Perceptions about music, perceptions that affect music, perceptions colored by music, perceptions expressed by music.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
1) "In the Devil's Snare and the Flying Keys" by John Williams on the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone soundtrack.
2) "The Devil's Dance" and "The Devil's Triumphant March" from L'Histoire du Soldat by Stravinsky, performed by Gerard Schwarz and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Amazon MP3, Amazon MP3.
3) "The Magic of Halloween" by John Williams on the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial soundtrack.
4) The Noon Witch by Antonin Dvorak, performed by Seiji Ozawa and the Wiener Philharmoniker.
5) "The Witch, Baba Yaga" from Fairy Tale Characters by Oleg Oblov, performed by the Aries Brass Quintet.
6) "Zombie" by the Cranberries on No Need to Argue. Amazon MP3.
7) "Ghost Dance" from Ancient Voices of Children by George Crumb, performed by Jan DeGaetani, Machael Dash, the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. Amazon MP3.
8) "(I don't stand a) Ghost of a Chance" by Victor Young, performed by Clifford Brown on Jazz 'Round Midnight.
9) Triskelion (Andante (with a ghostly quality)) by Bruce Adolphe, performed by the American Brass Quintet. Amazon MP3.
10) "The Superstitious Ghost" by Fred Himebaugh.
11) The Six Realms (1999-2000) For Amplified Cello And Orchestra: 3. The Hungry Ghost Realm, by Peter Lieberson, performed by Michaela Fukacova, Odense Symphony Orchestra, Justin Brown.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I wrote a brief post on a study of Pythagorean ratio rules and brain function, based solely upon the abstract of the article. Now I've read the article, and can answer some of the questions posed by me and others. Most importantly, the authors did not really test for Pythagorean ratio rules. Here is their justification:
For centuries after Pythagoras, his tuning system based on exact perfect consonances predominated. As Western music increased in complexity and range, however, slight modifications to the Pythagorean scale became necessary to preserve consistently tuned intervals across extremely large intervals (greater than one or two octaves) and small ones (half steps and intervals that are difficult to standardize using Pythagorean tuning). The difficulty arising from the increased range is apparent when one goes through 12 perfect fifths, for example, from the note C to a C seven octaves higher: the ratio of the harmonic to the fundamental starting tone is (3/2)
^12=129.746. Going from a C to one seven octaves higher via the octave route, however, produces a tone with a frequency that has a ratio (2/1)^7 = 128 times higher than the starting tone. This small difference ultimately requires some temperament or modification of pure harmonic intervals to construct and tune instruments that can play pieces written with tones that span multiple octaves. Numerous fixes or temperaments for this problem have been devised over the centuries. The one used almost universally today is known as equal temperament, inwhich the discrepancy of 1.746 is divided by narrowing each of the 12 previously perfect fifths in the seven-octave span, resulting in the 12 notes of the chromatic scale. Thus in equal temperament the fifths are no longer perfect, only close.
With this caveat of equal tempering – the temperament in which Western listeners are accustomed to hearing music – informing our search for neural correlates to the Pythagorean rules, we chose to study the neural activation pattern associated with hearing the perfect [sic] fifth (1.498:1), major sixth (1.682:1) and major seventh (1.888:1).
(The footnote cites Helmholtz. They couldn't find something a little more contemporary?) In addition, all of the "musician" participants were piano performance majors, which could bias certain brain responses to muscle memory activity. The purpose of this study was hidden from the participants, by throwing the intervals in after another listening test on sentences and progressions (probably like Steinbeis and Koelsch's experiment.) Overall, I believe the authors over-reached by claiming to test Pythagorean ratio rules. I believe they did find something about consonance and dissonance, but not specific to frequency ratios. Yet again, scientists really need to consult with theorists, so they don't make this kind of mistake. I think Tenney's A History of Consonance and Dissonance would be a great source of hypotheses to test.
Foss, AL. "Neural correlates of the Pythagorean ratio rules." Neuroreport 18/15 (October 2007) 1521-1525.
