Why did they retain the diatonic system?

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nklshs (nklshs), Monday, 19 February 2007 18:27 (fourteen years ago) link

How is that helpful?

Moisture G Mess (The GZeus), Monday, 19 February 2007 19:45 (fourteen years ago) link

I find it clarifies things nicely. Especially the bit about dianetics.

Jubalique die Zitronen (juicefriend), Monday, 19 February 2007 20:14 (fourteen years ago) link

If you're talking about our notation system, it's based around the idea of playing in a key that has a diatonic scale associated with it, where it's assumed that any out-of-key sharps/flats are going to resolve. My guess is that as music got more and more complex harmonically, you had something like a QWERTY effect where every musician and composer was already trained to read the traditional staff (learning to sightread well takes years) and it was too much hassle to change it. Of course some composers HAVE invented their own notation systems. I'm not sure if that's what you're getting at though.

Shadowcat (A-Ron Hubbard), Monday, 19 February 2007 20:54 (fourteen years ago) link

More than the staffs, the names of the notes. Why not just go to L?
They're not written on the staffs...

Moisture G Mess (The GZeus), Monday, 19 February 2007 21:06 (fourteen years ago) link

This staff goes to L.

nklshs (nklshs), Monday, 19 February 2007 21:09 (fourteen years ago) link

I guess because it's assumed that music would be within a key and sharps and flats were defined by their relationship to the key. Also, people don't just play mechanically, and it's much easier to hear a note by its relationship to a scale than just as a point in a musical specrtum, especially if one doesn't have perfect pitch.

Shadowcat (A-Ron Hubbard), Monday, 19 February 2007 21:18 (fourteen years ago) link

There's no need to abandon scales, that's not what I'm suggesting.
What I'm saying is that the current system is convoluted and reduntant.
You take that diatonic system and transpose it a semitone and the idea of it being simplified based around a scale goes to hell.
That scale, even in another mode is not full of the sharps and/or flats that it avoided.
What of bebop scales, or the spanish 8 tone?
I was studying some music theory so I'd understand this stuff better, but when I read things like "Every scale is based on this scale" then looked at the actual relationships between notes I felt it should be addendumed "in name only."

It's like the english language: people never fixed the phonetics because they were too lazy. Well, Webster came out with a phonetic dictionary after his current usage one, but everyone had bought that one already...
LAZY.

Moisture G Mess (The GZeus), Monday, 19 February 2007 21:52 (fourteen years ago) link

People weren't anticipating atonality when the musical staff was standardized. That seems to be the answer to your larger question.

I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at with some of your other questions.

X mode in Y key is just A mode in B key. Why have two names?

Could you give an example of what you mean by this?

More than the staffs, the names of the notes. Why not just go to L?

Going out on a limb here...

First, there weren't 12 different notes used in medieval music. Second, enharmonically equivalent notes have only been interchangeable since equal temperament, and in commong practice theory they mean different things. Writing a C# can indicate an expected resolution to D, while Db will resolve to C. A performer on an instrument without fixed pitch may still perform them differently as well.

You take that diatonic system and transpose it a semitone and the idea of it being simplified based around a scale goes to hell.
That scale, even in another mode is not full of the sharps and/or flats that it avoided.
What of bebop scales, or the spanish 8 tone?

I don't follow what you're saying here at all.

The history of musical tuning and scales is convoluted, but the system continues to be used because it works well, particularly for music with functional harmony.

steve schneeberg (steve go1dberg), Monday, 19 February 2007 22:26 (fourteen years ago) link

this is like asking why the english language retained the roman alphabet, it just did because that's what was there. and 99% of the time it works fine.

fake pablo (Pablo), Monday, 19 February 2007 23:35 (fourteen years ago) link

^ otm

There's no rule that says bebop/8-note scales aren't allowed. There are accidentals all over the place in sheet music. And besides just being convention, having 7 names for notes is simply easier for people to wrap their heads around than 12.

The (modern, simplified) modal system is a bit silly, too.
X mode in Y key is just A mode in B key. Why have two names?

