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Speech and Music, Effability and Ineffability
Kristen Butchatsky, Stela Solar, Emery Schubert and Joe Wolfe
No, you didn't
No, you didn't
Yes we did
Well if you didn't agree, what do you think about it?
I think I can communicate as well as any of you
Of course you can communicate,
but in a rather different way...
What do you mean?
In speech we use phonemes
In speech we use phonemes:
we vary the spectrum and envelope independently of the pitch:
In speech we use phonemes:
we vary the spectrum and envelope independently of the pitch:
The sounds 'bah' and 'do' have different meanings, even different
grammatical functions
So 'ba ba ba ba ba ba' is one timbre and
'do do do do do do' is another?
to to to to to to
to to to to to to
be be be be be be
to to to to to to
be be be be be be
or or or or or
not…..
So if instruments wanted to talk to us in our language,
they could change the timbre on each note:
So if instruments wanted to talk to us in our language,
they could change the timbre on each note:
it sounds like Klangfarbenmelodie*
* technique invented by Arnold Schönberg during a severe case of writer's block
Klangfarbenmelodie*?
* Tonecolourmelody
Perhaps Klangfarbenmelodie does have something to say to us
after all.
* sure, just play the same note on different instruments. Beats having to come
up with a new tune.
But except for Klangfarbenmelodie, isn't the choice of notes
limited?
* Actually, Klangfarbenmelodie was
invented in 2055 by Conal Goodtown,
pictured, and brought back to Vienna and
Schönberg by a travelling time lord
Especially in tonal music: some notes just don't fit.
You can show it with probe tones.
What are probe tones?
[Cadenza*]
* Technique invented by Monteverdi during a severe case of writer's block.
And that really cuts down the notes you can use.
So if you take a melody,
So if you take a melody, with the notes in one key
and if notes don't
and if notes don't stretch my range too far, I'd be glad,
That's a problem too:
for music has its own set of rules:
even obbligati have to fit in the rhythm.
You can't just choose any notes that you want:
they must fit together,
they must fit together, without a clash
to make a tonal song.
You can use a scale as a motif,
then just add the words.
And then we'll all harmonise you can just close your eyes and listen:
sing in thirds.
Then we’ll sing melisma-a-a-a
That’s a message too
And if you have nothing left to say, just pause...
For then you can restate the theme
If you do, what’s that mean?
And if the notes go up too high
we’ll share them around
That’s called harmony
For music has its own set of rules
Ev’ry note must fit in the rhythm
You have to make sure the notes will all fit
Just like in a canon
Just like in a canon
like in a canon?
or in a fugue
or in a fugue
or in a fugue?
To make a tonal song.
Tonal predictability,
Tonal predictability,
is that what makes written music easy to compress?
That's right, you can repeat a phrase in music...
and it's all part of musical communication.
But you can't make a symphony just by repeating
But you can't make a symphony just by repeating a simple phrase.
Oh yes you can.
Oh no you can’t,
Oh no you can’t,
Oh no you can’t,
oh yes you can,
Oh no you can’t,
oh yes you can,
oh yes you can.
Oh no you can’t,
oh yes you can,
oh yes you can.
Oh no you can’t,
Oh no you can’t,
oh yes you can,
oh yes you can.
Oh no you can’t,
oh yes you can,
Oh no you can’t,
oh yes you can,
oh yes you can.
Oh no you can’t,
oh yes you can,
oh yes you can.
Change just one note,
Change just one note,
and then invert
Change just one note,
and then invert
You can go on
Change just one note,
and then invert
You can go on
see how it works
Change just one note,
and then invert
You can go on
see how it works
You can go on all day!
You can repeat
You can repeat
a simple phrase
You can repeat
a simple phrase
You can repeat
You can repeat
a simple phrase
You can repeat
you can repeat
You can repeat
a simple phrase
You can repeat
you can repeat
With just four notes you can go on
You can repeat
a simple phrase
You can repeat
you can repeat
With just four notes you can go on
on and on, on and on, on and on
You can repeat
a simple phrase
You can repeat
you can repeat
With just four notes you can go on
on and on, on and on, on and on
on and on, on and on
With just four notes you can create a little motif or a theme
Don’t have to work, don’t have to think,
Don’t have to work, don’t have to think,
don’t have to sweat, don’t have to dream
And if we change the colour and we make the leap a perfect fifth,
Watch!
