Posted: Jan 09, 2016 3:06 pm
by John Platko
THWOTH wrote:I've read your last post but I just want to address this point from the one before.

John Platko wrote:I like your phrase: "a lick is a base unit of musical information it can be manipulated in two significant ways: by time and by pitch."

I'm going to be building on something very close to that. Something like: a lick is a base unit of musical information that can be characterized and manipulated in three significant ways, its pitch or harmony information, its rhythm information, and its vertical pitch or simultaneous harmony information.

Pitch and harmony are two different constructs, pitch being a description of a an singular or individual tone and harmony being a description of combined pitches. The notion of an additional characteristic that you call 'vertical pitch or simultaneous harmony' is redundant here because although pitch and harmony are two different constructs and each lends musical context to the other harmony is pitch-dependent.

The components of my three dimensional entropy vector, pitch, rhythm, and vertical harmony are not redundant. They are representing how pitch differs from harmony as you described it. Perhaps I over complicated the language. I sometimes hesitate to simply use the words pitch and harmony because harmony invokes the idea of chords and that can invoke the idea of simultaneous pitches, but chords can be arpeggiated or "spread out" too. In the context of a blues lick, it is sometimes useful to think of the chord or blend of chords, or even approximate chord that the pitches in the lick contain.

So my use of "vertical harmony" is just to make clear that I mean simultaneous pitches (as opposed to arpeggiated pitches). As long as that's understood, then I'm fine with naming the components of my entropy vector: pitch, rhythm, and harmony. And harmony is, as you suggest it should be, measured in a pitch independent way, that is, the intervals between the notes are what is determining their symbol value, not the exact pitches of the notes.

'Licks' for musicians of single tone instruments (brass, woodwind etc) contain nothing but pitch and rhythm information. Licks for players of instruments that can play multiple notes (guitar, piano, violin, etc) may also contian 'harmony' in the sense of employing simultaneous note combinations,

Yes, that's what my entropy measurement should show.

but any apparent harmonic variation/manipulation occurs through pitch manipulation.

:scratch: I'm thinking you mean stings bends and the like. I've classified such manipulations as pitch changes and put them in the pitch entropy calculation. :scratch: I'll chew on that some more to see if I can understand why they should be in the harmony calculation but I'm not seeing that at the moment. Is there a reason why they have more to do with vertical harmony?

Look at the first phrase in your post here. On paper it appears to have a particular harmonic context, lent to it by the key signature and the fact that it appears to resolve to the tonic of that key, but really it's just seven pitches of a (relatively) defined duration. Play that over a Cmajor7 chord and it could work just fine (as it could over an Am7, C#m7b5, G6/9, B7b9, F+#4, G#m-major7b5 or any number of other chords), but in the end the phrase can only be manipulated by pitch (displacement or transposition) and/or by time (displacement or translocation).

I could also add one or more double stops to it and that would manipulate what I've been calling the vertical harmony. For example, after the bend, I could play the open B with the open E. That would give a bump to my harmony entropy. The vertical entropy dictionary would show two symbol types: single pitch and a P4 interval from the vertical lowest note (the exact pitches would not be registered.)

Pitch and time are the base components of music, and the context they lend to each other is generally what distinguishes 'music' from 'sound' or 'noise'. All other musical constructs can be fully described in terms of pitch and time.

Of course, whenever I say 'pitch' here what I'm really talking about is timbre, but that's a whole different thing and probably best left for another day.

I'm been talking a fair amount about harmonics in my thread on building a guitar, I'm thinking about adding a demonstration on how harmonics add to create the sound we associate with a steel string guitar.

Please don't think I'm trying to discourage you in any way, in fact quite the opposite.

I don't think that at all. I appreciate your comments and welcome sanity checks on my work. This is especially true since, for various reasons, I often prefer to come up with my own ways to think about music and that approach can be error prone and problematic. Know your comments are well welcomed and appreciated.

I'm just wanting to emphasise that you don't need to bring in or generate extraneous information to develop a skill into an art - all you need to do is play. The more hours you spend playing the better you'll get at expressing yourself, because playing is ultimately what develops, expands, deepens, populates (or whatever) your musical capacities and capabilities - what Jazz musicians call 'chops'.

I see how that makes sense for most people if the goal is to be a better musician. However, I have found that for me, improvement in playing skills ofetn comes faster with added consciousness of what I'm doing. And thinking about this, it's not just the direct application of knowledge that is helpful but the added confidence that I somehow get by that added knowledge - what I'm describing isn't completely rational but it is what it is.

But also, I'm interested in the concepts being explored by this thread. It's one thing to talk about entropy or read it in a text book or using it in a simple binary calculation and a whole different experience of the concept applying it to something like this. Likewise, there are many other technical concepts that I'm exploring in this thread, the blues just happens to be an enjoyable way for me to explore those concepts. And soon, I'll be starting on the actual heuristic and toying with constructor theory, in my own way, which will help me gain insight into what it's about. And if nothing else, it feels like a constructive way to contribute to the forum. :cheers: