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#3184590 01/12/22 06:20 PM
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Can anyone refute my simple music theory that the structure of most all music relies on a flow between two fundamental sound domains.

Two contrasting and complementary sound domains exist because the seven primary sound pitches align in two different groups of harmonically compatible pitch. The 1, 3, 5, & 7 pitches naturally harmonize with each other forming a unique sound group. The 2, 4, 6, & 1, pitches naturally harmonize with each other forming a second unique sound group. Notes of one group generally do not harmonize with notes of the other group, although there are several vital exceptions.

Movement between the two sound domains is essential for creating expression, transition, and resolution in the musical form. All commonly used chord progressions flow between the two
domains. We can hear the dual presence in any type of music from pop to classical, without it we’d hear a kind of monotone.

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I don't even understand this. Probably because English isn't my first language. Can you elaborate?


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Hello Rowy: Thank you for responding to my writing on a new music theory. I will try to elaborate. Listening to the seven primary sound pitches, we can hear that the 1, 3, 5, and 7 pitches sound good together, compatible, harmonious, because of something that is agreeable in their sound wavelength / vibration speed. Also, the 1, 2, 4, and 6 pitches have the same harmonious relationship. Because of this pitch compatibility, we have chords made of notes that sound good together, like the one chord made of the 1, 3, 5 pitches, or the two chord made of the 2, 4, 6 pitches, the three chord made of the 3, 5, and 7 pitches, and etc. But if we make a chord with the 4 and 7 pitches, or the 4 and 3 pitches, or the 2 and 3 pitches, it will sound bad because the sound wavelengths are not agreeable so they do not create harmony. Thus, we have two basic groups, or two domains of sound that form the structure of most any music. The two groups of four notes each can be considered as two primary scales (tetratonic scales) which represent the two sound domains.

Another way of considering it is that these two scales also derive a unique set of chords for each sound domain, explained: each of the primary pitches is the basis for a three note (triad) chord; of those the 1, 3, and 5 chords share an ascending pattern of two common notes, giving them all a related and similar sound forming a distinct chord group. The 2, 4, and 6 chords also share an ascending pattern of two common notes, giving them all a related and similar sound which forms a second distinct chord group. These two chord groups serve to form two separate, contrasting, and yet complementary sound domains.

Rowy, this is not easy for me to explain, I try to make it simple and understandable, but finding the right words is a challenge and I continue to work on finding the best way to explain it. Thank you for pushing me to explain it in more understandable terms, if, to some degree, I have. I would appreciate any thoughts from you.Will Caldwell

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Originally Posted by Will Caldwell
Listening to the seven primary sound pitches, we can hear that the 1, 3, 5, and 7 pitches sound good together, compatible, harmonious, because of something that is agreeable in their sound wavelength / vibration speed. Also, the 1, 2, 4, and 6 pitches have the same harmonious relationship. Because of this pitch compatibility, we have chords made of notes that sound good together, like the one chord made of the 1, 3, 5 pitches, or the two chord made of the 2, 4, 6 pitches, the three chord made of the 3, 5, and 7 pitches, and etc.

You probably know the sequence of overtones. In this series, the most prominent notes are the octave, a pure fifth, a major third, and a minor seventh. If you find 1, 3, 5 and 7 sounding harmonious together, I assume you are referring to this series, which fits nicely in a major scale. It is V7, a dominant seventh chord.

You seem to attach equal harmonic value to 2, 4, 6, 1. But in a major scale, the third (2 - 4) is minor. Maybe you mean that these tones together also form a nice sound, but then we are talking about a personal preference, not really suitable for a scientific approach.

I understand now what you mean, but I have the feeling that you are trying to develop a new theory, while you lack sufficient knowledge of the old theory. You did study harmony? I'm not trying to belittle you, but I'm still a bit in the dark here.


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Hi Rowy; Thank you very much again for responding to my music ideas, your thoughts are quite valuable to me.
I took some time to look at your website; it is an excellent resource and I intend to use it. I enjoyed watching your video about Brabant, it looks very beautiful, and I like your music.

You said, ”I have the feeling that you are trying to develop a new theory, while you lack sufficient knowledge of the old theory”. You are justified to say that, but I believe my naïve approach is a valid asset, let me explain.
I have had a 45 year professional career as a visual arts painter with gallery exhibits in all eleven western US states. My first artist hero was your countryman Van Gogh, known for following his own creative impulse without traditional formulas. We artists of today have all been academically encouraged to explore our own new ideas free of any old formats that might spoil our creativity. My new music theory is intentionally simplistic and objectively free from old theory, with hopes it may have value to open minded people who just want to improvise music for personal expression, without reading notes, and not for being a concert performer.

