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The Sound of Sound

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by iPlay15151515, Apr 10, 2005.


  1. Who made the decision that the sound produced by combining the 1-b3-5 notes of a major scale produces a somber, sad sound while the combination of 1-3-5 produces a happy pleasing sound?

    Is the minor really a sad sound or have we been conditioned through experience and association to interpret it in that manner?
     
  2. Abjimajik

    Abjimajik

    Sep 26, 2004
    Luton, England
    I would say that on the level of major and minor, or perhaps major and diminished responses could be universal and unconditioned. I regularly test this on new guitar students asking for responses to different chords and explain that the beauty of music is that we share responses to music. (conditioned or otherwise).
     
  3. pklima

    pklima

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Have you read Arnold Schoenberg's "Harmonielehre"? In the first chapter he attempts to derive various intervals, chords and common progressions from the physical properties of sound. I don't remember exactly what he had to say about major and minor thirds, but I think he did say something...
     
  4. I can't help but wonder if had I been exposed to radio/TV/movies/plays etc. where minors were used for happy exciting uplifting events and majors were uses for sad, scary, mysterious events, would I feel different emotions? Or would I be completely confused? Is the minor / sad relationship innate or is it learned?


    We have been taught "how and when and for what purpose" majors and minors are used so we fall in line and comply. We are constantly exposed to material that follows the accepted guidelines thus reinforcing the relationship each time we experience it.

    I played woodwinds in school band, but recently started playing the DB. This has cause me to look at and hear music in a completely different way. I would have never believed that I could learn to hear a note/chord/interval and identify it, but the more I practice ear training execises, the more accurate I become.

    I'll try to locate a copy of "Harmonielehre" and read it.
     
  5. I think is partially comes from the doctrine of ethos started in ancient Grecce. This idea states that music can have moral qualities even to the point of affecting a person's character. Different scales portray seperate moods and qualities. (and you thought music was important to our society! ;) )
     
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's an interesting example to take - as I don't think it's that simple - and a lot of the background music for exciting events on film/TV are in the minor!

    So - one of my favourite film score moments is the theme in "Bulitt" - which is clearly in C minor - but to me it evokes car chases, excitement and street "cool" all at the same time and no element of sadness whatsover!
     
  7. This from a 15151515 fellow? You have just hit the essence of what music is. Listen to the birds when they are happy. Listen to them when they are angry. How do you know which is which? Listen to the storm and the river and the ocean, too.

    There are other modes as well as the ionian and aeolian. Explore this. I like the euphoric "China Cat" mixolydian myself. The Lydian was the mode of thanks. Check out just intervals as well as equal temperament also. And this link I was looking at today questions the standards of concert pitch:
    http://www.bobnancy.com/bobnancy.html

    The best answers are in your heart. I think 1,5 is the "noblest" of the intervals.
     
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I thought it was from THIS IS SPINAL TAP, you know, "D minor is the saddest of all chords..."

    But where is this coming from? I certainly didn't come up with anyone telling me that certain chords or keys were happy or sad or forlorn like unto a wee crying puppy. Most of the time I hear that it's coming from folks with the same musical background as Nigel Tufnel.

    Bottom line, music is supposed to be putty in the hands of the musician. You can make a happy kitty or a big sad-eyed clown out of the putty. But it's the same putty.

    Siriusly, you got somebody trying to tell you that F Ab C Eb (Fmin7) is sadder than Ab C Eb F (Abmaj6)? It's the same ****ing chord!
     
  9. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    Klezmer bands can make quite a joyful sound with minor chords.
     
  10. pklima

    pklima

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    I don't think a minor third and a major third are quite "the same putty". Some intervals are more closely consonant, others more remotely consonant than others. Our perception of pitches and intervals is culturally conditioned to some degree (being used to equal temperament is one example) but there are real physical properties of sound behind it all. Perfect fiths are more consonant than diminished fifths because they are based on a very simple and easily derived frequency ratio. I believe major thirds are more consonant than minor thirds as well.

    What can I say, I'm an engineer at heart.
     
  11. dar512

    dar512

    Mar 25, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Not really. The lowest tone gets preferential treatment (emphasis) because it gets some unbroken tonal area for its overtones. The rest have their tones mixed with overtones from lower notes.

    I can't imagine any bassist thinking that 'which note is at the bottom' doesn't matter. :)
     
  12. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Don't miss the point DARlin'.
     
  13. dar512

    dar512

    Mar 25, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Which point did I miss? The one where iPlay asked whether the happy/sad labels for major and minor chords were intrinsic or culturally defined or the one where you told him that there wasn't any difference?
     
  14. mister_k

    mister_k

    Jul 27, 2004
    Los Angeles
    I always thought the mood of a piece was created by the melodic movement occurring over chord progressions. A chord alone doesn't seem to have a particular response until its juxtaposed in a series. Then your hear melodic ideas of sad or happy or whimsically delighted by a fine turkey sandwich with mayo and roasted red peppers and , oh it's lunch time isn't it?

    mmmmmm.

    sandwich.
     
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    The point where a musician can communicate concepts of beauty, joy, sadness, despair, hope, etc etc etc free from the concerns of whether a minor chord is "supposed" to be one thing or another. Miss that one, didja?
     
  16. - Ed Fuqua

    I just saw that for the first time and it was just too, too funny. In one of my bands, it is the drummer's favorite movie. I think he lives in Dminor. So far anyway....

    For a subtle exploration listen to "Blue Skies";- not the Allman Bros., the old jazz standard. It is a beautiful bittersweet melody over some really ambiguous happy/sad major minor progressions. Definitely one of my favorites.

    If you want to hear all of the intervals inside out and topsy turvey, I suggest any of Mingus but particularly Jazz Experiments and The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.

    Truly I agree with the engineering guy. The more "happy" intervals are the simplest fractions of the fundamental. The more complex the fraction, the darker the mood. ;)
     
  17. If the 1st is the 5th of the 4th, why doesn't the 5th over the 1st sound like the 1st over the 4th? Huh? Huh?

    And isn' the 6th just the M3rd of the 4th? And isn't the M7th the M3rd of the 5th?

    Makes me remember Go Go Gophers with the cavalry coyote, Major Minor. That was back when cartoons were funny..... :D
     
  18. dar512

    dar512

    Mar 25, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I didn't miss it. It was such a pompous platittude as to be worthy of Polonius -- and I ignored it. Your other comment was concrete, but I disagree with it.
     
  19. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Polonius-like platitudes pompously purveyed at yer cervix.

    One man's fish is another man's poisson.
     
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's some "bad pl'attitude", man.....;)