Finding Alternative Musical Scales - Carnegie Mellon University

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Finding Alternative Musical ScalesJohn HookerCarnegie Mellon UniversityOctober 20171

Advantages of Classical Scales Pitch frequencies have simple ratios.– Rich and intelligible harmonies Multiple keys based on underlying chromaticscale with tempered tuning.– Can play all keys on instrument with fixed tuning.– Complex musical structure. Can we find new scales with these sameproperties?– Constraint programming is well suited to solve theproblem.2

Simple Ratios Acoustic instruments producemultiple harmonic partials.– Frequency of partial integral multiple offrequency of fundamental.– Coincidence of partialsmakes chords withsimple ratios easyto recognize.Perfect fifthC:G 2:33

Simple Ratios Acoustic instruments producemultiple harmonic partials.– Frequency of partial integral multiple offrequency of fundamental.– Coincidence of partialsmakes chords withsimple ratios easyto recognize.OctaveC:C 1:24

Simple Ratios Acoustic instruments producemultiple harmonic partials.– Frequency of partial integral multiple offrequency of fundamental.– Coincidence of partialsmakes chords withsimple ratios easyto recognize.Major triadC:E:G 4:5:65

Multiple Keys A classical scale can start from any pitch in achromatic with 12 semitone intervals.– Resulting in 12 keys.– An instrument with 12 pitches (modulo octaves) canplay 12 different keys.– Can move to a different key by changing only a fewnotes of the scale.6

Multiple KeysLet C major bethe tonic keyCF#Gb0 notesnot in C major6C majorD#EbA17

Multiple KeysLet C major bethe tonic keyCD#Eb4F#Gb5 notesnot in C majorDb major2A78

Multiple KeysLet C major bethe tonic key3F#Gb2 notesnot in C major5D majorD#EbAC9

Multiple KeysLet C major bethe tonic keyCD#EbF#Gb3 notesnot in C majorEb major1A610

Multiple KeysLet C major bethe tonic key2F#Gb4D#Eb4 notesnot in C major(mediant)E major7AC11

Multiple KeysLet C major bethe tonic keyCF#Gb1 notenot in C major(subdominant)3F majorD#EbA512

Multiple KeysLet C major bethe tonic keyD#Eb1F#Gb6 notesnot in C majorF# major6AC13

Multiple KeysLet C major bethe tonic keyC7F#Gb1 notenot in C major(dominant)2G majorD#EbA414

Multiple KeysLet C major bethe tonic keyCD#EbF#Gb4 notesnot in C majorAb major5A315

Multiple KeysLet C major bethe tonic key6F#Gb3 notesnot in C major(submediant)1A majorD#EbAC16

Multiple KeysLet C major bethe tonic keyCF#Gb7D#Eb2 notesnot in C majorBb major4A217

Multiple KeysLet C major bethe tonic keyD#Eb5F#Gb5 notesnot in C majorB major3AC18

Multiple Keys Chromatic pitches ae tempered so that intervalswill have approximately correct ratios in all keys.– Modern practice is equal temperament.19

Multiple Keys– Resulting error is 0.9%20

Combinatorial Requirements Scales must be diatonic– Adjacent notes are 1 or 2 semitones apart. We consider m-note scales on an n-tone chromatic– In binary representation, let m0 number of 0sm1 number of 1s– Then m0 2m n, m1 n m In a major scale 1101110, there are m 7 notes on ann 12-tone chromatic There are m0 2 7 12 2 zeros There are m1 12 7 5 ones0 semitone interval1 whole tone interval (2 semitones)21

Combinatorial Requirements Semitones should not be bunched together.– One criterion: Myhill’s property– All intervals of a given size should contain k or k 1semitones. For example, in a major scale:All fifths are 6 or 7 semitonesAll thirds are 3 or 4 semitonesAll seconds are 1 or 2 semitones, etc.– Few scales satisfy Myhill’s property22

Combinatorial Requirements Semitones should not be bunched together.– We minimize the number of pairs of adjacent 0s andpairs of adjacent 1s.– If m0 m1,– If m1 m0, In a major scale 1101110,number of pairs of adjacent 0s 0number of pairs of adjacent 1s 5 – min{2,5} 323

