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Re: On the Grammar of Music

Odd Torleiv Furnes wrote:
"Surely there are rules governing the types of chords and types of chord
progressions to be found within a certain style."

Martin Braun replied:
"There are no such rules." ...
"You never find rule consistency in European music, not within one historical
period, not within one composer, and often not even within one piece of

And in a later contribution Braun said:
"There are plenty of rules in music. I never argued that."

I am sorry if I find this somewhat confusing. My charge against your argumentation has been based on your dissociation with rules in music. If I have misunderstood you on this point we probably have nothing that separates our views.

> Odd Torleiv Furnes wrote:
> "If the chordal treatments in Bach and Debussy or Nirvana where
> interchangeable without anyone noticing any difference, then I maybe would
> start to agree with you."
Martin Braun replied:
> Let's take Bach, Debussy and Bartok, because I have no knowledge on Nirvana
> matters.
> These composers differ in the amounts of dissonant chords they use. But they
> have in common that none of their chords carries a signal that could be
> compared with the semantic AND syntactic signal that EACH word in speech
> MUST carry.

Frankly, I don't know too much about linguistics, so I presume you are correct on this matter.
However, earlier you associated grammar with rules. I made it clear all along how I defined "rule" in this context. When you made no comments on my definition, but instead made further arguments against the existence of rules in music, I had to react on that. If you had been specific with your definitions, we would not have had any conversations on this matter
Just a little note; "dissonance" is only one out of many aspects for categorizing chords. Also, just as significant in this matter are the chord-progressions these composers used.

> Odd Torleiv Furnes wrote:
> "3. Chords are classified in more general terms (degree of intensity,
> stability)
> 4. Chord-progressions follow certain patterns in different styles."
> Reply:
> To (3): Thanks. This shows that there is no grammar. Intensity and stability
> are qualities that the listeners add. They are not part of the given chords.
> You can see that from the differences in WHAT the listeners add.
> In speech it's the other way round. Each word in a sentences carries a
> semantic AND syntactic signal. These signals are binding. The listener may
> add a little bit to the semantic signal, but he has no option whatsoever
> concerning the syntactic signal.
> To (4): None of these patterns were binding or carried a signal in a similar
> sense as some word-order patterns in English are binding signals (e.g. "Ann
> likes Jim." vs. "Jim likes Ann."). When preferred chord patterns appear in
> music history, they are temporary and accidental habits, ornaments without
> syntactic content. In speech the reverse is true.

Language is learned. Music is learned. Take the word "odd". In Norwegian this means "sharp" or "point" or both. 
If I present myself saying: "hello, I'm Odd" - I'm afraid many would agree to that - not in the Norwegian meaning of the word though. If English were "techno" and Norwegian were "bebop" - a C7#5b9 would in techno sound odd in the english use of the word and would in jazz sound "odd" in the norwegian denotation. 
Considering my lack of knowledge of linguistics I may be barking up the wrong tree here, 
but on the other hand, I may have an "odd" here? (norwegian denotation)

Again, you have to see my contributions to this discussion as arguments for rules in music. 

Odd Torleiv

Odd Torleiv Furnes
Department of Musicology
University of Oslo