Music Origins, History, Creation, Special Musicians…

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    (A post by Reg prompted me to start this topic, while I’ve been diving into old and new music recently, and hoping to maybe create some. I’ve a few ideas for this potentially wide-ranging topic, but I’ll just start it with a couple at the top of my mind.)

    • When the Levee Breaks
      • Prophetic when Led Zeppelin released it
      • Was written decades earlier after a flood
      • Rick Beato explains the drum acoustics and processing:

    (Normally I avoid clicking on anything with “the truth about…” in the title, but Rick’s actually not a click-bait manipulator.)


    • Young girl prodigies Ellen Alaverdyan & Yoyoka
      • This performance was supposedly sound-checked only, no rehearsal… or maybe they rehearsed online
      • Ellen (bass) was 9, and Yoyoka (drums) 12
      • Performing Led Zeppelin’s The Ocean:


    I’ve been watching Ellen for months and didn’t even realize until today, she must be conversing at times in Armenian with her father! Her English is always perfect, along with her people skills, and her playing repertoire constantly expands. Here’s another piece from her:




    And now, for something completely different. The following is my super-geeky, some may say even “unnatural”, explanation of the necessarily imperfect nature of “musical harmony”. My explanation is the result of a youtube video explaining why pianos are always, necessarily, “out of tune”. I go further, pointing out that there is no such thing as “perfectly in tune” to start with, in the natural world, at least not across more that two notes of any scale at a time.

    The only “natural” frequencies in nature exist at atomic levels, e.g. spectral lines for each element; not on any acoustic level, except perhaps in some crystals. Every “tonic” on a musical scale is merely a human invented standard, arbitrary in nature. A tonic at 440Hz is no more natural or perfect than a tonic at any other frequency, and the same is true for any note on any scale… they’re all just human-invented standards.

    The only reason a harmonic interval can “sound right”, much less sound perfect, is because brains can detect and recognize acoustic waveforms that coincide closely to each other. But even integer-based ratios of frequency pairs cannot maintain perfect harmonic consistency with other other harmonic pairs simultaneously, unless they’re all at a 2:1 ratio. I.e., sliding scales in acoustics, by nature are artificial, and are harmonically incompatible with each other. They only “feel” perfect during a brain’s “imperfect but close enough” perception of them. This is true, whether the scale is pentatonic, or has 12 or 13 or however many notes. (Not to mention, all acoustic scales are logarithmic in nature, not “perfect integer ratio” in nature.)

    Still, in nature, animals rely on these imperfect perceptions, because brains are able to detect close harmonic associations between different harmonic intervals, even when those associations are imperfect. It’s like a game of acoustic horseshoes in the brain, where “acoustically close” is much, much more common, even in nature, than “acoustically perfect harmony”.

    And by the way, in a bigger picture… not to take away any “magical” feelings that music can invoke, any animal brain’s ability to detect (or produce) musical sounds or other sound patterns is an evolved ability. Evolved because it enhances fitness.

    In humans in particular, it enables us to communicate and bond at what I call a “preternatural” level, not in a magical sense, but in a real, practically accidental, emergent, unplanned-by-nature sense. Music can feel magical, because our emergent ability to create and appreciate music is so closely associated with our enhanced abilities to create new language, and create new ways to share complex information and emotional content with each other.

    (Did I mention the importance/magic of emergent humor?)



    My introduction to Led Zep was while I was in college (egads! have they been around for 53 years?!!!). The first song on their first album blew me away even more than my first time hearing Jimi Hendrix. Listening to it the first time it’s easy to hearl just the vocal and guitar parts and ignore the bass and drum interplay. It’s still my favorite out of their entire oeuvre.

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