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Alternative music theory ?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques Goto page 1, 2, 3 ... 10, 11, 12  Next [all]
Author Alternative music theory ?
rec.Koner
Original post:

Quote:
Are there some alternative music theories that can be read in english?
I know that Stockhausen wrote his own theory but his theory suggests that you know western music theory very good.
So, is here some bizarre theory which doesn't connect with all that notations and scales?

P.s.
Maybe some crazy big book of timbral music thoughts and rules
Or smth in spirit of musique concrete stuff?



As promised, let's list all mentioned things...
Not always "alternative" but useful

- Arnold Schoenberg - "Theory of Harmony"
- Curtis Road - "Microsound"
- Dane Rudhyar - " Dissonant Harmony"
- Dane Rudhyar - "The New Sense of Sound"
- Dane Rudhyar - "The Magic of Tone and the Art of Music"
- Denis Smalley - different Spectromorphology articles
- Dmitri Tymoczko - "The Geometry of Musical Chords"
- Dmitri Tymoczko - "Generalized Voice-Leading Spaces"
- Erv Wilson - http://www.thesonicsky.com/
- Harry Partch - "Genesis of a Music"
- Joanna Demers - "Listening through the Noise: The Aesthetics of Experimental Electronic Music"
- John Cage - "Silence"
- Joseph Schillingeк - "Schillinger System of Musical Composition"
- Trevor Wishart - "On Sonic Art"
- Olivier Messiaen - "La technique de mon langage musical"
- Olivier Messiaen - "Traité de rythme, de couleur, et d' ornithologie"
- Pierre Schaeffer - "solfège des objets sonores"
- Pierre Shaeffer - "Programme de la Recherche Musicale"
- Richard Kostelanetz - "Conversing with Cage"
- Sir James H. Jeans - "Sicence and Music"
- Xenaxis' and Stockhausen's works
- Also, http://www.koenigproject.nl/texte.htm

Also, Wigglers' own theories:
(Tell me if i made smth wrong or you wanna be on the list)

- Zoe Blade's "Treatise On Music"
http://bytenoise.co.uk/Treatise_On_Music
- lilakmonoke's one, existing in thoughts and sounds

Feel free to contribute!
dogoftears
probably check out Xenaxis.
bartlebooth
you also may want to check out trevor wishart's 'on sonic art' where he lays out a very synthesizer-friendly theory of music (ie, beyond pitch and duration as the primary focus)
rec.Koner
Thanks, I'll check that
Michael O.
Gamelan and Cage-esque prepared piano type stuff is of a different theoretical basis than typical western music. A good intro to somewhat alternative western theory that applies very well to most instrumentation is modern modal music, with Milestones era Miles as its ultimate fruition and some Claude Debussy as sort of proto-Bill Evans style modal piano.

The Xenakis lead is good, as is Stockhausen, but he's more an extension of typical western theory. Check out the wikipedia article on music concrete
for a lot of folks with their own theories that apply relatively well to synthesized music.
lilakmonoke
make up your own .. thats what most composers did at one point. its just a lot of research but as soon as you start explaining to yourself why you do what you do ... you are writing music theory!
rec.Koner
Gamelan - yes, when I heard some Balinese gamelan I was incredibly amazed


Own theory? Well this method is rewarding I guess

But also, when I listen to Michel Chion and some Pierre Shaeffer friends, and even Subotnick I'm asking myself is that thing lost in its time?

I mean, no one from modern idm guys make some Francis Dhomont-things Et cetera
lilakmonoke
im currently writing my own sequencing theory along with the software to proove my point. its based on harmonics but eventually will help me to come up with totally unique stuff. any electronic music producer does something like this in his head but not many bother to write it down. music ist just MATH and there are lots of equations in it .. some already solved, gazillions waiting to be discovered.
440hz
You should check also "solfège des objets sonores" from Schaeffer, really interesting, but in french... Unfortunately hard to find...
shreddoggie
I find the thinking of Schoenberg and even more so Webern, to be very influential as far as inspiration regarding ways of looking at things - tho I have no interest in writing strictly serial music, their ideas about ordering of elements (in addition to pitch) stimulating. I believe that the way modular synthesis works technically has a lot to be gained from this type of influence.
e-grad
I've read quite some stuff on/by John Cage which I think mostly inspiring. Even though he is not my favorite composer nor do I agree with him thoroughly it makes usually a good read.
ndkent
Seeing Harry Partch's "Genesis of a Music" is available again I'd 100% recommend it since it explains how the intervals and scales developed historically and what he chose to follow and not to follow and why.

