Making a Music Culture?

Discussions about constructed worlds, cultures and any topics related to constructed societies.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Backstroke_Italics »

Here's an example.

I recorded Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on a standard pentatonic scale (modified of course since you can't actually play it with five notes per octave), and then on the Japanese Hirajoshi scale. You can tell immediately how the scale affects the "feel" of the music. You can run pretty much any piece of music that can be pentatonic through the Hirajoshi scale and it will sound stereotypically Japanese.

https://voca.ro/1hIMiiN6wbmM
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Man in Space »

I would like to look into musical scales based on P5 equivalence. My brief googling and scanning Wikipedia on my phone is leaving me confused. Anybody know a layperson-friendly discussion of these?
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Salmoneus »

Man in Space wrote: 28 Sep 2021 04:03 I would like to look into musical scales based on P5 equivalence. My brief googling and scanning Wikipedia on my phone is leaving me confused. Anybody know a layperson-friendly discussion of these?
Perhaps if you explained what you meant by "P5 equivalence", it might help? I can't find anything for this, and very little for "perfect fifth equivalence" (which I assume is what you mean by 'P5').

Do you mean a tradition in which the 3:2 ratio ('the perfect fifth') is considered perfectly harmonic, making the fifth degree the harmonic equivalent of (and interchangeable with) the first? If so, I'm not sure any such tradition exists, and it wouldn't be a distinct musical scale if it did. It IS common in vocal cultures to treat recitation on the fifth as equivalent to recitation on the first - that is, singers sing in parallel fifths - as a harmonic approximation to the difference in tessitura between men and women/boys, but that's best seen as non-harmonic monophony (one line mirrors the other, but does not harmonically interact with it), and once you start breaking the mirroring (developing an organum-style practice) the 'equivalence' likewise breaks down. These traditions can lead to notational systems that treat the fifth as equivalent - that is, that repeat their notation after the fourth - as iirc was done in early mediaeval music - but this is a notational/conceptual issue rather than a musical one per se. To the extent that they're musical it's probably better to see them as a reflection of organum?

Or do you mean a tradition in which the 3:1 ratio (an octave PLUS a fifth, also known as a twelfth or a tritave) replaces the 2:1 ratio? This exists, marginally, in 20th century art music, and although it's not itself a scale, there have been scales created to facilitate it. Specifically, music that tries this is generally written in a "Bohlen-Pierce" scale - actually a gamut (from which multiple scales may be derived) based on 13tet tritaves. This has the benefit of having inherently more consonant intervals than 12tet octaves (it uses 27:25, 25:21, 9:7, 7:5, 75:49, 5:3, 9:5, 49:25, 15:7, 7:3, 63:25, 25:9 and 3:1, so it's both tet and 7-limit - in other words, you can construct it entirely from octaves, fifths, just major thirds and septimal minor thirds). However, not only will everything sound horribly out of tune to normal ears, but because you're taking away the most powerful harmonic relationships you're left with something with very little sense of tonality - ideal for modernism, but not so much for actual music.

That said, if you use synthetic instruments, you can artificially warp the harmonic partials to match the tritave, which should make the music sound less ugly, if still weird. With natural music, only the the chalumeau register of clarinets (and chalumeaux themselves, obviously) approximates this - the first strong partial of a chalumeau is the tritave, not the octave - although even this doesn't match up with the BP subdivision of the tritave. However, because of the approximation, you can actually buy (for only money!) physical Bohlen-Pierce clarinets (clarinets tuned to the Bohlen-Pierce scale). If you want to, you know, perform bohlen-Pierce music to conclaves of Bohlen-Pierce enthusiasts. If you want that to be your life. Hey, no judgment...

(anyway, if you want to hear BP music, I'm sure youtube will accomodate you)

[there are real musical traditions with wolf octaves, but I don't think these have just twelfths. There are also culture with double octaves - the upper octave is tuned differently from the one below - so in theory (since two tritaves is three double octaves) a sort of double-BP might be possible, but I don't think they ever actually work like that.]



Or do you mean a tradition in which perfect fifths are equivalent to one another? The problem with this is that if all fifths are of equal size, one of three ugly things needs to happen: either the gamut loses octave symmetry (the scale is different in different octaves) and hence octave equivalence (notes an octave apart are no longer consonant); or there are an infinite number of notes in each octave (not practical for many instruments, or for human brains); or the fifths must be out of tune. 12tet is what you get when you assume fifths are equivalent, accept imperfect fifths, and then remove the need for infinitissimal division of the octave by assuming that twelve fifths are equivalent to seven octaves (the fundamental pythagorean approximation, aka the tempering of the 531441:524288 pythagorean comma to zero). There are of course other solutions - most sophisticated mathematical cultures have at least toyed with the idea of instead tempering the 19383245667680019896796723:19342813113834066795298816 Mercator's comma to zero (i.e. equating 53 fifths with 31 octaves), which in many ways solves many of the traditional musical problems - it gives you 53tet with near-perfect fifths AND juster thirds than Pythagorian tuning. However, having 53 notes to the octave is, frankly, a right bugger organologically, and it's only been substantially adopted in Ottoman music theory.

