oldschool CxC

Friday, December 22, 2006

Oh yeah, something else I've been thinking about. I've been listening to a lot of different music and I was thinking, at what point will all possible combinations of melodies be used? even when figuring other possible scales it seems that there exists some finite number of combinations available before one begins to repeat previously constructed tunes? Meaning, how sure can you be, if you write a piece of music, that you are not inadvertently copying someone else's work? Is there an end to music? (I hope not...)


Blogger Tom said...

Is there an end to literature? There must be some theoretical finite limit to the combinations of our 26 letter alphabet as well. No, for practical purposes, music is as infinite as the universe - the human race will be long gone before we reach the end of music. Consider: western music has a 12 tone scale; however why should we be limited to that? There are an infinite number of tones between each of those twelve. That in itself should relieve your fears. Furthermore, melody is only one element of music. Bottom line, chill out Glenn!

Peace to all! I was just looking at a bunch of old bookmarks and stumbled upon the cxc blog for the first time in a long while. Anyone in town next week? Paula, Jeremy and I will be with the folks from 12/25 to 29.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Erik said...

If I had a million monkeys working for a million years at a piano, eventually one would write "My Dick In a Box"?

Sticking to the 12-tone scale, no octaves, no rhythm, there are 144 combinations of just two notes (12^2). A simple tune like Happy Birthday has a melody 25 notes long, so the total possible combos of 25 notes is 12^25, or 925 septillion (925 followed by 24 zeros).

Of course the problem with that is that most popular music these days is based on variants of blues scales and progressions. So yeah, there's only so many ways you can do a V-IV-I progression and make it sound new.

On the other other hand, popular music is very minimalist in the sense that there are only a couple of musical ideas in each song which then get expanded (not often "developed" in the classical sense) over 4-5 minutes. So it's not like you need a lot to work with. I mean I love R&B, but there are more musical ideas in one Beethoven piano sonata than an entire year's worth of KMEL.

So: many note combos + uncomplex musical ideas = infinite songs yet to be written.

1:18 PM  
Blogger REkz said...


Errr, if you stick to Western 12 tone, and keep things in a 4/4, it's limited. If you expand beyond that, it gets broader.
For me, 12 tone gets boring after awhile. Luckily we have microtones and all different cultures outside of Western music framework.

That being said, computer music has really changed things. If I compose something with Midi, it's 'hardcoded' with 12 tone. I can manipulate fairly easily the pitch, but the note's are still rooted in 12 tones 'concepts' and relationships.

But if I just stick with manipulating pitch directly, either with a physical control (knob/slider) or using charts/graphs, I break free of 12 tone music a lot. But this type of music can be harder for people to listen and relate, to deconstruct, to 'head-bob'. :)

It's a catch 22 --> 12 tones gives us a common reference to HEAR music, just like a drummers 4/4 beat helps us anticipate rhythm.

But the structure can be a cage. Which for me is one of the ironies about the musician/artist John Cage.

PEACe --- Ari / rekzkarz.com

4:55 PM  

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