Felsenmusick - The Weblog of Daniel Felsenfeld
The Web Log of a Certain Daniel Felsenfeld: Composer, critic, avid reader, aspiring
bon vivant, capricorn, shadowy figure, advice for the lovelorn

Monday, June 25, 2007

That Thing We Talk About When We Sing About...

Thanks to friend James in Seattle for sending this article about the direct relation between speech and music, which I suppose might be used for some as an argument for equal temperament (and will no doubt result in a flurry of angry emails from microtonalists). Though as usual the musical experiments were probably conducted only with scientists and not consulting musicians, which leads to a number of strange entries in the article, particularly the bit about how no music uses all twelve tones except "modern experimental pieces." Now come on, Duke, walk over to the considerable music department accross campus and vet that one: Mozart uses all twelve tones in the way of chromatic passing tones, modulations to close keys, etc. What they no doubt meant to say was that music is not "chromatic" usually--and here, to be clear, I am referring only to quote-unquote tonal music--but is more rooted in the seven notes of a diatonic scale, which is true perhaps until the late 19th century, thereby making, say, Les Preludes both modern (hardly) and experimental (not today).

Not to split hairs, because this study is pretty interesting and worthy of some attention, aiming to answer the question Schoenberg lays out in his masterful Theory of Harmony, namely: is there a natural, atavistic explanation for the way tones move against one another? But please, let's let the musicians at least clean up your musical locution.


Blogger Matthew said...

Actually, one of the paper's points is anti-equal temperament—the majority of the speech intervals were closer to just intonation.

7:21 AM  

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