, we find that the M3 not only occurs lower, and thus more audibly, in the overtone series than does the M2, but it predictably creates less beating (is "cleaner") when sounded, especially noticeable when the intervals are played in the lower register of the piano. Obviously the tuning system used will affect somewhat the sound of these intervals when played, but this doesn't change the relative consonance or dissonance of the pure intervals, which equal temperament approaches closely enough. We hear the M3 as a clear, natural, consonant component of a tone because we can often literally hear it when a tone is sounded, which is why it became a basic component of common practice tonality. We don't normally hear the M2 in the overtone series, unless the fundamental tone is deep and strong.

    I'm not questioning that the M2 can have a pleasant sound (more or less, depending on other factors already mentioned).

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  17. #30
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    That may be true in just intonation, using ratios, but not so in ET. The ET major third (386.31 cents) is off 13.69 cents; more than the major second, at 203.9 cents (9:8).

    Eleven intervals? 3 is eliminated as explained above, and 4 or 5 are eliminated (take your pick). The fourth is an inversion of the fifth, so that doesn't count as two intervals; there are only six: m2, M2, m3, M3, P4 and tritone.

    I'm not sure what you mean by 7, 8, and 9.

    Clearly, the fifth (fourth) and second are preferred intervals in equal temperament; the major third (considered a "consonance" in CP theory) is NOT.
    11 intervals excluding octave/unison and >octave

    7 is P5th, 8 is minor 6th etc

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