#1
I often see posts on this board about ‘exotic’ scales. Someone usually replies that the scale is best regarded as a diatonic major scale with accidentals or with notes left out. This has led me to wonder whether this attitude is a form of cultural imperialism. Is the major scale is more fundamental than other scales? Is its position as the basis of western music arbitrary?

The obvious starting point is the harmonic series of a vibrating string and the scale that can be derived from it:

Where the whole string vibrates we get the fundamental note.

Where the string vibrates in two halves we get the first harmonic, the octave. Ratio = 2/1

These two notes form the start and endpoint of the scale we are constructing.

Where the string vibrates in three equal lengths we get three times the frequency of vibration. If we lower this note by an octave it will fit into our scale and we get the perfect fifth above the fundamental. Ratio = 3/2

Where the string vibrates in five equal lengths we get five times the frequency of vibration. To fit this into our scale we have to go two octaves lower. We thus get the major third above the fundamental. Ratio = 5/4

Where the string vibrates in nine equal lengths we have nine times the frequency. Going three octaves lower gives us a major second above the fundamental. Ratio = 9/8

Where the string vibrates in fifteen equal lengths, fifteen times the frequency. Three octaves lower gives us a major seventh above the fundamental. Ratio = 15/8

Now consider the two major scale intervals we haven't derived: the perfect fourth and the major sixth with frequency ratios are 4/3 and 5/3 respectively. They can’t be derived by "octaving down" i.e. dividing by powers of 2, like the others. Their respective notes are not in the harmonic series.

From the harmonic series of C we get CDEGA, the major pentatonic.

To make a diatonic major scale we have to introduce two foreign notes, F and B. This is where things get a little arbitrary. We could have chosen to use B flat, for example. This would alter the harmonic possibilities of the scale, but it is still a choice. We might rue the loss of the B-C resolution or we might welcome it as a refreshing change from that particular cliché.

In 12-tone equal temperament we have 4 choices for a 7-note scale, each with equal claim to be derived from the harmonic series:

C D E F G A B C major
C D E F# G A B C Lydian
C D E F G A Bb C Mixolydian
C D E F# G A Bb C acoustic

C acoustic is sometimes known as a synthetic scale, i.e. one derived by altering the notes of the major scale. I find this ironic in that it more closely resembles the harmonic series than the major scale itself.
#2
I really think you're just looking into it to hard, and we just use C major because it's the easiest to learn and understand and create patterns off of.

EDIT: Or maybe your point is just a little over my head.
#3
He's right in as far as the intervals themselves go, the major scale is largely derived from the harmonic series - doesn't matter which note you start with, if you go through the harmonics you'll get the same pitches. relative to your root.
Actually called Mark!

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#4
I don't have a clue what you're getting at, and I've never heard of the "acoustic/synthetic" scale before. If your question is why do people on here say that it is impossible to play an exotic scale over functional harmony and therefore everything is major/minor? I don't know, but they are usually right because if your harmony is not derived from the scale (and sometimes with these exotic scales you can't just do I-IV-V) then the "scale" you are playing really isn't functioning as such.

I dislike the concept of explicitly playing scales a bit anyway because if you know your harmony well enough there is no need for it. And if you don't know it well enough, then you should learn it because using scales to improvise or write music solely based on the fact that you can not hit any overly dissonant notes is a bit lazy.
#5
You'll find the acoustic scale in some of the works of Franz Liszt and Debussy.

In jazz it's known as Lydian Dominant.
#6
Quote by griffRG7321
You'll find the acoustic scale in some of the works of Franz Liszt and Debussy.

In jazz it's known as Lydian Dominant.


Interesting scale, yeah I have definitely heard it in some Debussy.
#7
Quote by Jehannum
I often see posts on this board about ‘exotic’ scales. Someone usually replies that the scale is best regarded as a diatonic major scale with accidentals or with notes left out. This has led me to wonder whether this attitude is a form of cultural imperialism.


well, it's an attitude, and it's also an opinion. One you see here and not too many other places. before you go calling "cultural imperialism" It's important to consider the source, and the prevalence of the attitude.

1) source..... a few people at UG only...
2) prevalence..... not heard of outside of UG. and the people you heard it from at UG, heard it from other people at UG.


Quote by Jehannum

Is the major scale is more fundamental than other scales? Is its position as the basis of western music arbitrary?



