Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Why Dissonant Music Sounds 'Wrong'

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the because-right-is-boring dept.

Music 183

ananyo writes "Many people dislike the clashing dissonances of modernist composers such as Arnold Schoenberg. But what's our problem with dissonance? There has long been thought to be a physiological reason why at least some kinds of dissonance sound jarring. Two tones close in frequency interfere to produce 'beating': what we hear is just a single tone rising and falling in loudness. If the difference in frequency is within a certain range, rapid beats create a rattling sound called roughness. An aversion to roughness has seemed consistent with the common dislike of intervals such as minor seconds. Yet when cognitive neuroscientist Marion Cousineau of the University of Montreal in Quebec and her colleagues asked amusic subjects (who cannot distinguish between different musical tones) to rate the pleasantness of a whole series of intervals, they showed no distinctions between any of the intervals but disliked beating as much as people with normal hearing. Instead the researchers propose that harmonicity is the key (abstract). Notes contain many overtones — frequencies that are whole-number multiples of the basic frequency in the note. For consonant 'pleasant sounding' intervals the overtones of the two notes tend to coincide as whole-number multiples, whereas for dissonant intervals this is no longer the case. The work suggests that harmonicity is more important than beating for dissonance aversion in normal hearers."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

so Plato was right, then (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41975597)

in b4 Fourier

Re:so Plato was right, then (4, Informative)

dunng808 (448849) | about 2 years ago | (#41975659)

Pythagoras. I first learned this lesson from a book by Harry Parth, but this works:

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc/math5.geometry/unit3/unit3.html [dartmouth.edu]

Re:so Plato was right, then (4, Informative)

dunng808 (448849) | about 2 years ago | (#41975687)

typo, sorry, that is Harry Partch

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Partch [wikipedia.org]

Re:so Plato was right, then (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976725)

I have to disagree. People don't like Arnold Schoenberg's "music" because it's just utter dogshit. Dissonance is coincidental.

Saying people don't like Arnold Schoenberg's "music" is disliked because its dissonant, is like saying being fucked up the ass by a gorilla then punched in the back of the head is disliked because people don't like being punched in the back of the head.

Re:so Plato was right, then (1)

Sentrion (964745) | about 2 years ago | (#41977425)

I couldn't have said it better myself. And his paintings were also utter dogshit. But so were the works of many other modern and post-modern artists of his time and to follow. Such a pity that the Nazi's had to stick their nose into it and label it "degenerate art". Now I can't point at the emperor's new clothes and mock without being labeled a f*cking Nazi.

News! people don't like music they don't like... (1)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about 2 years ago | (#41975641)

Dissonance in music is neat - like hemisync brain harmonics "stuff". But if you're not familiar with it, it sounds strange. Read: not news...

Re:News! people don't like music they don't like.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41975669)

I had no idea what "dissonant" music was, so I had to go to youtube and look some of this guy's music up.

Hated it.

Re:News! people don't like music they don't like.. (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about 2 years ago | (#41975729)

It could just be bad music, dissonant or not. Try Pat Metheny's Zero Tolerance For Silence. Parts 3 and 4 are the best ones (1 and 2 are a bit boring).

Re:News! people don't like music they don't like.. (4, Interesting)

TranquilVoid (2444228) | about 2 years ago | (#41976109)

There's one part I find has some interest and the rest just sound like he's noodling idly while watching TV. My tracks aren't numbered properly so not sure which one it is. I wouldn't classify it as dissonant, though, not in the same sense as Schoenberg.

Musical taste is a moving target. Dissonance has somewhat been absorbed into our collective musical vocabulary. Witness the 'stab-scene' music from Psycho. We accept it has it's place and the mood it invokes, however audiences literally walked out of the initial microtonal performances.

Re:News! people don't like music they don't like.. (4, Interesting)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 2 years ago | (#41976609)

It's not about music taste. "Zero Tolerance For Silence" speaks for itself by the title alone. You can describe it as a direct rebuttal of John Cage's 4â33â - and possibly evidence that Cage did not suffer tinnitus, and Metheny to some extent does. But that last bit is only as an example of what one might learn.

I have "Secret Story" (1992) among others. To know that he did this just 2 years later is just mind-boggling. When a coworker plays Pat Metheny, I don't know what song or album it is, or if he's a guest on someone else's recording, like with Anna Maria Jopek. I can instantly recognize the sound. Through headphones, which are tinny, or an iPhone played at low volume.

"To me, it is a 2-D view of a world in which I am usually functioning in a more 3-D way. It is entirely flat music, and that was exactly what it was intended to be."

He had a certain mindset when recording this, especially since it is overdubbed so he had to do multiple takes. If he heard something on the first track he didn't like, he would have overdubbed. But he didn't.

To watch Metheny improvise is like watching a Rembrandt being painted, if you know about jazz. To some, maybe Van Gogh, to others maybe Dali is more appropriate. In the context of his career, this is like watching Rembrandt invent pointillism, and then abandon it. Even his characteristic sound isn't there. It is much like he decided to take something and dissect it, live, with everyone allowed to watch.

Certainly it is not the same as Schoenberg, since Schoenberg allowed an element of restriction into his music. In fact, if you take Schoenberg's idea of the tone-row, this is completely the opposite. I have not analyzed it to be sure, but I don't sense the rigor of that limiting factor.

Pat Metheny was playing to something he heard, or felt, as an affront to silence. You can appreciate it for what it is, without musical taste being involved. As a statement against silence, it certainly doesn't specify what it is for

Re:News! people don't like music they don't like.. (2)

TranquilVoid (2444228) | about 2 years ago | (#41977113)

I've read various explanations for Zero Tolerance. The difficulty is that it is radically different from his body of work both before and after, even his attempts at free jazz. Possibly it makes sense in the reactionary theory of music but I don't think that's what he was trying to achieve. The problem is that, as a piece of music, it doesn't stand alone from it's artist's statement, much like a simple black square on a white canvas. I feel bad for saying it but it barely works as entertainment and only has interest because of Metheny's stature.

