Non Western Music and the Tune Method

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Spannko
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Non Western Music and the Tune Method

Post by Spannko »

Split from the "Playground for practical listening exercises" thread.

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Here’s a bit of information about different cultures music written by a Jewish composer which partly explains why it’s difficult to use music from outside of our own culture to assess a components tunefulness.

Q. Are there two different styles of music theory that grew from the West and the East

A. There's no such thing as "Eastern music". I mean, maybe you meant that as a joke, as a play on "Western music", which is a thing. Western music is the music of the Western culture, which is this shared culture of the western half of Europe that conquered much of the world in the last 500 years or so. Essentially, all of us in the West have the same music.
But every other culture, including New World cultures like the First Nations, Native Americans, South American tribes, Mesoamerican civilizations, etc., have their own music that's not Western, and it sure ain't Eastern. The bigger civilizations have generally more developed musical systems, like the Arabs, the Chinese, the Indians, etc.
There are also many cultures that have a music with heavy influences from nearby cultures. African-Americans are one familiar example; the blues are a mix of African and Western sounds. (Jazz then takes the blues and twists it completely; I'm not sure I'd even call jazz "Western music".) Jewish music varies quite a bit by community, but lately, Israeli music has really become a mix of Arabic music, Yemenite music (which is very distinct from Arabic), Eastern European music, and Western music. Spanish music is also a mix of Arabic and Western; Latin American music is that plus African and Mesoamerican/South American indigenous. The mix varies, of course; samba is a lot more African than chorinho.
So, are there different styles of music theory? OF COURSE. Are there only two? OF COURSE NOT. But "music theory" is a general and loosely defined term. You could just as easily argue that there is only one music theory but there are different approaches to it. Certainly the terminology is different in each culture that has developed a theory of their music. Western music is also the only flavor that contains true harmony, which we developed roughly from 1400 to 1600 and expanded on thereafter. When you hear harmony in other musics, it's generally borrowed from Western music. Arabic music theory, for example, doesn't concern itself with triads, which means that the quarter tones used don't get in the way of in-tune triads. Maqam Bayat, for example, is 1 d2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 (I use d to mean half flat). Nobody's trying to make a v chord with that d2. Then you have Yemenite music, where the pitches are a lot less standard but when people sing it together they naturally do so in parallel fifths, or even ninths. If "music theory" consists of a system of values for what sounds good and what doesn't, or as a toolbox for composition and analysis, then each culture has its own. If, on the other hand, it just aims to explain why music is effective, then it may be easier to think of it as just one music theory with multiple approaches.
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Re: Playground for practical listening exercises

Post by Spannko »

I found this interesting too. It explains how music evolved in different communities throughout the world.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic ... po=9.78261
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Re: Playground for practical listening exercises

Post by Spannko »

……… and a bit about pitch perception across different cultures.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/ ... 142301.htm
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Re: Playground for practical listening exercises

Post by FairPlayMotty »

Spannko wrote: 2021-08-10 13:52 Here’s a bit of information about different cultures music written by a Jewish composer which partly explains why it’s difficult to use music from outside of our own culture to assess a components tunefulness.

