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  • Prof: Good morning, let us begin.

  • Today we're going to move away from the first dimension of

  • music that we've been looking at,

  • which is duration, or time, and begin to work with

  • the second, which is pitch, and melody.

  • And here's an initial question for you.

  • Think of the texture of music and think of these strands of

  • high and low.

  • Where does melody sit in the texture?

  • Is it high, middle or low?

  • Where is it?

  • If you think about it conceptually,

  • try to figure out, well, I got this board up here,

  • this tapestry, or whatever,

  • where's my melody going to be in the texture:

  • high, middle or low?

  • Michael?

  • Student: It would be high.

  • Prof: Yeah, usually high.

  • Now, here's an interesting question for you,

  • why is it usually high?

  • There's an acoustical reason for this.

  • Why does the melody show up in the high range?

  • Student: >

  • Prof: I beg your pardon?

  • Student: It's easier to hear.

  • Prof: It's easier to hear in a high range.

  • Why is it easier to hear in a high range?

  • What about the acoustics here?

  • Once again, the laws of acoustics.

  • Why is it easier to hear in a high range?

  • I could play for you, for example,

  • a little bit of Mozart.

  • It would sound like this.

  • >

  • You like that?

  • >

  • Sounds better up there, doesn't it?

  • Why is that the case?

  • Yeah.

  • Student: Maybe you can put the frequency of the higher

  • pitches as high so you can detect the sound quicker and

  • >.

  • Prof: That's it exactly.

  • In a melody, we tend to have a lot of

  • rhythmic activity there.

  • It's got to have activity to play itself out as melody.

  • But because the way sound waves operate, we have these low sound

  • waves taking a very long time to clear.

  • The higher frequencies take a lot shorter time to clear.

  • They're short sound waves.

  • They clear very quickly.

  • So, we can hear a melody--we can hear a melody more clearly

  • in this higher register and therefore,

  • there is always the tendency to have the bass play long,

  • low notes because those sounds take a long time to clear and

  • melodies play faster notes because those sounds clear

  • quickly and we can hear and enjoy the melody.

  • All right, that's just an opening thought about why

  • melodies show up in the top part of the texture.

  • Let's talk about melody here and let's talk about pitch.

  • We said before that in Western music we have musical notation.

  • And musical notation is relied on more in Western music than

  • any other musical civilization around the world.

  • And in the West, this whole idea of pitch

  • notation goes back to the ninth century,

  • when the monks and nuns in Benedictine abbeys in

  • Switzerland and France and Germany and northern Italy

  • started doing this; they started marking on

  • parchment or slate the general course of a melody.

  • Eventually, what they did was to separate these lines into

  • more discreet places, or more discreet pitches.

  • Then around one thousand in northern Italy,

  • an enterprising fellow named Guido of Arezzo came along and

  • said, "Well, you know what?

  • I can get this to show us how far up we are supposed to go,

  • by placing it on some kind of grid here,"

  • and this is this-- as I said before,

  • the beginning of the first graph in the history of the

  • West.

  • This grid of horizontal lines (and we will know that if we're

  • going from here to here), it's got to be exactly this

  • frequency, or at least this space.

  • So, initially they came up with four lines and then eventually

  • five and even six, and then they went back to five

  • by the fifteenth century.

  • What they also did around the year one thousand was to

  • identify--to label--these particular spots--spaces and

  • lines.

  • So they began to call this A and this B and this C and this D

  • and this E, this F, this G.

  • When they got up here, they stopped.

  • Why did they stop?

  • Why didn't they keep right on going with G,

  • H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P?

  • Why don't we sing Ms and Os and Ps today?

  • Why did they stop?

  • Any ideas?

  • >

  • Roger?

  • Student: >

  • Prof: Yeah, they had this thing--they hit

  • this thing called the octave.

  • And, of course, there's this--another

  • acoustical phenomenon here we've talked about before,

  • what's the relationship within an octave?

  • The string is vibrating higher when it's exactly twice what the

  • lower one is .

  • So, they heard this and they heard this as essentially all

  • one sound.

  • So, if it's a duplication of sound, let's duplicate the

  • letters.

  • But you can look at manuscripts of the early eleventh century

  • and see people singing Ps and Ls and Os and Ms and things like

  • that.

  • But eventually, they began to uniformly adopt

  • this system of what's called "octave duplication."

  • And every musical culture around the world--

  • and I've talked with ethnomusicologists about this

  • particular point-- every musical culture around

  • the world, Chinese, Japanese,

  • Indonesian, Indian, African whatever,

  • they all use this phenomenon of octave duplication in their

  • music-- octave duplication in the music.

  • But how they divide up this sonic space within the octave

  • can vary rather considerably.

  • Some Arabic music seems to have as many as fourteen gradations

  • within the octave.

  • Now, we're going to listen to a piece of music here from the

  • tradition of classical India and I thought we might have a sitar

  • player in here.

