Making a Music Culture?

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Davush
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Davush »

Vlürch wrote: 08 Mar 2021 22:04
Cool! I love how ouds sound, never seen/heard one in real life but it seems like such a cool instrument.
...
Oof, that sounds like even just owning one is kinda risky, like it might break easily in general?
Oud (and the Arab musical traditional more generally) are wonderful [:D]
With the right strings and tuning, they are OK, but overall the oud is definitely not as sturdy as a guitar, for example — a lot of well played ouds usually require some type of repair within several years of manufacture. The shape of it also makes it a bit more fragile, such as the angle of the pegbox and using much thinner wood overall. Luckily though, they are constructed relatively simply and with glues that over time tend to come loose, so most minor issues which appear over time can be fixed at home or by luthiers not too expensively.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Salmoneus »

Davush wrote: 08 Mar 2021 22:27
Vlürch wrote: 08 Mar 2021 22:04
Cool! I love how ouds sound, never seen/heard one in real life but it seems like such a cool instrument.
...
Oof, that sounds like even just owning one is kinda risky, like it might break easily in general?
Oud (and the Arab musical traditional more generally) are wonderful [:D]
With the right strings and tuning, they are OK, but overall the oud is definitely not as sturdy as a guitar, for example — a lot of well played ouds usually require some type of repair within several years of manufacture. The shape of it also makes it a bit more fragile, such as the angle of the pegbox and using much thinner wood overall. Luckily though, they are constructed relatively simply and with glues that over time tend to come loose, so most minor issues which appear over time can be fixed at home or by luthiers not too expensively.
This is a big reason why guitars became popular.

[for those not up to speed: European music made heavy use of ouds throughout the later middle ages, renaissance, and even into the early baroque; in Europe, however, "al-oud" was shortened to "lute". European and Arabic/Middle-Eastern lutes/ouds followed different courses of development, but they did so in dialogue with one another (for a century or two, most European lutes were still being made by Muslims, in Spain or Sicily) - note, for instance, how the triple-rosette of the theorbo appears in almost identical form in some north african ouds, even though the theorbo was invented long after the initial 'split' in traditions. "The lute" (in this narrower sense) and "the oud" should really be seen as synonyms for a large family of instruments, all with small local variations and variations over time, but all fundamentally more similar to one another than to any other instruments*.]

Lutes have several downsides, however, and one of them is that they're famously fragile, particularly when you try to build bass instruments like theorbos. [I remember reading a guide addressed to composers on how to write for the theorbo that explicitly pointed out (less pungently) that theorbo players generally have no time for any of this "extended technique" bullshit because the first rule of theorbo playing is don't damage the theorbo!!!...]. And this is one reason they became less popular, particularly in their role as household instruments.



*how would I define this family? There's never an exact definition of a family (cue Wittgenstein...), but in general ouds have a round-to-pear-shaped outline, a short neck, usually with the pegbox tilted back at an angle, usually without built-in frets (though tied-on frets became common in Europe and some instruments have wooden frets for the highest notes). They have a distinctive bowl back, built from a sequence of curved, vertical lathes; the front has a central, circular large-ish soundhole, often containing a rosette, while some variants have two additional soundholes (one on either side), or even replace the one soundhole with a triangle of smaller soundholes. Early instruments have few courses - originally 3 or 4 - but the number is variable and has tended to increase over time; courses are typically of two strings, though the highest or lowerst courses may be single, and the strings are tuned in unison. The bridge is combined with the hitchpins, so tends to pull the soundboard rather than pushing it. The whole thing is relatively lightly constructed.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

