Monday, October 17, 2016

DC teacher will travel to Africa to study native music -- theory and performance

An elementary school teacher from Washington DC is heading to Botswana, in Africa, to study tribal and native music and help develop more curricula for grade school students, as reported by WJLA-7 today.

Needless to say, composers and university music departments will be interested in what she finds.  The familiar diatonic (and chromatic) music scale with its facile mathematical ratios is not necessarily apparent to all cultures.

This reddit discusses the issue of the “naturalness” of scales to the human ear.     Animal calls and bird songs don’t necessarily fit our scales.

However, there is a theory which explains why western harmonies (evolving out of Bach’s counterpoint and later Mozart, Beethoven, and German-European tradition) work so well – they have to do with strong and weak overtones (which are especially important on piano and some strings; not so much so in voice).  Does overtone theory explain why late Beethoven (quartets, sonatas) is so effective?

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