Q. Are there two different styles of music theory that grew from the West and the East

A. There's no such thing as "Eastern music". I mean, maybe you meant that as a joke, as a play on "Western music", which is a thing. Western music is the music of the Western culture, which is this shared culture of the western half of Europe that conquered much of the world in the last 500 years or so. Essentially, all of us in the West have the same music.
But every other culture, including New World cultures like the First Nations, Native Americans, South American tribes, Mesoamerican civilizations, etc., have their own music that's not Western, and it sure ain't Eastern. The bigger civilizations have generally more developed musical systems, like the Arabs, the Chinese, the Indians, etc.
There are also many cultures that have a music with heavy influences from nearby cultures. African-Americans are one familiar example; the blues are a mix of African and Western sounds. (Jazz then takes the blues and twists it completely; I'm not sure I'd even call jazz "Western music".) Jewish music varies quite a bit by community, but lately, Israeli music has really become a mix of Arabic music, Yemenite music (which is very distinct from Arabic), Eastern European music, and Western music. Spanish music is also a mix of Arabic and Western; Latin American music is that plus African and Mesoamerican/South American indigenous. The mix varies, of course; samba is a lot more African than chorinho.
So, are there different styles of music theory? OF COURSE. Are there only two? OF COURSE NOT. But "music theory" is a general and loosely defined term. You could just as easily argue that there is only one music theory but there are different approaches to it. Certainly the terminology is different in each culture that has developed a theory of their music. Western music is also the only flavor that contains true harmony, which we developed roughly from 1400 to 1600 and expanded on thereafter. When you hear harmony in other musics, it's generally borrowed from Western music. Arabic music theory, for example, doesn't concern itself with triads, which means that the quarter tones used don't get in the way of in-tune triads. Maqam Bayat, for example, is 1 d2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 (I use d to mean half flat). Nobody's trying to make a v chord with that d2. Then you have Yemenite music, where the pitches are a lot less standard but when people sing it together they naturally do so in parallel fifths, or even ninths. If "music theory" consists of a system of values for what sounds good and what doesn't, or as a toolbox for composition and analysis, then each culture has its own. If, on the other hand, it just aims to explain why music is effective, then it may be easier to think of it as just one music theory with multiple approaches.
If jazz isn't Western music could someone please tell me the part of jazz history I missed?

Source please Spannko? What part of the quote applies to component tunefulness assessment using music from other cultures? I've been listening to music from other cultures all my life. Matt's clips sounded like chamber music with a slightly eastern influence to me.
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Re: Playground for practical listening exercises

Post by Spannko »

FairPlayMotty wrote: 2021-08-10 17:01
If jazz isn't Western music could someone please tell me the part of jazz history I missed?

Source please Spannko? What part of the quote applies to component tunefulness assessment using music from other cultures? I've been listening to music from other cultures all my life. Matt's clips sounded like chamber music with a slightly eastern influence to me.
It’s only one person’s opinion, you’re free to disagree if you wish.

I don’t think I’d be too far off the mark if I said that most people on this forum have a very broad taste in music which includes listening to music of all cultures and time periods. I’m partial to a bit of Himalayan nose flute myself, but that’s not important right now. The clips are for us to objectively assess a components ability to accurately reproduce pitch and harmony as we know it. This is very difficult with music we don’t understand - the pitch relationships may be different and in some cultures, the western idea of harmony may be actively discouraged!
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Re: Playground for practical listening exercises

Post by FairPlayMotty »

What part of the quote applies to component tunefulness assessment using music from other cultures?
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Re: Playground for practical listening exercises

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Everything is a remix: Copy, Transform, Combine.
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Re: Playground for practical listening exercises

Post by Spannko »

FairPlayMotty wrote: 2021-08-10 18:20 What part of the quote applies to component tunefulness assessment using music from other cultures?
None, specifically. It requires a bit of extrapolation.

“ Western music is also the only flavor that contains true harmony, which we developed roughly from 1400 to 1600 and expanded on thereafter. When you hear harmony in other musics, it's generally borrowed from Western music. Arabic music theory, for example, doesn't concern itself with triads, which means that the quarter tones used don't get in the way of in-tune triads. Maqam Bayat, for example, is 1 d2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 (I use d to mean half flat). Nobody's trying to make a v chord with that d2. Then you have Yemenite music, where the pitches are a lot less standard but when people sing it together they naturally do so in parallel fifths, or even ninths.”

So, our western ideas of pitch relationships and harmony don’t help us to assess a components ability to be pitch accurate when using music which doesn’t conform to our musical model. The models aren’t better or worse than one another, they’re just different.
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Re: Playground for practical listening exercises

Post by Charlie1 »

Spannko wrote: 2021-08-10 20:02 So, our western ideas of pitch relationships and harmony don’t help us to assess a components ability to be pitch accurate when using music which doesn’t conform to our musical model. The models aren’t better or worse than one another, they’re just different.
If you're just trying to follow the music then wouldn't one component make that process easier than the other, even if both seem off pitch to a western ear?
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Re: Playground for practical listening exercises

Post by Lego »