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Salmoneus wrote: 08 Mar 2021 20:51 As I think has been pointed out before: you don't seem to realise that not everybody shares your economic (or indeed physical) privileges.
Look. I am neither "economically privileged" nor particularly "physically privileged". These are weird and misguided notions that you keep making up about me inside your own head. You can quit doing this any time!
Meanwhile: no, he can't easily turn an oud into his instrument, because his instrument is a long-necked lute and an oud is a short-necked lute. You'd have to have fretwork all the way down over the soundhole! [even if having one soundhole instead of two wouldn't change the timbre, which it would]. It would be much more practical, if he were wealthy and retired and had his own workshop and technical experience and could afford to do all this bullshit in pursuit of whimsy, to buy a long-necked lute of some sort and add more strings (and possibly reinforcement?) to it...
I think you've missed the point of this whole exercise by a margin of several AU. The point isn't to create a perfect instrument. The point isn't to put yourself in the poor house because of whimsy. The whole point of this exercise is to experiment! So what if it's not a long necked lute? Graft on a longer neck segment to the oud! Get a long necked lute! Get a 12 string guitar! The whole point of this exercise is engage in worldbuilding from a new perspective -- from gaining practical and experiential knowledge of what our fictional people do. Whether that's cookery or writing a book in an invented language using home made ink on homemade paper or whether that's trying to make their clothing or their tools or their musical instruments. The geopoet can gain tremendous insight into a world by doing these things.

EDIT: holy shit, is 'Goodwill' some kind of exploitation site? Some of their prices are insanely low, surely. I've never tried to buy a flute, but there's a whole heap of flutes from recognised makes that are under $10 on that site, with carrying cases included. I think I'd feel guilty buying one for so little!
[there's also an oud for under $10, but there's only one and I'm assuming that'll be bid up by the time it the auction's over]
Don't feel guilty! Goodwill is a charitable organisation. They are a reseller of donated goods. By volume, I'd say clothing, household goods and electronics / furniture are their largest stock. But they do receive fine jewelry, numismatic items, currency, musical instruments and antiques. They didn't pay for any of that stuff, so if it sells for $10 or $20 they've got cash they didn't have before. Everybody wins.
Last edited by elemtilas on 09 Mar 2021 01:12, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

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Davush wrote: 08 Mar 2021 21:46
Salmoneus wrote: 08 Mar 2021 20:51 [there's also an oud for under $10, but there's only one and I'm assuming that'll be bid up by the time it the auction's over]
I can guarantee you none of the ouds on that site (if we're looking at the same one) would be good for anything other than as an ornament.
That's alright, too! The point isn't to buy an oud to become a concertmaster and tour the Mediterranean. The point is to get a cheap instrument that one can experiment on. i.e., by placing a particular fret system, restringing it, retuning it and literally giving it a go!
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

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Vlürch wrote: 08 Mar 2021 22:04
elemtilas wrote: 08 Mar 2021 18:35Is this piece of music any less real (it causes sound waves to move from your computer to your ear and thus you brain where you interpret it as (something vaguely) music(like)) simply because the instruments represented don't exist in the real world or because the composer or the country or the history of that culture's music is all in my head?
Mmh, true, that music exists (and sounds nice), just like anything else that came from being a "realisation" of something fictional. Whether it "really" is that thing doesn't really matter, but I feel like if something is made using something else than what it conically would be made using, it's still an approximation/interpretation if that makes sense; kind of like how a sculpture made in real life of a sculpture that in a fictional story was made using magic wouldn't really be that sculpture. Of course, with music it's less clear-cut and really doesn't objectively matter how it's made.
Yes, indeed! It's an approximation! And in several ways. It's my opinion that, for the avid worldbuilder, approximations are really all we have, and, as with making the world itself, they are an admirable goal in and of themselves! If for no other reason than to rest in the satisfaction that, yay!, I actually made something from my own world!

Topically, since that thing is a musical instrument, you'd get to shout a triple YAY! Because you shall not only have conceived the music that the culture plays; but also shall have made the instrument, imperfect as it may be (and please don't let anyone dissuade you from trying to make it, just because they think it can't be done: every one of those points, while valid, is simply an opportunity for creative challenge and workaround), or at least a reasonable simulacrum thereof; and lastly, shall have been able to not only hear that otherworldly music, but also to actually make that music come into being here within the mundane world.

