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This 48 message thread spans 4 pages:  < <   1   2  [3]  4  > >  
  Re: Quarter Tones  ruska02 at 02:59 on 18 August 2009
 

You misunderstood me again Nick, I did not wrote composers should not know advanced techniques of course the must!, they simply cannot teach them! they can explain to let performers understand better know what they mean BUT THEY CANNOT AND SHOULD NOT TEACH! and moreover you have little faith in your colleagues, take a glance at Impulse, Ensemble Modern Academie or Lucern Academie or even the youNG performers that played in the chamber proms of these year..all passionate devoted and above all skilled performers,all in their 20s, we have quite a lot, I think, it is not like 30 or 20 years ago...anyway now the discussion is becoming pointless each one of us as his own experiences so ..you keep on teaching..I keep on searching only the best...Scott keep son working with just intonation o whatever and all th eothers opening doors that have already been opened...btw the real world out there i snot like this web site , there is good contemporary ensembles, good contemporary performers , all highly professional but you know this , I know... it was a a year I decided to not write on this forum again to avoid not useful discussion, I was write ..I will do it again with everybody's joy!

ciao,ciao !
Rob

  Re: Quarter Tones  scott_good at 03:50 on 18 August 2009
 

Ummm...ok.

Just intonation is a system - in particular for keyboards and their limitations. I am referring only to intervals and intonations, not systems. as a conductor of choirs, i must assume you understand these things. have you tried to tune a choir with a piano? hideous.

i'm glad you write, roberto. i have researched every composer you have listed, and i must say, they have all (with one exception to my tastes...), been very exceptional.

in fact, i went through the ones you listed recently (perhaps on another thread). one in particular, luca francesconi, i was very taken with. i am going to enjoy pursuing his music further. also, the micro polyphony of furrer is very engaging (i have been listening to him for awhile).

ciao bella,
SAG

  Re: Quarter Tones  ruska02 at 04:11 on 18 August 2009
 

Hi Scotty,

first Ciao Bello, I still a man...than Luca is actual Director for four years of La Biennale Musica in Venice , please do contact him with my name , he may be interested in inviting a canadian ensemble for the next edition ...he is very into international relationships...propose only good trustworthy stuff anyway, but I know you do!, not neo /post old man music arteriosclerosis

Cura ut valeas

Rob

  Re: Quarter Tones  scott_good at 06:15 on 18 August 2009
 

"first Ciao Bello, I still a man..."

oops.

"than Luca is actual Director for four years of La Biennale Musica in Venice , please do contact him with my name , he may be interested in inviting a canadian ensemble for the next edition ...he is very into international relationships...propose only good trustworthy stuff anyway, but I know you do!, not neo /post old man music arteriosclerosis"

well, i'm not sure you would trust all of my choices! and i'm not actually in the ensemble game at the moment (full time composer+father of 2 little boys). but, i appreciate the gesture - thank you. but, i may just contact simply to let him know i appreciate and enjoy his music (once I have heard more that is) what i have heard is very passionate and detailed - the overall gestures are thoroughly convincing - very un-boring.

when i listen to these great composers, underlying all relationships are very perceivable large movements (i don't mean sections of a piece, but actual motion). it is hard to explain with my limited verbal skills what i mean, but the effect is one of simplicity, not complexity, even if many sound activities are occurring simultaneously. this is due, i think, to an understanding that harmony is melody, and of course, deep perception in the ear (cannot be learned in books) of instrumental sonority.

and i agree - let's avoid neo *** in conversation, it is a distraction, and without real meaning and substance. it is packaging, but not product.

s

(oh, another composer you have mentioned - Salvatore Sciarrino - wow! I have since heard a number of his works live. Very demanding of performers - not too much in technique (but certainly some!), but rather in subtlety of phrasing and sound quality - like mozart. i especially enjoy his solo works. he has a very creative and fertile imagination).

  Re: Quarter Tones  ruska02 at 09:05 on 18 August 2009
 

Ok, and if you like Sciarrino check out the work of another big master , french this time, Gerard Pesson and on the Intrasonus Website there are some of my recordings at the Audio section...fell free to criticize...

Grazie Rob

www.intrasonus.eu

PS I like good package , bad product may use it?



