Stay tuned…

The inevitable has happened: Scott Spiegelberg has returned fire on the harmony question. Unfortunately, I’ll be busy in meatspace over the next couple of days, so I won’t be able to get to it immediately — but fear not!

In the meantime (and because every blog needs a gimmick once in a while!), I’ll open a contest for the comments section: whoever can, after reading what Scott has to say, most accurately predict my reply, will win some prize that I’ll think up. (Perhaps I’ll follow in the great tradition of another Scott and let the winner ask me any question they want.)

5 Responses to Stay tuned…

  1. does the prize happen to be a loving fuzzy warm golden retriever puppy? If so, count me in!

  2. Eric says:

    I don’t know exactly what you’ll say, but my biggest problem with his response is the “culturally invested listener” caveat. I rather doubt that most people educated in Western music will, in fact, hear a major-minor seventh as necessarily needing to resolve into anything. Certainly that doesn’t help to explain a huge amount “classical” music written after Satie, nor can it help anyone understand music with jazz roots. The most one can say for harmonic theory in such cases is that it states that most major-minor seventh chords written during a particular time and in a particular place resolve to a chord a fifth lower. One can’t say the seventh chord always does, since it can just as well resolve to a 6-4 chord a half step lower with no trouble even in the practice period harmonic theory purports to explain.

    Since one apparently needs to be steeped in a tradition that resolves major-minor seventh chords down a fifth in order to hear that pull, it sounds like Spiegelberg’s statements boil down to a statement that from Hayden to Brahms, many major-minor seventh chords resolve down a fifth. That’s not really an explanation, but a restatement of practice. A useful theory of music would explain why that practice came about, and why music written by people in the same tradition still works once composers ceased to follow that formula. I haven’t had a chance to evaluate your claims that Westergaardian theory can do this (my bookstore tells me his book is out of print) but based on things you’ve said here, it seems to be a much more powerful tool for understanding music than the tautological harmonic theory I had to learn.

  3. well, I gave it my shot. I got him warmed up for you…hopefully worn out a bit too.

  4. KIRSTIE says:

    I was in need of your math genius today and you were noticably absent

  5. bill says:

    Hope you guys keep up the argument, this is good stuff! Then maybe gather it all together for a book.
    Seems like what Scott is describing is conditioned response. Which is a fascinating topic for study but has absolutely nothing to do with music! :^)

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