To me, that's summa geopoeisia.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Torco »

my own two cents on coming up with a musical tradition. (which I've been wanting to do tbh)

Good news!

instrument construction is, within a given technological level, pretty much free: just take any entry in the hornbostel-sachs and just built it, or juts decide your conpeople build and play it. People on this earth have built all kinds of weird instruments, as people in this very board have discussed at length in the 'what are you listening to' thread: do you want keyboard that bows strings? a flute as big as a room? a vast array of flutes controlled by complicated clockwork? a literal magnetic field that makes notes as you move your hands inside it like a crazy person? you got it, and I'm not even that knowledgeable about funky ass instruments, you can find better examples.

the kinds of rhythms you can expect to see in your music seems also to be arbitrary, just from the sheer diversity of them we find on earth: Almost anything you can find in weird experimental jazz or contemporary classical you also can find in someone's musical tradition: 5/4 time and other odd time signatures? they're folklore to some balkanic peoples. polyrhythms are common to the indigenous music of Africa. do you want your conpeople to sing religious hythms in 7/5 ? I'll give you permission. I'll offer more resistence if _all_ their songs are in 7/5 tho.

scales, well, here it gets more complicated. I'm no musicologist, and I'm happy to be persuaded otherwise, but it really looks like most peoples use, for the most part, pretty similar scales indeed. without going from first principles, a scale is when you say "okay, I'm only going to use these notes", you know, C D E F G A Bb C for example makes something called the myxolydian mode, which is just a special kind of scale. of course, A B C are all western conventions with western assumptions baked in. scales with cool microtones are halal here: microtones are employed by indian classical, turkish, and arabic classical amongst others.

but to my knowledge all musical traditions have a few commonalities.

* the octave is always a salient interval. In fact, AFAIC intervals are always how pitch is organized: there are no musical traditions which build instrument graded in, say, absolute amounts of hertz.
* some concept of pitch classes repeating up and down octaves, this is to say, a note: a special frequency that we call something, but also we use the same name, or consider it somehow the same as the pitch one octave above it: in my piano, there's a bunch of A keys that all trigger a different pitch, but those pitches are all one octave up and down each other.
* scales. no musical tradition AFAIC plays music with just any old pitch: they all aim to produce a discrete amounth of pitches that we know sound relatively good together: this is forced by a great many things: for example, it makes improvising possible: also, it makes memorizing the music easier. many instruments can produce infinite pitches, but many others can't. whatever it is, music (that anyone cares to listen to) is not a meandering stroll through pitch space: it's more of a jumping between a handful of set points.
* repetition legitimizes. repetition legitimizes. repetition legitimizes. repetition legitimizes.
* transposition: apparently, humans have agreed the same melody played a fifth up is the same melody.
* percussion. this one struck me! like, I have nothing against drums, they're lovely, but there's a lot of ways to make noise, and the crudest one is also universal.
* rhythm: this is an extension of repetition legitimizes, but also I think it's got its own point: everyone loves a groove, which is just a sound that's repeated in a certain pattern. just like with scales, a limited set of time relationships between the beats of moments of a pattern.
* you reuse bits of a melody, apparently: this makes sense, because repetition legitimizes but too much repetition bores, so you imitate yourself in a different way. you can give this a fancier name, "development of musical ideas".

so anyway, your conculture has scales: what is not at all universal is what intervals those scales are made of, and the notion that the octave has 12 and only those 12 pitches (you know, C, C#, D, D#, E and so on). we all love octaves and fifths and thirds, but semitones are a western affectation. this means that very often the octave won't be divided that strictly or scientific, and you're going to find all kinds of intonation systems: however, it seems that just intonation is extremely common throughout the world, probably because it's based on something fundamental to how we hear: the interval. not all possible pitch sets are equally probable, though: the pentatonic comes up again and again in world music, and for good reason, it's pretty cool! the scale C, F, F#, F##, B, C? probably not so much. probably for good reason, just try to jam to that.

