Strange scales and tunings, how?
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Old 11-01-2017, 03:20 AM   #1
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Strange scales and tunings, how?

I hear in musicians such as Arca and Vessel and of coarse apex twin strange modes and scales that clearly don't sound like the typical major and minor scales.

What is your suggestion as to how one could go about incorporating this into their music production?

Do you feel a knowledge of music theory is necessary or do you think these artists may just know the scale and "jam around" in it?

Do they perhaps even pull up a midi file of the scale and just move things around?

Any help would be very appreciated.

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Old 11-01-2017, 05:04 AM   #2
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

i tend to just make up scales
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Old 11-01-2017, 05:53 AM   #3
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

Don't know about the other two, but I know Aphex Twin uses alternate tunings sometimes too, as in A is not even 440 hz, and the ratios to all the other notes are thrown off. I've messed around with it some, you just need to take time to get used to how alternate tunings sound and how notes interact with each other. One of the reasons we've arrived at our modern system of equally tempered tuning is that it has some dissonant intervals, but much less than older tunings. Some intervals can be downright painful to the ear, and you don't want those in your songs (unless you do). So your go-to chords and scales might not work in another tuning, but you can do stuff in alternate tunings that just won't happen elsewhere if you take the time to wrap your head around them.

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Old 14-01-2017, 06:50 AM   #4
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

I think the suggestion of jamming around in a known scale is definitely really good thing to mention in this case.

I suppose as long as you know what you're working with, you can do anything with it.

I'm sorry if this is not helpful information, but I personally do like to jam out to what I'm hearing and if I like the key, I'll write it down and look it up on key finder.

Of course nothing beats raw experimentation, but I do like to keep a little journal of strange (or just plain pleasing keys) that I like when I hear, then I slap them into FL when I want.
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Old 14-01-2017, 07:15 AM   #5
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

You can really come at it from either end. Either just play some notes or mess with your temperament or go microtonal or whatever and see what comes of it and what resonates with you, or approach it from a scientific or theory standpoint and work up from the basics. Either is totally legitimate depending on how you like to work.

The first is probably fastest since it just requires you to sit down and do it. The latter tends to give you more insight and lets you build up an intuition faster, as you understand the underpinnings of what's happening and understand your options and limitations.

At this point literally anything you could possibly come up with has been described in theory and via the mathematics, which makes it a pretty strong place to work from. On the other hand, the math and theory quickly gets pretty hairy so if you don't have a strong background in that stuff it might be more frustrating than productive.
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Old 14-01-2017, 11:33 AM   #6
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

A scale is a set of non repeating sequential notes which are at option for the song; a group of tones you select to play with.

Most commonly, they are in sets of 5 or 7, sometimes more if you feel special.

Pick a note, any note, and then start going from that note upward in note pitch until you have one of each letter in your sequence, keeping in mind that a black key (# or b) counts as one letter equal to either the white key to its right or left. When two white keys haven't a black key between them, you may rename one of the white keys as the one to its left (b) or to its right (#) as long as you then use the next black key either left or right as the letter you removed.
For example, I can call B an Eb so long as I rename A# to Bb.
The goal is to go from, say, A to G with each letter represented only once by the time I get back to A (or whatever note you started on).

Don't worry about scale names, et. al.
That will come in time; just pick a finite set of notes and go.
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Old 14-01-2017, 03:55 PM   #7
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

if you want to invent new 12 semi-tone system based scale, probs its already done

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Old 14-01-2017, 05:43 PM   #8
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

I created an adjustable microtonal piano in Max/msp once. You set the centre frequency of the scale and how many tones you wanted per octave. Do whatever you like! Screw 'real' notes.
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Old 14-01-2017, 06:12 PM   #9
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

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Originally Posted by Oatbag View Post
I created an adjustable microtonal piano in Max/msp once. You set the centre frequency of the scale and how many tones you wanted per octave. Do whatever you like! Screw 'real' notes.
what is it max msp ? quick search showed that its flowchart programming language, can you make vsts with it ?

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Old 14-01-2017, 06:38 PM   #10
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

Trying not to be sarcastic here so I'll just say: isn't it obvious that learning music theory would help you understand and create unusual scales that work? Otherwise you've got a 50/50 chance or less of coming up with something that sounds to dissonant to work.

Fully coming from someone with a dodgy at best knowledge of music theory and who likes dissonance... ;p

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Old 14-01-2017, 07:15 PM   #11
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

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Originally Posted by relic View Post
Trying not to be sarcastic here so I'll just say: isn't it obvious that learning music theory would help you understand and create unusual scales that work? Otherwise you've got a 50/50 chance or less of coming up with something that sounds to dissonant to work.

Fully coming from someone with a dodgy at best knowledge of music theory and who likes dissonance... ;p
Atonal music is the obvious solution!
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Old 14-01-2017, 07:38 PM   #12
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

is dissonance really dissonance or just byproduct of social conditioning ?

