Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Re: the gripping language on a string instrument?

Expand Messages
  • Padraic Brown
    ... On a modern violin, sure. Use an instrument with a flatter bridge and chords become possible. Or use a hurdy-gurdy or similar. ... Quite probably true. But
    Message 1 of 11 , Nov 1, 2012
      --- On Wed, 10/31/12, Sam Stutter <samjjs89@...> wrote:

      > From a (not very good) violist's point of view:
      >
      > I would say: not a bowed instrument (unfortunately). Chords
      > aren't strictly possible, although I might suggest attack
      > and decay, note length or legato/staccato for knuckledness.

      On a modern violin, sure. Use an instrument with a flatter bridge and
      chords become possible. Or use a hurdy-gurdy or similar.

      > These chords: are they going to be governed by harmony? You
      > might end up with a high number of Belgian Jazz moments...
      >
      > Instruments: I wish I could say viola (mmm... mellow), but I
      > don't think it's viable. Or my favourite instrument in the
      > world, the nykleharpa. NOT CELLO. (There's a bit of
      > cello-viola animosity in most orchestras!). Unfortunately, I
      > must say uke' is probably your best bet.
      >
      > Issue is, you're going to need a very good musical ear to
      > pick out notes, particularly if they're being played in
      > chords. I would say the listener would need quite some
      > grounding as a professional musician to understand each
      > "syllable", with perhaps access to a piano. Data transfer
      > will be slow (for humans at least).

      Quite probably true. But as with any other language, practice makes perfect!

      Padraic

      > Sam Stutter
      > samjjs89@...
      > "No e na'l cu barri"
      >
      > On 31 Oct 2012, at 23:54, David Peterson <dedalvs@...>
      > wrote:
      >
      > > Ah, this reminds me of when I was trying to come up
      > with a guitar language with J Goard... We didn't find an
      > ideal way to do it (too many combinations for phonemes; too
      > few for a minimalist language). If you think you've got your
      > tokens, though...
      > >
      > > On Oct 31, 2012, at 4:21 PM, Alex Fink <000024@...>
      > wrote:
      > >
      > >> Now, it seems natural to do something like this.
      > >> * Use a four-stringed instrument (which instrument
      > is best?), and let
      > >> the _sets of fingers_ correspond to the sets of
      > strings being sounded
      > >> at any one time.
      > >
      > > 'Ukulele. (Note that the common banjo has 5 strings,
      > but not on all frets.)
      > >
      > >> * _Thumb position_ can be which fingering is
      > selected on the strings
      > >> being used.  Ideally one would set this up in
      > such a way that all the
      > >> multi-finger articulations are good chords, but the
      > linearity of the
      > >> five thumb positions is still visible.
      > >
      > > Shouldn't be too hard.
      > >
      > >> * _Knuckledness_ can, er, perhaps be something like
      > one of two modes
      > >> of strumming / plucking / bowing the strings in
      > question?  I'd like
      > >> them to be audibly distinct, though.  Or maybe
      > something else entirely
      > >> -- maybe major vs. minor chords?  Except that
      > then it's hard to extend
      > >> the distinction to single fingers, isn't it?
      > >
      > > Arpeggio vs. strummed.
      > >
      > > David Peterson
      > > LCS President
      > > president@...
      > > www.conlang.org
      >
    • Herman Miller
      ... One problem with the ukulele is the tuning (typically G-C-E-A, all in the same octave). With the open strings all tuned within a small range, it s hard to
      Message 2 of 11 , Nov 1, 2012
        On 10/31/2012 9:03 PM, Sam Stutter wrote:
        >> From a (not very good) violist's point of view:
        >
        > I would say: not a bowed instrument (unfortunately). Chords aren't
        > strictly possible, although I might suggest attack and decay, note
        > length or legato/staccato for knuckledness.
        >
        > These chords: are they going to be governed by harmony? You might end
        > up with a high number of Belgian Jazz moments...
        >
        > Instruments: I wish I could say viola (mmm... mellow), but I don't
        > think it's viable. Or my favourite instrument in the world, the
        > nykleharpa. NOT CELLO. (There's a bit of cello-viola animosity in
        > most orchestras!). Unfortunately, I must say uke' is probably your
        > best bet.

        One problem with the ukulele is the tuning (typically G-C-E-A, all in
        the same octave). With the open strings all tuned within a small range,
        it's hard to tell one string from another. A mandolin (tuned like a
        violin, G-D-A-E, with 4 pairs of 2 strings each) might be a better option.
      • Padraic Brown
        ... No one says you have to use the standard tuning. Pick (or devise) a set-up more appropriate to the task! There s more than one way to skin a cat. Padraic
        Message 3 of 11 , Nov 3, 2012
          --- On Thu, 11/1/12, Herman Miller <hmiller@...> wrote:

          > One problem with the ukulele is the tuning (typically
          > G-C-E-A, all in
          > the same octave). With the open strings all tuned within a
          > small range,
          > it's hard to tell one string from another. A mandolin (tuned
          > like a
          > violin, G-D-A-E, with 4 pairs of 2 strings each) might be a
          > better option.

          No one says you have to use the "standard" tuning. Pick (or devise) a
          set-up more appropriate to the task!

          There's more than one way to skin a cat.

