Favorite Time Signatures

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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Lime » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:05 pm UTC

No, I could definitely tell that when he was doing the quarter notes he was in 3/4 and when he was doing eighths he was in 6/8, but the thing is, both of them have the same amount of note values. If you put 6 eighth notes inside a bar of 3/4, the bar is filled up properly. You can't argue against that.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby achan1058 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:32 am UTC

Lime wrote:No, I could definitely tell that when he was doing the quarter notes he was in 3/4 and when he was doing eighths he was in 6/8, but the thing is, both of them have the same amount of note values. If you put 6 eighth notes inside a bar of 3/4, the bar is filled up properly. You can't argue against that.
Yes, but this is as meaningful as redrawing the bar lines of Rite of Spring into 4/4's.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby uncivlengr » Wed Mar 02, 2011 3:15 am UTC

Lime wrote:No, I could definitely tell that when he was doing the quarter notes he was in 3/4 and when he was doing eighths he was in 6/8, but the thing is, both of them have the same amount of note values. If you put 6 eighth notes inside a bar of 3/4, the bar is filled up properly. You can't argue against that.
Six eighth notes in a bar of 3/4 would be beamed into three groups of two. In 6/8, they'd be beamed as two groups of three. This grouping reflects the rhythmic pattern of the bar of music. They aren't the same.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Lime » Wed Mar 02, 2011 3:37 am UTC

uncivlengr wrote:
Lime wrote:No, I could definitely tell that when he was doing the quarter notes he was in 3/4 and when he was doing eighths he was in 6/8, but the thing is, both of them have the same amount of note values. If you put 6 eighth notes inside a bar of 3/4, the bar is filled up properly. You can't argue against that.
Six eighth notes in a bar of 3/4 would be beamed into three groups of two. In 6/8, they'd be beamed as two groups of three. This grouping reflects the rhythmic pattern of the bar of music. They aren't the same.

I know that, and if it were being played in band class or something, that would matter, but to the average listener, there's little difference. And with things like triplet groupings, the line becomes even less clear. And what about then you're not just using straight eighth notes? What I'm saying is that yes, there is a difference, but the difference is small enough that either time signature would be fine.

If you were playing a piece with three groups of two eighth notes per bar, and it was in 6/8 time, would you really stop and mention it to your conductor?
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby achan1058 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:26 am UTC

Lime wrote:
uncivlengr wrote:
Lime wrote:No, I could definitely tell that when he was doing the quarter notes he was in 3/4 and when he was doing eighths he was in 6/8, but the thing is, both of them have the same amount of note values. If you put 6 eighth notes inside a bar of 3/4, the bar is filled up properly. You can't argue against that.
Six eighth notes in a bar of 3/4 would be beamed into three groups of two. In 6/8, they'd be beamed as two groups of three. This grouping reflects the rhythmic pattern of the bar of music. They aren't the same.

I know that, and if it were being played in band class or something, that would matter, but to the average listener, there's little difference. And with things like triplet groupings, the line becomes even less clear. And what about then you're not just using straight eighth notes? What I'm saying is that yes, there is a difference, but the difference is small enough that either time signature would be fine.

If you were playing a piece with three groups of two eighth notes per bar, and it was in 6/8 time, would you really stop and mention it to your conductor?
No, since it's the conductor's job to tell you that it should be treated like 3/4 and accented that way. If they can't even do that, you should stop and mention it to the person hiring to get him fired. :twisted:
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby SirMustapha » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:45 pm UTC

Lime wrote:I know that, and if it were being played in band class or something, that would matter, but to the average listener, there's little difference.


So you're saying that the "average listener" cannot tell the difference between the rhythms of the blues and the waltz?

I think you're underestimating the average listener.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby uncivlengr » Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:50 pm UTC

Lime wrote:I know that, and if it were being played in band class or something, that would matter, but to the average listener, there's little difference. And with things like triplet groupings, the line becomes even less clear. And what about then you're not just using straight eighth notes? What I'm saying is that yes, there is a difference, but the difference is small enough that either time signature would be fine.
Forget the sheet music - if you were tapping your foot to a song in 6/8, you'd be tapping two times every measure. If it were in 3/4, you'd be tapping three times. That's a fundamental difference to the rhythm of the music, and therefore an important distinction to make to the player reading the music and/or the conductor leading the band.

Triplets are three notes in the space of two - that line is clear, too, and that doesn't change the time signature.

If you were playing a piece with three groups of two eighth notes per bar, and it was in 6/8 time, would you really stop and mention it to your conductor?
I wouldn't be playing a piece by a composer that didn't understand time signatures, so that would never happen.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:48 pm UTC

SirMustapha wrote:
Lime wrote:I know that, and if it were being played in band class or something, that would matter, but to the average listener, there's little difference.


So you're saying that the "average listener" cannot tell the difference between the rhythms of the blues and the waltz?

I think you're underestimating the average listener.

