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Metric Music

decimalising music; replacing the octave with the decave; making it metrical to bring music in line with brussels.
  [vote for,

Pythagoras devised the tuning system which, at least until the renaissance, dominated music theory. It is based on the following proportions: Octave = 2/1 Fifth = 3/2 Fourth = 4/3. Later, 'even tuning' modified the Pythagorean system providing a more pleasing sound. However, we've been bored of it all along. Medieval monks invented modality to try to inject a bit of zing into diatonic composition, and from Bach onwards chromaticism was flirted with until in the 20th century had an efflorescence in atonality and polytonality, which even today everyone thinks sounds 'orrible. There are many tuning systems throughout the world, from the earscraping clash of chinese systems to the giddy trip of the indian. But they're just crazy.

I propose an entirely different system to all. The decimalisation of music. Making music metrical. In a flash, the tired old scale harmonies of western music will be rejuvenated as we translate the canon into decative music. It is also a statement of progressiveness. As more countries join Europe where the metric system is applied, it is important that the new look of the world is complemented by a new sound.

The rewards are enormous. Everything will sound like Captain Beefheart. No more Britney Spears or the Eastenders theme, no Sound of Music (unless we rewrite *that* song replacing doh-ray-me-fah-so-la-te-doh with the numbers 0-9 which are the basis of the metrical system in music (with semitones no longer called sharps or flats but rather a more objective and decorous .5).)

The main notes would be the cardinal numbers and the .5s between. Thus, there would be 20 official notes, with others available if the need for accuracy is paramount in a given composition (say, if writing a piece about the fact that the average number of arms is not 2, but something like 1.99 given that most of us have 2 but a few have 1 or 0 (thus, whereas 50% are usually above average it is the case that nearly everyone has an above average number of arms).)

The extra notes would require bigger instruments to make fingering possible by anyone bigger than an osmond, so music would become lower. This would spell the end to chirpy highpitched radio dross aimed at tone-deaf toddlers, and a new era of plaintively lower-register music. Which might usher in a more reflective era of history; perhaps a new Enlightenment sensibility would arise, and peace on earth.

I've even composed a song to help garner support for this project:

"7 diatonic notes - no thanks, I've got 10

12 chromatic notes - no ta, i've got vingt"

(repeat 9 times & DS al coda)

[It occurs to me that in the decimal system music would be even more receptive to mathematical permutation than it already is. We might see 'God Save the Queen' divided by 'The Star Spangled Banner' and performed in the National Theatre sounding like 'Land of Two Rivers']

JOC, Feb 11 2004


       Wow. You thought it sounded bad before? Those ratios are there for a reason. Bone.
yabba do yabba dabba, Feb 11 2004

       [rods tiger] Uh oh, nothing there this time!   

       We need a standard "Middle C". I propose that this standard be defined as the pitch created by the forced expulsion of 1 liter of air at 0 degrees celsius out of a balloon at 1 kilometer per hour.
Rubi, Feb 11 2004

       There is a standard middle C... it's defined as the C below the 440 Hz A note. Can't get much more standard than that.   

       Regarding the idea - the author clearly wrote it not having actually ever heard what the scales would be like (or with no concern for it). Cacaphony.   

       Having said that, there are many atypical non-Western scales from around the world, several with 20 tone equal temperament (what the author describes) per octave. Many have more tones than that - there's even one East Indian scale with something like 50 notes in the scale. So quite baked, really, but it sounds like fuck, which is why we don't use it much.
waugsqueke, Feb 11 2004

       Um, metric? Then not only would you have Standard vs. Metric for measuring speed and rice and such, you'd have the clash between America and Everyone Else for music, too? No, I don't think so. <sniffle> Imagine those poor little kids learning to play the clarinet and having all the music change. </sniffle>
spacecadet, Feb 12 2004

       The good news: Music already is metrical.   

       The bad news: Metrical doesn't mean what you think it does.   

       The really bad news: This would sound terrible. Like [waugsqueke] says, only kiloterrible if you really like to talk metrically.
swamilad, Feb 12 2004

       This is the same sort of negative response we had before the metric hour. And now look who's laughing. Oops 5:61 is that the time already I must be going.
PainOCommonSense, Feb 12 2004

       While the scales are there for a reason, I have always had trouble with the measures for time and duration of notes. Rather than use measures, beats, half-beats, all in different times, I beleive it would work better to use a system based on the second or miliseconds.   

       Yes, our musical system could be simplified, but certain things are there for a reason.
discontinuuity, Jul 25 2005

       Better to stick with the current scale.   

       You could apply decimilization to the time signature, however. 10/0.1 time, where there are ten beats in a bar, and each tenth note gets one beat.
Cuit_au_Four, Jul 26 2005

       That would be 100/10, no? Time signatures should never require decimalization.
daseva, Jul 26 2005

       The 4 in 2/4 time signature means that a quarter note counts as one beat. So that would be 10/10.
yabba do yabba dabba, Jul 27 2005

       //We need a standard "Middle C". I propose that this standard be defined as the pitch created by the forced expulsion of 1 liter of air at 0 degrees celsius out of a balloon at 1 kilometer per hour// SI standards would be expressed in metres cubed, kelvin and metres per second.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jul 27 2005

       There is so much that is wrong here! 12 equal temperament does not provide a more //pleasing sound// than Pythagorean; it does close the pythagorean comma and provide a good approximation to 3 prime intervals and a recognisable approximation to 5 prime intervals, and as such has some musical value; I rarely use it personally. 53 and 152 equal temperaments, for example, provide excellent approximations of many interesting intervals. 10 and 20 equal temperaments, to my ear, have no musical value. I can provide some examples if anyone is interested.
spidermother, May 31 2006


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