Where can I find the full Report on the Results of the MNMA Evaluation Test

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stuar...@gmail.com

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Jun 9, 2021, 11:50:56 AM6/9/21
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The Research Project web page (http://musicnotation.org/mnma/research-project/) has this statement and link:
The full text includes statistical analyses of the participating musicians’ responses and was published in the Vol. 10, No. 2, 2nd Quarter 2000 issue of the MNMA’s Music Notation News.)

The link goes to the MNP Publications page (http://musicnotation.org/mnma/publications/#news) where under the section Music Notation News there is another link labelled "Place an order".  That link goes to the National Music Museum home page (http://nmmusd.org/).  I have searched that site but cannot find the Music Notation News.   Maybe it's there and I just can't find it.

I would very much like to see the full report.  Can anyone point me to it?  Or send it to me?

Thanks,
Stuart

Douglas Keislar

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Jun 11, 2021, 1:57:26 AM6/11/21
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Stuart,

I have a hard copy of the issue of Music Notation News that contains the report you're interested in (which I wrote). I'll scan it and put a PDF on the MNP site when I get some time, hopefully in the next few days.

Best,
Doug

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Douglas Keislar

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Jun 12, 2021, 9:03:17 PM6/12/21
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Stuart and all,

I've scanned Music Notation News 10:2, which contains the "Summarized Results of the MNMA Notation Test" (a 30-page report). Here's a link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/5qovw38mmlfv3al/MusicNotationNews-Vol10No2.pdf?dl=0

Doug

John Keller

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Jun 13, 2021, 9:53:14 AM6/13/21
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Hi Doug,

As I read your report, I kept thinking that the emphasis should have been on learning and playing from the notations, rather than transcribing by hand. So I was pleased that at the end you suggested the same ideas.

And there was no mention of the whole debate such as recently was had with Mark Gould and Graham Breed that fusing enharmonics is simply not valid. 

What instruments did the evaluators play and were they instructed to attempt sight reading from the various notations?

If the emphasis is on learning a new system, may I suggest that people try playing piano from my Express Stave file entitled Black Key Geography.

Cheers,
John Keller

 

stuar...@gmail.com

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Jun 13, 2021, 9:58:39 AM6/13/21
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Thanks Doug,

I appreciate your time to scan in so many pages and assemble a PDF.   I would suggest that the MNP web master update the "Music Notation News" link (http://musicnotation.org/mnma/publications/#news) on the Research Projects page (http://musicnotation.org/mnma/research-project/) with the one to the PDF on DropBox.  The link is in the section "Results in Brief".  I think it's important that future researchers of this website be able to find the complete results.

At the risk of wearing out my welcome, I would also like to see the five questions in Part 1 of the Research Project which is not a part of the test results document.  There is a reference on page 4 to the "orignal test form" .  Perhaps that is more easily available (and not 30 pages long!).  

Thanks again,
Stuart

Douglas Keislar

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Jun 13, 2021, 7:00:32 PM6/13/21
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Stuart wrote:

At the risk of wearing out my welcome, I would also like to see the five questions in Part 1 of the Research Project which is not a part of the test results document.  There is a reference on page 4 to the "orignal test form" .  Perhaps that is more easily available (and not 30 pages long!). 

I've been looking in my files for the test form itself and haven't found it. But the questions are in Music Notation News 10:3. The ones for Part 1 (chromatic scale) are:
  1. How easy is it to identify the staff lines and spaces in the melody staff?
  2. How easy do you think it would be to write a note a major 3rd above the top line of the staff, and below the bottom line of the staff?
  3. How easy do you think it would be to read the inventor's or your own version of a piano staff in this system?
  4. How easy is it to recognize the note heads in this system according to note head size, shape, style and position on the melody staff?
  5. How easy would it be for you to read successive octaves of notes in this melody staff, using any methods that are available for extended pitch range?
After typing those up just now, I realized that the questions for all parts of the test are listed implicitly (not as explicit questions, but as "criteria") here:

Doug


Douglas Keislar

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Jun 13, 2021, 7:11:27 PM6/13/21
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John Keller wrote:
What instruments did the evaluators play and were they instructed to attempt sight reading from the various notations?

