[Smt-talk] The Ubiquitous Triad

Ildar Khannanov etudetableau at gmail.com
Mon Jul 21 20:51:13 PDT 2014

Dear Victor,

an interesting statement, about the overtone series. I have been a
collaborative pianist for the voice studio for many years. The voice
teacher was trying to get the resonance from his students. His most vivid
example was that when dogs are barking they take the position, similar to
the singers. You cannot hear a dog barking without the natural overtone
series. And Pythagoras could not hear anything if the hammers were not
capable of creating the resonance harmonics. Playing classical piano is all
about manipulating natural overtone series, without which performances of
music of Chopin and Rachmaninoff are impossible. The touchee is, in fact,
the method of manipulating the beginning of the sound in order to emphasize
the harmonics that resonate. The fact is, that our speaking voice and many
sources of sound are too dull to make music. Their frequencies lie within
300-500 Hertz, while the resonance pitch of most building materials is
around 3000 Hertz. A shepherd in Bashkirian village, in remote areas of
Urals, knows that in order to call his sheep he has to stand up and
generate the sound that emphasizes its resonant aspects. Cremona masters
have created the mystery of violin; it was the work with the natural
overtone series. They did not record the frequencies and did not realized
the overtone series as a scientific object; this does not mean, however,
that they did not sense its effects in their daily musical activities.

Triad is a byproduct of this activity. t is a byproduct of the Perfect
Fifth. Of course, music was based on it until WWII. Now, you are probably
writing computer music. It is cool, but it does not provide the evidence
for your statement.


Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Institute
etudetableau at gmail

2014-07-21 7:26 GMT-04:00 Victor grauer <victorag at verizon.net>:

> For one thing, the "chord of nature," i.e., the overtone series, is far
> less natural than most theoreticians of a certain era claimed. If that were
> the case, we'd see the evidence in all sorts of animal cries, whale songs,
> bird calls, etc. We do not. Humans are the only creatures using pitches
> related to the overtone series. Also, as has already been mentioned, the
> overtone series can't really be heard, at least to most ears, even musical
> ones. It's the product of analysis, becoming evident only as the result of
> conscious experiments. I suspect the relation between overtones and the
> scales used by so many human groups has to do with the overblowing of
> pipes, which could have been used very early on to lure birds. Once that
> practice got started (in Paleolithic Africa), it established itself as a
> tradition and just continued -- that's my theory at least. But this has
> more to do with scales than chords. There is very little if any evidence of
> triads per se
>  in ANY non-Western tradition. When they appear it is usually an
> incidental result of polyphonic interplay grounded for the most part in
> 4ths, 5ths and even 2nds.
> When we are talking about the triad per se, we are talking about a
> particular tonal formation that has a very specific and very interesting
> history. As Lowinsky and others have informed us, the triad as a
> self-consciously utilized element of musical organization appeared very
> suddenly in the Italian (also Spanish) courts, most likely from sources in
> popular music that have never been documented. The source of this radically
> new approach to tonal organization is a true mystery. Though it may seem to
> us as perfectly natural, that is due essentially to its status as a by now
> well worn tradition -- a musical "ideology" taken for granted but by no
> means "natural."
> Victor Grauer
> Pittsburgh, PA, USA
> http://www.amazon.com/Life-Times-Musical-Virus-Critical-ebook/dp/B00LH0GKJC
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