#1
when referring to harmonies, or at least two part harmonies where i encountered the term, what does open mean. such as "open fifths" that the beatles supposedly sang in often. i heard something that leads me to believe it's when the harmony doesn't include the tonic, or is it when it's not over the tonic chord? or something totally different?!
"I see my light come shining from the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now I shall be released"

Know any good teachers in NY, especially skilled in teaching ear training? Tell me
#2
Quote by sirpsycho85
when referring to harmonies, or at least two part harmonies where i encountered the term, what does open mean. such as "open fifths" that the beatles supposedly sang in often. i heard something that leads me to believe it's when the harmony doesn't include the tonic, or is it when it's not over the tonic chord? or something totally different?!
As I understand it, an "open fifth" consists of the interval of a fifth (C to G, for example) with no other tone between. While the Beatles' vocalists (John, Paul and George and extremely rarely Ringo) certainly harmonized in fifths, they never confined themselves to any one harmonic singing mode and sang in thirds, sixths, seconds, sevenths, and indeed virtually any interval you can think of. For just two examples among many, listen to Rocky Raccoon from The Beatles (the so-called White Album) for a terrific example of harmonizing in one style (barbershop quartet), and Sun King from the Abbey Road album for an example in a completely different, indeed worlds apart, style of vocal harmony. There was simply no pinning those guys down when they opened their mouths to sing.
All things are difficult before they are easy.
- Dr. Thomas Fuller (British physician, 1654-1734)
Quote by Freepower
For everything you need to know - gpb0216.
Last edited by gpb0216 at Aug 10, 2006,
#3
oh certainly i know, i listen to them religiously. i just didn't really understand the term, and while they sang all different styles of harmony, i've just read a lot of papers that focused on open fifths. in that case i'll ask a further question...what is harmonizing in the barbershop style. i've read a lot about harmonizing those dominant seventh chords, but to quote from qikipedia:

...which are however not true dominant seventh chords, but justly tuned otonal tetrads


and they go on to mention that they use just intonation, another concept i don't fully understand. what i gathered is that the frequencies we associate with the 12 notes, and the equal division of the octave into those 12 notes is not the only way to divide this range by 12, and barbershop groups use a slightly different division. but yeah i'm confused.
"I see my light come shining from the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now I shall be released"

Know any good teachers in NY, especially skilled in teaching ear training? Tell me
#4
It's hard to explain just intonation without getting really detailed; but it is just another way of dividing the octave into twelve notes. Based on the circle of fifths, there's a certain degree of error in the tonal system, when it's reduced down to an octave it's known as the pythagorean comma (the amount of error between an actual octave, and what frequency you would arrive at if you travled the entire circle of fifths back to the original tone, by perfect fifth). Different tuning systems handle the comma in different ways; in the equal temper system (which most guitars use), it's divided equally between the twelve notes by an exponential logarithm.

Just intonation is, instead, a way of treating each pitch as the ratio of two whole numbers... ie. the octave would be 2:1. The fifth is 3:2. Etc. Just intonation, mean tone systems, and the such, tend to sound better than the equal temper system; but they're musically limiting.
Quote by les_kris
Corwinoid is God
I'm not even God-like... I've officially usurped the Almighty's throne.
Click here to worship me.

Member #3 of the Corwinoid Fan Club
#5
Quote by sirpsycho85
...what is harmonizing in the barbershop style. i've read a lot about harmonizing those dominant seventh chords, but to quote from qikipedia:
...which are however not true dominant seventh chords, but justly tuned otonal tetrads.
and they go on to mention that they use just intonation, another concept i don't fully understand. what i gathered is that the frequencies we associate with the 12 notes, and the equal division of the octave into those 12 notes is not the only way to divide this range by 12, and barbershop groups use a slightly different division. but yeah i'm confused.
Your question covers a lot of ground. The piano technician (Larry Crabb in Duluth, GA) who taught me how to tune pianos was also the president of the Georgia chapter of the International Barbershop Quartet Singing Society (the name of the organization is very long, but this shortened version will serve). As I was learning to tune pianos using equal temperament, he explained that BQs were able to use just intonation when they sang because no fixed-pitch instruments were involved. Indeed, no other instruments of any type were permitted to accompany the singers. To make a very long story very short, Just Intonation uses pure intervals while Equal Temperament uses, well, tempered intervals. For example, in E.T. the "perfect" fifths are narrower than pure fifths, and the "perfect" fourths are wider than pure fourths.

