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  • Surely there are more direct ways of becoming “famous” – if that had been my intention – than writing an obscure thesis on an obscure subject that almost nobody would be remotely interested in.

    A pioneer?! Composition is a science. Ego doesn’t enter into it.



    Ario said:
    You suppose, that giving all these ideas of "Tonality and Atonality" a bigger name, or a greater philosophy, anything will change?
    Let me tell you, in german language we distinguish between two styles (rather than systems) wich are named "Atonal" and "Freitonal" (= "Freetonal"). Freitonal would practically be very much, the behaviour of composers of the romantic era, treating dissonance more freely. Leaving the tonal center, but not tonality itself.
    That would be the "amalgamation" of tonality and atonality. Furthermore it is not unprecedented, considering works of Strawinsky, Messiaen, Cerha, Crumb, and others who have very well liberated themselves from strictly thinking tonal or atonal

    Not "Newtonality" (Rather Freetonality) is the consequence of tonal and atonal music... It is atonality, wich was born by the need of more dissonance, than just leaving a tonal center.

    In my opinion, the last 50 years or more, the world hasn't seen a good book on counterpoint (and quadruple counterpoint; Leaving the theories of baroque era preferred). I hope people like you summarize some theory for future composers to come (being able to skip the theories of Palestrina and build a foundation on Bartok and Schönberg in their first years of study), rather than putting an idea into your heads of "New-whatever-the-world-wants-to-make-me-famous-Tonality/Mentality"!

    Sometimes I wonder, how pioneers forget the actual ones...
    Atonality+ Tonality=Newtonality
    Hi   Since I am new to this site, I am using this platform to increase exposure to my theory of Newtonality and the technique Thomes&Phases. here's t…
  • Not good at pick-&-mix, but I’ll do my best….

    *Definitions in dictionaries*

    Look up *happiness* in any dictionary. You’ll find all the symptoms but not a mention of its origin. People are unhappy not because they don’t know what happiness means, but because they don’t know its cause.

    Lots of dictionaries will tell you that atonality is the absence of consonance and dissonance. For a composer confronting a sheet of blank manuscript, this definition is useless. As a composer, how can one begin to sensibly consider what constitutes musical material in which consonance and dissonance are absent, unless one has first precisely defined what consonance and dissonance are?

    *Given how the language works etc etc* - particularly “ but there conventions about what terms refer to”

    Well precisely! But they are not conventions; they are *assumptions* which have acted as an impediment to a rational assessment of atonality.

    “Not all triads would be tonal or function tonally”. But can you not see that this sentence only makes sense after you have specified a defined precisely what you mean by *tonal* and “function tonally*. Of course “triads may or may not function tonally”, but you MUST SAY WHY! The existence of atonality as an element of the composers’ technique necessitates a definition of these terms within the context of the actual musical language being employed. You simply cannot bandy them about on the basis that *Well, it doesn’t really matter what they mean*!


    “… tonal versus atonal…. So much music has a bit of both….”

    Agree. But Newtonal music is NOT a “bit of both”. Ideally, its one long “D” phase. Totally different concept.

    “…solving a problem that doesn’t exist..” Wrong; it most definitely does exist. (please see above… ibid.)


    “…we’re referring to ideas, subjective ways…..” Where did you get the idea that there is anything subjective about the topics in hand? Which “opening remarks” do you mean? Possibly semantics… I certainly consider the definitions I have given objective realities.

    “’atonal’ is a subjective designation”. No. It is not: it’s a state in an evolved language which must have an exact definition.

    “…if it exists in the literature, it should be controversial”

    On the contrary, since a whole generation of composers took the assumptions under discussion as read, they would certainly not be controversial.


    Streaker Ofinsky said:
    "tonality is . . . an idea – an idea we invented. It is totally artificial. It’s a peg on which we have hung our ideas about musical language – in particular, our ideas about consonance and dissonance – what is “consonant” and what is 'dissonant'."

    I agree with all of that, but I do not think there are many people who wouldn't. We do not need to invent a new language to say that.

    "In the 1970’s, the term “atonal” was used to describe most “contemporary” classical music."

    Well, a lot of classical from that era and prior to it was atonal, so yes, it would be handy for describing it. ;-)

    "The trouble was that nobody ever defined exactly what it meant!"

    I do not think that's the case. I'm not sure where you're getting that belief from. You can find "atonal" defined in music dictionaries, in many monographs on theory, etc.

    "It was simply assumed that atonal music could be virtually anything provided it made no reference to the conventional triadic vertical harmonic structures of the so-called “tonal” era."