Well, it is what it is. You can't rewrite history.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at May 18, 2011,
#8
Quote by Jehannum
Where the string vibrates in fifteen equal lengths, fifteen times the frequency. Three octaves lower gives us a major seventh above the fundamental. Ratio = 15/8


I'm gonna go ahead and assume you mean Major Sixth...

Well, a looooong time ago back when the Greeks were creating music and figuring out scales, etc., their "Major" scale was Lydian. This was purely because of the symmetry it has. Somewhere along the lines (I think it was during Fux's book) Ionian and Lydian got mixed up and we began using Ionian as the basis for counterpoint and basic functional harmony.

I think you're right in that the Major Pent. is where we started, and then we (we being the Greeks) added the F# and B for symmetrical effect. Then the other cultures started playing with it and we got our other modes, yadda, yadda, yadda...

I think this topic is a bit pointless, personally. For what it's worth, the Major scale is probably the easiest scale to use for what most people are going to do. Exotic scales are, typically, used only for personal preference/fits with the song. I personally only use them over certain chords, almost a chord-scale approach to it.
#9
Quote by Jehannum
I often see posts on this board about ‘exotic’ scales. Someone usually replies that the scale is best regarded as a diatonic major scale with accidentals or with notes left out. This has led me to wonder whether this attitude is a form of cultural imperialism. Is the major scale is more fundamental than other scales? Is its position as the basis of western music arbitrary?
I don't see it as "cultural imperialism" because people don't say that it should be seen as an altered major scale simply because we are used to the major scale.

The reason is because usually when people use these "exotic scales" they are still in a major or minor key.

If someone built all their harmony of the alternative scale, to give a significantly different sound to major or minor then there's no reason why it shouldn't be considered a scale. But the majority of these exotic scales aren't used in this way (often because the harmony that can be created with them isn't very stable).

So I think the reason that people insist on refering to these scales as alterations of the major scale is because generally that is how they are used when put into context. They are also often refered to in terms of the minor scale if it seems like they would likely to be used in a minor context but the scale numbering will still be refered to by convention (yes, this part in convention but the rest is not really).

I think cultural imperialism would be more like looking at cultures with different tonal systems and insisting that these should be expressed as alterations of major/minor scales.
#10
The major scale is just one the octave species of the diatonic genus, of which Aristoxenus stated "men hit upon naturally" [the diatonic genus, that is]. In other words, humans naturally sing diatonic scales. Of these octave species, the 1st (as is written down in the Western tradition) is what we call the Dorian mode, Mode I (protus). Interestingly, of the original ecclesiastical modes, the major scale is nowhere to be found. But sometimes the B natural had top be flatted to avoid the tritone; and in this case, the Lydian mode would become major (in practice if not in theory). As modality gave way to tonality, and the leading tone became a paramount feature of music, all the attributes of the major modes were incorporated into tonality: one major mode (likewise with minor, although the minor took on some of the major attributes as well). The major scale logically became the best representative of the major mode, and actually, the best representative of tonality in general. There is nothing arbitrary about this.

The charge of cultural imperialism is unfounded, since other, non-Occidental, cultures also make common use what we would call the major scale (i.e., Indian, Arabic).

BTW: the alleged #4 (the 11th harmonic) is only sharp about 53 cents (from Just); and that does NOT a #4 make. This is typically called a "neutral" 4th. Furthermore, a perfect 4th is derived very early in the harmonic series - the interval between the 3rd and 4th harmonic is a perfect 4th (and in a simple 4:3 interval, mind you).
#11
well, m not an expert on WHY the major scale is what it is. as far as i know, yes they just sorta chose it. but the notes were already being used in that order as the ionian mode i believe. i think they probably felt it sounded the most resolved and decided to use it as the major scale. but anyways, the reason why using exotic scales should be thought of as using the major scale with accidentals is probably becuse the person is just using that scale over a major/minor progression. therefor it has a key that follows the major/minor scale. and anything that goes outside of the key is called an accidental. thats just how we do things in western music. you can still regard the "exotic scale" as whatever it is, but in technical terms for writing out music and from a western theory standpoint, its just using accidentals. an example is the harmonic minor scale or melodic minor scale. we refer to them as scales, and practice them as such, but when it comes to actually using them, the notes go outside of the key so they are written as accidentals.
#12
All such things evolve. No one had a notion of forming large orchestras all playing different instruments at the same time in antiquity, so there was no need for standardization. Tunings and scales were rather individualistic...
As music progressed and became more organized, there was a need for standardization and notation. The "Western" musical standards of scale and chord formation were as much a convention as anything; no doubt based on an existing body of music that was being played at the time.
Ethnic musics from Asia and such often sound very alien to us, they just hit on a different standard.
We used to hang out with a group of Middle Eastern musicians who played a lot of quarter-tones on the oud and similar instruments. They always complained that Western music "left out the melody"......
#13
Quote by Harmosis
The major scale is just one the octave species of the diatonic genus, of which Aristoxenus stated "men hit upon naturally" [the diatonic genus, that is]. In other words, humans naturally sing diatonic scales.