(again, I'm sure you can find samples on youtube)


I don't know which meaning of 'P5 equivalence' you mean. But also, I don't know what you mean by 'layman' - I don't know if what I've said will be too confusing, or too patronisingly simplistic. Did you have a more specific question you wanted an answer to?
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by tikoo »

An identifiable tonal system does not have to be all that important. A natural music is freely associative. A psychic and sympathetic connection from one life to another is essential. By this a musician may inspire a squirrel to laughing and dancing.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by elemtilas »

tikoo wrote: 28 Sep 2021 22:21 An identifiable tonal system does not have to be all that important. A natural music is freely associative. A psychic and sympathetic connection from one life to another is essential. By this a musician may inspire a squirrel to laughing and dancing.
This is true.

There is a music being played now, for example, and it is the only thing that is preventing the Seven Squirrels of Regenreck from scampering up the World Tree and devouring the seven worldseeds.

Very powerful, music.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by tikoo »

Dooz your conlang suggest rhythm? gkt My 3S has dialects with various vowel/consonant choices. Angelic, for instance, likes to have vowels that sing.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by elemtilas »

tikoo wrote: 29 Sep 2021 21:57 Dooz your conlang suggest rhythm? gkt My 3S has dialects with various vowel/consonant choices. Angelic, for instance, likes to have vowels that sing.
Some work better with rhythm than others. Not all musics and not all languages are strongly rhythmic. And yet other musics and other languages are rhythmic in ways that we may not immediately recognise.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Man in Space »

I've come up with a preliminary description of the Tim Ar musical scale:

- Based on P5 equivalence (the repetition interval is the perfect fifth, 701.955 cents or so)
- The chromatic is 18 divisions per fifth, 77.995 cents apiece
- There are three step intervals: The half-step (H), whole step (S), and step-and-a-half (Z)
- A typical diatonic Tim Ar scale would be S-Z-H-S-S-Z-H-S, so there are nine notes per quintave (1-3-6-7-9-11-14-15-17, or ABCDEFGHI).
- A# = Bb, B# ≠ Cb, C# = D and Db = C, D# = Eb, E# = Fb, F# ≠ Gb, G# = H and Hb = G, H# = Ib, and I# = Ab.

I did this because a) I like the Carlos Alpha scale, which has nine quintave divisions; 2) I wanted to include at least one interval of a step and a half but also have a symmetric set of step instructions; and D) I wanted to include the intervals of the major third, neutral third, perfect fourth, and perfect fifth; I've seen it said the latter two are in basically every musical scale ever and the other two just seemed applicable. I'm within like three cents or so of a neutral third (this scale's D) and a just perfect fourth (this scale's G). It's a nine-cent difference with the perfect fourth, but eh. Major third, depending on how you define it in just intonation, I'm within two to eighteen cents (if you're one of those 435 fans, then I'm like 45 cents off. Oops!).
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CK = Classical Khaya
CT = Classical Ĝate n Tim Ar
Kg = Kgáweq'
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PTa = Proto-Taltic
PTO = Proto-Tim Ar-O
STK = Sisỏk Tlar Kyanà
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by tikoo »

Man in Space wrote: 30 Sep 2021 05:19 I've come up with a preliminary description of the Tim Ar musical scale:

I enjoy the Oops! Can you illustrate a simple harmonic composition? But that seems difficult. I can imagine tuning 2 flutes that would together give 9 tones in an octave- 4 with one, 5 with another... I don't know. An ensemble of 4 could be harmonic. It'd be a thing.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Torco »

I also ignore the exact meaning of P5 equivalence but I'm gonna go head and assume that it means something like octave equivalence but for fifths, that is to say that the fifth would play the same role in this music system as the octave plays in ours. In principle this is not as problematic as one might think: you don't *have* to have notes repeat every octave, and indeed there are musical systems in some cultures that do just that. indeed it's not even that weird, I happen to have a string instrument tuned in fifths right now and I've been playing around with it and this idea of fifth-instead-of-octave equivalence. honestly it doesn't even sound that exotic! it has interesting polyphonic affordances with double stops (alas, the cello is bad at three-note chords and above) and you can certainly build simple but neat melodies with it.

naming notes ABCDEFG kind of loses meaning there, but you'd end up with some non-repeating set of notes. for example, if you root such a system at cello C and, say, decide to use tone semitone tone tone (which adds up to a fifth, and has a minor vibe) you end with C D Eb F, your next pentave (pardon the invented name) being G A Bb C, then D E F G, then A B C D, E F# G A, etcetera etcetera. but it's really confusing to think about it like that for obvious reasons. more emically, what you have is just ABCDABCDABCDABCD. (or la wa mi tao, or whatever names you want to give it). you can also, of course, stack other interval series such as tone tone semitone tone tone, which feels more major, or indeed any other set of intervals. Of course, the semitone is itself defined as a 12th of an octave, but you can just as easily define one as a seventh of a fifth.