You asked me if I have studied harmony. I am quite familiar with tonal “functional harmony”, tonic, sub-dominate, dominate, and etc. My personal preference for harmony is when improvised melodic arpeggios are played over a very limited chord format, such as I hear in Chopin’s “Berceuse”, Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedies”, or Bill Evans’s “Peace Piece". When I refer to the harmony I hear between notes in chords, major or minor is not as issue, if they sound good it is because they are in harmony, if they are “diminished” or discordant they sound bad, not in harmony.

Rowy, can you consider my idea of two “tetratonic” scales,…the 1, 3, 5, 7 pitches as one all harmonious scale, and the 2, 4, 6, 1 pitches as another all harmonious scale. (can it be compared to the pentatonic scale ?) And consider the 1, 3, 5 group of chords that all sound similar because of shared notes mostly of the 1, 3, 5, 7 scale. And the 2, 4, 6 chords that all sound similar because of a pattern of shared notes mostly of the 2, 4, 6, 1 scale. It seems to me this demonstrates the existance of two basic sound domains from which music is structured at the fundamental level.

By creating a flow between these two scales, a beginner piano player can combine chords and corresponding melodic notes from anywhere on the scale to improvise favorite songs, or just freely improvise without a known melody. I demonstrate this playing piano on my website, www.piano-improv.com

I also live in a beautiful forested mountain location, it is America’s first and most loved ski resort, Sun Valley, Idaho. We have a very big summer symphony concert season here,
also, I have founded and produced another summer concert season of popular and jazz music since 1999.
I have 4 children and 7 grand kids. I, like you, ride my bike, ski, etc.

Rowy, any thoughts or criticisms from you about my ideas
Is very helpful to me. I hope we can keep talking if you care to and have the time.
Thank you very much, Will Caldwell

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Hi Will. I'm trying to understand what exactly you mean. It's not easy, because I have to translate everything you write. Music notes however are universal. Why don't you write a short piece down? A composition based on your theory. That would make things much clearer.


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Hi Rowy; Yes I understand you, translating my long written words is not easy. I will do as you suggest. I don't write music, but I will describe a piece of improvised music based on using the structure of Chopin's "Berceuse Op 58 as it was changed by Bill Evan's to fit his "Peace Piece".
I will send you something at your email. thank you, Will Caldwell

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Originally Posted by Will Caldwell
Can anyone refute my simple music theory that the structure of most all music relies on a flow between two fundamental sound domains.

Two contrasting and complementary sound domains exist because the seven primary sound pitches align in two different groups of harmonically compatible pitch. The 1, 3, 5, & 7 pitches naturally harmonize with each other forming a unique sound group. The 2, 4, 6, & 1, pitches naturally harmonize with each other forming a second unique sound group. Notes of one group generally do not harmonize with notes of the other group, although there are several vital exceptions.

Movement between the two sound domains is essential for creating expression, transition, and resolution in the musical form. All commonly used chord progressions flow between the two
domains. We can hear the dual presence in any type of music from pop to classical, without it we’d hear a kind of monotone.

You mean 2 4 6 & 8


All you have done is progressed up one scale degree diatonically. You can continue, for example



1,3, 5, 7
2, 4, 6,8
3, 5, 7,9
4, 6, 7,10

Etc.

What this is is progressing up the scale via diatonic seventh chords

Cmaj7
Dmin7
Emin7
Fmaj7
Gdom7
Amin7
Bm7b5

Repeat.

Whereas Emin7 could be an upper structure of the Cmaj7 (Cmaj9), and by that measure, depending on context be played as a substitution and vice versa

Whereas Fmaj7 could be an upper structure of the Dmin7, (Dmin9) and by that measure, depending on context, be played as a substitution and vice versa.

and onward.

Note that there are 48 diatonic seventh chords.

If I were teaching piano, I would stress learning all of them and their inversions.

Also good to know them in terms of their function:

Tonic
Supertonic
Mediant
Subdominant
Dominant
Submediant
Subtonic or leading tone

Repeat. The leading tone chord ( here being the Bm7b5 or "B half diminished" or B diminished if thinking in triads ) seldom functions as leading tone, because it's essentially the upper structure of a G9 chord. For my ears, the leading tone and dominant function the same.

The half diminished is much more commonly functioning as a supertonic in the minor key. For example, the cadence Bbm7b5 - E7 establishes the key of A minor. It's more often used in a minor cadence, especially in modulations, than played as leading tone.

Last edited by PatrickJazzyTunes; 01/24/22 12:14 AM. Reason: spelling

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Hi Patrik Jazzy Tunes: Thank you very much for responding to my assertion of a new theory on the basic structure of music. I appreciate your thoughts on it, trying to look further at the concept. Your response attempts to help examine what I am proposing by reaching beyond the basic seven pitches in search of other elements at play, and a more complicated viewpoint.

I refer you to these quotes, as they may apply here:

"Truth is found in simplicity, not in the multiplicity of things". Isaac Newton

"Simplicity is the final achievement". Frederic Chopin

"Simple can be harder than complex" Steve Jobs

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication". Leonardo Da Vinci

My simple naive thinking may be my best asset. The fact that seven primary sound pitches and seven basic triad chords both generally align within two separate sound categories inescapably results in the existence of two sound domains that form the structure of most all music.

