Making a Music Culture?

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

Post by elemtilas »

Davush wrote: 19 Mar 2021 18:58 Interesting, although I don't see what makes Levantine music in particular stand out compared to "SW Asia", since Levantine music resembles much more to e.g. Yemeni or Omani music, than European...in which case shouldn't it be Levantine, Mesopotamian, South Arabian, Egyptian, Gulf, (not to mention regions which similar, but not identical, traditions like Turkey, Iran) etc. if we are going to categorise? since they are all just as distinct (or as similar to) from one another?
As I said, there's plenty of space for rearranging! This is, again, nòt a musicological scheme, but a private one.

Though I think that, if we were going to categorise, then we might as well do it properly and go locality by locality, genre by genre, influence by influence. Do all the comparative and diachronic studies and draw up a Great Big Fancy Musical Diagramme!
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

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Salmoneus wrote: 19 Mar 2021 22:12 [the 'Near East' influence on Europe was very slightly via Moorish Spain, but was much more strongly via Byzantium, and also via the Balkans (which musically are quite different from Europe) and though the Roma.]
That influence can be felt throughout Latin America, the Philippines and the US as well, all of which are cultural inheritors of Moorish Iberia.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Salmoneus »

Not in any particularly meaningful way, no. [the "Latin" feel of south american music is its African influences, and to a lesser extent the flamenco heritage from Iberian (i.e. Roma/Balkan influence)].

"Moorish Iberia", let's remember, ended hundreds of years before Common Practice developed!

Or maybe I'm wrong. What concrete elements from Arabic music do you think there are in Latin American music or the music of the USA today (outside of, obviously, recent immigrants listening to the music of their homeland)?
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Pāṇini »

Can't believe I'm this late to the conversation :D.

I'd definitely agree with Salmoneus that most of what creates that particular "Latin" feel to the music of South America and the Caribbean are theoretically grounded in the music of the African diaspora. Mexico and much of the Andes have a far more indigenous/European mixture going on; a fairly modern European understanding of tonal harmony has percolated through to all but the most isolated communities of highland Latin America. The African-influenced styles of the Caribbean are less comfortable with tonality in the common practice sense (see Adam Neely's analysis of 4-chord progressions existing simultaneously in two tonal centers), and incorporate many West African rhythmic elements.

As far as a musical conculture goes, I'd suggest as a basis doing a lot of listening—Smithsonian Folkways Records' discography is priceless—and lots of research. If you hear something you like, do some theoretical reading and figure out what exactly gives the music the feel that it has. I strongly recommend Gerhard Kubik's Africa and the Blues, and much of Simha Arom's fieldwork and analysis, at least if you have any interest in Africa. Note that, much like with linguistics, the terminology can often serve as a barrier to entry.

I'm afraid that I don't have much expertise as far as the "musical Middle East" goes, nor organology, but I'm a sucker for music theory.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

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Pāṇini wrote: 20 Mar 2021 01:41 Can't believe I'm this late to the conversation :D.
Better late than never!
I'm a sucker for music theory.
Oh dear. In that case, I look forward to you correcting me a lot when post this guide thing...
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

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Salmoneus wrote: 19 Mar 2021 23:54 Not in any particularly meaningful way, no. [the "Latin" feel of south american music is its African influences, and to a lesser extent the flamenco heritage from Iberian (i.e. Roma/Balkan influence)].

"Moorish Iberia", let's remember, ended hundreds of years before Common Practice developed!

Or maybe I'm wrong. What concrete elements from Arabic music do you think there are in Latin American music or the music of the USA today (outside of, obviously, recent immigrants listening to the music of their homeland)?
*shrug* It's in the very bones of Spanish music my friend! Listen to some of those taqsim, then find some Analusian classical music, then some Gitano flamenco, then some art flamenco and even some Sor or Tarrega. Very clear. Very strong thread of Arabic tradition.

Compare with old Spanish organ music from Correa de Arauxo or Cabanilles. Sounds pretty continental to me in comparison.

Keep in mind: the music that was brought with the Spaniards to Latin America came in the 15th & 16th centuries. Sure there are lots of other influences, including the Native!, but the Arabic infused Iberian tradition can still be heard.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Salmoneus »

That's not Arabic. The origin of "Gitano flamenco" is exactly what it says on the tin: gitanos (i.e. Roma, via the Balkans); flamenco was also traditionally known simply as "cante gitano" (gypsy song). The 'flamenco mode' that characterises flamenco is also known, outside of a Spanish context, as the Hungarian or Gypsy Minor; its distinctive rhythm is an ordinary Balkan additive rhythm. There's nothing 'Arabic' about it (other characteristics that at first blush might appear 'non-Western' - such as the continued use of just intonation, portamento, and flexible vocal rhythm - are simply preserved characteristics of European folk music more generally).