    Given how language works, with "a" being the privative prefix, "atonal" would be the complement of "tonal", sure. Again, this shouldn't be controversial.

    "I was always troubled by this."

    I don't know why. It's a pretty simple matter.

    "After all, why MUST “atonal” music not contain any triadic sounds:"

    It's rather than atonal music wouldn't contain _tonal_ triadic sounds. Not all triads would be tonal or function tonally. The reason that it refers to that you already mentioned--simply the convention of the way the term is used. It doesn't "have" to refer to what it does--no term does. But there are conventions about what terms refer to. Again, that's simply the way that language works.

    "what assumptions were composers making about atonality that they always associated it with non triadic sounds?"

    Always associating it with triads would be simply misunderstanding the conventional usage of the term.

    "I began to experiment with linear designs – phases -"

    I'm not sure what that would refer to.

    "which juxtaposed “tonal” and “atonal” material,"

    "Tonal" versus "atonal" is not really an "off" and "on" idea, so much music has a bit of both.

    "and immediately came up against a brick wall: the “atonality” of the “atonal” phase could not be defined without first defining exactly what was meant by the “tonality”"

    Again, these terms are well-defined in theory. So you'd be solving a problem that doesn't exist.

    "It immediately struck me that atonality cannot exist independently: it is a quality – an absolute, qualitative state that exists by and because of its relation to its diametric opposite: tonality."

    The word "absolute" doesn't fit in that sentence, in my opinion. But sure, it's relative to tonality. Again, that's no revelation.

    "This is where it gets really interesting, because qualitative states can change their physical – quantitative – manifestation without altering their own fundamental nature."

    ??? We're not referring to some objective state. We're referring to ideas, subjective ways of hearing and thinking about things, as you noted in your opening remarks in the post I'm responding to. All of a sudden, without justification, it seems like you're switching to a belief that you're referring to objective states.

    "It’s almost as if they are a force or a constant – like gravity, or the speed of light – which can cause a multiplicity of quantitative causes and effects whilst remaining absolutes."

    Again, that's jumping to an idea of them being objective. I don't know why you'd jump to that.

    "The language of music is the quantitative modus operandi being driven by these fundamental absolutes, and through which these absolutes “touch earth” as it were, find their expression."

    That just reads like word salad to me. I have no idea what it refers to.

    "So, in order to use atonality in composition, one must first define exactly what atonality is."

    Not at all. "Atonal" is a subjective designation, as you noted relative to "tonal", and per the interpretation of the listener (which can also be the composer). Of course, there are conventions and typical reactions there--particular things that people tend to hear one way or the other, but that's still subjective. However, the composer need not have the faintest idea of whether a listener will hear something as atonal or not for a listener to hear something as atonal. It in no way hinges on the composer defining it in any way.

    "But because atonality exists by relation to tonality – it cannot exist independently – it is first necessary to define what is meant by tonality."

    Basically, "If you're using the terms, and they're complements of each other, you need to have some idea what you're referring to in order to have some delineation". Sure, I agree with that, but the terms have definitions already.

    "Only the definition of tonality can yield the true definition of atonality."

    There is no such thing as a "true definition", in my opinion.

    "You are not alone in expressing discomfort with the idea of such a prescriptive view of the evolution of musical language,"

    There's nothing necessarily prescriptive about that. I don't believe that it describes anything. It's a fact that there are not laws or principles of musical language. There are conventions rather. That's something different.

    If they were _laws_, by the way, in anything like the sense of physical laws, there would be no need to utter prescriptions (recommendations or "shoulds") about them. You'd not be able to do anything but follow them. Maybe you mean something more like laws in a legal sense, but that would require some type of codification system that does not exist.

    "The history of the Western musical language demonstrates how potentialities contained as it were “within” it emerge over time in a definite and ordered sequence,"

    I'm not sure I understand what you're claiming there.

    "the whole language becoming increasingly complex as the process unfolds."

    As many people continue to analyze something, as we keep adding ideas to it, it's going to get more complex. I agree with that.

    "classical harmony could not evolve *before* strict organum any more than the leaf of a tree could evolve *before* the roots."

    Again I'm not sure just what you're claiming there. It seems to be more flowery and taking an analogy too seriously to me.

    "Laws, definitions and principles, when applied to the evolution of human systems can seem shocking at first."

    It's not a matter of shock, in my opinion, just a matter of whether we're picking out something that really exists or not. I say we're not.

    "I linked tonality with the fundamental tone to illustrate the (in my view) false assumptions regarding the nature of atonality."

