Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Chords, scales, harmony, melody, etc.
Stamped Records
KVRist
234 posts since 20 Sep, 2018 from UK

Post Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:06 am

A few years ago I had an insight and I shared it with a friend who pretty much thought I was mad. But, I suggested that melody was very close to arpeggiation, but less cyclical and more free. As it turns out, I feel like I was more correct about this than I realised at the time.

But then, the way that 4 part harmony shares the notes of a chord among instruments and the way that the instruments even alternate, almost cycling but not quite, is pretty close to arpeggiation, from my perspective. Thoughts?

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vurt
addled muppet weed
44394 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Re: Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Post Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:12 am

yes.
with added cowbell, of course.

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vurt
addled muppet weed
44394 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Re: Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Post Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:14 am

or..

no.
music, is the silence beyond the waves.

Ou_Tis
KVRist
308 posts since 10 Jul, 2018

Re: Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Post Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:21 am

Most human music has not been harmonic---including the highly developed musical systems of East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and also ancient Greco-Roman civilization. It's an unusual feature of modern Western music, though also highly developed in Sub-Saharan Africa and a few other places.

People exclusively (and heavily) exposed to Western music may find it difficult not to automatically assume a harmonic context even when listening to monophonic melodies; it's been speculated that this could make it difficult to truly "hear" monophonic musical traditions without distorting baggage.

So if by arpeggio you're thinking of alternating between the notes of a harmonic chord---that's definitely not true of human music in general.
Last edited by Ou_Tis on Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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thecontrolcentre
KVRAF
23913 posts since 27 Jul, 2005 from the wilds of wanny

Re: Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Post Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:23 am

Stamped Records wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:06 am
A few years ago I had an insight and I shared it with a friend who pretty much thought I was mad.
I agree with your friend ... some music could perhaps be described like that, but certainly not most. (IMHO)

Do you have any examples to back up your idea?

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vurt
addled muppet weed
44394 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Re: Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Post Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:25 am

i wouldn't say mad, unless you where wearing your boxer shorts on your head, with pencils up your nose, repeating "wibble!".

i would say, you haven't heard much music, have you?

Ou_Tis
KVRist
308 posts since 10 Jul, 2018

Re: Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Post Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:26 am

Though the simpler question would be: in most conventional Western music, do most of the melody notes match notes of a perceived single underlying chord, except as passing tones or expressive variations? Yes. Is melodic variation just a matter of repeating arpeggio patterns? No. Are chord progressions irrelevant to melody? No.

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fmr
KVRAF
8689 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Re: Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Post Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:38 am

Ou_Tis wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:26 am
Are chord progressions irrelevant to melody? No.
No? :o

What if the piece has no chords AT ALL?
Fernando (FMR)

Ou_Tis
KVRist
308 posts since 10 Jul, 2018

Re: Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Post Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:42 am

fmr wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:38 am
Ou_Tis wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:26 am
Are chord progressions irrelevant to melody? No.
No? :o

What if the piece has no chords AT ALL?
What I meant is that chord progressions can be an important part of melody, when they're used, and this creates a movement that can't be reduced to arpeggio patterns. I just explained in my previous post that most music through most of human history doesn't use chords at all....

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Deep Purple
KVRian
1108 posts since 9 Jan, 2015 from NY, NY

Re: Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Post Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:05 pm

Arpeggios are sequences of notes in a chord that played in ascending or descending order, which does not describe all chord progressions, and as noted above, not all music is harmony based.
Sweet child in time...

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jancivil
KVRAF
18271 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Re: Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Post Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:25 pm

It doesn't describe linear polyphonic writing either.

It's a mistake to make chords this important to music, really. There was a time before chords in western music.
For example, the figured bass derives from linear conception of the vertical. Harmony was once considered strictly in terms of lines agreeing in a concordance at points.

Stamped Records
KVRist
234 posts since 20 Sep, 2018 from UK

Re: Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Post Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:56 pm

Well, at the moment, I'm really only entry level understanding harmony. The only understanding I have of melody is its relationship to harmony. That said, it would still appear to me that melody has to be linked to harmony unless the instrument is out of tune with the harmonic series, no?

I must listen to some of this monophonic music. I wouldnt say I havent listened to lot of music though. After all, lsd takes 12 hours a pop.

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Deep Purple
KVRian
1108 posts since 9 Jan, 2015 from NY, NY

Re: Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Post Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:03 pm

Depends what you mean by "out of tune". In equal temperament lots of notes are "out of tune".
Sweet child in time...

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jancivil
KVRAF
18271 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Re: Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Post Fri Mar 08, 2019 7:12 pm

Stamped Records wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:56 pm
it would still appear to me that melody has to be linked to harmony unless the instrument is out of tune with the harmonic series, no?
No. That is a total non-sequitur. Most of harmony lies outside the harmonic series.
Chords are an artifice. The major triad more or less agrees with the harmonic series, but all of the major 3rds on a piano are out of tune with it. 13.69¢ larger than the fifth partial. Past the 9th partial you have mucho out-of-tune (exceptions are the higher iterations, eg., 12th, 16th etc., and 15th [Maj 7], 17th [like flat 9] and 19th [like sharp 9] which are quite close to the musical intervals) if you're looking for the same thing as in chords in 12tET.*

*: The 7th partial is 31¢ flatter than a 7th per a tonic or root of a chord in 12tET. It is sung as such frequently enough, however.
If you have a melody with a minor 6th to a tonic relationship in pretty much any temperament you have an interval that never occurs in the series; ie., the 13th partial is 41¢ sharper than it.
The tritone on a piano (or guitar) is nearly a quarter tone sharp compared with the 11th partial.

Indian Classical Music is all melody and rhythm with no chordal thinking whatsoever. Hindustani sarod music enjoys all kinds of intervals smaller than a semitone. It's quite different than a scale you draw chords from. Chords are relatively novel actually.

That supposition is entirely mistaken.

Stamped Records
KVRist
234 posts since 20 Sep, 2018 from UK

Re: Is music just an elaborate arpeggio?

Post Sat Mar 09, 2019 12:36 am

Ok, so we've gathered that outside western music it's wrong. What about western music?

EDIT: Elaborate arpeggio is perhaps the wrong phrase - split chord might be more accurate. I never meant arpeggio in the literal, ascending/decending sense.

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