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WKMT - Juan

The five contributing elements in musical analysis

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After having gone though lots of forum threads, I came to the conclusion that there is a need for clarification on which are the main elements we, composers and music analysts, consider foundational of music itself. 

 

Gisela Paterno succeeds in explaining the tight relationship between composition and musical analysis. 

 

I believe her ast article about the role of these main five elements deserves our attention https://www.piano-composer-teacher-london.co.uk/post/the-five-contributing-elements-in-musical-analysis-melody-harmony-rhythm-sound-and-growth

 

We are looking forward to receiving your comments and answer them back. Let the discussion begin 🙂

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Oh wow. This is pretty messy and redundant. It's also horribly organized. Here, let's tear down this first part:

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1.- SOUND

Well we're off to a great start. After all music is usually a kind of sound, right? Let's see where they go with this--

 

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a - Timbre: either vocal, instrumental and any other combinations chosen by the composer

b - Dynamics: The intensity of the sound

c - Texture and Fabric: how the timbres are arranged and how they unfold throughout the piece

Timbre refers to the quality of the musical tone, and how the composers combine them. This can be expressed in the choice of timbres (woodwinds, percussion, strings, electronically generated sounds, etc) the range (total spectrum of the frequencies used in a piece or set of pieces, tessituras, which are voice ranges or perhaps the interest in exploiting extreme range possibilities) the degree and frequency of contrast ( the amount of timbral contrast used by a composer and how fast or slow are these changes). Finally, the idiom (the exploitation of the capacities of the instruments explored by the composer).

Oh. Oh no. It's one of these people huh?

A and B are pretty standard and, well, quite objective to measure (Timbre is a physical phenomenon as are decibels.) C is, I guess, "using" A and B? OK, I guess, but then there's a bunch of other stuff in the description of timbre (shouldn't it be sound, as the title suggests?) that just go off the rails. Either they should be their own little bullet points, or maybe their other entire sections? I mean, if "idiom" is defined as

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...the exploitation of the capacities of the instruments explored by the composer...

Isn't that basically the actual composition itself? Why the hell is this part of SOUND, then? Might as well put everything else into SOUND too, then! Or you're telling me that something like a frullato isn't a rhythm AND color/timbre technique? Or how about dynamic? Cuz of course different dynamics sound different (different timbres) in different instruments, so you can't leave that out of SOUND, right? I mean, hell, you even added range, so why not dynamic too while you're at it?

 

And last but not least, you do know that fabric is a synonym for texture, yes?

 

BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE!!!!!!111 I'm going to skip the redundant melody and harmony bits because they could've just been lumped into "pitch" and be done with it (with bullet points for finer details, but as we shall see they totally drop that idea right after the first point. Maybe it was too much work.)

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We can argue that rhythm encompasses many elements; we can relate it to the harmonic rhythm, to the melodic rhythm, the rhythm of the sound, texture and fabric itself as its parameter relates to the duration of different layers in the musical phenomenon, that is why we could consider it under an arch of ambiguity. By recognizing two axiomatic conditions, we will find some light into the matter:

OH so this person is NOW acknowledging that stuff may be ambiguous? Seriously, ya think? Also, I love the wording. Let's talk about axiomatic conditions, sure, let's do just that. I love how none of the other segments get A-B-C style bullet points, even when they should considering the amount of crap this person packs into each. However, I'm willing to cut them some slack because rhythm/time is a pretty concrete and well understood musical element, so whatever.

 

That's not to say I'm giving this nonsense a pass:

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The Continuum is the consciousness of a continuing pulse from which we infer a multidimensional structure of motion that carries through sustained notes or intervals of silence. 

The what's it now? See, this is what happens when people purple-prose stuff that doesn't need it. I'm thinking they kind of wanted something like Star Wars' "Force" but for rhythm, see? Cuz really, otherwise this "consciousness" makes no sense to even consider as it's not tangible in the slightest nor does it really mean anything. What the hell is a "multidimensional structure of motion" again?  Remember kids, please define your terminology before you start talking about crap because otherwise it means nothing, SPECIALLY if it's super high-concept like this.