    Tonality isn't defined that way. That was the point there. Also, since we're talking about conventions and not facts of a non-mental world, we can't have false assumptions about it. It would just be a different way of looking at it.

    "There is no reason at all why tonality should be associated with a fundamental tone and its harmonic partials. But this is not an assumption *I* made! It was, however, beyond any doubt, an assumption made by a whole generation of atonal composers."

    Could you cite something you have in mind there? Maybe it's something I'm not familiar with, but if it actually exists in the literature, it should be controversial.

    "there has been a tacit working assumption"

    Being "tacit" would suggest that you're interpreting this into things.

    "that atonal music must contain no reference to the notion of consonance and dissonance."

    Sounds extremely dubious to me. Again, any citations for that?

    "So extreme was this view that it manifested as the virtually total avoidance of vertical triadic structures."

    Some music has avoided triads, sure. But I think you're reading your own views into it rather than basing this on anything that others have expressed.
    Atonality+ Tonality=Newtonality
    Hi   Since I am new to this site, I am using this platform to increase exposure to my theory of Newtonality and the technique Thomes&Phases. here's t…
  • I must herewith defend the stance of Mr. Ofinsky, for his try of disproval in this topic is very much knowledgable and very well justified. The mere necessity (as I thought Mr. Capocci intended to do) of "inventing" a new tonality (with a very stupid name I must add, but please dont be offended) is simply not of any use to anyone, since there is no way of inventing a new tonality... fusing two things (notice that I do say "things"), which are partially a consequence of eachother!

    BUT... Nick is right. These thing must be defined ("Must be defined!" - loved it!!!), and so it is no more a question of invention but "translation". Or maybe research (I'm a musician, not an academic - whatever!)... And I see it makes little sense, stopping this wonderful thought.

    It is true... (tried saying the same thing): There is no clear definition on any of the theory of the 20th century, I too see a necessity in such work. Instead of giving things new names, I recommend actually defining what needs to be defined and letting the thought of a new world be. It is really a smack in the face of all composers, studying the works of others, to hear that bartok crossed with Mozart or Schönberg crossed with Bach could give us something new.

    -> Fusion is never an invention...
    thought.it
    This domain may be for sale!
  • Wow, that was hard work. I have to confess I didn't finish the exposition of your theory and I feel that it suffers from a lack of actual notated examples. All the theoretical writings I've read from Tovey to Schenker are awash with them and I would ask that you provide some in order to aid comprehensibility.

    I'm not sure what the purpose of the theory is. I'm not sure you defined 'dissonance' or 'consonance', perhaps I missed it.

    Is your theory so called because it has something to do with Newton (?) or is it New Tonailty?

    Anyway, some musical illustrations would be very helpful.
  • I recommend the God Delusion, it's a cracking read!

    Paul Evan Magee said:
    Hi Nick,

    I visited your website with the intention of reading details your Newtonality idea. This interests me because I hear so much made of Western music being an indoctrinated, for want of a better word, tonal system which is not adopted in other areas with more than 12 tones for examle, which I completely disagree with and think flies in the face of hundreds of years of progress. Mozart in particular and Beethoven to a lesser degree, would surely turn in their graves if they were to listen to experimental music without grasping the basics first although I am sure this does not refer to you.

    I'm afraid I will have to return to your page on Newtonality to get into your brain because my first attempt was strained somewhat. Instead, I found myself scrolling up and reading your comments on 'The God Delusion' by Dawkins which coincidentally, I was on the verge of buying last weekend in Waterstones having finished 'The Greatest Show on Earth' recently.

    I may have jumped the gun by writing to you, but consonance and dissonance occur all the time in music with motion in my case. Even if I were to exclude my melodic line altogether and I were to pause on a particularly dissonant harmony on a particular beat , I would be wholly confident that it would be justified with respect and relative to the music and chords that precede and follow it. Sure... the form of a piece of music doesn't need to be constricted by a 'key' so why confuse matters by inventing your own system?

    As I said, I have not yet read or absorbed the full text of your theory, although I will endeavour to do so as I am sure you have faith in it.





    .
    Atonality+ Tonality=Newtonality
    Hi   Since I am new to this site, I am using this platform to increase exposure to my theory of Newtonality and the technique Thomes&Phases. here's t…
  • Hi Paul – thanks for comments thus far.

    Far from confusing matters, “newtonality” (you could invent any word you like to describe the principle) clarifies them. It was precisely the need for such clarification that drove me to develop this theory.

    One thing I can state categorically: Thomes & Phases – the *business* end of newtonality – is a fantastic composing tool, full of every kind of nuance, possibility and subtlety any composer could ever want. So far I have only scratched the surface… and it’s only as complex as the user wants, depending on the context in hand.