^^This

Also, Cultural Imperialism is a fact of life. It happened all across Europe at the time of the Romans, it happened all across the world during the height of the British Empire, and today the world is one nation under McDonalds...
Quote by AlanHB
It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.
#14
Quote by Harmosis
BTW: the alleged #4 (the 11th harmonic) is only sharp about 53 cents (from Just); and that does NOT a #4 make. This is typically called a "neutral" 4th. Furthermore, a perfect 4th is derived very early in the harmonic series - the interval between the 3rd and 4th harmonic is a perfect 4th (and in a simple 4:3 interval, mind you).


Like many other intervals, the perfect 4th is easily derived from the harmonic series but not upwardly from the fundamental. I was not deriving intervals, I was deriving notes.

This means the note F is not in the harmonic series of C, yet it is in the C major scale.
#15
Quote by 12345abcd3
I don't see it as "cultural imperialism" because people don't say that it should be seen as an altered major scale simply because we are used to the major scale.

The reason is because usually when people use these "exotic scales" they are still in a major or minor key.

If someone built all their harmony of the alternative scale, to give a significantly different sound to major or minor then there's no reason why it shouldn't be considered a scale. But the majority of these exotic scales aren't used in this way (often because the harmony that can be created with them isn't very stable).

So I think the reason that people insist on refering to these scales as alterations of the major scale is because generally that is how they are used when put into context. They are also often refered to in terms of the minor scale if it seems like they would likely to be used in a minor context but the scale numbering will still be refered to by convention (yes, this part in convention but the rest is not really).

I think cultural imperialism would be more like looking at cultures with different tonal systems and insisting that these should be expressed as alterations of major/minor scales.


This is reasonable, so long as "if someone built all their harmony of the alternative scale, to give a significantly different sound to major or minor then there's no reason why it shouldn't be considered a scale" is true.
#16
Quote by DiminishedFifth
I'm gonna go ahead and assume you mean Major Sixth...


Er, no. Major seventh.
#17
Quote by Jehannum
Er, no. Major seventh.

Well then you've got to change a LOT of your post. At that point you don't have the C Major Pent since the notes you get are CDEGB.
#18
There is no question that the theory we are presented with now was, for the most part, developed by white guys in wigs ... musical intervals, triadiac harmony, cycle of 5ths, diatonic scale, 3 minor scales, standard notation, all a bunch of European stuff worked over and written about by guys in wigs and stuff.

It is damn hard to write West African polyrythms in standard notation, it is pointless to try to adapt a Sitar piece to a piano ... just not gonna happen

At the same the guys in wigs were working out all there meantone tempering and musical intervals they were looking down their noses at any and all folk music from places like Ireland, Bulgaria, Moorish Spain, North America, all of Asia etc etc etc.

Attitudes have come around -- composers started getting really interested in folk music in the Romantic Period (something about national pride that lead to WW1, or something) and ethnomusicologists are on board at proper universities to tell us that Western Music is relatively new on the scene (compared to Indian classical or Chinese Opera, for example).

So -- yeah - all the dots ever written on a staff hint at a certain imperialism. The fact that just intonation sounds like crap when you try to change keys is an indication that the Greek "Music of the Spheres" was never really anything more than some guys in togas getting greased up to a lyre and a few nice boys to play with.

Now that everyone in the world has heard Western Music and has put their own accent on it -- things are much more interesting!!!! Mongolian throat singers with a string quartet??? Bring it on!!! Violin players jamming with a sitar and tabla -- hotcha!

