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We're out of melodies. They've all been written. With synthesis, sampling, and digital manipulation, we're almost out of sounds to exploit. Certainly every chord has been played, heck I'll bet there are several members here who have played all of 'em!!!

So what's next? I think microtonality is the next logical move.

Here are some microtonal pieces:

Microtonal jingle bells.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6FWfFj3QFY

Falling. I have a similar piece that's not truly microtonal, though it "glisses" through some steps.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fR5TAn7nTQY

This next one is interesting, it's some musicians, I think they're students, who are experimenting in class with microtonality, and one of them says it's hard to keep doing it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxFj2bomgCM&feature=related

Here's my fave.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMmXRpcztIY&feature=related

So what do you think? I think it will get more acceptance, may even gain popularity.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

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I listened to this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU85bUyDPWs

and most of it sounded like a cacophony to me.

I listened to your links and couldn't really get into it.
But I'm not a musician.

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Originally Posted by Sausagelink
I listened to this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU85bUyDPWs

and most of it sounded like a cacophony to me.

I listened to your links and couldn't really get into it.
But I'm not a musician.


Hey Saus,

You've hit the key to popularity. Many of the arguments we have on the boards here revolve around just that. Musicians/songwriters disparage music that is "beneath" them, and, by extension or projection, disparage other musicians/songwriters who may like that music. But that's a little OT.

Closer to topic, is what would make microtonality popular. People aren't born liking complex, sophisticated music. The natural human fascination with music is with the consonant as opposed to the dissonant, with the harmonious and melodious. The baby responds to "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," not a dissonant sound in it, completely within the natural scale. So, where does James Brown come in? Moving dominant seventh chords into harmonic scale positions where they don't naturally fit? It takes time, and it takes familiarity. The more you hear strange music, the less "strange" it becomes.

If more microtonality is used, in movies, tv, or in sections of pop tunes, then more people begin to recognize it and, gradually, do not even notice that it is very dissonant.

Seven/four time was jarring and unusual in Western music. Yet, years after Dave Brubek had his wildly popular experiments in complex meters, Pink Floyd had a huge hit that was in seven/four and most people didn't even notice.

Bonus question: what was that hit?


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

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Hi Mike!

Your bonus question's easy, if memory serves, but I'll add to the mystery...the sound effects were the first "hook" you hear in the song, and went something like: 1)caCHING 2)spliff 3)plonk 4)bladda bladda 5)ploof 6)skrunk 7)plonk ... laugh

I think micro tonality has been absorbed into mainstream music, somewhat, with the use of bends and blue notes, but will probably always signify something "off" --when used "front and center" in "pop music" ...my favorite bit of micro tonality is Mancini's main theme from "Wait Until Dark" which has a quarter tone theme, and it serves to indicate that there is something really "mental" about someone in the movie...and we soon find out it's Alan Arkin's character...brilliant Soundtrack, very good movie.

Microtonality has been around for several decades in Classical Music...Harry Partch, a classical composer who more resembled Tom Waits in his attitude than Stravinski, was a modern composer to utilize them almost exclusively.

Tunings of various ethnic cultures may have scales that sound "off" to our ears, because of the way they may slice up their scales. Balinese gamelan and Indian Classical music both employ scales that employ notes outside our own 12 tone system.

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 11/16/09 07:40 PM.

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Here's one of my favorites - The Tahitian Choir sings accapella microtonally on the following tracks of their debut album:
Morotiri Nei
Ratou Ki Ota
Tau Matamua

You can hear it (hopefully) at this link: http://music.barnesandnoble.com/search/mediaplayer.asp?ean=826401120426&disc=1&track=3

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Now that I listen to that, I realize that I've been singing Microtonal music all my life!!!

Seriously, it has a richness to it. What they seem to be doing is a call and response, and when the call is made, it moves to a microtonal interval, but the bg's seemed to be fairly diatonic.

Yes, the glissando in blues, rock etc. moves transtonally (I made that up hyuk hyuk) but I don't think it is truly microtonal because it usually lands on or leaves from a note that's conventionally in tune.

Good stuff.

Anyone else? Anybody? Anybody?


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
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Mike Dunbar Music

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Our generation (for the most part) won't really do it. It will be for the next group. Microtonality made a short run in pop music (some indian flavored stuff) and it will try again. For me, there is still so much more to be explored with the basic 12 notes -- so I am set for life!