    Paul Evan Magee said:
    Hi Nick,

    I visited your website with the intention of reading details your Newtonality idea. This interests me because I hear so much made of Western music being an indoctrinated, for want of a better word, tonal system which is not adopted in other areas with more than 12 tones for examle, which I completely disagree with and think flies in the face of hundreds of years of progress. Mozart in particular and Beethoven to a lesser degree, would surely turn in their graves if they were to listen to experimental music without grasping the basics first although I am sure this does not refer to you.

    I'm afraid I will have to return to your page on Newtonality to get into your brain because my first attempt was strained somewhat. Instead, I found myself scrolling up and reading your comments on 'The God Delusion' by Dawkins which coincidentally, I was on the verge of buying last weekend in Waterstones having finished 'The Greatest Show on Earth' recently.

    I may have jumped the gun by writing to you, but consonance and dissonance occur all the time in music with motion in my case. Even if I were to exclude my melodic line altogether and I were to pause on a particularly dissonant harmony on a particular beat , I would be wholly confident that it would be justified with respect and relative to the music and chords that precede and follow it. Sure... the form of a piece of music doesn't need to be constricted by a 'key' so why confuse matters by inventing your own system?

    As I said, I have not yet read or absorbed the full text of your theory, although I will endeavour to do so as I am sure you have faith in it.





    .
  • How about, you write/compose short examples of thomes in different phases in a very simple manner, so people can actually grasp the feel of what you so scientifically put on paper/screen...

    Think of Schönbergs "Harmonielehre" which is full of examples and excercises... (Or you might just as well, write a "Theory-Etude")

    I looked up your Fugato from "She", but analysing a piece from a computer is really a pain in the butt!
    What I understand from Newtonality's principles though is the simple thought of giving an atonal piece a tonal nuance and vice versa. To the point that it can even reach 50 - 50!

    (Please correct me if I'm wrong)... Furthermore, I'd like to know, which 'rules' of Newtonality should actually be followed under any circumstance, to catch the right aesthetics of this method?

    Regards
    Ario
  • Hello Michael

    Sorry that was “hard work”.

    I’m guessing you viewed the version on my little website? For more musical examples go to the version at Sibeliusmusic.com. Hope this helps.

    Newtonality, of itself, has no purpose as such. It’s a particular view of the development of Western music, generated by the need to define the precise meaning of atonality as an element of compositional techniques.

    Yes, I did define consonance and dissonance… many times!!!!!!!

    I’m afraid one does have to, in a sense, meditate of this stuff for a while. Sorry.

    “Newtonality”: Your observation here is perceptive. As best I can recall – it was 30 years ago! – the term was indeed an amalgam of Newton (a hero of mine) and *tonality* + *new*. But its important not to get hung up on terminology. One could call it “Joe Bloggs’ eccentric ideas about atonality and tonality”. .. but “newtonality” is simpler.


    Michael Tauben said:
    Wow, that was hard work. I have to confess I didn't finish the exposition of your theory and I feel that it suffers from a lack of actual notated examples. All the theoretical writings I've read from Tovey to Schenker are awash with them and I would ask that you provide some in order to aid comprehensibility.

    I'm not sure what the purpose of the theory is. I'm not sure you defined 'dissonance' or 'consonance', perhaps I missed it.

    Is your theory so called because it has something to do with Newton (?) or is it New Tonailty?

    Anyway, some musical illustrations would be very helpful.
  • Hello Ario

    Yes, I think your idea of doing a practical demo version for people to analyze would be very useful. In fact I have contemplated this for some time now, but simply haven’t had the time to pursue it properly.

    Re “fugato”… I know it’s a long score but you could print it up(?).

    (If you give me a mailing address I will send you a copy of the ms for Tanto Meglio)

    Remember… Newtonality is just a name for a generalised theory. Thomes & Phases is the real business end.. and it is only my own interpretation of the newtonal principle. Perhaps you could come up with your own personalized version?

    50/50 is not a bad thing to aim for – I prefer to say that the “D” phase is everything, because the intermediate state is where the tension is really explored. The best Newtonal piece would be one long “D”phase.

    Ideally, the listener should be no more aware of the juxtaposing of tonal and atonal material in a Newtonal piece, than they would be aware of the juxtaposing of consonance and dissonance in a tonal piece. It’s the interplay of these polarities (or opposites) that’s important – the tension created between them and the linear musical argument that results from the exploration of these forces. Try mentally to picture tonality and atonality in exactly the same way you picture consonance and dissonance.

