Friday, April 17, 2009
It seems that in any form of communal music, scale and/or scales offer more advantages than disadvantages. I was reminded of this at the first rehearsal of a shadow play. Terumi responded how forgiving the scale on the instruments was, as if one could not hit a ‘wrong note’ yet assisted with what one wanted to do. Such was the hopeful goal when picking it years ago for use with this medium. It had to have a range of expression. So the overused generic harmonic series would not work. ( I don't think i could stand another piece on the harmonic series, especially on C)
One possibility is scale where all intervals are basically the same dissonant/consonant factor to each other. Otherwise one is working with tendencies require special handling either to resolve or avoid resolution. This allows any note to be used with any other and harmony often resulting from a combination of melodic impulses and/or doubling. Such scales are common to Africa and Indonesia, places where communal music is might be the most developed. Perhaps a good pathway is not to go outside of the great knowledge contained within these musics, but to proceed deeper within how it is put together. On the other hand if this is where we are going, the atomization of ‘sounds for themselves’ seem the foreign to where we want to get to, or is offering little in itself out of hand.
Another aspect of scale is the ‘orientation’ it provides. While this can be done by other parameters, A scale can provide an already mapping of terrain that is 'not' being included in what is being heard at the moment. We needn’t go back to 5 and 7 tone scales even though that is an area I don’t think has been exhausted. Even Coltrane returned to such material on more than one occasion. One can take scale also as a point of departure that can be expanded upon yet remain as dynamic.
One more aspect of scale though is in can creating an environmental ambiance by it very nature of its materials. By its own internal interaction with itself certain scales will carry further than others in distance. Others can be compared with placing of stones is a brook. One can create patterns of waves that are a delight to the eye. The same can be done with sound waves. [ one can add one more and it all falls apart into turbulence. One reason why I shy from combine tunings, especially 12 ET with my own. It undermines the very nature of my tuning to interact with the environment. While I do think it is possible to combine certain scales (not all) , we know too little about this at this time, the physics is already highly complex with even singular tunings and we are far from exhausting those possibilities.]