I guess it really depends on if you are looking to organize sound in the broader sense with a goal of music or if you are composing with pitched based instruments which is primarily what traditional music theory is about.

Learning about Gamelan may or may not be a valuable path. As of now my understanding is the metal instruments produce overtones which are frequently not in the harmonic series that Western harmony, subtractive synthesis, harmonic based additive are all set into. Basically the pitch intervals used are developed from the overtone structure of the metal sounding as best as it can. So basically if you just use the same notes in the gamelan scales with any old sound it doesn't sound right though maybe is interesting - that's what typical synthesis contends with if you can't model the metal, same thing with a gamelan re-pitched (sampled for example) to play western harmonies, it won't sound as it should because the overtones aren't lining up as they do with the tweaked scales on each gamelan.
shreddoggie
ndkent wrote:
Seeing Harry Partch's "Genesis of a Music" is available again I'd 100% recommend it since it explains how the intervals and scales developed historically and what he chose to follow and not to follow and why.


Harry Partch? Harry Partch!!! A total genius and maker of some incredible music - anyone not familiar should check him out. +1
exeterdown
Harry Partch.
Holy shit. How have I not heard of this guy?!

Thank you so much!
lilakmonoke
dudes, the only music theory that is general enough to apply to EVERYTHING is the math of simple numerical relationships. at the end of the day its just relational time you are hearing. that applies to harmonics where its obvious as well as rhythms which are just slowed down harmonics as well as compositions which are just slowed doen rhythms. think about it long and hard!

there was a russian composer who made a similar point. he emigrated to new york around 1920 and then became a whealthy composers consultant whose clients included stravinsky and the like. he created the missing link between modern and traditional composition. there are still a whole school of music in the us which teach his ideas. i read about this guy but completetly forgot his name, his stuff is now a bit dated but in fact very interesting.
dadek
check this guy's article out and then buy the book!

http://dmitri.tymoczko.com/sciencearticle.html

the book also comes with links to a website with audio of the thousands of examples in the book for folks that don't read music.
exeterdown
lilakmonoke wrote:
dudes, the only music theory that is general enough to apply to EVERYTHING is the math of simple numerical relationships. at the end of the day its just relational time you are hearing. that applies to harmonics where its obvious as well as rhythms which are just slowed down harmonics as well as compositions which are just slowed doen rhythms. think about it long and hard!


I have been thinking about exactly this recently.
Doing a bit of research and writing on the subject too.

Pitch vs Rhythm essentially being problem of scaling systems set against one another. Like seeing the forest instead of the trees.
lilakmonoke
like i said im programming a sequencer along those lines. its monophonic and based on patterns, melody lines and clock speed ... all this in simple numeric relationships or as complex as you like. its all just numbers.

here is one example, thats four voices of the sequencer at different clock speeds. notice that with all the complexity you are still clearly hearing the beat. its all basically one chord if you were to speed it up to audio rate.

thats music that has not been composed yet because its unplayable on normal instruments and unthinkable because the brain just is not big enough ;-) ... its still follows the basic laws of music.

https://soundcloud.com/lilakmonoke/alien-logic-04
ZoeB
You might as well make your own music theory if you're avoiding mainstream music theory anyway. Read up a lot on how music works, practice and experiment a lot, sit down and think about music a lot, and work out what's innate and what's arbitrary. It's certainly possible to work everything out from first principles, and come up with your own theory that's radically different to most people's, yet still very much human specific.

For example, our ears are logarithmic in terms of both pitch and amplitude, so scales work better that way. That's part of being a human. Dividing each doubling up into twelve parts is somewhat arbitrary, as is keeping those parts equidistant -- useful for being able to switch key in the middle of a song on an instrument that's physically tuned to play specific notes, such as a piano or a fretted guitar, but not as necessary on instruments like violins or synthesisers which can play any pitch they like.

I've worked out a lot of this so far, but not really told many people about it yet (this might be a first), because my own idiosyncratic treatise on music is far from complete. There's just so much to music theory, a lot of which I'm guessing academia really doesn't touch upon much yet.

Anyway, by all means experiment and try things out for yourself and see what works and what doesn't. If you're methodical enough, almost scientific about it, you should yield some interesting results.
CJ Miller
lilakmonoke wrote:
there was a russian composer who made a similar point. he emigrated to new york around 1920 and then became a whealthy composers consultant whose clients included stravinsky and the like. he created the missing link between modern and traditional composition. there are still a whole school of music in the us which teach his ideas. i read about this guy but completetly forgot his name, his stuff is now a bit dated but in fact very interesting.