With the growth in wealth in the Asia/Indian markets, they will begin to influence popular culture more and more and microtonality with be heard more and more.

Kevin


"Good science comes in peer reviewed journals. Conspiracy theories come in YouTube videos. "
Kevin @ bandcamp: Crows Say Vee-Eh (and Kevin @50/90 2019)
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Though I like to use dissonance in melodies, I don’t see the mainstream accepting microtonality in popular song. I’m sure it will find a place in instrumental/ film music though. It already has in quarter-tone music (which is microtonality). BTW, quarter tone music has been with us for well over a century.

Here’s some piano preludes in quarter tone – on a quarter tone piano. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5sI-s4E9js

Best, John smile

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So, does quarter tone music use quarter notes? Just asking.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

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No Mike, it has nothing to do with the tone’s duration.

In quarter tone music, tones that lie between the 12 half tones we’re accustomed to hearing are added. Giving us 24 tones to work with instead of twelve.

John smile

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Originally Posted by John Lawrence Schick
No Mike, it has nothing to do with the tone’s duration.


Then do the notes last forever?

Quote
In quarter tone music, tones that lie between the 12 half tones we’re accustomed to hearing are added.

So if there are three tones between, they are added to the 12 equalling 15?

Quote
Giving us 24 tones to work with instead of twelve.

John smile

OK, but you've got to use sixteenth, eighth and whole notes but no quarter notes? Now I'm confused.

Aw, just kidding.

Yes quarter tone music has been around for a while in Western music, but is a very old concept in Middle Eastern music. In Western Music, we often use a backwards flat sign ( d instead of b ) to notate it.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

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I figured you were joking Mike, but I didn't want to confuse someone new to quarter tone music. grin

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Confusion has never scared me. I'm comfortable with it.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

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Every time I go microtonal, some know-it-all tells me to autotune it. frown

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Here's a fine example from Turkey. The main artist is playing a Baglama saz, which has adjustable frets. I have a few sazes, and they are one of my favorite instruments.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiZi41C-IAE&feature=related

And one of my favorite musicians - Jivan Gasparian, playing the Armenian Duduk:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mCinPads0I&feature=related

Such a hauntingly beautiful instrument.

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Here's Djivan playing his most famous composition - accompanied by Brian May and Peter Gabriel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueKhlVftHPA&feature=related

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ok - not exactly microtonal, but different pitch tables than what we are accustomed too.

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Tom,

Oh yeah? Saz you! smile

Beautiful music. Neset Ertas' music does have microtonal elements, as well as the Duduk piece. Ertas' voice and Gasparyan's Duduk do a flatting of the one (not the root, but the diatonic one in the minor). Musicologists theorize that the very earliest scale was the minor. Indeed, notice that the keyboard shows the diatonic one note as C. If the major was so important, you'd think they would have used A as the diatonic one. Yes, Gasparyan sells out..I mean plays more "accessible" with Peter Gabriel and Brian May smile


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

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Originally Posted by Tom Tracy
ok - not exactly microtonal, but different pitch tables than what we are accustomed too.


Tom, I think you touch on an important point, which is that there is a tiny bit of cultural imperialism going on, when we judge music of OTHER CULTURES, through a "micortonal/NOT microtonal" lens.

To these other cultures, their music just "is" ...and their scales are part of their cultural heritage, something that feels natural for them, to use, irregardless of how "outside" they may sound to our ears.

To listen to the Tahitian Choir and say "that's microtonal" is something we do, having been brought up with a European...Classical, aka "Westernized" slant to our thinking.

Unfortunately, The greater American population is still a long ways away from accepting music from other "faraway" cultures as part of their daily listening, though for a Westernized composer, such music can often offer a well spring of new ideas. There are very few Modern Classical composers, for instance, that have not been influenced by music from "somewhere else..." Alan Hovaness, Steve Reich, to name a couple...

I love Algerian Rai music. Listen to Cheb Khaled for something pop and full of microtones. But only Microtonal when looking at it from the "outside/in" To Algerians, it is no such thing.

Nusfrat Fateh Ali Khan was a Pakistani born singer who could sing Charlie Parker like lines around a simple accompaniment, and the scales are not tempered like our scales at all. Listening to him can be a life changing experience for the Westerner, though...realizing what potential is there in the human voice....

