[Smt-talk] "inversions" (passing thought)

Donna Doyle donnadoyle at att.net
Wed Mar 19 12:37:43 PDT 2014

Re theory vs practice: I believe there will always be a gap between them. Of course, we strive to narrow the gap and define/name things accurately (Wittgenstein, Zuckerkandl). Sometimes, however, a vocabulary problem is a symptom of another issue that, when cleared up, settles the matter.

So why are we talking about RH vs LH? The range of sound is continuous from bottom to top, as every good pianist knows. The 'pianists' who play blocked, close position RH triads are often beginning kybd harmony students. For them, learning some actual repertoire pieces and writing some open position ("drop two") progressions might be useful. Boulanger insisted that we play our figured bas realizations with two voices in each hand wherever possible. 

As for RH jazz voicing, the good practitioners I know take the bass register into account. The others are sometimes described as having crippled left hands. 

Best regards,
Donna Doyle
Queens College--CUNY

> history that surpasses patrician disdain. Pythagorean historiography sometimes affects that the realities of music are set in stone; the sole task of the musician is to decipher and submit to them, of the theorist, to realize and adumbrate these same unalterable givens. For both musician and theorist, history has no meaning but the greater or lesser realization of an offstage truth. 
>   The dialectical riot of theory and practice belies this caricature. Ironically, the very failure of terminological history to offer us clearly needed terms, such as a right hand voicing nomenclature to correspond to the left hand inversion set, indicates that, between them, musical practitioners and theorists have done an incomplete job of creating a working vocabulary for themselves. In that sense, even the rule of thumb-like doctrine that musical terminology's strengths and weaknesses are a function of ad hoc practice is an over-eager simplification. I think the glaring absence of words that we plainly need sheds a troubling, indirect, but fascinating light on the ones we do have, and how we got them. Once we step back for a moment from the notion of terminological necessity and inevitability, and start to face the enormity of our improvisations, the history of theory comes alive--to be sure, in a manner I'm sure we would rather it didn't!
> Michael W. Morse
> unaffiliated
> Dear Trevor,
> for that there are two terms in Russian terminology; obrascheniye is for inversion and peremescheniye--for shifting of the upper three voices (any kind of shifting, such as arpeggiation or chordal skip or voice exchange in two voices). These two terms are very similar (and therefore easy to remember) but the distinction is important--I agree with you!
> Best,
> Ildar Khannanov
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