Alternative music theory ?

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Post by ear ear » Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:38 am

Nelson Baboon wrote:I'd bet that most great musicians/composers have both likes and dislikes.
From the Wikipedia page on Debussy, for example:
He was also an occasional music critic, to supplement his conducting fees and piano lessons, writing under the pseudonym "Monsieur Croche". [...] Debussy was for the most part enthusiastic about Richard Strauss and Stravinsky, and worshipful of Chopin and Bach, the latter being acknowledged as "the one great master." His relationship to Beethoven was a complex one; he was said to refer to him as "le vieux sourd" (the old deaf one) and adjured one young pupil never to play Beethoven's music for "it is like somebody dancing on my grave." It was said that "Debussy liked Mozart, and he believed that Beethoven had terrifically profound things to say, but that he did not know how to say them, because he was imprisoned in a web of incessant restatement and of German aggressiveness." He also admired the works of Charles-Valentin Alkan. Schubert and Mendelssohn fared much worse, the latter being described as a "facile and elegant notary".
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Post by felixer » Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:18 am

shreddoggie wrote:Fascinating thread that lived forever... at this point I am not following what it has to do with Alternative Music Theory.

Perhaps this has been discussed before (sorry no time or inclination to read the entire saga) but I wonder this:
please do read a thread before you write stuff like that :mad:

and why do these discussions always end in debates about that some folks like? i couldn't care less ... taste is cheap :roll: and so is kenny-fucking-G ...
just state your ideas/theories and let everybody decide for themselves if and what they can do with it.
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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Wed Apr 06, 2016 12:36 pm

shredddoggie wrote:I used to have lots of students until I simply could not stand it anymore. I would tell them all, and I still insist on this: if you find ANY music you can't appreciate in some sincere way, you are not trying hard enough and you are not yet a true musician - get over yourself.
I couldn't have said it better myself.

If Nelson Baboon diverted the energy he expends hating so much music into a more positive direction, he'd probably be a happier dude.
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Post by Nelson Baboon » Wed Apr 06, 2016 12:41 pm

Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
shredddoggie wrote:I used to have lots of students until I simply could not stand it anymore. I would tell them all, and I still insist on this: if you find ANY music you can't appreciate in some sincere way, you are not trying hard enough and you are not yet a true musician - get over yourself.
I couldn't have said it better myself.

If Nelson Baboon diverted the energy he expends hating so much music into a more positive direction, he'd probably be a happier dude.
Well, sir, that's uncalled for. Totally. Why are you starting your trolling yet again? (watch, he'll get all huffy because I called him that)

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Post by peanut » Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:22 pm

Nelson Baboon wrote:
Well, sir, that's uncalled for. Totally. Why are you starting your trolling yet again? (watch, he'll get all huffy because I called him that)
It would be nice if this turned back on topic. Or maybe this just means everyone currently involved has run out of ideas. Certainly don't need to make this another good example of trolling and childish behavior.
Last edited by peanut on Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:23 pm

Nelson Baboon wrote:
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
shredddoggie wrote:I used to have lots of students until I simply could not stand it anymore. I would tell them all, and I still insist on this: if you find ANY music you can't appreciate in some sincere way, you are not trying hard enough and you are not yet a true musician - get over yourself.
I couldn't have said it better myself.

If Nelson Baboon diverted the energy he expends hating so much music into a more positive direction, he'd probably be a happier dude.
Well, sir, that's uncalled for. Totally. Why are you starting your trolling yet again? (watch, he'll get all huffy because I called him that)
Wow, that was fast. I honestly believe it. I don't care if you call me a troll. I don't care about anything anymore. You cured me of that, so thanks.
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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:43 pm

BTW, you should all check out this thread:

viewtopic.php?t=158992

While we're wasting time pretending to know about alternative music theory and how it applies to modular synth, this dude is scoring operas on his modular and performing it all over Europe. Maybe the OP should be asking him about music theory.
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Post by rec.Koner » Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:11 pm

Maybe the OP should be asking him about music theory.
Point of this thread was to ask people to show up those recommendation of that literature for this forum, part of which i updated in OP (need to update with new suggestions), so this would be a nice reference thread. My personal requests are not related.

