Music Notation / Note naming

Discussion in 'music, bands, clubs & festies' started by paolo, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    Posting a new thread because we have a lovely thread about learning instruments, and it doesn't need my moaning. :)

    SO... RUBS HANDS...

    I'm already annoyed with old school notation vs the reality of the atonal scale.

    Atonal notes are a fixed 'width'. There's no fundamental C. Or G. Or anything. There's no anchor. You could call one note "Dave You Twat" and the other "Nigel You Other Twat". It would make no difference. Every note is just a set distance. There's no GMT, no singular point.

    Why is the move from 1-2 ok, but the move from 4-5 needing a weird adjuster? I can only think this stems from saving paper printing scores. Conventional scores will be more compact. Is that the reason we don't have scores that make an atonal gridline?
  2. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    could you post up an example from an atonal score?
  3. prunus

    prunus Mostly gone

    When you say atonal scale, it sounds like you're referring to a chromatic scale (or whole-tone)? I've never heard it (either) called 'atonal', but I guess you could. Although, I would take issue with the idea that you have 'an' atonal scale - scales are really just a subset of modes - the 'tonal' ones are usually called diatonic (C major, D minor etc); there are other 'atonal' ones (such as whole tone modes 1 and 2, and many others. They're all just ways of dividing the octave in repeating patterns (the pattern may only repeat once per octave - or even half a time per octave (are there any '3 octave' scales? I guess there might be, I've not come across any)).

    The matter of notation is part historical accident, part practicality - grew out of medieval sacred music, and didn't initially have the concept of keys per se - it was (if I remember correctly, and I might well not) not unlike your description of just relative movements from an arbitrary base (albeit not always equal movements).

    As to why (if I understand your question, or part of it, right) the intervals in a diatonic scale are not all equal, it's because the notes that form it are made up of ratios of frequencies (the harmonic series), which are the notes that 'automatically' come out if you divide a wavelength (eg vibrating string making a note) into half, thirds, quarters, fifths, etc, then transpose the result down into the same octave to make a 'scale' (the harmonic series notes are not precisely equal to the notes we use, due to equal temperament and various other adjustments that will have to wait for another time!).
    SpookyFrank likes this.
  4. Crispy

    Crispy The following psytrance is baṉned: All

    I got schooled on this subject recently:
    My bold. Due to the differences between perfect harmonics and equal temprament, it does actually matter what the notes are called.
  5. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    I might have been using the wrong nomenclature. :)

    But harmonically, there's no difference between A major and C major or any other major. So we can pitch shift a record, and it doesn't go harmonically off. I think that's what I was getting at. The harmonic distance between notes is fixed.

    (Thanks for coming in with detail - I'm a music outsider)
  6. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    Head just exploded.

    I thought every note was a simple multiplier of previous/before?
  7. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    Still grumpy about arbitrary uses of # and b, by the way.

    Definitely no sense to that. :mad:
  8. Crispy

    Crispy The following psytrance is baṉned: All

    On a piano, yes. The multiplier is 12th root of 2. But that's a deliberate fudge to enable playing in any key on that sort of instrument. Pianos are actually "out of tune" with every key, by the same amount.

    If you only play in one key, you can use harmonic tuning, where each note is an integer ratio of the fundamental. It will sound perfect. But if you try and play in a different key, it'll sound out of tune. Some instruments are harmonically tuned by design, so they have to compensate when playing "out of key".

    Scales: Just vs Equal Temperament

    So, players of such instruments have to know the difference between the key of the music and the natural key of their instrument.
    paolo likes this.
  9. prunus

    prunus Mostly gone

    More than happy to - everyone starts out somewhere.

    What you say about pitch-shifting is true, ish, for modern equal-temperament music (Crispy's posted about it above too I note). However it's not 'fundamentally' true of music, it's just a convention. Before equal temperament (late 17th century roughly) there *was* a difference between the same piece played in C major or A major - the tone and mood would sound different, and composers pre this era would use different keys for different music - D major was 'bright and martial' I think, Ab major soothing and gentle, that kind of thing. There's a fascinating book called 'How equal temperament ruined music' if you're interested (it is genuinely fascinating, and will provide the answers to a lot of your initial questions too I think).

    I said 'ish' above, because some people still feel different moods to different keys, even with equal temperament; I think one has to have perfect pitch, or something approaching it, for this to be the case - personally I can't tell if a piece, played in isolation, have been moved a few semitones up or down, but I have a good friend (who does have perfect pitch) who finds it quite distressing when pieces are transposed, or if not distressing, then certainly noticable - she likens it to the difference we normals would feel if a piece we were used to hearing on the violin was played on the saxophone - it's the same piece, yes, but definitely a different feel to it.
    existentialist, bimble and paolo like this.
  10. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    I was reading something earlier (wiki, uh) that talked similarly. That *some* people, historically, have objected to a simple transposition.

    I'll call these people bunk, because we can pitch shift all we like. At some point - much slower, much faster - the composition does become a different beast, but just a tone or two up or down is irrelevant.

    Thanks again for the insight. I might get that book.
  11. prunus

    prunus Mostly gone

    It's actually called how equal temperament ruined harmony in fact, sorry:

    I wouldn't rush to call those people bunk - remember with perfect pitch they actually have an extra sense that we don't have, and they experience music with that sense as well as our usual ones. Imagine you could only see in black and white - a painting would look the same to you in shades of blues as shades of reds (as long as the albedo is the same etc), but incredibly different to someone with colour vision.
    paolo likes this.
  12. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    Why conventional notation is horrible.

