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LA%20FOLIA%201.mp3

LA%20FOLIA%201%20-%20Full%20Score.pdf

 

I post this as a new thread because I don’t want to pre-occupy anyone from Stephen's thread and composition of his variations on La Folia.

I have done years ago a set of variations for bouzouki on this Folia theme, but they're lost amongst my manuscripts.

The last two years I've been working on a big song cycle called "LIBYAN SEA TALE" where I thought of using modulations as instrumental interludes, and one of the themes that came first into my mind was La Folia again. I wanted something that could take me round the clock in terms of tone steps and as Handel is one of my favourite sets I started with his setting.

So my aim was to go quickly and smoothly from Dm to Em and imo this can be done as early as from the 1st or 2nd bar of Handel's setting, if you agree. Bars 17 - 18 in this pdf behave as if the 2nd triad in Dm is not diminished but Em itself. I marked the harmonic understanding with Roman numerals for both tonalities, and after bar 19 in the new tonality only. The change sounds fairly smooth to me.

What now remains is to write my own variation instead of repeating Handel's.  :-)

 

Perhaps what Stephen says about a competition on this theme could take ground and give all sorts of nice results.

Something like a "Composers Forum contribution to a Musical Cathedral", as the great cathedrals took centuries and many architects to be completed, so is Folia a cathedral still in progress.

How about it Gav? (After this summer preferably)

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Socrates,

Interesting stuff as always with you. I often find that ascribing harmonies to 2-part writing is a somewhat moveable feast. You ascribe III to m3 which I see and hear as tonic harmony in its 1st inversion. m4 marked bVII I see/hear (probably incorrectly) as V/7 in its 1st inversion despite the 7th not resolving as it should. m5 marked I see/hear as II in its 1st inversion (the c in the violin as an echappee). I say these things not to be contentious but to illustrate what's probably fairly obvious i.e. nothing is/should be written in stone. This is one of the many elements that make music (and, to a degree, mathematics) so fascinating. What you've suggested for m.17/18 sounds just about OK in theory and of course sounds great in practice - I will consider this thought when updating my recent set of variations.

I look forward to hearing your variation(s) when written.

Regarding this thread being the basis of a competition - I thought soon after proposing it that it might not after all be such a good idea (having to judge a whole fistful of La Folias could be boring) - but the more I think about it the more I like the idea. Perhaps, as you say, Gav (our competitions guru) might take up the cudgels?

Hi Stephen,

thanks for answering to this thread. I will deal with my notation of harmony and understanding of it with the Folia theme bellow but I want to clarify a few things about this thread first.

 

Perhaps I have misnamed this thread by referring to LA FOLIA and I will probably change its title.

My intention was to create a thread for discussion in various theory matters that may be of interest to a number of people in this forum, and I started with the modulation up a tone and how it can be done smoothly, observing that the theme of La Folia was a good one to start with.

You see I am preoccupied with the modulation up or down by semitones and tones rather than 4ths or 5ths for two particular reasons:

Firstly, I like them very much (particularly the whole step one) because I listen to them since I was born as parts of the Greek tradition, though there a change of tonal centre is usually accompanied by a change of mode also, thus giving to modulations a more proper meaning (in my understanding of them as an easterner, that is).

Secondly, because they suit very much my song writing. When I write a strophic song with too many verses I feel the need to go to another tonality but no further than a major second-minor third at most, otherwise it would tax very much the vocal range of the singers, so 4ths and 5ths are out of the question for me.

In doing all this, I have to say that I don’t really like abrupt modulations (just going a minor 2nd up as in pop songs sometimes), but gradual ones where the change occurs through composing work rather than laziness.

 

I read carefully what you write about the marking of the chords in the Handel Saraband, and I don’t find anything amiss in your understanding/hearing them the way you do. Perhaps bar 4 needs some clarification. Do you mean a dominant minor chord in first inversion? Otherwise a C# would be needed instead of a C natural in the base if we were to have a proper dominant chord.

