MUSIC THEORY BOOKS

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budt
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#31 Post by budt » Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:31 am

guitarmanK1982 wrote:Xenakis had a few approaches to this kind of composition. But it has advanced a lot since the music you heard on youtube. Now, full digital samples of all orchestral instruments are used (i spent some time at CCMIX, and developed some of the technology) - so finally, freedom from the limitations of pitched notation has been solved, and can be heard in an orchestral context.

So this type of composition arose as a transcendence of the limitations of notated music (rather than as a way to avoid notation) - and to see such limitaions requires a complete understanding of notated music; Xenakis' contributions cannot be underestimated, and they can be seen as pivotal to the development of all electronic/synthesised music since.

budt - i suppose your question is relevant, if the music in question is meant to be challenging or cutting-edge with regards to musicality. But that is my point - it isn't. And hopefully this example (one of very many that could be cited) shows this; not as a way of insulting another musician - but as a way of showing that what may be considered 'originality' isn't actually original.

Unfortunately many Vai fans consider his music as cutting-edge in every respect - the point is that it isn't cutting edge in every respect.

However, technically, Vai is a master, and he has certainly pushed boundaries in this respect - of this there is no doubt. But imagine the result if he combined his technique with original and inventive musical ideas!!
We sure have drifted a long way from the topic - an innocent question about a music theory book. So maybe the topic of I.X. (etc) deserves its own thread, because now some very interesting questions raise themselves.

First, congrats on telling us about someone we never heard of! Vai fans are more open minded than you might think. Iannis Xenakis had quite a life! => http://www.iannis-xenakis.org/english/index.html

I'm wondering if John Lennon (or Yoko) knew about him. The "number nine" spoken throughout Revolution 9 could be a reference to "I.X." - Iannis' initials. I always thought Revolution 9 was inspired by Poème Électronique by Varèse (among other things). Maybe they heard Iannis Xenakis as well.

But now, I gotsta know ...
What did the folks over at CCMIX think of the Synclavier? It was supposed to have the same attributes you attribute to the UPIC system.
How does the Synclavier compare to the UPIC system developed there?
What did they think of Zappa's work with the Synclavier? They must have been aware of it ...
(Jazz From Hell and Civilization Phase III, in particular)
Thay must have had some opinions of Boulez' work (IRCAM)?

I still think you are being too critical of Steve Vai. I doubt you have the time to post on various message boards, and yet, you are here. There must be something unique about Steve that brings you here. My own take on Steve is that first of all, he is a real artist within the rock music world, and he is stretching out. But the unique part is that there is just something intangible about this whole rock guitar thing, and it is integral to Steve's vision.

References:
CCMIX => http://www.moderecords.com/catalog/098_9ccmix.html
IRCAM => http://www.ircam.fr/institut.html?&L=1
Synclavier I thought they went out of business, but => http://www.synclavier.com/

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#32 Post by notavirtuoso » Wed Mar 26, 2008 7:46 pm

guitarmanK1982, I have to say I'm really liking this Xenakis guy, thanks for the introduction. I checked out a couple of his orchestra works. His first, Metastasis and another one that I'm not sure of the name of but here's a link to it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pBMxp8E ... re=related

Anyway, I like these better than the electronic one you posted. Judging from what my ears tell me, he doesn't compose music. He builds sonic suspension bridges constructed of interwoven tension wires. To read about it makes it sound like just noise but what amazes me is that there is so much heart in it. Compositions based on mathematics rarely have much heart if any. These works are overflowing with emotion.

budt: I'm not sure he's being overly critical of Vai or Zappa. I think he's being more critical of overzealous fans of the two. They're the ones ("they" meaning a limited number of people, the overly vocal minority if you will) that go on about how superior their compositions are to anything the world has ever seen. I'd be willing to bet my guitar collection that neither Vai nor Zappa would attempt to convey such ideas or even endorse the notion. If I'm right he isn't trashing Vai, he's trashing them.