The information about the evaluators' instruments might be written somewhere, but I didn't notice it in a brief perusal of the Music Notation News issues from around that time (1999-2000). The test questions are listed explicitly in MNN 10:3. A couple of them ask about ease of reading, but there are none that explicitly ask the evaluators to sight read.


Douglas Keislar

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Jun 13, 2021, 7:22:55 PM6/13/21
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I just found the "Test for New Notation Systems." 56 pages long. According to MNN, the test was mailed (in hard copy) to all members of the Music Notation Modernization Association. (This was done for transparency, to allay potential concerns about bias, since one of the 37 systems to be evaluated was invented by Tom Reed, who also helped design the test, along with Michael Johnston and me.)

stuar...@gmail.com

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Jun 14, 2021, 2:54:36 AM6/14/21
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Again, thanks Doug for posting the Part 1 list of questions.   The Research Project appears to have  been a huge effort and I think it really is a milestone in the AN movement.  Hopefully, more research will be conducted by someone in the future and that's why I think it's important to document it.  Your summary of the results are excellent.  And I think your "Recommendations for Future Research" are spot on with your emphasis on beginners.  They're the ones that will eventually put ANs into the mainstream.

I hope this exercise brings back fond memories of the project.    Can you believe it's been 20+ years ?!
Stuart

Musical Supersystem

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Jun 14, 2021, 7:30:53 AM6/14/21
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On Sun, Jun 13, 2021 at 9:53 AM John Keller <jko...@bigpond.net.au> wrote:

And there was no mention of the whole debate such as recently was had with Mark Gould and Graham Breed that fusing enharmonics is simply not valid. 

John, I would appreciate it if you could explain further what that means.

Enrique.
 

Douglas Keislar

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Jun 14, 2021, 11:13:23 AM6/14/21
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Enrique,

I believe what John means is that notation systems should distinguish between enharmonic equivalents such as C# and Db, not fuse them into one entity (as many systems do). It's related to the idea that 12-tone equal temperament is insufficient.

Doug

John Keller

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Jun 14, 2021, 1:21:46 PM6/14/21
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Doug and Enrique,

Its not that I think the enharmonics should be distinguished, more that after the vigorous debates about it here, that all of the ANs happily conflated them into the 12 tone system, and none of the evaluators even mentioned that there might be disagreement about the whole idea. Or were the evaluators chosen from musicians who already accepted the validity of the 12 degree staves without enharmonic distinctions?

John


Douglas Keislar

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Jun 14, 2021, 2:29:50 PM6/14/21
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Right, John. I didn't mean to imply that it was your position that enharmonic equivalents should be distinguished, only that you were describing that position, which others were supporting.

I don't recall whether the evaluators in the 1999-2000 test might have argued explicitly for distinguishing enharmonic equivalents. But one of the evaluators was Siemen Terpstra, who as an advocate of microtonality (google "terpstra keyboard," for example) has certainly been interested in such distinctions.

Doug

Mark Gould

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Jun 14, 2021, 9:54:20 PM6/14/21
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Hi all,

I read the Report and I was interested to read (see highlighted passage attached) about colour differentiated pitch. I also read the part about rhythmic notation, which I have contributed separately. I'll leave aside the discussion about intonation schemes and their notational needs, but wished to point out that Equiton has no bias for notational requirements of particular intonational schemes, and that it uses a colour differentiation scheme for pitch, at the cost of pure pitch proportionality. This is actually an important question about notational efficiency, pitch proportionality and symbolic recognition of pitch versus pitch height. I don't have the technical vocabulary for this area, but there  is possibly some glyph recognition/symbol complexity concept in terms of notational systems which needs a more abstract analysis. It may be that a suboptimal system of symbols may (in the manner of information theory) be more 'useful' than a more efficient system because it's more noise tolerant (think printing and/or writing issues).


Kind regards

Mark

Mark Gould

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Jun 14, 2021, 9:54:32 PM6/14/21
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Hi All,

I read the document, and i find it interesting in the conclusion a couple of points came up. I've highlighted them here in the attachment. Of course my position is 'well known' on the matter of notation, which neatly addresses both points. I have read the Skapski thesis and his solution is extremely obscure on the rhythmic system. The one I proposed for Equiton (but could be used with other systems) was a result of my dissatisfaction with its proportional notation. Subsequently, I discovered that some proposals for notation use a variant notehead or stem for minims where notehead colours are used to convey pitch.