Charlie1 wrote: 2021-08-12 08:04
Spannko wrote: 2021-08-10 20:02 So, our western ideas of pitch relationships and harmony don’t help us to assess a components ability to be pitch accurate when using music which doesn’t conform to our musical model. The models aren’t better or worse than one another, they’re just different.
If you're just trying to follow the music then wouldn't one component make that process easier than the other, even if both seem off pitch to a western ear?
Not if you don't think so I imagine .It's all very subjective .I think I could so I would prefer one component over the other.Spannko on the other hand thinks he can't so wouldn't ,if you know what I mean.Horses for courses.
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Re: Playground for practical listening exercises

Post by Spannko »

Charlie1 wrote: 2021-08-12 08:04
Spannko wrote: 2021-08-10 20:02 So, our western ideas of pitch relationships and harmony don’t help us to assess a components ability to be pitch accurate when using music which doesn’t conform to our musical model. The models aren’t better or worse than one another, they’re just different.
If you're just trying to follow the music then wouldn't one component make that process easier than the other, even if both seem off pitch to a western ear?
Good question! I think the safest answer is to say I don’t know! Maybe we could set up a series of tests comparing one component with another and see if any patterns emerge? But I agree with Fredrik’s view that it helps enormously if we can relate to the piece we’re listening to. For me, modern classical music, which tries to break free of the constraints of western ideas of harmony etc, is completely incomprehensible, and I don’t think I’d enjoy it live, never mind on the best HiFi systems!
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Re: Non Western Music and the Tune Method

Post by Charlie1 »

I agree that it helps a lot too.
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Re: Non Western Music and the Tune Method

Post by FairPlayMotty »

Perhaps my ears attuned to Eastern instruments on massive hits by The Beatles, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones, some released before I attended primary school. Those Western genre explorers maybe made it easier for me to connect to Debussy played on Eastern instruments.

Thanks to Matt for the clips.
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Re: Non Western Music and the Tune Method

Post by FairPlayMotty »

If George Harrison, Brian Jones, the Davies brothers could have huge hits over fifty years ago in the UK with songs with Eastern tuned instruments I don't believe forum members should struggle overly these days. If the UK public could connect back then it's reasonable to assume we can now.

The UK explorers weren't alone (though Shankar gave Harrison the credit for the explosion in Eastern instrument popularity) - American performers like Elvis, The Mamas and Papas etc. swiftly followed. The list is huge (Procul Harum, The Incredible String Band, The Yardbirds etc.)

If you need a reminder start with The Beatles, Revolver. Love You To is awash with Eastern instruments.

I'm a source first guy. It all starts with the music for me. TOK reasonably recently mentioned Fred Neil. Neil's hits for Nilsson and Buckley (Tim) I assumed were common knowledge. Neil's career was short but he performed ragas around 1966. "Little Bit of Rain" is a classic of deep male vocals and a personal favourite.
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Re: Playground for practical listening exercises

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Spannko wrote: 2021-08-12 09:05 Good question! I think the safest answer is to say I don’t know! Maybe we could set up a series of tests comparing one component with another and see if any patterns emerge? But I agree with Fredrik’s view that it helps enormously if we can relate to the piece we’re listening to. For me, modern classical music, which tries to break free of the constraints of western ideas of harmony etc, is completely incomprehensible, and I don’t think I’d enjoy it live, never mind on the best HiFi systems!
I agree that it makes the comparison easier if we can relate to the music, but I don't think it's a necessity. What I wrote was that you need to be able to connect with the music. With connection I mean that you're able to make sense of the music.

No music is random, it always follows patterns. We make sense of the music by following the patterns and predicting what the next note will be. If there is no way of predicting the next note, the music doesn't make any sense to us and becomes random sounds appearing in random order.