That's quite a feat! Congrats!
achan1058 wrote:
Lime wrote:Sounds like it's all 3/4 or 6/8 I mean, sure musically speaking you want to put the piece into whatever time signature fits the strong beats and whatnot, but to the average listener, 3/4 and 6/8 sound identical. Even someone like me, who has a hobby in music and knows basic music theory would just think of that song as all in one time signature.
If that's the case, then either:
a) The performance is subpar.
b) You have bad rhythm recognition.
I would say a bit of both, since the performance isn't so bad that you can't recognize the different at all, even if it isn't easy. While you shouldn't necessary know the difference between 3/4 and 6/8, you should be able to detect a change in stress between bars. Like, you should know something's different/special/does not sound all the same, even if you can't tell what/why/which method they use to do it.

Also, while you can indeed fit EVERYTHING into 4/4 (even the Sacrificial Dance of Rite of Spring, which someone has tried before), it generally is not a good idea, since will completely confuse the performers.

You CAN transpose everything into F#, but good luck getting anyone to play your version
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby uncivlengr » Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:01 pm UTC

Yeah, the listener can't hear key signatures, why do we even bother with them?

Putting this silliness aside, I've been listening to "Shake it Out" by Manchester Orchestra, and I find the last section interesting (Youtube Link for reference, skipping to just before the relevent part)*

It's interesting because it alternates between 7-beat and 8-beat groupings (two bars of 4/4 and then one bar each of 3/4 and 4/4), but in this case it's the "common" 4/4 time that sounds to me like it's got an extra beat, rather than the reverse. Anyway I didn't describe that well but it's apparent in the song.

* as an aside, the whole video is pretty funny - Andy Hull makes for a surprisingly convincing trucker.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Lime » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:29 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:
Lime wrote:I know that, and if it were being played in band class or something, that would matter, but to the average listener, there's little difference. And with things like triplet groupings, the line becomes even less clear. And what about then you're not just using straight eighth notes? What I'm saying is that yes, there is a difference, but the difference is small enough that either time signature would be fine.
Forget the sheet music - if you were tapping your foot to a song in 6/8, you'd be tapping two times every measure. If it were in 3/4, you'd be tapping three times. That's a fundamental difference to the rhythm of the music, and therefore an important distinction to make to the player reading the music and/or the conductor leading the band.

Triplets are three notes in the space of two - that line is clear, too, and that doesn't change the time signature.

If you were playing a piece with three groups of two eighth notes per bar, and it was in 6/8 time, would you really stop and mention it to your conductor?
I wouldn't be playing a piece by a composer that didn't understand time signatures, so that would never happen.

I'd be tapping my foot 6 times per measure in 6/8. And if every note in that bar of 6/8 was a quarter note, then I would probably would tap it three times. Tell me, if you're listening to a piece of music, can you honestly tell the difference between 3 quarter notes in 3/4 and 6/8? Here's a more clear example of what I was talking about earlier- I once played a piece in 12/8 where EVERY SINGLE NOTE was dotted. There was not a single one without a dot. I just counted it in 4/4 and ignored the dots, because the composer has convoluted it for no particular reason. Could you tell the difference between 4 dotted quarter notes in 12/8 and 4 quarter notes in 4/4?
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Lime » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:33 pm UTC

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:
SirMustapha wrote:
Lime wrote:I know that, and if it were being played in band class or something, that would matter, but to the average listener, there's little difference.


So you're saying that the "average listener" cannot tell the difference between the rhythms of the blues and the waltz?

I think you're underestimating the average listener.

That's quite a feat! Congrats!
achan1058 wrote:
Lime wrote:Sounds like it's all 3/4 or 6/8 I mean, sure musically speaking you want to put the piece into whatever time signature fits the strong beats and whatnot, but to the average listener, 3/4 and 6/8 sound identical. Even someone like me, who has a hobby in music and knows basic music theory would just think of that song as all in one time signature.
If that's the case, then either:
a) The performance is subpar.
b) You have bad rhythm recognition.
I would say a bit of both, since the performance isn't so bad that you can't recognize the different at all, even if it isn't easy. While you shouldn't necessary know the difference between 3/4 and 6/8, you should be able to detect a change in stress between bars. Like, you should know something's different/special/does not sound all the same, even if you can't tell what/why/which method they use to do it.

Also, while you can indeed fit EVERYTHING into 4/4 (even the Sacrificial Dance of Rite of Spring, which someone has tried before), it generally is not a good idea, since will completely confuse the performers.