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 11/16/09 11:39 PM.

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The pieces in Mike's original post -- I'm thinking of the Jingle Bells and the one with the piano, especially, -- don't work so well IMO because they're trying to adapt Western music and harmonic traditions to a microtonal scale.

So for ears used to Western scales, what they're doing sounds ironic like the Jingle Bells, out of tune or like random notes tied to a rhythm like the students are doing. Charles Ives wrote similar quarter-tone pieces more than 100 years ago.

But real mictotonal systems like classical Indian use complex and beautiful harmonic systems that might sound unusual to the Western Ear, but they don't sound "wrong."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4Hm3Oroht8&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Joyk_EMtzn0&feature=related

As for running out of melodies, that will never happen. It's not a closed system.
Besides, there's so much more to music. The symphonic chorale I'm in is currently doing Maurice Durufle's Requiem.
The melodies are very simple, in places almost like a warm up exercise going up and down the major scale, but the harmonies and time signatures and the texture of the orchstra... It was written in 1947, and just doesn't sound like the result of a used up system, even though you can hear ideas that go back to Gregorian chants.
Microtones, we don't need no stinking microtones...music is infinite.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DYFYtzu_uU

(Ignore the harsh sounding flute at the beginning.)





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When I was being trained to tune pianos, the great Elmer Tadderstill would un-tune the pianos to be that of 1/4 tones off, sharp and flat, and some notes less and more than 1/4 tone, (1/8, for example, and not all right on an 1/8 off either, just to mess us up!. So, I've heard those sounds and more a lot in 1976. Weird for sure! Another tuning trainee and I would sometimes just play and laugh at our sounds before getting to our tuning techniques! Fun, and would bring out tone colors and moods not accessible on regular tuned pianos.

Some pianos I go to to tune now sound like that fav of yours, Mike! One time, I actually got chewed out for making the piano too clean! He got used to many of the notes being an 1/8 off or so within one note, and thought I overdid it! He asked if I would make the nores sort of sound like less pure, but even. So, I did. It was then more like a Honky Tonk though, than the 1/4 note thing.

My point what that is, he got used to the "odd" sounds, so much that they were no longer odd to him. Just wanted it more even throughout. Being I have relative pitch, I can tune any which way. BUT, all the training, to then have me re-tune it out of tune!

Music for anybody on this earth is relative to what they grew up on, whether it is odd or not. Cool or not. Beautiful or not.
Music should be free flowing, like artwork, to have any particular person like something or not. Fr rock and country. we mostly hear the same chords in thousands of songs. Chuck Berry wrote a million by now! Or should get credit for them. Maybe he took the L pattern fmor somebody else. (Little Richard maybe?. Others?

Melodies? Math would say no,,,,they have not all been written. And my ears. Familiar roadmap though? Yes, for our ears are so used to melodies and their "intent". I think that intent is osmetimes confused with having no more new melodies.

In Country, maybe that has been the case as what you mainly hear? Limits on what is considered Country and all that maybe leading to what would seem like they all have been written.

The combination options is staggering! New melodies "are" being created. But Not ALL new of course. They just have a familiar ring, for we also put very similar chords to them, for the most part.

John Daubert


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Melody relies on the phenomenon of gestalt. Changes in key, tones, tempo, mode, harmonization and motion do not always make a new melody from an existing one. For example, if I play "Happy Birthday" in a minor key, folks would recognize it. Some folks would not even know it was different. This is, I think, what my college professor meant when he told me that there were no new melodies longer than a few measures since the 1930's. So, yes, I would definitely say that similarity to a well known song becomes a factor. Back to "Happy Birthday," if you changed two notes in it and whistled it, it would still be recognized.

As for the mathematical possibilities, yes, there are permutations of the twelve tone system that render a seemingly infinite number of possibilities, but when you factor in the limitations of what makes a melody different or useful, those start to dwindle. For example, in the permutations, you'd have to exclude such results as: two melodies in the same key; melodies at twice the tempo or half the tempo; melodies structured aaba and abaa with the components identical; all one note; all but one note the same; melodies repeated in different modes (major, minor, dorian etc.); awkward intervals (of course this is relative to changing cultural acceptance).

