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Re: Linearity as pitch perception: was Perception as memory

Kevin Austin wrote:

While I do not wish to speak for Eliot Handelman, a number of years ago (perhaps 5 or more) in a discussion with him the topic turned to a series of melodic dictations, sight-singing and theory exercises I had prepared. He asked me something like "What is this thing with melodic contour?", and went on to, as I understood it, indicate that he did not think that 'contour analysis' was necessarily valid. He will clarify what he said and what he meant.

"Contour" means the way music goes up & down, surely a notable feature of music. Contour analysis is about the up and down, abstracted from all the other details. The question is what to do with this information. My complaint was that the conventional approach to contour analysis doesn't in the end reveal anything about how a piece of music seems to work and I don't see any reason why it should be taught. It's there to pad the curriculum.

Of course I have my own ideas about what contour is and how it works, and moreover I've implemented this computationally in a system that makes very interesting analyses of thousands of folksongs, & can simplify the contour of a piece in a way that preserves what it theorizes as indispensable structural features. This system is part of Jill, the listening module of my Jack & Jill composing architecture.

There was thus no implication that I'm unable to hear contour. I meant that I was tired of hearing about contour when I know that there's something much better around.
-- eliot