harmony is... well... I'm very afraid to say it but it seems like chords is also kind of a western fashion: the whole world only shares our obsession with the four chord loop because, well, western civilization -whatever that means- kind of conquered the world. Actually, I think it might be easier to just know a thing or two about what about western music is idiomatic, and what about it is universal. off the top of my head, western music is

* obsessed with harmony and polyphony. many other people are perfectly content with a single melody and a good old drum.
* obsessed with the 12 pitches. Like, bend the rules a bit, man, there's a whole other palette of colours you're denying yourself.
* obsessed with precomposition, as in having the piece be entirely planned and defined and the performer being expected to hit all the pitches in the way the sheet music specifies. Live a little! having a plan is nice, but sometimes the best music comes out of the moment.
* rhythmically boring: you should see what they're doing to drums out there.

in fact, one could think of a taxonomy of musical traditions: and we conlangers love taxonomies. let's call it funk vs. square. funk is where you find the weird stuff, the fancy stuff, you know, the compound meters, microtones, 90 instruments playing at the same time different things and it still working, etcetera. when musicians get interested in exploring a musical concept, they start doing funky stuff. otherwise, you're square. this is all very arbitrary, of course, but:

indian classical and arabic classical, for example, are funky about rhythm and melody: they have interesting scales out of moving around tiny intervals around: make the major seventh a bit flatter, but not that flat, and boom, you probably made the scale of a raga.
western is square about microtones: no, those are not real notes, jimmy, stop it. these are all things that only make sense if one knows a bit about music theory but, hey, it's the same when we're on about linguistics, or speculative biology. That's the bad news, on top of composing and experimental luthery, you also need to be pretty decent at music theory -and hopefully musicology- to come up with a really good, really thick, really juicy musical tradition and some music in it. can you imagine, though? that'd be fucking cool. if you search youtube for conlang music right now you find metal in someone's conlang, the conmusical equivalent of a relex.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

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Torco wrote: 09 Mar 2021 05:32 * obsessed with harmony and polyphony. many other people are perfectly content with a single melody and a good old drum.
There's also a great deal of use of polyphony, and some of harmony, outside the west (west africa and oceania are particularly known for their choral polyphony), while there's a great deal of western folk music that is (or was - modern versions often modernise by adding harmony) just a melody and a drum.
* obsessed with the 12 pitches. Like, bend the rules a bit, man, there's a whole other palette of colours you're denying yourself.
Assuming you're only talking about pre-1920 western music. But also, to be clear: having 12 pitches is indeed unusual, because it's so many. The great majority of musical cultures have fewer.
* obsessed with precomposition, as in having the piece be entirely planned and defined and the performer being expected to hit all the pitches in the way the sheet music specifies. Live a little! having a plan is nice, but sometimes the best music comes out of the moment.
This is very much not true. It only really applies to the majority of music performed in highly formal settings after, say, 1820. Before that, composers like Bach and Mozart were respected (for Bach) or famous (for Mozart) primarily for their skill in improvisational performance - indeed, some of Mozart's later piano concertos don't have the piano part notated at all, or rather, the only notation is long block chords, which it's generally assumed Mozart would extemporise on in the moment. As an extreme example, the "adagio" that forms the second movement of Bach's third Brandenburg concerto is literally written as a single bar with two chords in it!
Even in formal music after 1820, pieces with an instrumental or vocal soloist would have prominent (and sometimes lengthy!) improvisational or pseudo-improvisational (i.e. performed as improvisation, but the performer probably planned most of it in advance) sections (cadenzas). Cadenza sections were gradually replaced through laziness and humility - performers increasingly just used the cadenzas previously performed by better composers, either the original composer (who often couldn't keep their nose out of it and wrote 'optional' cadenzas - Beethoven originally left his to the performer, but after he went deaf and stopped being able to perform himself he published some possible cadenzas for his earlier concerti) or a famous early performer. But the tradition never entirely stopped, and there's more use of alternative cadenzas now, and some performers have even returned to improvising their cadenzas.
* rhythmically boring: you should see what they're doing to drums out there.
This is the opposite of true. Western classical music is very unusual for how rhythmically interesting it is, with massive subdivision of the beat, extensive syncopation and asymmetrical rhythmic structures, polyrhythms, a wide-range of (sometimes very unusual) time signatures, switches between time signatures within a piece (sometimes even between bars), anacrusis, stretto, and fractally rhythmic phrase structures... above all, a great fluidity and love of ambiguity in rhythm. Along with harmony, western classical music is perhaps most defined by its rhythmic complexity. This, indeed, is why those who aren't familiar with the tradition may complain about many pieces lacking a 'beat', because the rhythm is more complex - and more variable - than they're used to.
western is square about microtones: no, those are not real notes, jimmy, stop it.
Ignoring modern western music, with all its microtones, it's important to be clear: there's nothing "funky" about "microtones". Microtones are just like other tones - a microtone is simply any tone (or an interval, depending on usage) that wasn't intentionally used by European formal composers between 1600 and 1900. Using microtones is 'funky' relative to european formal music from that time period, but not in any absolute way - by the same standards, using European tones and intervals is 'funky' and 'microtonal' relative to scales in other cultures.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Torco »