You CAN transpose everything into F#, but good luck getting anyone to play your version

I played in a musical last year, the Wizard of Oz. It was filled with C-Flats and E-sharps, and there was a piece where every single B had a flat next to it, even though the key signature called for it to be natural. You're telling me that stuff couldn't have been simplified?
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby achan1058 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:46 pm UTC

Lime wrote:I'd be tapping my foot 6 times per measure in 6/8. And if every note in that bar of 6/8 was a quarter note, then I would probably would tap it three times. Tell me, if you're listening to a piece of music, can you honestly tell the difference between 3 quarter notes in 3/4 and 6/8? Here's a more clear example of what I was talking about earlier- I once played a piece in 12/8 where EVERY SINGLE NOTE was dotted. There was not a single one without a dot. I just counted it in 4/4 and ignored the dots, because the composer has convoluted it for no particular reason. Could you tell the difference between 4 dotted quarter notes in 12/8 and 4 quarter notes in 4/4?
Try playing a fast 6/8 like this, fast enough that you can't tap your feel 6 times, see whether you tap your beat once every 2 note, or once every 3 note. I suspect you will do the latter. That being said, I can definitely tell the difference between 3/4 and 6/8 no problem at all. If you ask me about 2/4 in triplets vs 6/8, that's another story all together, because that's how 6/8 is supposed to feel, and it should not feel like 3/4 no matter what. As for 12/8 vs 4/4, no, you should not be able to tell the difference. The reason for writing 12/8 is usually convenience. It's either you seeing dotted quarters all day long vs the other guys seeing triplets all day long.
Lime wrote:I played in a musical last year, the Wizard of Oz. It was filled with C-Flats and E-sharps, and there was a piece where every single B had a flat next to it, even though the key signature called for it to be natural. You're telling me that stuff couldn't have been simplified?
Depends. If your key signature has sharps, you can't put a B-flat in the signature as well. It's just a little annoying historical thing (well, it actually have to do with major/minor tonality and such, but clearly it doesn't apply to C20 music). As for C-flats and E-sharps, it's harder to read F/F#/F/F# alternating than E#/F#/E#/F#.
cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:
achan1058 wrote:Also, while you can indeed fit EVERYTHING into 4/4 (even the Sacrificial Dance of Rite of Spring, which someone has tried before), it generally is not a good idea, since will completely confuse the performers.

You CAN transpose everything into F#, but good luck getting anyone to play your version
That got me thinking. How bad would the score look if I just shove the key signature of F#+ on it, then redraw the bar lines into 4/4?
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Lime » Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:22 pm UTC

achan1058 wrote:
Lime wrote:I'd be tapping my foot 6 times per measure in 6/8. And if every note in that bar of 6/8 was a quarter note, then I would probably would tap it three times. Tell me, if you're listening to a piece of music, can you honestly tell the difference between 3 quarter notes in 3/4 and 6/8? Here's a more clear example of what I was talking about earlier- I once played a piece in 12/8 where EVERY SINGLE NOTE was dotted. There was not a single one without a dot. I just counted it in 4/4 and ignored the dots, because the composer has convoluted it for no particular reason. Could you tell the difference between 4 dotted quarter notes in 12/8 and 4 quarter notes in 4/4?
Try playing a fast 6/8 like this, fast enough that you can't tap your feel 6 times, see whether you tap your beat once every 2 note, or once every 3 note. I suspect you will do the latter. That being said, I can definitely tell the difference between 3/4 and 6/8 no problem at all. If you ask me about 2/4 in triplets vs 6/8, that's another story all together, because that's how 6/8 is supposed to feel, and it should not feel like 3/4 no matter what. As for 12/8 vs 4/4, no, you should not be able to tell the difference. The reason for writing 12/8 is usually convenience. It's either you seeing dotted quarters all day long vs the other guys seeing triplets all day long.
Lime wrote:I played in a musical last year, the Wizard of Oz. It was filled with C-Flats and E-sharps, and there was a piece where every single B had a flat next to it, even though the key signature called for it to be natural. You're telling me that stuff couldn't have been simplified?
Depends. If your key signature has sharps, you can't put a B-flat in the signature as well. It's just a little annoying historical thing (well, it actually have to do with major/minor tonality and such, but clearly it doesn't apply to C20 music). As for C-flats and E-sharps, it's harder to read F/F#/F/F# alternating than E#/F#/E#/F#.
cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:
achan1058 wrote:Also, while you can indeed fit EVERYTHING into 4/4 (even the Sacrificial Dance of Rite of Spring, which someone has tried before), it generally is not a good idea, since will completely confuse the performers.

You CAN transpose everything into F#, but good luck getting anyone to play your version
That got me thinking. How bad would the score look if I just shove the key signature of F#+ on it, then redraw the bar lines into 4/4?

That piece feels like it's in 2/4 to me, but I guess that's the point you made shortly after that. So then rephrase my original statement- 12/8 is just 4/4, 6/8 is just 2/4, ect. Why do those exist? Just for "convenience"? It's not particularly difficult to do triplets. I personally find it's easier to count triplets than count anything in 12/8. And you ignored the otehr part of my question- what about if you were to just put 3 quarter notes in a bar of 6/8? How would that sound any different from a bar of 3/4?