As for the evaluations, I think in my opinion there were too few evaluators to make the test statistically significant (for one who has devised these sort of things in another domain), as well as some of the initial filtering criteria being skewed.

Mark

Mark Gould

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Jun 14, 2021, 9:54:32 PM6/14/21
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Hi 
It seems my attachment didn't attatch,


Kind regards,

Mark

On Monday, 14 June 2021 at 07:54:36 UTC+1 stuar...@gmail.com wrote:

lettersquash

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Jun 15, 2021, 7:38:22 AM6/15/21
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Hi all,
Thanks, Stuart, for the question, and Douglas, for scanning the Summary to DropBox.

The more I read of this research (and I should admit at the start I haven't read much yet), the more dismayed and saddened I become about it, and by the fact that the MNP website seems to continue to support (in large part) the same approach to the problem of alternative notation systems.

On the other hand, I have to remember that the digital world was very different when the research was conducted, and the intervening twenty-odd years have also changed our culture. Nowadays, one would expect such studies to make use of "big data", and we are much more aware of the wisdom of crowds and less inclined to appeal to expertise so automatically. And, looking on the bright side, we learn more from failure than success, so the results do tell us quite a lot about the problem and inform better solutions.

The first "mistake", IMHO - filtering 500 proposals down to 37 by Committee - might have been avoided in the modern situation. However much I might disagree with the criteria for selection of the subset (and I disagree with many), this step might be accepted as necessary or a reasonable one to make at that time, and some criteria had to be chosen. The lesson, however, is that they are not givens, but subjective opinions. Beginning some research, the purpose of which is to provide objective analysis, with a subjectively screened set of proposals is not ideal.

We could now create a research project with online subscription and advertise on social media to attract hundreds of participants, perhaps thousands. Evaluating 500 proposals might be quite easy, since each participant might only be allocated some small number to assess. Computerized analysis of carefully designed questionaires could extract all manner of insights. Instead, ten participants were signed up for the tests and three dropped out, while one made significant changes to the systems and then scored those.

Mass polling of opinion would also have averted the second mistake, appealing only to highly experienced musicians. These opinions are important, of course, and necessary for a reasonable test of how a script will cope with notating advanced pieces of music, which beginners couldn't even read. I imagine the assumption was probably made that these experts would also be able to see how each system would work for those with less experience, but, if so, this is a somewhat naive assumption.

However, it is also possible that a deeper assumption was made, that "the" new notation system sought was, at least ideally, a replacement for the traditional one, or that it must in all events have the capacity to notate the most complex music an orchestra is likely to encounter. In other words, a simple, but more limited, system would automatically be discounted.

This would miss the value of systems that might attract and retain vast numbers of students, giving them enormous musical education opportunities and personal pleasure, whether sticking to that system and acheiving only a relatively moderate level of competence, or, having got hooked on the joys of musicianship, then going on to study the traditional system or switching to yet another, more advanced novel alternative.

But the problems of conscripting a few experts already steeped in the traditional system are laid bare in the extract Mark just posted: "Most evaluators were not fond of systems that use black versus white noteheads in any way other than the traditional way (which is only to distinguish between the quarter note and the half note)."

As we learn skills like reading, the brain becomes wired to expect certain symbols to mean certain things. The longer this goes on, the harder it is to re-train ourselves, so we must recognise that experts are handicapped in regard to assessing novel systems in some ways, even while they are enabled in others. Mass research (asking for people's experience of TN as part of the process) could discover all sorts of relationships between level of exposure to TN and the usefulness of new systems, informing us whether a new system would be suitable as a bridge, a novice's script, whether another might occupy a Goldilocks position, satisfying musicians in most situations, if not the most demanding ones, or yet another would give the advanced musician everything they could ever want.

Another issue that future research might address (although with some difficulty) is that of acclimatization and learning over time. If each participant assessed only one system (perhaps after choosing out of a few), and worked with it over a longer period, this would provide information about the "learning curve" associated with each system, how easy it is to progress with it. However, this would require adequate parsing of music files into the required notation at the required level, which depends upon adequately advanced development of the system to include all the necessary dynamics and other expression marks, repeat sections, octave changes, and so on, which the system might show differently from TN.

