Monday, 16 February 2009

Joaquín, I don't get it

I'm returning to page 49-50 of JA's book about tango music. It's quite a short book, and I'm in chapter 9, which is about the form and structure of tango music - how to distinguish the musical phrases in each piece, and how they are arranged and repeated in relation to each other.

It says this:

“Listen to Audio 2.9, where you will hear Phrase 1 answered by Phrase 2, and Phrase 3 answered by Phrase 4. You will hear the whole part at the beginning and then each question-answer seperately.”
I listen. This is fine, perfectly clear. You cannot miss the relationships. Next:

“Sometimes, the answer to Phrase 1 is Phrase 4 and the answer to Phrase 2 is Phrase 3.”
OK, fine. I think this means that the musical phrases, having been established in one relationship to each other, may be repeated in a different order. No problem. Like bellringing, or something.

But then:

“Listen to Audio 3.9, where you will hear the model 1-4 and 2-3. First you will hear the whole part and then the isolated phrases.”
Now, I listen to Audio 3.9, and none of the phrases is the same as any of the the ones in 2.9. It's from a different piece. And they're only played once each; they're not 1-2-3-4 then 1-4-2-3. It just happens once.

So my immediate question is - how did they get the numbers? Why would we say that it's 1 followed by 4, then 2 followed by 3, if I've only heard them in the order they're played here?

Is it because they were played in a different order somewhere else? Digging a bit, I find that 3.9 is part of Shusheta, which is provided in full on the DVD in mp3format, presumably so the student can sort out just this kind of problem.

But surprisingly, it's the opening of Shusheta. This is how the phrases are arranged the first time they appear. If you have a copy of Shusheta you can play it.

So my question is still - what makes them 1 and 4, then 2 and 3? If it comes second the first time around, why doesn't that automatically mean it's 2? How do they get the numbers, if it's not from the order of first appearance? How, exactly, does "3" exhibit threeness?

Is it something to do with the way they sound? If so, that doesn't seem like the kind of thing JA would have left unexplained.

I must have some readers who are working through this book. Has anybody worked this out? I am completely baffled, unless either Audio 3.9 is not the one that was meant to be there, or the explanation has been lost in editing. [<joyce grenfell>Ghost, I have your first answer and it doesn't address the problem. Let someone else try before you post your second, I don't mind waiting ...</joyce grenfell>]

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I haven't heard the pieces you refer to but my experience points to this:

4 is a response to 1. It is has a similar melody - maybe with variation or change of key.

3 is a response to 2 because it is the same or a variation or key change.

So, by 1-4 and 2-3 he means, the first phrase is answered by the fourth one, not the 2nd or 3rd. The 3rd answers the second.

audio 3.9 is therefore an example of what he says
“Sometimes, the answer to Phrase 1 is Phrase 4 and the answer to Phrase 2 is Phrase 3.”

So yes - the numbering is to do with the way they sound.... then again how many people would guess 2.9 and followed by 3.9 and not 2.10? :)

Another example, made up to illustrate;
1-5 2-3-4
This means 1 is only answered late at 5, whilst 2-3-4 are related.

Mtnhighmama said...

Any word on where to get this book & dvd? I didn't see it as an option on his website.

ghost said...

FWIW I agree with Anonymous

I do have one question though.

One my dvd it plays the four phrases in one continuous piece, 1,2,3,4. It then pauses and plays phrase 1, pauses, phrase 2, pause, phrase 3, pause, phrase 4 - I assume this is to verify that you have in fact identified the phrases in the orignial piece correctly.

Do you get the same thing? Just wondering if there's a glitch in the recording on yours or something?

msHedgehog said...

@ghost/anon, it could be so, but what you've said doesn't include any new information. I need someone who actually has the piece to tell me what it is, specifically, about phrase 3 that makes it 3 even though it doesn't come third. Even if there is something about how much like or unlike one or more of the others it sounds that makes it so, it seems bizarre to express that by giving it a number, without explanation. Are we saying that somehow it 'ought' to come before 4 instead of where it actually is, because it's a 'question' to 4's 'answer'? On what grounds could we possibly say that? What's wrong with it being where it is?

@ghost yes I think so - it's the same as the previous bit, he is just making sure we understand the concept. Which makes it even wierder that the whatever relationship there is goes unmentioned.

@mtnhighmama, no news so far.

ghost said...

"I need someone who actually has the piece to tell me what it is, specifically, about phrase 3 that makes it 3 even though it doesn't come third."
Um, it does :confused:

Taking the liberty of re-writing his work....

Here are two completely different pieces of music. Each contains four phrases, A B C and D.

Listen to rhe first piece (2.9). There is a relationship between the phrases. A poses a “question” that is answered immediately by B. This is followed by C which poses another question which is answered by “D”

This could be expressed as A->B, C->D

Now listen to 3.9. This is a completely different piece which demonstrates another possible relationship. Again the phrases are played in the order A, B, C, D

However in this case while A again poses a question, this time it is followed by B which poses another question. This is followed by C which answers the question posed by B. This is followed by D which answers the question posed by A.

This relationship could be expressed as A->D, B->C




So Phrase 3 is called 3 because it’s third in the actual music. It’s number doesn’t change dependent upon whether it’s the question, answer or indeed the first or second question or answer. You could label it that way.
eg "Q1, Q2, A2, A1" but I believe he hasn’t.

quote MsH“So my immediate question is - how did they get the numbers? Why would we say that it's 1 followed by 4, then 2 followed by 3, if I've only heard them in the order they're played here?”