The ability to make sense of a piece of music is of course highly individual. Some music may appear too foreign to connect with but a repetition or two can be enough to make us able to. We can also be in a physical or mental condition where we're unable to connect with music. A long time ago I was on heavy doses of opiates after surgery for a ruptured appendix. Under that influence, I was completely unable to make sense of any music. It was truly just random sounds appearing in random order and the experience of listening to it meaningless.
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Re: Playground for practical listening exercises

Post by Spannko »

lejonklou wrote: 2021-08-14 12:47
Spannko wrote: 2021-08-12 09:05 Good question! I think the safest answer is to say I don’t know! Maybe we could set up a series of tests comparing one component with another and see if any patterns emerge? But I agree with Fredrik’s view that it helps enormously if we can relate to the piece we’re listening to. For me, modern classical music, which tries to break free of the constraints of western ideas of harmony etc, is completely incomprehensible, and I don’t think I’d enjoy it live, never mind on the best HiFi systems!
I agree that it makes the comparison easier if we can relate to the music, but I don't think it's a necessity. What I wrote was that you need to be able to connect with the music. With connection I mean that you're able to make sense of the music.

No music is random, it always follows patterns. We make sense of the music by following the patterns and predicting what the next note will be. If there is no way of predicting the next note, the music doesn't make any sense to us and becomes random sounds appearing in random order.

The ability to make sense of a piece of music is of course highly individual. Some music may appear too foreign to connect with but a repetition or two can be enough to make us able to. We can also be in a physical or mental condition where we're unable to connect with music. A long time ago I was on heavy doses of opiates after surgery for a ruptured appendix. Under that influence, I was completely unable to make sense of any music. It was truly just random sounds appearing in random order and the experience of listening to it meaningless.
Yes, I think “connect” is a more accurate description in this context, even though I often (possibly wrongly) use relationship & connection interchangeably.

The ability to predict the next note has been described as coming from a knowledge of the distance between individual notes, similar to walking up and down stairs with equally spaced steps. We soon learn to walk up and down, take two steps at a time, even with our eyes closed (I’ve got a feeling that the later Mozart works, and subsequently Beethoven, used this phenomena to throw in an odd note or two in order to “trick” the listener, just for fun!). When we listen to music with an unknown tuning scale, as you suggest, we gradually learn the spacing between the notes, enabling us to appreciate the music in a different light.

It’s interesting that the drugs you were on prevented you from connecting with the music. I’ve seen it reported that other drugs can have the opposite effect, but I’m not sure that’s something we’re free to comment on!
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Re: Playground for practical listening exercises

Post by Lego »

Spannko wrote: 2021-08-14 18:55
lejonklou wrote: 2021-08-14 12:47
Spannko wrote: 2021-08-12 09:05 Good question! I think the safest answer is to say I don’t know! Maybe we could set up a series of tests comparing one component with another and see if any patterns emerge? But I agree with Fredrik’s view that it helps enormously if we can relate to the piece we’re listening to. For me, modern classical music, which tries to break free of the constraints of western ideas of harmony etc, is completely incomprehensible, and I don’t think I’d enjoy it live, never mind on the best HiFi systems!
I agree that it makes the comparison easier if we can relate to the music, but I don't think it's a necessity. What I wrote was that you need to be able to connect with the music. With connection I mean that you're able to make sense of the music.

No music is random, it always follows patterns. We make sense of the music by following the patterns and predicting what the next note will be. If there is no way of predicting the next note, the music doesn't make any sense to us and becomes random sounds appearing in random order.

The ability to make sense of a piece of music is of course highly individual. Some music may appear too foreign to connect with but a repetition or two can be enough to make us able to. We can also be in a physical or mental condition where we're unable to connect with music. A long time ago I was on heavy doses of opiates after surgery for a ruptured appendix. Under that influence, I was completely unable to make sense of any music. It was truly just random sounds appearing in random order and the experience of listening to it meaningless.
Yes, I think “connect” is a more accurate description in this context, even though I often (possibly wrongly) use relationship & connection interchangeably.

The ability to predict the next note has been described as coming from a knowledge of the distance between individual notes, similar to walking up and down stairs with equally spaced steps. We soon learn to walk up and down, take two steps at a time, even with our eyes closed (I’ve got a feeling that the later Mozart works, and subsequently Beethoven, used this phenomena to throw in an odd note or two in order to “trick” the listener, just for fun!). When we listen to music with an unknown tuning scale, as you suggest, we gradually learn the spacing between the notes, enabling us to appreciate the music in a different light.

