# Hearing Shapes

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by bassicmelodies, Feb 5, 2013.

1. ### bassicmelodies

Feb 28, 2010
Portland, OR
Greetings Talkbass World,

I posted a pseudo essay on my blog about music manifesting as shapes, and I wanted to post it here to see if anyone has any input, links to related greatness, or questions. Here we go:

Greetings One and All,

I have began a journey down a unique path, it may not be unknown territory, but it doesn't have many charts, so I will be mapping as I go, so that you can know.

Today is super bowl sunday, for those that cared. I had a rehearsal with The Wishermen today, then arrived at a friends how to buy a tooth brush and watch the end of the game. On my way home I was thinking about common subdivisions in music, and how they apply to a circle. A while ago I was studying music under Alan Jones, and I've always remembered how he saw or felt rhythms as shapes. So I decided a 16 sided polygon would work for common time. I got home to consult the oracle, and a hexadecagon on a piece of paper with colored pencils appeared before me. I took my time to number each of the corners 1 - 16 then divided it's sides by two with lines going through the center, another layer of subdivision. Within the quadrilaterals I inscribed 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + ... 8+. Along the outer edge I put circles outside every other. I was trying to put the concept of the circle being infinitely small or large, depending on the scope one chose to use in the paper itself. First was the octagon, and a dark square, both in purple to display the relative root. I realized that 16 doesn't have any factors of three, so an equilateral triangle would be rather difficult. I'm still wrapping my head around this, but I think superimposing prime polyrhythms is a unique human trait. It's our best effort at perfection, because the decimals are never-ending, compared to four of 16, which is .25 or 4.

I then tried the tumbo rhythm, because it's probably the most relavant unequal subdivision of 3 into 4. It produced a red triangle, whose "spine" rides beat four with the purple square. I then tried to create the most equal tringle I could without breaking the ultimate duality of the graph. I moved the beat on the + of 2 back a sixteenth, and the beat on 4 back a sixteenth. This is as close as I could get, in orange.

1 2 3 4
1 e a

I'm gonna be playing with this for a bit, one could notate all the triangles, squares, and polygons one could wish to generate rhythmic motifs.

She was not finished with me yet. On the back side of the page I decided to create a dodecagon, I had to feel this out, 3 over 4, 3 over 2 is easy, but three over four. One, just after beat 2 and right before beat 4.
A 12 sided figure, a clock, the zodiac, the calendar, on and on. After some time the polygon formed, framed by it's mother on the other side. Starting with C at 12 o'clock I pitched it to raise chromatically as it went clockwise.

First a drew a red square, which matches the purple on the other side perfectly, this is the diminished shape angling from C, Eb, Gb, A. Then a green triangle, angling from C, E, G#. Here was the equilateral I was looking for. This was intriguing, because of the tension represented harmonically, yet it was symmetrical and solid. 12/3=4. no ellipsis. This does make some sense, symmetry is kinda creepy, could you imagine your fantasy lover with a perfectly symmetrical shape? Sure there are approximates that we like to have, like the major triad, we like that, and two ears that are about the same shape and level. The square though, is a different story. Oh my do we love our four four time. I think the answer to this lies back in the concept of scope. The bigger you get, or farther out from the center, we like solid things, like God, money, and 1. So a consistent BPM is probably a good place to start with providing security. Next a repeating meter, even if it's mixed, a listener can be lulled into an odd-meter trance if the shape is consistently connected. After that we move into subdivisions, what is everybody feeling and implying? triplets, phasing over bar-lines? Next is key, tonality, which you can even bring color to.

The minor triad was next, C, Eb, G, a purple acute triangle, which shared it's "spine" with the diminished square. Then the blue major triad, who shared it's "spine with the augmented triangle. Both those shapes compose the root of most music that we hear.

It's interesting to think of each players timing and intonation as being an angle in a shape on a grid. If both sides of us are not listening to the angles the others are presenting the lines will not meet, and the potential area will be lost. As listeners, we like familiar shapes, with a lot of space in certain regards. Less data, more area. It doesn't require as much attention to detail to comprehend the entire picture, and there's less to depend on, so the experience is more secure.

The simplicity of an octave or 16 beats leads to some questions.
I want to experiment with the star of david, and other sacred symbols to see what they reveal. Also with shapes that have dramatically shorter lengths. Like Bb, C, C# compared to a Bb minor triad. With harmony, viewing tones as extensions would unveil a whole different series of shapes compared to what I have here. Think Cmaj add 9, as to Cmaj2. The element of time creates another shape when introduced, much like a spiral centered around the meter. How cool would it be to see time graphed in 3D. It's like riding a smooth color changing slide down through the devine and out of your mind into souls to bring life. These shapes are coming out of the cones of my speakers. Without music, there is no hope, life would be a mistake.

Thats all for now.

CJF

Thanks for your time to those that read through. Really appreciate it!