Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Telly Monster must be excited!

Yesterday's Indianapolis Star had an article about a new local company, Musical DNA, which is producing a software program for visualizing music. From what I can tell, the software maps notes played on a piano or from a recording onto a pitch-class space, with lines connecting simultaneous notes. Thus any standard triad will be represented as a triangle (leading to my post title). The founder, Ken Lemons is a pianist with a BM from Nebraska and an MM from local Butler University. He (and his funders) think that this will be useful for teaching music, either hooked up to a piano or as part of some toys:

A projector that attaches to a child's crib, projecting color-coded animated geometry of music of whatever source the parent desires.

A 12-note Simon Says game of musical geometry that teaches basic shapes of sound in a game format, including connect-the-dots.

A child's guitar, with four buttons: happy, sad, spooky, dreamy -- the four basic triangles of musical sound.

Let's see, happy = major triad, sad = minor triad, spooky = diminished triad and that leaves the augmented triad as dreamy? Wow, I do not associate the augmented triad with dreaminess. Alien, yes. Tense, absolutely. I'll even go with exotic. But not dreamy.

Overall, I don't see the big deal about this software. The "same shapes" Ken talks about do not map into any sameness on the piano: the hand position for a C major triad feels considerably different from the hand position for a B major triad; but is very similar to the hand position for an A minor triad, which is a different "shape". I don't see how the colors are used with the shapes, beyond mere aesthetics. Some of the suggested future uses imply that rhythm is also encoded, and that pitch-classes beyond the 12 chromatic steps can also be encoded. But the demonstration and the toys mentioned certainly don't show this. Does anyone else have an opinion or insider knowledge about this?

1 comment:

Humingway said...

"Dreamy" sounds reasonable to me. Think of the affinities between augmented triads and whole-tone scales (the very stuff of which musical dreaminess is made).

I'd love to see a Tonnetz model of this, where major triads are triangles pointing up, and minor triads point down.