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Atonal cool or lame?


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#16 Guest_shigihara_*

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 06:30 PM

FYI...

an exerpt from <http://cnx.org/conte...m11639/latest/>

Just Intonation

Just intonation is the system of tuning that is often used (sometimes unconsciously) by musicians who can make small tuning adjustments quickly. This includes vocalists, most wind instruments, and many string instruments. Look again at the harmonic series.

As the series goes on, the ratios get smaller and the notes closer together. Standard notation writes all of these "close together" intervals as whole steps (whole tones) or half steps (semitones), but they are of course all slightly different from each other. For example, the notes with frequency ratios of 9:8 and 10:9 and 11:10 are all written as whole steps. To compare how close (or far) they actually are, turn the ratios into decimals.

Whole Step Ratios Written as Decimals
9/8 = 1.125
10/9 = 1.111
11/10 = 1.1

Note: In case you are curious, the size of the whole tone of the "mean tone" system is also the mean, or average, of the major and minor whole tones.
These are fairly small differences, but they can still be heard easily by the human ear. Just intonation uses both the 9:8 whole tone, which is called a major whole tone and the 10:9 whole tone, which is called a minor whole tone, in order to construct both pure thirds and pure fifths. Because chords are constructed of thirds and fifths (see Triads), this makes typical Western harmonies particularly pleasing to the ear.
The problem with just intonation is that it matters which steps of the scale are major whole tones and which are minor whole tones, so an instrument tuned exactly to play with just intonation in the key of C major will have to retune to play in C sharp major or D major. For instruments, like voices, that can tune quickly, that is not a problem, but it is unworkable for piano and other slow-to-tune instruments.

#17 Guest_V_*

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 06:34 PM

I am familiar with all of that above, but thanks, I am sure others will appreciate it too.

#18 Guest_shigihara_*

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 06:41 PM

I am familiar with all of that above, but thanks, I am sure others will appreciate it too.


oh... sorry... wasn't meant for you necessarily... :D

I liked this bit:

'Just intonation is the system of tuning that is often used (sometimes unconsciously) by musicians
who can make small tuning adjustments quickly.'

I'd say 'mostly unconsciously'...

:D

#19 Guest_V_*

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 06:50 PM

I'd say 'mostly unconsciously'...

:D

#20 Guest_shigihara_*

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 06:56 PM

even if I might bore most of you with all this...

more interesting reading to be found here...

http://www.justintonation.net/

What is JUST INTONATION?

JUST INTONATION is any system of tuning in which all of the intervals can be represented by ratios of whole numbers, with a strongly-implied preference for the smallest numbers compatible with a given musical purpose. Unfortunately this definition, while accurate, doesn't convey much to those who aren't already familiar with the art and science of tuning. The aesthetic experience of just intervals and chords, however, is unmistakable.

The simple-ratio intervals upon which Just Intonation is based are the fundamental constituents of melody and harmony. They are what the human auditory system recognizes as consonance, if it ever has the opportunity to hear them in a musical context. The significance of whole-number ratios has been recognized by musicians around the world for at least 5000 years.

Just Intonation is not a particular scale, nor is it tied to any particular musical style. It is, rather, a set of principles which can be used to create a virtually infinite variety of intervals, scales, and chords which are applicable to any style of tonal music (or even, if you wish, to atonal styles). Just Intonation is not, however, simply a tool for improving the consonance of existing musics; ultimately, it is a method for understanding and navigating through the boundless reaches of the pitch continuum—a method that transcends the musical practices of any particular culture.

Just Intonation has depth and breadth. Its fundamental principles are relatively simple but its ramifications are vast. At present, Just Intonation remains largely unexplored. A few pioneering composers and theorists have sketched in some of its most striking features, but the map still contains many blank spaces where the adventuresome composer many venture in hopes of discovering new musical treasures.

In light of its numerous virtues, why isn't Just Intonation currently in general use? Like so many of our peculiar customs, it is largely an accident of history. During the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, when Western harmonic music and keyboard instruments were co-evolving, instrument technologies were inadequate to the task of developing affordable, playable instruments that could accommodate the intricacies of Just Intonation. As a result, various compromises or temperaments were attempted. Twelve-tone equal temperament was ultimately adopted because it provided the greatest facility for transposition and modulation with the smallest number of tones, and because it made all of the intervals of a given type equally out of tune, thus avoiding the contrast between in-tune and out-of-tune intervals that characterized some earlier temperaments.

Equal temperament was not adopted because it sounded better (it didn't then, and it still doesn't, despite 150 years of cultural conditioning) or because composers and theorists were unaware of Just Intonation. The adoption of twelve-tone equal temperament was strictly a matter of expediency. Equal temperament allowed eighteenth- and nineteenth-century composers to explore increasingly complex harmonies and abstruse modulations, but this benefit was short-lived. By the beginning of this century, all of the meaningful harmonic combinations in the equally-tempered scale had been thoroughly explored and exploited, and many composers believed that consonance, tonality, and even pitch had been exhausted as organizing principles. What was really exhausted was merely the limited resources of the tempered scale. By substituting 12 equally-spaced tones for a universe of subtle intervallic relationships, the composers and theorists of the 18th and 19th centuries effectively painted western music into a corner from which it has not yet succeeded in extricating itself.

