分类: Music

The Devel…

I. Introduction

The origin of word “music” can be dated back to ancient Greece (Wikipedia, Muse). In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Muses are several inspirational goddesses of literature, science and the arts. Muses were considered as the origin of poetry, lyric songs and myths for centuries. However, the origin of music may be earlier – at the time sounds were made, music was born.

People have been considering all kinds of methods to improve music for thousands of years. Although music is always considered as a form of art and a cultural activity related to pure art and society, music cannot develop without science and engineering. This is why music technology matters in music development.

Different cultures have their own music styles, however, since the western music has formed a well-established system of music theory and music education, in this paper, I will focus on western music rather than other music.

Music technology is the study or the use of any device, mechanism, machine or tool by a musician or composer to make or perform music; to compose, notate, play back or record songs or pieces; or to analyze or edit music. Music technology has a great impact on music instruments, music theory, music performance, music recording and so on. With the development of information technology, music technology is more and more combined with computers and electrical devices nowadays. However, music technology has a much longer history.

II. The origin and the history of music technology

The first music instrument was invented based on the knowledge of music technology, and it was also the first practical application of music technology.

According to Physics, sounds are generated by vibration of all kinds of objects. The biggest difference between music and other sounds are the pitches, which are measured by Hertz (Hz). By using the vibrations of objects, people invented the first wind instruments, which was the antetype of flutes.

The first instrument may not be considered as an instrument according our standard today, because it cannot produce standard pitches. However, it’s a great breakthrough which helps people to perform music without singing (Winternitz, 1967).

Scientists discovered that besides air vibration, string vibrations and even hitting the objects can also make music. Music instruments were then classified into three categories in Greece and Rome: Greek named string instruments as enchordon or entata, wind instruments as pneumatempneusta and percussions as kroustukon; Roman named string instruments as tencile, wind instruments as inflaile and percussions as pulsatile (Campbell, 2009).

Apart from music instruments, music theory has also made great progress with music technology.

Physicists discovered that two strings with a length ratio of 1:2 can produce a very coordinated sound when plucked at the same time, but the sound constructed by only using the string length of twice the relationship is too monotonous. Therefore, people tried to use other string length ratios to make proper sound, and this is the origin of Equal Temperament Theory. Different string length ratios will make different vibration frequencies, which will lead to different pitches. Classical music theory categories the frequencies in octaves and in an octave, frequencies are divided into 12 pitches, C, #C, D, #D, E, F, #F, G, #G, A, #A, B.

When electricity was invented and utilized, people started to record the music. In the early age, musicians have to performance in quiet environment to prevent recording the noises. However, with the application of noise reduction technology, audio becomes clearer and clearer. Audio processing and signals processing has become an important field in electrical engineering, which allows the music to be recorded clear enough even in a noisy environment.

Electricity also changes music instruments. The appearance of electric pianos, electric guitars and other electric instruments made the music more colorful. There are more and more music styles and more and more bands which allow people appreciate different kinds of music.

In 1946, the first computer was invented in University of Pennsylvania. Computer music, a new style of music, appears in people’s lives (Holmes, 2002). Computer music is the application of computing technology in music composition, to help human composers create new music or to have computers independently create music, such as with algorithmic composition programs. By using artificial intelligence, computer can produce fantastic music. The exploration of music technology is endless. At the present time, we still don’t know how much surprise it will bring us in the future.

III. The Connection between Music Technology and Chinese Music Market

With the continuous development of computer technology and the improvement of related software, computer music has gradually taken shape as a new generation of art, penetrating into all fields of music creation, production, instrument performance, commercial music, education, and entertainment. At present, music has extended from specialization and professional music to socialization and popular music. However, the rapid development of computer music has also brought many drawbacks accordingly. One of the most serious problem was the more and more music with low quality.

According to a user preference analysis report in Kuwo Music, Tencent Music Entertainment, 72% professional musicians are not satisfied with the top 10% music on the leaderboard of Kuwo Music APP. However, oppositely, the top 10% music on the leaderboard has nearly 10 times that of the music ranked from top 10% to top 20%, which indicates that audience has a totally different taste with professional music. There are two reasons lead to the current situation.

The first reason is that only few APP users have received professional music education. Lack of professional education prevents them from assessing the quality of music, they tend to listen “popular” music which are recommended by friends and their idols.

The second reason is that there only a few song writers in China can be regarded as professional musicians. Most of them are amateur musicians who don’t even know basic music theory. A questionnaire shows that 87% song writers registered in Kuwo APP don’t know the difference between major triad chords and minor triad chords. The high cost of music education prevents song writers to produce high-quality music. Usually, professional composers need to be talent enough and learn music for at least fifteen years in average. Lots of families cannot afford the cost. Moreover, music recording and song arrangement needs professional music which is still a high cost.