And stop bother so much with "alternative" title, instead suggest more suitable one and ask mods to change.
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Post by felixer » Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:25 pm

Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote: While we're wasting time pretending to know about alternative music theory
no, you are pretending. having never written anything that was performed by others, nor produced any music yourself, you have no idea what composing is about. so shut the fuck up :smack:
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Post by felixer » Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:36 pm

Nelson Baboon wrote:redacted negativity.

I'm just really so tired of this.
yes. sorry. but sometimes i just need to react. getting pretty sick of it meself, i think i'll leave this forum ... nothing more to gain ...
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Post by Nelson Baboon » Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:40 pm

felixer wrote:
Nelson Baboon wrote:redacted negativity.

I'm just really so tired of this.
yes. sorry. but sometimes i just need to react. getting pretty sick of it meself, i think i'll leave this forum ... nothing more to gain ...
no, no - Felixer, I was not referring to you. My original, unedited comments were directed at sketch n etch. of all the people here, I certainly understand the best (probably) why you reacted so strongly. I've just had too many battles with him, and have watched him do this too often. Sorry for any ambiguity there.

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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Thu Apr 07, 2016 12:44 am

felixer wrote:
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote: While we're wasting time pretending to know about alternative music theory
no, you are pretending. having never written anything that was performed by others, nor produced any music yourself, you have no idea what composing is about. so shut the fuck up :smack:
Actually you're wrong. I wrote a quintet for viol consort that was performed at the Pacific Viola da Gamba Society gathering in Fresno, CA in 1992 (I think) to an audience of about 300. It was called "Double Canon" and was an example of "machine music" where the first 25% was composed and the rest was generated algorithmically based on long rhythmic and melodic cells of prime numbers in length.

Also, you don't have to make music to understand music theory.

Also, I mostly now just play the acoustic guitar, and I have no intention of recording or sharing the music I make on it. I don't feel that I'm good enough to do so.
Last edited by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch on Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:08 am

peanut wrote:
Dr. Sketch n' Etch wrote:And, for clarification, the "naive" approach to composition is just writing down what you hear in your head, without any consideration of systems or theory.
I'm still a little confused with this definition even though I've heard it thrown around a lot by music lovers, as well as by musicians playing stuff more or less in the rock genre. It's certainly what I thought I wanted to try to do with my own music composition, that is, to play and improvise what I heard in my head. The brain does have ears, afterall. Or can the ears interpret in both dimensions.. :hihi: But anyway, this definition of naive composition really can't be achieved unless your brain comes up with musical structures outside of any traditional music listening experience. That is, you've never been exposed to any kind of composed music. And your sense of music is coming straight from the "natural" or unintentionally musical sounds found in day-to-day life.

Makes me think of Paul Auster's City of Glass which involves a child locked in a room from birth by his academic scholar father for the effect of a sensory deprivation that would lead to the discovery of God's language. The thought being that the child, having never heard any language, would speak in the natural tongue of God.
Sorry, I didn't see your response before now. I'm actually very grateful for a thoughtful and considered response to what I was actually saying, rather than another boring and stupid ad hominem attack.

However, having said that, I disagree. "Naive composition" does not imply no previous musical material to draw upon. In fact, quite the opposite. The naive composer, by either eschewing or simply ignoring systems and theories (not notation or the chromatic scale -- that would be like an author not using the alphabet to write -- clearly impossible -- and yes, ad hominem twins, I'm very well aware of Harry Partch, the exception to the rule) can only draw on either what he has heard before, or direct inspiration from outta nowhere (which I personally believe is exceedingly rare). I am not counting the major scale and its tonalities as a system or theory here (although, strictly speaking, it is). The naive composer usually starts with melody. These are often relatively simple and singable and "familiar-sounding". Then said composer might harmonize his melodies with quite conventional tonalities as could be heard in the music common to his culture.