A fundamental problem is also indicated by the fact that some aspects of systems will be left unclear for future development. Some of these, like a modified time-duration symbolism, might be applied to a range of notation systems with ease; in other cases, a system, through its design, may preclude the use of a method. This means that assessment of systems in research will require those systems to be given as a whole package, since on-the-fly reconfigurations by the average user would be impossible (and undesirable methodologically). Discussion by interested parties, such as on this forum, might however shed a lot of light on the sorts of symbolic methods that are preferable, or that fit with other constraints of systems.

Given all these problems, I do wonder whether the best research is likely to happen now without deliberate coordination, by digital evolution, as people produce apps capable of transcribing music into new systems, gain users, get feedback, adjust, etc. These will probably attract beginners rather than experts (since one is likely to launch an app before working out how to deal with certain complexities), and some may get weeded out for more advanced use. Others might develop to notate full orchestral works or demanding polyrhythmic microtonal compositions. One might triumph, win the musical arms race, or, more likely, a number might carve out a niche for themselves. Either way, the days of a committee of dedicated experts coming up with a replacement for traditional notation are over.

John Freestone / lettersquash

Musical Supersystem

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Jun 15, 2021, 8:13:06 AM6/15/21
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Doug, John, 
Words like, "not valid, insufficient" continue adding to one of the most discussed issues here, "to Bb or not to Bb but to be Cbb" quoting Koppers who raised the issue at the very inaugural conference of the MNMA in 1988 Norwich and I guess others had done it before.

My perception is that the MNP has not shared the view that to Bb or not to Bb is a very important issue for proposal that are not compatible with the accidental and diatonic counting mechanisms/methods and which intention is beyond just playing instruments, 

Why there is not a line in the list of criteria e.g.: the proposal should be compatible with the accidental and diatonic counting of the conventional system or provide alternative methods.

One of my points has been
notation + nothing = notation 
vs.
notation + methods = system.

Why are notations comparing to and critiquing a system?

Enrique.






Douglas Keislar

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Jun 15, 2021, 1:47:05 PM6/15/21
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John (Freestone),

I agree with much of what you say and would be thrilled to see you spearhead a new evaluation effort.  :-)

Doug

drtec...@gmail.com

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Jun 15, 2021, 4:15:45 PM6/15/21
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John,

I would suggest that we identify the problem before we begin looking for solutions.

 

As a once-beginner piano student, I saw "the problem" as a difficulty of making an intuitive correspondence between the notation on the page and the keys on my instrument.  I am expected to make this mapping in real time at hundreds of events per minute.

I have been told that some human brains are capable of learning to do this, but I find I cannot do it reliably myself.

Is there a better way? 

 

As a perhaps budding musician, I see an entirely different problem: learning to perform music.

Which leads me to question whether notation is the right place to start!

After all, I did not learn to read before I learned to talk;
I presumably did not learn to talk before I learned to recognize the language being spoken.

 

So why are we even starting with notation?  Why not start instrumental music the way we start vocal music, with rote repetition?

My children were taught to play violin via the Suzuki method before they could read music notation.

 

I am beginning to suspect that we don't actually "read" music;
we learn it by memory,

then use the score as a cue-card to jog our memory.

 

If you want an interesting experiment, teach kids to play "by rote" or "by ear",
then let them invent their own notation to record their songs,

and see what happens!

 

Joe Austin

Benjamin Spratling

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Jun 15, 2021, 10:52:45 PM6/15/21
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Yep

-Ben

Sent from my iPhone.

On Jun 15, 2021, at 7:38 AM, lettersquash <j.r.fr...@gmail.com> wrote:



Douglas Keislar

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Jun 15, 2021, 11:39:45 PM6/15/21
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Joe, re:

I am beginning to suspect that we don't actually "read" music;
we learn it by memory,

then use the score as a cue-card to jog our memory.


