What is "modality" in the context of Max?

Aug 19, 2013 at 11:33am

What is "modality" in the context of Max?

I ask as a result of researching this library, http://www.vjmanzo.com/clients/vincemanzo/modal_change/

“The Modal Object Library is a collection of algorithms to control and define modality.”

The only thing that comes to my mind are musical modes which I’m presuming this doesn’t refer to.

#259299
Aug 19, 2013 at 11:52am

Watch the video on modal change (in the link you provided). what comes to your mind is exactly what it is. This looks cool, I’ll have to download the library.

I think the max implementation would be expressed in lists and such that would be converted into midi data. My guess would be that these modal objects express a mediant of G phrygian to be different than a tonic in Bb major, whereas midi does not distinguish between the two. This could be very useful.

#259301
Aug 19, 2013 at 11:55am

Oh sorry. I should’ve watched that first video. I didn’t realize it was an overview of the issue. Thanks.

#259302
Aug 19, 2013 at 7:23pm

It’s cool. Thanks for posting, I didn’t know such a thing existed.

#259370
Aug 20, 2013 at 5:13am

It’s mostly a collection of abstractions that parses lists of midi notes, pitch sets, etc. Mediant calculations are one of the tricks in the bag. It’s kind of a hodge podge and a bit buggy. Not a very robust set of objects imo.

#259403
Aug 20, 2013 at 5:23am

As a side note.. and a very different beast to be sure.. you may find the bach objects interesting and curiously.. useful… for composing and exploring a variety of contexts, musical or otherwise. Quite an impressive library.

#259406
Aug 20, 2013 at 6:37am

I just downloaded Bach. It looks impressive. I like the idea of algorithmic composition, but I really wonder if the tail would end up wagging the dog…

#259416
Aug 20, 2013 at 7:14am

in the context of max, modality seems like something which is a bit outdated, old greek stuff.
max allows you to bind musical scales to musical rythms in any way you want, and there is no reason to restrict yourself to doe re mi da so la ti like written in some old books. (except you believe in things like “university”, “government”, or “god”. not to offend anyone.)

#259417
Aug 20, 2013 at 7:52am

@roman : well, except if you consider that modality is an efficient, centuries-proof modelisation/reduction of some elementary psycho-physical-acoustic principles applied to musical heights :)

#259423
Aug 20, 2013 at 9:31am

you mean like “university”, “government”, or “god” are centuries-proof modelisation/reduction of some elementary principles, too?

well, this is why my message.

using “+4, compose a melody, -4″ within a given 7 tone scale within a given 12-tone system does not sound good because it is a centuries-proof system, but because of the numerical proportion it contains.

furthermore, it is not yet proven that using a lydian D# really sounds always more interesting than using a 16 tone scale, lydian and locrian at the same time, lydian and locrian rotatory, or atonality.

i would agree that it is proven to sound more interesting than a scale based on computer randomness, at least.

#259434
Aug 20, 2013 at 9:45am

in the context of max, modality seems like something which is a bit outdated, old greek stuff.

Well, at least pedagogically it’s interesting. Although I’m not in school anymore. Personally, I just want to relive early 20th century experimental music for a while. Where’s my John Cage patch?

#259437
Aug 20, 2013 at 10:03am

if the greek would have taken what is already a proven principle, they would never have invented modes for musical scales, they stayed with stumping with their feet and clapping with their hands.

but of course, this doesnt mean the statement of vichug or the music of bach was wrong.

it depends what you are after and where you see the priorities: successfully creating pieces of music, or finding extraordinary new methods which would allow you to create even better pieces of music, but dont actually do it.

oops.:D

#259438
Aug 20, 2013 at 11:07am

the eternal quarrel, the ancients versus the moderns !… academy and the black sheeps !… or a balance between those two !… or should one not reduce this to a mere duality ?… is life really too short to not make a choice ?… timeless questions ! ;)

#259446
Aug 20, 2013 at 11:09am

You know I never saw it on those terms of having to “choose” between the two.

#259447
Aug 20, 2013 at 12:25pm

I like the idea of algorithmic composition, but I really wonder if the tail would end up wagging the dog…

Well, considering that Max is essentially a platform for creating algorithms of one kind or another, I suppose it’s something you might want to reflect upon.

#259454
Aug 20, 2013 at 12:29pm
I like the idea of algorithmic composition, but I really wonder if the tail would end up wagging the dog…

Well, considering that Max is essentially a platform for creating algorithms of one kind or another, I suppose it’s something you might want to reflect upon.

