Monthly Archives: November 2015

Nov 29

Before and Beyond Number?

By Lars Rosager | Moral Philosophy

Picture It has become relatively common knowledge that many ancients—perhaps Pythagoras is the most well-known—trusted numbers to guard the truths of the universe. Such a concept is inherent in musical traditions passed down over the years. This brief post results from my own skepticism in the primacy of number. I do not refute the intellectual power and organizational capacities of numbers, but, especially when one begins to research the origins of counting systems, numbers as we know them become somewhat suspect.

The main question I ask: why assign 360 degrees to the circle? I know the Sumerians are credited with establishing the sexagesimal system, and that the numeric and geometric applications of the system are at once astounding and absolutely sensible. But when it comes to physical shapes, be they two- or three- or however many–dimensional, one begins to see that physical presence is capable of birthing number, as well as obliterating it.

Refer to the image above. It is a symbol long associated with the planet Earth. Without the straight lines, it is a circle. At face value, without the lines, what gives rise to numeric analysis? First of all, there is one. One shape, a circle. One unbroken curve, one cycle not yet divided into a specific number of parts. Just one. But there is more. Two is also present: the circle separates whatever is outside from whatever is inside. Of course, one could go on at length about the possible presence of zero before identifying the presence of one. With the numbers one and two apparent, there is ample room to build other values through addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division . . . The addition of the lines invite more ideas.

To challenge the 360-degree conception of the circle, as well as other systems of circular divisions (e.g., zodiac, circle of fifths, analog clock, etc.), what is to say one could not divide into any number of equal parts? One should not rely blindly on the supposed fact that a circle contains 360 degrees. The horizontal line dividing the image above is a very simple amendment to the unaltered circle. To briefly connect to music, one may imagine that the circle is a length of string. When plucked, it creates a tone. Divided exactly in half, it produces the octave higher than that tone. Various other intervals arise from various portions of the string being isolated and sounded. My point for today is that musical and linguistic systems must not be taken for granted as unchallengeable if one is to reach any kind of significant truth. Discussion is warmly welcomed!

Nov 26

Ascent and Descent in the Modes of Melodic Minor

By Lars Rosager | Uncategorized

Modern jazz theory makes prominent use of the modes of melodic minor. The first mode, otherwise known as the melodic minor scale itself, is often taught in a way that leaves out differentiation between ascent in descent, an attribute of the scale Western classical music embraces in today’s educational contexts. For many jazz musicians, melodic minor contains a major sixth and major seventh from the tonic in both ascent and descent. In traditional classical theory, the ascending major sixth and major seventh are countered by a minor seventh and minor sixth (from the low tonic) in descent.

Altering scale degrees depending on whether the melody is moving up or down is an important idea in Indian classical music. There are other instances of this to be found in practice within the canon of Western music, but rarely have I seen mention of this notion in theory. So, drawing from jazz’s employing the modes of melodic minor, Western classical theory’s acceptance of different intervals in ascent and descent, and the latter’s cross-cultural relevance as exemplified by the ragas of India, I base my latest composition on the fifth mode of the form melodic minor that distinguishes ascent from descent intervals.

I find this approach to be useful for many reasons, one of which being the variation between major- and minor-tonality sounds in ascent and descent, respectively. I would strongly urge the forward-thinking composer to consider the effects of modes that do not maintain the same intervals regardless of whether the melody is rising or falling. If nothing else, it is one added detail that may speak to how well-informed of music history and culture the composer might be. I find that an awareness of this variation depending on ascent and descent is an intelligent way to work within established musical principles while, at the same time, reaching into more exploratory and dissonant realms. The fifth mode of melodic minor, including ascent and descent variation, is demonstrated below. Possible variations could include raising the seventh (Re = G becomes Ri = G#) in ascent and returning it to its original form (Ri = G# returns to Re = G) in descent.

Mi = A


Mi  Fi  Si La  Ti Do  Re Mi
A   B   C#D    E F    G   A


Mi  Re  Do Ti   La  So   Fa Mi
A   G     F  E    D   C     Bb A

A chance to hear the notation offered above:

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Nov 25

New Compositions Underway

By Lars Rosager | News

Hi, everyone. This update has to do with two compositions in progress. One is for seven-string guitar and voice. It will be a very meticulous work, unlike the other composition, which is to be set for five-course baroque guitar and voice.

I would like to share the text as it stands thus far. For your reference, the refrain is “For no two hearts the same”:

Love fulfills.
Love kills.
Love greets the infinite,
For no two hearts the same.

Does struggle
Dare to
Shine, overshadowing
Gentler observance?

Any general feedback or constructively critical comment is most welcome. As for the piece that includes the five-course baroque guitar, I am toying with ideas still. I have decided on taking an improvisational approach, probably starting out with several iterations of a short harmonic cycle. To be at least remotely decisive, I know I want to begin with an A major triad . . . Thoughts?

Nov 25

Intention, Good Will

By Lars Rosager | Uncategorized

Picture With the ugliness of world news today, I would like to make an attempt to remind my fellow musicians and writers, as well as artists of all other media, that with sincere intention—mindful, heartfelt, soulful focus—on our respective artistic tasks, no effort goes unnoticed.

To hermitize ourselves enough to sufficiently develop our skills can be challenging, even guilt-inducing. How can this paradox be overcome? Perhaps one sees an opportunity to engage with and improve upon the community or the world on a greater scale, but feels reluctant to leave the security of one’s artistic haven.

I challenge the idea that art for art’s sake is less meaningful than art made with an explicit social function. Do not forget the importance of defining your mindset as you work. What are you invoking through the project at hand, and what are the repercussions on various planes of consciousness?

No matter who ends up seeing or hearing (etc.) your work, how much money you receive for it, or if it even gets finished, I submit that the creative energy expended, if it is expended with righteous intent, is a win for improving our world.



Daddy Ronnie

12/1/2015 12:40:03 pm

Folks can consider almost anything righteous long as something other than “feelings” bolsters the conception. The viability of any belief system remains doubtful. But I agree with the idea of purity in the creative process.



12/1/2015 08:49:36 pm

Seems to me the scientific truths of the universe (planet Earth and its ecosystem included, of course) constitute the only viable belief system. It’s kind of like asking, “Do you believe in astrology?”. The correct response should be that there’s no need to believe in it, because sensible astrology is the study of the nature of Earth and the Cosmos themselves. It’s kind of like asking, “Do you believe in dogs?”. There’s no need to ponder the question, because everyone knows they exist. It’s not like believing in Santa Claus. Therefore righteous intent should be simply aligning with what is irrefutably true, similar to what you say about feelings. Purity in creativity should be relatively easy to discern then.


Nov 02

Inspire my composition!

By Lars Rosager | Music

Hi, everyone. I’m looking for ideas for a brand new composition for voice and seven-string guitar. Anything is fair game, really, and I’m an open book. Hoping to get any and all ideas that might come to your mind! Thanks!!!