And as for the whole "can't put flats and sharps together," that's another thing I don't like. There's no reason not to, save for the word of some musician a few hundred years ago. And I personally find it a lot easier to read F/F#/F/F# alternating than E#/F#/E#/F#, because I never USE E#. Every time I see it in music, I have a double take.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby achan1058 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:40 pm UTC

Lime wrote:That piece feels like it's in 2/4 to me, but I guess that's the point you made shortly after that. So then rephrase my original statement- 12/8 is just 4/4, 6/8 is just 2/4, ect. Why do those exist? Just for "convenience"? It's not particularly difficult to do triplets. I personally find it's easier to count triplets than count anything in 12/8. And you ignored the otehr part of my question- what about if you were to just put 3 quarter notes in a bar of 6/8? How would that sound any different from a bar of 3/4?
Having the whole piece in triplets is definitely annoying. It's better now since computer software can draw the beaming and the 3 above the notes. Still, if the whole piece is say 4/4 with triplets, you are still seeing 12 eighth notes in a bar, except you have extra beaming and 3's on top, and will exactly look like the 12/8 except for the time signature. As for the 3 quarter notes in a bar of 6/8. Nobody (hopefully) does that to the whole piece. It's defeating the purpose of the 2/4 feel. It's like you are asking me to draw a triplet of quarter, 2 eighths, then a quarter, then tie them so that sound like 2 ordinary quarter notes.

Lime wrote:And as for the whole "can't put flats and sharps together," that's another thing I don't like. There's no reason not to, save for the word of some musician a few hundred years ago. And I personally find it a lot easier to read F/F#/F/F# alternating than E#/F#/E#/F#, because I never USE E#. Every time I see it in music, I have a double take.
The key signature tells you what key the piece is in. If I read say 1 sharp in the key signature, then I will instinctively say that the piece is in G major or E minor, then I check for the accidentals and focus note to determine which key is it in. Very important for pieces which does have a key (which is most pieces). Not so important for ones that doesn't (ie. Schoenberg). The reason that you don't have both sharps and flats in a key signature is because it doesn't correspond to a key. In fact, it is impossible to have both sharps and flats in the key signature, then write 8 ascending notes (without accidentals), and have a major scale coming out of it, no matter what you do. Perhaps if I can see a section of the score of what you are playing I can tell you more about whether it is a good use. Also, once you get used to the different keys enough, reading F/F#/F/F# is quite hard compared to E#/F#/E#/F#, especially if both the E# and F# are in the key signature. (ex. F#+)
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby uncivlengr » Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:15 am UTC

Lime wrote:I'd be tapping my foot 6 times per measure in 6/8.
No, you wouldn't; that would be 6/4.

Lime wrote:That piece feels like it's in 2/4 to me, but I guess that's the point you made shortly after that. So then rephrase my original statement- 12/8 is just 4/4, 6/8 is just 2/4, ect. Why do those exist? Just for "convenience"? It's not particularly difficult to do triplets.
It is more difficult to add triplets everywhere then to make one change to the time signature - that's a bunch of extra notation in each bar as opposed to one change to the time signature.

That's why we have time signatures and key signatures, to reduce the amount of notation the player needs to pay attention to. Call that a matter of "convenience" if you like, but they exist for a reason.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:15 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:
Lime wrote:I'd be tapping my foot 6 times per measure in 6/8.
No, you wouldn't; that would be 6/4.

Or a really slow 6/8.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Sandry » Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:02 pm UTC

Lime wrote:And as for the whole "can't put flats and sharps together," that's another thing I don't like. There's no reason not to, save for the word of some musician a few hundred years ago. And I personally find it a lot easier to read F/F#/F/F# alternating than E#/F#/E#/F#, because I never USE E#. Every time I see it in music, I have a double take.

Actually, to be rather more technical about it, it's not a random rule, it's about conveying leading tones accurately, most of the time. IE "F" is not a leading tone to F#, but E# is. We're actually told to play F and E# differently (which I'm guessing you won't credit either) because contextually they have different meanings, and historically music was not even tempered, so leading tones did have different intonation.

That said, though, the set of rules for tonality that involve those distinctions don't apply to 20th century stuff where you aren't playing a leading tone to move to the tonic and instead you're playing serialism or whatever. But in those scores I've always seen a mix of accidentals.

Aaaaanyhow.

There are many, many interpretation pieces in music, and if the composer is writing at the least level of subtlety possible, you're going to end up with conductors and musicians who interpret the music radically differently than the composer intended, or missing the subtlety altogether. But there *are* musicans, composers and audiences who can appreciate these subtleties, so erasing them is no favour.

I mean, do I get the significance of what artists are doing with brushstrokes in the vast majority of paintings? Hells no. Do I think artists (and their paintings) need to stop being nuanced because I'm not able to appreciate their effort? No. Why would I want to deprive people who *do* appreciate it?

Oh, and so to answer the original topic - I love most anything in 3, but I also really enjoy mixed meter and compound meters. They make the music move so differently (and to me, compellingly). This is not to say that four four doesn't have its place, but it's certainly not a way to make anyone sit up and take notice. Things in five and seven particularly make me happy, or things with hemiola. Also, within more normal time signatures, anything syncopated also tends to catch my ear in a happy way.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Lime » Sat Mar 05, 2011 5:03 am UTC

achan1058 wrote:The key signature tells you what key the piece is in. If I read say 1 sharp in the key signature, then I will instinctively say that the piece is in G major or E minor, then I check for the accidentals and focus note to determine which key is it in. Very important for pieces which does have a key (which is most pieces). Not so important for ones that doesn't (ie. Schoenberg). The reason that you don't have both sharps and flats in a key signature is because it doesn't correspond to a key. In fact, it is impossible to have both sharps and flats in the key signature, then write 8 ascending notes (without accidentals), and have a major scale coming out of it, no matter what you do. Perhaps if I can see a section of the score of what you are playing I can tell you more about whether it is a good use. Also, once you get used to the different keys enough, reading F/F#/F/F# is quite hard compared to E#/F#/E#/F#, especially if both the E# and F# are in the key signature. (ex. F#+)

Ab, A#, C, C#, D#, F, G, Ab.