I like modes ;_;

step hen faps (Curt1s Stephens), Tuesday, 20 February 2007 00:20 (fourteen years ago) link

Scales in general are useful because they are units of musical expression in and of themselves. In Western music there are set patterns for which scales evoke which ideas in musical language. The mood of a piece is not determined solely on a melodic note-by-note basis - it's also the overall use of minor vs. major, diatonic vs. chromatic, etc. It is generally more effective to describe a piece in terms of its diatonic components rather than treating the scales it uses as mere subsets of the chromatic scale.

step hen faps (Curt1s Stephens), Tuesday, 20 February 2007 00:26 (fourteen years ago) link

never mind, I'm getting off base with what you're saying

step hen faps (Curt1s Stephens), Tuesday, 20 February 2007 00:29 (fourteen years ago) link

There are accidentals all over the place in sheet music. And besides just being convention, having 7 names for notes is simply easier for people to wrap their heads around than 12.

But I think the more significant point is that gzeus wants to simplify things by using a single name for enharmonic pitches (e.g. using A-L means only 12 different names for pitches, which would eliminate enharmonics), but the fact is that enharmonic pitches are not simply interchangeable.

steve schneeberg (steve go1dberg), Tuesday, 20 February 2007 00:35 (fourteen years ago) link

basically i'm saying I understand it, but i'm curious if there was any specific notable moment that they saw a chance to move forward with an alternative and then just decited to stay with the status quo.

Music is a language, and languages, especially their written forms, are often convoluted. *shrug*

We know when Webster came out with his two dictionaries, but I've never heard of any competing systems.

I'm often REALLY inarticulate.
Sorry.

Moisture G Mess (The GZeus), Tuesday, 20 February 2007 00:55 (fourteen years ago) link

Yeah. If you have a specific question about theory, maybe you could restate it succinctly, because I'm really not sure what you're asking anymore.

steve schneeberg (steve go1dberg), Tuesday, 20 February 2007 01:04 (fourteen years ago) link

from wikipedia:

History of notation of accidentals

The three principal symbols indicating whether a note should be raised or lowered in pitch are derived from variations of the letter B: the sharp and natural signs from the square "B quadratum", and the flat sign from the round "B rotundum".

In the early days of European music notation (4-line staff Gregorian chant manuscripts), only the note B could be altered (i.e. have an accidental applied to it): it could be flattened, thus moving from the hexachordum durum (i.e. the hard hexachord: G-A-B-C-D-E) where it is natural, to the hexachordum molle (i.e. the soft hexachord: F-G-A-B♭-C-D) where it is flat; the note B is not present in the third hexachord hexachordum naturale (i.e. the natural hexachord: C-D-E-F-G-A).

This long use of B as the only altered note incidentally helps explain some notational peculiarities:

* the flat sign actually derives from a round B, signifying the B of the soft hexachord, that is, B flat (hence the name of the flat sign in French "bémol" from medieval French "bé mol" — modern French "bé mou" — or "soft b") and originally meant only B♭;
* the natural sign derives from a square B, signifying the B of the hard hexachord, that is, B natural (hence the name of the natural sign in French "bécarre" from medieval French "bé carre", earlier "bé quarre" — modern French "bé carré" — or "square b") and originally meant only B natural.

In the same way, in German music notation the letter B designates B flat while the letter H, which is actually a deformation of a square B, designates B natural.

As polyphony became more complex, notes other than B needed to be altered in order to avoid undesirable harmonic or melodic intervals (especially the augmented 4th, or tritone, that music theory writers referred to as "diabolus in musica", i.e. "the devil in music"). The first sharp in use was F♯, then came the second flat E♭, then C♯, G♯, etc.; by the 16th century B♭, E♭, A♭, D♭, G♭ and F♯, C♯, G♯, D♯ and A♯ were all in use to a greater or lesser extent.

However, those accidentals were often not notated in vocal part-books (but the correct pitches were always notated in tablature). The notational practice of not marking implied accidentals, leaving them to be supplied by the performer instead, was called musica ficta (i.e. "feigned music").

fake pablo (Pablo), Tuesday, 20 February 2007 01:35 (fourteen years ago) link

This, combined w/the mention of the single tritone in diatonic vs. other 7 note scales in my second link above, is interesting in a semi to non related way:

http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/harmony/tritone.html

John Justen wheedly wheedly whee chugga chugga whee dunt dunt dunt (John Justen), Tuesday, 20 February 2007 02:13 (fourteen years ago) link

i solved this problem by never bothering to learn to read music.

just m@tt he1g3s0n (Matt Helgeson), Tuesday, 20 February 2007 02:19 (fourteen years ago) link

m@tt wins.

John Justen wheedly wheedly whee chugga chugga whee dunt dunt dunt (John Justen), Tuesday, 20 February 2007 03:28 (fourteen years ago) link


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