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Thread: First Claim: Harmony and Counterpoint Constrain One Another

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    I'm arguing the premise of your claim on the thread title, which is not related to that quote. A scale can't define harmonic content, it's the choosing of the notes. Debussy used notes from the same scale as Mozart, but sounds vastly different.
    If it's a tonal scale, it defines a tonal relationship of the notes, i.e. a relationship of all the scale steps to a key note. I call this a "tonality" in the general sense of the term. If it's called a C scale, and is presented as starting on C, then it's understood that C is the tonic.

    In the case of both Mozart and Debussy using a C major scale, I would hear the overall tonal effect as being drawn from the same scale, in this respect, and it would sound C-ish.

    If you used the same 7 notes (C-D-E-F-G-A-B), and called it a G scale, then G is the tonic note, and it would be a mixolydian scale.
    Is this what you mean? Explain.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; May-29-2020 at 18:30.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Anyway, this is just the first of four claims about tonality that Tymoczko makes. At this rate, we'll never get to number two. This seems typical of the argumentative and confrontational aspect of the internet. It seems that everybody is stuck in their own little world, and many are revealed to be 'not at peace' with themselves; thus, it often ends in bickering over inconsequential details, misunderstandings, and more bickering. My advice to everyone is: do your thinking (homework, practice) before you post.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; May-29-2020 at 18:22.

  3. #33
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    I downloaded the pdf of the book (for free here: https://www.academia.edu/18164732/Ge...?auto=download)

    The example he used to make the claim in the thread title was in pages 12 and 13, not the example you quoted.

    Here is a real life example which proves him wrong (the fugue starting at 1:30). The fugue subject uses only major triadic notes and at certain times with more than one voice). First of all, it has unchanging harmony at times, which Dmitri (the writer, not Shostakovich ) said could only be accomplished with chromatic clusters. (ie. Conjunct melodies which step by 2 semitones maximum are not required for counterpoint which proves him premise wrong) Secondly, it's a great piece with beautiful harmony and nothing wrong with the counterpoint.

    Last edited by Phil loves classical; May-29-2020 at 21:48.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    The example he used to make the claim in the thread title was in pages 12 and 13, not the example you quoted.
    That's totally misleading, verging on lying.

    This site will not allow me to post PDF images from my computer on this site (I seem to have run out of privileges in that regard), so the 'corrected' quotation only refers to the figures without showing them. In the OP, I thought that would be confusing. That's why I left those references out of the first quote, and EdwardBast jumped on it.

    Additionally, those figures on p. 12 and 13 refer to a different part of the text, which I did not quote at all.

    You two guys are really something else!

    Here is a real life example which proves him wrong (the fugue starting at 1:30). The fugue subject uses only major triadic notes and at certain times with more than one voice). First of all, it has unchanging harmony at times, which Dmitri (the writer, not Shostakovich ) said could only be accomplished with chromatic clusters. (ie. Conjunct melodies which step by 2 semitones maximum are not required for counterpoint which proves him premise wrong) Secondly, it's a great piece with beautiful harmony and nothing wrong with the counterpoint.
    Then you're misreading Tymoczko. He didn't claim that diatonic harmony could not be static. (Shostakovich sounds static to me quite often ), or that static harmony could only be accomplished with chromatic clusters.That's just the way the examples turned out.

    You don't understand the example, or the principle behind it, obviously.

    It sounds to me like you're arguing just to be arguing.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; May-29-2020 at 22:41.

  5. #35
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    That's totally misleading, verging on lying.

    This site will not allow me to post PDF images from my computer on this site (I seem to have run out of privileges in that regard), so the 'corrected' quotation only refers to the figures without showing them. In the OP, I thought that would be confusing. That's why I left those references out of the first quote, and EdwardBast jumped on it.

    Additionally, those figures on p. 12 and 13 refer to a different part of the text, which I did not quote at all.

    You two guys are really something else!



    Then you're misreading Tymoczko. He didn't claim that diatonic harmony could not be static. (Shostakovich sounds static to me quite often ), or that static harmony could only be accomplished with chromatic clusters.That's just the way the examples turned out.