Now, I know what you're going to say. You can't have two A notes in a scale and not have a B. But why not? Because some European guy with a white wig 300 years ago says so. In the Partch Scale there are 43 pitches per octave. I remember reading about an eastern style with 20-something notes per octave, though I can't for the life of me remember which country. What I'm saying is western music theory is just a bunch of rules made up to help explain music developed by a lot of people over a long time. It's very well developed and accurate, and very good to know about. But music isn't music because it fits the rules of Western music. Music is music because it's music. Aside from playing needlessly complicated pieces in band class, I constantly hear some prog-metalhead telling me about this awesome Dream Theatre song in 19/8 or whatever. It just smacks of unwarranted superiority. And when someone tells me that 3 quarter notes DOESN'T fill up a bar of 6/8, because some European in a white wig says so, I get the same sense.

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:
uncivlengr wrote:
Lime wrote:I'd be tapping my foot 6 times per measure in 6/8.
No, you wouldn't; that would be 6/4.

Or a really slow 6/8.

Or I'm tapping my foot pretty fast.

Sandry wrote:
Lime wrote:And as for the whole "can't put flats and sharps together," that's another thing I don't like. There's no reason not to, save for the word of some musician a few hundred years ago. And I personally find it a lot easier to read F/F#/F/F# alternating than E#/F#/E#/F#, because I never USE E#. Every time I see it in music, I have a double take.

Actually, to be rather more technical about it, it's not a random rule, it's about conveying leading tones accurately, most of the time. IE "F" is not a leading tone to F#, but E# is. We're actually told to play F and E# differently (which I'm guessing you won't credit either) because contextually they have different meanings, and historically music was not even tempered, so leading tones did have different intonation.

That said, though, the set of rules for tonality that involve those distinctions don't apply to 20th century stuff where you aren't playing a leading tone to move to the tonic and instead you're playing serialism or whatever. But in those scores I've always seen a mix of accidentals.

Aaaaanyhow.

There are many, many interpretation pieces in music, and if the composer is writing at the least level of subtlety possible, you're going to end up with conductors and musicians who interpret the music radically differently than the composer intended, or missing the subtlety altogether. But there *are* musicans, composers and audiences who can appreciate these subtleties, so erasing them is no favour.

I mean, do I get the significance of what artists are doing with brushstrokes in the vast majority of paintings? Hells no. Do I think artists (and their paintings) need to stop being nuanced because I'm not able to appreciate their effort? No. Why would I want to deprive people who *do* appreciate it?

This is a really good answer. I completely understand where you're coming from. See, when I play a piece in band class, I just count out how many beats are in a bar and divide my notes amongst them properly. I don't do this "tap your foot this way and play on this foot tap" thing, because for the most part, unless it's an absurdly difficult piece, I can work it out as I play it. The exception here is some jazz songs, which I mostly improvise anyway because I play bass and guitar. For those who don't play jazz guitar, in 9/10 songs, they give you chords and tell you to make it up, more or less. For that piece posted earlier, I tapped at a steady 3/4 pace, even when it "switched" to 6/8, because that's how I take in music. I suppose there are nuances for those who appreciate them, though, and I should leave it at that.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby achan1058 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:24 am UTC

Lime wrote:Ab, A#, C, C#, D#, F, G, Ab.

Now, I know what you're going to say. You can't have two A notes in a scale and not have a B. But why not? Because some European guy with a white wig 300 years ago says so. In the Partch Scale there are 43 pitches per octave. I remember reading about an eastern style with 20-something notes per octave, though I can't for the life of me remember which country. What I'm saying is western music theory is just a bunch of rules made up to help explain music developed by a lot of people over a long time. It's very well developed and accurate, and very good to know about. But music isn't music because it fits the rules of Western music. Music is music because it's music. Aside from playing needlessly complicated pieces in band class, I constantly hear some prog-metalhead telling me about this awesome Dream Theatre song in 19/8 or whatever. It just smacks of unwarranted superiority. And when someone tells me that 3 quarter notes DOESN'T fill up a bar of 6/8, because some European in a white wig says so, I get the same sense.
And they make it up this way for a good reason. Yes, there are music that do not follow the 12 semitone system, and yes, for that kind of music, you should not be using the staff. But, I am sure most of your band pieces do use the 12 semitones of western music, and for that system, what I said is perfectly logical, and not arbitrary at all. Having 2 A's representing 2 different notes in a Ab+ scale is a pain to read, period. I don't know about you, but I can glance at a key signature and know the key, and it helps sight reading drastically. It also helps you to transpose, especially when there aren't too many accidentals. Most musicians can do this too, and breaking these conventions is just asking for trouble. Unusual key signatures do exist, from certain 20th century classical composers. There's a good reason why it never caught on.

