Use octave transfer (ITT sec. 7.7).

Thanks, this operation being notably absent in Schenkerian theory (I think).

The short answer is: definitely not

I suppose I will have to live with that for now.

If by "work fine" you mean that it is in fact possible to identify the "appropriate" Roman numerals to assign in such cases, sure, I'll give you that

By work fine, I mean the the theory is falsifiable, and has predictive power. If you are given half of the bars in a Mozart piece, using harmonic theory can give a reasonable guess as to the rest. I'm not that confident about Mozart though, certainly pop music can be predicted using harmonic theory.

As far as I am concerned, there is no aesthetic difference between any of the passages (a) through (d) for the simple reason that all four of them are too short to possess much of any aesthetic characteristics in the first place: they all consist of three bars of four chords each.

...

The essence of musical composition -- at least its most fundamental and "elusive" aspect -- has to do with projecting coherent (i.e. recognizably human-designed) gestures over long time spans ... To be impressed by the difference between (a) and (d) -- as readers are apparently expected to be -- is to miss most of the point of what music is about

Could it be that your subjective experience of music is different than most people? It certainly sounds very alien to me. While its true that listening to the long range structure of a sonata is pleasurable to me, there are certainly 3 to 4 bar excerpts that I happen to enjoy in isolation without context. But you think that 3 bars is not enough to distinguish non-music from music.

You also claim that the stylistic differences are minor, yet I would wager that virtually 100% of people (with hearing) can point out d) as being to only tonal example.

the question for the theorist or analyst is how a given listener understands what the composer writes

This is very strange to me; suppose mozart were to replace all of the f's in sonata in c major with f sharps. I think that the piece of music would be worse. Not objectively, or fundamentally worse. Just worse to a typical listener's ears. A pianist who was used to playing mozart might wonder if there was a mistake in the manuscript.

Use octave transfer (ITT sec. 7.7).

Thanks, this operation being notably absent in Schenkerian theory (I think).

On the contrary, Schenker uses it routinely.

By work fine, I mean the the theory is falsifiable, and has predictive power. If you are given half of the bars in a Mozart piece, using harmonic theory can give a reasonable guess as to the rest.

If you're talking about the expectations that a piece sets up for the listener, Westergaardian theory has much more to say about that than harmonic theory does. Or, let me rather say: an analyst equip... (read more)

Bad Concepts Repository

by moridinamael 1 min read27th Jun 2013204 comments

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We recently established a successful Useful Concepts Repository.  It got me thinking about all the useless or actively harmful concepts I had carried around for in some cases most of my life before seeing them for what they were.  Then it occurred to me that I probably still have some poisonous concepts lurking in my mind, and I thought creating this thread might be one way to discover what they are.

I'll start us off with one simple example:  The Bohr model of the atom as it is taught in school is a dangerous thing to keep in your head for too long.  I graduated from high school believing that it was basically a correct physical representation of atoms.  (And I went to a *good* high school.)  Some may say that the Bohr model serves a useful role as a lie-to-children to bridge understanding to the true physics, but if so, why do so many adults still think atoms look like concentric circular orbits of electrons around a nucleus?  

There's one hallmark of truly bad concepts: they actively work against correct induction.  Thinking in terms of the Bohr model actively prevents you from understanding molecular bonding and, really, everything about how an atom can serve as a functional piece of a real thing like a protein or a diamond.

Bad concepts don't have to be scientific.  Religion is held to be a pretty harmful concept around here.  There are certain political theories which might qualify, except I expect that one man's harmful political concept is another man's core value system, so as usual we should probably stay away from politics.  But I welcome input as fuzzy as common folk advice you receive that turned out to be really costly.