Yeah, I found that comment strange. Personally I want all my dog tails wagging everything.

#259455
Aug 20, 2013 at 12:45pm

in the context of max, modality seems like something which is a bit outdated, old greek stuff.

I see it the other way. It is outside the context of Max that modality is often over-simplified and archaic. Within the context of Max, the principle of modality is far more expanded. It is recognized in terms of its more abstract, combinatorial foundations.. and thus naturally extends to any number of elements.. and includes everything from tone to rhythm, color and so on… So I don’t dwell on the limitations. I leave that to the critics. I’m too busy creating.

#259457
Aug 20, 2013 at 1:01pm

Yeah, I found that comment strange. Personally I want all my dog tails wagging everything.

I can dig it.. though I saw it more as a misuse of the expression.. unless he thinks that algorithms are insignificant, in which case, I simply disagree.

#259459
Aug 20, 2013 at 1:08pm

as if i had a choice! maxmsp forces me to do what i do!

#259461
Aug 20, 2013 at 1:56pm

Within the context of Max, the principle of modality is far more expanded.

then why call it modes? lydian? Doe? :) because of the more expanded possibilities in max, you dont really need to think in “modes” anmore. given that modes are just another look at the same scale, there are now many more ways how to look at a scale when you are in max. thinking in “lydian” is already a strict limitation of these possibilities.

yeah, i know, limits are also required sometimes.

for example i just read the second post from chris again, which brings up an interesting question:

when you compose a prelude for church organ based on C minor, and you switch to 2 other modes within the C minor scale during the piece, it probably makes a lot of sense not to leave a C minor just scale.

but what should one do regarding using a just scale of a imaginary “main mode” with all the possibilities in max?

#259467
Aug 20, 2013 at 7:25pm

then why call it modes?

Meaning is defined by context, not a universal dictionary. Even within conventional music theory, the term ‘mode’ can have different meanings.

In the context of a multimedia programming platform.. where everything is understood as an expression of the flow of data.. what terms do we use to describe one thing or another? How do we reference the unique application of an existing algorithm or principle in an alternative medium?

Analogy is an almost inevitable consequence of such consideration. It’s not only useful, it accounts for how we name most things. Buckets, heaps, trees, strands, bubbles, combs, strings, grains, threads, etc. are all descriptive analogies. And we use them without implying that we are somehow involved in farming or textiles. Likewise, gesture doesn’t necessarily refer to our body. It also has formal meaning in painting, writing and music. Chromatic tones, bright pitches, dark timbres, loud colors and movement within paintings… are all natural analogues of a given linguistic intent.. whether the terms are formal or not.

So what do I mean when I talk about different modes of a set of colors, rhythmic structure or a sequence of motions? Well I suppose if I was pressed for a formal description.. there is a general reference to the combinatorial enumeration of cyclic groups. But I’m best off avoiding such terminology because I suck at math.

#259475
Aug 21, 2013 at 4:38pm

You know I never saw it on those terms of having to “choose” between the two.

It is a choice, but a choice you don’t necessarily make consciously. It is dictated by your lifestyle, your education, your musical aims, your perception of society and life ; first of all, your meaning of art. Is that purely a distraction without societal meaning ? Do you absolutely need to reach the heart of an audience by all means possibles ? Do you consider imposing your esthetic as a fight ? Do you need that fight, as much as you need to prove your worthiness ?

Then, are you self-taught ? If so, you might emphasis your inner views over academic technics. You might later come back on those academic technics, to realize they are not so bad, that they are history’s heirloom, and as you are standing out of the academy you might realize you can chose which historical view you want to embrace. Some people seem to naturally slip through such questions, they are very rare and the only example that comes to mind right now is Moondog. His music seems out of time and of any conflict. He seems not bothered by any fighting need. Yet he stuck to his own very specific path all life long, never feeling the urge to find a compromise, whatever his life looked like. Maybe Eric Satie too, although he did crave for academic recognition, however he mgiht have despised it. Back to topic : as a self-taught, you might either try to reach by yourself academic standards in some system you do like, or you might despise it all, have a form of disproportioned rejection of anything it could bring. You might want immediately to try and find new ways. You might want to reach highly technical stuff by yourself.

Then, it depends what academy represents for you. Is that a noble, sacred institution resisting the centuries through sheer accumulated genius of great spirits ; or is it a tomb, blackhole of any creativity ? Is that a refuge for different, marginal, and – why not – higher spirits who dedicate their life to art, or is it more a prison, a mean to control said chaotic forces, to put them apart from society ? Is it where you can find your equals, or a place that will thwart your mind ?

