Music and IQ, let's try again

David Webber dave at musical.demon.co.uk
Sun Oct 1 15:28:56 EST 2000

Samuel Vriezen <sqv at xs4all.nl.getridofthisone> wrote in message
news:39d73ece.801081 at news.xs4all.nl...

> David - all of your comments have to do with the technicalities of
> keyboard tuning.

Yes - but also other instruments which are designed to play 12 notes in an
octave and not 53 :-)

> While that may be a very interesting subject, it is
> not the primal expression of musical IQ.

Actually I firmly believe that IQ is a measure of one's ability to do IQ
tests and NOTHING else :-)

> For starters, singers and
> violinists generally have no use for 12TET and its calculations unless
> they're forced by some piano accompanying them.

Or an accordian.  I heard somewhere that the accordian was the single
biggest influence in 12tet-ising european folk music!

> Secondly, don't forget
> that there is an amazing amount of musical cultures that have nothing
> like our concept of fixed intonation. Third, no-one singing a fifth is
> calculating frequencies.

If you think I don't know *that* you should listen to me sing :-)

>From the playing point of view I am still unsure.  Two and a half years ago
I got a new alto sax.  Much better than my old one but it took me about six
months to come fully to terms with its intonation.  You have to hear the
notes subconsciously to play them in  tune with whatever else is going on
and you make unconscious adjustments for every note.  Maybe I'm slow, but as
I say, getting this to work as second nature on a different instrument took
me about six months.

Six months ago I got a new soprano sax.  Exactly the same thing - the notes
are only now really starting to "taste" right.

I suspect I play in 12tet when I'm playing with a piano or just adjusting to
what is going on around me when I play with a wind band or sax choir.  One
thing with the sax choir: if we play a piece in 3 flats and than another in
3 sharps immediately after it, this intonation difficulties are sometimes
accentuated.  It's something we know we have to watch out for.   So yes, I'm
pretty sure we don't just blow and play in 12tet - but I certainly couldn't
say for sure what we're doing.  We sometimes discuss individal notes - try
to sharpen that one in the tenor or flatten that one in the bari, or
whatever, to make it sound "better" but that's about it.

But we certainly don't play in 19tet!

> Do mind, I am not making claims for strict mathematicality of musical
> form processes (you can't 'prove' form), it's rather I sense a very
> eneral type of connection, a visualizing of abstract structure.

As I've said before,  I *do* think there's a lot in the abstract structure
of music which renders it susceptible to thought processes akin to those
used in mathematics - but that is as far as I would go.

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

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net