Less professional works were produced and audiences’ appreciations would trend to unicity, the two phenomena now lead to a vicious circle in Chinese music market. Therefore, music technology based on computers and electrical engineering is especially meaningful. By using music technology, the cost to produce a song will be reduced and the songs can be produced at a high efficiency.

IV. The Future Development and Application of Music Technology

In 21 century, music technology has gradually become the key research direction of many universities and there are three major research fields of music technology: electrical engineering emphasis, computer science emphasis and music emphasis. The potential areas of study include technologically assisted composition, technologically augmented performance, computer music systems and technology, music signal processing, music information retrieval, acoustics, sound recording, music instrument design, music cognition and perception and so on.

Till now, the most important field is still computer assisted composition. The artificial intelligence composer is quite mature that it can even pass the Turing test. Another important field is music recognition. Lots of music APP in the market has the function of music recognition, which enables users to search songs by playing a piece of song. However, the function is not well-developed now because it cannot recognize songs which changes their keys. Also, there are essential differences between audio recognition and speech recognition, which lead to great difficulty in distinguishing lyrics and melodies.

In the future, perhaps there may be a revolution of music instruments and music devices with the development of high technology. With the help of music technology, the future of music market is bright and worth expecting.

V. Conclusion

With the development of information technology, music technology has improved a lot. It is worth noticing that music also keeps pace with the rapid advancement of technology. Music technology is not the opposite of traditional western music. On the contrary, it combines traditional western music theories to create new era music. There have been many successful examples showing that electronic music is widely welcomed by the public, and some of the music composed by artificial intelligence is even better than the music composed by human beings. We have enough confidence that, in the future, music technology will occupy a greater proportion and inject fresh blood into the music market.

References

Winternitz, E. (1967). Musical Instruments and Their Symbolism in Western Art: Studies in Musical Iconology.

Campbell, M., Greated, C. A., & Myers, A. (2009). Musical instruments: History, technology and performance of instruments of Western music. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Winternitz, E. (1979). Musical instruments and their symbolism in western art. New Haven (Connecticut): New Haven, Yale University Press.

Holmes, T. (2002). Electronic and Experimental Music. New York: Routledge.

Wikipedia – Lyre: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyre

Wikipedia – Music: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music

Wikipedia – Muse: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muse

Wikipedia – String instruments: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_instrument

Data Sources: Provided by Kuwo Music, Tencent Music Entertainment

Review

Work: Ah Vous Dirai-je Maman (I shall Tell You, Mother) K. 265 

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezvj-De6bxY

Ah Vous Dirai-je Maman (I shall Tell You, Mother) K. 265 is an anonymous pastoral song written in 1740 and was set to different lyrics in different languages, and the most famous English version is twinkle twinkle litte stars. Born in Salzburg in 1756, Mozart is considered as the representative of Classism. His creation involves almost all fields of music, including opera, concertos, symphonies, sonatas, chamber music, etc. Ah Vous Dirai-je Maman (I shall Tell You, Mother) K. 265 is one of his most successful variations written in 1778. Mozart set twelve different variations for the original song.

The song begins with the basic theme with quarter notes. Ornaments are used to make a more colorful melody. Then, after repeated the basic theme twice, the variations appeared. The rhythm, harmony and texture changes in different variations, and my favorite variations are VAR. VII, VAR. VIII. and VAR. XI.

VAR.V. is a section returns to tranquility, with few notes, and rests appear in the theme melody. The melody is played alternately with the left and right hands, briskly mixed with some semitones in the notes. Canon is used in VAR. V., and we may find that the repeated melodies of right and left hands fill in the blank of the rests, and reinforce the audience’s memory for the melody. VAR. V. is the most difficult part for me when practicing piano. Although it seems very easy to play, it needs a lot of effort to deal with the key-touching and rhythm. The notes should not be played to be too sticky or speedy, they need to connect to each other naturally but sounds very clean. VAR. V. is a beautiful and light variation, and I can almost feel like flying in the sky when listening to this piece of music.

Fig 1 VAR. V.

In VAR. VIII., C major key is changed to C minor key. Compared to major keys, minor keys always provide an upset or gloomy feeling. Canon is used in composing – apart from two bars, there is sequence in righthand-side melody. By creating a continuous effect, it sounds like an endless starring sky in a rainy day. However, there are still stars shining, and the Staccato and Stagato notations make the notes brief but heavy. It sounds like a glimmer of hope in hard situation, which impresses me a lot.

Fig 2 VAR. VIII.

As shown in the music score, it’s an Adagio, which indicates that music should be played slowly, or a composition intended to be played in this manner. Therefore, the piece is really soft and soothing. The melody makes me feel a noble tranquility and peace. The righthand-side melody should be reinforced, but still quiet because of the “p” notation.

