This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Nuts and Bolts: the language of music.

 Most of us would probably agree, if rather uneasily, that music is a language. Music certainly communicates something, though what that might be varies widely from one individual to another: the same piece might produce any reaction from agony to ecstasy, boredom to fascination.

But, in that case, can music be a language? 

David Ortega-Pachero and Hiram Calvo at the Centro de Investigación en Computación, México, have been using grammar software (ABL and EMILE) to analyse the works of Bach, Chopin, and various other composers, and then using each composer's  musical grammar to make new pieces.

I haven't been able to find an example of the results, but it's said to work reasonably well.

Whether it works or not, it goes some way to explaining why we can have such different reactions to the same piece of music. Music isn't a language, but a host of languages, and that to understand each composer - or each genre - you have to learn its own particular grammar. 

That does explain quite a lot, doesn't it.

Thing To Do Today: listen to the grammar of a favourite piece of music - the rules for the way the notes and phrases are fitted together - and then use that grammar to hum a new bit of tune.

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