  Re: Quarter Tones  Nicolas Tzortzis at 09:32 on 18 August 2009
 

Nooooooooooooooo
not Pesson...please......
did you see his Opera "pastorale"???
one of the worst things I have ever seen in my lifetime...

there are many great young players around and I am sure that in the future contemporary techniques will be much more mainstream than now.But I still believe that a composer should be able to teach,show and explain,in case the player is not familiar with something.

  Re: Quarter Tones  MartinY at 09:32 on 18 August 2009
 

I know there are many theoretical and practical problems with microtones and they are much greater if you are not writing for experienced contemporary ensembles. But microtones will always be in some kind of ghetto if they are not introduced into common practice in a more explicit way.

There is a problem in quarter tones in that they are not going to be any less of a compromise than equal temperament for rather obvious reasons. In some aspects even in Arab music theory, not necessarially practice, the way you define the absolute pitch is by geometrical construction on the oud fingerboard and this introduces a slight distortion because as I mentioned much earlier
God will punish those who approximate a geometric series with an arithmetic series
.

Note bending on fretted instruments I tend to think of as a kind of ornamentation but it is an example of how, along with the harmonic series notes on natural instruments etc... etc... a bit of microtonality which has long been part of music.

But for practical purposes do we want to spread ideas useful to contemporary music further than a few initiates and high priests, of which they are many in London and few in Yorkshire for instance. Suppose someone spends most of their year playing Beethoven, Handel and Byrd etc and maybe have a few hours a year playing microtonal music. There ought to be some aesthetically satisfactory way in by playing some progressive pieces not introducing too many new things at once. Another Microcosmos for the micro-cosmos.

As yet another boring example of how microtones have always been with us I would mention the baroque trill fingerings in Hotteterre and the others. The trills are usually very wide, much more than any pure interval. Clearly they liked wide trills. On the treble recorder the high Bb-A trill is too narrow in the standard modern fingering and much too wide in the Hotteterre fingering, but most players play the wide baroque trill by preference without knowing much about microtones.

Also I thought Composition Today was about all kinds of practice going on at the current time including writing for amateur ensembles, children's operas, practical outreach programs and the lot. Is it?

  Re: Quarter Tones  ruska02 at 11:44 on 18 August 2009
 

Please Nick throw me a link of Pastorale or tell me something more..I listened most of chamber music by Pesson and I found it quite interested even if completely different from what I am into.
Anyway very few god operas around in the much abused todays contemporary opera of today...for shure Ambrosini...Battistelli and you compatriot Aspergis do wonderful works ..bu t tell me about Pesson please...

Rob

  Re: Quarter Tones  Nicolas Tzortzis at 16:24 on 18 August 2009
 

there is nothing to tell:
pretentious,"intellectual","contemporary" music.
supposedly modern,but already dead and fully academical.
the staging had some interesting parts in it,but as a whole it was completely boring,uninspired and empty.
please,don't make me think about it....
and I heard an orchestral piece of his last November:take a part of a Bruckner symphony,change the noteheads and use "Lachenmann"-like sounds.
complete and utter....
I am very open to everything,to anything,but I don't accept music that treats the listener like an idiot,while in the meantime it is sure that it's "oh so very artistic" and "great"!

  Re: Quarter Tones  scott_good at 18:14 on 18 August 2009
 

"I know there are many theoretical and practical problems with microtones and they are much greater if you are not writing for experienced contemporary ensembles. But microtones will always be in some kind of ghetto if they are not introduced into common practice in a more explicit way."

Well, as I mentioned before, the study of microtones by the performer leads to a heightened awareness of interval relationships. So, perhaps simply the pedagogical route of intonation exercises might be a good place to infuse the learning of these intervals.

"There is a problem in quarter tones in that they are not going to be any less of a compromise than equal temperament for rather obvious reasons. In some aspects even in Arab music theory, not necessarially practice, the way you define the absolute pitch is by geometrical construction on the oud fingerboard and this introduces a slight distortion because as I mentioned much earlier
God will punish those who approximate a geometric series with an arithmetic series
."

Again, I must say that I do like that quote!

And with Arabic music, I have found many more instances of 3/4 tone intervals - those which divide the m3rd in two equal parts. It really depends also where the 3/4 tone interval lands in relation to the "tonic" - often degree 2, 3, or 7. It happens in a context that is regular. Whereas in modern western music, it is much more "random" as often the music is not tonally based, or like in Grisey, attempting to simulate the harmonics, which is tonal per say, but not modal like arabic music.

