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Re: On the Grammar of Music and rules

I am not about to substitute for Ed Burns, but I think Steve McAdams's note
has one problem: Even if music had a set of rules (which may not be true in
the strict sense), any music that would follow these rules with absolute
faithfulness would generate muzak. This thesis is true regardless of the
rule system under consideration. (There could be 12-tone muzak, pentatonic
muzak, gamelan muzak, etc., even Jimmy Hendrix muzak if someone wrote down
his rules.) My view is that music happens when its author or perpetrator
departs from the set of rules he follows.

Here is a proposal: A rule system in music should have two components: one
more-or-less firmly defined general rules and one that is relative. This
latter would tell the musician the  nature (the point in time, the degree,
etc.) of a departure from the first system. This way, Leonard Meyer's
criterion for emotion and meaning would be fulfilled and we would still
have a "rule system", although roofs constructed with those rules would
sometimes leak -- which is their beauty.