What I don't understand, however, is this
The chromatic is 18 divisions per fifth, 77.995 cents apiece
one eighteenth of a fifth is not, in fact, 78 cents: it's more like 38, so i must have gotten something wrong.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Salmoneus »

Torco wrote: 07 Oct 2021 21:46 I also ignore the exact meaning of P5 equivalence but I'm gonna go head and assume that it means something like octave equivalence but for fifths, that is to say that the fifth would play the same role in this music system as the octave plays in ours. In principle this is not as problematic as one might think
The problem is that if a 3:2 is 'equivalent', then 9:4 must also be equivalent (i.e. maximally consonant). But 9:4 (an octave plus a major tone, a bit less than a 12tet major ninth) is objectively dissonant. Such a system would therefore not arise naturally in a pre-Modernist culture.

[fun fact: octave equivalence is literally hardwired into the brains not only of all humans but also all mammals, so far as we know (both neurological and behavioural octave equivalence have been demonstrated in multiple and different species. It may not, however, be hardwired into songbirds, who seem instead to rely on an astonishingly accurate sense of absolute pitch. However, even some birds have been shown to correctly recognise consonance in certain circumstances (young chickens instinctively know that consonance is a characteristic of their mother's call).]
: you don't *have* to have notes repeat every octave, and indeed there are musical systems in some cultures that do just that.
Having note NAMES repeat at weird intervals is of course common, if not the norm (in Europe it's true of greek and roman musical notation, and of most mediaeval notation), but unrelated to actual harmonic equivalence of fifths.
What I don't understand, however, is this
The chromatic is 18 divisions per fifth, 77.995 cents apiece
one eighteenth of a fifth is not, in fact, 78 cents: it's more like 38, so i must have gotten something wrong.
It's actually 39 cents, but your point remains valid. However, if we assume '77.995' was a typo for '77.996' (it's 77.99555-recurring, which rounds to 77.996), then MiS presumably meant 'the chromatic' involves 9 divisions per fifth, not 18. Although this wouldn't make sense combined with an unequal scale like the one they give. They also make a mistake with that scale - it gives only 7 notes per diapenthe, not 9. It also only covers 16 'semitones', not 18 as stated.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Man in Space »

Salmoneus wrote: 08 Oct 2021 23:42
Torco wrote: 07 Oct 2021 21:46 I also ignore the exact meaning of P5 equivalence but I'm gonna go head and assume that it means something like octave equivalence but for fifths, that is to say that the fifth would play the same role in this music system as the octave plays in ours. In principle this is not as problematic as one might think
The problem is that if a 3:2 is 'equivalent', then 9:4 must also be equivalent (i.e. maximally consonant). But 9:4 (an octave plus a major tone, a bit less than a 12tet major ninth) is objectively dissonant. Such a system would therefore not arise naturally in a pre-Modernist culture.
The Georgians might have a quibble with this idea. P5 equivalence has been claimed for the traditional folk music from there.
It's actually 39 cents, but your point remains valid. However, if we assume '77.995' was a typo for '77.996' (it's 77.99555-recurring, which rounds to 77.996), then MiS presumably meant 'the chromatic' involves 9 divisions per fifth, not 18. Although this wouldn't make sense combined with an unequal scale like the one they give. They also make a mistake with that scale - it gives only 7 notes per diapenthe, not 9. It also only covers 16 'semitones', not 18 as stated.
I have bad math skills. It’s supposed to be 18 divisions of the fifth (basically doubling the Carlos Alpha scale).
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CC = Common Caber
CK = Classical Khaya
CT = Classical Ĝate n Tim Ar
Kg = Kgáweq'
PO = Proto-O
PTa = Proto-Taltic
PTO = Proto-Tim Ar-O
STK = Sisỏk Tlar Kyanà
Tm = Təmattwəspwaypksma
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Torco »

I'm not sure why you'd need 9:4 to be considered maximally consonant tbh. also it's, again, in the end not even that alien of a scale (just stacking tetrachords -is that the term?- that add up to a fifth, not the doubled carlos alpha). check this out:

https://voca.ro/1c2rQICiWKXh

it's just a noodle, and one played by an amateur cellist deeply ingrained in the western tradition at that, but it's, well, an music. I agree that empirically octaves seem to be pretty universal, but from there to 'no such system could emerge anywhere other than in western modernism' seems like a big leap. conpeople using such a system might even say things like "yeah, octaves are more natural, but this sounds cool and it's just the way our party music goes: besides, can you imagine having an entire octave per string?".
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