Fig 3 VAR. XI.

The beginning of VAR. XI. may sound like the song “红旗飘飘” in China. Mozart uses lots of major third chords and seventh chords, therefore, this piece of music sounds a little bit more dignified and rigorous. Compared to the variations before, VAR. XI. is more lyric and gentler. Besides, VAR. XI. is the second last variations. After hearing lots of fast paced variations, people may need to slow down and enjoy some slower piece of music. When listening to VAR. XI., I always feel like that after storms, lightnings and thunders, the sun shines again, and clouds float on the sky leisurely. It’s an excellent arrangement because VAR. XII., which is the last variation, is again an Allergo, which means the music should be played fast, quickly and bright.

As I mentioned before, Mozart is one of the most important masters in Classism, however, born in 1756, there are still some influences of Baroque style in his work. There are lots of composition skills which are used a lot in Baroque but not commonly used in Classism. Although with the existence of Baroque features, compared to Baroque music, Ah Vous Dirai-je Maman (I shall Tell You, Mother) K. 265 is obviously symmetry with rigorous structures, which shows a clear Classism style. Recomposed from a pastoral song, it is euphonic and easy to remember.

The link provided in the lecture is the music played by a young Czech pianist, Natalie Schwamova. Compared to several versions, included music played by Lang Lang and Fazil Say, I think her performance is very technical. Schwamova is absolutely a very talented pianist, and she plays really great in faster pieces, but I think the slower pieces are not so good. I think this is because her control of fingers is inferior to other pianists, so her key-touching is not as exquisite as other pianists. The quiet notes she played was quiet but not light, and she always plays the notes so clean that correlations between notes are weakened. I love Lang Lang’s version best. His timbre is well controlled, and his music is most fluent and beautiful, it feels like he plays with ease, not with fantastic skills or techniques.

Notes

Chords

When pitches are combined together, chords are made.

Triads include three diffent pitches. The most common chords are major triads, minor triads, augmented triads, diminished triads. Suspended second and suspended fourth also consist of three different notes, but because of the different intervals between notes and notes, we don’t name them with “triads”.

Seventh chords consist of four different notes. Dominant seventh, major seventh, minor seventh, diminished seventh, half-dimished seventh, augmented seventh, augmented-major seventh, minor-major seventh will be introduced here.

Of course there are ninth chords which consist of five notes or even eleventh chords, thirteenth chords, etc. Although sometimes people use them in popular songs, I will not do further introduction here.

The figure below shows these chords with root C.

Summary for Chords

Notes

Scales

A scale is a series of pitches arranged in order of whole tone, semitone and other intervals. It can be simply understood as multiple notes that are arranged from low to high and from high to low according to a certain interval relationship, which is the scale.

There are many scales. Here I just introduce several basic scales: major scales, natural minor scales, harmonic minor scales, melodic minor scales, lonian scales, Dorian scales, Phrygian scales, Lydian scales, Mixolydian scales, Aeolian scales and Locrian scales.

Major Scales

A major scale is arranged with the rule: full, full, half, full, full, full, half. A C major scale contains: C, D, E, F, G, A, B.

Natural Minor Scale

A natural minor scale is arranged with the rule: full, half, full, full, half, full, full. An A natural minor scale contains: A, B, C, D, E, F, G.

Notice that major scales and natural minor scales have a relationship shown as the figure below:

The cirlce of fifths is useful for understanding major scales and natural minor scales.

Harmonic Minor Scale

A harmonic minor scale is nearly the same with the natural minor scale except lifting the sixth pitch in the scale. A harmonic minor scale is arranged with the rule: full, half, full, full, half, full, half. There is such a long distance between the fifth and sixth pitches in a harmonic minor scale, sometimes it might sound a little bit wierd.

Melodic Minor Scale

A harmonic minor scale is arranged with the rule: full, half, full, full, full, full, half. A melodic minor scale on C contains C, D, Eb, F, G, A, B.

lonian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian scales

Ionian Scale on C: C, D, E, F, G, A, B

Dorian Scale on D: D, E, F, G, A, B, C

Phrygian Scale on E: E, F, G, A, B, C, D

Lydian Scale on F: F, G, A, B, C, D, E

Mixolydian Scale on G: G, A, B, C, D, E, F

Aeolian Scale on A: A, B, C, D, E, F, G

Locrian Scale on B: B, C, D, E, F, G, A

Summary

The scales on C can be summarized as the photo below.

