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Messages - Eleison

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Metal / Re: Fugue in Metal
« on: November 13, 2009, 02:37:01 AM »
For those who do not have a background in classical theory here is an explanation of the fugal layout. 

The fugue is made up of a number of voices, unlike a homophonic classical style piece where the harmonies are self-sufficient, in contrapuntal music they are simply the consequence of multiple voices working together.  This requires specific rules to do with how the voices relate to each other, but this is not what we wish to discuss here.  The important thing to remember is that in the fugue, the number of notes that can occur simultaneously is fixed by the number of voices.  Of course, given that the fugue is primarily a keyboard form, the rules governing the deployment of voices need not be strict.

   The fugue is built entirely from two melodic phrases.  These are the subject and the counter-subject.  The subject is played once, in one voice, it is then played again in a different voice, but this time starts either one fifth higher or one fourth lower than its original entry.  The subject may be repeated literally in the dominant key, or it may be altered to remain within the original key.  The counter-subject is played by the voice which originally had the subject, whilst the second voice plays the subject.  This process continues, with entries alternating between tonic and dominant, until every voice has played the subject.  Once this has happened the exposition is complete.

   Once the exposition has finished, the development begins.  In the development, the composer may compose freely with the material which has already been introduced in the exposition.  The contrapuntal techniques available to them include inversion, retrograde, stretto, which is where one voice enters with the subject before another voice has completed its entry, amongst many others.  Modulation is usually achieved with a sequence, where a musical fragment is repeated and moved by steps with each repetition.  When an important key is reached the subject is often played in full, but rarely without some kind of contrapuntal treatment.  In the development, the subject and counter-subject are inevitably broken down into their most microscopic elements, and, if the fugue is well-written, the possibilities of these elements are thoroughly explored.

   The fugue usually concludes with a clear statement of the subject in the original key, although once again, this will probably not be without some kind of contrapuntal treatment.  This is the basic layout of the fugue, but, as history has shown, few of these guidelines are actually rules and the general layout of the fugue, along with its basic techniques, can be adopted by almost any style of music.  The fundamental principle of the fugue is that it should attempt to explore the polyphonic possibilities contained within its primary themes, and this principle can be applied almost universally.

Feel free to correct me on anything i got wrong.

One last thing to remember is that a fugue is not a canon, that is, a piece where the voices copy each other literally and continuously.

Interzone / Re: Readability on the internet
« on: November 13, 2009, 02:09:38 AM »
Kafka is compelling content worth reading?  Good idea though.

Metal / Re: Classical improvisers
« on: November 13, 2009, 01:44:05 AM »
Umm, yes it has.  Anyone who can play a classical instrument and understands classical theory can improvise in a classical style, how do you think most composers write music?

How do you think a metal or rock artist writes music? If you are implying that the act of writing classical music is a form of improvisation than that would also go for the creation of any kind of music.

Bach, Mozart and Beethoven were all renowned improvisers in performance.  This is common knowledge, please elaborate on your previous statement otherwise you're just talking crap.

Metal / Re: Fugue in Metal
« on: November 13, 2009, 01:42:07 AM »

The fugal layout is hardly rigid, only the exposition has specific requirements, it's practically free composition after that with the only limitation being that the material used should come from the exposition.

Yeah, I guess the fugue isn't any more restricting than other musical forms.  I still think it would be difficult to make a fugue sound very "metal", since you would probably have to abandon (or at least scale back) power chords, chromaticism, and heavy distortion.  It would be interesting to hear this done well though.

The way I see it, the general method and layout of the fugue is one of the few classical forms that could be adopted successfully in to metal.  On a more microscopic level classical theory would have to be abandoned in favor of metal's modal heritage, but in terms of the overall structure and polyphonic technique there is no reason why a metal fugue wouldn't work, it would just require a composer with enough imagination not to simply write a Bach style fugue for metal instruments, which obviously wouldn't work.  Consider the fact that the fugue has already proven itself to be versatile enough to be adopted romantic composers, whose theoretical background was completely different to what composers would have had in the Baroque period. 

Metal / Re: Nile and cultural context.
« on: November 13, 2009, 01:19:10 AM »

Probably because the majority of their melodies use this same scale:

The entire classical repertoire uses two scales, or three if you include both minor scales.  This is not a valid criticism.

Metal / Re: Classical improvisers
« on: November 12, 2009, 03:24:31 AM »
Just a note on the opening post, improvisation has not existed in classical music for a thousand years.

Umm, yes it has.  Anyone who can play a classical instrument and understands classical theory can improvise in a classical style, how do you think most composers write music?