 

In my understanding I just hear and observe tonics and dominants really:

bar 1-2 : I-V in Dm

Bar 3-4 : I-V in F

bar 5-6 : I-v in Gm

bar 7-8 : VI (substitute of I) - V in Dm

 

And this is why I have marked them as I did. Perhaps a figured bass would give better understanding for all of us.

 

If anyone else is interesting in modulations (real or just tonal) we may continue with this thread… :-)

Hi Em,

In a few lines you raised a lot of questions that could keep us busy for months.  :-)

Just quickly I am trying to give a few outlines as clearly as I can relating to what you wrote, or perhaps more to some old pre-occupations of mine.

All Balkan European countries, and all Asiatic countries of the Middle East, together with all Northern African countries as far west as Morocco constitute what we call in ethnomusicology one of the "high musical culture areas" of the world. The other analogous "high areas" are:

Western Europe and the Americas/Australian countries

Middle Asian areas (Iran & Indian countries etc)

Far East countries (China, Japan etc).

All other musical areas of the world are not considered as "high areas"

Russia, (the old Soviet Union) is considered a special case as belonging to two high areas simultaneously and so are now a days the European Balkan countries of which Greece is one.

The term "high" is sometimes justified (not by all ethnomusicologists by any means) by observance of existence of developed theoretical texts on one hand, and by existence of highly developed musical repertoires in both the popular and classical traditions of the countries concerned, on the other hand.

Coming back to the Balkans, North Africa, and the Near and Middle East, we observe very strong similarities in the theory and practice of all these countries/geographical areas. There are three main major traditions still alive and productive, namely the Byzantine, Ottoman and Arab traditions. All three traditions are heavily based on the ancient Greek classical model of music and its fundamental structures in tetrachords and pentachords which generate all musical modes/scales of any genre in use (as is Western Europe).

 

Coming back to the subject of this thread, I talked of modulations as I know them from my own tradition (i.e. shifts in both tonal centre of gravity and musical mode) and I specified the shift up a major second, in preference, for my own purposes, to that of a 4th or 5th.

What would that imply in practice, especially when combined with a change in the structure of the basic 4chord or 5chord (diatonic to chromatic, etc) I can perhaps illustrate with one or two theoretical examples and a sound video:

Notice the structure of both diatonic and chromatic 4chords as I give them, in the case of the Lydian mode:

Diatonic: T-T-S

Chromatic: S-(T+)-S   (T+ = augmented second or tri-semitone for this post only and speaking only of equally tempered system intervals)

What practical musicians do for millennia with these two structures (diatonic and chromatic) is to start a composition in the diatonic mode and shift to the chromatic structure in another tonal centre. Greeks and Byzantines always preferred to shift up one tone rather than in other intervals, thus we have a new extended structure occupying all the range of system perfect greater.

 

The modulatory implications of the above Lydian chromatic in D covering the whole system perfect greater are far too many to cover in a post of this length even if I present only some of its sub-structures, but you can appreciated them as you observe the structures of different sub-units as marked. Given that the sound in practice results generally in the soft rather than the hard version of the system, and that this is only one of many possible versions, one can start thinking of complexities indeed.

All names of modes are given as per Greek theory (in preference to Arabic terms) and bare no relation to western names of the Gregorian chant tradition.

 

I apologize if my reply has been a little confusing as I suppose you are new to this kind of thinking about scales, but I will leave you with a video of a Greek traditional dance from Constantinople which behaves exactly as I have mainly described, i.e. utilizing the Lydian mode in C for its two first sections, subsequently modulating to chromatic Lydian in D (at 0'54'', and returning to diatonic in C.

This is mainly what I mean by modulation up a tone and there are plenty of practical examples for it.

I forgot to add: Modulation up or down a tone implies moving away by two sharps or flats rather than one which would be the case when modulating by 4ths or 5ths, but still in my ears sounds fresh and pleasant and more to a point, a real modulation rather than merely a change of tonal centre.

