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Friday, November 2, 2018

Correct me if I'm wrong

Play a major scale from the bottom up all the way through.

Ok. How many notes did you play? If you are like me, then you would play 8, not 7.

Because a scale is 7 intervals, not 7 notes. So, for example, the interval of a half step between the major 7th and the octave is part of the melodic contour and sound of that scale, just as much any of the other six intervals. So to get those seven intervals you need 8 notes.  (As against the view that the scale simply starts over again at the octave.)


Surely this is wrong, in a book on Lorca and Falla I am reading:

"The Phrygian, according to Falla's personal jottings, contains the notes E-F#-G-A-C#-D. The Lydian includes F-G-A-Bb-C-E. The Doric [sic] holds D-E-F-B-C-E."

First of all, why are there only six notes in these modes? Secondly, isn't Phrygian EDFGABCDE?  And the Lydian FGABCDEF?  The Dorian DEFGABCD? I know there's a Phrygian dominant, but it still has the flat second.  What he has for Lydian is an F major scale missing the sixth.

I don't know why he defines an interval by saying, "a seventh signifies a difference of seven notes..." So would a second be a difference of two notes?  Actually it would be one note different, right?

I don't think "modulation" is "the transposition of a melody from one key to another." I'm not trying to be super-pedantic here. The modal transcription could be a typo. I'm just trying to figure out whether to trust the source. It's hard to get things accurately, even in the definition of a simple term like modulation, which is the way that music piece shifts harmonically into another key, not the transposition of a melody.

Flattening a note is not taking it down "half an interval," but taking it down a half-step, or a very specific interval.


Vance Maverick said...

You're not wrong. (The point about interval names being one greater than the arithmetical difference is one I was trying to make in this comment section a week or two ago.)

To interpret charitably, F# Phrygian would "contain the notes E-F#-G-A-C#-D" (plus B), and Bb Lydian would "include F-G-A-Bb-C-E" (plus D). But Falla would have known this stuff well, so I suspect he "jotted" something rather specific, which has been garbled in the restatement.

And yes, that's an incorrect definition of modulation. Looking at the rest of this glossary, there are more garbled terms and concepts.

Jonathan said...

Yes. For for example he confuses the idea of equal temperament with that of the diatonic scale. "Tempered Scale: the diatonic scale, a set of seven full steps between notes used in a major or minor key and present in almost all Western music since the Baroque. The rising tempered scale, based on C major, includes the notes C-B-E-F-G-A-B. Falla and Louis Lucas find the scale rigid and limited as distinguished from enharmonism with its microtones."

You still have a diatonic scale with a system of just rather than equal temperament. Also, the term "full step" is confusing since we normally talk about half and whole steps. Falla seems to have use enharmonic differently from its standard meaning, but in order to understand that you have to have a more basic grasp of theory. In normal parlance C flat is an enharmonic equivalent of B natural. From this perspective enharmonism is the result of equal temperament, not its negation.

Yikes! What can be done? I don't want to be that guy, the literature specialist who thinks he knows music but really doesn't.

Vance Maverick said...

That's embarrassing. However, this is just a glossary, possibly an afterthought -- if it were cut out, would the arguments in the body of the text work?

I'd be happy to check something you wrote, but (a) I'm a bit of an autodidact and think about these things in eccentric, unsystematic ways and (b) I imagine you want to be making claims out of your own knowledge and understanding. Regardless of reliance on other specialists, I think you could proceed by drawing a line between claims you're secure in for the argument, and others which you believe but aren't load-bearing.

Pedantically, there's a range of temperaments that are "equal enough" that enharmonic changes work -- that the same pipe or string can serve as either Ab or G#. Equal temperament is just one -- depending on the source, the others are called "well" (though I think that usage may be intended to make a claim about Bach).