While he had a high concept in mind when producing it I think it is too personal or individual to express to listeners. This is in contrast to Schoenberg where the outworkings of his radical theory were apparent. Perhaps Zero Tolerance requires recreating Metheny's mood at the time to understand it. Unfortunately most of my listening is done at work where there is little mental silence. I should try once again at home.

I've been fortunate enough to see Metheny play once. If I could somehow see Jim Hall I could die happy :)

Re:News! people don't like music they don't like.. (1)

torsmo (1301691) | about 2 years ago | (#41977279)

Is his music similar to drone bands like Sunn O))), Earth or Boris?

Re:News! people don't like music they don't like.. (4, Informative)

treeves (963993) | about 2 years ago | (#41976175)

Did you listen to Verklaerte Nacht (Transfigured Night)? It's one of his best known pieces and it's not the most dissonant or atonal (not the same thing). It probably requires some getting used to, stretching the limits of what you listen to, to appreciate it.
Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" was so jarring to the audience when it was first played that they rioted. Now it is a staple of symphony programs, though still a challenge to play.

Re:News! people don't like music they don't like.. (1)

Rheostatik (1628895) | about 2 years ago | (#41977399)

It was the staging of the ballet and the dancing itself, combined with the subject matter, that caused the audience to riot, not so much the music. Plus there's plenty of evidence that the whole thing was staged to garner publicity. Later performances of The Rite of Spring without the ballet were actually well received.

Dubstep exists.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41975657)

Therefore, I call complete and utter bullshit.

Re:Dubstep exists.... (2)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#41975907)

So does cutting. Your point?

Re:Dubstep exists.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976899)

And scratching.

Re:Dubstep exists.... (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 years ago | (#41977419)

And jazz.

But dissonnant music (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41975661)

is much better at annoying one's parents, as successive generations of teenagers have discovered for the past fifty years or so.

Re:But dissonnant music (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976741)

is much better at annoying one's parents, as successive generations of teenagers have discovered for the past fifty years or so.

So is dubstep...and as strange as that genre may sound to some, at least it has a beat by comparison.

I've usually got an open mind when it comes to genres, but just tried to listen to some dissonant music.

Seems I'm going to have to try again later. All I feel now is confused. Oh well, it may not be for everyone's musical palette.

Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

Threni (635302) | about 2 years ago | (#41975671)

Is his music supposed to typify music which displays a lot of these clashes/"beating" the Slashdot submission describes? He's certainly not mentioned in the abstract - which make sense because although his music lacks a delicious tonal centre I'm not aware of any attempt on his part to include this sort of issue in his music. Can someone with access to the paper (it doesn't appear to be free) confirm my suspicion that he's not mentioned in it?

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (3, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#41975809)

Schoenberg is relevant because he championed an opposing theory of dissonance. He claimed that people don't like dissonance because they are not used to it. If they heard it more, they would get used to it and like it (and thus, would also like his music).

Over the last century, we have found he is right, as more and more music is dissonant enough to horribly irritate people of a hundred years ago (think heavy metal or a lot of Jazz music). As a result it is very likely people didn't like his music because it's boring (not because of dissonance), a theory I fully subscribe to.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41975967)

It's like a dope.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (4, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#41975985)

Actually, he was only about half right. Used tastefully and in moderation, dissonance can create mood in ways that consonance cannot easily match. As with nearly all of the musical techniques that he argued were historically dissonant (with the exception of basic polyphony), however, used in excess, it sounds like crap.

IMO, the key to the tasteful use of dissonance is to make sure that the dissonance is not the focus. On the one extreme, you might have the subtle use of dissonant suspension and release in secondary parts of a complex orchestral work to set the mood. On the other extreme, you might have a highly dissonant piece of music used as the background sound behind a Civil War battle. In both cases, the listener is focused on something else, whether that something else is a traditional melodic line or a bunch of people shooting each other in a horrible, bloody battle.

Incidentally, most folks (statistically) don't like heavy metal, highly dissonant jazz, bebop, etc. even to this day. Those genres and subgenres all serve a useful purpose when it comes to expanding the musical universe, and over time, those experimental ideas will get incorporated into more mainstream music in much more subtle and toned-down ways, but that doesn't mean that most people will ever find the experimental music itself enjoyable to listen to.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976463)

Languages too, por ejemplo.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976577)

Incidentally, most folks (statistically) don't like heavy metal, highly dissonant jazz, bebop, etc. even to this day.

Incidentally, most folks (statistically) don't like blues, barbershop, etc. even to this day. Or whatever genre. That's the thing about diversity -- almost nothing has majority appeal, because there's a ton of other stuff out there. You'd need some actual evidence to argue metal remains a minority taste because of dissonance, or conversely, that metal would be a majority taste (unlike almost all other music genres) if not for the dissonance.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about 2 years ago | (#41976685)

Dissonance can be percussive, it can connote tension, but it can also be a modulation as heard of a root note or sound. That modulation "beats" on the fundamental note, not so much damaging it, but giving it difficult to perceive pitch.

Silky textures of music are somewhat easy to make. The modulations aren't heard much in nature or in voice/vocals. When pronounced, dissonant modulation becomes punctuation, percussion.

Dissonance as modulation, and the "beating" discerned, can give character, or in contrast, destroy it. What does destruction sound like? Ask my late father.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (4, Insightful)

Abreu (173023) | about 2 years ago | (#41976713)

Most heavy metal is regular chords and melodies, played fast and hard on distorted guitars, with thrumming bass lines and staccato drums.

No dissonances there, strictly speaking.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

TranquilVoid (2444228) | about 2 years ago | (#41977247)

That's true of the basics. It depends on the sub-genre but a lot of metal uses dissonant intervals as part of the aggressive feel, like thumping on a piano. The common dissonant intervals - minor second, tritone, minor sixth and major seventh - are all used extensively (compared to pop and rock), and also as notes in riffs or roots of chord progressions (where the chord itself is still a harmonious fifth).