C diatonic = no sharps or flats.

D chromatic = two flats (a G minor signature rather than a D major).

Socrates, this is a neat explanation made all the more clear by placing it into its correct historical context. Personally I love modal music and its ability to instantly transform one's appreciation from a purely western to a more easterly world. It's always interesting for me to see how western harmony evolved over time from major and minor modes of the ancient tradition and I admire composers who manage not to forget their history and interweave western harmonies with modal music - the contrasts can be very satisfying to the ear and, I guess to the emotions.

Along with most composers of a certain age I studied modes when a student of music (in the formal sense - I am of course still a student of music!) but have rather let them slide when composing. It's never too late to be shaken from one's reverie and I will for sure start to incorporate them more often in my new compositions. As ever, thank you for the 'heads up'.

Em,

Yup, the teaser is the B natural at the end of mm 17. We think that something is about to happen. We can be fairly sure because music of this type is pretty deliberate when it come to things like this. there are rules, after all. Then our expectation is solidified a little more by the C in the bass in mm 18. Over the next few measures we are guided into the new key. 

Socrates,

Modern pop songs are not art songs. They modulate directly because that is the style, not because the composers are lazy. Although I have heard some where at the end of a verse there is a IV-V in the new key before landing on I. 

I enjoyed the modulation - subtly surprising.. very cool!   

I'll have to return later to take in your generous descriptions.

Thanks for posting!

Hi Em,

I am afraid that my second screen shot (of the system perfect greater) is confusing, sorry about this. The letters "D" and "C" before the names of the modes stand for "diatonic" and "chromatic" respectively and have nothing to do with note names. I thought it would be confusing… sorry. :-)

 

Thanks for your diagram, I believe you have got it! The only correction needed is on the 3rd degree of the scale. We cannot name two notes of the scale with the same letter name G flat, and then G natural for various reasons:

1 clarity of notation

2 the interval between 2nd and third degree should denote the augmented 2nd, not the minor 3rd as in your diagram (Eb-Gb), therefore Eb-F# should be used.

3 As I said above the resulting chromatic mode although has as tonic the D, its key signature is that of the subdominant minor (G minor), in which the F# is always used as leading note. BTW, dominant note of this mode is considered to be the 4th (G) rather than the 5th (A)

 

It does not matter if the modulation occurs in 0'54'' or 0'56''. I was maybe wrong, I always give a rough indication of time for videos. For this video I used a performance that I like more (I usually like this piece performed on the violin or bouzouki) but I embed this additional video which is played by accordion as this is the performance I transcribed years ago for a special exercise I was doing and for which I provide my scanned document (I never have time to digitise this old transcriptions of which I have a lot), but hopefully if you study it together with the accordion performance it will clarify more to you the structure and modulations involved.

Follow the structure that I have noted in the bottom of the page, but also the mandolin part which plays together with the accordion but in a subdued function.

Finally, using Arabian terms as better known rather than Greek or Byzantine now a days, have a look on the inter-relation of these few modes, if that helps in understanding certain modulatory possibilities. The rows giving the modes  involved in the example dance are the first and the fourth, and the tonics/dominants are marked in bold

 

 

 

RAST in C

C

D

E

F

G

A

Bb

C

D

NIKRIZ in C

C

D

Eb

F#

G

A

B

C

D

NIHAVENT in D

C

D

E

F

G#

A

Bb

C#

D

HICAZ in D

C

D

Eb

F#

G

A

Bb

C

D

Hi Bob, have a comparison listen of the following three examples please when you've got time.

Probably the word "lazy" is bad in some cases and I should not have used it, but in some others I've felt justified in the past to apply it in the case of certain maestros or producers. Of course I appreciate that it may be a stylistic element for some songs, and with as such I I don’t have a problem, where the stylistic future is established well and with musicality, that is.