"But for practical purposes do we want to spread ideas useful to contemporary music further than a few initiates and high priests, of which they are many in London and few in Yorkshire for instance. Suppose someone spends most of their year playing Beethoven, Handel and Byrd etc and maybe have a few hours a year playing microtonal music. There ought to be some aesthetically satisfactory way in by playing some progressive pieces not introducing too many new things at once. Another Microcosmos for the micro-cosmos."

I have been working on some pieces for beginner cellist that do exactly this - and each come with explanations on how the modern technique is being applied within the compositional framework (great study for me as well!). More people should do this. And I would like to hear about it if someone does know of these sorts of compositions for young players.

"As yet another boring example of how microtones have always been with us I would mention the baroque trill fingerings in Hotteterre and the others. The trills are usually very wide, much more than any pure interval. Clearly they liked wide trills. On the treble recorder the high Bb-A trill is too narrow in the standard modern fingering and much too wide in the Hotteterre fingering, but most players play the wide baroque trill by preference without knowing much about microtones."

If I am not mistaken, equal temperament is a rather new phenomenon (end of 19th, beginning of 20th century) - at least as a common practice - in Western classical music, yes? If so, should it be any surprise that 12 the tone composition method was developed in parallel?

"Also I thought Composition Today was about all kinds of practice going on at the current time including writing for amateur ensembles, children's operas, practical outreach programs and the lot. Is it?"

For sure, Martin. But, don't expect everyone to want to participate in this kind of discussion. That's ok.

  Re: Quarter Tones  MartinY at 20:40 on 18 August 2009
 

I think it is really great that you writing those 'cello pieces. I would look forward to seeing them when they are published. Are some of them duets for pupil and teacher..... I think that is a really good method.

Re: the equal temperament... I understand Mahler kept his piano tuned in mean tone, though which key was the origin I do not know. (I know two players who saved time by tuning in meantone before they met up. Unfortunately one took A=equal temperament and the other took G=equal temperament and they wondered why the results were so peculiar). It seems to be a wide misunderstanding that Bach wrote the 48 to be played in equal temperament. This is not true and his particular kind of soft meantone system has now been deciphered and written about extensively. So as you say full equal temperament is a rather recent invention.

The nightmare for intonation is a piano concerto which has lots of resting passages for the piano. There is almost inevitably an unsettling moment of tension when the piano comes back in and imposes equal temperament on whatever the rest of them are doing.

I hope I am not guilty of this but I have some experience that the more we rabbit on about temperament in baroque music without using our ears to the maximum the less we play in tune.

Of course we must assume composers using the infinite number of possible tunings know what they are doing. The Arab modal scale music sounds very interesting. There is a top oud maker actually lives here in Yorkshire. It is a strange sensation trying to play the oud when you play renaissance lute.............

  Re: Quarter Tones  scott_good at 21:55 on 18 August 2009
 

Just clarification:

Equal temperament has been around for quite awhile, but only in the past 100 years or so did it become a standard (to the chagrin of many). It was thought of as quite ugly in the past. But, it is very old in Arabic music.

Certainly the WTC is not designed equal temperament. I have read some interesting articles suggesting that the system of intonation is embedded in the title!

I am still intrigued by the notion that tuning systems have effected the direction of compositional practice. Even in Arabic classical music, there are radical modulations within works from hundreds of years ago. Might this be in part that their system allows for ease in changing modal centres? Nothing really to be concluded here, but I find good food for thought.

As a trombonist, I have spent many hours tuning chords with a section. The incredible array of tuning centres for any note has been for me, an eye opener - further than a 1/4 tone, with infinite variety.

What does this mean to the composer? How should it effect our music?

I am somewhat conscious of the placement of certain intervals and harmonies - where the less "stable" intervals (3rds, 7ths) are placed, and how they can be perceived by the musicians. I think quite a bit about percussion (including piano), and what notes they are playing within the harmonic context. The piano's equal tempered quality can be "softened" by how the harmonies are orchestrated, but only to a degree. But, piano is expert at octaves, and very good at 5th's/4ths and major 2nds.

And, has anyone experimented with the minor third? Where does it sit? It seem to me one of the most flexible intervals - it can be quite low for a more dramatic effect.

  Re: Quarter Tones  MartinY at 07:51 on 19 August 2009
 

I have long thought about the different ways you can define a minor third and decided there is amost a continuum of useable notes there. For the major third there are 3 obvious ones, the one from the harmonic series, equal temperament and the pythagorean one got from going round in pure fifths which is rather sharp. But minor thirds, you can get them from the residue of major thirds from pure fifths but they are also in the harmonic series, initially as a very narrow one. I suppose you get many sizes of minor third in the Bach temperament suggested on the title page, different sizes from other temperaments, different sizes in natural brass instruments....