But the last point is probably my favourite.

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5.- GROWTH

The word “growth” delineates and contains beautifully the intricacies of the multi-layered phenomenon of a musical piece, as it includes both the feeling of expansive continuation so characteristic of music and also a parallel sense of achievement something permanent. These two aspects are decisively interactive and can be separated into two parallel functions: Movement and Shape.

Musical Shape is the memory of the Movement, and only by the accumulation of degrees of punctuation and articulation, we can recognize the growing Shape.

Behold. I've read it probably ten times, I still don't understand what this person is trying to actually say. What the hell is a "sense of achievement something permanent"? After thinking about it for a great number of seconds (probably the amount of time the author had to come up with this crap), it occurred to me they may be talking about the fact that music is written down but it also gets performed across time? But I really don't know.  They also keep introducing new terminology without defining it and no, for those playing at home, "Growth" wasn't defined at all. They just offloaded the meaning into two other poorly defined terms (Shape and movement.) Well done.

 

Yeah, no. Skip this nonsense and just actually listen to music while reading scores. 100000% more effective and a lot more fun than trying to understand whatever rambling this is.

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Just now, SSC said:

Oh wow. This is pretty messy and redundant. It's also horribly organized. Here, let's tear down this first part:

Well we're off to a great start. After all music is usually a kind of sound, right? Let's see where they go with this--

 

Oh. Oh no. It's one of these people huh?

A and B are pretty standard and, well, quite objective to measure (Timbre is a physical phenomenon as are decibels.) C is, I guess, "using" A and B? OK, I guess, but then there's a bunch of other stuff in the description of timbre (shouldn't it be sound, as the title suggests?) that just go off the rails. Either they should be their own little bullet points, or maybe their other entire sections? I mean, if "idiom" is defined as

Isn't that basically the actual composition itself? Why the hell is this part of SOUND, then? Might as well put everything else into SOUND too, then! Or you're telling me that something like a frullato isn't a rhythm AND color/timbre technique? Or how about dynamic? Cuz of course different dynamics sound different (different timbres) in different instruments, so you can't leave that out of SOUND, right? I mean, hell, you even added range, so why not dynamic too while you're at it?

 

And last but not least, you do know that fabric is a synonym for texture, yes?

 

BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE!!!!!!111 I'm going to skip the redundant melody and harmony bits because they could've just been lumped into "pitch" and be done with it (with bullet points for finer details, but as we shall see they totally drop that idea right after the first point. Maybe it was too much work.)

OH so this person is NOW acknowledging that stuff may be ambiguous? Seriously, ya think? Also, I love the wording. Let's talk about axiomatic conditions, sure, let's do just that. I love how none of the other segments get A-B-C style bullet points, even when they should considering the amount of crap this person packs into each. However, I'm willing to cut them some slack because rhythm/time is a pretty concrete and well understood musical element, so whatever.

 

That's not to say I'm giving this nonsense a pass:

The what's it now? See, this is what happens when people purple-prose stuff that doesn't need it. I'm thinking they kind of wanted something like Star Wars' "Force" but for rhythm, see? Cuz really, otherwise this "consciousness" makes no sense to even consider as it's not tangible in the slightest nor does it really mean anything. What the hell is a "multidimensional structure of motion" again?  Remember kids, please define your terminology before you start talking about crap because otherwise it means nothing, SPECIALLY if it's super high-concept like this.

But the last point is probably my favourite.

Behold. I've read it probably ten times, I still don't understand what this person is trying to actually say. What the hell is a "sense of achievement something permanent"? After thinking about it for a great number of seconds (probably the amount of time the author had to come up with this crap), it occurred to me they may be talking about the fact that music is written down but it also gets performed across time? But I really don't know.  They also keep introducing new terminology without defining it and no, for those playing at home, "Growth" wasn't defined at all. They just offloaded the meaning into two other poorly defined terms (Shape and movement.) Well done.