Fortunately a few visionary composers, most notably Harry Partch and Lou Harrison, rediscovered the source of truly viable new musical resources. These farsighted musicians recognized that in the acoustically pure intervals of Just Intonation, and in the diverse traditions of World music were to be found sufficient material to fruitfully occupy generations of composers. Unfortunately, until recently composing and performing sophisticated music in Just Intonation presented such difficulties that only the most dedicated enthusiasts were likely to invest the required time and effort. However, due to the recent appearance of affordable electronic instruments with programmable tuning capabilities, it is now possible for almost any musician to explore Just Intonation without first making a major commitment. The technical barriers having been largely removed, the only thing lacking for a widespread growth in the use of Just Intonation is an increased awareness of intonational principles and their musical applications on the part of our more adventuresome musicians. It is to encourage this development that the Just Intonation Network was founded.

#21 Guest_shigihara_*

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 08:03 PM

just found this free shareware at

http://www.xs4all.nl/~huygensf/scala/

Scala is a powerful software tool for experimentation with musical tunings, such as just intonation scales, equal and historical temperaments, microtonal and macrotonal scales, and non-Western scales. It supports scale creation, editing, comparison, analysis, storage, tuning of electronic instruments, and MIDI file generation and tuning conversion. All this is integrated into a single application with a wide variety of mathematical routines and scale creation methods. Scala is ideal for the exploration of tunings and becoming familiar with the concepts involved. In addition, a very large library of scales is freely available for Scala and can be used for analysis or music creation.



damn... no lame excuses anymore... :D

#22 ogami

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 09:16 PM

i think this is a limitative to think that going microtonal or atonal is the only way to create new sound as to restrain oneself to one temperament.

Put it simple, i just can't stand some tunes, and after reading the last posts by shigihara, i can finally put some more words on it, it just seem irregular to me.

As i said to tom baker, there's one point where trying to listen to one music becomes a burden, and no i don't want music to be that way for me.

That's maybe because i'm not musician, only listener, to me music has a "lift off" function and it is not my world of work.

I have so many other fields where i want to put or experience things different, but thoses fields are like work for me, and so in music i don't want to...

#23 joeydude

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 09:45 PM

ok im a litle lost on this "just intonation" thing could someone explain it in dummy terms?

also


i think i confused atonal and microtonal. i now realise that alot of the more extreme genres of metal are atonal, as in they dont try and stay to one key or scale, just play whatever they think sounds good. to quote a freind of mine when someone was tuning his guitar "i kinda like it better a little out of tune". He wants his music to be rough and abrasive, what beter way to do this than be out of tune!

#24 Ed DeGenaro

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 10:27 PM

ok im a litle lost on this "just intonation" thing could someone explain it in dummy terms?

also


i think i confused atonal and microtonal. i now realise that alot of the more extreme genres of metal are atonal, as in they dont try and stay to one key or scale, just play whatever they think sounds good. to quote a freind of mine when someone was tuning his guitar "i kinda like it better a little out of tune". He wants his music to be rough and abrasive, what beter way to do this than be out of tune!

In Just Intonation notes are in tune. As in the resonate with each other, and won't beat against each other.
Now a "in tune" major third is 386 cent from the root. On say a guitar a major thrid is 400 cent.
It's based against notes being in tune to a root note.
Say got a C root, the third E will be in tune with the C in JI. However if you then use that note as a root it'll be flat. Hence just intonaton not working for changing keys on intruments with fixed pitches.

Great book on it, I was turned on to by Steve Kimock...
Harmonic Experience : Tonal Harmony from Its Natural Origins to Its Modern Expression by W.A Mathieu.

#25 jahloon

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 10:39 PM

Hey Joeydude, I could say; look at what you started!

I still think we've got a long way to go in discovering music, and what it does. Sometimes I like it conventinal, you know, in tune standard stuff. Other times the far out bizarre stuff is needed perhaps because there is no conventional sound, like to think of it as brain food.

There's a fair bit of talk lately about the healing power of music, as Deniz Atalay mentioned in his article on Turkish music (see Unfretted main site, plug, plug) some scales are specifically used as theraputic music in Psychiatric wards.

cue... You don't have to be mad to listen to this, but it helps.

Jah
Play the blues guitar with your soul, but play the fretless guitar with your spirit.
Author of the book "Fretless Guitar The Definitive Guide" fretlessguitar.co.uk

#26 Guest_shigihara_*

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 01:10 AM

Great book on it, I was turned on to by Steve Kimock...
Harmonic Experience : Tonal Harmony from Its Natural Origins to Its Modern Expression by W.A Mathieu.


great book... a must-have !

I love the title of Part One

Harmonic Purity: Feeling the Numbers

how cool is that ?!?