Friday, October 26, 2007
FriPod: Empty Sleep
1. "Empty" by The Cranberries on No Need to Argue. Amazon MP3.
2. "Empty Bed Blues" performed by Bessie Smith.
3. "Empty Chairs At Empty Tables" by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, and Herbert Kretzmer from the Les Miserables Original Broadway Cast recording. Amazon MP3.
4. "Come, Heavy Sleep" by John Dowland, performed by Sting on Songs From the Labyrinth. Amazon MP3.
5. "Dreaming While You Sleep" by Genesis on We Can't Dance.
6. "Nowell, Nowell: Out of your Sleep" performed by the Indianapolis Christ Church Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys. Amazon MP3.
7. "Pavane of the Sleeping Beauty" by Maurice Ravel, performed by Christopher Parkening. Amazon MP3.
8. "Sleeping with the Television On" by Billy Joel.
9. "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" by Leon Rene, Otis Rene, and Clarence Muse; performed by Louis Armstrong. Amazon MP3.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Meme: Find me
1. Musical Perceptions (duh!)
2. Eighteen Days till Halloween (I've gotten a surprising number of hits from the MySpace News link on this story)
3. Purpose of Music
4. Quietest place on earth
5. Solfege battles
Scores just want to be free
In the meantime, Bob Kosovsky of the Music Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has provided some other sources of public domain scores:
Sheet Music Archive
Choral Public Domain Library
Chopin Early Editions
Werner Icking Music Archive
Indiana University's William and Gayle Cook Music Library, Variations
Eastman School of Music's Sibley Music Library, this service will take requests for public domain scores, putting all legal requests up on the website.
Monday, October 22, 2007
To provide a parallel example, the score of a Mozart symphony has an inherent intelligibility to those who know how to read music, and especially to those who are trained classical musicians. To me, who has a minimal ability to read music, and no musical training whatsoever, it is just notes on a page. However, this does not mean that even my amateur ears cannot pick out a Mozart symphony when I hear it played--at least those pieces with which I am familiar.
The intelligibility, however, is not provided by the listener, nor even by the classically trained symphony. Mozart who was, of course, part of a musical tradition himself, provided the intelligibility, and the trained musician does his best to be faithful to the text. Should a new Mozart score be discovered, trained musicians could play it because of its inherent intelligibility.
None of this has anything to do with “private judgment.” Someone (either with or without the relevant musical skills), who just decides to wing it as he goes along rather than follow the score, is not “playing Mozart.” Someone with amateur skills, who does her best to follow the score, will nonetheless be playing Mozart, even if not with the adequacy of a classically trained musician.
In both cases, the inherent intelligibility is in the text. In the former, it is ignored. In the latter, it is revealed. The question of whether or not the musician correctly interprets the text is not provided either by the private musician, or even by the skilled guild of classical musicians. It is only because the text has an inherent intelligibility that skilled (or even unskilled) musicians can listen to a performance, and respond: “That is (or is not) Mozart.”
I'm not going to attempt to argue about Scripture, but Witt's claims about Mozart were perplexing. It comes down to what a musical score is, and what relationship it has to a musical performance. Is the score of a Mozart symphony the actual symphony, or instructions on how to perform the symphony? I would say the latter. I disagree that the intelligibility of a performance "is not provided by the listener, nor even by the classically trained symphony." Those are exactly who determine the quality of the performance, with most of the emphasis on the listener. Thus to some listeners a Mozart symphony has no intelligibility, just as to some listeners a Schoenberg symphony has no coherence.
As for the dividing line between the performance being "Mozart" or "not Mozart," I think it is much more nuanced than Mr. Witt makes it. I've heard improvisations that are very much in the style of Mozart. Since they are inspired by Mozart's compositions, do they not have some "Mozart" in them? I've also heard performances of Mozart's compositions that were not played in the style that Mozart envisioned, and therefore did not sound like Mozart. Are they still "Mozart?" I'd argue that both of these situations have some "Mozart" as long as the listener (me) still perceives Mozart's influence (his intelligibility?).