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Old 14-01-2017, 09:22 PM   #13
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

It's really dissonance.
Someone thinking it sounds bad could be social conditioning.
Dissonance is a physical definition tonaly.
It is a bandwidth of frequency difference between tones which causes a progressively faster fluctuation of wave interference amplification beginning at <20 fluctuations per second and morphs into a category of consonance the more towards >75 to 150 fps the tonal combination becomes.
It is a natural property of sound, as well as light - although different parameters, and one might argue of matter itself because the waver perceived is physically extant within the difference of the tone production items' motion. (Where 'tone production item' can be two or more keys, strings, airways, oscillators, etc...)
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Old 14-01-2017, 09:42 PM   #14
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

I would've said it was social conditioning, and I'm the guy who usually gets all mathematical up in here. Great insight.

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Old 14-01-2017, 10:10 PM   #15
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

Quote:
Originally Posted by D42K732202 View Post
is dissonance really dissonance or just byproduct of social conditioning ?
Yeah, both. Dissonance just means "in conflict". In terms of music theory it's entirely a Western construct and is used to describe specific tonal relations along with its opposite, consonance.

Music from the near and far East (gamelan, traditional Vietnamese, Mongolian, some traditional Chinese, etc) have entire forms built around what Western music considers dissonant. Middle Eastern microtonal music often sounds 'wrong' to unadventerous people only familiar with Western temperaments and scales. So when you talk about dissonance you're talking about a real and quantifiable thing, but it's a thing that most of the non-Western world likes and embraces (or did at one time).

If you're interested in some of the physics behind the idea, [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
. Suffice it to say that like most harmonic analysis it gets incredibly complex and starts to leak into the psychological ideas of sensory perception, most of which is arguable conjecture. They're ideas that people have argued about for ages, both scientifically and artistically, and probably won't be resolved any time soon.
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Old 14-01-2017, 11:20 PM   #16
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

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Old 14-01-2017, 11:40 PM   #17
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Icon13 Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

^ The timbre of this really reminds me of MIDIs. Maybe there is microtonal dissonance in the oscillation of midis? someone correct me please I feel like I'm talking out of my ass.
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Old 14-01-2017, 11:53 PM   #18
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

Quote:
Originally Posted by D42K732202 View Post
what is it max msp ? quick search showed that its flowchart programming language, can you make vsts with it ?
Not VSTs directly, but you can use it to visually program A/V chains (Jitter is the subprogram for visual). It's sort of like Reaktor if you've played with that, but a lot more powerful once you get into the guts. You can start with really basic things like Oscillators and run them through all sorts of mathematical models and create your own DSPs for reverb and delay and whatever. It won't do the math for you, but it does have a handy visual interface which makes hooking modules together and seeing your chain a lot more intuitive.

It unfortunately doesn't wrap to VST, but it does have full featured in/outs and can hook into most any modern DAW. You can also output via Max for Live if you're an Ableton user.

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is a very similar option that's open source and cross platform.

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linky.
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Old 14-01-2017, 11:57 PM   #19
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

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is dissonance really dissonance or just byproduct of social conditioning ?
Its also a word musicians use to communicate. You dont have to go all punk rock on everything man :p

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Old 15-01-2017, 12:57 AM   #20
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Re: Strange scales and tunings, how?

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Its also a word musicians use to communicate. You dont have to go all punk rock on everything man :p
I think it's unfortunate that in English (at least) the word means something unpleasant, a technical term for a physical phenomenon of pressure waves of air, and a technical term for a musical theory reference to a set of chordal or tonal structures.

I sort of wish each would have a different word as they're employments are different, with only the latter two sharing a similarity and the first just being an artifact of pop culture over Western history's timeline.

I mean, as soon as you step into binaural patterns, the entire aesthetic identification of dissonant tones being less pleasing goes right out the door as what you strive for here is entirely driven by dissonant production to net an effect, through interference, of a tone not extant in either root tone involved in creating the binaural tone.
Creating chordal structures in this way entirely screws up the musical theory's technical categorical reference of the idea as well, but this concept is practically a perfect fit to the physical study of phonic phenomenon as pressure waves in air.

I'm also not a fan of the word itself. Sonant is anything that produces a sound as a property - dissonant, then, directly implies the destabilization of sound, or the pulling away of sound...which it is hardly such if we are referring to the physical existence of sound.

It isn't a destabilization of sound, but a modulation of phonic frequency coupling via a juxtaposition of relative peaks and troths.
It's more akin to concepts like alternating current electricity than a destruction of sound.

I coaxial cable's multifrequency band transmission is not unlike a dissonant phonic nature, and if you ever hook that up to a speaker, you would hardly arrive at the thought that it was a destruction, or reduction, of sound.

Disconcert and Concert would more apply in concept to what's happening - oscillations of tone either in concert or not in concert with each other's modulations in reference to peaks and troths of their frequencies.

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