Actually, now that I think about it, Messiaen was also a completely naive composer in one regard: bird music. For his bird music, he transcribed birdsong in the field and used this as his basic melodic material. That's a naive move. Then he harmonized this birdsong typically with no regard to any harmonic systems (including his beloved modes). Instead, he "invented a new chord for every note" just based on the pure sound (his words in quotes -- can't remember the source, but I've read every book in English about Messiaen, so it's in one of 'em). That's a totally naive approach to harmony. Of course, I'm sure some of his modal ideas slipped in there, along with some tonal things -- they'd have to -- but it was unconscious. That's a perfect example of what I'm calling "naive" composition.
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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:12 am

felixer wrote:
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote: While we're wasting time pretending to know about alternative music theory
no, you are pretending. having never written anything that was performed by others, nor produced any music yourself, you have no idea what composing is about. so shut the fuck up :smack:
Also, what have you contributed to the discussion, exactly, except a bunch of negative comments directed at me? I went back and found exactly one post of yours that had some theoretical content in it. So, put up or shut up.

Also, if everything I say pisses you off so much, why don't you just ignore my posts, either by just simply not reading them, or using the Ignore button? I know I'd personally be happier if you didn't read my posts.
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Post by ear ear » Thu Apr 07, 2016 5:10 am

Dr. Sketch-n-Etch, what would you say is the significance of someone composing in what you call a naive way? Why is it of note?
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Post by ear ear » Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:10 am

shreddoggie wrote:I don't see how one way of looking at it is in opposition to another.
I don't think you can reconcile this statement with much of human history.
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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Thu Apr 07, 2016 12:38 pm

ear ear wrote:Dr. Sketch-n-Etch, what would you say is the significance of someone composing in what you call a naive way? Why is it of note?
I'm not sure it is that significant. In the past, composers have been "accused" of naivete when their melodies were perceived as being too simple, like ditties or jingles.

Of course, every composer uses a naive approach to various degrees in every composition (with the possible exception of Webern). Even Bach had to hear a melody in his head to get started with even the most contrived and calculated exercise in counterpoint. (Interesting sidebar: I have a CD of The Art of Fugue performed by Davitt Moroney, and he took it upon himself to complete Contrapunctus XIV, which was left in mid-phrase when Bach died (Bach's last words were apparently dictation of this fugue). Moroney was able to complete the fugue in a very convincing manner, adding about five minutes to it in the process, simply by completing the processes which Bach had started. This is the very antithesis of naive composing.) So, I guess that naive composing is more difficult to do well, because one cannot simply fall back on processes, but can only rely on the muse.

I only brought it up here in the context of someone saying that composers of the future could compose "naturally" in an atonal style, and I replied that I thought that it would be more or less impossible to compose atonally in a naive way, without a system, because it would only lead to cacophony or tonality. I could be wrong about that, but atonal music hasn't exactly taken off in the way it's major proponents would have predicted.
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Post by peanut » Thu Apr 07, 2016 5:58 pm

Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
ear ear wrote:Dr. Sketch-n-Etch, what would you say is the significance of someone composing in what you call a naive way? Why is it of note?
I'm not sure it is that significant. In the past, composers have been "accused" of naivete when their melodies were perceived as being too simple, like ditties or jingles.

Of course, every composer uses a naive approach to various degrees in every composition (with the possible exception of Webern). Even Bach had to hear a melody in his head to get started with even the most contrived and calculated exercise in counterpoint. (Interesting sidebar: I have a CD of The Art of Fugue performed by Davitt Moroney, and he took it upon himself to complete Contrapunctus XIV, which was left in mid-phrase when Bach died (Bach's last words were apparently dictation of this fugue). Moroney was able to complete the fugue in a very convincing manner, adding about five minutes to it in the process, simply by completing the processes which Bach had started. This is the very antithesis of naive composing.) So, I guess that naive composing is more difficult to do well, because one cannot simply fall back on processes, but can only rely on the muse.

I only brought it up here in the context of someone saying that composers of the future could compose "naturally" in an atonal style, and I replied that I thought that it would be more or less impossible to compose atonally in a naive way, without a system, because it would only lead to cacophony or tonality. I could be wrong about that, but atonal music hasn't exactly taken off in the way it's major proponents would have predicted.
Thanks for that. I needed an example to grasp exactly what was meant by "naive". Moroney's composing within Bach's system was a helpful illustration of non-naive composition.