 

Yeah, no. Skip this nonsense and just actually listen to music while reading scores. 100000% more effective and a lot more fun than trying to understand whatever rambling this is.

 

Wow calm down, that was a bit rude.

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1 minute ago, Tortualex said:

Wow calm down, that was a bit rude.

Honesty can seem that way to the untrained. And I'm harsh specially because I hate stuff that makes attempts to turn stuff that's otherwise simple into nebulous and wordy for no good reason. It's pretty anti pedagogic.

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Just now, SSC said:

Honesty can seem that way to the untrained. And I'm harsh specially because I hate stuff that makes attempts to turn stuff that's otherwise simple into nebulous and wordy for no good reason. It's pretty anti pedagogic.

 

Well, I know the article is redundant, but you just make your criticize as if you were making fun.

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Hey guys, no offence here. This is a forum and it is meant to ignite passions and academic arguments. 

 

I will take some time to try and answer back.

 

It is Sunday here in London and I rather go for some drinks; particularly after such a criticism :)!

Edited by WKMT - Juan

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Interestingly it doesn’t touch on the relevance of silence (i.e. the moments when nothing musical is happening during a piece).  I play on this a fair bit and it can serve a number of purposes: climax, new episode, motivic development, probably more. Even giving listeners a moment’s respite to absorb some musical event.

But I’m no analyst. Some features of sound and music are self-evident and need appreciation but beyond that, I leave it alone. But this article seems to raise awareness for a new composer.

I class the low-level analysis of finding out how something is done as different – a ‘need to know’ curiosity!

I think there’s a little more to it though. To appreciate timbre one has to be aware of the harmonic series and the envelope of a sound. This needs describing in more detail – the attack/decay especially. The way the density of relevant harmonics can change as the latter plays out. All makes one instrument sound different from others and what makes it sound different in different registers.

Nice one from which many will benefit no doubt.

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1 hour ago, Tortualex said:

Wow calm down, that was a bit rude.

 

Remember that he's employed on the site to keep membership numbers down.

:D

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2 hours ago, SSC said:

And last but not least, you do know that fabric is a synonym for texture, yes?

 

 

 

No it isn't. 

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35 minutes ago, Quinn said:

Remember that he's employed on the site to keep membership numbers down.

😄

Oh, but wasn't that your job?

Case and point, Texture and Fabric are synonyms to which you said:

29 minutes ago, Quinn said:

No it isn't. 

 

But, see, here's why you're wrong:

https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/fabric

and

https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/texture?s=t

 

Strange how that works, eh? It's easier to say crap about me than to check something so simple as that. Now if you can show me somewhere that says they are NOT synonyms I'll consider it, but good luck with that.

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The shirt I'm wearing is made of cotton. It's fabric. It isn't made of texture. It HAS a texture but so does my table which is not made of fabric.

But this is going way off topic. I had to correct an ambiguity which hinted at confusion. Can we now return to the topic at hand? Thanks. 

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1 hour ago, Quinn said:

The shirt I'm wearing is made of cotton. It's fabric. It isn't made of texture. It HAS a texture but so does my table which is not made of fabric.

Good thing the article is talking about your shirt, then!

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The art of analysing music consists in breaking down a complex structure and delivering a thorough account of its elements. 

The shirt description of our colleague at the forum is exactly what this is all about. 

The objective of reading analysis or analytical ethods is to save the time one should invest in infering the same conclusions by mere and extended exposition to the matter. Intuition might bring you to the same point but it will just take longer. Deduction has always been considered a rather ore abstract exxercise than inference. 

I hope this claryfies our position here. And, yes we are Argentinian, we speak, Spanish, Italian and English. 

I'm sure SSC can also perform such graces better than us and therefore he/she is appalled by our language skills 😉

Have a nice day,

Juan Rezzuto

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2 hours ago, WKMT - Juan said:

The shirt description of our colleague at the forum is exactly what this is all about. 