Metal / Re: Fugue in Metal
« on: November 12, 2009, 03:22:44 AM »

This.  I think fugue is too rigid a form for metal to fully use.  Writing fugue can be a great compositional exercise however, and many of the concepts used in fugue and counterpoint can be adapted to work in a metal context.

The fugal layout is hardly rigid, only the exposition has specific requirements, it's practically free composition after that with the only limitation being that the material used should come from the exposition.

Metal / Re: Fugue in Metal
« on: November 09, 2009, 03:15:18 PM »
A) most metal is keyless music with no understanding of diatonic harmony.

I have yet to hear a black metal song which is atonal. Even when it comes to death metal most songs have a tonal centre. It seems to be only in the American and Tech Death bands that atonality is present.

Diatonic tonality is not the same thing as modal tonality.

Interzone / Re: Richard Feynman as Ubermensch?
« on: November 01, 2009, 12:46:52 AM »
Because theoretical physicists do nothing but work with numbers. Truth doesn't get more absolute than numbers.

Numbers, or at least integers, only exist because they express an aspect of Truth, metaphysical Truth is more absolute than numerical truths because it is not limited to sheer quantity.

Interzone / Re: forum for original composition criticism
« on: October 30, 2009, 10:52:45 PM »
My personal recommendation to all aspiring composers out there is to write for instruments which are available to you.  Personally I am fortunate enough to have access to classical musicians, for those who don't it should at least be possible to find pianists who will be willing to record your work.  Writing for midi is fine, but people should aspire to take their work to the next stage of its development, doing this will also greatly expand your knowledge of the technical side of composition.

Metal / Re: Melody
« on: October 26, 2009, 05:30:29 AM »
Basic guidelines for writing successful counterpoint (I'm sure most of this is covered in the OP's suggested book):

-- avoid perfect intervals

-- avoid large leaps and skips; favor simple, stepwise motion

-- move upper voices in contrary motion to the bass

-- when one line ends, look for ways to imitate or carry on the line in other voices

Just to clarify, perfect intervals are fine as long as they aren't brought about by similar motion, moving to a perfect consonance in contrary or oblique motion is fine provided it doesn't occur too often.  I've heard numerous theories as to why this rule exists, the first is that contrapuntal composers wanted to differentiate themselves from the style of organum, which involves numerous parallel perfect consonances, the other is that the western mind becomes agitated unless there is a sense of constant motion in music.  This latter theory in itself would explain the rapid development of all of the arts for better or worse after the middle ages.

Metal / Re: Melody
« on: October 26, 2009, 05:26:17 AM »
Your facts are wrong, but I think I understand where you are coming from. A guy named Heinrich Schenker codified this fairly radical idea (in a nutshell, harmony comes from counterpoint, not vice versa) about 100 years ago. Check out his books.

I don't quite follow, which facts are wrong?

Interzone / Re: Nationalism?
« on: October 24, 2009, 06:13:39 PM »

It's also not as absolute as one thinks. For example, transcendentalist versions of two religions can thrive in the same place.

Or even three religions.

But i have seen by experience in a place i lived for a few years that in one religion, many nations have their own version of their religion.

Real life example would be the co-existence of Buddhism and the traditions it came into contact with outside of India.  In China and Japan it was not uncommon for people to convert to Buddhism without renouncing the tradition that they were already a part of.

Metal / Melody
« on: October 23, 2009, 07:59:06 PM »
Nowadays, when people are taught classical theory, they are taught about harmonic progressions. It's a fairly dry and academic pursuit.  Back in the era when classical music was actually written, all composers were schooled in renaissance style counterpoint: that is, the way in which melodies fit together.  Most people's idea of a melody is an elaboration on a progression of harmonic notes, whereas in reality it is the only spontaneous part of a composition.

In my view, melody is a sequence of notes which manifests something the artist wishes to express, and this may be disguised by a harmonic progression, meaning that a melody does not have to be a 'tune'.  Every great composition has an underlying melodic structure which is its 'soul'; sometimes this is immediately evident, such as in Gregorian chant, Indian classical music, or even Mozart; in other works, it can be disguised either by polyphony proper, by harmonic notes (romantic music), or through the repetition of small sequences (riffs). 

For me, the study of counterpoint has been far more engaging than the study of harmony, because the melodic integrity of the music gives birth to its theory.  I recommend Gradus ad Parnassum (the counterpoint textbook used by Bach, Mozart and Beethoven) to anyone interested in learning to compose polyphonic music.  This sort of technique could be applied to metal, with some modification.  This is more realistic than trying to include classical harmonic principles in metal, where the distortion would get in the way.

Interzone / Re: Swine flu: time to panic yet?
« on: October 23, 2009, 06:36:55 PM »
I know a bunch of people who have had it, it's no more dangerous than the average flu.  As far as I know no one has died of it without an underlying cause.

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