    You don't understand the example, or the principle behind it, obviously.

    It sounds to me like you're arguing just to be arguing.
    Dmitri came up with a pretty strong claim as in the thread title. His example can't back it up at all conclusively, just as the Shostakovich showed, nor by his looking at instances with very limited scope. At least he said the examples "suggests" his claim. Ultimately, counterpoint is not all about conjunct melodies that move within 2 semitones, just as it is not all about triadic notes as Shostakovich's more extreme example is (and still proves his overall claim wrong anyway). I thought you were all about 'thinking out of the box', or only when it's against CP harmony?

    I'd be more interested in a more logical or mathematical proof. I see a lot of holes in his implication.
    Last edited by Phil loves classical; May-30-2020 at 04:12.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    If you actually read the chapter, it’s not a strong claim to say that harmony and counterpoint constrain one another. The example on 12-13 compares counterpoint derived from a single major triad vs a three note semitone cluster and then observes that you can’t get conjunct melodies (defined as moving in whole or half steps) from the major triad without introducing passing tones that will then define a scale. The cluster has the opposite problem, you can obviously make conjunct melodies from the chord tones, but there is no way to link the ends of the cluster with a small number of passing tones - the cluster does not imply any sort of a scale. He certainly does not say that unchanging harmony can only be accomplished with clusters, so the Shostakovich example is irrelevant

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    Dmitri came up with a pretty strong claim as in the thread title. His example can't back it up at all conclusively, just as the Shostakovich showed, nor by his looking at instances with very limited scope.
    This is typical of 'internet logic.' Tymoczko is making a generalization, a wide one, only one of four, and if you find any exception (like that irrelevant Shostakovich example), then you think you've 'disproved' the generalization.

    At least he said the examples "suggests" his claim. Ultimately, counterpoint is not all about conjunct melodies that move within 2 semitones, just as it is not all about triadic notes as Shostakovich's more extreme example is (and still proves his overall claim wrong anyway). I thought you were all about 'thinking out of the box', or only when it's against CP harmony?
    This is only one of four claims, and these are to define the parameters of tonality in general ways. He does a great job in the book.
    But if you're not a 'generalist,' and are stuck in details, and don't really care to get a bird's eye view of the nature of tonality so that you can explore other areas, then this book and this kind of thinking are not for you.

    I'd be more interested in a more logical or mathematical proof. I see a lot of holes in his implication.
    Well, if you look for something, chances are you will find it.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; May-30-2020 at 14:06.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    If you actually read the chapter, it’s not a strong claim to say that harmony and counterpoint constrain one another. The example on 12-13 compares counterpoint derived from a single major triad vs a three note semitone cluster and then observes that you can’t get conjunct melodies (defined as moving in whole or half steps) from the major triad without introducing passing tones that will then define a scale. The cluster has the opposite problem, you can obviously make conjunct melodies from the chord tones, but there is no way to link the ends of the cluster with a small number of passing tones - the cluster does not imply any sort of a scale. He certainly does not say that unchanging harmony can only be accomplished with clusters, so the Shostakovich example is irrelevant
    Thank you, Bwv 1080; you have proven that you understand what Tymoczko is getting at, and that you have a superior musical intelligence. Kudos!

  10. #39
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Thought the passage was interesting enough that I bought the book on Kindle, maybe some others could as well and generate some interesting discussion

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    This is typical of 'internet logic.' Tymoczko is making a generalization, a wide one, only one of four, and if you find any exception (like that irrelevant Shostakovich example), then you think you've 'disproved' the generalization.



    This is only one of four claims, and these are to define the parameters of tonality in general ways. He does a great job in the book.
    But if you're not a 'generalist,' and are stuck in details, and don't really care to get a bird's eye view of the nature of tonality so that you can explore other areas, then this book and this kind of thinking are not for you.