It’s interesting that the drugs you were on prevented you from connecting with the music. I’ve seen it reported that other drugs can have the opposite effect, but I’m not sure that’s something we’re free to comment on!
I think what you are referring to Spannko is an increase in enjoyment of sounds which could include music probably due to an increase in dopamine.
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Re: Playground for practical listening exercises

Post by Spannko »

Lego wrote: 2021-08-16 18:38 I think what you are referring to Spannko is an increase in enjoyment of sounds which could include music probably due to an increase in dopamine.
Thanks for clearing that up.
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Re: Non Western Music and the Tune Method

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No problem,and anecdotally ,I've heard people say that cannabis dulls down the high frequencies in music which would give it a warm sound.Probably an explanation as to why a lot of reggae albums have really splashy treble. :0)
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Re: Non Western Music and the Tune Method

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I think connect is a good word for being able to enjoy music, and if you can't enjoy it then it seems it would be hard to use for evaluation. Music we are unfamiliar with can definitely take some getting used to before we understand it and can enjoy it. When I first bought King Crimson's "Lizard" album I listened to it twice, determined it was junk, and took it back to the store for a refund. A few months later a friend took me to one of his friends house to introduce us as his friend was also a big King Crimson fan. So much so that he bought a Mellotron to play with. After we met he asked me how much I liked Lizard. I told him not at all and I had taken it back to the record store. He said: "No, it's a great album. How many times did you listen to it?" My answer was twice. He told me you have to listen to it at least 5 times to wrap your head around it and lent me his copy with the understanding I would listen to it at least 3 more times before giving up on it. I did and ended up buying the album again and I really quite like it and it still gets regular play (something I cannot say of many other albums from that time). A number of years ago Robert Fripp (head of King Crimson) enlisted Steven Wilson to remaster three of the King Crimson albums for the 40th anniversary for "In the Court of the Crimson King", their debut album. Steven agreed to do ITCOTCK and Red but only if he could do Lizard as well. Fripp himself didn't really like Lizard but after hearing the Wilson remix commented that it allowed him to "Hear the music in the music." He also said that he felt Lizard was rather cerebral and that you probably had to listen to it something like 24 times to wrap your head around it!

So unusual music can take a while to become familiar. There is the famous (if likely overblown) story "The premiere of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps) is perhaps the most notorious scandal in the history of music. The ballet was first performed by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes at the Theatre du Champs-Élysées in Paris on 29 May 1913 and famously caused a riot." Whether there was actually any fighting the perfromance definitely caused a major stir. "Stravinsky himself said that when he first played the beginning of the Rite, with its dissonant chords and pulsating rhythm, to Serge Diaghilev, the founder of the Ballets Russes, Diaghilev asked him a "very offending" question: "Will it last a very long time this way?" (Stravinsky replied: "To the end, my dear.")" So a piece of music, which today is a standard, and one of my favorites, was not quite so well received initially. Eastern Indian classical music also has it's own flavor from it's different structure and takes many people a while to get into even if they have heard some of the ideas borrowed by the rock musicians of the 60s.

I would expect that until you become familiar with a style of music, or even a particular record, you might find it difficult to use it for tune method evaluation. But once you are used to it there should be no problem whether it uses a "Western" scale or not. I have no problem using an Indian raga for tune evaluations, nor Le Sacre du Printemps, nor the music of Loreena McKennitt, which often combines gaelic and mediterranean influences in a way I find quite delightful.
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Re: Non Western Music and the Tune Method

Post by V.A.MKD »

ThomasOK wrote: 2021-08-17 19:00 I would expect that until you become familiar with a style of music, or even a particular record, you might find it difficult to use it for tune method evaluation. But once you are used to it there should be no problem whether it uses a "Western" scale or not. I have no problem using an Indian raga for tune evaluations, nor Le Sacre du Printemps, nor the music of Loreena McKennitt, which often combines gaelic and mediterranean influences in a way I find quite delightful.
Yes, absolutely right from my point of view!
I have two almost similar cases ...
One is Keith Jarrett album Changeless ECM 1392, I need approx. 6 mon. from time to time listening for real "klik" and than everything settle on it place ...
Second is Rachmaninoff 3rd Piano Concert, "work still in progress" ...
Music First ...
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