Anyways, your example still doesn't do what I said. Without using accidentals, can you write a major scale with a key signature that involves both sharps and flats? (clearly yours doesn't, since you either need an A# or an Ab)

Also, no, the reason you don't put 3 quarter notes in 6/8 and treat it as 3/4 is not a sense of superiority. It's a way of avoiding confusion. It's like notations in math, science, and many other subjects. A common rule is made so that people speak the same language. If you have ever tried reading a physicist's or an engineer's paper as a mathematician, you will understand.

I should finally add that "some European in a white wig says so" is rather insulting. Musical notation was not decided overnight, but evolved over many, many years.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:33 am UTC

Sandry wrote: We're actually told to play F and E# differently (which I'm guessing you won't credit either) because contextually they have different meanings, and historically music was not even tempered, so leading tones did have different intonation.

Are you talking about different string fingerings for E and Fb?
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby uncivlengr » Mon Mar 07, 2011 2:32 pm UTC

See temperament and just intonation.

In short, the notes E, Fb, and D## (for example) are all identical in equal temperament, but not in other intonations.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Sandry » Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:11 pm UTC

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:
Sandry wrote: We're actually told to play F and E# differently (which I'm guessing you won't credit either) because contextually they have different meanings, and historically music was not even tempered, so leading tones did have different intonation.

Are you talking about different string fingerings for E and Fb?

Nah, I'm not a string player. Predominantly I'm a flutist, but we're actually supposed to adjust intonation (using embouchure and breath) depending on context so that if you recorded me playing an F major scale, then recorded me playing an F# major scale, theoretically speaking my tonic on the F scale (of whichever octave is the correct match) is not going to be the same exact pitch as my leading tone E# on my F# scale if you were to play them in isolation one after the other.

If you actually forced me to do this in practice, I am not certain I would get it, though! I've spent way less time on this than arguably I ought to have.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby ++$_ » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:37 am UTC

Another example is to compare a German augmented 6th chord with the enharmonic dominant 7th. The chords sound exactly the same when played on the piano, but are distinct when played on instruments that allow for it.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Dirk » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:23 pm UTC

Sandry wrote:
cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:
Sandry wrote: We're actually told to play F and E# differently (which I'm guessing you won't credit either) because contextually they have different meanings, and historically music was not even tempered, so leading tones did have different intonation.

Are you talking about different string fingerings for E and Fb?

Nah, I'm not a string player. Predominantly I'm a flutist, but we're actually supposed to adjust intonation (using embouchure and breath) depending on context so that if you recorded me playing an F major scale, then recorded me playing an F# major scale, theoretically speaking my tonic on the F scale (of whichever octave is the correct match) is not going to be the same exact pitch as my leading tone E# on my F# scale if you were to play them in isolation one after the other.

If you actually forced me to do this in practice, I am not certain I would get it, though! I've spent way less time on this than arguably I ought to have.


Amazing!

I've always wondered, can you really notice the difference when playing together with a pianist? I mean the difference between his notes and yours.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Роберт » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:40 pm UTC

Dirk wrote:I've always wondered, can you really notice the difference when playing together with a pianist? I mean the difference between his notes and yours.

It would be a few cents off, so it's not a big deal. Pianos are a pain to tune so they often don't get tuned enough anyway and the precision can be low enough that it wouldn't matter. It is a noticeable difference in theory.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Midnight » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:38 pm UTC

In theory and in electronic music, cause an E above A440 should be 660, but it isn't... but in electronic music you can do that.

However, as I recall, humans only detect pitch differences when it's 5 or so cents off, so there usually aren't too many problems.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Sandry » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:50 pm UTC

Dirk wrote:I've always wondered, can you really notice the difference when playing together with a pianist? I mean the difference between his notes and yours.

Unlikely to be noticed. I mean, definitely there have been discussions of "okay, look, I know your third in this chord is a C and you're playing it as a C in tune, but you need to pull it up in pitch a bit to make the total group intonation work better for this chord," but um. I don't think the general public in later listening to the work in question was thinking to themselves during the performance, "I'm glad they pulled the pitch on that third of the chord up, that sounded great!"

The idea is that the end result is supposed to sound right within the framework of the tonality and chords you're hearing, so presumably not noticing anything means you've done it right.

And if I'm playing that C against a tempered piano where it's clearly not going to be raised a few cents, then yeah, see Роберт's answer. I really think a lot of this is more theoretical than used in practice terribly often. When I've heard/seen it this sort of thing exercised, it's either been a) as a theoretical examination of an idea, or b) we were just sounding that out of tune as a group, and the conductor was trying to juxtapose a truly ideal situation against what we had been doing.

In general, though, I am probably not a good enough serious musician (being a non-professional), so grain of salt me please!
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby phlip » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:52 pm UTC

Midnight wrote:In theory and in electronic music, cause an E above A440 should be 660, but it isn't... but in electronic music you can do that.