agreed that harmony and polyphony are not exclusive to the west. I think the concept of the chord, and the chord progression, might be?
Assuming you're only talking about pre-1920 western music. But also, to be clear: having 12 pitches is indeed unusual, because it's so many. The great majority of musical cultures have fewer.
I mean, fair enough, but I'm more talking about the pitch classes used: you don't have half-sharps, or different degrees of sharpness or flatness at all, you just have 12 equally spaced semitones, and that's at least a concrete feature.
This is very much not true. It only really applies to the majority of music performed in highly formal settings after, say, 1820.
quite so, and it's not even true of a lot of western music today: jazz, for example, which is unambiguously western, is very improvisatory, just like baroque music was. also rock, and the chilean tradition of pallas (a sort of rap battle with guitars and very strict poetic meter and rhyme). but I mean, these days, for the most part, western music is quite precomposed. Like, no tradition is going to be 0% improvisatory, simply because you can't notate every aspect of a musical performance (and also likely because performers want to, well, perform i guess). i think comparatively improvisation is less central and precomposition moreso than in other traditions. (though it'd take actual statistical ethnomusicology to quantify this and say "ok, we're more precompositional than 70% of traditions or something)
This is the opposite of true. Western classical music is very unusual for how rhythmically interesting it is
I think size affects things here: like, there's a lot of western classical that makes very complex things with rhythm, but that's in part because there's just a lot of western classical, but even more of it (not to mention western music in general) is just in 3/4 or 4/4 with good old minims, crotchets and quavers over a relatively simple beat. by contrast, you find polyrhythms everywhere in africa. this doesn't mean complex is better, I enjoy me a nice sarabande as much as the next guy. and our rhythms are not thaaaat square either, maaan. [:D]

I do agree that WC, when compared with other western subtraditions, has a great amount of interest in ambiguous or nested rhythms, maybe we're not that boring after all.
there's nothing "funky" about "microtones"
hmmm I feel like there is: in a way, the 12-tone system is a simplification rather than a complication: the number of intervals you have is reduced, and they're all discrete amounts of one fundamental interval the semitone. strict pentatonality, for example, would also be relatively simpler in this sense: by contrast, you're going to find a lot more different types of intervals in more microtonal music. from the perspective of information, say, you need fewer bytes to encode a song (or a bunch of them) if you know you're always going to be using the same five pitch classes: by contrast, you'll find at least 22 pitch classes in indian classical (not used at the same time, thank god xD).