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#33 Post by budt » Thu Mar 27, 2008 10:34 am

notavirtuoso wrote:I'm not sure he's being overly critical of Vai or Zappa. I think he's being more critical of overzealous fans of the two. They're the ones ("they" meaning a limited number of people, the overly vocal minority if you will) that go on about how superior their compositions are to anything the world has ever seen. I'd be willing to bet my guitar collection that neither Vai nor Zappa would attempt to convey such ideas or even endorse the notion. If I'm right he isn't trashing Vai, he's trashing them.
Well, that makes sense. Maybe he will confirm ...

For those of you with slow dial-up connections, here's one I.X. sample that is only 18 seconds long:
=> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97ru68oJ ... ed&search=

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#34 Post by spanishphrygian » Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:23 pm

Steve Vai does have the most superior compositions that the world has ever Heard, but looking at his scores might not excite the stuffy olde intelectuals types that want to turn music into a Calculus fundamental that avarage people in normal cultures ends up thinking sounds like a Horror sound track.

Sure starting out with reading traditional notation form a few thoery books might not be as exciting as Deep Maths to some types of Left Brained Logic types.

Really in a way it proves that Theory books and notation leads to and ends up sucking us into such a thing.

I against this. Steve is superior and plays something that people can relate to and that is why he is top dog. Playing through a medium like a guitar that people can relate too in a universal way. As opposed to just coming up with a synth and maths for music to perch himself in some elitist positions.

Still like what you likes. I am not worried about it. :roll:

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#35 Post by Guitaruss » Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:39 am

+1 LoL

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#36 Post by Big Bad Bill » Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:01 am

spanishphrygian wrote:Steve Vai does have the most superior compositions that the world has ever Heard, but looking at his scores might not excite the stuffy olde intelectuals types that want to turn music into a Calculus fundamental that avarage people in normal cultures ends up thinking sounds like a Horror sound track.
You have a really negative view of theory, don't you spanishphrygian? And yet you have studied it to a deeper level and understand it more than most of us (for which I envy you).

There are two points I'd like to make (at the risk of repeating myself from other threads): music theory are simply suggestions of what sounds good and are derived directly from music rather than music being derived from the theory. They're not hard and fast rules that must be adhered to. My second point is that just because one has a deep understanding of theory, it doesn't mean you will produce great music. Those who do this would probably do so without their knowledge because they have a 'talent' and you can't learn a talent.

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#37 Post by Guitaruss » Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:58 am

I'm not sure if hes trying to be negative Bill, from what i gather hes basically saying just because some music is theoretically clever/complex doesnt mean it necessarily sounds good...its basically down to taste at the end of the day anyway, we should all be able to agree to that at least.

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#38 Post by Big Bad Bill » Fri Mar 28, 2008 6:51 am

I was pulling his leg, Guitaruss-spanishphrygian knows an awful lot about theory from what I can gather from his other posts, but he doesn't like the snobbery attached to it by some folks. I, on the other hand, love snobbery :wink:

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#39 Post by Guitaruss » Fri Mar 28, 2008 8:47 am

Ahh Doh ! :lol:

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#40 Post by guitarmanK1982 » Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:45 pm

Xenakis didn't do this to place himself in an elitist position. He transcended that which came before him. Pushing the boundaries wasn't his aim - it was the product of his creativity - his 'talent', if you will.

Does this make Steve Vai an elitist for doing the same with guitar technique?

You don't seem to understand the significance of that which initially appears 'abstract'. It is the same with philosophical ideas - they seem very complex, yet are usually adopted as changes in attitude in the upper echelons of politics, and as such, the ideas are filtered down through the channels, eventually affecting everyone's lives.

So it is with music.

And you don't need to call it music if it offends your sensibilities. It wasn't designed to be pleasant, comfortable listening. That wasn't the point of it. And it wasn't meant to appeal to 'average people in normal cultures' - why does music always have to serve the purpose of winning fans?

And is this the point of music - to comfort and seduce us?