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Corporations 5,312 - Public Interest 2
Friday, October 19, 2007
FriPod: Beginnings and Endings
2. "The Beginning of a Friendship" by John Williams, from the E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial soundtrack.
3. "New Beginning" written and performed by Tracy Chapman on New Beginning. Amazon CD.
4. "Out Where the Blue Begins" by Graff, McHugh, and Grant; performed by Henry "Red" Allen And His Orchestra.
5. "End Credits" by John Williams, from the E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial soundtrack.
6. "The End of a Love Affair" by E.C. Redding, performed by Wynton Marsalis on Popular Songs: The Best Of Wynton Marsalis. Amazon MP3 of Kenny Dorham Quartet version.
7. "The End of All Things" by Howard Shore on the Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King soundtrack.
8. "End Titles" by John Corigliano on the Red Violin soundtrack.
9. "Endless Parade" by Harrison Birtwistle, performed by Hakan Hardenberger.
10. "Lands End" performed by Clifford Brown on Jazz 'Round Midnight. Amazon MP3.
11. Quartet for the End of Time by Olivier Messiaen, performed by (a) New York Philomusica Chamber Ensemble, (b) Chamber Music Northwest. Amazon MP3 of movement 5, my favorite.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Eighteen Days till Halloween
Mommy spider whispering something to her eighteen babies so that no ones ear can hear. Mommy werewolf howled at the moon so all seventeen pups really could hear. Mommy vampire sat there quietly watching her sixteen little ones trying to quietly hunt. Mommy vampire bat fluttering quietly as her fifteen babies tried to not make a sound on their evening hunt. Mommy ghost and her fourteen kids making such a racket going through walls. Mommy ghoul went chompity chomp with her thirteen children very loudly. Mommy Frankenstein moaned softly in to the wind her twelve babies copied they moaned loudly in to the wind. Mommy dragon flew gracefully her eleven children followed not making a peep hoping not to be seen. Mommy dwarf and her ten kids hurried along making such a racket they woke everyone from their sleep. Mommy skeleton rattled her bones loudly her nine children copied and rattled their bones quietly. Mommy troll grunted and groaned soft and loud her eight kids moaned and groaned and grunted. Mommy giant stomped her feet her seven kids stomped it made noise like thunder. Mommy witch cackled as her six kids did a very noisy trick. Mommy demon burned some trees with one big crack her five kids burned some bushes with one small ssssssss. Mommy mummy is moaning, groaning, grunting and squealing her kids only moan and groan but what a racket did those mummys make. Mommy devil and her three kids were trying to be very quiet on that night of hunting hopes and spirits. Mommy cat said as her two kittens played we must meow loudly so they did. Mommy pumpkin and her one little pumpkin just sat there not making a peep. Well now you read about the mommy monsters and baby monsters they all want to say BOO!
Monday, October 15, 2007
Brass intonation, mostly secure throughout, fell apart during the familiar opening toccata of Monteverdi’s opera “Orfeo.” Execution improved when the trumpeters switched to cornettos, narrow wooden horns that provided more flexibility but less heft. For anyone seeking an explanation for the invention of the modern trumpet, here it was.
Playlist for Chickens
1. Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. Get the hens all strutting about the power of birds, especially if they are more familiar with the Fantasia 2000 version than the ballet version. Laying waste to acres of forest is more empowering than being kidnapped by a sorcerer.
2. "Blackbird Variations" by Robert Dennis, performed by the American Brass Quintet on New American Brass.
3. "The Birds Will Still Be Singing" from Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet's collaboration, The Juliet Letters.
4. Anything performed by eighth blackbird.
5. Maybe Spring and Summer from the various 4 seasons works by Vivaldi, Piazzola, etc.
6. Likewise Copland's Appalachian Spring.
7. And Crumb's Music for A Summer Evening.
8. And Summer Music for Woodwind Quintet by Samuel Barber.
9. Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, "Pastoral."
10. Chabrier's Suite Pastorale.
I deliberately stuck with only classical music, based on the article's findings. What other music will make the hens lay more eggs?
