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Al Bregman (or should I say, AL BREGMAN?) writes:


This is fine as long as those onsets ARE audible.  This is usually the case
with simple melodies, particularly when they are unaccompanied.  After that,
all bets are off.  Consider the first six notes of the "Gnome" movement of
PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION.  Played "Sempre vivo" fortissimo (as indicated)
and usually played with the dampers lifted, this comes across as a single
rustling gesture of sound.  One those who already know the score are likely
to be able to tell you how many notes there are.  (Ravel further complicates
the situation by giving this passage to full sections of violas, violoncellos,
and contrabassi, reinforced by two clarinets, two bassoons, one bass clarinet,
and one contrabassoon.  If you can pick out notes played vivo across the many
attacks of all those instruments, your ears must be incredibly sharp.)

Also, before we get to the sorts of electronic sources which Francesco probably
had in mind, we also have to contend with composers who tried to SUPPRESS the
perception of onsets.  The best example here would be the third ("Farben")
movement of Arnold Schoenberg's "Funf Orchesterstuecke" (Opus 16).  No, I
think the sooner we get away from the simplifications which seem necessary
to make the Lerdahl-Jackendoff system "work," the better off we shall be in
trying to get a better handle on the sort of perceptual segmentation which
takes place while listening to music.

Stephen W. Smoliar; Institute of Systems Science
National University of Singapore; Heng Mui Keng Terrace
Kent Ridge, SINGAPORE 0511
Internet:  smoliar@iss.nus.sg   FAX:  +65-473-9897