All the cool music, IMO, it happening at the boundaries where cultures meet. Have a listen to Taj Mahal's work with West African kora players -- tasty stuff!
#19
Quote by Jehannum
Like many other intervals, the perfect 4th is easily derived from the harmonic series but not upwardly from the fundamental. I was not deriving intervals, I was deriving notes.

This means the note F is not in the harmonic series of C, yet it is in the C major scale.


OK, but F# isn't either. The harmonic series actually does get very close to both F and F#.
#20
Jesus, I think your over thinking it. My take on "exotic" scales come from intervals in scales with uncommonly large intervals. For example, normal phyrgian is 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7. Its "exotic" cousin scale just has a major third instead of the minor third. So, instead of that boring old major 2nd interval between the second and third notes, you now have a tight ass gap that is an augmented second. Hearing that gap gives off an exotic feel. But yeah, just my 2 cents. Sorry if that has nothing to do with ur question lol
by the time you read this you will be wasting your time because it doesnt say anything
#21
Quote by Harmosis
OK, but F# isn't either. The harmonic series actually does get very close to both F and F#.


Yes, eventually the harmonic series will get close to any note you care to mention because its intervals get smaller the higher you go, but they get less important to the fundamental sound.

My point is that the major scale has arbitrary inclusions, so its position as a 'fundamental' scale is historical rather than purely musical, and it is valid to regard other scales in their own right. To compose in an 'exotic' scale it is better to think in that scale.
#23
Quote by Jehannum
Yes, eventually the harmonic series will get close to any note you care to mention because its intervals get smaller the higher you go, but they get less important to the fundamental sound.

My point is that the major scale has arbitrary inclusions, so its position as a 'fundamental' scale is historical rather than purely musical, and it is valid to regard other scales in their own right. To compose in an 'exotic' scale it is better to think in that scale.

...if you're using that scale in an appropriate context. Whereas if you're just trying to shoehorn it into a diatonic progression then there's really no point.
Actually called Mark!

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#24
Quote by Jehannum
Yes, eventually the harmonic series will get close to any note you care to mention because its intervals get smaller the higher you go, but they get less important to the fundamental sound.

My point is that the major scale has arbitrary inclusions, so its position as a 'fundamental' scale is historical rather than purely musical, and it is valid to regard other scales in their own right. To compose in an 'exotic' scale it is better to think in that scale.


Music and its history are irrevocably linked. If you know its history, you'd see that there's nothing arbitrary in the major scale. It is error to try to separate the two, looking for something "purely musical," because you miss the point of it altogether. (BTW, I'm not defending the alter-the-major-scale-to-learn-another-scale approach; I agree with the notion that it's better to think in that scale. It's just easier for some people to learn that way). The major scale's position as a fundamental scale is both musical and historical (and even philosophical and mathematical).
#25
I haven't read much of this thread, but you guys should check this out . In fact, you should watch all of this guy's videos. They're all really interesting...
#27
Quote by Jehannum
Yes, eventually the harmonic series will get close to any note you care to mention because its intervals get smaller the higher you go, but they get less important to the fundamental sound.

My point is that the major scale has arbitrary inclusions, so its position as a 'fundamental' scale is historical rather than purely musical, and it is valid to regard other scales in their own right. To compose in an 'exotic' scale it is better to think in that scale.
As you get past the first handful of overtones the harmonic series becomes more of a mathematical basis for a 'fundamental' scale than purely musical.

But if you're going to do it here's another way to look at it...

The addition of the P4 is interesting. The interval appears early in the harmonic series but not as an overtone of the fundamental.

1:1 - Root (Fundamental)
2:1 - Root (^8ve)
3:1 - P5 (^8ve)
4:1 - Root (^28ve)
5:1 - M3 (^28ve)
6:1 - P5 (^28ve)
7:1 - Xm7 (^28ve)
8:1 - Root (^28ve)

These are the first 7 overtones in the harmonic series and you can see that the P4 is not listed. It appears very early on but not in relationship to the fundamental. It appears in relation between the 2nd and 3rd ovetones (3:1 and 4:1). It appears as the inverse relationship between the perfect fifth and the octave. The octave then becomes the perfect fourth above the P5 root and the relationship is (4:1):(3:1) = 4:3

Note: as we move down we see the M3 is a direct overtone of the fundamental. The ratio of 5:1. The P5 appears again 6:1. Then the ratio of 7:1 which I called the Xm7 and is sometimes referred to as a pure minor seventh. In our 12 tone tuning system we do not approximate this ratio. Our minor seventh is an approximation of a different interval.