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

torsmo (1301691) | about 2 years ago | (#41977449)

You should then try listening to some good Technical Death Metal, Avant-Jazz, Math metal or Drone/Doom bands. Even Deathspell Omega's "Veritas Diaboli" is a good example.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

billius (1188143) | about 2 years ago | (#41977587)

Pretty much all metal music (regardless of subgenre) makes extensive use of the tritone [wikipedia.org] . While other genres like blues and rock use the tritone interval as a passing tone, metal emphasizes it greatly. This is true of all real metal music (i.e. not the slick, glam-obsessed that happened to be marketed as "metal" in the 80s) from Black Sabbath to today's bands. Exhibit A: Cannibal Corpse - From Skin To Liquid [youtube.com] , an instrumental Death Metal song. Alex Webster, the bassist of the band, hit the nail on the head when asked why Death Metal was not a mainstream genre of music:

The gory lyrics are probably not, as much as people say that’s what would keep us from being mainstream, like “death metal would never go into the mainstream because the lyrics are too gory”, I think it’s really the music, because violent entertainment is totally mainstream. Violent video games sell more than any death metal band ever will. Violent movies, like “Saw” and “Hostel” for example, those movies sell more than any death metal band probably ever will.

(source [waytooloud.com] ) There's a particular aesthetic to metal that some people, like myself, absolutely love and the tritone and dissonance are huge parts of that.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#41977489)

Used tastefully and in moderation, dissonance can create mood in ways that consonance cannot easily match.

That's where the problem lies ...
 
How "moderate" is the moderation?
 
And how to make it "tasteful" without going overboard?
 

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#41976279)

He claimed that people don't like dissonance because they are not used to it. If they heard it more, they would get used to it and like it (and thus, would also like his music).

And he's absolutely right.

There's a big part of dissonance that has to do with acculturation. I don't hear any dissonance in LaMont Young's piano music, but other people say it's extremely dissonant. I think it's just harmonics based on a fundamental that is way subsonic, and Young's writings seem to suggest that's the case.

I don't think I've developed a tolerance for dissonance so much as my ear training and a lifetime of playing music allows me to hear more complex relationships. Or maybe it's something else entirely. Indian music sounds wonderful to me and so do Balkan horn bands and the Shaggs. I can hear that there's something different going on than in say, a Hayden wind ensemble, but one doesn't sound "better" or more consonant than the other, even though I have relative pitch awareness.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976917)

like scratching blackboards, and chewing razorblades, it's an aquirred taste.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (4, Insightful)

Pseudonym (62607) | about 2 years ago | (#41976907)

Strangely enough, I'm reading Schoenberg's Theory of Harmony right now. I recommend the opening chapter to everyone interested in this topic, because it's one of the most well-written rants in all of music theory.

What Schoenberg opposed was the idea, which he claimed to be prevalent among music theorists in the late 19th and early 20th century, that we could discover "laws of beauty" which could be applied to make beautiful art. Schoenberg argued that when you propose "rules" of making art (be it writing, drawing or music composition), those "rules" tend to be mostly exceptions. Moreover, these "rules" are almost always proposed by theorists, not art creators.

Now he may have been right about this view being common in the music theory community at the time. Today, we know better.

For a start, we now understand the role of culture.

We can only imagine what Palestrina sounded like to people brought up on Gregorian chant. Today, it still sounds beautiful, but it also sounds very old. We can't imagine what was in the minds of the people who rioted at the premiere of The Rite of Spring. Hell, most of us can't even imagine what the big deal was about Elvis Presley! Why did anyone think that old music was shocking and an affront to civilization?

And, of course, music theorists discovered traditions other than the European one, which sound odd to us, but normal to someone brought up in India or China or Indonesia or wherever the music comes from.

Secondly, we now understand that music theory, and the "rules" therein, are descriptive, not prescriptive. They are a language for understanding and talking about music in the tradition of the European common practice era.

In that sense, it's like category theory in mathematics or design patterns in software engineering. they're not recipes on how to write programs or do maths, they are a vocabulary for understanding, reasoning about and talking about programs or mathematical structure.

Schoenberg was a pioneer. Like all pioneers, he was wrong about quite a lot. But he did have a very good point to make, which in the modern context is moot.

Incidentally, in his book on counterpoint, Schoenberg also railed against modal tonality, judging it to be a poor imitation of the modern major and minor keys. If you haven't yet had your recommended daily intake of irony, you're welcome.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#41976997)

Thanks for the tip on the book, I'll check it out when I get a chance.

Some thoughts (because I like to argue): it's been said that people wouldn't have been so scandalized by Elvis if it weren't for his dancing (pelvis gyrations and such). His stuff wasn't particularly more exciting than say, Chuck Barry. Musically Elvis fit right into the trend of his era.

Similarly, with rite of spring, a lot of the rage was directed at the choreography of the ballet, and it's likely that's why the fight started at the premier, not because of the music itself.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | about 2 years ago | (#41977239)

Similarly, it could be argued that the scandal over Elvis had quite a bit to do with him singing "negro music".

Radiolab did an episode a few years ago [radiolab.org] which told the story of The Rite of Spring but also a very interesting one about a guy who listened to a lot of Gregorian Chant and... well, I won't spoil it for you, but it's a very thought-provoking story.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (2)

JazzHarper (745403) | about 2 years ago | (#41977199)

Strangely enough, I'm reading Schoenberg's Theory of Harmony right now. I recommend the opening chapter to everyone interested in this topic, because it's one of the most well-written rants in all of music theory.

What Schoenberg opposed was the idea, which he claimed to be prevalent among music theorists in the late 19th and early 20th century, that we could discover "laws of beauty" which could be applied to make beautiful art.

Well, yes and no. Schoenberg certainly admits that certain intervals are more pleasing than others, and that perception was based on how closely they conform to the harmonic series. (Which, to stay on-topic, happens to be exactly what the researchers in this study contend). Schoenberg's argument was that "consonant" and "dissonant" tones are not opposites, as the words imply, but differ only by a matter of degree--how far out the series you go.