    If there is a “rule” which applies in all circumstances, it is to explore the tension between two opposites, and, hopefully, through this exploration to express a genuine, deep musicality – such as one finds in the music of the tonal era. I know its possible.


    Ario said:
    How about, you write/compose short examples of thomes in different phases in a very simple manner, so people can actually grasp the feel of what you so scientifically put on paper/screen...

    Think of Schönbergs "Harmonielehre" which is full of examples and excercises... (Or you might just as well, write a "Theory-Etude")

    I looked up your Fugato from "She", but analysing a piece from a computer is really a pain in the butt!
    What I understand from Newtonality's principles though is the simple thought of giving an atonal piece a tonal nuance and vice versa. To the point that it can even reach 50 - 50!

    (Please correct me if I'm wrong)... Furthermore, I'd like to know, which 'rules' of Newtonality should actually be followed under any circumstance, to catch the right aesthetics of this method?

    Regards
    Ario
  • "The crucial viewpoint in Mr Capocci's thesis is that atonality is a property of music

    definable only with respect to tonality, its diametrically opposed property. This might

    be truer than most atonalists wish to acknowledge."

    Got it in a nutshell, Kris. Thank you!

    Thomes & Phases is a form of language: Newtonality is not – nor is it presented or meant to be received as an alternative *version* of the evolution of Western music. It is a particular view of the development of the language of composition formed around the absolute necessity of finding a precise definition of atonality as a practical element of compositional technique.


    Kristofer Emerig said:
    Streaker Ofinsky:

    It's an effective rebuttal from a sophist standpoint, but I see little substantial in the

    way of constructive thought. Taking a purely contradictory stance (line by line glib

    dismissals) against a system of thought forces one into defining their position not in

    terms of their autonomous beliefs, but rather the system they seek to refute, much like

    the relationship between atonality and tonality expressed in Mr Capocci's thesis.

    A wise man is measured not by the thoughts he can dismiss and disprove, but by the number

    and variety of thoughts he can encompass and integrate into his world view. It is only

    from this relativistic perspective that one can get within a system of thought, adopt

    it's premises, and truly evaluate it's self referential logical consistency, rather than

    debunking it from without based upon incongruous premises.

    I will acknowledge that you have conceded at least one of Mr Capocci's tenets, although

    you quickly soften your agreement with the claim that it is so obvious a conclusion as to

    be superfluous to even mention:

    "tonality is . . . an idea – an idea we invented. It is totally artificial. It’s a peg

    on which we have hung our ideas about musical language – in particular, our ideas about

    consonance and dissonance – what is “consonant” and what is 'dissonant'." -NC

    I agree with all of that, but I do not think there are many people who wouldn't. We do

    not need to invent a new language to say that. -SO

    I think there are many like myself who wholly reject the notion that common practice

    tonality, if I might simplistically pretend for the moment that such exists in one

    unified corpus, is an arbitrary creation. The fact that it is an idomatic language the

    nuances of which must be learned or culturally acquired in no way logically implies that

    it is therefore arbitrary. Tonality's nascence lies in the fundamental ratios, and all of

    it's psychoacoustic preferences and hierarchies but the most idiomatic, stylized, or

    provincial, are soundly rooted in that phenomenon. It is as though the atonalist wishes

    us to accept that because we were born without knowledge of the integral, and some

    cultures might lack that knowledge altogether, it is some arbitrary thought, disjunct

    from objective reality.

    The crucial viewpoint in Mr Capocci's thesis is that atonality is a property of music

    definable only with respect to tonality, its diametrically opposed property. This might

    be truer than most atonalists wish to acknowledge.

    The ascendancy of atonality might be likened to the shock jock phenomenon. Both achieve

    their psychological impact solely through the transgression of learned parameters or

    norms, and are thus so intrinsically tied to and dependent upon those norms which they

    work to disintegrate, that they are destined to fizzle by pure entropy alone. Put another

    way, the shock jock is only shocking until his act breaks down the moral fabric of his

    audience to the point where rudeness is no longer discernible. While his schtick might

    ridicule and scoff at the social norms surrounding him, it is entirely and inherently

    dependent upon the existence of those norms. Likewise, atonality is only atonal so long

    as its audience has a tonal language to assault. Atonalists who express the desire to

    break down the system of tonality are somewhat like a virus which kills its host before

    propagating itself, a Darwinian dead end.

    Sorry about the formatting. I had to type this in notepad due to spotty internet.
    Atonality+ Tonality=Newtonality
    Hi   Since I am new to this site, I am using this platform to increase exposure to my theory of Newtonality and the technique Thomes&Phases. here's t…
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