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 Forum index » Discussion » Composition » Project Zylaphon
The cadence in harmony and noise
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bachus



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PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2010 4:01 pm    Post subject: The cadence in harmony and noise Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

As indicated in the Overview the most difficult design problem remaining for Zylaphon is that of modeling tonality and it analogs in such a way that these models may be brought to bear on compositional problems. Or from a slightly different angle, the problem of modeling the functional aspects of harmony in the most general way possible. We want our models, especially our data sets and more abstract (virtual) classes to apply to widest range of styles possible.

The cadence is both essential to virtually every harmonic system, and more abstract than harmony (i.e. can stand on its own as an abstraction that applies to multiple sub-domains of music). This makes the cadence the logical place to start an examination of possibly useful syntactic structures that might act as virtual classes of use to composers interested in music with harmony as well as those interested in so called "noise music," etc..

A question for composers who do not find harmonic cadences relevant to their work: Do you every think of your work in terms of sections and stages? And if so, do you reflect on the nature of the "join" between sections or what goes on to bring such a section/composition to an end; and do you have anything to say about those joins and ends.

r.c.

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kkissinger



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PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 8:53 pm    Post subject: Re: The cadence in harmony and noise Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

bachus wrote:
The cadence is both essential to virtually every harmonic system, and more abstract than harmony (i.e. can stand on its own as an abstraction that applies to multiple sub-domains of music). This makes the cadence the logical place to start an examination of possibly useful syntactic structures that might act as virtual classes of use to composers interested in music with harmony as well as those interested in so called "noise music," etc..


Harmonic cadences result from the notion of a tonal center -- a cadential passage places gravity on a tonal center (a "key", if you will). Thus, to compose music that is true "noise" or atonal music requires the composer to avoid cadences and other devices (drones and repeated notes) that give weight to a key.

Also, cadences tend to have a "pause" effect on the harmonic motion. One must be aware of them and, in many cases, avoid them to keep the music from sounding as if it is starting and stopping (rather than flowing).

Though it is difficult reading, Heinrich Schenker gets into the notion of "prolongation" which, among other things, defers cadences.

Ironically, you may want your software to recognize unwanted cadences, and suggest ways to either avoid them or prolong the passage.

Incidentally, much music that is considered "atonal" is not really atonal at all -- much of it is music with complex harmony that, none-the-less, can be subject to tonal analysis. I'm a fan of Hindemith's system of harmonic analysis because it can account for any combination of notes -- and even with the thickest glob of notes the system allows one to identify the root.

bachus wrote:
A question for composers who do not find harmonic cadences relevant to their work: Do you every think of your work in terms of sections and stages? And if so, do you reflect on the nature of the "join" between sections or what goes on to bring such a section/composition to an end; and do you have anything to say about those joins and ends.r.c.


My comment is that if a composer considers cadences to be irrelevant to their work they would be advised to recognize and avoid them. All it takes is a bass motion of a fourth or fifth to suggest a IV-I or V-I cadence. 'tis dangerous living Wink

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bachus



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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I agree with every thing you say so long as I consistently prefix "harmonic" to your use of the word cadence. But I disagree that the cadence is only relevant in the context of harmony. If that is what you'er implying.

"Summary: A cadence is a place in a piece of music that feels like a stopping or resting point. In tonal music, cadences are classified by their chord progressions."

"A cadence is any place in a piece of music that has the feel of an ending point. This can be either a strong, definite stopping point - the end of the piece, for example, or the end of a movement or a verse - but it also refers to the 'temporary-resting-place' pauses that round off the ends of musical ideas within each larger section."

Further "rhythmic cadence" is a common place. I have heard any number of indefinite pitch compositions and improvs that exhibit these exact same properties, and therefore argue that harmonic cadence is properly treated as a sub-class of cadence which is a universal syntactic delimiter which encompasses everything from common practice cadence to colotomy.

Edit:
Added "If that is what you're implying." Not clear to me now that you were--

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bachus



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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2010 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ideally we would like our most abstract model of cadence to have Attributes that would allow it to formulate cadences in a qualified context as follows. Consider this quote from the preceding post

A cadence is any place in a piece of music that has the feel of an ending point. This can be either a strong, definite stopping point - the end of the piece, for example, or the end of a movement or a verse - but it also refers to the 'temporary-resting-place' pauses that round off the ends of musical ideas within each larger section.

