Plain and simple, I have a terrible memory. Unsurprisingly, my body of memorized scores is slim. At 70, I don’t think that’s going to change. On the one hand this has made me a good sight-reader, but I long to play unattached to a score.
Many years ago I started practicing scales and what I called “my finger exercises.” Musical harmony is not made of great tonal leaps, but subtle tonal changes with feeling. Over the years I’ve learned to just follow my fingers. Early in the morning is the ideal finger exercise time.
Here is a raw sample from 2011 recorded on a Yamaha KX-88 midi controller:
Differentiation is the identification of the specific from the general. It can happen biologically—the eye evolves to sense a range of specific wavelengths from the general spectrum of white light. Differentiation is part of survival for all forms of life. In humans, however, it became very complex as the species developed into tribal, agrarian, and urban societies, each with norms based on a core mythology to maintain stability. These norms enable societies to develop a cultural identity.
Born into any culture we begin life within a given template of acceptable norms and values. Since all societies can be traced back to common ancestors, it should be unsurprising that we share a core set of norms. Even the seemingly different creation myths share the same ontological purpose.
Once we understand as children that people die we begin to question what it means to be alive. Our lives become a search for how we fit into something greater. We begin to shape our individual mythological framework based on the template supplied by our particular cultural archetypes.
For homogenous tribal societies, the mythology and structure are fixed and the values are common to all. There’s not much for the individual to question. Any ontological questions go the village shaman for guidance. Escaping this cultural template is rare and seldom sought. Modern societies are merely larger more complex extensions of the same template with an additional component of self-determinism—either individual or collective in nature.
(To be continued)
Tonality in the form of consonance and dissonance are the building blocks of harmony in music. They are created when two or more tones are played simultaneously. Unison, third, fifth, sixth, octave, and the intervals made up of these and the octave are consonances. Some of these are perfect consonances, the others imperfect. The unison, third, and fifth are perfect. The sixth, and third are imperfect. The remaining intervals, like the second, fourth, diminished fifth, tritone, seventh, and the intervals made up of these and the octave, are dissonances.
A progression through a variety of these intervals creates an emotional response in the listener that we call music. The progression of intervals is created by the motion of the tones (voices) within the intervals in three possible movements: Direct, Contrary, or Oblique.
A musical figure is the shortest recognizable musical thought. It should present a rhythmic idea. The figure is similar to syllables in language. Below is a figure of three notes.
Observe how the addition of a single note transforms the figure into a very familiar motif.
Playing the piano has been a major part of my life. Although I am an excellent sight-reader, my efforts at learning the foundations of musical harmony have been disappointing. By nature, I want to understand structure and so it is surprising to me that I have let this go for so long. This site is intended to set the framework for learning the musical syntax and harmony on which Bach built his great works of counterpoint—the Fuge. My goal is that this will expand my understanding of the Bach works that I play and improve my interpretation of his works.