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Genesis of Melody

Genesis of Melody
July 04, 2013, 05:00:29 PM
Can you wonder at it?

A Celtic melody sounds this way, a French or German melody that way. Same could be said for Greece, Persia, India and really as far and deep as you care to look. Basically you have a group and the tendency is, like language to diverge and develop an idiosyncratic identity that subconsciously mirrors it. On top of that is the cross-cultural exchange of ideas and other developments which occur only under the grand forces of time.

But where does that particular affinity for favouring that particular combination of notes come from? I cannot narrow it down to a logical reason other than that it is somewhat hard-wired into the soul, something even the most extremely individualistic composer is bound by.

Observing this genealogy in metal can be even more interesting than that of strictly traditional music. Examples of some of the more obvious strains that strike me are:

Incantation - Profanatica -> Demoncy
Blasphemy -> Impaled Nazarene - Beherit  <- Bathory
Bathory -> (+ Hellhammer) ->The entire pantheon of early Norwegian black metal.

For black metal I think this was best exemplified in Darkthroneís Transylvanian Hunger or the works of Ildjarn which is essentially a distillation of that melodic form. The sheer recombinance of riffs over the Ildjarn discography speaks volumes for the subconscious and this gravitational pull within the soul.

As an aside I occasionally experienced some odd phenomena myself while out walking in woods and meadows. A melody passes through my head, seemingly unique in all the world, then at a later date I have heard it or some similar variant being used in someone elseís music. You could say they beat me to it, unless they actually did it before I had thought of it, though I honestly canít recall having heard it before, at least not in this life ;)

Can you wonder at the DNA of a soul?

Re: Genesis of Melody
July 05, 2013, 04:21:03 AM
Quote from: aquarius
Basically you have a group and the tendency is, like language to diverge and develop an idiosyncratic identity that subconsciously mirrors it. On top of that is the cross-cultural exchange of ideas and other developments which occur only under the grand forces of time.

But where does that particular affinity for favouring that particular combination of notes come from? I cannot narrow it down to a logical reason other than that it is somewhat hard-wired into the soul, something even the most extremely individualistic composer is bound by.

Ah! Now we are talking cultural evolution, a fascinating topic.

It's probably not as hard-wired as you suggest. First, you need someone with group status to come up with a new varient, say a new melody in a new mode. We have cognitive dispositions to want to emulate the top apes in the group, for adaptive reasons. Second, you need some group isolation so that a clear lineage of copies or variants can evolve with out too much outside influence. Third, (for development over time) you need copying of the original variant, which in this case will mean emulation of the melody. During the copying process of emulation, slight errors inevitably creep in, and if these 'errors' are replicated then you get cumulative change over time of a particular lineage with its own general regional flavour. 

But I guess this doesn't completely address the genesis, or original variant of the melody. Where did it come from? Most likely from africa.

All this is.not to say that the evolution of the melody is not consciously guided a bit along the way too. Copying 'errors' need only be errors from the point of view of a perfect replication process. So perhaps there will be some interplay between a culture's environment and historical events. But the melody won't spring from the soul or DNA of the people as though it were predetermined.

Bill.

Re: Genesis of Melody
July 05, 2013, 04:25:58 AM
Implications for metal: with the proliferation of exposure to all possiible variants due to internet, condition two will.be harder to satisfy. Meaning no more evolution of metal. Everyone is exposed to everything, and there will be no change for an inheritance process to get going without immediately being diluted by other variants.

Re: Genesis of Melody
July 05, 2013, 04:37:30 AM
As an aside I occasionally experienced some odd phenomena myself while out walking in woods and meadows. A melody passes through my head, seemingly unique in all the world, then at a later date I have heard it or some similar variant being used in someone elseís music. You could say they beat me to it, unless they actually did it before I had thought of it, though I honestly canít recall having heard it before, at least not in this life ;)

I am not sure this is odd at all, I can testify to experiencing the same. For some reason, a lot of great music sounds somehow familiar. Exploring it is like rediscovery. I wonder if that is a side effect of the nature of music, or its processing, or something metaphysical. In any case I am certain if more people post this experience of yours will be further confirmed.

Re: Genesis of Melody
July 05, 2013, 03:10:38 PM
Quote from: aquarius
Basically you have a group and the tendency is, like language to diverge and develop an idiosyncratic identity that subconsciously mirrors it. On top of that is the cross-cultural exchange of ideas and other developments which occur only under the grand forces of time.

But where does that particular affinity for favouring that particular combination of notes come from? I cannot narrow it down to a logical reason other than that it is somewhat hard-wired into the soul, something even the most extremely individualistic composer is bound by.