I'm also sure Steve has used synth technology somewhere in his career...

And maybe a chorus pedal... or a wah...

And who helped the development of the combination of music/technology? Oh yes, i think Xenakis helped out here.

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#41 Post by guitarmanK1982 » Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:18 pm

budt - to answer your questions:

Boulez was and is regarded highly by all at CCMIX. His ideas helped push the technology forward.

With Zappa - he was simply considered a 'user' of the technology. He did increase awareness of the synclavier etc, but this wasn't really an interest for CCMIX. The interest was the development of the technology, and what could be achieved with it, rather than financial gain or popularity attained from such technology.

It is like computer technology in general - the end user only (if at all) slightly influences the technology, and when they get the technology, it is already dated.

But Boulez, amongst others, helped to push such technology to new levels, regardless of where the technology was at.

Yoko knew of Xenakis, and visited the centre often. She was friends with Xenakis' family also.

And thank you, notavirtuoso - the problem isn't Vai or Zappa per se, but rather, overzealous fans who place both composers out of context. Both composers have had original ideas, but usually fans falsely attribute to Vai and Zappa what they consider to be 'original', when, in fact, it has came from elsewhere.

But i will never doubt Vai's contribution to electric guitar technique. In this respect, he will be remembered, even if some of his compositions are forgotten.

But then again, he is a guitarist first, and a composer second.

notavirtuoso - you may like 'fog tropes' by Ingram Marshall - more musical than the other work, but interesting neveretheless - check it out here - http://www.last.fm/music/Ingram+Marshall/_/Fog+Tropes

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#42 Post by budt » Sun Mar 30, 2008 7:26 pm

I am left wondering if New England Digital and CCMIX considered themselves competitors, rivals, or on a similar mission, or were perhaps even indifferent towards each other.
guitarmanK1982 wrote:With Zappa - he was simply considered a 'user' of the technology. He did increase awareness of the synclavier etc, but this wasn't really an interest for CCMIX. The interest was the development of the technology, and what could be achieved with it, rather than financial gain or popularity attained from such technology.
I don't think Zappa's intent with the Synclavier was massive popularity or financial gain. Grammy aside, in his interviews he gave the impression of someone who was just totally engrossed in the machine and its capabilities.

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#43 Post by budt » Sun Mar 30, 2008 7:30 pm

Guitaruss wrote:I'm not sure if hes trying to be negative Bill, from what i gather hes basically saying just because some music is theoretically clever/complex doesnt mean it necessarily sounds good...its basically down to taste at the end of the day anyway, we should all be able to agree to that at least.
I certainly agree. Anything's possible. Simple, complex, chops, no chops. There's good and bad in all of that.

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#44 Post by guitarmanK1982 » Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:12 am

Yes of course

I'm sure his intention wasn't financial etc

But you asked on whether he influenced the technology - in a nutshell - no ;)

But what i meant was that, on the most part, CCMIX didn't really worry about whether anyone public was aware of the technology. They gathered experts in their respective fields (e.g. musicians, engineers etc), and pushed the boundaries, by asking the musicians what they would like, and seeing if the engineers could design such technology.

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#45 Post by guitarmanK1982 » Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:18 am

...whereas Zappa simply played with the kind of technologies produced.

Which is still relevant - i don't disagree with that, but in the eyes of CCMIX, they weren't too bothered if Zappa played with some psychedelic sounds thay they helped create/influence the creation of.

I personally do think it was relevant what Zappa did - he brought this kind of technology into the common marketplace, and showed people what could be done with such technology (i.e. he applied creativity to the final product, rather than applying the creativity to develop the technology. But both are valid).

However, in the eyes of a development company, this means nothing.

Then again, in the eyes of the public, the development company means nothing, and the musicians who play with the technology are considered more important (as the general public wouldn't be aware of the technology if it wasnt for such musicians bringing the sounds into everyday life).

Once again, it's all part of the filtration process of new ideas ;)

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