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Post by ear ear » Sat Apr 09, 2016 5:48 pm

Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:[...]but atonal music hasn't exactly taken off in the way it's major proponents would have predicted.
The fact that it is an academic's wet-dream doesn't mean that people generally must necessarily find it aesthetically compelling. Dmitri Tymoczko has some interesting figures in A Geometry of Music for searches on JSTOR and RILM:

........................................................Hits..........
Search Subject......................JSTOR...........RILM
Arnold Schoenberg.................2421..............2545
John Cage.............................2368...............1448
'serial music' or serialism........2688..............2433
Duke Ellington........................1227..............354
John Coltrane.........................453................210
tritone substitution...................15..................3

He compares atonal music to clam chowder ice cream -- a very specific taste that many people see absolutely no point in acquiring. That is, however, not to denigrate atonal music. It is just one of many specialised pleasures our world offers.

As far as tracing the progression of Western tonal music through ever more complex forms and techniques he looks to jazz (among other forms), and observes that continuity between late Classical music and jazz is often downplayed because jazz isn't scored, doesn't take place in a concert hall setting, and its rites are not administered by a venerable man with a crazy hairdo wielding the symbol of power and deploying a formidable range of facial expressions to wow the congregation. (Tymoczko didn't write these exact words…) Which is a shame.

He notes that the progression through more-and-more chromatic to atonal music was made within the Germanic tradition, and while it was chromatically adventurous at a melodic level it was unadventurous in terms of scales or modes. Composers outwith that tradition, e.g. Debussy, then jazz, did explore systematically in this direction.

Tymoczko's keen on Ligeti, saying that he finds it remarkable that there are just two general techniques for combining conjunct melodies with consistent harmonies, the first involving nearly-even chords and underwriting the tonal precedures of the last five hundred years, and the other involving clustered chords and featuring in the atonality of the 1960s. It is particularly interesting that this second solution arose almost fifty years after the first experiments with atonality -- as if it took that long for composers to abandon the doomed project of writing traditional music with non-traditional sonorities. He writes that in a real sense Ligeti's music is unclassifiable: atonal by virtue of its dissonance, but tonal in its aspiration to combine harmonic consistency with conjunct melodic motion.

There's lots more along these lines in A Geometry of Music that I could summarise. Seems to be pretty relevant to this thread. I wonder what the law is round here on 'reproducing' relatively large sections of published texts? I'll inquire...
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Post by shreddoggie » Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:40 pm

Sorry I can't participate in (hopefully) a helpful and enlightening way to this conversation - it is stuff that fascinates me and consequently a subject I know quite a bit about. Please also accept my apologies if my attitude is sometimes superior, I simply get frustrated with the interwebs and people who don't know what they are talking about portraying themselves as if they do. There are pleny of things I know nothing about, however, in the case of music I have spent thousands of hours in schools all over the planet, playing in ensembles of many varieties, often for money, focused on everything from Gamelan, to Machaut, to the top 40 because I love it - ALL OF IT. I have recorded a number of things that have actually sold (Praise Buddha and Shiva) and have received several degrees and instructed numerous students. The result is that I know a thing or seven, and love to talk / argue about it with qualified individuals.

Sometimes I simply can't take it need to say "Shut up if you are not sure - its not helping anyone" and if someone has felt slighted please understand that I declare all out war on ideas but have no intention of hurting anyones feelings. Sometimes those who are not qualified do not exhibit appropriate humility. This is the way of the interwebs, fortunately much less on this wonderful site.

I will not participate any more, largely because I have been nominated a personal nemesis by a very sad and unfortunate person who has been on my ignore list forever. For some reason this person feels inclined to follow me about with his clever quips as if anyone actually cares (hint: I never see them - ignore). Last time this happened I had a lovely exchange with the most excellent Mike and subsequently stopped visiting the wigglers all together. Presently I browse about and contribute when I think I have something meaningful to say, but I rarely return to thread because I simply haven't the room for the negative energy even though it is hidden beneath a 'This person is on your ignore list' message.

I hope y'all are achieving insight into alternative music theory and I sincerely hope my thoughts have assisted in the search. I am sorry if I haven't responded to any thoughtful replies to what I've written - its a bit like we are standing in a circle having a pleasant conversation and then this one guy comes up to join in and because of his tone and demeanor I simply have to walk away.

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Post by Nelson Baboon » Sat Apr 09, 2016 11:15 pm

I am this evil individual referred to below.

What shreddoggie doesn't get is that while some people have studied more about music than others, they still might not realize that they mistake subjective opinion for fact. You'll note that I have not disputed any actual facts about musical theory, or history, with him - but I have disputed opinion, which I have every right to do.