We can't imagine what was in the minds of the people who rioted at the premiere of The Rite of Spring.

Most reports, other than Stravinsky's self-aggrandizing story, point to the choreography, not the music, being the target of derision. For most of the performance, the audience couldn't even hear the music!

...we now understand that music theory, and the "rules" therein, are descriptive, not prescriptive. They are a language for understanding and talking about music in the tradition of the European common practice era.

I think no one understood that better (at the time) than Schoenberg, who wrote the Theory of Harmony from his own observation and not as a compilation of rules that he had been taught.

In that sense, it's like category theory in mathematics or design patterns in software engineering. they're not recipes on how to write programs or do maths, they are a vocabulary for understanding, reasoning about and talking about programs or mathematical structure.

And that is why we still read Theory of Harmony, today. It is important to note that Schoenberg did not turn against modal tonality until later.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | about 2 years ago | (#41977391)

You raise good points. Especially the last one; I realised after I posted that the book on counterpoint was indeed written later, and that he was allowed to change his mind, even if he was ultimately wrong about that.

Having said that, I get the impression that Schoenberg saw Bach-style chorale harmony exercises almost as a necessary evil, whereas he saw Palestrina-style strict counterpoint exercises as useful. Now I'm wondering if that was a change of mind, too.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

Rheostatik (1628895) | about 2 years ago | (#41977435)

We can only imagine what Palestrina sounded like to people brought up on Gregorian chant. Today, it still sounds beautiful, but it also sounds very old. We can't imagine what was in the minds of the people who rioted at the premiere of The Rite of Spring. Hell, most of us can't even imagine what the big deal was about Elvis Presley! Why did anyone think that old music was shocking and an affront to civilization?

It was the dancing and staging of The Rite of Spring (remember it was a ballet), and the persona of Elvis that offended people, rather than the music itself.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#41976969)

music is dissonant enough to horribly irritate people of a hundred years ago (think heavy metal or a lot of Jazz music)

Heavy Metal tends to be noisy, but later Jazz has a special place in music in that it plays partially in the mind.

I once told a fellow learner, "when I'm playing this piece, my hand wants to naturally reach for this chord, but in jazz, it's just the opposite." He smiled and said, "ah, now you finally understand." It's only because I understood early 20th century Jazz (say ragtime into big band) that I understood the later jazz's use of dissonance. When I listen to it, my mind says, "ah, clever," because I understand why those dissonances are there and that's much of the enjoyment. Cultural references, in jokes, etc. - they all depend on prior knowledge that's inferred and omitted. I suppose it's like kids watching a Toy Story film - they like it, but they don't get a lot of it.

In the same way, people from a hundred years ago simply couldn't fully appreciate jazz, simply because they live a hundred years ago. The future will be interesting as well - most people won't get why those Toy Story films were so successful when they watch them a hundred years from now. Aside from the real music history buffs, most people then might not get much from jazz either.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 2 years ago | (#41977641)

He's full of himself. People will like what people will like. If they are doing something for pleasure and you play them something they don't like, they won't listen to it. It's like telling someone that if they eat shit long enough they'll like it, when there is steak potatoes and peas on the plate beside that. They'll tell you to fuck off and eat the steak potatoes and peas.

By now a lot of us have heard the Pachabelbel's Canon Rant [youtube.com] in one form or another [youtube.com] (this last one a complete rip of the first in my opinion). There is a reason those four chords work. They sound good to many people. I won't try to figure out why. There is no point. People just think that this progression works. So songs like this often become hits. Songs full of dissonance don't because people don't like it because they sound dissonant. Yeah the word means 'sounds shit'. Same thing with second intervals versus thirds versus ... If it sounds shit to people they just won't listen to it. Those that do aren't some sort of super cool esoteric music elite. They're not normal (since the majority defines normal). And so if people like what they hear they will listen to it more and repeatedly. And apparently it has worked this way for centuries and probably millennia. So I think if people were going to favour dissonant music they would have already. And by definition is wouldn't be considered dissonant.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

bkk_diesel (812298) | about 2 years ago | (#41977665)

That may be true.
I live in Thailand and I cannot imagine a more cacophonous style of music than Thai traditional, however the locals seem to enjoy it well enough.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#41975867)

And then on the flip side of dissonance, you have Charles Ives, whose music often has a tonal center. In fact, quite often, it has three or four.

Re:Why mention Schoenberg? (2)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 2 years ago | (#41976863)

And then on the flip side of dissonance, you have Charles Ives, whose music often has a tonal center. In fact, quite often, it has three or four.

And sometimes none. For example, see (well, hear) several of his piano studies.

I don't think you could describe Ives' music as the "flip side" of dissonance. A good deal of his music could in fact be considered dissonant, but just in a different way than the music of Schoenberg. (BTW, I greatly admire the music of both men.)

Obligatory Ives quote:

Beauty in music is too often confused with something that lets the ears lie back in an easy chair.
- Charles Ives

dissonant what ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41975673)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJsmjhSpD3I

Musical memory (1)

DaemonDan (2773445) | about 2 years ago | (#41975677)

This all makes sense to me. I've always been surprised by my (and others') ability to remember the tunes to songs even when I can't remember the words. It's sometimes like I can feel what the next note should be, what note would feel right. Maybe it's a similar mechanism to how these people found that things can just sound wrong, even when the subject is amusic.

Re:Musical memory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41975835)

It's sometimes like I can feel what the next note should be, what note would feel right.

The artist does, too, and that's why it is the next note.

Re:Musical memory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41975973)

Exactly. They know what's next because of a thing called key (well that and modes). Unless they're a Jazz musician, then anything goes. I kid, I kid...

Re:Musical memory (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#41976043)

As I often say after tuning my horn, "Close enough for jazz."

Re:Musical memory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41977223)

This is because music is a language, and even though you can say anything you want whenever, you are very likely going to say certain things.