Similar to the P4 we can start including other relationships between the various overtones. The next relationship is that from the P5 with ratio 3:1 up to the M3 with a ratio of 5:1. Using the P5 as the fundamental our ratio would be M3:P5 so (5:1):(3:1) = 5:3 a M6.

The next interval we can derive from our harmonic series is the inverse of what we just did where we use our M3 and go up to the P5 which yields 6:5 or a m3.

I'm going to stop there for now as I'm only trying to demonstrate that there is another way to approach creating a scale from the harmonic series.

What you have to decide is whether you are going to use the intervals derived from the overtones - after all these overtones are sounding against each other as much as they are sounding against the fundamental or octaves, or if you are going to focus on the pitches derived from the harmonic series in relation to the root only.

If we take the pitches from the harmonic series and focus only against the root, as you appear to have based your original supporting argument then your argument still needs tweaking.

See if we take out all the doubling in the harmonic series then these are the notes we get in order of pitch from lowest to highest...(I've put in bold the notes you have shown in your original post as deriving from the harmonic series)
1:1
9:8
5:4
11:8
3:2
13:8
7:4
15:8
16:8

This gives us a eight instead of seven pitch classes. Some of these are very close to what the major scale gives us or approximates, but others are not part of the major scale at all.

There are a number of conclusions we can draw from this information...

The first is your conclusion...the major scale is, as you say, some kind of "cultural imperialism" as it is clearly not derived from the harmonic series.

An alternative conclusion is that the most fundamental musical scale (which the major scale may or may not be) is not derived from the harmonic series in this way and that the harmonic series is a more mathematical rather than musically based approach to constructing a 'fundamental' musical scale.

I opt for the second, though I do acknowledge the harmonic series has some involvement it is not the ultimate basis

If we list the harmonic overtones in order of appearance we get the most powerful (and the most audible) overtones.

Root
Octave
P5
M3

As mentioned earlier from the relationships between these notes we can derive the following intervals
Root
Octave
P5
P4
M3
M6
m3

But of course there's that "not quite minor seventh" tone that is also involved and tends to throw a spanner in the works. Perhaps this would form a better more "musical" scale.

But what if instead we stick with the fundamental octave and the dominant Overtone then we get a root perfect fifth and octave. using only these intervals to construct a scale we could use a cycle of fifths we get
R, P5, M2, M6, M3 (in C - C D E G A)

This is of course the major pentatonic scale. This seems to be the most "fundamental" musical scale shared by more cultures around the world than any other scale. Some say it is ingrained in us; that we are preprogrammed with this scale in the same way we are preprogrammed to learn language.

Of course that doesn't explain how we get the fourth and seventh. But we can still derive these two notes.

The seventh can be got from going to the next step in the cycle - the next step after that gives us a ♯4 which is rather dissonant against the root, if instead we extend back the other way we get the P4.

So why do that? Well even without the pentatonic scale the Root can be balanced on either side by the p5 above (the dominant) and a P5 below (the subdominant) if we invert this second interval to put it above the root it becomes a P4 and we get a Root P5 and P4. These form a strong relationship against the tonic and so it makes sense to fill out the five note pentatonic with a P4.

So the fundamental scale is the pentatonic which is based on the cycle of fifths. The seventh and fourth could be included possibly using the arguments above. Or of course you could simply say the inclusion of the fourth and seventh is purely a matter of cultural imperialism, further you could say that the approach of a cycle of fifths is purely a matter of cultural imperialism. But the pentatonic does seem to be a pan cultural phenomenon.

Over time we have approximated the P5 somewhat so that it is close enough to sound right but still allows for a perfect Octave after 12 steps through a cycle of fifths.


And finally...there is also the conclusion that there is no universally "fundamental" scale.

It could be argued that one culture developed a musical scale. Upon this musical scale they built there entire musical philosophy over hundreds if not thousands of years. They use this scale as a base by which they compare other musical ideas. Ultimately when these same people describe the scale as 'fundamental' they may be describing in the context of their own cultural framework and not necessarily implying that it is imposed on all other musical systems as some kind of foundation for their uniquely developed musical system.