Friday, October 12, 2007
2. "A Heart Full of Love" from Les Miserables Original Broadway soundtrack. A sad love triangle, I find myself empathizing with Eponine.
3. "Heart, We Will Forget Him" by Aaron Copland, performed by Arleen Augér on Arleen Auger, American Soprano. From Copland's Emily Dickinson songs, I'm not ready for the darkness of this one.
4. "Heartache Tonight" written and performed by The Eagles on Eagles Greatest Hits Volume 2. "There's nothing we can do." "Everybody wants to touch somebody." Truth is found in California country rock.
5. "Hold On My Heart" written and performed by Genesis on We Can't Dance. While I really liked the This American Life episode that showed Phil Collins talking about heart-break songs, I find myself increasingly annoyed by his work. This song, however, is one of the more tolerable ballads, excepting Tony Banks' soulless keyboards.
6. "I'll Follow My Secret Heart" by Noel Coward, performed by Arleen Augér on Arleen Auger, American Soprano. Why keep it secret? I've been learning that open vulnerability is a good thing.
7. "My Foolish Heart" by Victor Young, performed by Bill Evans on Waltz for Debby. This performance gets all of the nuances, from hope to fear, love to anger, joy to sadness.
8. "My Heart" by Lilian Armstrong, performed by Louis Armstrong on The Hot Fives & Sevens, Vol. 1. Lil was Louis' second wife and a fine jazz musician in her own right. This Dixie styled piece gives some bounce that was missing from this playlist.
9. "Of One Heart, Of One Mind" by James Horner, from A Beautiful Mind soundtrack. I like this cut, especially since it quotes the title song. How much can a heart stand? How do changes in the mind affect two hearts?
10. "Piece of My Heart" by Rogovoy and Burns, performed by Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company. In the Wikipedia article, Ellen Willis is quoted giving two different interpretations: "When Franklin sings it, it is a challenge: no matter what you do to me, I will not let you destroy my ability to be human, to love. Joplin seems rather to be saying, surely if I keep taking this, if I keep setting an example of love and forgiveness, surely he has to understand, change, give me back what I have given." I think both views can coexist, self preservation and hope.
11. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (and reprise) by Lennon and McCartney, performed by The Beatles on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. These are not about the heart, but instead are a prologue and conclusion to the fake concert.
12. "Shape of My Heart" written and performed by Sting on Ten Summoner's Tales. The lyrics suggest that we have control of our own heart, it isn't controlled by fate (as represented by the cards). But the mask isn't good news, perhaps he is fooling himself that the cards don't show the shape of his heart.
13. "Thy rebuke hath broken His heart" from Messiah by George Handel, performed by John Aler; Andrew Davis, Toronto Symphony, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. I found this blog post that has some relevance to my thoughts right now.
14. "Two Hearts" by Lamont Dozier and Phil Collins, performed by Phil Collins on Serious Hits...Live! Ack.
15. "Unchain My Heart" by Teddy Powell and Robert Sharp, Jr., performed by Ray Charles on Ray! Ray's woman has left him, but he feels she hasn't released his love. This is tricky, when two hearts have been entwined. How do they become separate, especially when one person leaves the other? Is Ray's heart his own responsibility, that he should unchain his own heart? Or does his ex-lover still have control that she needs to relinquish? Does she need to give him permission to stop loving her? Is it possible to stop loving someone?
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I... Like Candy
H. Le Guellec et al (2007). "Cartoon music in a candy store: a field experiment." Psychological Reports 100, 1255-1258.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
One point about this study that Dave didn't emphasize is the bimodal distribution. Many people, myself included, regard absolute pitch as an ability that exists on a continuum. But most of the participants of this study either had no AP ability, or had very strong AP ability. Some of this might be due to the task, unlike the Levitin study that showed how many people can sing their favorite music within a semitone of the correct key.
Mind Hacks on epilepsy in rap music.
The Last Protestant Dinosaur on 20 ways to make the Episcopal liturgy more welcoming. Points 5, 6, 9, 15, 16, and 20 are about the music. One quote: "THE GLORIA (ack, ick,) this is praise? no, this is impenetrable dogma set to shitty music."