Pythagoras strikes again... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41975685)

Or it's just two and a half millenia of enculturation for the heirs of Greek culture, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Yet another attempt by folks who assume their music is the music that nature itself demands to find a universal in the brain. They should take a world music class first to realize that what sounds great to one group of people sounds shit to another. I think, for example, of Gamelan tunings which are not harmonious in the sense of the overtones lining up, but sure sound right to folks in Indonesia. Or some ancient Japanese gagaku.

Why knock Schoenberg? It's pretty tame stuff anyway. Beautiful though.

Also -- the equally tempered scale is not at all harmonious. It's based on a equal division of the octave, which does not occur in the harmonic series. Far from it. Play a fifth on a piano -- it will be off by a substantial margin instead of being a harmonious 3:2 ration. But, since we are used to it, it still sounds pretty great. (Although I do prefer meantone tunings for a lot of music, they just can't play in many keys) It's a problem that the ancients knew about though. We call the disjunction between a stack of 12 fifths (at which point we are back to the starting note) a pythagorean comma after all... (256:242 -- quite a significant difference) That to say, in some sort of pure natural harmoniousness, all Western music fails, because it involves playing multiple notes at the same time (since the 8th-9th century when theories began to develop, notably in the scholica enchiriadis). Nature doesn't like that, because the harmonic series will clash, even on the second best interval, the fifth (3:2)

Note to all geeks -- tuning theory is very cool. It tracks the history of mathematics too.

Re:Pythagoras strikes again... (2)

jbengt (874751) | about 2 years ago | (#41975923)

The lower harmonics, like the interval of a fifth (1/2 of the 3rd harmonic), or a third (1/4 of the fifth harmonic) are actually quite close to the equal tempered scale approximations - closer than most can hear, and definitely closer than most can sing. In fact, vibrato may change the pitch more than it would be off. The higher harmonics are definitely off, though, e.g. The 11th harmonic is about halfway between two notes on the piano.
As you probably know, the Well Tempered Clavier is not equal tempered, and much music in the past was in scales with no real tempering. That makes the different keys have very different feelings, which has carried into the present as to what kind of music is in flat keys, sharp keys etc., even it's almost exclusively played in equal tempered scales nowadays.
BTW, how did you get 256/242? 12 perfect fiths would be about 3^12 / 2^19, wouldn't it?

Re:Pythagoras strikes again... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976365)

You are right that the fifth isn't too bad on the piano. However, there are still a few beats. Compare a major triad with with thirds being perfect. (meantone) That's night and day with an equally tempered triad. There are a lot of "wow-wow-wow" beats. When people sing unaccompanied in a straight tone, they tend to eliminate those beats even after hearing equal temperament their entire lives. The beats in all "tempered" tunings are necessary to spread the problem out, so there isn't a terrible clash between b# and c.

You are right that most people can't hear it, Even most musicians only have pitch sensitivity of about 4-5 cents when it comes to a pitch played alone. (I hear a 2 cent fluctuation with just a melody line -- I do hear less than a cent if things are played simultaneously, because that's still a beat a second)

As you say, the WTK was written to utilize what was then a very modern tuning system. (folks still debate which system is right - Werkmeister III is still my favorite, because it still has a lot of individual key character which some of the other smoother systems just don't, although it is probably not the one Bach himself used - especially since a practical musician didn't have the time to get out a monochord to get the math right when tuning -- they just knew how many beats to tune in on each interval) These replaced the meantone tunings of the late-medieval through 17th centuries.

The 256:242 is pretty outdated. That was the approximation that theorists used in the past when doing monochord divisions. (And technically, that was the number they needed back in the meantone days in which the fifth wasn't the central issue. That's the "comma" that immediately comes to my mind, because I play a lot of Renaissance/early-Baroque music) I guess the official pythagorean comma is technically 531441:524288. That wasn't exactly practical on a monochord, because they didn't tend to have more than a couple thousand divisions. In modern terms, stacking 12 fifths starting on C makes the final b# a bit less than 25 cents higher than C which is a massive problem. I could calculate it, but don't have a log table or graphic calculator at hand without having to stand up...

There are a lot of tuning comparison videos on Youtube. It's easier now with organ sampling software that allows for totally adjustable tunings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8M-JzIwbog

Re:Pythagoras strikes again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976023)

They're called power chords, and they're meant to sound jarring. /joke

Re:Pythagoras strikes again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976387)

Ironically, power chords being just the octave and fifth are the most "harmonious" intervals, although that is necessary due to the added fundamental complexity brought about by distortion. The addition of one type of complexity requires the balance of making something else simpler.

Re:Pythagoras strikes again... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 years ago | (#41976689)

Distortion affects sometimes add dissonant and/or extra harmonics as a by-product.

The addition of one type of complexity requires the balance of making something else simpler.

Example: In baroque music, one often finds counterpoint, which is more or less multiple overlapping melodies. In the classical era (post-baroque) counterpoint is rarer. However, the texture of the single melody is "thicker", often with several different instruments contributing to the same melody.

Modern popular music seems to be gradually growing toward more complex textures and percussion, and simpler or repeating melodies. However, the pendulum may swing back someday.

Re:Pythagoras strikes again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976833)

Exactly. A fuzzy distortion makes a major chord almost impossible to play, because there are too many frequencies flying around that create clashes. That's one of the most brilliant things about Eddie Van Halen, is that he tunes his guitars specifically for some pieces that enable him to play certain chords with distortion going (although, obviously, since he has made some things better, he also made some things worse, which means he doesn't play them)

Even classical era music still had counterpoint, albeit a simplified version, in those block chords or arpeggiated figures. Mozart, for example, even when writing pure homophony, didn't break rules of counterpoint.

Perhaps a better example of the complexity thing is considering counterpoint complexity and complexity of sonority. In the Renaissance, some folks wrote massively polyphonic pieces. An example of that is the Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis written in 40 parts. However, that extreme polyphony limited the possibilities of sonorities, since he essentially just uses two or three "chords" (not how they would have thought of them). However, in his works for 4 or 5 parts, he has many more possiblities for choosing different sets of sonorities.

