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Re: Pitch learning
The descriptions of non-Western tuning systems given below are incorrect.
Concerning Indian music: I studied North Indian classical singing with
Ustad Vilayat Khan. He sometimes demonstrated different versions of each
note to me. It is really a slur and maligning of the vast creativity of
improvisation in Asian musical culture to say that Asian music has systems
and fixed intervals. It is part of the fa;se stereotype of Asians as
memorizing and not being creative. Each raga is different. Each
performance of a raga is different. The performances of the same raga in
different gharanas are different. A master can elaborate different
subtle intonations of the pitch and color of a note among different ragas,
within a raga, or within a performance. That is part of the subtlety of a
master. When real master is performing you never know what brilliant
musical idea he or she is going to follow. The intervals of a fifth and a
fourth exist, but I have even heard Vilayat Khan demonstrate singing Sa
(the base note) slightly off pitch as an expressive device. Improvisation
in Indian music is not a mindless outpouring of whatever junk comes into
the mind. It is an instantaneous, well-thought-out, imaginative
development of a musical idea.
As for Chinese music, how can be there "a system" when there are 400
different kinds of Chinese opera alone? The tuning of the strings of the
ch'in and the zheng by master performers can be analyzed, but then they
will go all over the place in expressive intonations and pitch curves in a
performance. But if you want to know about Chinese music, Bell Yung at
Pittsburgh is the expert, not me. I had an introduction to Chinese music
in the Chinese literature classes of Prof. Yu-Kung Kao at Princeton and I
took some lessons on the zheng. I couldn't take the regimented Shanghai
conservatory method of teaching the zheng that I was being subjected to.
The best assumption in really professional Asian music is that any pitch
or intonation is available as an expressive device by a master performer.
You can study the relationships among pitches in one performance but that
is about all.
> The three largest non-Western tuning systems are Indian, Chinese and
> Each of these has inclusive 12-tone scales whose frequency
> relationships are
> similar to the Western chromatic scales. Two of these systems, the
> Indian and the
> Arab-Persian, use more than 12 intervals per octave (Burns, 1999).
> The musical
> systems of India are theoretically based on 22 intervals per octave.
> However, the
> basic scale consists of 12 tones tuned according to a form of just
> The remaining 10 tones are slight variations of certain intervals,
> the exact frequencies
> of which depend upon the individual melodic framework (raga) being
> played. The
> Arab-Persian system theoretically employs intervals that bisect the
> distance between
> Western chromatic intervals. However, there is some controversy as to
> the exact number
> of possible intervals and the actual intervals produced in
> performance. Most sources
> list the small integer ratio tuning relationships.
> On Feb 28, 2007, at 1:41 AM, Susan Allen wrote:
>> It is astonishing to me that all of you are talking about western
>> scales and octaves! This is not the music of the world! This is
>> colonial music, discovered in the West....
>> The WORLD of music does not follow Pythagorean intervals! There
>> are many more notes!
>> FORGET perfect pitch - it only has to do with relative pitch on the
>> piano keyboard - within the Western (colonial) paradigm!
>> Susan Allen PhD
>> On Feb 27, 2007, at 10:03 PM, Annabel Cohen wrote:
>>> Dear Martin and Stewart and others:
>>> I am willing to concede that sensitivity to overlapping harmonics may
>>> not be the basis of the musical and octave sensitivity of monkeys;
>>> what remains unclear to me is whether there is an "octave circular
>>> pitch processor" or rather than a "small-integer / periodicity-
>>> sensitive processor".
>>> If there is only an "octave circular pitch processing" to account for
>>> octave generalization, one would predict performance in monkeys on
>>> transpositions to the perfect fifth (ratio 3/2 = 7 semitones up) to
>>> be as poor as performance on transposition to the tritone (half
>>> octave = 6 semitones). A study including the perfect fifth
>>> transposition has not been carried out to the best of my knowledge.
>>> If performance were superior for the perfect fifth, the "octave
>>> processor" theory would be incomplete.
>>> How also does one explain the monkey's superior performance on tonal
>>> as opposed to atonal melodies, when tonal melodies are characterized
>>> by tones related by small integer ratios (though typically not
>>> octaves) as compared to tone relations in atonal melodies.
>>> On 24 Feb 2007 at 0:43, Martin Braun wrote:
>>>> Dear Annabel, Stew, and others,
>>>> Annabel Cohen wrote:
>>>> "The evidence in this paper [
>>>> http://web.telia.com/~u57011259/Wright.htm ] for octave
>>>> generalization for tonal melodies by rhesus monkeys is impressive,
>>>> however, whether this reflects something special about sensitivity
>>>> to the octave (chroma) rather than sensitivity to the overtone
>>>> series or periodicity is still not clear from this study."
>>>> Sorry, it IS clear from this study. The authors reported that
>>>> generalization over the distance of two octaves is even stronger
>>>> than that over the distance of one octave. This finding definitely
>>>> rules out the possibility that the monkeys generalized according to
>>>> similarities in the sound spectrum (harmonics). The only remaining
>>>> possibility is that the monkeys, the same as humans, have an octave
>>>> circular pitch processing, which provides the basis for a chroma
>>>> - Martin Braun Neuroscience of Music S-671 95 Klässbol Sweden web
>>>> site: http://w1.570.telia.com/~u57011259/index.htm
>>> ------- End of forwarded message -------Annabel J. Cohen, Ph. D.
>>> Department of Psychology
>>> University of Prince Edward Island
>>> Charlottetown, P.E.I. C1A 4P3 CANADA
>>> e:mail acohen@xxxxxxx
>>> phone: (902) 628-4325 office; (902) 628-4331 lab
>>> fax: (902) 628-4359