It’s “1 answered by 4 and 2 answered by 3” might have been a clearer way of putting it, or “The 1st phrase is answered by the 4th and the 2nd answered by the 3rd”

Or have I misunderstood what you're asking?

msHedgehog said...

However in this case while A again poses a question, this time it is followed by B which poses another question.

I don't understand on what basis we say that A and B are 'questions' while C and D are 'answers'. And even supposing that makes sense, using some mysterious rule to do with pitch or something, why on earth would we consquently relabel them in a way that contradicts the order they appear in? I think that's what I'm fundamentally asking.

I'm not saying you're wrong, it could be that that's the intention. But considering the clarity of everything else, I do think it's very surprising that it's not explained. It seems so arbitrary and unnecessarily complicated that I still feel the simpler explanation "this is the wrong bit of music on the DVD" is equally plausible, if not more so.

So Phrase 3 is called 3 because it’s third in the actual music.

But it isn't, it's 4th. With "you will hear the model 1-4 and 2-3", I think he's clearly saying that the fourth phrase is called 3 and the second, equally mysteriously, is called 4, the third being 2.

Anonymous said...

"But it isn't, it's 4th. With "you will hear the model 1-4 and 2-3", I think he's clearly saying that the fourth phrase is called 3 and the second, equally mysteriously, is called 4, the third being 2."

I don't think he is. 4 is fourth. 2 is second. 3 is third.His notation is simply stating which phrases are related which others. Logically, 1-4 and 2-3 could be stated 2-3 and 1-4. Its the same but we usually start with 1.

ghost said...

Oh I think I get it now.

"I don't understand on what basis we say that A and B are 'questions' while C and D are 'answers'."

My rather childlike answer to this specific piece is simply that they sound alike. So the 1st and last phrases sound like "Baba, bababa, bababa, babum". Whereas the middle two are a bit more "all over the shop".

From further down p50 It also often happens that the "answer" has the same character as the "question"

Although it's not a universal rule which is rather pesky...

However to hopefully answer your actual question. It's not like bell-ringing. With bell ringing you could have four bells lined up in a row labelled 1 to 4, but you could chose to ring them in the order 1,4,2,3. In which case you would say that bell 3 was actually rung fourth.

What I think you're saying is that originally you listened to 2.9 with it's four phrases played in order 1,2,3,4. You then expected 3.9 to be composed of the same four phrases but played in the order 1,4,2,3. Having discovered that 3.9 is nothing to do with 2.9, you're assuming that

"Is it because they were played in a different order somewhere else?"

he's simply taken another piece which was in the order 1,2,3,4 and used that instead, but annoyingly hasn't referenced the original piece. So from your perspective, not knowing the original piece, to you 3.9 is actually being played 1,2,3,4. To be able to label it 1,4,3,2 requires some kind of divine perception of how the original piece was ordered. Yes?

Ok I'm pretty sure you're caught in a logic trap. Assume for a moment what you're thinking is completely wrong and disgard it. There is no third piece of music. Now assume that all he's doing is talking about the relationships between the phrases.

Assume that as a dancer if you know that a tango will follow one of two formats (this is a lie to children but it's where he starts) then by listening to the first phrase you now know that either the next phrase is going to be similar or completely different. Um, it gets better honest.

If the second phrase starts off similar to the first, it's the answer. You now have a rough idea of what's coming in the rest of that phrase even if you haven't heard it before. You have no idea what the third phrase is going to be like, but you at least know the fourth will be similar to it.

If the second phrase starts of differently, you now know how the rest of the song is going to be ie the following (3rd) phrase will be similar to the 2nd one (which you're currently dancing to), and then the fourth will be similar to the first.

Presonally I'm of the opinion that people dance better to music they actually know than they have to predict, but hey it beats nothing.

Of course what messes it up is exceptions to the rules (pesky musicians) but again if it works say 80% of the time it's again better than nothing.

So all he's done is codified the question-answer relationship within a piece of music.

First Question 1
Answer to first question
Question 2
Answer to second question


he's expressed as 1-2, 3-4

and
Question 1
Question 2
Answer to second question
Answer to first question


he's expressed as 1-4, 2-3

It's purely the question-answer relationship. the new order of the numbers is not the order the new piece of music is played in.

So a 1-4, 2-3 piece is still played in the order 1,2,3,4

Does that help? :flower:

Game Cat said...

Ms H,

Wish I could have helped but (inevitably) lent my copy to someone and I haven't gotten it back yet. Did however go through most of the chapters I was interested in (and chapter 9 is v good).

I recall the part you mentioned - was puzzled too but didn't pursue it as I thought the gist was clear....as you said, there's often a relationship between the phrases and if you listen for it, you'll be able to anticipate it. Went through my favourite songs and confirmed it worked quite often.

Also found it useful to see how other dancers interpreted the same songs on YouTube. Jorge Dispari and his daughter Sam on this song in JA's book (3-3-2 chapter) is a good example.

JA has helped us decipher the code in the music, but we still need to take the next step to work out what to do with it.

Anonymous said...

am working my way through his book.

JA has done a great service.

book should be on amazon, if not why not!?.

Mtnhighmama said...

I emailed him and he said he hasn't figured out distribution in the US yet, and to check his website for updates.

*sigh* This would be a really good thing for me to have while I'm on bedrest. But I'll just have to be patient.

Tango commuter said...

It could be poor proofing. Or it could be that he himself understood what he meant and didn't realise it wouldn't be clear to readers: in which case his editor might be to blame. Technical works seem more prone to poor proofing: the reader goes to sleep on the job.