Ah! Now we are talking cultural evolution, a fascinating topic.

It's probably not as hard-wired as you suggest. First, you need someone with group status to come up with a new varient, say a new melody in a new mode. We have cognitive dispositions to want to emulate the top apes in the group, for adaptive reasons. Second, you need some group isolation so that a clear lineage of copies or variants can evolve with out too much outside influence. Third, (for development over time) you need copying of the original variant, which in this case will mean emulation of the melody. During the copying process of emulation, slight errors inevitably creep in, and if these 'errors' are replicated then you get cumulative change over time of a particular lineage with its own general regional flavour. 

But I guess this doesn't completely address the genesis, or original variant of the melody. Where did it come from? Most likely from africa.

All this is.not to say that the evolution of the melody is not consciously guided a bit along the way too. Copying 'errors' need only be errors from the point of view of a perfect replication process. So perhaps there will be some interplay between a culture's environment and historical events. But the melody won't spring from the soul or DNA of the people as though it were predetermined.

Bill.

But who did the first ape emulate?  Is it emulation or two different apes arriving at the same melody?  If something works it works; is the one ape merely emulating the other ape or is he noticing that this ape knows what works?
His Majesty at the Swamp / Black Arts Lead to Everlasting Sins / Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism / Oath of Black Blood / Privilege of Evil / Dawn of Possession / In Battle There is No Law / Thousand Swords / To Mega Therion

Re: Genesis of Melody
July 06, 2013, 03:15:28 AM
Quote from: aquarius
Basically you have a group and the tendency is, like language to diverge and develop an idiosyncratic identity that subconsciously mirrors it. On top of that is the cross-cultural exchange of ideas and other developments which occur only under the grand forces of time.

But where does that particular affinity for favouring that particular combination of notes come from? I cannot narrow it down to a logical reason other than that it is somewhat hard-wired into the soul, something even the most extremely individualistic composer is bound by.

Ah! Now we are talking cultural evolution, a fascinating topic.

It's probably not as hard-wired as you suggest. First, you need someone with group status to come up with a new varient, say a new melody in a new mode. We have cognitive dispositions to want to emulate the top apes in the group, for adaptive reasons. Second, you need some group isolation so that a clear lineage of copies or variants can evolve with out too much outside influence. Third, (for development over time) you need copying of the original variant, which in this case will mean emulation of the melody. During the copying process of emulation, slight errors inevitably creep in, and if these 'errors' are replicated then you get cumulative change over time of a particular lineage with its own general regional flavour. 

But I guess this doesn't completely address the genesis, or original variant of the melody. Where did it come from? Most likely from africa.

All this is.not to say that the evolution of the melody is not consciously guided a bit along the way too. Copying 'errors' need only be errors from the point of view of a perfect replication process. So perhaps there will be some interplay between a culture's environment and historical events. But the melody won't spring from the soul or DNA of the people as though it were predetermined.

Bill.

But who did the first ape emulate?  Is it emulation or two different apes arriving at the same melody?  If something works it works; is the one ape merely emulating the other ape or is he noticing that this ape knows what works?

Who knows what our African ancestors emulated. Probably a bird!

It would be emulation if one individual heard another individual with a tune, and replicated it.

Is the one ape merely emulating the other ape or is he noticing that this ape knows what works? Well, what 'works' when it comes to a melody is going to be far too broad to narrow down a specific regional lineage, so I would think it has to be emulation. Why? Because all cultural variants of melodies 'work' for any particular human being independent of culture. Rear a child from birth in a different culture and he will have no problem with internalising their modes and scales. So the reason why we have different forms of traditional music for different cultures is not going to be because of what 'worked' for them qua different culture. It's going to be more random, a product of historical accident mixed with environmental influence (a bit like biological evolution)

Re: Genesis of Melody
July 07, 2013, 04:25:05 PM
Some recent research suggests that humans are born "biologically hard-wired" to detect the difference between harmony and dissonance, and to respond to harmonic intervals rather than dissonant ones (and by a dissonant interval I don't mean something like a 6th, I just mean generally atonal noise).

However, it is very interesting that people born in, say, the "United" States are much more likely to have a strong response to basic myxolidian or pentatonic melodies rather than, say, microtonal melodies from India or heavily minor-based string music from Japan. My logic suggests that this is a result of conditioning beginning at childhood. Furthermore, the handful of people who listen to Edgar Varese or Igor Stravinsky have evidently subverted their biological programming and have somehow trained themselves to comprehend intervals that otherwise would not trigger an immediate emotive response like the basic pentatonic scales do.

Interesting stuff for sure. What sort of horrific reconfiguration have we subjected our brains to that we can comprehend death metal?