Sounds like you are referring to Joseph Schillinger. His "Schillinger System of Musical Composition" is the only book I have dealing with music theory in any specific way. Although I should probably get Partch's book also. As for "dated", I hate this term, because so far as I can see, everything is dated. 2012 ideas and styles are just as dated as 1912 and 2112. I'd say that Schillinger's system, so far as I understand it, is sufficiently general to be useful for anyone. Your music needn't sound like 1930, unless you want it to. What drew me to this approach is that it seems cohesively mathematical. What little I read of music theory before seemed too ad-hoc to me, just arbitrary conventions which seemed to assume a lot. And worse, since it seemed to me that rhythm is completely fundamental to concepts such as melody and harmony, for instance, that none of the other works I glossed over seemed to have provide any systematic approach to working with rhythm.
lilakmonoke
joseph chillinger, thats the one, fascinating life story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Schillinger

i only read excerpts of his theory and thought i understood his main idea: harmonics = rhythm = composition ... at least thats what im interested in. on the basis of this i started programming the sequencer in PD. imagine being able to synthesize "chords" by piling nanosequences on top of each other!
deastman
lilakmonoke wrote:
like i said im programming a sequencer along those lines. its monophonic and based on patterns, melody lines and clock speed ... all this in simple numeric relationships or as complex as you like. its all just numbers.

here is one example, thats four voices of the sequencer at different clock speeds. notice that with all the complexity you are still clearly hearing the beat. its all basically one chord if you were to speed it up to audio rate.

thats music that has not been composed yet because its unplayable on normal instruments and unthinkable because the brain just is not big enough ;-) ... its still follows the basic laws of music.

https://soundcloud.com/lilakmonoke/alien-logic-04
I like this! Personally, I would add an additional layer of sequenced transposition, but that's just me...
shreddoggie
lilakmonoke wrote:
2012 ideas and styles are just as dated as 1912 and 2112.




What? You dare call this dated? Maybe you need to go back and listen to the part where he finds the guitar in the cave and tunes it up accompanied by the sound of a waterfall...

As far as theories are concerned I agree with the previous poster who mentioned the basic concept of proportions / fractions. I firmly believe that this is the 'invisible' logic by which we hear and understand music as being 'happy' or 'scary' or 'chaotic' or 'brilliant' or 'prosaic' or 'exotic' --- EVERYTHING from form to timber to harmony to counterpoint. The relationship of the CHOSEN proportions to one another and their contextualized logic re: 'familiar' proportions which are more 'comfortable' and less familiar &/or complex ones which are less easy to penetrate.

A piece of music about 1:2 and 3:4 will be very 'familiar' and easy to understand to the point of being hokey and un-challenging whereas a piece about 16528:987 and 6587:3654 etc will be impenetrable and foreign. Patches emphasizing the former will be uninspiring sounds akin to pure waves without overtones, and patches corresponding to things more similar to the latter will be of sublime complexity and/or harsh and unpleasant - maybe both... No matter what style or level of complexity or intellectualism you choose to play with, in the end, the elegance of these proportional relationships to one another will be a huge factor (I believe the singular factor) in the appeal of your constructions. This is why there is an eerie elegance and perfection to the works of Webern even though they seem so odd, distant, and abstract, This is why the theme of Beethoven's 5th is so powerful it has become a cliche - who doesn't like the number 3?

The art comes in where you are left with a mathematical construct which you CANNOT quantify because the number of interrelationships present is beyond analysis and perhaps un-analyzable - back where we started, trying to intuitively make things which sound 'right' - I think the theory can be useful because it gives a context through which we can create global constructs based on our shallow understanding of the complex proportional system which can serve as a springboard into the realm of purely intuitive decision making. The proportional system is always there as well when one needs a new idea or is wondering what decision to make. Being able to ask "what is mathematically the next logical development?" can be a great impasse breaker even if you decide to use it as a guide for what NOT to do next. It all still figures in the grand parade of fractions.
Enkidoo
One note can be more than enough. For inspiration, listen to Giacinto Scelsi, the master of the orchestral drone. Also a great composer to steal other ideas from. But above all: a source of cosmic experience!
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
If you're looking for something different (but still based on conventional notation) to get your avant-garde creative juices flowing, I highly recommend Olivier Messiaen's treatises, "La technique de mon langage musical" and "Traité de rythme, de couleur, et d' ornithologie".

The first is a single volume which was published in 1942 and explains Messiaen's modal language (his famous "modes of limited transposition"). It has been translated into English and can often be found in large music stores and most university music libraries. The second is a massive 7-volume compendium of techniques and theory that illuminates Messiaen's later decades. It was edited and prepared for publication in 1994, after Messiaen's death by his wife, the pianist Yvonne Loriod, and has not been translated into English yet AFAIK.
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