Combinatorial Requirements Semitones should not be bunched together.– The number of scales satisfying this property is The number of 7-note scales on a 12-tone chromaticsatisfying this property is24

Combinatorial Requirements Can have fewer than n keys.– A “mode of limited transposition”– Whole tone scale 111111 (Debussy) has 2 keys– Scale 110110110 has 5 keys Count number of semitones in repeating sequence25

Temperament Requirements Tolerance for inaccurate tuning– At most 0.9%– Don’t exceed tolerance of classical equaltemperament26

Previous Work Scales on a tempered chromatic– Bohlen-Pierce scale (1978, Mathews et al. 1988) 9 notes on 13-note chromatic spanning a 12th– Music for Bohlen-Pierce scale R.Boulanger, A. Radunskaya, J. Appleton– Scales of limited transposition O. Messiaen Microtonal scales– Quarter-tone scale (24-tone equally temperedchromatic) Bartok, Berg, Bloch, Boulez, Copeland, Enescu, Ives,Mancini.– 15- or 19-tone equally tempered chromatic E. Blackwood27

Previous Work “Super just” scales (perfect intervals, 1 key)––––––H. Partch (43 tones)W. Carlos (12 tones)L. Harrison (16 tones)W. Perret (19 tones)J. Chalmers (19 tones)M. Harison (24 tones) Combinatorial properties– G. J. Balzano (1980)– T. Noll (2005, 2007, 2014)– E. Chew (2014), M. Pearce (2002), Zweifel (1996)28

Simple Ratios Frequency of each note should have a simpleratio (between 1 and 2) with some other note– Equating notes an octave apart.– Let fi freq ratio of note i to tonic (note 1), f1 1.– For major scale CDEFGAB,– For example, B (15/8) has a simple ratio 3/2 with E (5/4)– D octave higher (9/4) has ratio 3/2 with G (3/2)29

Simple Ratios However, this allows two or more subsets ofunrelated pitches.– Simple ratios with respect to pitches in same subset,but not in other subsets.– So we use a recursive condition.– For some permutation of notes, each note should havesimple ratio with previous note.– First note in the permutation is the tonic.30

Simple Ratios Let the simple ratios be generators r1, , rp.– Let ( 1, , m) be a permutation of 1, , m with 1 1.– For each i {2, , m}, we requireandfor some j {1, , i 1} and some q {1, , p}.31

Simple Ratios Ratio with previous note in the permutation must be a generator.– Ratios with previous 2 or 3 notes in the permutation willbe simple (product of generators)– Ratio with tonic need not be simple.32

Simple Ratios Observation: No need to consider both rq and 2/rqas generators.– So we consider only reduced fractions with oddnumerators (in order of simplicity):33

Simple Ratios CP model readily accommodates variable indices Replace fi with fraction ai /bi in lowest terms.34

CP Model35

CP Model36

CP Model37

CP Model38

CP Model39

CP Model40

CP Model41

CP Model42

CP Model43

Scales on a 12-note chromatic Use the generators mentioned earlier.– There are multiple solutions for each scale.– For each note, compute the minimal generator, or thesimplest ratio with another note.– Select the solution with the simplest ratios with thetonic and/or simplest minimal generators.– The 7-note scales with a single generator 3/2 areprecisely the classical modes!44

7-note scales on a 12-note chromatic45

7-note scales on a 12-note chromatic46

Other scales on a 12-note chromatic47

Other scales on a 12-note chromatic48

Other scales on a 12-note chromatic49

Other scales on a 12-note chromatic50

Other scales on a 12-note chromatic51

Other scales on a 12-note chromatic52

Other Chromatic Scales Which chromatics have the most simple ratioswith the tonic, within tuning tolerance?53

Other Chromatic Scales Which chromatics have the most simple ratioswith the tonic, within tuning tolerance?Classical 12-tone chromatic is 2nd best54

Other Chromatic Scales Which chromatics have the most simple ratioswith the tonic, within tuning tolerance?Quarter-tone scale adds nothing55

Other Chromatic Scales Which chromatics have the most simple ratioswith the tonic, within tuning tolerance?19-tone chromatic dominates all others56