Mr Shreddoggie does not take kindly to people who disagree with him, for example: viewtopic.php?p=2182874#2182874

I will not respond further to this cheap shot.

shreddoggie wrote:Sorry I can't participate in (hopefully) a helpful and enlightening way to this conversation - it is stuff that fascinates me and consequently a subject I know quite a bit about. Please also accept my apologies if my attitude is sometimes superior, I simply get frustrated with the interwebs and people who don't know what they are talking about portraying themselves as if they do. There are pleny of things I know nothing about, however, in the case of music I have spent thousands of hours in schools all over the planet, playing in ensembles of many varieties, often for money, focused on everything from Gamelan, to Machaut, to the top 40 because I love it - ALL OF IT. I have recorded a number of things that have actually sold (Praise Buddha and Shiva) and have received several degrees and instructed numerous students. The result is that I know a thing or seven, and love to talk / argue about it with qualified individuals.

Sometimes I simply can't take it need to say "Shut up if you are not sure - its not helping anyone" and if someone has felt slighted please understand that I declare all out war on ideas but have no intention of hurting anyones feelings. Sometimes those who are not qualified do not exhibit appropriate humility. This is the way of the interwebs, fortunately much less on this wonderful site.

I will not participate any more, largely because I have been nominated a personal nemesis by a very sad and unfortunate person who has been on my ignore list forever. For some reason this person feels inclined to follow me about with his clever quips as if anyone actually cares (hint: I never see them - ignore). Last time this happened I had a lovely exchange with the most excellent Mike and subsequently stopped visiting the wigglers all together. Presently I browse about and contribute when I think I have something meaningful to say, but I rarely return to thread because I simply haven't the room for the negative energy even though it is hidden beneath a 'This person is on your ignore list' message.

I hope y'all are achieving insight into alternative music theory and I sincerely hope my thoughts have assisted in the search. I am sorry if I haven't responded to any thoughtful replies to what I've written - its a bit like we are standing in a circle having a pleasant conversation and then this one guy comes up to join in and because of his tone and demeanor I simply have to walk away.

Cheers excellent wigglers -1

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Post by strettara » Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:22 am

Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:I wrote a quintet for viol consort that was performed at the Pacific Viola da Gamba Society gathering in Fresno, CA in 1992 (I think) to an audience of about 300. It was called "Double Canon" and was an example of "machine music" where the first 25% was composed and the rest was generated algorithmically based on long rhythmic and melodic cells of prime numbers in length.
I'd love to hear that, sounds very interesting.
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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:22 am

Please don't go away, Shreddoggie. I, for one, enjoy your posts immensely.
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Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:28 am

strettara wrote:
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:I wrote a quintet for viol consort that was performed at the Pacific Viola da Gamba Society gathering in Fresno, CA in 1992 (I think) to an audience of about 300. It was called "Double Canon" and was an example of "machine music" where the first 25% was composed and the rest was generated algorithmically based on long rhythmic and melodic cells of prime numbers in length.
I'd love to hear that, sounds very interesting.
It wasn't really. In any case, there is no recording -- only the score, which I still have somewhere out in the garage. I felt sorry for the other four playing in the group, who were confronted with this very strange sounding music, and who probably just wanted to play more Lawes or Gibbons. We did vote on it, though, and it was unanimous to spend our afternoon learning my piece. Maybe they were as bored as I was with 17th century polyphony. (I wasn't really -- I just had some wild oats to sow regarding some compositional techniques that interested me at the time.) Incidentally, the first 25% of that piece was composed almost entirely naively. I just came up with a (not very good) melody and then tried to harmonize it using a lot of jazz chords. However, at the time, I didn't know much about progressions, so the chords didn't really fulfill their standard harmonic functions. They were just vertical blocks of sound.

Bottom line: Me not composing and sharing music hasn't done anyone any harm!

EDIT: That thing about naivete above is not true. The reason the piece was called "Double Canon" is because it involved the repitition of two levels of material amongst different instruments after a brief delay: 1) the melody, and 2) the rhythm. The rhythm was a palindrome involving (IIRC) 19 beats. It was all pretty predetermined once the original melody was composed (naively).
Last edited by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch on Sun Apr 10, 2016 1:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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