Sunday, September 30, 2007
I haven't yet had a chance to read the full article to see whether the intervals were actually played in just intonation, how many intervals were played, and how many participants were in the study (fMRI studies usually have smaller numbers due to the expense of MRI time). If the intervals were played in equal temperament, that would go against the whole ratio-rule interpretation.
AH Foss, EL Altschuler, and KH James. "Neural correlates of the Pythagorean ratio rules." Neuroreport 18, no. 15 (2007), 1521-1525.
Friday, September 28, 2007
2. "Be with you" written and performed by U2, a cool live version with guest artists (including a choir!) joining in.
3. "Beatam Me Dicent a 6" by Heinrich Finck, performed by the Copenhagen Cornetto & Sackbutts with Vocal Group Ars Nova on Winds and Voices 1: at the Court of King Christian III.
4. Beatrice et Benedicte: Overture by Hector Berlioz, performed by Yuri Temirkanov and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
5. "Beats Brand X" by Alex Temple, 12 March 2007 performance.
6. "Beautiful" by Steven Sondheim, performed by
7. "The Beautiful Galathea" by Franz von Suppé, performed by the John Foster Black Dyke Mills Band on Overtures.
8. "Before I Gaze At You Again" by Frederick Loewe, performed by Arleen Augér on Arleen Auger, American Soprano.
9. "Begin The Beguine" by Cole Porter, performed by Art Tatum on Solos (1940).
10. "The Beginning of a Friendship" by John Williams, on the E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial - Remastered & Expanded soundtrack.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
William Forde Thompson and Frank A. Russo, "Facing the Music," Psychological Science Vol. 18 no. 9(Sept. 2007), 756-757.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Dr. Bruce Benward, an eminent pedagogue and influential scholar, died on September 15, 2007 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He served as professor of music theory for 30 years at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Music. Prior to that, he spent two decades as professor of music and chair of the Music Department at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Benward also served as Florida State University’s distinguished visiting professor of music theory in 1992. He earned his master’s degree from Indiana University in 1943 and his Ph.D. from the Eastman School of Music in 1950.
During his career, Benward published several landmark music theory textbooks, including Music in Theory and Practice, Ear Training: A Technique for Listening, Sightsinging Complete, and Practical Beginning Theory: A Fundamentals Worktext. He is credited for being on the forefront of computer-assisted music instruction, having authored or coauthored several pieces of computer software. Throughout his career, he made presentations at conferences and workshops across the country for various professional organizations. In 1995, he founded the Macro Analysis Creative Research Organization, an organization dedicated to music theory pedagogy.
Among his many honors, Benward received the Trochos research grant from the IBM Corporation in 1985 for the development of instructional programs for microcomputers. He was awarded the Joe Wyatt Challenge Award in 1991 and was listed among 100 other technological leaders. At the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he was voted as one of the “Top 100 Educators.”
As an examiner for the National Association of Schools of Music, Benward visited more than 50 accredited universities in the United States. He served on the editorial boards for Computers in Music Research, College Music Symposium, Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy, and Schirmer Books. Benward also served as president of the National Association of Music Schools of State Universities.
First, there was the tone. This tone creates overtones, the images of which create the triadic chord, called the Chord of Nature. Most contemporary theorists ignore the chord of nature part of Schenker's theory, for reasons that I listed here. Instead, we accept that Schenker's tonality is based upon the triad, and upon major or minor modes. These postulates are accepted because the music literature of 1600-1880(ish) exhibit this behavior and the analyses based upon Schenker's theory work with this starting postulate. Recent theories suggest that jazz tonality is based upon the seventh chord rather than the triad.
This triadic chord is unfolded through time by stepwise descending motion in the upper voice, from either the third or fifth* of the chord to the root tonic, which Schenker calls the fundamental tone**. Schenker equates this melodic motion, the fundamental line(Urlinie) with our own life-impulses, striving towards a goal. The melodic motion is accompanied by an arpeggiation in the lower voice up a fifth and back down again, as a foundational counterpoint. Why the fifth? From the overtone series, but also from contrapuntal practice: in three-voice strict counterpoint, if the closing scale degrees 2 and 7 are in upper voices, only scale degree 5 is allowable to complete the triad, and was the only leaping bass line found at the close (same as a cadence) in modal counterpoint.
Schenker has a few terms for this counterpoint: background, fundamental structure (Ursatz), and diatony. This fundamental structure is further expanded through middleground and foreground levels by transformations, prolongations, and elaborations, until the actual musical composition is realized (the surface level). The fundamental structure provides the unity, the primary identity of the tonal piece, by marking the goal and the direct path to that goal. Schenker defines "tonality" as the sum of the fundamental structure with all the elaborations and prolongations.
I'll stop here for the first part, quoting from p. 5 of Free Composition:
As the image of our life-motion, music can approach a state of objectivity, never, of course, to the extent that it need abandon its own specific nature as an art. Thus, it may almost evoke pictures or seem to be endowed with speech; it may pursue its course by means of associations, references, and connectives; it may use repetitions of the same tonal succession to express different meanings; it may simulate expectation, preparation, surprise, disappointment, patience, impatience, and humor. Because these comparisons are of a biological nature, and are generated organically, music is never comparable to mathematics or to architecture, but only to language, a kind of tonal language.