That's precisely where it fails tho. If, within the context of describing something, you're using words that are not related to the thing at hand (e.g music has nothing to do with clothing or anything textile), then it's unclear what you mean with them at all. Saying the "texture" and "fabric" of music is meaningless unless you specifically describe what you mean with those words and why you chose exactly those words. Additionally, they are very similarly related enough that without context they might as well be synonyms (my entire point.) The shirt example is what you SHOULD have done with your description in the first place so that the words become meaningful. If there is a reasonable chance that I may misinterpret your position because of the way you're describing something, then your description is lacking and you should rewrite/reformulate it, that's all I'm really saying.

 

2 hours ago, WKMT - Juan said:

The art of analysing(sic) music consists in breaking down a complex structure and delivering a thorough account of its elements.

Not really. Analysis can be a large number of things and done in a large number of ways within a large number of different system and frameworks. That is to say, analysis depends entirely on the objective of the analysis. Like when you analyze anything, you can't analyze "everything," you usually focus on interest points and those depend on the person doing the analysis. In other words, the degree by which something is complicated or simplified within an analytical framework is entirely dependent what information needs to be extracted.

 

For instance. If I'm analyzing Ligeti's Artikulation, I'd be pretty ill equipped if I used a framework based on functional harmony to analyze the disposition of vertical sounds in his music. Instead, I may be better served by forgoing any existing system and crafting something out that works better with the material at hand. Or let's say I'm analyzing large form structures in a Strauss opera. I'm not going to sit there and map out every single harmonic change and counterpoint nuance, because my objective is not that. Instead I'd be much better served by synthesizing what is important to my objective into elements I can directly observe (for example, observing only the cadences for type/direction/modulation.) It will still be "complex," but it will have significantly less pointless information than if I went through every little detail that is not relevant to my objective.

 

So, I kind of see what you're trying to do, but it falls into a lot of mistakes that I've seen very often, specially when it comes to terminology and methodology. Sure, you can split things into elements if you want, but it's only meaningful if there's an actual objective behind that. This objective also will inform how exactly each element would need to be broken down and presented, so as to not overload the analysis with pointless information. Being able to recognize and focus on specific elements is a much more important ability than simply making a general "break down" of what you think music is composed of, specially when the divisions are very arbitrary. That's why the basic breakdown is usually just pitch/rhythm/dynamic because those elements are concrete and actual physical phenomenon disconnected from any specific use-case, with everything else coming down to individual objective and needs.

 

But yeah, maybe it's a language thing, but that's no excuse at this point, right?

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I think it's awesome wanting to help educate. However, I would argue that a composer should already know how to analyze music before putting pen to paper (or fingers on mice and keyboards). 

That said, I think composition students need to learn more the creative process, how to formulate concrete musical ideas, how musical development works, and how to adapt/devise/create structures out of those ideas. This essay doesn't really seem to be of much use despite flowery prose ridden with grammatical errors.

Just my two cents.

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I'd defy anyone to apply any existing analytic techniques to a work like Berio's Omaggio à Joyce. 

 

Quoting WKMT-Juan "Intuition might bring you to the same point but it will just take longer." - The Beatles (particularly McCartney) showed that you don't need any sort of academic musical education to write excellent music. Many who do study CPP theory do far worse and struggle to get something together. 

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5 hours ago, Quinn said:

I'd defy anyone to apply any existing analytic techniques to a work like Berio's Omaggio à Joyce. 

 

Quoting WKMT-Juan "Intuition might bring you to the same point but it will just take longer." - The Beatles (particularly McCartney) showed that you don't need any sort of academic musical education to write excellent music. Many who do study CPP theory do far worse and struggle to get something together. 

 

Haha! One of my professors did a recital playing a piece by Berio during which he blasted out a fff up at the sky with his trombone, then took off his top hat to catch the note as it came back down.

Edited by Ken320

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Good Lord! Lucky it didn't ricochet. It might have hit someone in their Bb minors.

.

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