Re: On the Grammar of Music (Martin Braun )

Subject: Re: On the Grammar of Music
From:    Martin Braun  <nombraun(at)POST.NETLINK.SE>
Date:    Sat, 28 Apr 2001 12:02:26 +0200

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." Reply: 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. 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. Martin ----- Original Message ----- From: O.T.Furnes <oddtf(at)> To: <AUDITORY(at)LISTS.MCGILL.CA> Sent: Friday, April 27, 2001 2:43 PM Subject: Re: On the Grammar of Music

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