Next time I will describe dissonance as it affects the fundamental structure, and begin to explain the transformations that elaborate this fundamental structure.
* Schenker does allow for the traversal of an octave, from root down to root, but later analyses show that he doesn't think it is very common.
**Or at least that is how Ernst Oster translates it from the german.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
1) Musicogenic epilepsy, when music causes seizures. Not to be confused with Celebrity epilepsy.
2) Clive Wearing, the pianist who has forgotten everything except how to play the piano and that he loves his wife. Elaine Fine has also blogged about this.
Friday, September 21, 2007
1. "Every Little Bit Hurts" by Ed Cobb performed by The Spencer Davis Group on The Best of the Spencer Davis Group.
2. "Every Mornin'" by M. Longo, performed by Dizzy Gillespie on New Faces.
3. "Everybody Loves Louis" by Steven Sondheim, performed by Bernadette Peters on the Sunday in the Park with George original Broadway soundtrack.
4. "Everybody's Jumpin'" by Dave Brubeck, performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet on Time Out.
5. "Everything Happens When You're Gone" composed and performed by Michael Brecker on Don't Try This at Home.
6. "Everything I Said" composed and performed by The Cranberries on No Need To Argue.
7. "Everytime We Say Goodbye" by Cole Porter performed by John Coltrane on My Favorite Things.
8. "You're My Everything" by Harry Warren, Joe Young, and Mort Dixon; performed by the Miles Davis Quintet on Relaxin' With Miles.
In tonal music, syntax is easy to describe as the expected order of harmonic progressions, melodic pitches and rhythms, both at local levels and in hierarchical systems. The expected order is based upon rules that have been (slowly) developed by observing the behavior of tonal music composed between about 1600 and 1880. Stefan Koelsch calls these rules "certain regularities." There is debate as to whether this syntax is learned by exposure to music of that culture or if this syntax is hardwired. This same debate exists in linguistics. But regardless of the means of development, there is no debate that music has a syntax.
Musical semantics is a different story. Some say that musical semantics are identical to musical syntax, that any meaning gleaned is only a perception of structure. But others say that music can communicate a variety of meanings. Koelsch describes four different aspects of meaning: 1) analogies to similar sounding objects or to qualities of objects, such as imitating birdsong; 2) emotional meaning, such as happy or sad; 3) extramusical associations, such as literary references or conventional uses of a particular musical work (anthem, folk song); and 4) perception of syntactical structure.
The question that Koelsch's team has been investigating is if our brains process musical semantics separately from musical syntax, and if these neurocognitive processes are similar to the processes of language syntax and semantics. Previous research has identified two electrical signal changes (called event related potentials) associated with harmonic expectancy. When a harmonic expectancy is violated, the ERAN and the N500 peaks are affected. By playing musical excerpts coupled with sentences in the native language of the listeners, said sentences containing either violations of syntax or violations of semantics, Steinbeis and Koelsch found that syntactic violations in the sentence reduced the effect of the ERAN, and that semantic violations in the sentence reduced the effect of the N500. Thus, if one accepts the premise that these two ERP peaks do correspond to harmonic expectancy, this harmonic expectancy has two different processes that correlate to language's syntax and semantics.
The implications of this? I'm not sure, beyond a a possible negation of that one opinion that music syntax and music semantics are identical. I suppose it opens up the possibility that there are universal meanings in music, with varying potential levels to "universal." And it could lead to investigations on whether music-making evolved as a byproduct of language development or vice-versa.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Adam Baratz has found an interesting topic to blog about from an unusual source, an LSAT study guide. The topic of discussion is Historically Informed Performance practice, which I have blogged about before. More specifically, Adam isolates possible answers to why symphonies may have played final finales more slowly in Mozart and Beethoven's days, and why audiences don't applaud between movements anymore. Alex Ross has looked at the latter phenomenon closely, supporting the comment I made on Adam's blog. You'll have to visit Adam's site to see what I said.
This is another reason why live music creates a much different experience than an audio recording. The visual cues actively change our perception of the musical sounds, even when they are acoustically exactly the same as a recording (which is rarely the case).
Schutz, M. and S. Lipscomb. "Hearing gestures, seeing music: vision influences perceived tone duration." Perception (2007), 36/6, 888-897.
Steinbeis, N. and S. Koelsch. "Shared neural resources between music and language indicate semantic processing of musical tension-resolution patterns." Cerebral Cortex 2007 (eprint).
Sunday, September 16, 2007
The atmosphere was crazy, about 700 vans driving around the highways and backways of New Hampshire. The vans were decorated with horses, kangaroos, shaggy dogs, lewd sayings, etc. Some running teams wore pirate hats, or tutus, or capes. You would expect that runners who agree to run 15-25 miles on three hours sleep would be more sane. And now my sore calves and I are going to bed.