a few more compositional tools that are claimed to be musical universals

* the concept of a tonal center, that is to say, a pitch that is somehow "the core" or "the place to which the melody returns". this is one of those things in music which I can't articulate very objectively and have to resort to these hippie dippie notions of "it's like the melody is *returning* to G maaan" but hey, what can I do. I think I understood this concept more by noodling around on the piano than anything else. in western music, the tonal center is the tonic is the first degree of the scale, and you'll generally start and end the piece on it. you can get cool effects, though, if you try to noodle in, say, C but you start treating E as your tonal center (hint: call it phrygian)
* stepwise motion. i.e. do re mi fa sol being relatively more common than leaps, or at least coming back to stepwise motion after a leap. I don't think you can make a music tradition out of purely leaps, tho, but who knows.
* your scales typically have five to seven pitches, though this is a soft universal.
* scales containing various different intervals: apparently there's no musical traditions that only use the wholetone scale or other symmetrical scales, which is interesting and i didn't expect.
* musical phrases. apparently everyone uses them... though then again, this may be tautological? like, when you've been taught music in phrases, you're gonna see phrases everywhere? who knows.
* the good old fashioned major scale: I don't know if it's a proper universal, but it pops up in a lot of nonwestern traditions. some people claim there are acoustic reasons for this having to do with the overtone series.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

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Torco wrote: 09 Mar 2021 15:52
* the good old fashioned major scale: I don't know if it's a proper universal, but it pops up in a lot of nonwestern traditions. some people claim there are acoustic reasons for this having to do with the overtone series.
The major scale using Western intervals is called "Ꜥajam" (literally "foreign") in the Arab tradition, which would indicate that it's been imported/borrowed (and it's also quite rare in the more classical repertoire). The most similar "maqām" to the major scale (since Arabic music isn't really organised around scales, but groups of 3-5 notes "ajnās") is maqām rāst, which has a half-flat third in the first jins, and a half-flat 7th or fully flat 7th in the second jins. The half-flat third (which often sounds out of tune to those unfamiliar) is considered the "neutral third" in Arabic music, with the fully-major and fully-minor third being variations from that.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Vlürch »

Torco wrote: 09 Mar 2021 05:32(that anyone cares to listen to)
bruh
Torco wrote: 09 Mar 2021 15:52strict pentatonality, for example, would also be relatively simpler in this sense: by contrast, you're going to find a lot more different types of intervals in more microtonal music. from the perspective of information, say, you need fewer bytes to encode a song (or a bunch of them) if you know you're always going to be using the same five pitch classes: by contrast, you'll find at least 22 pitch classes in indian classical (not used at the same time, thank god xD).
Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're saying here, in which case sorry... but if what you're saying is that five-tone equal temperament (ie. splitting an octave into five notes) isn't "microtonal", it is because "microtone" is a modern western concept defined as anything that isn't one of the notes in our modern standardised twelve-tone octave, and the notes that you get if you split an octave into five aren't the same notes as the ones you get if you divide an octave into twelve notes. That's why, to also use the same example I used earlier again, nine-tone equal temperament (which is a thing in at least some Indonesian music) is considered microtonal from a modern western perspective.

I'd assume most westerners, when getting into microtones, gravitate towards 24TET since it's literally just what we're used to except there are twice as many notes. Like, yay! It's very easy to get used to and immediately starts sounding familiar, while at least for my ears something like 9TET or 19TET takes more time to get used to.