Peace.
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at May 21, 2011,
#28
Quote by 20Tigers
...
This gives us a eight instead of seven pitch classes. Some of these are very close to what the major scale gives us or approximates, but others are not part of the major scale at all.

There are a number of conclusions we can draw from this information...

The first is your conclusion...the major scale is, as you say, some kind of "cultural imperialism" as it is clearly not derived from the harmonic series.

An alternative conclusion is that the most fundamental musical scale (which the major scale may or may not be) is not derived from the harmonic series in this way and that the harmonic series is a more mathematical rather than musically based approach to constructing a 'fundamental' musical scale.

I opt for the second, though I do acknowledge the harmonic series has some involvement it is not the ultimate basis




Thank you for an enlightening post.

I respectfully disagree with your conclusion ... I believe the major pentatonic scale is far more common across cultures for the mathematical reasons you explain (actually, applied physics, rather than pure mathematics -- the Greeks were notorious fans of perfect archetypes that simply do not exist, hence the bias). But the gist of the cultural imperialism argument is in the observation of the language -- "authentic cadence" vs "plagal/inauthentic/fake cadence" and the terms Dominant and subdominant ... this is sort of a Chomsky analysis -- we use the terms to denote what is authentic and pure in the Greek philosophical sense from what is base and pedestrian. And we come back to white men in wigs. Europeans invented the terms because they believed, as the Greeks did, in a pure archetype. But I believe that is problematic. To begin with our contemporary musical scale isn't pure -- it's not based on ratios at all but rather an approximation of those ratios. Secondly the notion of the Western major scale being a perfect archetype is based, in no small part, on the taste of European people for a particular type of harmony that is far less universal and places a VERY different emphasis on composition than one sees in other parts of the world.

Where Indian Classical music with its many ragas and talas is ancient and intricate, it is not written down in a graphical way as Western music is -- a student is accepted by a master and spends many years in apprenticeship learning these ragas and talas. Also -- Indian music is notably different than all Western classical music in several ways -- not least of which is the almost complete lack of harmonic movement -- once a tambura and sitar are tuned (by ear) the drone never changes for that performance. Also -- Indian music is completely improvised (in Western terms) but follows very elaborate rules and are certainly not "made up on the spot" from the point of Indian master musicians.

Similarly the talking drum of West Africa more than mimics human speech, it is, in effect, a substitute for vocalization under proper circumstances and a master player will use it's tonal and rhythmic capabilities to offer praise, worship, lament, denigration etc. Furthermore the master player can engage is highly sophisticated polyrythmic call and response improvisations with other percussive players and singers.

But, to the guys in wigs back in Europe the people of India and West Africa were savages -- which made it a lot easier to morally justify brutal mistreatment of these peoples.

So -- our narrative of music is the story told by the victor of imperialist expansion. Western classical music is the real stuff .. all that yelping and banging is just savages who have not got it worked out because they have lost sight of the true and pure archetypes that guide the proper men of music in the Western Tradition.

The fact that ii - bVII - I sounds like a cadence does not make it one -- at least not a "pure" or "authentic" one -- after all, that is the domain of folk music played by uneducated rabble who don't even own a wig!

So, while the scale is not pure and the harmonies based on it are loaded with terms that indicate this unfounded belief in pure archetypes (ask any physics student about the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics to learn about what has happened to the notion of pure archetypes). And while there are now ethnomusicologists at proper universities -- they are still Ethno-musicologists and not real students of the one true way of Mozart, Bach and Beethoven.

If you think about it it is as if someone kicked down your door, took all of your beloved rock, jazz, blues, folk and popular music recordings and burned them and told you "That is Satan's music! You must listen ONLY to dead white man music on harpsichord!" (wait -- that has happened!!!!!)

So, I would submit that NONE of the patterns of Western Music are in the archetypal spheres. They are not pure nor are they any more meaningful or "valid" than any other music -- they are the story as told by the victor. Of course, this does not mean that the major scale or harmony is any less cool or good or bichin' ... it just means that the one explanation offered of the validity of Western music over all other musics (which are invalid by comparison) is based on cultural bigotry.

A more interesting conclusion, IMO -- is that Howlin' Wolf is just as valid a musician and composer as was Beethoven. No one is better, worse, more authentic or more sublime. They both were composers that organized sound that evoked synesthetic responses in people.