MusicNovatory/Introduction/Reference/Comments and Questions/Introduction/Dichotomies

In your "Two Faces Of Music" you give all the answers and explanations with elegance and authority. Bravo for the "xth" time. In praise of the rhythm or "groove" of the jazzmen, bluesmen, etc...

Many thanks for your appreciation. Since we made this page, we have found a surprising number of applications for it, including the "corrections" in Analysis.

I might have been impressed by your original "Two Faces Of Music" but your new "Dichotomies" are a considerable improvement, especially the opening Philosophical Dichotomies. What a pleasure to see Art-Scence so clearly disposed, and the added bonus of the closing Intuition-Knowledge. The technical ones in between were not as clear to me.

Thanks again for your appreciation. The more general Philosophical Dichotomies do not require the same amount of technical knowledge. That is why we strongly recommend browsing through and taking in the pages which seem appropriate.

The Intuition-Knowledge dichotomy left me rather perplexed, because it seemed more wishful thinking than anything else, possibly a little overly Platonic. Questions like "How come this dichotomiy even exists?" come to mind when the advantages of symbiosis seem so evident.

     A little historical review might be in order, one in which France played an important, if not predominant role, first with Germany, then with Italy.
     In 1722, Jean-Philippe Rameau published his "TRAITÉ DE L'HARMONIE" which started a veritable war with the Germans. Rameau stated unequivocally that harmony was the basis of music and that melody evolved from it, whereas the German position was that of Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741) which held that harmony was the result of several superimposed melodies. In 1738, one of Bach's disciples, Lorenz Christoph Mizler (1711-1778), founded the Societät der Musikalischen Wissenschaften to which Bach himself paid little attention, even if it represented the honor of Germany over the French assault of Rameau. It was only in June 1747 that Bach decided to join, fulfilling his duties by composing a triple canon in six parts (which appears in the portrait that was painted of him) and the variations for organ upon Von Himmel hoch. Although, in the long run, Rameau seems to have come out the winner, deplorable traces of this battle remain to this very day in our harmony text-books.
     In 1752, a performance of Pergolesi's Serva Padrona took Paris by storm and divided the French among themselves. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the French philosopher and amateur musician, was overwhelmed by the freshness and spontaneity of this work and publicly declared that all French music was either bad or, worse, did not even exist, which, of course, included the music of Rameau. The feud between Jean-Philippe and Jean-Jacques was furious and bore the name of Querelle des bouffons (Quarrel of the Clowns) after the name of the Italian company that had performed the Pergolesi opera. Since Rameau was a respected theoretician, he was accused of writing academic, intellectual, dry, and unemotional music, compared to the down-to-earth, inspired, and intuitive music of the Italians, personnified at the time by Pergolesi. Traces of this second battle also remain to this very day not only in our harmony text-books, but in the basic philosophy that music should be composed uniquely by intuition, with all help of knowledge being considered suspicious and dangerous.

Your historical review was quite interesting, though possibly a little over-Frenchy. Was the Rameau harmony treatise really that revolutionary? If so, why did it attract so little lasting attention? If it was imperfect, do we have better to-day? Is your MusicNovatory really as good as you say it is?

     1. Sorry for the "Frenchy", but those seem to be the facts.
     2. Yes, we really feel that the Rameau treatise was revolutionary.
          (a) First he established the predominance of Harmony.
          (b) Then he established, within harmony, what he called the fundamental bass which meant that an inversion did not represent a new chord as was previously the case with the figured bass.
          (c) Then he established the priority of the tetrad by presenting the V7 / I progression, in five voices, as the very first example, in both diatonic major and chromatic minor.
          (d) Then he dared to present the IV6 / I progression, a century and a half before the inversions of Hugo Riemann. All this was too much for the French at the time and remains too much for the whole world even today. The word "revolutionary" does not seem the least bit exaggerated.
     3. Rameau's treatise seems to have attracted considerable attention at the time, but that does not mean that it was understood and appreciated for the right reasons. There is also the fact that it was neither complete nor perfect : digressions into the world of natural harmonics with all chords being present in the harmonics of various individual sounds ; as well as numerous exceptions of which Rameau himself was quite conscious. All this made it safer and simpler to forget all about the whole thing and keep constructing our harmony on the principles of the figured bass. We could give, as examples of this neglect, the harmony text-books of Walter Piston (1894-1976), which is the American reference, and Théodore Dubois (1837-1924), which is the French reference. It is only as we write these lines that we discover that Piston, from 1924 to 1926, studied in Paris with the French teacher Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979), a disciple of Dubois, who used his text-book exclusively. The "French Connection" seems to lead directly to America.
     4. In contemporary academia, it seems, for all intents and purposes, well nigh impossible to find anything better than the Rameau, actually nothing even as good.
     5. Evaluating MusicNovatory is another matter completely. We could ask for nothing better than a valid and fair form of evaluation.

Where does all this lead us? Are we any closer to establishing a complementary symbiosis between Intuition and Knowledge? What do you suggest as the best way to reach the "intuitives"?

     1. Using the past is always a good way of planning the future.
     2. It seems evident that knowledge should always be evaluated and verified before it can be considered reliable. Academic harmonic theory, with its numerous exceptions and painful uncertainty, does not seem, over the centuries, to have inspired any appreciable degree of respect and reliability.
     3. What about MusicNovatory, which claims to be generative, scientific, free of exceptions, and fully conscious of intuitive preferences? How could it be evaluated? There could, of course, be many ways but, after over 30 years in the making and now 7 years on the net, we feel that the best form of evaluation might be to participate in the Analysis of "neutral works" of all kinds: folklore, popular songs, even classical music. This form of evaluation has what we call "double quality control", in which the participant observes how MusicNovatory itself controls the quality of the work being examined, and also observes and evaluates the quality control of how well MusicNovatory does its job, in other words, how good a music theory it is.
     4. Once (and if) the credibility of MusicNovatory is established, the "intuitives" themselves could be invited to join in the process of Analysis to see if any of this could be useful to them. That seems to be the best way we can offer for now.
     5. Many, many thanks for your patience and interest. We sincerely hope that we have been of help and that we have answered your questions adequately.

One last parting question. Do you happen to be French by any chance?

Mais oui.