On the topic of 24TET, I'd totally want a 24TET guitar... but they don't seem to be sold anywhere, at least not ones with the entire neck fretted like that. Even if they were, they'd absolutely cost more than I can afford because it'd be marketed as a "gimmick" and "gimmicky" instruments are always expensive. [:'(] But then again, if I did somehow get a 24TET guitar, I'd also need a 24TET bass... and I'm rambling again...
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Torco »

I mean... 'microtonal' is inherently a western-centric notion, it's for the most part about intervals smaller than a semitone, and thus very small(tm) being relevant. but there's a reality underlying what the ethnocentric concept points to: just like in a phonetic inventory we say that three vowels and seven consonants is 'a simple inventory', whereas, say, Ubykh has a 'complex inventory'. so the arabic system of notes and intervals and maqams and so on is, in this sense of intervalic diversity, more complex than the western one, and thus we call it 'microtonal'. If our music tradition was very strictly pentatonic, we'd probably be calling dominant seven chords microtonal. But for example just intonation i've never seen it described as 'microtonal', probably because even if very small intervals matter there, they do so in the same way as very small intervals matter in tuning a piano: once you're tuned, you're not thinking about neutral thirds or quarter-tones.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Salmoneus »

Just intonation isn't described as microtonal, because microtonality is new (to the West) and just intonation is old. But I've definitely seen pelog and other high un-Western gamuts described as microtonal, and the word is certainly used in the context of artificial harmonicities. And I would think that if anyone wanted to use a scale that included demisemitones, it could be described as microtonal, even if the total number of tones used was no greater than in 12tet.

I guess I just don't see it as all that useful to use "microtonal" as a synonym for just "more-than-12-tet" or whatever. Nobody's saying that Arabic, Persian and Indian music isn't more complex in terms of their gamuts - it just feels weirdly colonial to lump these traditions in a big basket of "microtonality".


[sorry I'm not more involved in this thread right now, I'm writing that 'how music works' guide...]
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Torco »

look forwards to it
response will therefore be brief
term is indeed silly
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by elemtilas »

Snyexarosha wrote: 06 Mar 2021 21:27
I know this has been a lot to take in! Have you had any thoughts or inspirations about the music(s) of your peoples as of yet?
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Snyexarosha »

Torco wrote: 09 Mar 2021 05:32 * the octave is always a salient interval. In fact, AFAIC intervals are always how pitch is organized: there are no musical traditions which build instrument graded in, say, absolute amounts of hertz.
* some concept of pitch classes repeating up and down octaves, this is to say, a note: a special frequency that we call something, but also we use the same name, or consider it somehow the same as the pitch one octave above it: in my piano, there's a bunch of A keys that all trigger a different pitch, but those pitches are all one octave up and down each other.
* scales. no musical tradition AFAIC plays music with just any old pitch: they all aim to produce a discrete amounth of pitches that we know sound relatively good together: this is forced by a great many things: for example, it makes improvising possible: also, it makes memorizing the music easier. many instruments can produce infinite pitches, but many others can't. whatever it is, music (that anyone cares to listen to) is not a meandering stroll through pitch space: it's more of a jumping between a handful of set points.
* repetition legitimizes. repetition legitimizes. repetition legitimizes. repetition legitimizes.
* transposition: apparently, humans have agreed the same melody played a fifth up is the same melody.
* percussion. this one struck me! like, I have nothing against drums, they're lovely, but there's a lot of ways to make noise, and the crudest one is also universal.
* rhythm: this is an extension of repetition legitimizes, but also I think it's got its own point: everyone loves a groove, which is just a sound that's repeated in a certain pattern. just like with scales, a limited set of time relationships between the beats of moments of a pattern.
* you reuse bits of a melody, apparently: this makes sense, because repetition legitimizes but too much repetition bores, so you imitate yourself in a different way. you can give this a fancier name, "development of musical ideas".
THIS. Thanks so much, I greatly appreciate this list. These are the universals and building blocks of composition I was looking for. (I know in conlanging you can play with things like the phonology, syntax, and lexicon of the language, and that there are simultaneously some linguistic universals that just emerge from the fact of what language is. I was looking for similar components of composition, and this is super helpful. Helps me know what I can experiment with and what makes music music, that I shouldn't try to change.)