    "If music scores were easy to read, there wouldn't be Youtube videos showing you what keys to press"

    His patent is roughly how all DAWs are used. Nobody uses that quaint script thing... that I learnt and passed when I was 10 years old.
  13. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    Opening my eyes, fair shout.
  14. prunus

    prunus Mostly gone

    Ah but there is (or was, and still is for at least string players), see Crispy's quote of existentialist above. A C# is not the same as a Db... (it's all in the book as it happens - and no I'm not on commission!). Also most music *is* tonal, and the accidentals are chosen to accord with the key it is in (on the whole).

    It's a 700 year old mish-mash system that's organically grown and been amended over time to fit the needs of the current age without throwing away (and making inaccessible) all the works of the past. It's a bit shonky in places, but works alright, considering :)
  15. Crispy

    Crispy The following psytrance is baṉned: All

    This is a good explanation from the fundamentals

  16. beesonthewhatnow

    beesonthewhatnow going deaf for a living

    Nope. Play me a piece I know/love that's been shifted and I'll a) Be genuinely uncomfortable and b) poke you with a stick until you turn it off :D

    An example to try and explain it a bit - imagine an album you know really well and love. Now listen to it on "shuffle". It doesn't work, it sounds odd, something isn't right. It's the same for pieces in the wrong key.
    existentialist likes this.
  17. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    Oh ok. I see what you're getting at in the first example. Not that any individual tune is "wrong" (to the debutante listener), but they might not join up.

    (bees - you must be as old as me. Albums as a singular piece of art. :))
  18. rutabowa

    rutabowa YUPPIES OUT

    of course there are only 12 notes in the chromatic scale in the western musical tradition, there's no natural law that says there has to be.

  19. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    Right, grrr. To get back to my possibly failing argument (there is a point, yeah).

    We have notes. They're divided into Octaves. All good. Note 1, in Octave 1, is harmonically a upscale of note 1 in Octave 2. You can play them together, they don't cross phase, or augment, or otherwise conflict.

    Yeah? C in Octave (n) aligns with C in Octave(not-n)

  20. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    (I have soooo failed to explain my point.... *bang*... :D )
  21. beesonthewhatnow

    beesonthewhatnow going deaf for a living

  22. beesonthewhatnow

    beesonthewhatnow going deaf for a living

  23. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    FFS bees. I've fessed up to the historic stuff.

    In another thread, I've already admitted I'd just found chords never heard since Rick Wakeman was on Top of the Pops (Oct 1929).
  24. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    I'll start again.

    Take a root note.

    Everything in the octave can be expressed as a number.

    Every chord formation can expressed as numbers.

    If the root note is 1:

    1+5+8: Is major.

    No matter where 1 starts. This is always major. I *think*.
  25. Lupa

    Lupa It's all about the butter

    Are you purely looking at tonal scales ?
    Or Atonal?
    Or Modal?

    My favourite key is D major. .
    If I transpose to E I'll hate it..

    Heading to the piano now to check your theory.
  26. Lupa

    Lupa It's all about the butter

    Is there an 8 in atonal scales?
    If they're all whole tones then you go 1 to 7. No? With 7 a higher version of 1?
    Or am I missing something. Unless it is the 12 tone technique you mean?

    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
  27. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Hoc vellum voluntater album mansum est

    How are you numbering your notes? Diatonically, Major is 1, 3, 5.

    But yes, no matter what your root (or tonic) note is, if you keep that relationship you always get a major. It's relative. That's how (static) harmony works.
    existentialist likes this.
  28. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    I was just doing simple note relative. Count up from any note. No special cases for anything, a note is a note. (not sure what the term is - but sounds like not diatonically).

    I think I'm going to make a chart for my own amusement. Just the relative values. That collapses a chart of 12 major chords into one. Because I think really there is only one major chord. Just from (whatever) starting point.

    (I'm soooo developer/borderline autistic. ;) )
  29. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Hoc vellum voluntater album mansum est


    I think you can save yourself the bother. There is only one way to make a major triad (in root position), and it holds true whatever the root note. And there's any number of grids and charts and wheels in books and online that'll show the make-up of all the chords, whether a dominant seventh with a flat 11, or a minor 6/9, or a suspended 4th, or whatever. It's all about semitone steps and how many to take. Here's one.

    I'm a bit confused, though. Did you not say on the other thread you had grade 4 theory? You sound like you're doing this from first principles. Grade 4 theory should have taken you beyond where you are now, though.

    You might be interested in intervals and relative pitch.

    For example, I recognise the sound of a major third (a span of 4 semitones - ie like snakes and ladders you count from the square you start on, not including the square you start on) because it sounds like the first two notes of When the Saints. A minor third (3 semitones) is Greensleeves. A flat 7th is the Star Trek (original series) theme. And so on. The traditional names aren't important ("major third" etc). The qualities are though. And the number of semitone steps that produce them.

    Is the keyboard you have laid out like a piano? Or is it some other configuration? Guitarists tend not to think of "black notes and white notes" because our semitones are just frets, wherever we start. A major third is the same number of frets up the string wherever on the string you start. (Each fret is a semitone). That's why transposing to another key is easy for guitarists once you have a few fretboard patterns under your belt. (Don't tell pianists. It's our secret!)
  30. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Hoc vellum voluntater album mansum est

    Oh, and people can do the interval recognition without formal training. It's how we recognise a melody. And having a template version of a familar tune is not the same thing as there not being such a thing as relative pitch.

    Interestingly most people have a better handle on absolute pitch than was previously thought. People can tell if they're hearing a song they know well in one key in an unfamiliar key.

    More impressively: Ask anyone to sing you Jumping Jack Flash, say. If they know it well, they'll sing it back to you very near the pitch and key the recording was done in.(Bb). It won't be random. Whereas "Happy Birthday To You", which doesn't have a "master" version in a fixed key, will be.

    Memory for the absolute pitch of familiar songs. - PubMed - NCBI

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