The rise of polyphony in pop music since the 1970s is more a result of African influence. As you say, when there are a large number of patterns cycling in a groove, the complexity of the individual patterns has to be simpler than if there were only one pattern. However, there is still plenty of intense guitar shredding these days or complex melodies, which in turn limits what supporting patterns can and cannot do.

Re:Pythagoras strikes again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976507)

What tuning systems are most common - harmonic or dissonant?

If no systems are purely harmonic or purely dissonant, do most systems tend towards harmonic intervals or dissonant intervals?

Re:Pythagoras strikes again... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976805)

The point is that if everything were tuned "perfectly" - with perfect integer proportions - in relation to a single pitch, all of the others don't have the perfect ratios with each other. In math-based tuning systems (Greek, European, Arabic), there has to be a compromise to make everything work. And whatever compromise is made has a major impact on what music can and cannot be written. For example, Bach couldn't have written his music with the older meantone tuning systems. It would have sounded like complete shit, so he wouldn't have written it.

Ironically, dissonant music of the 20th century required the tuning system to be ironed out to the point where everything was equally "out-of-tune."

Re:Pythagoras strikes again... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 years ago | (#41976601)

That's one hell of First Post from the P Man. I wonder if the ancient Greek patent on harmonic ratios has expired under US laws?

Re:Pythagoras strikes again... (1)

zygotic mitosis (833691) | about 2 years ago | (#41976889)

I, too, read the book "An Imaginary Tale - (sqrt(-1))". You have piano mistaken for guitar -- guitar is equally tempered; piano is tampered to make the intervals integer ratios.

Wrong summary title (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | about 2 years ago | (#41975695)

The summary do not answers the question ask by it's title, it addresses the following question: What are dissonant sounds ?
And by the way the title of the cited paper is

The basis of musical consonance as revealed by congenital amusia

.

Music Is Not Sound (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41975703)

Music is perceived by the mind and not the ear. Music is different therefore from sound which seems to be the focus of this research.

An appreciation of the music of Schoenberg is definitely an acquired taste. Those who are uninitiated or otherwise not predisposed toward it will likely only sense the apparent awkwardness of the sound. But Schoenberg, as well as atonal and even microtonal (look it up) music in general, does have its aficionados, which tends to indicate a higher cerebral involvement beyond the ear.

What? I this was all the rage. (1)

Rod Beauvex (832040) | about 2 years ago | (#41975727)

Dissonant, random noise has infected the chiptune community like a cancer.

Like language, it's convention. (1)

RyanFenton (230700) | about 2 years ago | (#41975779)

It's all associations. Associations with nature, associations from culture, associations we build from other music, etc. It's how our brain works, and how it's keyed to react to environmental events.

We can like fast driving beats because they match our excitement we've felt at other things. We can like slower rhythms for their likeness to intelligible patters we recognize in our lives. In general, the music just has to be present, and we'll generate the associations.

Dissonance just tends in our environments to get associated with things breaking, noises of discomfort, and instruments malfunctioning in one way or another.

Electronic music, like Commodore 64 music, has had to cope with odd dissonance being an element of its sometimes limited expressive set - and so has found interesting ways to blend in dissonance that gets interestingly divorced from the usual associations. It's why even though I'm not especially a musical connoisseur, I can appreciate some quality uses of dissonance in context.

Ryan Fenton

Re:Like language, it's convention. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41975969)

It isn't all just associations.

1) There are plenty of studies investigating the responses of newborns to various sounds and music, and showing variation depending on the type of sound.
2) There are enough cross-cultural elements in musical forms (such as the use of octaves and fifth harmonies, and the prevalence of binary beat patterns) to indicate that there is at least some portion of musical appreciation that is human rather than social.

I'm not disputing the idea that what is considered 'dissonant' depends largely on the musical context you grew up in. But it is somewhat chicken and egg. The use of dissonance in music to invoke a feeling of resolution (when the dissonance is resolved), this only works if the audience has a common perception of dissonance. That common perception is complex and contextual, and develops over years of listening to particular types of music; but it starts by building on simpler forms of music such as lullabies, which rely on more innate perceptions of dissonance.

But... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#41975807)

What if you *like* Schoenberg?

Re:But... (3, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#41976059)

The first step towards getting better is admitting you have a problem.

Re:But... (1)

treeves (963993) | about 2 years ago | (#41976223)

He's not one of my favorite composers, but all composers use dissonance to some degree, and I like some who use a quite a bit of it: Prokofiev, Wagner, Stravinsky, Ligeti, et al.

Re:But... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#41976355)

Yes, exactly. Where would Kubrick have been without Ligeti? :-) (Or Disney without Prokofiev and Stravinsky.)

The point I'm sidling up to is that although TFM may have identified some of the reasons why some people find dissonant music unpleasant, it doesn't explain at all why so many of us seek it out.

Re:But... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#41976375)

Speaking of Schoenberg, try Blood Sweat and Tears' cover to the Stones "Sympathy for the Devil". It's not exactly 12 tone, but pretty close for jazz.

Re:But... (1)

HungWeiLo (250320) | about 2 years ago | (#41977647)

Speaking of Schoenberg, I was listening to a John Adams [wikipedia.org] concert the other night. He was conducting a performance of Harmonielehre. I knew nothing about it, other than that it was composed in the mid-80s. Ten seconds into it, I was getting into it more and more, and realized that the entire thing was the background soundtrack to Civilization 4. Because I have heard it more than a thousand times just playing the game, I knew the music quite well subconsciously and thereby enjoying the music probably much more than I would have otherwise. The people sitting around me have never heard his music and were not quite as impressed.

Sorry, but... (1)

djbckr (673156) | about 2 years ago | (#41975877)

I studied this back in the '80s when I was majoring in Applied Music. Among other things we studied regarding harmonic intervals, we learned things like why a minor chord sounds "minor" as opposed to a major chord. It all has to do with how the frequencies of the notes (and harmonics therein) work with each other. This isn't news, though it is at least interesting.