Perhaps these few examples are indicative of what I mean (but still give away my likes and dislikes)

AND I LOVE HER

Beatles live - And I love her (1964)

at 2'37'' Cm => C#m ! There we have one of the most famous transitions up a semitone. I think it works very well. The Beatles (perhaps out of instinct, rather than conscious compositional technique), know what to do with this song:

Use of a Spanish guitar by G. Harrison, and when the change occurs he goes straight into playing solo in the new key the vocal verse. This is the style of this song indeed. The chorus then is repeated vocally in the new key and then the song finishes with the characteristic intro in the new key in a Picardie! (quite advanced stuff for young composers of the sixties, if you ask me).

IT'S NOW OR NEVER

Al Martino- It's now or never-O sole mio

 

At 1'50'' D => Eb and 2'55'' Eb => E (completely unnecessary changes-make you want to puke)

Where is the stylistic need for this changes? That is not the "Sole mio" that I grew up with. Is it not to impress the crowds rather than an artistic/expressive need?

PLEASE RELEASE ME

Please Release Me - Englebert Humperdink ( with lyrics )

 (at 2'25' F=>B) I consider this abrupt change quite pink and clumsy. Probably the producer had heard somewhere that "SI contra FA" is the devil in music and decided to use it. In general, about modulations of this type, I believe what Schonberg said:

"One can go from anywhere to anywhere else, like from the 20th floor of a building to the street below. The crucial decision is the choice of the route. The lift, the staircase, or jump. The success of the trip is made clear from the condition one is when he/she arrives in the new place." (Sorry, I don’t remember the exact quotation but something to that effect.)

So, the way you choose to go, the root/route to follow, is something we must consider very well, if we want to have good results. In this example, I fail to see the stylistic element as being applied correctly, or needed at all.



Bob Porter said:

Socrates,

Modern pop songs are not art songs. They modulate directly because that is the style, not because the composers are lazy. Although I have heard some where at the end of a verse there is a IV-V in the new key before landing on I. 

I think I see my mistakes now. But please correct me if I'm wrong. One was that I was working from assuming that the diatonic ancient lydian in D was modern D major and then flatting the 2nd and 6th which produced D Eb F# G A Bb C# D for a chromatic lydian mode in D.  

 

Up to here your assumption is absolutely correct, Em. That is what it is.

The ancient diatonic Lydian scale (known to us by the medieval invented term as "Ionian mode" (there is no such thing in ancient theory) is the major scale. The only difference between them is that our present day major scale is equally-tempered whereas in antiquity was tuned as "hard" Pythagorean, which still is very close to our own.

For producing the basic chromatic 4chord, the procedure to be followed was the simplest possible for tuning the guitar or lyre by changing only the tuning of one string, and so the 2nd string would be lowered by a semitone and leave the other 3 strings as they were.

After adding the tone of disjunction (F-G) because the tetrachords in the system perfect greater had to be disjunct, they were building a 2nd chromatic 4chord on the 5th note. So the structure of the scale produced was for any chosen tonality:

 S-(T+)-S-T-S-(T+)-S

C-Db-E-F-G-Ab-B-C

or

D-Eb-F#-G-A-Bb-C#-D (Hijaskar in modern Arabic terminology)

or in any other tonal centre.

This is the proper chromatic version of the scale and originally was of the "hard" ethos as it was produced from the hard diatonic. But two changes were added to it through a long historical process.

First the ancient Greeks added as a second tetrachord not the chromatic one but the hard diatonic Dorian (E-F-G-A), or the hard diatonic Phrygian (D-E-F-G), but still the mode was heard as chromatic rather than diatonic because the 4chord of its base was chromatic. So if a scale was build on D for example following this new procedure, it would be:

1 With Dorian upper 4chord

D-Eb-F#-G-A-Bb-C-D (Hijaz Humayoun in modern Arabic terminology-the most important chromatic mode of all the geographical areas mentioned above)

2 With Phrygian upper 4chord

D-Eb-F#-G-A-B-C-D  (Hijaz proper in modern Arabic terminology).

 

Up to here things are not too hard to follow as the scales were all of the hard ethos in tuning.

