Music and IQ, let's try again

David Webber dave at musical.demon.co.uk
Sun Oct 1 04:29:07 EST 2000

Samuel Vriezen <sqv at xs4all.nl.getridofthisone> wrote in message
news:39d68644.1831245 at news.xs4all.nl...

> I find it interesting to see that a discussion of music and IQ can
> turn into a discussion about tuning....

The route is (mathematically) clear.  Most of us start to learn music based
on 12 tone equal temperament.  Most people never realise that this is
different from harmonic tuning.  Those of us that do, fairly naturally then
start to assume that there is something special which uniquely defines 12
tones, and those with a mathematical bent then naturally assume that there
must be a mathematical proof that 12 is somehow unique.  It comes as a shock
to find that there isn't.

In fact I'm still shocked by it.  All that music with amazingly beautiful
mathematical structure (forgetting for the moment - but only for the
moment - what it sounds like)  is based on a crude approximation which is
permitted only by the inaccuracy of our ears and which is encouraged by the
rather small number of fingers we have to play a musical instrument.   The
whole of western music is an amazingly complex and weighty structure built
on foundations of sand - and yet it stands up.

Anyway once you have established all that, you find there are vaious weirdos
around, the existence of whom you never hitherto perceived,  who either
insist on playing old music with old tunings (shock horror!) or start making
new music with 19, 31, or 53 notes in an octave.

So from music and IQ we go to music and mathematics, and from there to the
lack of mathematical precision an the idea that there is no unique tuning.
And all the underlying mathematics does not close the system but leaves it
open for endless arguments - which have to be settled on a basis of artistic
judgement (another shock!).  <g>.

Dave Webber
Author of MOZART the Music Processor for Windows - http://www.mozart.co.uk
Member of the North Cheshire Concert Band http://www.northcheshire.org.uk

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