A simple sanity check here is the chronology. The capital of flamenco - the gypsy quarter of Seville - fell to the Christians in 1248, with Cadiz following in 1262. But the Roma settlement of Andalusia didn't happen until the later 15th century, and recognisable flamenco didn't develop until the mid-18th century - and in any case remained isolated within the Roma community until their emancipation in 1783, when it began to spread among nearby peasants. The adoption of flamenco as something distinctively Spanish (rather than alien and eastern) and its spread into contemporary popular culture in Spain occured in the great flamenco mania of the 1840s and 1850s (and only after that did it begin to be exported to Latin America in any quantity). You're right to say that the organ music of people like Cabanilles in the 17th century doesn't sound distinctively 'Latin', but rather much like other European music of the Renaissance, and the same is true of choral music by people like Victoria in the 16th century - and likewise the keyboard music of Scarlatti and the chamber music of Boccherini in the 18th century. [both of the latter were Italian by birth, in modern terms (though Scarlatti was born in Spanish Italy), but spent most of their lives and their most fertile periods in Iberia]. This is particularly striking in the case of Scarlatti, whose keyboard works were noted (and criticised) for their passages directly imitating the music "sung by carriers, muleteers, and common people". There are a few hints in the 18th century music of what later became distinctively Spanish - Scarlatti includes modal passages (characteristic of older folk music across the continent), while Boccherini wrote for the guitar and for castanets - but by and large Spanish music of this era was of a piece with the music of Italy or France. This is simply because flamenco had not yet developed - and had certainly not permeated into Spanish culture. [likewise, the African rhythms found in Cuba (and Brazil) probably hadn't permeated European/native folk music in those countries yet, and certainly hadn't spread throughout the Spanish- (or Portuguese-)speaking world yet.

You can hear what Spanish popular music of the era sounded like in pieces like this fandango by Gluck and this fandango by Mozart, as well as this sonata by Scarlatti that imitates a fandango; the former two are from operas set in Spain, and are meant to convey contemporary Spanish dances being performed by the characters (rather than being concert imitations like Scarlatti's piece). You can certainly pick out elements that made these pieces noticeably 'Spanish' - minor keys, descending melodies, an unforgiving pace driven by rapid motion in the bass... but I don't think anyone would say that this was profoundly 'Arabic' music.

While it's true that both Arabic music and the gypsy (and later African) influences in 19th and 20th century Spanish music sound distinctively non-European, it must be remembered that the latter arrived more than half a millennium after the former ceased to have a direct influence in Spain; indeed, I'm not even sure how much of the later Arabic musical tradition even existed by the time of the reconquista! [Europeans often like to imagine that every non-European thing they encounter is a unique, unchanging artifact of primitive culture untouched since time immemorial... but in reality, other traditions developed just as quickly and radically as European culture did].

But, I think we're going off-topic...
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Torco »

What elemtilas says is to some degree true: there is a line of musical influence from arabia to iberia to latin america: that is to say, it is known that spanish music was influenced by the maghreb and the arab world, and that latin american music was influenced by spanish music. that being said, it's not very obvious at this point, and part of it has probably to do with the fact that during those 500 years or so arabic music changed independently. I myself don't really _feel_ the arabicness in it anymore. then again, I don't really like most of what's called latin music. (and in fairness, the very concept of it doesn't make any sense to me, being from latin america and all). In recent times, however, music that people of latin america listen is to is not that 'latin'. people in chile, for example, listen to almost nothing other than anglopop, old pop, some contemporary latin american pop, and regeton. mostly regeton, and there is definitely no arabic influence in regeton that i can distinguish.

Still, the way the spanish use plucked strings is quite different from the way they're used elsewhere, the melodic lines in particular sometimes are reminiscent of things arabs do with ouds, etcetera. But the most obvious influence in what google gives me when i tell it to show me 'latin music' is contemporary popular music (chord progressions and so son), the use of nylonstring guitars (tbh the metalstring is, to me, an exotic thing unless it's an electric), and that one ryhthm that is in everything and has been for the last 10 years. you know which one, the regeton rythm. they call it tumpa tumpa here

speaking of which... writing your abstracts in spanish and latin is the most delicious fuck you to the global dominion of english I've read in my life and I love it.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Salmoneus »

Riiight, I guess we shouldn't have wasted our time with specific music theory or concrete chronologies... we should just have recognised that "it is known" and "felt it in our bones". Right, good talk.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

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someone's cranky today. :mrgreen:
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

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Salmoneus wrote: 21 Mar 2021 00:18 Riiight, I guess we shouldn't have wasted our time with specific music theory or concrete chronologies... we should just have recognised that "it is known" and "felt it in our bones". Right, good talk.
No one's knocking theory and chronology. Thank God music isn't ALL theory and chronology. Some of us just groove the music! If you don't get the heart of the thing, that's okay, too! Feel free to stick with just the facts ma'am.