While we're still a long way from answering your question, does this make any sense so far?
All things are difficult before they are easy.
- Dr. Thomas Fuller (British physician, 1654-1734)
Quote by Freepower
For everything you need to know - gpb0216.
#6
absolutely. but i also wanted to follow up on what corwinoid said...why is it musically limiting? my guess is that you can only play in one key with a justly tuned instrument, unless of course you want it to sound different for different keys.
"I see my light come shining from the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now I shall be released"

Know any good teachers in NY, especially skilled in teaching ear training? Tell me
#7
Basically, if my understanding is correct, there's actually more notes to the natural music scale than there are in our western system. That's why it's impossible to get any of our non-fretless instruments into exactly perfectly sounding tuning... when you have it sounding right for one key, then another key will have notes sounding all sharp and flat, because, for example, a c# in one scale would sound better sharper or flatter in another scale, because technically there's actually more than just the one note between c and d. I was in choir, and when we weren't playing with accompanyment, we'd be able to make that difference... you'd sing a Db slightly higher than a C#, and so forth. That's what's special about a BQ, they can sing in more than just the 12 western notes, therefor achieving a much more accurate intonation.

Basically, india got it right and our european ancestors in their efforts to simplify things messed it up for the rest of us. I think that's how it happened, at least.
I have an addiction...

Les Paul style DeArmond
Danelectro baritone
Rickenbacker 360/12
defretted Strat
lap steel
Yamaha CP-70
Yamaha P-90
Kay archtop
Kay Tenor Banjo
Oud
Sitar
Harmonium
Melodica
Cello

http://www.myspace.com/hi9
#8
Quote by sirpsycho85
absolutely. but i also wanted to follow up on what corwinoid said...why is it musically limiting? my guess is that you can only play in one key with a justly tuned instrument, unless of course you want it to sound different for different keys.

You've got more than one key, but it's not open to full chromatic modulation. There's usually one note in the entire chromatic series that sounds absolutely horrid. The voice can correct for this (other instruments have a harder time), but you still run into cases where you modulate and certain notes are no longer the same pitch.

From the performer's point of view, especially voice, just intonation and mean tone tunings are simpler, from the listeners point of view it sounds better. From the composer's point of view, it's a rat's nest when you start to handle modulations.
Quote by les_kris
Corwinoid is God
I'm not even God-like... I've officially usurped the Almighty's throne.
Click here to worship me.

Member #3 of the Corwinoid Fan Club
#9
i'm a bit confused how you can have more than one key if the divisions are going to be different from that new starting note. unless you mean like a relative minor or something, which makes me wonder, in just intonation, do the keys of C major and A minor have the same divisions, or are those different too.

and another random question...electronic instruments can really do whatever you want, can't they. so are there electric instruments for which you can mess around with the intonation?
"I see my light come shining from the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now I shall be released"

Know any good teachers in NY, especially skilled in teaching ear training? Tell me
#10
There are fretless guitars and basses... I defretted my first guitar, a cheap little strat wanna-be. There's a theremin, and that crazy synth that Jonny Greenwood from radiohead uses, the Ondes Martenot. That's a very rare and expensive instrument, though.

If you have a really cheap old guitar, though, you can get the frets out pretty easily with just a steakknife and flathead screwdriver. It's not that hard. And the first time you play a halftone in the right place and realize "hey, that sounds good!" it's like an awakening.

An awakening to "music has just become infinately more complex! no!!!"
I have an addiction...

Les Paul style DeArmond
Danelectro baritone
Rickenbacker 360/12
defretted Strat
lap steel
Yamaha CP-70
Yamaha P-90
Kay archtop
Kay Tenor Banjo
Oud
Sitar
Harmonium
Melodica
Cello

http://www.myspace.com/hi9
#11
Quote by sirpsycho85
i'm a bit confused how you can have more than one key if the divisions are going to be different from that new starting note. unless you mean like a relative minor or something, which makes me wonder, in just intonation, do the keys of C major and A minor have the same divisions, or are those different too.

and another random question...electronic instruments can really do whatever you want, can't they. so are there electric instruments for which you can mess around with the intonation?

In just intonation major and minor are far more distinct, and much purer. As for the keys... you can see wiki on that.

Synthesised instruments can largely handle these complexities, yes.
Quote by les_kris
Corwinoid is God
I'm not even God-like... I've officially usurped the Almighty's throne.
Click here to worship me.

Member #3 of the Corwinoid Fan Club