I like the Gloria's from most of the masses sung at the cathedral. And priests have such potty mouths!
The Chicago Cultural Center is hosting a discussion on the music industry going green.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Messiaen the Theologian
Friday 12 and Saturday 13 October 2007
The Boston University Messiaen Project [BUMP] and oliviermessiaen.net are hosting an international conference 'Messiaen the Theologian' at Boston University on 12 & 13 October, 2007. As we move to the centenary of Messiaen's birth (born 10 December 1908), this conference will explore one of the least understood and least discussed aspects of the composer. We will explore Messiaen's theological training, the context of Catholic theology in France in the twentieth century and his personal theology as it is expressed in his music.
This free conference includes a recital of music by Messiaen and Debussy, and a screening of "Apparition of the Eternal Church" by Paul Festa.
The Critics Speak
A public conversation with music critics Tim Page (The Washington Post) & Anthony Tommasini (The New York Times)
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Hill Hall Auditorium
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Saturday, October 06, 2007
End Bird Discrimination Now!
After this training the five remaining birds were exposed to Bach's Orchestral Suite, BWV 1068, and Schoenberg's Five Orchestra Pieces Op. 16. Positive food reinforcement continued for each relevant group, and all but one bird were able to discriminate the new Bach and Schoenberg to a significant level. That one bird who couldn't discriminate was in the Bach group. A second test replaced the Bach music with Vivaldi's Violin Concert in A minor, RV 356, and Schoenberg's music with Elliott Carter's Variations for Orchestra (1955). All five birds were able to distinguish between these new pieces successfully. The authors note here that a 1984 study by Porter and Neuringer showed that pigeons were able to generalize from Bach to Buxtehude and from Stravinsky to Carter and Piston.
Another interesting result was that two birds who had not shown any preference between Bach/Vivaldi and Schoenberg/Carter were still able learn to discriminate between the two types of music. Thus the lack of preference was not from a lack of ability to tell the difference, but rather from personal taste.
S. Watanabe and K. Sato, "Discriminative stimulus properties of music in Java sparrows." Behavioural Processes, 47 (1999), 53-57.
Friday, October 05, 2007
2. Three Places in New England - 2. "Putnam's Camp, Redding, Connecticut" by Charles Ives, performed by (a) the Philadelphia Orchestra, and (b) San Francisco Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas.
3. "Florida Stomp" by Battle, Eldridge, and Hart; performed by Roy Eldridge on Little Jazz.
4. "Georgia Grind" by A. Williams, performed by Louis Armstrong on The Hot Fives & Sevens, Vol. 1.
5. "Georgia on my mind" by Hoagy Carmichael, performed by Ray Charles (twice) on Ray!
6. "Sweet Georgia Brown" by Ben Bernie, Maceo Pinkard, and Kenneth Casey; performed by (a) Bud Powell on Jazz Giant and (b) Ella Fitzgerald on Compact Jazz.
7. "(Back Home Again in) Indiana" by Ballard McDonald and James Hanley, performed by (a) Art Tatum on Solos (1940) and (b) Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, and Clark Terry on The Trumpet Kings at Montreux.
8. "The Lost Souls (Of Southern Louisiana)" performed by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band on Open Up (Whatcha Gonna Do For the Rest of Your Life?)
9. "Louisiana/Field Song from Senegal" traditional.
10. "Bright Mississippi" written and performed by Thelonious Monk (quartet) on Monk's Dream.
11. "Stop in Nevada" written and performed by Billy Joel on Piano Man.
12. "New York State of Mind" written and performed by Billy Joel on Turnstiles.
13. "Tennessee Waltz / Tennessee Mazurka" by Redd Stewart & Pee Wee King, performed by The Chieftains with Tom Jones on The Long Black Veil.
14. "Moonlight in Vermont" by John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf, performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong on Jazz Masters 24.
15. "I'm Coming Virginia" by Will Marion Cook, performed by Benny Goodman on Live at Carnegie Hall.
16. "Tides of Washington Bridge" by the Clogs on Lantern.