[Smt-talk] Harmonic and Melodic Scales

Ildar Khannanov solfeggio7 at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 4 12:30:16 PST 2013

Dear Thomas, Michele and Nicolas,

I can use only one posting per day, and even that is too much in this situation. So, I am replying to all three questions in one message.

To Thomas,

I like Leipzig, I always tell my students that when they say "German theory" they should clarify if it comes from Vienna, or from Leipzig and Berlin. Since these two are in the East, Russian theorists and composers have always been closely related to that part of Germany and to rich tradition in theory (add A. B. Marx and Riemann) and magnificent editions. That is why I like and know Leipzig tradition.

Was Hauptmann more influential than Rimsky-Korsakov? I doubt. Rimsky has left several generations of composers, theorists, performers, the whole school of music. Hauptmann nowadays is treated--unfortunately and undeservedly--as an artifact of history. Indeed, he has overdone the direct application of Hegel's concepts to music. As a result, he influenced Riemann and... here you have to help me with the names.

If you want to prove that harmonic major and minor subdominant in major were common in Western theory, show me the textbooks in which these concepts were commonly introduced and students who studied these concepts together with other common practice ideas. I want to see students singing harmonic major scale in ear training weekly and using the minor subdominant as a pivot chord--in hundreds of schools. That was an is the case in Russia.

As for the comparison (Hauptmann wrote a book 33 years earlier than Rimsky) I sense here the complex of superiority (a bad thing, in general). First of all, Rimsky started teaching at the conservatory not in 1886 but much earlier and has been using his materials in teaching. Second of all, there is always someone who has done something earlier that others. Take Nikolai Diletzky, who wrote about major, minor and mixed mode in 1680, 172 years before Hauptmann.

To Michele,

although the words I have listed can be used in a daily conversation, their meanings in an academic environment are much more refined, better reflected upon and lead to more serious consequences. All this is called categorical thinking and is commonly required from anyone attempting a scholarly conversation. It is known that the first academic language in European culture was ancient Greek of the classical period. The experts notice that it took only 200 years for the Greek language to develop from the primitive form to the highest in Plato's dialogues. All European academic languages borrow from this prototype their meanings, either by direct borrowing the word forms (such as category, philosophy, logic, theory) or by translating these meanings and attaching them to the local words and expressions. In the phrase which Dr. Meeus sent to me, the word productive does not mean, literally, that we produce something material. In our conversation we
 produce thought and meanings--the idea, foreign to the non-academic user. The word "same" (to auto) has a pedigree. It lies in the root of scientific and philosophical language. Counter--is not an ordinary word as well. It is the remnant of Socratic thought. The word sense (nous) is so rich culturally and is so full of references to Greek philosophy, literature and science, that it would be ridiculous to use it in a daily sense here. In general, when Schenker claims that Greeks did not create music THEORY, I can only laugh at this nouveau riche! Greeks not only understood theory, but they created this category.  Or, when Richard Rorty arrogantly and blatantly suggests that Greeks did not understand PHILOSOPHY (meaning that he is the one who does), I can smile and tremble with awe at the same time. 

To Nicolas,

So far, I only see the accusations  and moral lessons. If it is dishonest to say something which has been presented already in print about Otto, why do you think that you can keep humiliating THE NINETEENTH CENTURY as a whole and get away with that? 

From your postings I make a picture of the 20th-century as impeccably informed, flawless, ideal from all sides. To tell you the truth, I do not think that music theorists of the 20th century have made mistakes. I think that the century itself was a huge mistake. WWI--mistake, WWII--mistake, Cold War--mistake, communism--mistake, colonialism--mistake, proliferation of WMDs--mistake, terrorism--mistake. In comparison, according to Kondratiev's 80-year cycles, the 800-year cycles, cycles of fluctuation of price index, the period of 1815 to 1895 is considered the most successful in Europe, comparable only to 5 Emperor's rule in Roman Empire. To say that some musicologists in the 20th century knew more about Greek culture than those in the 19th--is a ridiculous insinuation. In 1852 father J.-P. Minge lead an effort to publish Patrologia latina and Patrologia greca, some 600 volumes! We still use Diels-Kranz fragments of pre-socratics for the knowledge on
 Heraclitus and Pythagoras. I have a textbook in ancient Greek grammar, 400 pages. It is intended for the lyceum or semiary, for the 6th grade in a high school, for the 19th century. 
Before throwing stones at the 19th-century musicians and scholars, we have to consider our resources. Who is learning ancient Greek in a high school today? How about the ear training and harmony? Modesty in our situation will be the best solution, I am convinced.


Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Conservatory
solfeggio7 at yahoo.com

On Wednesday, December 4, 2013 12:15 PM, Thomas Noll <noll at cs.tu-berlin.de> wrote:
Dear Ildar,

Why in the West minor subdominant in major has been underrated? 

Has it? This at least not true for Leipzig (where I was born). Moritz Hauptmann's (1853) influential book "Die Natur der Harmonik und der Metrik: zur Theorie der Musik"  spends considerable attention to the study of the "Moll-Dur-Tonart" quite in balance to the study of the "Moll-Tonart". This book predates Rimsky-Korsakov's (1886) Практический учебник гармонии by 33 years. In think, Hauptmann's thoughts are particularly valuable for the understanding of diatonicity in connection with alteration. This issue had been addressed by Dimitar and by Nicolas in recent mails.
Thomas Noll    

Thomas Noll
noll at cs.tu-berlin.de
Escola Superior de Musica de Catalunya, Barcelona 
Departament de Teoria i Composició 

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