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Old 09-04-2010, 02:08 AM
cocamycola89 cocamycola89 is offline
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Default Musical Notes?

Sup folks,
I was wondering about something over my morning coffee and though i would peruse it thinking that i could easily find the answer on the vast and all knowing internet... but i failed :-(

So my question is this...

Musical pitch today has been categorized into notes "CDEFGAB" and have a specific resonance that make those pitches different from other ones. So when the categorization of notes was invented how was it decided that this was 100% correct? Did some high standing musical official just say that it was and thats just the way it stayed?

Probably a dumb question but i have put a good 15 min into this already so might as well go the whole 9 yards
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Old 09-04-2010, 02:28 AM
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Ryan Young Ryan Young is offline
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Default Re: Musical Notes?

Not a dumb question at all, actually! We're programmed to know the "western" scale.

Check these links out
1
2
This video is my absolute favorite! Bobby McFerrin is simply an amazing vocalist and a brilliant mind!
3) Video
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Old 09-04-2010, 02:37 AM
Slim Shady Slim Shady is offline
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Default Re: Musical Notes?

Quote:
how was it decided that this was 100% correct?
There is a TON of history that could be given here, but I'll try and cut it down to the nitty gritty.

There is no claim of "100% correct-ness" with the western tuning/scale. In the west we use an even-tempered scale, which was more-or-less finalized in the baroque period by J.S.Bach, who wrote a collection of pieces called "The Well Tempered Clavier" to show off the possibilities of that particular tuning method. Before the equal tempered western scale became standardized, musicians would have to re-tune their instruments for every piece as prior to temperment (which means every note is actually slightly out of tune with the others of the scale) you couldn't modulate keys within music, as an orchestra that had been perfectly tuned to the A scale (for example) would sound out-of-tune if they then played in C without retuning.

Many other scales/tonalities exist in the world besides the one you're familiar with though, although the majority are still based around the harmonic series (a mathematical thing that happens with overtones within musical sounds) but sound nothing like the 12 note scales you're used to. Some middle-eastern scales for example have 3 or more microtones, all considered notes, within what we in the west would just consider a half-step. So while we have C and C#, they have C, C#1, C#2 and C#3, although they don't call them that of course, but those tones between our C and C# are notes that can be written and played and sung whereas in the west we don't use them.

There's also Gamelan music and some other Indian scales that are just way out there and don't relate to the harmonic series at all. Different cultures came up with their own tonalities, ours isn't the "right" one, it's just the one our ears like the best because it's what we grew up hearing.
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Old 09-04-2010, 02:49 AM
lincol1 lincol1 is offline
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Default Re: Musical Notes?

As others have already posted...

I wouldn't say the categorization of notes was "invented" rather it's perceived based on fundamental resonance. There are many factors that go into how that resonating sound is perceived though, one is culture. Our western culture perceives (and agrees) on the equal temperament system of tuning which uses 12 equal spaced inervals. (12 tone vs an Eastern 24 Tone among others) It's derived from the harmonic overtone series but strays a bit to be mathematically accurate.

How we came to agree is outside the scope of this post but you can thank such greats as Galileo, J.S. Bach just to name a few...

You will definitely want that second cup if you dig into these wiki's...

Equal Temperament

Harmonic Series
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Old 09-04-2010, 03:54 AM
cocamycola89 cocamycola89 is offline
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Default Re: Musical Notes?

Dude that is some interesting stuff right there! but this explains why so much popular music nowadays steals from all other popular music before it... Its what we have been programmed to listen to so its probably all already been written more or less...

this is why i like metal
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Old 09-04-2010, 08:34 AM
flommer flommer is offline
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Default Re: Musical Notes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cocamycola89 View Post
this explains why so much popular music nowadays steals from all other popular music before it... Its what we have been programmed to listen to so its probably all already been written more or less...

this is why i like metal
That is certainly not the whole story. The musical scale is just the tool, like written or spoken words of a given language. How individuals use the tool is wildly unpredictable.

The reason any new music has roots to some previous music is because humans do not exist in a vacuum. Musicians are typically, as a first step, listeners of music and they will gravitate to music that appeals to them or simply what they are exposed to.. That, I think is where most of the "programming" comes in. Then the fact that you need to learn to play an instrument, usually, before you can write music means that you will be playing somebody else's music as a part of that process so muscle memory comes into play or music theory, as it is taught to any given person.

But I agree with you.. It is interesting.

Not sure how it relates to metal
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:37 PM
cocamycola89 cocamycola89 is offline
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Default Re: Musical Notes?

Well it relates to more than just metal... my point is this and just keep in mind that it doest not apply to absolutely modern music either. Just allot of it...
You turn on the radio and i hear some new rising star... and its just U2 or Britney or mr. jackson in disguise... Pop is just repeating its self and as soon as a decade of it passes the same songs show up again (almost never written by the person who sings it) with a different vocal melody, in 4/4, Same structures, Same production attributes buttered up with a little side chain compression and some rapping in between because thats just whats cool these days.
Metal for me is so appealing because it just throws a big middle finger to the repetition of music... Great metal bands like Behemoth, Lamb of God, Strapping young lad, Opeth and many many more have been pushing the boundaries and doing something that hasn't been done yet. Of coarse plenty of other music genres are doing this as well and of coarse they all borrow from the past. But its new! Not just a new twist on an old idea...
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Old 09-04-2010, 02:50 PM
flommer flommer is offline
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Default Re: Musical Notes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cocamycola89 View Post
Well it relates to more than just metal... my point is this and just keep in mind that it doest not apply to absolutely modern music either. Just allot of it...
You turn on the radio and i hear some new rising star... and its just U2 or Britney or mr. jackson in disguise... Pop is just repeating its self and as soon as a decade of it passes the same songs show up again (almost never written by the person who sings it) with a different vocal melody, in 4/4, Same structures, Same production attributes buttered up with a little side chain compression and some rapping in between because thats just whats cool these days.
Metal for me is so appealing because it just throws a big middle finger to the repetition of music... Great metal bands like Behemoth, Lamb of God, Strapping young lad, Opeth and many many more have been pushing the boundaries and doing something that hasn't been done yet. Of coarse plenty of other music genres are doing this as well and of coarse they all borrow from the past. But its new! Not just a new twist on an old idea...
Sorry to burst your bubble there bud, but all metal is derived from the metal that was just before it. And all that metal links back to Sabbaath.. And Sabbath is essentially hard blues with some classical bits and pieces (not much).. I'm no metal expert but that is irrefutable..

It's great that you enjoy it so much, but make sure you actually search out the origins and influences to the bands you like if you want to see how musical "innovation" is like an evolutionary tree. There is almost zero purely original music being made today. Or maybe ever?

I think maybe what you are referring to is the more modern "commercial" type of copycat pop that seems to be so common today. How many more Christina Aguileras does the world really need? People love Lady GaGa but she is not original at all.. Just a different twist. All because there is a lot of money to be made by appealing to (and taking advantage of) teenagers who don't know any better...

I think the difference is some musicians want to do something different and others want to make money the easy way.. simple as that I guess?

Have you ever listened to Ornette Coleman and the free jazz he made? that was pretty original but still used the 12 note scale, arpeggios, modes etc... And the instrumentation was still traditional jazz, so it's still jazz right? Well maybe not..
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