It's not either/or. Sight-reading is real. There are people who are extremely skilled at it, being able to read previously unseen, complex music and render it accurately at "hundreds of events per minute." Having said that, I'll agree that a much more common scenario is slowly learning to render the notation through practice and using the score as a reminder of what one has learned. It all depends on how complex the music is relative to one's sight-reading ability.

Doug

John Keller

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Jun 16, 2021, 12:30:57 AM6/16/21
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Gordon Music Learning Theory takes this view, but its done from a very young age and is for voice, not on an instrument. Some kids who hear and distinguish sounds well, can pick up an instrument by ear, but these are often the ones who cannot learn to read notation because there is too much interference from their inner hearing expectations. I had a boy who picked up the accordion with chords and all, by himself. I had the hardest job trying to get him to play from notation, his eyes just glazed over, his fingers following some music idea from his brain. in contrast, another boy with no pitch or rhythmic natural ability, has learnt Chopin Nocturne in Eb from ES having learnt from me less than 3 years. People vary widely.

One girl who was resistant to reading music devised her own system of letter names written very inconsistently (neither totally horizontal or vertically). I was able to show her that it could be unified so that chords were vertical and tunes horizontal, and the tune could be written at varied heights to reflect the pitch. It seemed to help. 

I am fairly sure most beginners can read a vertical notation of the three-black-keys group as I start in ES.
As long as their eyes can keep the place, they can control their fingers, and they are not too fidgety!

John



Musical Supersystem

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Jun 16, 2021, 9:09:21 AM6/16/21
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Doug,
Thanks for sharing that document, I had never seen it before, I think it was reasonable to think at the time that technology would level alternatives with TN and that finally the era of reforms or ANs had arrived because TN had to face for the first time a real and more feasible challenge.
However what happened was that technology instead of melting a frozen TN it cemented it, and we have to learn to live with that fact.

It also seems as if M. Koppers were a sort of a party-pooper and his point so ignored among the joy and excitement of those biased to a chromatic solution, this doc reinforces my hunch. Why? Is there an explanation for it?

Enrique.


 


Douglas Keislar

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Jun 16, 2021, 11:40:54 AM6/16/21
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Enrique,

Well, you're right that the MNMA notation test was biased to a chromatic solution, depending how "a chromatic solution" is defined. One of the screens by which the 500-some notation systems were narrowed down to 37 systems requires a proportional pitch axis where each of the 12 chromatic pitches has its own position:
But if by "a chromatic solution" you mean one that doesn't show the 7-5 pattern of the diatonic-plus-chromatic pitches (such as the piano roll notations which you often cite), there is no screen that precludes 7-5 notations. (See, for example, http://musicnotation.org/systems/group/7-5-line-pattern/.)
There is also nothing that precludes a system from distinguishing between enharmonic equivalents, which I believe is what your mention of M. Koppers refers to. For example, Clairnote (which didn't exist at the time of the notation test) has optional symbols for distinguishing sharps from flats.

Doug


Douglas Keislar

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Jun 16, 2021, 11:43:06 AM6/16/21
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P.S. Just realized this is unclear:
But if by "a chromatic solution" you mean one that doesn't show the 7-5 pattern of the diatonic-plus-chromatic pitches (such as the piano roll notations which you often cite),
I meant that the piano roll notations do show the 7-5 pattern.

Musical Supersystem

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Jun 16, 2021, 1:46:34 PM6/16/21
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Doug,
Let me say that I am all for the twelve-note or chromatic solution and looking to find a feasible path to completely get rid of the accidental mechanism in said solution.
But while we are revising history I see a mistake that without having said path the project sweeps the issue under the carpet at a unique moment that will not repeat, and limit itself within the barriers of a list of criteria that became sort of a religious credo.
Not that I am blaming anyone for spoiling a unique moment, chances are the outcome would have been the same with a different approach but that is something we'll never know.

Enrique.


 

Musical Supersystem

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Jun 16, 2021, 3:08:41 PM6/16/21
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On the other hand, in a system full of theoretical assumptions, where notes that are different and sound so different (octave equivalence) are taught to be the same that some people believe it as a fact, or chords because they share the same notes though sound so different that anyone can notice we assume they are the same (just inverted).
I find it interesting, things that are different and is so easy to notice we assume and accept them as the same, but that tiny difference that not everybody can notice or in most cases (ET) does not exist , no that little one has to remain, like a spell, that if we dare to ignore that tiny difference, the whole building of fantasies that has been constructed will fall down on us and will bury us.

