Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ugly thirds?

~From Roots of the Classicalby Peter Van der Merwe, page 111:

The level of discord does indeed rise in medieval music, largely because of increasing polyphonic complexity (though it is a myth that twelfth- or thirteenth-century composers were afraid of thirds and sixths), reaching a peak in the Ars Nova of the fourteenth century.

I'm not quite sure what the author means by 'afraid of thirds and sixths', but I, unlike some, do not believe anyone from those centuries heard such intervals as dissonant, though this depends on how you define 'dissonant'. What I mean is, it is my belief that no one heard such intervals as unpleasant. Did they hear it as strange? I don't know, maybe. But some people seem to like to think that back then people heard such intervals as disgusting then as we might hear some random cluster nowadays, and that, in the future, if put to good use, that cluster will sound as good as a third someday. I reject this notion, and think it absurd.



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