Try looking at it from my unsophisticated level, thank you so much, Will Caldwell

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I just watched a video from December last year where Paul McCartney was interviewed about his piano composing and he explains how he started off with the triads, first a C major then realising you can go up and down the white keys. Musical theory I tend to think of as backwards theorising. People were composing very complex music before music theory as it is now understood existed so clearly composition is not dependent on theory. However most complex music that has entered the canon, is built up from very simple units e.g. rising or falling phrases, repeated patterns (groups of notes in a fairly small range or rythms), call and answer and so on. People (in general) can't hum dissonant music (it's too dislocated, too complex), meaning they can't remember it, meaning they can't relate to it easily. European music developed its own traditions whereas other cultures e.g. in the Middle East are quite happy with Quarter Tones for instance, so that your theory doesn't account for their musical culture.

So I tend to think of music firstly as a cultural tradition (based on what pleases people in a particular culture and what makes sense in a particular culture). Cultures tend to favour particular modes for melody-making and these come to dominate. Modes are necessary because humans only have the capacity to relate to simple units (phrases, patterns and so on) - a melody that leaps all over the musical frequencies wouldn't ever be remembered. Lots of cultures afford a lot more value to rythm than melody in their music with drums often dominating music-making.

I think of music theory as being similar to mathematics. Both are theories that seek to explain the real world in the first place although they can also reach incredible levels of pure abstraction. In the real world our senses tell us there isn't just "apple" there are differentiated individual apples so we can count them. 3 is one more than 2 and so on. I think something similar happens with musical theory. Humans divide up the audible frequencies into units. As with apples so with octaves - our senses tell us there is a pattern there. Music theory then puts into notational form what humans are doing when they engage in music. A whale's perception of the frequencies is very different from that of a human, one suspects it's capable of dealing with more complexity. and if whales composed music then it would probably not involve modes and the like.

Going back to McCartney, David Bennett had an interesting video on "Yesterday" and the first note of the verse. McCartney is way off the actual scored note (varying between something like a quarter tone or less) but oddly it doesn't sound off. I'd say that's just one more example of how music as we live it is far more subtle than music theory.

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Owen David; Thank you for sharing your thoughts about how music theory might well be better framed when viewed through the lens of a humanist or cultural or rhythmic, or even a whale's perspective. It's very refreshing to hear one speak of music as an art form not of the mechanics and rules, but of the senses.

I too had listened to the Paul McCartney video of how he played piano with simple white key triads. I just wish my piano teacher had given me that approach when I was a kid; instead I was instructed to learn how to read notation and prepare for the recital. I quit and chose baseball instead of piano. When sometime later I observed a piano player improvising without sheet music, I felt I was robbed of what might have been my creative potential.

You said "I think of music theory as being similar to mathematics. Both are theories that seek to explain the real world in the first place although they can also reach incredible levels of pure abstraction." I agree and I refer you to compare music theory to that of color theory for the visual artist painter. As with music's seven basic sound wave pitches, the color spectrum has seven basic colors formed from differing light waves. The artist's palette of seven basic colors is recognized in two primary categories of warm or cool color hues. The painter's success at color composition is a factor of relating the two contrasting but complementary colors types with each other. Referring back to my "new music theory", I point out that the seven basic sound pitches fall within two contrasting but complimentary sound groups, and the power and beauty of "western civilization" music is based on two interrelated sound domains. "Dualism" in art, or music, or in our every day lives is an all pervasive constant.

Thank you so much for the discussion, I definitely learn from it. Will Caldwell

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I think that the most important thing is not to set limits on yourself in terms of music. Had the Beatles set limits on themselves in the early days they would have ended up as Little Richard tribute act. As it was, they followed their musical instincts and produced some of the best music in any genre in the 20th century.

I had a problem with playing fast passages. The best advice I ever had was that when you rest your five fingers on five successive keys you are playing at infinite speed. All you need to do is "slow down"! smile

I definitely never responded to orthodox teachers in my youth - my piano teacher and I parted company when I was 10! lol But now through self-tuition and with the aid of all the online resources I feel I am able to understand virtually all piano compositions. My piano technique continues to expand and develop at an incredible pace. I think we are only limited by our imaginations.

It was only a few days ago I actually came to understand what concert pianists are doing during their performances. To use some metaphors, it's an
amazing balance of vulnerability and confidence. It's a kind of ability to get into gear for any part of the performance and have the self-belief you can get there but still recognising that you are vulnerable, a human being. It's a kind of mastery of your fingers, knowing they will do what you command. But all the time, there is this sense that there is something much bigger going on, that you are connecting with a spiritual level where music is part of a much greater cosmic reality.

So, if music theory is your chosen field and you feel that investigating does you good, I hope you won't be held back and will just go forward with energy and openess.


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