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Why Not Admit There Is A Problem With Math And Music?

Discussion in 'Music Education - Share your knowledge here!' started by Jay2U, Feb 4, 2018.

  1. Jay2U

    Jay2U Good Vibe Sponsor

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  2. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    Cool video. I love the Ted talks. I watch a lot of them on YouTube.

    One thing he asserts is that there are no such notes as B#, Cb, E#, or Fb. There are, however, times when these names are the most appropriate names for such notes. He mentions Irving Berlin only playing in F# (I was not aware of this, by the way). F# is an interesting key in the context of this talk, because if you spell it out, it goes:

    F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D#, E#, F#. You'll notice that it contains an E#, a note that allegedly does not exist. Yes, it's the same pitch as F, but if you call it F in this context, you have a scale with no E and two Fs (F natural and F#). For this reason, it is more appropriate to call the note E# in this context. If we call the scale Gb instead, we get the same problem: Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, Eb, F, Gb. This contains a Cb, with would normally just be called B, but not in this context.

    There are other similar situations, all of which really just go to show what the speaker was talking about: the problem with math and music notation. (But not really with music itself. If you want to get into the problem with math and music itself, look up "tempered tuning" sometime. )

    Incidentally, there is another interesting thing about the black keys on a piano. If you only play black keys, you get an Eb pentatonic minor scale. According to my keyboardist, a lot of Stevie Wonder songs are in Eb minor because it's easier for him to feel his way around the keyboard if he's playing a lot of black keys.
     
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  3. Jay2U

    Jay2U Good Vibe Sponsor

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    As you may know, I played keyboard in my early teens. I always hated the the term "octave" and the names of the notes, as well as the black keys. To my opinion we should have a "dodectave", so no sharp or flat, no black keys.
     
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  4. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    It's a good point, Jay, but the black keys do help us keep our place when we're playing keyboards. :)
     
  5. Jay2U

    Jay2U Good Vibe Sponsor

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    I know, but I found it inconvenient to transpose a song to another key. :confused:
     
  6. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    Yeah, good point. That stuff is easier on a stringed instrument.
     
  7. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

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    We had a lot of keyboard players in the studio relying on the transpose function of their digital crap-o-hoola.
    But then we made them play a Hammond B3 and Fender Rhodes... and they almost cried...
    Lots of times my old man (studio owner/producer) had to play the keyboard parts himself.
     
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  8. ectoflanger

    ectoflanger Supporting Member

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    Great vid! I also briefly used a slide rule when I was a freshman in high school- but it was plastic and on loan from the school-
     
  9. Jay2U

    Jay2U Good Vibe Sponsor

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    I used it as well, back in '75 till '77 I think. Mine was made of plastic as well.
     
  10. Foal30

    Foal30 Supporting Member

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    I thought the perception of different keys having different qualities was pants

    But it turns out in olden days this was true
     
  11. kimgee

    kimgee Wenge Taste Tester Good Vibe Sponsor

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    depends on who's asking
    I am not trying to be a wise guy, but I really think the guy in the video either was just trying to be funny, or just doesn't understand the reasoning behind music theory. Music theory is math, and just like math, if you learn the rules, and put some thought into it, it makes a lot of sense. The current system of music notation has been around for so many years because it works. The different scales and modes exist for a very simple reason.......the chords derived from the different scales create completely different types of sounds. Chord creation has, just like math, a very specific set of rules. So, even though the C Major scale and the a minor scale have the exact same notes, the chords derived from those identical groups of notes, because of the difference in their order, create a different kind of sound. The reason there are different scales and modes is so we have a greater variety of chords and chord progressions, which result in a wide range of tonal possibilities. The main thing that made theory much more understandable to me was when I learned about the incredible significance of intervals. It's all about the intervals. Transposing from one key to another is just a matter of maintaining the intervals. The difference between the varied scales and modes is all about the intervals. Even learning your way around the fretboard is all about the intervals. One important difference between music and math though, is that you can break the rules in music and still end up with something delightful. Not so much with math.
     
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  12. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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  13. eyvindwa

    eyvindwa Supporting Member

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    While there are probably many things in this video that are wrong or misguided, I think he is right when it comes to our system for musical notation: it is really a sub-optimal design if you want something that can easily and legibly represent any piece of music in written form. Sure, some things are nicely aligned with the system, for instance songs that are written to adhere to specific keys, but for chromatic, or so called "atonal", music, the current system leaves a lot to be desired.
     
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