Historical Sidelight Advantage of 19-tone chromatic was discoveredduring Renaissance.– Spanish organist and musictheorist Franciso de Salinas(1530-1590) recommended19-tone chromatic due todesirable tuning propertiesfor traditional intervals.– He used meantonetemperament rather thanequal temperament.57

Historical Sidelight 19-tone chromatic has received some additionalattention over the years––––W. S. B. Woolhouse (1835)M. J. Mandelbaum (1961)E. Blackwood (1992)W. A. Sethares (2005)58

Scales on 19-note chromatic But what are the best scales on this chromatic?– 10-note scales have only 1 semitone, not enoughfor musical interest.– 12-note scales have 5 semitones, but this makes scalenotes very closely spaced.– 11-note scales have 3 semitones, which seems a goodcompromise (1 more semitone than classical scales).59

11-note scales on 19-note chromatic There are 77 scales satisfying our requirements– Solve CP problem for all 77.– For each scale, determine largest set of simple ratiosthat occur in at least one solution.– 37 different sets of ratios appear in the 77 scales.60

Simple ratios in 11-note scales61

Simple ratios in 11-note scalesThese 9 scales dominate all the others.62

Simple ratios in 11-note scalesWe will focus on 1 scale from each class.63

4 attractive 11-note scalesShowing 2 simplest solutions for each scale.One with simplest generators, one with simplest ratios to tonic.64

Key structure of scales65

Key structure of scalesNo key withdistance 1.Good or bad?A limited cyclein scale 72 thatskips 2.66

4 attractive 9-note scalesA limited cyclein scale 72 thatskips 2.Further focus on scale 72, which has largest number of simple ratios.67

Demonstration: 11-note scale Software––––Hex MIDI sequencer for scales satisfying Myhill’s propertyWe trick it into generating a 19-tone chromaticViking synthesizer for use with HexLoopMIDI virtual MIDI cable68

Harmonic Comparison Classic major scale––––Major triad C:E:G 4:5:6, major 7 chord C:E:G:B 8:10:12:15Minor triad A:C:E 10:12:15, minor 7 chord A:C:E:G 10:12:15:18Dominant 7 chord G:B:D:F 36:45:54:64Tensions (from jazz) C E G B D F# A Scale 72––––––––Major triad 1-4-7 4:5:6Minor triad 5-8-12 10:12:15Minor 7 chord 9-12-15-18 10:12:15:18New chord 9-12-14-18 5:6:7:9New chord 1-3-5-9 6:7:8:10New chord 3-5-9-12 7:8:10:12New chord 5-9-12-15 4:5:6:7Tensions 1-4-7-10-13-15b-16-19-2269

Demonstration: 19-note chromatic “Etude” by Easley Blackwood, 1980 (41:59)–––––Uses entire 19-note scaleEmphasis on traditional intervalsRenaissance/Baroque soundMusical syntax is basically tonalWe wish to introduce new intervals and a new syntaxby using 11-note or other scales on the 19-note chromatic70

11-note Scales with Adjacent Keys There are eleven 11-note scales on a 19-notechromatic in which keys can differ by one note.––––As in classical 7-note scales.One can therefore cycle through all keys.This may be seen as a desirable property.The key distances are the same for all the scales.71

72

Scales withmostattractiveintervals73

Demonstration: 9-note scale Chorale and Fugue for organ Chorale– In A, cycles through 2 most closely related keys: A, C#, F, A– Modulate to C# at bar 27– Final sections starts at bar 72 (5:56) Fugue–––––Double fugueFirst subject enters at pitches A, C#, FSecond subject enters at bar 96.Final episode at bar 164 (13:36)Recapitulation at bar 17074

Demonstration: 9-note scale75

76

Begin in key of ACadence77

Resolve from loweredsubmediant (F)78

Pivot on tonic0:1679

80

81

It occurs here82

83

84

85

86

87

88

89

90

91

But what are the best scales on this chromatic? - 10-note scales have only 1 semitone, not enough for musical interest. - 12-note scales have 5 semitones, but this makes scale notes very closely spaced. - 11-note scales have 3 semitones, which seems a good compromise (1 more semitone than classical scales). Scales on 19-note chromatic 59

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