However, as I recall, humans only detect pitch differences when it's 5 or so cents off, so there usually aren't too many problems.

In equal temperament, 660Hz would be E5 plus about 2 cents (log2(1.5)*12 = 7.0195500086538747... semitones above A4)... as you say, less than humans can hear the difference. 660Hz would be a true perfect fifth above 440Hz, but equal temperament is close enough for government work.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Dirk » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:57 am UTC

So, the audience doesn't really notice.

But do you notice it yourself when playing with a pianist?
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby gaius » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:19 pm UTC

achan1058 wrote:The key signature tells you what key the piece is in. If I read say 1 sharp in the key signature, then I will instinctively say that the piece is in G major or E minor, then I check for the accidentals and focus note to determine which key is it in. Very important for pieces which does have a key (which is most pieces). Not so important for ones that doesn't (ie. Schoenberg). The reason that you don't have both sharps and flats in a key signature is because it doesn't correspond to a key. In fact, it is impossible to have both sharps and flats in the key signature, then write 8 ascending notes (without accidentals), and have a major scale coming out of it, no matter what you do.)
This is simply not true. For example, many melodic minor scales have both sharps and flats. I have seen sheet music by 20th century composers using this. Even when strictly adhering to pre-20th century European music theory, 1 sharp can easily be A dorian (very common in jazz) or any of the other church ladders. Personally, I just don't really care when I write music, so I just use whatever is easier to me - whether it adheres to classical music theory or not :)
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby achan1058 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:06 pm UTC

gaius wrote:
achan1058 wrote:The key signature tells you what key the piece is in. If I read say 1 sharp in the key signature, then I will instinctively say that the piece is in G major or E minor, then I check for the accidentals and focus note to determine which key is it in. Very important for pieces which does have a key (which is most pieces). Not so important for ones that doesn't (ie. Schoenberg). The reason that you don't have both sharps and flats in a key signature is because it doesn't correspond to a key. In fact, it is impossible to have both sharps and flats in the key signature, then write 8 ascending notes (without accidentals), and have a major scale coming out of it, no matter what you do.)
This is simply not true. For example, many melodic minor scales have both sharps and flats. I have seen sheet music by 20th century composers using this. Even when strictly adhering to pre-20th century European music theory, 1 sharp can easily be A dorian (very common in jazz) or any of the other church ladders. Personally, I just don't really care when I write music, so I just use whatever is easier to me - whether it adheres to classical music theory or not :)
What is not true? Harmonic/melodic minors have sharps and flats in the scale, but you write them as accidentals. This is particularly true for melodic minor, since you are sharping going up, and not sharping going down (most of the time). If you are talking about church modes, the key signature still tells a good deal. Once you find the tonic, you automatically know what mode it is in.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby gaius » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:23 pm UTC

I was educated in jazz music, where you normally use only the "ascending" melodic minor ladder. For example: what I call G melodic minor has a B flat and an F sharp. But if you free your mind, you can devise crazy ladders at will, and if done well (not something I'm really good at myself, unfortunately) they can sound really really nice and "out". Anyhow, as long as the scale fits the music, there is nothing against using any combination of sharps and flats in a key signature if you ask me (except that overly classically-trained musicians might have to just a little).
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby ++$_ » Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:16 am UTC

phlip wrote:
Midnight wrote:In theory and in electronic music, cause an E above A440 should be 660, but it isn't... but in electronic music you can do that.

However, as I recall, humans only detect pitch differences when it's 5 or so cents off, so there usually aren't too many problems.

In equal temperament, 660Hz would be E5 plus about 2 cents (log2(1.5)*12 = 7.0195500086538747... semitones above A4)... as you say, less than humans can hear the difference. 660Hz would be a true perfect fifth above 440Hz, but equal temperament is close enough for government work.
Only when it comes to perfect fifths, though. The difference is >13 cents with the major third, and >15 cents with the minor third.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:58 pm UTC

++$_ wrote:
phlip wrote:
Midnight wrote:In theory and in electronic music, cause an E above A440 should be 660, but it isn't... but in electronic music you can do that.

However, as I recall, humans only detect pitch differences when it's 5 or so cents off, so there usually aren't too many problems.

In equal temperament, 660Hz would be E5 plus about 2 cents (log2(1.5)*12 = 7.0195500086538747... semitones above A4)... as you say, less than humans can hear the difference. 660Hz would be a true perfect fifth above 440Hz, but equal temperament is close enough for government work.
Only when it comes to perfect fifths, though. The difference is >13 cents with the major third, and >15 cents with the minor third.

I read somewhere that people compensate on equally-tempered instruments when playing enharmonic by playing flat notes slightly softer than the enharmonic sharp, because it has a mellower sound
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Dirk » Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:03 pm UTC

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:
++$_ wrote:
phlip wrote:
Midnight wrote:In theory and in electronic music, cause an E above A440 should be 660, but it isn't... but in electronic music you can do that.

However, as I recall, humans only detect pitch differences when it's 5 or so cents off, so there usually aren't too many problems.