Ed,

try to find this book:

'The Magic of Tone and the Art of Music'

by Dane Rudhyar (publ. Shambala)

i now realise that alot of the more extreme genres of metal are atonal,
as in they dont try and stay to one key or scale, just play whatever they think sounds good.


hhmmm...

atonal metal ?!? Glenn Branca ??? :D

#27 Guest_shigihara_*

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 01:24 AM

That's maybe because i'm not musician, only listener, to me music has a "lift off" function
and it is not my world of work.
I have so many other fields where i want to put or experience things different,
but thoses fields are like work for me, and so in music i don't want to...


ogami san,

this is fine... as an informed listener you can be an integral part of the whole
process of music making... you're as much needed just as the person who
'sets the soundwaves in motion'...

If one hears a b***s*** recording you can always turn it off...

or leave when you're at a concert... :D

#28 Guest_shigihara_*

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 02:00 AM

ok im a litle lost on this "just intonation" thing could someone explain it in dummy terms?


more cool stuff with audio examples:

Just Intonation Explained

By Kyle Gann

http://www.kylegann.com/tuning.html

#29 joeydude

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 03:23 AM

wow


fuck man


deep


i actually get it



now i really wana hear moonlight sonata the way it was ment to be herd.....

#30 Kai

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 07:25 AM

All this talk about Just Intonation reminded me of an unfinished project (no samples to share, sorry) I undertook more than ten years ago with one of my programmer/musician housemates in SF. Here's the promo blurb I wrote for it back then:

Just Enough - A Composition in Modulating Just Intonation

Programmer/sound designer: Brian Peterson
Composer/sound designer: Kai Matthews

Description author: Kai Matthews.

"Just Enough" is a piece of music written in the computer music language Csound, which was developed at the Media Lab by Barry Vercoe and others a few years ago.

In Csound, one models all aspects of the music - instrument tones, note events, tunings, control parameters, the virtual sonic space, etc. - in Csound's proprietary code. Not only can one model any form of synthesis currently found in commercial synthesizers, but also go well beyond what's available in even the best commercially available hardware. The only limits are audio file rendering time, disk space, and like they say in a million cheesy synth ads, your imagination.

So, what did we do with it, and what's significant about it?

1) We used new combinations of sound generation and transformation which are unavailable or at least difficult on commercial synths,

2) we used non-equal-tempered tunings ("just" intonation, in this case) in ways also not possible on even the best synths with microtonal tuning tables.

Problems of increasingly complex design of physical instruments for modulating between keys in non-equal-tempered tunings [one needed to have many more than twelve notes in an octave to do this] led to the abandonment of those tunings in favor of the now ubiquitous equal temperament, around the time of Bach.

Now, the problem with equal temperament is that it's a compromise: it's equally out of tune in all keys, in order to facilitate extensive key modulations, something unique to European music of the last few centuries. What were sacrificed were the tunings used up to that era, which were based on the overtone series, a naturally occurring acoustic phenomenon. As in so much of modern Western thought, there was a certain arrogance in the assumption that a centuries-old theoretical system rooted in nature was expendable for the sake of a new fascination. Man outside of and in opposition to nature...

But now, using computers to create virtual instruments in code makes it possible to bypass the problem of physical instrument design and use as many tunings in a piece of music as we want, including the ones based on the overtone series. Extensive modulations are now possible without sacrificing the older, purer tuning systems. In this piece, we modulated from a starting key of C to F# [about as far out as you can go], then to A, and back to C.

In our piece, we did exactly what was impossible 300 years ago and difficult even in recent times: we changed the tunings as the piece played; not only changing them instantaneously, which is something possible on many synths today (albeit with a limited number of tuning table slots, and with limits on when one can load new tables, unlike Csound), but also interpolating gradually between two tunings as a section played, so that one hears a gradual coming into focus, so to speak, in the new key. This is actually a new compositional technique for creating dissonance-to-consonance tension/release.

Stylistically, the piece might be considered "ancient future", with elements of early music, Celtic, Middle-Eastern, and modern classical; imagine an alternate history of Western music, one in which equal temperament was never adopted.


We never did finish it - we each got sidetracked by other projects, me with Web startup work, tech support and studying Indian music, and Brian with design/3D stuff with the folks at Metacreations (his GF was one of my namesake Kai Krause's first employees - back when they were developing Kai's Power Tools for Photoshop, Bryce 3D, etc.)

Perhaps I should find a programmer around here conversant with Csound and pick up where we left off. One of the last things done on it was Brian figuring out how to implement my idea of live gradual interpolation between tunings, the "new technique" in composition I mentioned. And back then, rendering the sound files took many hours (kinda like a 3D render); these days it should go a lot faster.

What I like about fretless is the instant gratification (well, after a bit of practice) of achieving just intonation with just my fingers on strings. I do hope to convert all of my synths to it eventually so it'll all be in tune. Which is why I bought L'il Miss Scale Oven, which is going to take a while to integrate into my system only because of school taking my time. (Those synths I can't convert I may have to burn at the stake... just kidding.)
"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench - a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side..." - Hunter S. Thompson
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