Summary for Scales

Notes

Pitches, Frequencies and Intervals

Music is related to sound caused by vibration. In equal temperament, every pair of adjacent pitches is separated by the same interval. The pitches of an equal temperament can be produced by repeating a generating interval. Classical western music theory divides frequencies into 7 pitches, C, D, E, F, G, A, B. The human ear’s perception of pitch mainly depends on the frequency ratio, not the frequency difference. The equal temperament uses the diatonic scale. Johann Sebastian Bach stipulates that there are 12 pitches in an octave, and the relationship between pitches and frequencies is shown as follow:

Octave→
Note↓
0123456789
C16.352
(-48)
32.703
(-36)
65.406
(-24)
130.81
(-12)
261.63
(+0)
523.25
(+12)
1046.5
(+24)
2093.0
(+36)
4186.0
(+48)
8372.0
(+60)
C#/Db17.324
(-47)
34.648
(-35)
69.296
(-23)
138.59
(-11)
277.18
(+1)
554.37
(+13)
1108.7
(+25)
2217.5
(+37)
4434.9
(+49)
8869.8
(+61)
D18.354
(-46)
36.708
(-34)
73.416
(-22)
146.83
(-10)
293.66
(+2)
587.33
(+14)
1174.7
(+26)
2349.3
(+38)
4698.6
(+50)
9397.3
(+62)
D#/Eb19.445
(-45)
38.891
(-33)
77.782
(-21)
155.56
(-9)
311.13
(+3)
622.25
(+15)
1244.5
(+27)
2489.0
(+39)
4978.0
(+51)
9956.1
(+63)
E20.602
(-44)
41.203
(-32)
82.407
(-20)
164.81
(-8)
329.63
(+4)
659.26
(+16)
1318.5
(+28)
2637.0
(+40)
5274.0
(+52)
10548
(+64)
F21.827
(-43)
43.654
(-31)
87.307
(-19)
174.61
(-7)
349.23
(+5)
698.46
(+17)
1396.9
(+29)
2793.8
(+41)
5587.7
(+53)
11175
(+65)
F#/Gb23.125
(-42)
46.249
(-30)
92.499
(-18)
185.00
(-6)
369.99
(+6)
739.99
(+18)
1480.0
(+30)
2960.0
(+42)
5919.9
(+54)
11840
(+66)
G24.500
(-41)
48.999
(-29)
97.999
(-17)
196.00
(-5)
392.00
(+7)
783.99
(+19)
1568.0
(+31)
3136.0
(+43)
6217.9
(+55)
12544
(+67)
G#/Ab25.957
(-40)
51.913
(-28)
103.83
(-16)
207.65
(-4)
415.30
(+8)
830.61
(+20)
1661.2
(+32)
3322.4
(+44)
6644.9
(+56)
13290
(+68)
A27.500
(-39)
55.000
(-27)
110.00
(-15)
220.00
(-3)
440.00
(+9)
880.00
(+21)
1760.0
(+33)
3520.0
(+45)
7040.0
(+57)
14080
(+69)
A#/Bb29.135
(-38)
58.270
(-26)
116.54
(-14)
233.08
(-2)
466.16
(+10)
932.33
(+22)
1864.7
(+34)
3729.3
(+46)
7458.6
(+58)
14917
(+70)
B30.868
(-37)
61.735
(-25)
123.47
(-13)
246.94
(-1)
493.88
(+11)
987.77
(+23)
1975.5
(+35)
3951.1
(+47)
7902.1
(+59)
15804
(+71)
Relationship between Pitches and Frequencies

The relationship between frequencies and their corresponding pitches have changed a lot. Nowadays, standard pitch is defined as A4=440 Hz.

Pitch interval is the difference between two pitches perceived by humans.

In the mid-range of human hearing, human perception of intervals between notes of different pitches is roughly logarithmic; in the high-frequency range, it does not conform to the logarithmic rule. This characteristic of human hearing is determined by the physiological structure of the human auditory system. That is to say, for the three tones with frequencies of 200Hz/400Hz/800Hz, two of the intervals are roughly equal; while for the three tones with frequencies of 200Hz/400Hz/600Hz, humans will hear these two intervals different.

For two tones with a double frequency difference, such as 440Hz/880Hz, the interval between them is set to octave.

The most common temperament used today is equal temperament. The relationship of frequency ratio and pitches of the equal temperament is shown as follow:

IntervalsEqual Temperament
C:C1.0000
D:C1.1225
E:C1.2599
F:C1.3348
G:C1.4983
A:C1.6818
B:C1.8877
C’:C2.0000
Equal Temperament

For the 12 pitches in an octave, the name of intervals and their frequency ratio is shown as follow:

Number of SemitonesPitch IntervalFrequency Ratio
0Perfect Unison1:1
1Minor Second16:15
2Major Second9:8
3Minor Third6:5
4Major Third5:4
5Perfect Fourth4:3
6Augmented Fourth45:32
6Diminished Fifth64:45
7Perfect Fifth3:2
8Minor Sixth8:5
9Major Sixth5:3
10Minor Seventh16:9
11Major Seventh15:8
12Perfect Octave2:1
Names of Pitch Intervals