If one were to qualify intervals as to "degree of sense of rest" and include context data such as duration and metric position, and information about preceding intervals, do the same in terms of evaluation of melodic intervals, rhythm, and other expressive dimensions etc., then an algorithm could construct and recognize harmonic cadences without ever "seeing" a functional analysis or template of one. This seems particularly important in modern music where functional analysis yields indeterminate results and templates are essentially useless. In any case the success or failure of such an exercise would constitute and evaluation of our "definition" of cadence as generally applicable and not just to the sub-domain of harmony.

As a generalization this approach could be useful for music built on pitch class sets that differ substantially from Equal Temperament. If one constructed an algorithm that calculated an interval or chord's "degree of sense of rest" from its beat frequencies then a practice of cadences substantially different from that of tonal music could be constructed and recognized as needed. Moreover this approach should apply to any music for which the evaluative terms of the quote above applies. Thus, if composers of non-pitched music can identify and evaluate discrete and well defined aspects of their music in a similar fashion then Zylaphon could provide the same level of assistance to them as well.

To be clear about the obvious, the evaluation of a "... place in a piece of music that has the feel of an ending point " has to be a subjective process either done by the user or selected from sets of evaluations made by others.

This is really what this thread is intended to be about, teasing out those core syntactic elements that are universally applicable and especially the definition of Cadence as a virtual class sufficiently general to meet Zylaphon's requirements for its sub-classing

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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

bachus wrote:
I agree with every thing you say so long as I consistently prefix "harmonic" to your use of the word cadence. But I disagree that the cadence is only relevant in the context of harmony. If that is what you'er implying.


Bachus, I used the term "harmonic" to limit the scope of my comment. Rhythmic cadence may be more 'context sensitive'. For example, a constant beat will tend to keep dance music moving forward (a lack of stopping places) whereas in non-dance music such a steady beat suggests static motion. (that is, syncopated beats may give way to steady beats).

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Octahedra



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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 11:50 am    Post subject: Re: The cadence in harmony and noise Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

bachus wrote:
A question for composers who do not find harmonic cadences relevant to their work: Do you every think of your work in terms of sections and stages? And if so, do you reflect on the nature of the "join" between sections or what goes on to bring such a section/composition to an end; and do you have anything to say about those joins and ends.


I write quite a bit of fast modal music in a structure that I call static and morphing sections. The idea was inspired by Steve Reich originally, but I've developed it in my own ways over the last 8 or 9 years.

Anyway, the idea is that the music alternates between 2 different states. In each (short) static section you get a single bar of music repeated several times. Then in the morphing section it changes a little bit each time, and after a couple of minutes it has slowly become something different, which will be the next static section. Sometimes I use algorithmic processes like bubblesorting, but mostly I do Tangerine Dream-style sequencer tweaking (in software; not in realtime).

The static sections tend to get marked out from the morphs by the presence (or absence) of chords, or by percussion events at the start and end. So the join would be clearly marked out. There's never any gap between the sections or change of tempo - it's always completely robotic.

I found there was rarely enough of a clue when the current morph was going to end and the next static section start. The changes would come in unexpectedly and so didn't work very well. So to fix that I would build up to it in one of two ways (now we really get to your question):


1. Have a crescendo sound effect. Then you can really feel that something's coming up in the next few seconds, and by following the downbeat in the analog-sequencer line you can tell when the instant of transition will be. I expect notating this kind of thing (eg. percussion rolls) in the Zylaphon software could get more tricky than the basic stuff.

2. Use bass or chords to create a progression that will resolve back to the tonic at the start of the static sequence. Then the resolution is expected.


In the old days when I used option 1 a lot more, ending a piece wasn't that hard. Sometimes it would just stop dead (Reich-style) at the end of the last static section. But recently as I've felt more need for harmonic adventures, used option 2 more and found ways to fill the entire morphing sections with chord progressions, ending the piece is becoming something of a sore point for me. The sense of arrival is so much stronger this way, that stopping the fast sequence in mid-air just seems like I pulled the plug and walked away. So when it's the end of a whole 20-30 minute EP, I've resorted to adding a slow coda after the last static section, just to close everything off properly. I hate breaking my systems just to make the music sound good, but I've spent a whole lifetime having to do it... Sad

Gordon

Last edited by Octahedra on Tue May 25, 2010 1:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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bachus



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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks,

That's the kind of stuff I need. I'm too stuck in tonal practices to envision many alternative worlds.

I an beginning to think that we will need a syntactic marker class that is more general than the concept of cadence and from which the various classes of cadence will descend.

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