Later on the Byzantines first and then the medieval Arabs started veryfing the hard tunning according to their expressive needs and thus we have a lot of tunings which constitute the "soft" ethos in music.

The modes of the soft ethos (whether diatonic or chromatic) and their tunings are just too many to mention, and what is worse (or richer) is that they are different in any country, century, nation, group of people, or even one single performer on two different days.

The characteristic of all soft modes to be taken as a helpful guide is that this ethos does not have any semitones, but the following intervals:

Hyper-major tone (of any value)

Major tone (usually the hard Pythagorean)

Minor tone (slightly smaller than the major tone)

Minor-most tone (slightly bigger than an equally tempered semitone)

 

The above principal chromatic mode (ancient Lydian or Hijaz Humayoun), is always of the soft variety now a days in vocal music or music played on non-equally-tempered instruments such as violin, Ud, etc. of the three main traditions (Byzantine, Arabic, and Ottoman).

When equally tempered instruments also participate in the ensemble, then by necessity the music resulting sounds more of the hard variety.

I will further study this example but learning that the 4th is considered dominant makes everything make sense now at least in this last example. Since G is the dominant in both the diatonic Lydian(?) in C (I'm assuming its this but with the B flatted, either way this and diatonic Lydian in C has G for a dominant) and in the chromatic Lydian in D, the Dominant to Tonic cadence can lead to either C or D for the tonic and facilitate a smooth modulation back. Although in the chords G often leads to either C or C min but both D and C often lead to G. 

 

I like the way you deduce things Em. It shows that you can think as an Easterner also. The thing to remember towards that direction is to think in terms of notes (scale degrees as such) and never of harmony or use these notes as harmonic roots. Harmony in its formal triadic sense is a western invention and although used in these systems, it is only a 20th century addition. They managed to survive for millennia without it.



Em Coston, (MM) said:

I think I see my mistakes now. But please correct me if I'm wrong. One was that I was working from assuming that the diatonic ancient lydian in D was modern D major and then flatting the 2nd and 6th which produced D Eb F# G A Bb C# D for a chromatic lydian mode in D.  But it makes more sense to just use your example as a reference and transpose as needed.

I will further study this example but learning that the 4th is considered dominant makes everything make sense now at least in this last example. Since G is the dominant in both the diatonic Lydian(?) in C (I'm assuming its this but with the B flatted, either way this and diatonic Lydian in C has G for a dominant) and in the chromatic Lydian in D, the Dominant to Tonic cadence can lead to either C or D for the tonic and facilitate a smooth modulation back. Although in the chords G often leads to either C or C min but both D and C often lead to G. 

Dave, as I said, they give away my likes and dislikes. But as examples I think they still stand the way I describe them.

1 I am a life-long Beatles admirer-not trying to undersell anything.

2 We come from different cultures obviously, so what to you is "now or never" to me is the original "o sole mio" in its Neapolitan version which every mandolinist in the neighbourhood use to play when I was a kid. No transpositions up a semitone in those evenings. So, yes, it does make me sick to see how far commercialism is prepared to go to impress and sell to the crowds.

3 I refer you to the Schoenberg quotation above. Modulating abruptly from F to B is of course possible (everything is possible). But what did he mean do you think, (Schoenberg) by referring to your condition when you arrive there in the ground, if you have chosen to jump there instead of using the staircase or the elevator?



Dave Dexter said:

I wouldn't undersell the Beatles, they knew their stuff. As for the rest, you simply don't like those modulations. They're not triggering me to puke.

Socrates Arvanitakis said:

The Beatles (perhaps out of instinct, rather than conscious compositional technique), know what to do with this song (quite advanced stuff for young composers of the sixties, if you ask me).

Hi Em.

You raised a very big theoretical question that has not been solved yet, even though the theoretical negotiations go on from the time of Pythagoras to the present day. i.e. the size (in cents) of any possible interval in use in any country of the  eastern Mediterranean and Balkans. (or the world in general). So, thanks for giving to the present discussion this direction.