    Well, if you look for something, chances are you will find it.
    I actually went on to read the next part: "macroharmony and centricity are completely independent: it is entirely possible, for example, to write diatonic music in which no note is heard as a tonal center, just as one can write chromatic music with a very clear center." This is pretty obvious to me. Now I look back at the first claim in context, I do agree in the micro picture. I had thought he implied counterpoint and harmony constrain each other in the macro sense, which is obviously wrong, which I'm sure you know .
    Last edited by Phil loves classical; May-30-2020 at 15:08.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member isorhythm's Avatar
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    It seems as though Tymoczko is laying out some theorems the way a mathematician would, and will go on to develop a deeper argument in the book. His first claim about harmony and counterpoint is straightforwardly true, by definition. He isn't saying anything about tonal music "writing itself" or anything like that.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by isorhythm View Post
    It seems as though Tymoczko is laying out some theorems the way a mathematician would, and will go on to develop a deeper argument in the book. His first claim about harmony and counterpoint is straightforwardly true, by definition. He isn't saying anything about tonal music "writing itself" or anything like that.
    You'd argue with a fencepost, Iso. What I said was in context: "CP classical music is a self-fulfilling system which is virtually 'automatic' in nature; a no-brainer for composers like Mozart, Handel, Vivaldi, and Haydn. The diatonic scale, which divides the octave up so evenly, and fits together in such a closely-related cookie cutter fashion, is an easy environment in which to do counterpoint and compose conjunct melodies for; they practically compose themselves. You can look in any direction and find a closely related chord or voice which is a member of a chord."

    I think that statement is true, and stand behind it. And I think Tymoczko implies the same thing.

    When you take it out of context, it sounds more radical. I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with, or if it's just that you don't like what I post, which is fine with me. I like to take some license, and be provocative. If you want to discuss the ideas, do so, but stop your "internet complaining" which is so characteristic of internet 'discussions.' I'm bored with your negativity.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jun-02-2020 at 17:48.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Y is an easy environment in which to do counterpoint and compose conjunct melodies for; they practically compose themselves. You can look in any direction and find a closely related chord or voice which is a member of a chord."
    [/COLOR]
    I think that statement is true, and stand behind it. And I think Tymoczko implies the same thing.
    Not only diatonic, any 7 note note scale works for triadic counterpoint (but some may be dissonant). Diatonic scale can be thought as 5-limit 7-note consonant chord. In 12 equal it's tempered in meantone tuning, so it has no "wolf" intervals, which are essential, if you want "pure" sound.
    You can even directly write in 7 equal and decide the tuning later (which is basically what modern pop producers do with "beatmaking pads" etc, quantizing the pads to some scale) or change the tuning to another.
    12 equal also is also augmented and diminished tuning, so it's braindead easy to connect major and minor thirds, too. In 19 equal you need to deal with major/minor diesis (which are equalized). This means that 16-17-18th century music can be directly translated to 19 equal, but not 19th or 20th - chromatic mediants etc are real enharmonic modulations, not just existing on paper.

    12 equal (the whole gamut, not just a subset) is also good for tetrads (13 note is the translation plane for 4 note chords, 7 is for 3 note chords) and 12 can be thought as 13 with 2 note equalized, so extended/jazz harmony is efficient.

    31 equal is good for blues/barbershop type intervals, if you want efficient chord connections with consonance. With less consonance - 27, 26 and 22 can do the job.

    Still, I wouldn't say that music writes itself, or everyone would be a composer...

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    Quote Originally Posted by BabyGiraffe View Post
    Still, I wouldn't say that music writes itself, or everyone would be a composer...
    I wouldn't say that that music writes itself either, and I didn't. Are you really going along with Isorhythm in his exaggeration/invalidation campaign of negativity? Too bad; I understand you so much more than he ever will. After all does he have the Just Intonation Primer?
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jun-02-2020 at 20:44.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I wouldn't say that that music writes itself either, and I didn't. Are you really going along with Isorhythm in his exaggeration/invalidation campaign of negativity? Too bad; I understand you so much more than he ever will.
    Don't get hurt - it's just a little use of hyperbolization.

    Since this topic is on Tymoczko - People, check his website - all his articles there are way better resource than his book, if you are after technical explanations behind his theory of voice leading (which, in the end doesn't give any novel insights, since 12 equal is pretty much very well explored as harmonic resource; but not as melodic one, judging from popular and classical music).
    Last edited by BabyGiraffe; Jun-03-2020 at 07:01.

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