Thursday, October 13, 2016

More on the limits of a mental image of music

Collecting the pieces of wood after having chopping the wood with one swing of the ax, is not so easy. It is relatively simple to show how many verses have a similar sequence of accents. The problem is - the list is too big unless it is in a database and accessible to automated questions. There are 2583 rows of music that occur more than once. These account for 4407 verses of the three books and 12583 of the 21. Getting counts  of frequency greater than 10 still leaves us with 290 rows accounting for 9344 verses. Still too many.

So I tried high note and low note and a starting sequence of 3 notes. Now there are only 76 distinct combinations covering 9344 verses, but this is only just over a third of the total verses and I know what it misses already: There are no verses in this list beginning on d, but Job begins on such a note and it (e g B A - rising triad from the tonic followed by the subdominant) has the same shape as Genesis 1:1 - so this reduction is already too limiting!

Here's a reduced idea again - no distinction between poetry and prose or the lowest note. This is somewhat revealing. There are still 64 distinct rows of which these are the first few.
e B g  B 1703
e g B  B 917
g B A  B 625
e f g  g 548
e f g  B 547
e B A  B 537
e f g  A 458
e C B  C 450
e f A  A 447

Here's how you read the first row. There are 1703 verses beginning with e B g where the highest note in the whole phrase is B. There are still too many to name, and the name might cover several things that are different. So music is at the end not reducible to a mental or visual summary. It is not something to be approached with such a dull measuring stick.

And I still have not even approached the problem of recognizing sequences of verses as a form.

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