From a quick glance at your 2nd table I can see that you have got the sizes of the most important basic intervals right.

To me the most important sizes (in cents, but I also give more mathematically correct/exact figures)) for theoretical discussion are:

 

Pythagorean major tone: 204 (203.904)

Pythagorean lima: 90 (90.225)

Pythagorean apotome: 114 (113.685)

Pythagorean coma 24

 

These were in use both in ancient Greece and Byzantium, and are still in use in the classical traditions aforementioned (Byzantine, Ottoman and Arabic).

They are not big differences observed between these sizes and the equally tempered system which proceeds in steps of 50, 100, 150, 200 etc, for 1/4 tone, 1/2 tone, 3/4 tone, 1 tone, but still the differences are easily audible and discussion/appreciation is needed if we are to understand the expressive needs of different eras, areas, and cultures in general.

 

On this basis the Pythagorean hard scale (not very different from our own major) was built by a divisional method attributed to the Geometrician Euclid and was called "Katatome Kanonos" i.e. division of Kanon.

I think, we should start with this method first which explains how the major scale can be built by using only the perfect intervals of 5th and 8ve, before we expand into exact measurements of other intervals.

In your 2nd table I don’t understand some of the given sizes for intervals, but perhaps it's only the terminology which is new to me, as I am used to different Greek terms for these intervals, as the sizes appear to be mostly correct.

 

From next week I will not be able to participate in this forum very often as I go in a place with very poor internet connection, but I hope to carry on with this discussion during the summer as I am very much interested in it. I will try anyhow. :-)

 

Before I go, I want to raise two-three topics that may be of interest to all of us.

1 You correctly give the size of a quarter tone as 50 cents. Let alone any other not equally-tempered interval, my warning refers to this basic quarter tone: It cannot be reproduced correctly by any modern commercial synthesizer or any midi message as midi allows only increments/decrements of 3 cents. To realize a quarter tone in any sequencer or score writer we have to give it either the value of 49 or 52 cents. Being aware of minute differences in cents varies of course with the individual (my ears seem to register/focus well after 6-8 cents), so the above problem for me is only theoretical… but still…

 

2 When we talk about modality, the size of any interval is of course important and characteristic of the mode in question, but especially when we come to the soft genre, the most forward looking and progressive theoreticians agree that far more important than any interval size within a mode are other characteristics collectively referred to as "modal behaviour", and this includes:

Entry note/area

Tessitura

Melodic direction (ascending, descending, or both)

Finalis

Modulation.

 

3 out of the three ancient genera of music, Diatonic, Chromatic, and Enharmonic, the third one, enharmonic was abandoned in practical music by ancient Greeks themselves as too difficult to perform and only for a few very skilled musicians. Aristoxenus admits as much. Therefore the genera in use throughout history and now a days are only the diatonic and chromatic in equal or non-equal temperament and in hard or soft ethos.



Em Coston, (MM) said:

Thanks for clarifying that ancient chromatic Lydian 4chord + ancient diatonic Dorian 4chord = the given chromatic Lydian mode in D. That makes much more sense now. I assume this is common knowledge for all the music scholars here and I don't intend to sidetrack your thread but I do have one more question for the purpose of greater understanding as we seem to be translating between languages and traditions here, and I may never find anyone else who could answer it.

You said:

"The characteristic of all soft modes to be taken as a helpful guide is that this ethos does not have any semitones, but the following intervals:

Hyper-major tone (of any value)

Major tone (usually the hard Pythagorean)

Minor tone (slightly smaller than the major tone)

Minor-most tone (slightly bigger than an equally tempered semitone)"

I've searched through my notebook (I take notes on what I read) trying to identify these intervals exactly. Here's two segments I will draw upon

The first pic is just to show what information has been available to me with informal study and are where I'm looking for comparisons (though sometimes sources are wrong).  But are any of the intervals in the 2nd pic names for the intervals you mentioned?

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