In other words:

That stuff on the radio all sounds the same.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
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Is microtonality the next big thing in music, or has it been with us all along? Microtonality is not new, but equal temperment is! J.S. Bach introduced equal temperment with his Well-Tempered Clavier. I think Jonny`s example of his experience tuning pianos is a good one; 1/8 lower in pitch is a nightmare to many of us, but conforms perfectly to the sensibilities of others from different cultures than that of the West. Keep in mind equal temperment is a western concept. Even in the West we use microtonality; think of saxophonist, and other instrumentalist who are able to bend notes at the audience delight.

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Amen Keith,

It started with a gestalt perception that it was close, so it was in tune. Now, it's become a cultural tradition that actually makes something exactly in tune sound a little off to the western ear.

By the way, I'm listening to "Changing Seasons." Fine stuff!! Thanks for posting and welcome to JPF.

Mike


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
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Mike Dunbar Music

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That "Jingle Bells" drove me nuts. The Charles Ives piece was the most interesting (and tolerable) to me. I'm guessing the 2 pianos were tuned using the same frequency ratios, except for the quarter-tone sharpening of each note on the one piano. Dunno if I'm making myself clear here, but since the tuner has to "tweak" a few cents here and there to achieve equal temperament, the "tweaking" was the same for both pianos. And would it make that much of a difference if it weren't? Just wondering.

The "Jingle Bells" was composed using subdivisions of 1/6 of a tone. So...a lot more "tones" to throw in there...is that what's bothering me? And how were those tones divided? I'm probably reeeeallly nitpicking here.

Makes me wonder (as our ears are used to equal temperament) if there's a limit to "just how much weirdness our ears will put up with!"

"...there are simply too many notes....Just cut a few and it will be perfect." crazy Emperor Joseph II to Mozart, in Amadeus

Brenda


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Breda.

Gettung "used" to it is an interesting concept. When teaching basic music theory, I tune a guitar to play an E7 chord with actual, not tempered, tuning. As a result, you hear the most in tune E7 chord you've ever heard. But then you play a D chord and it is way off.

I think people get used to almost anything. After a point, though, the tones just get too close to each other and the ear, through gestalt, just hears it as the closest note.

Good insight.

Mike


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

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It's a thought-provoking subject. I find myself fascinated by the mathematics & physics of how music "fits" so neatly...but then again, it all comes down to "how does it sound?" Music gives something for the mind and the emotions to chew on!

Interestingly, some vocals in traditional Cajun music have been described as "microtonal," but it has always felt more "flat" than microtonal to me. (that comment from someone who grew up with it and have listened to it all my life.) Only some singers sing that way.

Jean, thanks for bringing up the throat singing. I've heard it before and it amazes me.

Brenda


Brenda

"Well behaved women seldom make history" -- L. T. Ulrich
"...so make sure you misbehave and have Big Ovaries" -- Blue Merlot

http://www.BlueMerlot.com
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I have been microtonal for years...some might say I JUST SING FLAT. LOL
On a serious note a lot of African far eastern and Asian music use different scales from the west splitting notes into microtones. As Cajun music is heavily influenced by music from places other than western cultures it is hardly surprising that these notes creep in.

Throat singing and "Mouth Music" always amazes me. It is very clever stuff and beautiful to listen to. If you ever get a chance to hear a psalm service from the far north of Scotland you will hear mouth music or lining out as it is called at its best. The congregation sing acapella and seem to ad lib harmonies in response to the main singer. It is almost like Gregarian chanting in style but women feature strongly.
Some American baptists and Native Americans also use this technique here is a link to give you a flavour of American Baptists lining out
http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=2653
and here is a link to some Scottish Gaelic Psalm singing to compare
http://rodel.ubisan.com/index.html?pid=75

Interesting stuff.

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the Jingle bells piece immediately reminded me of gamelan music...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxtLnBy7hHA

which is integral to the Balinese dance and shadow puppet shows. different culture, like has been noted. as I recall, all these shows and dances act out the Ramayana as Bali is predominately Hindu.

I don't think any gamelan players jam with the bands at the hotels tho...

Ravi Shankar does tho with some American Indians in Arizona- or used to.. I've never been but a friend saw a couple performances years back.. I don't see any of these experiments going mainstream in any way...

Would you consider Jaco P's fretless playing on Joni Mitchell's Hissing of summer Lawns a microtonal element? or more akin to bending notes on guitar or sax....

I'm not musically educated, so this is new ground for me...

mike


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