Enrique.


Musical Supersystem

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Jun 16, 2021, 3:35:39 PM6/16/21
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Or in other words, and to go on the habit of assuming, what is now the same we have to assume they are different, because everything upside down is better....

J R Freestone

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Jun 16, 2021, 4:13:15 PM6/16/21
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Hi Enrique,
That is an interesting point about octaves, which I have considered myself. We all apparently base our conception of music on the idea that the notes cycle, or spiral, upwards, repeating the same (but different) note at the octave. However, it is little more than an interesting thought. We could, of course, see it as no more important than any other division of the wavelength, where a string will vibrate at its middle as opposed to in thirds or wherever else, but I don't see any point un undoing the association of octaves. They can indeed sound almost identical, since timbre of a sound may already include the octave above (and perhaps below, I'm not sure about that) along with all its other harmonics. It is often difficult to decide, if one hears a C on a flute or recorder, or any other instrument, which C it is on the piano. I can't see any advantage that would come from deliberately dissociating the octaves in some way in a notation system, if that's what you mean.

I disagree about inversions. Unless the notes have a lot of harmonics, it is usually relatively easy for someone with a good ear for music to tell them apart. It was a test I remember taking as a kid, being asked to sing each of the notes in a chord played by the teacher on the piano (without me seeing the keyboard). People vary in how well they discern musical tones, and as far as I know it is also a skill that can be developed with practice.

What is it that you're referring to with this - "that tiny difference that not everybody can notice or in most cases (ET) does not exist , no that little one has to remain, like a spell, that if we dare to ignore that tiny difference, the whole building of fantasies that has been constructed will fall down on us and will bury us"? Do you mean the difference some say is important between a sharp and flat, etc., when they argue that we should not combine these in our notation? If so, I tentatively agree. I'm still rather confused about their argument, but music theory I struggle with quite a lot!

Thanks
John

Musical Supersystem

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Jun 16, 2021, 10:05:26 PM6/16/21
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Hi John,
In the past I cited a paper where the author proposed getting rid of all theoretical assumptions except the octave equivalence in order to analyze harmonies, and produce a description of the succession of harmonies in a more objective way.
He cited a number of scholars pointing in the same direction and some flaws and reasons for the criticism.
My point is to keep the good theoretical assumptions (like octave equivalence), which are the ones that help to simplify and manipulate the harmonic material, and get rid of the bad ones, which are the ones that complicate and obstruct.

Given that 12-TET is the prevailing and predominant tuning system at least for a great part of the world (and that has been for a long time now), we may consider that the mechanism of enharmonic equivalence is a theoretical assumption outside of the conventional notation.

But the importance is when some consider it a good theoretical assumption that must be kept, and others (me) that it is a very bad one when we want to use a chromatic notation and have a simpler or more objective theoretical system.
We could label it the theoretical assumption that may keep chromatic notations in the shadow as semi-useful notations.
I have created my own databases and programs to explore and experiment a feasible way of getting rid of obstructive theoretical assumptions within the context of a twelve-note system.

About the "to Bb or not to Bb but Cbb"  I am all for an option without the Bb or Cbb.
Just as one of a huge number of examples Cdim7/Eb, D#dim7, Ebdim7, F#dim7/Eb, Gbdim7/Fbb, and Adim7/Eb show as the same piano chord, that I will review further as I introduced all the chords semi-manually into the database.

Enrique.






Mark Gould

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Jun 17, 2021, 3:34:21 AM6/17/21
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Have you considered using pitch-class sets for this work?

Mark

Musical Supersystem

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Jun 17, 2021, 8:14:34 AM6/17/21
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Sure, that  is a natural to work with computers, midi files with midi numbers are the source for a vast volume of music that is now available.
My projects have never been purely about notation, I have been learning and shifting over the years, understanding and explaining what tonal music is became a challenge, I wish I could dedicate more time to this but let's see what comes out.


Enrique.

tinma...@gmail.com

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Jun 17, 2021, 11:05:24 PM6/17/21