It sounds completely new!
Simpler than that,
Simpler than that, you can repeat
Simpler than that, you can repeat just the one note
Simpler than that, you can repeat just the one note
over again
Simpler than that, you can repeat just the one note
over again
You can
Simpler than that, you can repeat just the one note
over again
You can
over again
Simpler than that, you can repeat just the one note
over again
You can
over again
Over again,
Simpler than that, you can repeat just the one note
over again
You can
over again
Over again, over again
Simpler than that, you can repeat just the one note
over again
You can
over again
Over again, over again
over and over and over….
But what if the musician doesn't have a score?
Improvise something? You mean make it up?
We could never do that
I'm not singing without any music
She’s not singing without any music
You mean we could make our own like all of those jazz cats can do?
Beeya, beeya, dap dap, da doya doya do.
I think she’s got it
I think she’s got it, by George she’s got it!
Beeya, beeya, dap dap, da doya doya do.
Bia diyada diayda diyada diyada diyiya dayada
(I think she's got it, by George she's got it!)
Bi a diya da dowap, ba doya daya da. Doya? Doya?
Diyap da doyou doyado.
Bada dayadadoyap, doyap diya dow, baya dayap,
Dap! Da doya doyado.,
Ba doya, doya, diya dow?
Badoya, bayado wow wow, bayado wow wow
Boyadoyadoya? Baya, daya do wow.
Bi a diya da dowap, ba doya daya da. Doya? Doya?
Diyap da doyou doyado.
Bada dayadadoyap, doyap diya dow, baya dayap,
Dap! da doya doyado.
Badoya, do ya, diya dow, ba do ya?
Bayado wow wow!
Bayado wow wow!
Boyadoya doya? Baya, daya do wow.
We could never do that.
We could never do that.
We could never do that.
We could never do that.
We could never do that.
Do wha?
What did that mean?
Who cares? How did it make you feel?
If I could put it into words I wouldn’t need music.
Perhaps
Perhaps it is
Perhaps it is ineffable.
Ineffable.
And if it is ineffable.
And if it is
Just what that is
Just what that is
we can’t be sure of
To take the inexpressible
Whatever that is, we want more of that.
If music is in F,
If music is ineffable.
We’ll see if we can eff it anyhow.
And if it is ineffable?
Ineffable. Ineffable.
But if words were all we had...
But if words were all we had...
There would be no philosophy,
There would be no philosophy, no trips to Sydney
We’d have to find another job
We’d have to find another jobwhat could we do without music?
No Shepherd tones,
No Shepherd tones,
no ring tones on phones
Hey that seems to be a good idea
Oh what a world
But tell me where would we be without words?
Where would we find the precision,
Where would we find the precision,
to say, with concision, whatever we think?
In a world without speech,
all our friends would be out of reach
No way!
You can say what you like
You can say what you like: but that’s just my point!
But if words were all we had
There would be no songs to make you
No music to take you
No music to take you away from the world.
There would be no songs to sing you
And no harmonies to bring you
There’d just be words and words and words….
What are words for?
Five minutes left, we must conclude
No! If we stop now, they’ll all ask questions.
To run away would just seem rude.
Perhaps we’ll get them all to join in.
We need some music all can sing
I think we’ll manage, it’s not hard to
Sing an ostinato, it’s not very hard to
Sing an ostinato,
Gentlemen, please join us
La, la, la, la,
La la la-la-la-la
la, la
<repeat>
Join us ladies:
La-la-la-la-la, La-la-la-la-la,
La-la-la-la-la, La-la-la,
Tutti, sempre al fine
If music is ineffable
If music is ineffable
We'll see if we can eff it anyhow.
*
*
*
Kristen Butchatsky
Stela Solar
Emery Schubert
Joe Wolfe
Soprano
Alto & Cello
Bass & Horn
Baritone & Bassoon
Words and music by Joe Wolfe
(with quotations from L. van Beethoven)
To allow information compression, Shenkerian analysis,
metamelodic reduction, Easter egg research and for the righteous
indignation of sensitive people who were not here to be offended in
person, the transcript & score for this paper is available at
www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~jw/ICCS.html
Surtitles and luce wrangler
Christina Abdul-Karim