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Re: On the Grammar of Music and rules

We seem to have bitten off more than what we can chew. On the positive
side, this discussion has been fascinating. I want all the participants to
realize that we, as a group, are unlikely to solve the problem of rules in
music, for the simple reason that many illustrious characters have tried
and failed long before us. So, let's be modest...

There has been mention of several theorists and theories but one. My
favorite is an obscure set of two books by a now-forgotten Austrian music
theorist, Friedrich Neumann. His book "Die Zeitgestalt -- Eine Lehre vom
musikaliscen Rhythmus" was published in 1959 in Vienna by a company
(Kaltschmied) that bit the dust in the 1970s (if I am not mistaken) and the
book seems to be unavailable -- forget about re-printing. I few American
university libraries have copies of the book and you can get it on
interlibrary loan. It is worth it and I promise you won't be disappointed
even if your German is rusty: the second volume contains only examples that
can be understood with rudimentary German.

The main thrust of the theory is that music is based on the principle of
fluctuation between tension-bearing and releasing elements ("Spannungston"
- "Ruheton"). These elements are almost infinitely divisible: you can start
from the sonata form and go into two-note patterns. Also, the nature of the
two contrasting elements is free: they exist in all musical styles and are
also self-generating in the sense that a given event can be either one or
the other, depending on the context. And so forth...

If there is one theory to force a consensus among the participants of this
discussion, Neumann's is the one.


Christian Kaernbach wrote:

Pierre Divenyi wrote:
> 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.

But isn't the same true for speech? There have to be rules, and there
has to be ... (ducking) ... content. Now if we were to discuss if music
has something to say I fear the discussion would get even more dogmatic
(at least partially) and perhaps futile (entirely).

Nice study by Maess et al.

- Christian Kaernbach