Re:Sorry, but... (5, Interesting)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 2 years ago | (#41976411)

There are a number of problems with the study as presented in the abstract. But, I bet you didn't study amusia and how studying them may tease out additional information. That part is new, at least to me. Too bad you chose the "heard it before" line instead of pointing out obvious failures of the abstract.

People with amusia had no preference on the notes, and no "preference for harmonic over inharmonic tones". But they didn't appreciate the "beating" which is more predominant in dissonant notes.

If these are all true, they should have had some sense of the beating in the dissonance, and been able to at least detect with accuracy greater than chance dissonant notes. Or maybe the idea that beating and dissonance are related is incorrect.

And if there was no preference for harmonic tones with amusia, the study cannot exclude beating while including harmonicity as a foundation of musical preference. Being incapable of detecting both doesn't give any clue as to which is more important.

They have fallen back on the old psycho-acoustical models since the study failed to show anything at all. I didn't read they study, but if it shows something else, I'd dismiss the person who wrote the abstract. If anything, I would have concluded that beating is not the foundation of dissonance.

After all, a minor second can sound perfectly lovely as part of a Major 7th chord. I am thinking it has something to do with context, and I see no mention of context here. The entire reason for mentioning Schoenberg is that he wanted to take away the context that we relied on, and make us listen to the notes and the rhythms. A chord is no longer a chord, and it serves no function in a key, because there is no key. No leading tone, no major or minor, no context.

Given a lack of context, some people can enjoy the dissonance of Schoenberg because they expect a lack of context. Given context, the same sounds can be very jarring, even when heard by people who appreciate Schoenberg.

I agree it's horseshit, but at least I explained why.

What's wrong with dissonance? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976057)

I'm a musician. What used to be considered dissonant in the past is acceptable and even pleasant today to our ears. Try playing jazz to a medieval musician. And there are musical systems based on notes not present in the Western 12-note scale (e.g. Indian music, the 'blues' note). Culture plays a big part in our perception of music. Also, a minor second by itself sounds bad, but in the presence of more notes it sounds wonderful, for example a major 7th chord. It's all in the context. So what's the point?

Re:What's wrong with dissonance? (1)

TexVex (669445) | about 2 years ago | (#41976799)

I just listened to some Schoenberg stuff out of curiosity. It sounded to me like an orchestra out of tune, except every now and then there would be a nice harmonious moment. I think the general horribleness of it made the harmonious moments nicer.

But if you think about it, it's like being in an elevator full of farts and occasionally getting a whiff of perfume.

I'm sure it's an acquired taste.

Re:What's wrong with dissonance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41977065)

I would like to hear you critique more things.

Mathematics folks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976111)

This is all quite obvious. . . music is about the organization of sound. To break new ground from standard scales, it's necessary to look at the mathematical relationships between the tones. . .

This is what early classical/late baroque composers did when they introduced equal temperament (the division of a musical scale into 12 equal semi-tones) - this system allows transitioning to other musical keys (and thus more use of "accidentals" in classical composition), but with more jarring intervals. . . the composers were aware of the compromises, and new about the mathematical relationship between the tones.

Cool experiment, but the theory is unsurprising. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976127)

From the abstract: "beating is unlikely to underlie consonance." Yeah, this is obvious and well-known if you study music and psychoacoustics.

Roughness = dissonance, but "consonance" must be more than the lack of dissonance. By that definition the most consonant music in the world would be monophonic stuff like Gregorian chant and early polyphonic music with its perfect fifths. Yet, for centuries people have preferred the "fuller" (and slightly more dissonant) sound of thirds and sixths - octaves and fifths sound relatively "empty" and "cold."

(Also, some sonorities like the augmented triad or a stack-of-fifths sus-chord are just barely more dissonant than major and minor triads, yet rarely appear in tonal music.)

So yeah, harmonicity (the extent to which a chord mimics the structure of the overtone series) is a positive force for consonance. (That mimicry produces rootedness, for one thing, which creates the sense of tonal center.) Dissonance = roughness, Consonance = harmonicity.

It *is* cool that they managed to find this distinction in amusics. It's good evidence.

(Also, as people have already started to assert, sometimes dissonance and flat-out noise is very fun to listen to, making the notion of some universal "preference" meaningless. Nevertheless these categories of sounds still have consistent psychological properties that are worth explaining - what you like as entertainment can be influenced by so many other dimensions.)

Hogwash (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#41976167)

Total nonsense. Our current musical scale is a human creation and has nothing to do with how sound works. "Dissonance" is simply 2 notes combined that the listener is not used to. What was considered dissonant before we could create whole tones with a bow? Have you ever heard tribal music where the players have no way of tuning their instruments to each other? It's about as "dissonant" to your average city folk as you can get, but the villagers love it because they're used to it. A very long time ago, before the current musical scale was settle on, standard music was written in your basic C scale. There were no sharps or flats. Then some crazy bastards started writing music with half tones, so they had to make the sharps and flats... that's when they realized that not all of the notes were evenly spaced, hence the missing B and E sharps. At the time, sharps/flats were likely considered very dissonant and unpalatable, but as time went on they became the norm. Now there are people experimenting with 24, 32 and 100 tone scales. Think of the ultra simple beginning to "Iron man" by black sabbath... how simple and rudimentary it is. Now imagine someone from the 1900's hearing it... they likely could even bare to listen to it.

Re:Hogwash (1)

flug (589009) | about 2 years ago | (#41977363)

Our current musical scale is a human creation and has nothing to do with how sound works.

Quite the contrary: Our current musical scale is a human creation and has something to do with how sound works.

Obviously, there are a lot of different ways to make scales and tonalities and music (and even music that doesn't have scales or tonalities). But there is no question that the currently used western scales and tonalities are a complex interplay among the physical properties of sound, the human auditory system, and human thought about sound.

Obviously another culture could take on this same elements, the same interplay and come up with a complete different answer, because the physical properties of sound remain the same but the other two elements are quite subjective. But that is a lot different than saying our current musical scale "has nothing to do with how sound works." Pretty much every single element of the scale and how it is used is shaped by some portion of the physical property of sound.