Your list of what western music tends to do is also helpful for knowing what I should be wary of, since I am likely more used to it and might accidentally imitate it in creating something that sounds good to me!
elemtilas wrote: 11 Mar 2021 21:28 I know this has been a lot to take in! Have you had any thoughts or inspirations about the music(s) of your peoples as of yet?
To be honest I realized this was going to take a lot more time to puzzle out than I have right now, so I'm putting it on the backburner until I finish setting up a smaller worldbuilding project I'm working on (which, incidentally, also currently lacks a musical culture, but I think will involve a strong improvisation and a capella tradition).
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sangi39
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by sangi39 »

Torco wrote: 09 Mar 2021 05:32 * repetition legitimizes. repetition legitimizes. repetition legitimizes. repetition legitimizes.
[plays The Lick]

(other than "check YouTube" and throwing out a handful of names like Adam Neely, Yogev Gabay, and Anuja Kamat, I didn't have much to contribute, but loving the thread)
You can tell the same lie a thousand times,
But it never gets any more true,
So close your eyes once more and once more believe
That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Torco »

I'm glad it helped: I only had those memes because I've been toying around with the idea of making a music tradition for a conpeople for a few years now, ever since I started playing instruments and composing as a hobby: I think your concept of a music culture is basically what I had in mind, too, and, like you, have ultimately thus far been dissuaded by the sheer vastness of the project: the only person I've seen that has done one, although minimalistic, is worldbuilding notes from youtube in a collab with some musician dude, but I'd like to compose a bit of a canon, you know? something with an ode to joy, half a dozen lithurgical pieces and a bunch of folk songs at least.

The few things I have decided for such a project is, of course, using weird scales in just intonation, or something like that, 12TET wont do: I have a fretless instrument or two and could in principle just pick a weird scale and start composing, except my compositional process is fundamentally improvisatory and , well, I would have to actually be able to produce good intonation on that thing, which I currently cannot. I'm working on intonation and ear and the plan is, eventually, to get, I don't know, myxolydian with a neutral third or something into my fingertips and just sort of noodle away.

Am I right in thinking you're on a similar path?

@sangi: bass
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by elemtilas »

Torco wrote: 15 Mar 2021 04:39 I'm glad it helped: I only had those memes because I've been toying around with the idea of making a music tradition for a conpeople for a few years now, ever since I started playing instruments and composing as a hobby: I think your concept of a music culture is basically what I had in mind, too, and, like you, have ultimately thus far been dissuaded by the sheer vastness of the project: the only person I've seen that has done one, although minimalistic, is worldbuilding notes from youtube in a collab with some musician dude, but I'd like to compose a bit of a canon, you know? something with an ode to joy, half a dozen lithurgical pieces and a bunch of folk songs at least.
Well, you've met me as well, so that's two who are doing musical culture!

I'd argue that, yes, the project is vast, but so is the sea and the only way to get to the bottom of it is to jump in and drown!

When we get down to it, all of geopoesy is like this: it is no different than real world anthropological fieldwork. The concept of a culture is vast. Every topic is a rabbit hole spawning fox dens and spider webs all the way down. Even just to write "compose a bit of something with an ode to joy" and "liturgical pieces" and "folk songs" immediately puts you right in the deep end of invented musical culture, theology, folklore, structure of society, history and all the rest of it. Enjoy your swim!
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

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Update: writing a concise, understandable explanation of a large topic you don't completely understand is actually quite difficult, it turns out.
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Re: Making a Music Culture?

Post by Torco »

Enjoy your swim!
you too, fam, and do let us know if something comes into existence!
Update: writing a concise, understandable explanation of a large topic you don't completely understand is actually quite difficult, it turns out.
i know innit? i have two derelict .txt files with sketches of "so you want to make music for your conculture?". we're blazing new ground here, my dude, i take heart in the fact that progress is supposed to be slow.
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