One obvious natural 3rd is between the pure major 3rd and the pure fifth.

In tonal music what is the ideal pitch of the leading note? Some would say a pure third up from a pure fifth, but many choral conductors like a very sharp leading note. Does it make any difference if it is arrived at via a suspension? Any strong opinions?

<Added>

I realised that when we are talking about very small differences of pitch we have been thinking in all this discussion of pitch as a single line of frequency, wheras real notes have a frequency shape. On some instruments there are multiple sound sources tuned slightly apart, e.g. piano triple strings, twelve string guitar etc.... not to mention the vocal folds. I suppose some spectralist composers will fully understand all the implications of this..... and of course the prepared piano specialists. Much more complicated than at first sight.

Frequency spectra of anharmonic instruments.... It is not just the harmonic series. Some spectralist composer could write a London Symphony based on modes derived from the anharmonic frequencies of the bells of Big Ben, St. Pauls, Bow Bells ........... Or is already composed?

  Re: Quarter Tones  IanTipping at 00:42 on 20 August 2009
 

Good point Martin. Scott's comments about the Trombone (there we are, King of Instruments to the fore once again!) is very much like my own experiences playing the instrument in sections, and like Scott, I always found the minor third, particularly in the middle of a root position triad, the most interesting (or difficult...!) to place accurately. And the most likely to end up with the second trombonist getting an earful from the conductor! The major triad is relatively simple - for some reason the fifth gets slightly flattened and the third gets slightly sharpened by approximately the same distance in opposite directions from their position in the (ahem) equal tempered scale, but there never seemed to be such a neat rule of thumb for minor triads. It's in part due to the Trombone's relatively pure harmonic content that these things show up so strongly - it is closer in character to a pure sine wave than any other common instrument (at least when played at low to middle volume) and consequently, intonation issues emerge more clearly as the dreaded beats appear! I don't know if you found this, Scott, but in my experience, where the fifth is placed in relation to the root affects where the third is placed in between them by greater than the distance the fifth is displaced from it's pure "harmonic" position - did any of that just make any sense?!

Anyway, this is quite a digression - not a whole lot of quarter tones in that lot! Speaking for myself, I find them slightly problematic to get performed accurately, because players almost invariably adjust their intonation on the non-quarter tones anyway, so reference becomes the problem. Getting genuine quarter-tones rather than some sort of muddy approximation, in relation to what's occurring in the rest of the music is tricky. If I write them at all these days, I tend to think of them as a bit like ornaments - pushing a regular chromatic note away from it's 'normal' position to get a particular darkening or lightening of the sound. There's plenty of other people who use them in a far more intrinsic way in their music than me, and in deeply interesting ways, so I probably ought to experiment a bit more!

Incidentally Scott, I heard a Ligeti piece a few years ago that used exactly the same idea of two string orchestras tuned a quarter tone apart as the piece you describe. I'm afraid the name of it escapes me, but I can tell you that the tuning of the orchestras prior to the piece was almost as excting as the piece itself!

  Re: Quarter Tones  ruska02 at 03:14 on 20 August 2009
 

I think at this point it useful for everybody to know what Gregorio Kartman has developed and I have studied at Freiburg Experimental Studios for G.F.Haas ensemble and live electronics work "...Und...": not to be too technical the purpose was to help acoustic musicians tune microtones according to precise spectral movements with the help of electronics in real live performance (as far as the works of James Tenney who uses the digital visual tuners has proven to always keep an obvious and undervalued delay ). The result was to build a "Spectral machine" which provides audience and performers with correct pitches (sine waves) before the actual very close acoustic emissions. Obviously the whole is divided into different and quite far way performers and loudspeakers spatial disposition to avoid interference but not to avoid melting. Everything is much more complicated with opposite specular and recurring frequencies and so on and I have the whole work but I think is of no use here. Important may be to know that there is a deep research going on, the result is not emotional to my hears at the moments and there is a hidden problem ...which one?...but everything is much more interesting and challenging that Sir. H. Birtwistle (not of his own) work at Ircam for his (poor) Horpheus Opera

Roberto



This 48 message thread spans 4 pages:  < <   1   2  [3]  4  > >