  • Somebody--I got wind of the fact we might have a classical

  • Indian musician in our class, somebody that had studied the

  • sitar and might be able to come in and play one for us.

  • But we don't have that, so we're going to use something

  • on our CDs by the world famous sitarist, Ravi Shankar.

  • Okay, you've probably heard of him.

  • He's actually quite old now.

  • He must be--surely he's in his eighties.

  • He was very famous when I was in graduate school tons and tons

  • of years ago.

  • So--but he is the venerable sitar player.

  • And here is the pattern, the raga.

  • We'll call it a scale.

  • It's not really a scale but a raga that he is using.

  • It's got only six notes within the octave.

  • >

  • Prof: And the six notes are-->

  • --that particular pattern.

  • Doesn't sound like any scale we've ever heard of.

  • So, let's listen to Ravi Shankar play a bit of a raga

  • using a six-note scale.

  • >

  • Okay, so that gives you a flavor of that and you have

  • that, of course, on your CD number six,

  • fifteen.

  • So that's a bit of sitar music.

  • Now, we're going to play another six-note scale.

  • Let's go onto that one when Lynda gets set.

  • And this, of course, is sung by Nora Jones.

  • And, as you know from reading the textbook,

  • why do I mention Nora Jones?

  • Or why do we play Nora Jones right after Ravi Shankar?

  • Student: It's his daughter..

  • Prof: It's his daughter.

  • Isn't that interesting?

  • Every Saturday morning I'm going through Stop 'N Shop and

  • there's Nora Jones in the background playing.

  • I'm going down the pasta aisle or whatever, and I have the

  • daughter of Ravi Shankar over my shoulder.

  • What a world, huh?

  • So, we're going to listen to just a couple of seconds here of

  • a blues tune sung by Nora Jones.

  • >

  • Okay, so we'll just cut off here.

  • But what she's working off of here--we're not going to listen

  • to the whole thing--is this idea of a blues scale.

  • >

  • And so on. How's that operate?

  • One, two, three, four, five, six.

  • With this one, sometimes major and sometimes

  • minor.

  • We'll come back to that part.

  • So, that's another six-note scale but a different sort of

  • pattern, a different kind of pattern.

  • It's a blues scale pattern.

  • It's kind of between the major and minor that we'll talk about

  • a little bit later on.

  • So, two different forms of a six-note pattern,

  • let's go to a five-note pattern.

  • If you've ever visited parts of Indonesia--

  • which I have not--and if you've ever visited parts of China--

  • which I have not--I am told that you will hear this kind of

  • music.

  • It's played by a traditional Chinese instrument called the

  • erhu.

  • This I have seen around the world many times and heard.

  • It's a two-stringed instrument that produces a particularly

  • beautiful, vibrant tone.

  • So, we're going to listen to an erhu playing.

  • I think this is track--if you want to pursue it,

  • it's track--six-CD--track sixteen.

  • Let's listen to an erhu play a melody by a traditional Chinese

  • composer-- we call him in English

  • "Abbing" and you can read about him

  • there in your textbook.

  • >

  • Okay, so let's see--let's pick that up.

  • >

  • Five notes within the octave just there.

  • So, it's a penta--what we call a pentatonic scale.

  • And that's used in a lot of Far East cultures--the pentatonic

  • scale, just a five-note scale there.

  • Okay, so we have--there's a whole idea of octave

  • duplication--sometimes six notes, sometimes five notes.

  • We in the west have settled on a seven-note scale.

  • Why did that happen?

  • Well, we have this idea of a seven-note major and seven-note

  • minor.

  • Why seven notes?

  • Well, for the answer to that we have to go back to ancient Greek

  • music theory, and when you read about

  • this--it's really turgid stuff-- but believe it or not,

  • I teach a course on this at the graduate level.

  • We have to read--poor Lynda has to take this kind of

  • stuff--reading Aristoxenus and things like this.

  • So, what we're dealing here with is a situation where the

  • ancient Greeks were very much into mathematics as a way of

  • explaining the world and explaining music in particular .

  • And they thought these ratios were primary.

  • So, they had the ratio of two to one,

  • which gave them the octave, and three to two,

  • which gave them the fifth, and four to three,

  • which gave them the fourth.

  • They also, because the system worked out better for their

  • purposes, then jumped to nine to eight, which gave them the whole

  • tone.

  • So, they started out there and let's say they were working down

  • here.

  • They filled in the octave up above and then they filled in

  • the fifth and then they filled in the fourth and then they came

  • down a whole step and then they went up a fourth from that whole

  • step and then up a fourth from that,

  • and they were filling in in this fashion.

  • Interestingly enough--and you ever wonder this?--sometimes

  • somebody will wander by a keyboard and say,

  • "That's odd."

  • What's the great oddity about the keyboard?

  • What's strange about this keyboard?

  • It's very asymmetrical, right?

  • Marcus?

  • Student: It's missing >.

  • Prof: Yeah, it's missing some notes in

  • here.

  • It's missing something in here, and it's missing--well what

  • these are were the cracks.