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Re: Pitch learning
Two books come to mind on this:
"How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and why you should care)" by
Ross W. Duffin, 2006: Norton
"Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of
Western Civilization" by Stuart Isacoff, 2003: Vintage
On Mar 1, 2007, at 4:38 PM, Edward Large wrote:
Hi Susan and Linda,
I agree that there is a large degree of variability
in performance intonation. (By saying variability,
I don't mean random
variation ... for masters it is of course expressive).
But huge variations are
also present for Western music played on non-fixed
tuning instruments, such as violin, or in
vocal performance. Every study of which I am aware
confirms this basic point. This, as it sounds like you
would agree, makes the very measurement of
mean frequency suspect. However, it doesn't
mean there is no tuning system.
Is there more variability in Indian or Chinese music?
I don't know. I have never seen a comparative study.
And, by the way, these are empirical issues, not political
On Mar 1, 2007, at 5:00 PM, Susan Allen wrote:
Thank you, Linda, for this clarification.
On Mar 1, 2007, at 5:53 AM, Linda Seltzer wrote:
The descriptions of non-Western tuning systems given below are
Concerning Indian music: I studied North Indian classical singing
Ustad Vilayat Khan. He sometimes demonstrated different versions
note to me. It is really a slur and maligning of the vast
improvisation in Asian musical culture to say that Asian music
and fixed intervals. It is part of the fa;se stereotype of
memorizing and not being creative. Each raga is different. Each
performance of a raga is different. The performances of the same
different gharanas are different. A master can elaborate different
subtle intonations of the pitch and color of a note among
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
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
(the base note) slightly off pitch as an expressive device.
in Indian music is not a mindless outpouring of whatever junk
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
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
Pittsburgh is the expert, not me. I had an introduction to
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
conservatory method of teaching the zheng that I was being
The best assumption in really professional Asian music is that
or intonation is available as an expressive device by a master
You can study the relationships among pitches in one performance
is about all.
The three largest non-Western tuning systems are Indian, Chinese
Each of these has inclusive 12-tone scales whose frequency
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).
systems of India are theoretically based on 22 intervals per
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
Arab-Persian system theoretically employs intervals that bisect the
Western chromatic intervals. However, there is some controversy
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
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
not be the basis of the musical and octave sensitivity of
what remains unclear to me is whether there is an "octave
pitch processor" or rather than a "small-integer / periodicity-
If there is only an "octave circular pitch processing" to
octave generalization, one would predict performance in
transpositions to the perfect fifth (ratio 3/2 = 7 semitones
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
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
as opposed to atonal melodies, when tonal melodies are
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
however, whether this reflects something special about
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
rules out the possibility that the monkeys generalized
similarities in the sound spectrum (harmonics). The only
possibility is that the monkeys, the same as humans, have an
circular pitch processing, which provides the basis for a chroma
- Martin Braun Neuroscience of Music S-671 95 Klässbol Sweden
------- End of forwarded message -------Annabel J. Cohen, Ph. D.
Department of Psychology
University of Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown, P.E.I. C1A 4P3 CANADA
phone: (902) 628-4325 office; (902) 628-4331 lab
fax: (902) 628-4359
Susan Allen, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Instructor of Harp & Improvisation
School of Music
California Institute of the Arts
Valencia, CA 91355 USA