*The title was a quote from one of my teammates, giving advice on how to run down hills.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Friday, September 07, 2007
1. Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73, 4th movement, Allegro con spirito. Johannes Brahms, performed by George Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
2. Canzon I "La Spiritata." Giovanni Gabrieli, performed by (1) Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort & Players; (2) American Brass Quintet.
3. Con spirito from Heldenmusik. Georg Phillip Telemann, performed by the Empire Brass
4. Concerto For Trumpet, Bassoon & String Orchestra; 1. Allegro Spiritoso. Paul Hindemith, performed by Jouko Harjanne et al.
5. Concerto for trumpet in E Major I. Allegro con spirito. Johann Nepomuk Hummel, performed by (1) John Wallace; (2) Wynton Marsalis (performed in E-flat).
6. "Possente spirito e formidalbil Nume," from Orfeo. Claudio Monteverdi, I don't remember who performs this.
7. Sonata for Trumpet and Piano - III. Spiritual. Jean Hubeau, performed by Thierry Caens, Yves Henry.
8. Sonata for trumpet In D - Spiritoso ed adagio. Arcangelo Corelli, performed by Crispian Steele-Perkins.
9. Sonata for trumpet in D Major: I. Spirituoso (Allegro). Georg Phillip Telemann, performed by Stephen Burns.
10. Symph. #103 E Flat Maj "Drum Roll": I. Adagio - Allegro Con Spiritu - Adagio. Franz Joseph Haydn, performed by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic.
11. Symphony No. 8 in E flat "Symphony of a Thousand": 1. Hymnus: Veni, Creator Spiritus. Gustav Mahler, performed by Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
WGBH has posted a 1972 interview with Luciano on their website. They also sent a press release with details of the interview:
On Monday, April 10, 1972 during the radio program Morning pro musica hosted by Robert J. Lurtsema, WGBH 89.7 in Boston featured an interview with a rising opera star named Luciano Pavarotti. The interview was recorded from a phone conversation between WGBH 89.7 host Ron Della Chiesa and the tenor that took place on March 14, less than a month after Pavarotti's now legendary 1972 New York Metropolitan Opera appearance. This was a pivotal point in the tenor's career. He was making musical history at the Met, singing the role of Tonio in Donizetti's "Daughter of the Regiment". The role includes the demanding aria "Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête!" Often called the "Mount Everest" for tenors, the aria features 9 exposed, high Cs in rapid-fire succession--requiring monumental vocal dexterity. According to the Kennedy Center biography for Pavarotti, he made history by being the first tenor to sing those 9 high C's loudly, musically, in full voice (i.e. not falsetto.) As Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and cultural critic Manuela Hoelterhoff described the triumph, "Pavarotti stepped to the footlights and sang all nine as if he were flipping pancakes into his mouth. The crowd roared." This is when he was crowned the "King of the High C's". In this historic interview, Ron Della Chiesa speaks with the tenor about his childhood in Modena, his thoughts about the great tenors of the past, his plans for future recordings, and --of course-- the unprecedented musical accomplishment that launched him to international superstardom.*The title comes from an appearance Luciano made on David Letterman. He was explaining to Dave how to sing, and said it was basically controlled shouting.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Stephen Casales has finished the Unfinished Symphony.
Composer, teacher and critic Stephen Casale studied theory and composition at the New England Conservatory of Music and musicology at New York University. The project to realize a performing version of the Scherzo movement of Schubert's "Unfinished" symphony based on Schubert's piano sketch for the movement took shape in Martin Chusid's graduate course on Schubert at NYU, where it was performed in 1978. A studio recording of the Scherzo was subsequently made by the Czech Radio Symphony under Vladimir Valek in 1995. The present performance by the Toronto Philharmonia is the first professional concert presentation of this realization of the movement.
A new e-company is trying to connect music instructors with students at ClickForLessons. I have no idea how effective it is.
This Saturday there is a symposium celebrating John Cage's 95th birthday at the University of New Hampshire.
John Cage in 2007: Reception, Performance Practice, Analysis
Symposium, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., M-223, Paul Creative Arts Center, UNH
Our Memory of What Happened is Not What Happened: Cage and the Power of Myth
Brent Reidy, Ph.D. candidate, Musicology, Indiana University
On John Cage's Late Music, Analysis, and the Model of Renga in Two2
Rob Haskins, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Music, UNH
Interdeterminacy and Performance Practice in Cage?s _Variations_
David P. Miller, Boston, MA
Thinking About Cage and Nature, Back Then and Right Now
David Andrew, Ph.D., Professor of Art History, UNH
Concert, 8:00 p.m., Bratton Recital Hall, Paul Creative Arts Center, UNH
Music for One
Margaret Herlehy, Oboe
Rob Haskins, David Miller, Laurel Karlik Sheehan, and Brent Reidy, performers
Rob Haskins and Laurel Karlik Sheehan, pianos
Monday, September 03, 2007
It feels much like when I submitted my dissertation, concerned whether I caught all the typos and logical flaws. But nothing is perfect, and I feel the files do represent my work, which is the important thing.