And indeed, an excellent talk, even with your wet towelery!
Torco wrote: 21 Mar 2021 00:44 someone's cranky today. :mrgreen:

Nah. Just Salmoneus being Salmoneus when things don't go to his liking. I for one will leave it at that and anticipate with eagerness the next leap in this thread's evolution. Particularly the piece Salmoneus is working on.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

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EDIT: I'm out.
Last edited by Salmoneus on 21 Mar 2021 01:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

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Everyone, take a break from this thread.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

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Torco wrote: 20 Mar 2021 22:06 What elemtilas says is to some degree true: there is a line of musical influence from arabia to iberia to latin america: that is to say, it is known that spanish music was influenced by the maghreb and the arab world, and that latin american music was influenced by spanish music. that being said, it's not very obvious at this point, and part of it has probably to do with the fact that during those 500 years or so arabic music changed independently. I myself don't really _feel_ the arabicness in it anymore. then again, I don't really like most of what's called latin music. (and in fairness, the very concept of it doesn't make any sense to me, being from latin america and all). In recent times, however, music that people of latin america listen is to is not that 'latin'. people in chile, for example, listen to almost nothing other than anglopop, old pop, some contemporary latin american pop, and regeton. mostly regeton, and there is definitely no arabic influence in regeton that i can distinguish.
Yes. No doubt much Latin music has evolved and changed. But so has Spanish music! None of these cultures are stuck in the 14th or 15th century. I actually like a number of kinds of Latin music (if I dare use such a blanket term again!) -- as a matter of fact, I really like the theatrics of some tololocheros. I like Cuban music, too; and Argentinian. Generally the older stuff (early 20th century).

Curious though, what sorts of Latin music do you like?

And you're right -- pretty light on the Arabic influence, though I can't fathom why we'd be surprised. I don't know if you'd agree or not, but I think that's kind of to be expected, after all, the Arabic influence came to something of an abrupt end in the 15th century with the reconquest! And there's been 500 years of mixing and musical advancement since that time!
Still, the way the spanish use plucked strings is quite different from the way they're used elsewhere, the melodic lines in particular sometimes are reminiscent of things arabs do with ouds, etcetera.
This is largely what I was getting at. The music clearly has a different "flavour" to it. It's certainly not an Irish flavour!

But speaking of, I'd argue that a good comparison, apart from the temporal differences, would be that Arabic (North African / Moorish) music influenced Spanish music the same way Scottish and Irish traditions influenced Canadian and American music. We can hear the strains of the ancient oud in flamenco and Spanish guitar music the same way we hear the "auld sod" in Cape Breton fiddling, Appalachian old time music and even right on into 21st century country music. Those little fiddle licks are straight out of the Irish tradition.

And of course, even there, there's loads of cultural and musical interchange.
But the most obvious influence in what google gives me when i tell it to show me 'latin music' is contemporary popular music (chord progressions and so son), the use of nylonstring guitars (tbh the metalstring is, to me, an exotic thing unless it's an electric), and that one ryhthm that is in everything and has been for the last 10 years. you know which one, the regeton rythm. they call it tumpa tumpa here

speaking of which... writing your abstracts in spanish and latin is the most delicious fuck you to the global dominion of english I've read in my life and I love it.
Hehe. I read that one too!

The long and short of the Spanish is that the Arabic influence, since the 8th century, was I would say something of a broadside to the peninsula: not just music per se, but also new instruments, musicians (presumably not just court musicians, but ordinary folks with musical talents as well, new musical theories & techniques. The effects can be heard in the Cantigas of Alfonzo X for example. The use of Arabic modes and compositional form. The Latin seems to say about the same.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Davush »

I think it would be unusual if Arabic music hadn't left *any* trace on music of Iberia, given how long that period lasted...although I think the influence is more broad as Elemtilas mentioned, and overall far less than commonly assumed.

After all, Arabic music relies on unfretted instruments and intervals which simply aren't available otherwise, so if you're using fretted instruments and relying on harmony, any Arabic influenced can only be peripheral... Even the cantigas don't actually use any Arabic "modes" (since the instruments can't play them, and modes in Arabic music function quite differently).

I can understand why flamenco can sound vaguely Arabic influenced, but that is really only in the same way a lot of Balkan music sounds vaguely eastern in that respect...Salmoneus is right to point out that the typical flamenco sound isn't directly "Arabic" but primarily uses Balkan scales (which a lot of the time do sound like european-ized versions of Arabic modes/scales)...
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by elemtilas »

Davush wrote: 21 Mar 2021 11:56 After all, Arabic music relies on unfretted instruments and intervals which simply aren't available otherwise, so if you're using fretted instruments and relying on harmony, any Arabic influenced can only be peripheral...
At least until someone comes along and devises frets that fit the music?
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by tikoo »

I make bamboo flutes, and so I may tune them as freely as I wish. A custom-tuned consort of these is made. The only composerly directions to playing them are density, duration and dynamics. A language for singing is just as free... like jazz scat.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Tsugar »

Maybe a scifi setting would place more emphasis on theremins, synthesizers, and multi frequency concerts from different species so they can hear music.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by tikoo »

I hear music for a puppet show.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Backstroke_Italics »

One way to make a musical style feel distinctive is through scales. For example, there are lots of pentatonic scales in use around the world. The Hirajoshi scale of Japan, for example, makes everything sound vaguely Japanese, because it alternates wide and narrow intervals between the notes. There is a website somewhere with circle-of-fifths diagrams of many scales from around the world, but for the life of me I can't find it right now.

EDIT: praise Jeebus! Here it is: https://ianring.com/musictheory/scales/traditions/
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