Ratios (1)

TranquilVoid (2444228) | about 2 years ago | (#41976243)

Something is missing in the summary, the 'yet' does not reveal a disagreement as the amusical listeners disliked the same intervals.

It should be noted that it's traditionally considered the ratio of the frequencies that causes dissonance, not the closeness of the notes. To be harmonious two notes need to have frequencies that come into sync quickly. So a sixth (5:3) is is actually less harmonious than the closer fifth (3:2).

It would be interesting to check the numbers from their theory on the frequencies of the overtones as that gives many more possibilities for frequency ratios (first overtone of the second note against the root of the first note etc.). Overtones do diminish in strength very quickly so the root frequencies are always going to be more important.

Re:Ratios (1)

jbengt (874751) | about 2 years ago | (#41976701)

There is a difference between discordance and dissonance, musically. The way you, and TFS, and TFA, and most people (not necessarily the paper, haven't read it) use the word dissonance would be more appropriately be called discordance, according to my harmony prof. Dissonance is an important part of harmony, without it, music would have no tension, no resolution, and would be more just a series of sounds, than music. A lot of that is learned, IMO. The perception of diiscordance, however, I believe is innate - the ear is wired to hear harmonics as being related to the fundamental frequency; e.g., two tones an octave apart (a factor of 2) are almost always recognized as the same "note". YMMV, IANAM, etc.

Re:Ratios (1)

TranquilVoid (2444228) | about 2 years ago | (#41976961)

So are you defining dissonance as the musical use of discordance within a piece? Insofar as discordance is natural they would be very linked but I agree a lot is learned. The authentic V-I cadence is almost naturally derived but there are plenty of cadences used in different styles and times, like IV-I, that give resolution almost by convention.

Spicy food tastes "bad" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976267)

Could be a parallel headline. Seriously. Dissonance is like pepper. Pepper is an irritant, but done properly, is quite tasty.

Re:Spicy food tastes "bad" (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 2 years ago | (#41976903)

Could be a parallel headline. Seriously. Dissonance is like pepper. Pepper is an irritant, but done properly, is quite tasty.

This! Mod parent up.

american bandstand theory (2)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 2 years ago | (#41976309)

it has a good beat, and it's easy to dance to (not).

McFly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41976915)

Your shoe's untied!

It's simple, really (2)

epp_b (944299) | about 2 years ago | (#41976383)

Various tonalities are associated with the specific emotions that we find either enjoyable or displeasureable, and music provokes these emotions involuntarily.

As described in the summary, clashing tones create a vibration or beating (this is empirically known by anyone who tunes musical instruments by ear) and cause a sense of disresolution and unrest.

Yeah, a lot of modern music is just random, manufactured crap, but truely talented artists select their musical tones, both deliberately and subconsciously, to tie in very closely with the lyrics (if applicable) and the emotions they intent to provoke.

Consonance (3, Informative)

nbsr (2343058) | about 2 years ago | (#41976421)

It's perhaps not obvious but there is no such thing as perfect consonance in music:

- Tone C3 is an exact second harmonic of C2 and a fourth harmonic of C1. That's why the sound so nice together.

- Tone G2 is a third harmonic of C1, but (surprise) not an exact one. That's because if you take 13 third harmonics (C G D A E B F# C# G# D# A# F C') you are supposed to arrive at the same tone. But you don't, there is a slight frequency offset. In practice, this offset is distributed among all 13 intervals so we are generally unable to notice it.

- The fifth harmonic tone (C1 -> E3') is also inexact. It is fairly close to the sound (here E) obtained from the scale above but again there is a slight frequency offset.

- The sixth harmonic (C1 -> G3) is 2*3 times the fundamental frequency, so is as (in)exact as the third harmonic.

- The seventh harmonic (C1 -> ~A#3, noticeably lower) is not on the (twelve tone) scale but it still sounds nice.

- The eight harmonic is exact (2*2*2, C1 -> C4). And so on...

The twelve tone scale is a rather clever invention, it manages to approximate a rather large number of harmonics with a small number of tones. But it is still only an approximation - a perfect consonance can only be obtained for octaves.

Evolutionary artifact in hearing vs vision? (1)

theurge14 (820596) | about 2 years ago | (#41976491)

Many predators see their prey based on movement, like cats. Perhaps dissonance in hearing is some evolutionary equivalent to this. The beating of wings, the trampling of feet, the clucking of the tongue of angry wives...

Satie, for example (2)

OldSport (2677879) | about 2 years ago | (#41976523)

It's funny, because I've always thought of Satie's use of the occasional dissonant notes as what makes the music "human". Check his Danses de Travers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x6nuiNN3JI) at 0:38, 0:52, 1:02, and so on and so forth... the dissonant elements are what breathe real life into an already impeccably beautiful piece.

(Disclaimer: I know nothing of music theory but know a lot of music.)

I confess I like the Shaggs (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 2 years ago | (#41976855)

but for only five minutes at a time.

Bill Sethares (1)

kootsoop (809311) | about 2 years ago | (#41976873)

Bill Sethares has some nice work about this question, too: http://sethares.engr.wisc.edu/ [wisc.edu]

This was explained in 1911 (1)

JazzHarper (745403) | about 2 years ago | (#41977091)

in the Theory of Harmony by (guess who)... Arnold Schoenberg, before he started experimenting with atonal composition.

I don't think it was a particularly new idea, even then.

Re:This was explained in 1911 (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 2 years ago | (#41977147)

in the Theory of Harmony by (guess who)... Arnold Schoenberg, before he started experimenting with atonal composition.

I don't think it was a particularly new idea, even then.

I would be surprised if Helmholtz didn't mention it in his 1863 book On The Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music. I don't have my copy handy right now, so I can't check for sure.

Dissonance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41977441)

Most music since the 1600s has been chock-a-block with dissonance. Music would be boring without it. Tension and release. Consonance and dissonance.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?