It depends also how you think of yourself. Maybe nothing (ô blessed Man). Maybe a never-to-be-understood genius (and it is possible, the question will never get an answer of how many misunderstood genius remained never understood for an understood one), maybe an utter shit (this is very possible too ! the frontier between ‘not understandable’ and ‘unbearable’ is thin), maybe something in between ; but maybe you have ambitions and maybe you don’t, maybe you think accumulated knowledge of thousands of recognized genius might overwhelm some of your personal opinions, maybe you want at any cost to be free from any other Man, maybe you just fear them and will do whatever they told you, maybe you fear them and think you are unworthy of their knowledge so just keep away from those treasures. It depends indeed on what you are and what you can – maybe you have the energy to escape everything, forever, maybe you think keeping energy for more useful stuff is better. Maybe your environement will provide some answers, maybe you meet the right persons who teach you what you needed, you might find the good school, or not. You might have good or bad luck, surroundings that encourage you to express, or which will show you beautiful examples to relate to, or which will obliterate your hope and wills.

Another point – do you relate art to the class warfare ? Maybe you think art can change society ? Then you have to pay careful attention to the tools you use, and the public you are reaching. Computers could be something of a more bourgeois society layer ; hence computer music is tainted with the power and the money. Or is it such a common consumer good nowadays, that keeping the instrument of the past is where lies the real conservatism and elitism. Making the music “of the future”, which has maybe never been in recent history that disconnected from the big masses is, by trying to escape conservatism, the shortest way to elitism. A view in terms of duality is unsufficient here clearly. But then what : reaching the masses, does it necessarly mean adopt an old and sterile language, that everyone can understand ? Like Joseph Joubert said “there is no more pleasant music than variations of familiar tunes”. How comes so few innovative things have reached wide audience since the 70′s, where they seemed widespread ? Or maybe you don’t care about class warfare, audience ; and the progress is more important, maybe you believe in some inherent aim to any form of art that we should try to reach, some kind of perfection, definite Truth, God, 42. Maybe you want to devote your art to that, whomever else can understand. And it’s no important if the funding for that research comes from powerful institutions which just want to improve their prestige and don’t really actually care about the art. This is a rather comfortable situation after all, and it’s accountable : you do what you believe in, the centuries only will judge. Or maybe it’s just comfortable !… that is possible too, everyone has to survive (I feel like sometimes i can relate to that), and sponsoring from the mightiest political historical figures is what has allowed for some of the most ahead-of-their-time genius to express themselves in masterpieces.

It could go on… for a long time… but i’m tired… and that’s a lot of things to choose, which consequences will contradict, which can feel wrong, unnecessary, regrettables ; you might realize afterwards there was another option, you might often not realize you’re choosing – well – it’s life.

(TL;DR : OT)

#259598
Aug 21, 2013 at 11:37pm

It is a choice, but a choice you don’t necessarily make consciously.

If I’m not making a choice consciously, then it’s not a “choice”*. With that said, what I meant is that I don’t see it as a mutually exclusive choice. Thanks anyway.

* I don’t think we need to dive into the subject of free will.

#259612
Aug 22, 2013 at 2:09am

I don’t think we need to dive into the subject of free will.

ye, you’re right… got carried away, sorry

#259618
Aug 22, 2013 at 7:28am

Not sure questioning anyone’s conceptual framework from
which they make music is a winning effort, ever.
” à chacun son goût! ”
Seems like anything else is usually some non-musical agenda intruding,
such as class issues (aren’t they everywhere!)

#259634
Aug 22, 2013 at 10:48am

I’m this, I’m that; I’m sharp, I’m flat. I’m young, I’m old; I’m hot, I’m cold. I’m right, I’m wrong; I’m weak, I’m strong. I’m high, I’m low; I’m fast, I’m slow. I’m here, I’m there; I’m foul, I’m fair. I’m bold, I’m shy; I’m wet, I’m dry. I’m good, I’m bad; I’m gay, I’m sad. I’m lost, I’m found; I’m free, I’m bound. I’m best, I’m worst; I’m blessed, I’m crusted. I’m false, I’m true. I’m I, I’m you!

(moondog)

#259652
Aug 22, 2013 at 12:49pm

Mi, a name, I call myself!

#259660
Aug 23, 2013 at 2:29am

Charles : i simply like to discuss !..
Roman : exactly ;))

#259683

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