In equal temperament, 660Hz would be E5 plus about 2 cents (log2(1.5)*12 = 7.0195500086538747... semitones above A4)... as you say, less than humans can hear the difference. 660Hz would be a true perfect fifth above 440Hz, but equal temperament is close enough for government work.
Only when it comes to perfect fifths, though. The difference is >13 cents with the major third, and >15 cents with the minor third.

I read somewhere that people compensate on equally-tempered instruments when playing enharmonic by playing flat notes slightly softer than the enharmonic sharp, because it has a mellower sound

Might that explain why I like almost all of Chopin's songs in C# or F# and also none in C/F ? :mrgreen:
It's a pattern I started to see after a while when getting into Chopin a lot
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby ++$_ » Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:26 am UTC

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:I read somewhere that people compensate on equally-tempered instruments when playing enharmonic by playing flat notes slightly softer than the enharmonic sharp, because it has a mellower sound
This isn't really true, but I guess there's a grain of truth.

Take a specific example, like Eb/D#. Let's look at the role these notes play in various common keys:

Db: Eb is the supertonic; D# is foreign
Ab: Eb is dominant; D# is foreign
Eb: Eb is tonic; D# is really, really foreign
Bb: Eb is subdominant; D# is foreign
F: Eb is the subtonic (in f minor); D# foreign
C: Eb is the mediant of the minor; D# is foreign
G: Eb is the submediant of the minor; D# is used in the augmented 6th chord but is still basically foreign
D: Eb is the root of the Neapolitan; D# is still pretty much foreign
A: Eb is foreign; D# is the leading tone of V
E: Eb is foreign; D# is the leading tone
B: Eb is foreign; D# is the mediant

What you'll notice is that Eb is diatonic in most of the keys, while D# is chromatic in most of them. Chances are that if the composer went to all that trouble to put in a chromatic tone, it's there for a reason and should be treated specially (possibly accentuated, depending on the context).

The situation is even more biased when it comes to Bb/A#, F/E#, and C/B#.

As you go in the other direction (to Ab/G#, Db/C#, Gb/F#, and Cb/B), the sharp becomes diatonic in more and more keys. Also, in minor, the sharp is more likely to be diatonic, because you will have keys like F# and C# minor with lots of sharps.

Basically, what I'm saying is that the important thing is whether the tone is diatonic or chromatic, not whether it is written with a sharp or a flat. Sometimes sharps are chromatic (in particular, D#, A#, ... tend to be) and other times the flats are (in particular, Db, Gb, ...). This is what influences how they are played, rather than the identity of the symbol next to the note. Heck, if you are in C# minor and you have a C natural, that is chromatic and should be interpreted as such -- not thought of as a white-bread C, or as the diatonic leading tone B#.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Dream » Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:10 am UTC

Dirk wrote:Might that explain why I like almost all of Chopin's songs in C# or F# and also none in C/F ? :mrgreen:
It's a pattern I started to see after a while when getting into Chopin a lot
Maybe Chopin used different keys for situations when he was addressing different problems, and the problems you like his answers to are in only one of those keys?
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby DavidSpencer » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:23 am UTC

e/pi? (not really)
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Keakealani » Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:21 pm UTC

I am terrible with rhythm, so I am definitely fond of the simple ones when it comes to reading music. But in my own idealized conceptual world (that is, the one where I write music that other people can read, but I don't have to) I particularly like odd divisions of standard meters. Like 8/8 divided 3 + 3 + 2 is a fun one - sang one piece in 3/2 that was 3 + 3 + 2 + 2 + 2 (eighth notes) which was pretty nifty. I tend to like meters with an extra beat attached - so things like 5/8 (4 + 1) or 7/8 (3 + 3 + 1 or 2 + 2 + 2 + 1) are fun, just because I like lulling you into the false sense that it's going to be a simple meter, then all of a sudden an extra beat pops out. Particularly effective when actually mixed into the "standard" meter - that is, a whole bunch of measures of 3/4 with the occasional 2 + 2 + 2 + 1 measure, really throws you for a loop. Which, I suppose, is the point of complex/mixed meters. They are regular, but not.
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Re: Favorite Time Signatures

Postby Midnight » Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:28 am UTC

Keakealani wrote:I am terrible with rhythm, so I am definitely fond of the simple ones when it comes to reading music. But in my own idealized conceptual world (that is, the one where I write music that other people can read, but I don't have to) I particularly like odd divisions of standard meters. Like 8/8 divided 3 + 3 + 2 is a fun one - sang one piece in 3/2 that was 3 + 3 + 2 + 2 + 2 (eighth notes) which was pretty nifty.


See, this brings up a good point in contrast to the shit-talking about 'the average listener', etc that's going on above, here.

I, unlike Keakealani, am damn good with rhythms (you gotta be to major in music performance(bass)) and pretty good at reading them--but 3+3+2 is still probably my favorite rhythm. and I love the 5/4 divisions-- 3+3+2+2 (or 3+3+3+2+2+2) cause they end up sounding somewhat normal.
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