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Re: Some ideas for a completely tonal conlang

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Tuesday, February 18, 2003, 0:43
> Well, the most obvious question here: does this language use some kind > of scales (like our twelve chromatic tones, or perhaps 31 or 54 or > 1200...)?
On a tangent: The Ottoman Turks, and my fictional Techians, see the musical octave as a succession of 53 quasi-equal steps rather than 12 equal steps as the modern Westerner does. This is based on a more precise "circle of fifths". This means that one starts at a certain note (like middle C or A=440, but it can be any note), goes up 53 consecutive fifths and back down 31 consecutive octaves, the resulting note is only 3.615 cents (hundredths of a 12-equal semitone) sharp of the original note, an interval known as Mercator's comma. Compare to 23.460 cents for 12 fifths up and 7 octaves down, the Pythagorean comma or one step in 53-tone. 53-tone equal is little different than 53-tone Pythagorean (all notes derived from perfect fifths, i.e. 3:2 ratio), and an excellent approximation of 5-limit JI (just intonation), so scale degrees 0-17-31 make a major chord. All Arabic maqamat, Turkish makamlar, Iranian dastgahha and Indian thats/melas (all mean "modes") can be performed using a subset of this scale; the Byzantine genoi (modes) can be accommodated with some adjustments. If you want an adaptation of 12-tone equal temperament, I recommend 36-tone over 24-tone, since it's more natural (36-tone also creates better approximations of the natural seventh, 7:4), and it's usable for Iranian and Byzantine modes.
> Well, yes and no. The tritone is musical and should be used in music. Yet > the underlying reason why the tritone was "forbidden" in some historic > contexts remains, namely that it is relatively disharmonic. People who > listen to a lot of music usually learn to like disharmony to a certain > level, but for example infants (who have not yet been culturally > "brain-washed") always prefer the simplest and most harmonic chords.
In 53-tone, there is no mathematical "tritone", since half of 53 is a non-whole number. But the two JI tritones would be notes 26 (1024:729 or 45:32) and 27 (729:512 or 64:45). And remember a tritone is either an augmented fourth or a diminished fifth, and a note in both the Lydian and Locrian modes, so it can represent elation and melancholy equally well. ~Danny~ Four out of five dentists hate their fathers too.