          Padraic
        • Leland Kusmer
          ... Another violist weighing in, here. (Viola power!) ... Agreed. Yes, it s true that a flatter bridge will allow chords, but not generally all four strings at
          Message 4 of 11 , Nov 3, 2012
            > --- On Wed, 10/31/12, Sam Stutter <samjjs89@...> wrote:
            >
            > > From a (not very good) violist's point of view:
            >

            Another violist weighing in, here. (Viola power!)

            > I would say: not a bowed instrument (unfortunately).
            >

            Agreed. Yes, it's true that a flatter bridge will allow chords, but not
            generally all four strings at once. Uke is probably a good bet; mandolin is
            also a possibility. (Since it's strings are tuned the same as a fiddle's,
            it's a lot more intuitive for me, so when I give examples below they're all
            assuming mando.)

            Here's the simplest possibility that I can think of:

            - Map chord vs. arpeggiation to knuckledness, as suggested above
            - Map strings to fingers
            - Map thumb position to fingering: We have five possible fingers (0-4 where
            0 is open and 4 is pinky). Put the finger corresponding to the thumb
            position on the highest string; put the next highest finger on the next
            highest string; repeat, appending open strings if necessary.

            Note that this doesn't say exactly where to put the fingers on the strings;
            for that purpose, pick a key area (if you're on mando then G Major / E
            Minor is probably easiest) and always use appropriate fingers in that key.

            This doesn't even come close to achieving musicality, though I expect that
            it would actually be fairly easy to interpret. There's going to be a strong
            tension between preserving the structure of the gripping language and
            achieving musicality in any mapping.

            I'd submit that some degree of musicality is worth achieving, though, not
            just for aesthetic reasons: Small differences in the neighborhood of
            familiar musical structures (triads, etc.) will be much more perceptible
            than the same differences in the nowhere-land of unfamiliar pitch
            collections. For instance, untrainted musicians with passive familiarity
            with Western-style music will easily hear the difference between a major
            and minor triad (which differ only by a half-step in one pitch), but would
            have difficulty distinguishing between, say, C E D and C F D (with the D in
            a higher octave in both cases). So creating a mapping that keeps gripping
            language syllables close to familiar pitch collections will greatly aid in
            perceptibility.

            One of the other problems you're going to run into is that performers will
            need to reset all their fingers between each chord. The requirement that
            successive syllables share fingers doesn't help in this domain at all, when
            those fingers are mapped to strings.

            Another possibility, with slightly more musicality built in:

            - Each thumb position is assigned to triad built on a successive scale
            degree. Pick a key (again, for mandolin G Major probably makes the most
            sense); then thumb position 1 is a G Major triad; 2 is A Minor; 3 is B
            Minor; 4 is C Major; 5 is D Major.
            - Map fingerings to strings. On each string, play the lowest available
            chord tone in the appropriate triad (unless the open string is in the
            triad, in which case play the open string; or unless this results in a
            fingered fifth across two adjacent strings, in which case pick the next
            best option).
            - Again, map knuckledness to arpeggiation / chordal articulation.

            The problem here is that you start to rely on absolute pitch. Someone with
            some training, given a starting pitch (i.e. just play an open G string
            before starting your utterance) could work out the rest relatively. See
            above re: adding a drone, however.

            This doesn't necessarily produce things with musical interest, but at least
            it will all be "pretty" sounds in the sense of (fragments of) nice
            consonant triads drawn from the same key.

            A counter-proposal: Rather than mapping gripping language fingers to
            instrumental strings, map fingers to fingers. This allows a simple mapping
            of each syllable to two pitches (which may not be distinct) – the starting
            and ending point of the block of pressed fingers. The trick, then, is how
            to map thumb positions. If we take individual strings and adjacent pairs of
            strings, we end up with 7 positions, which accounts for all the basic thumb
            positions plus the two rubs.

            Then, do the following:
            - To articulate a pair of fingers on one string: If arpeggiated, play all
            intervening diatonic notes (within a chosen key); otherwise, play just the
            endpoints
            - To articulate a pair of fingers on two strings: Arpeggiate or play as a
            chord, as expected.

            It's not a great fit, but it would be much easier for performers, probably
            rather easier on listeners, potentially more musical (or easier to make
            musical in performance), and (best of all) playable on bowed instruments
            like viola, allowing for sustained sound through an utterance.

            If I have time, maybe I'll mock up some samples later this week.

            -Leland




            > I would say the listener would need quite some
            > > grounding as a professional musician to understand each
            > > "syllable", with perhaps access to a piano. Data transfer
            > > will be slow (for humans at least).
            >


            >
            > Quite probably true. But as with any other language, practice makes
            > perfect!
            >
            > Padraic
            >
            > > Sam Stutter
            > > samjjs89@...
            > > "No e na'l cu barri"
            > >
            > > On 31 Oct 2012, at 23:54, David Peterson <dedalvs@...>
            > > wrote:
            > >
            > > > Ah, this reminds me of when I was trying to come up
            > > with a guitar language with J Goard... We didn't find an
            > > ideal way to do it (too many combinations for phonemes; too
            > > few for a minimalist language). If you think you've got your
            > > tokens, though...
            > > >
            > > > On Oct 31, 2012, at 4:21 PM, Alex Fink <000024@...>
            > > wrote:
            > > >
            > > >> Now, it seems natural to do something like this.
            > > >> * Use a four-stringed instrument (which instrument
            > > is best?), and let
            > > >> the _sets of fingers_ correspond to the sets of
            > > strings being sounded
            > > >> at any one time.
            > > >
            > > > 'Ukulele. (Note that the common banjo has 5 strings,
            > > but not on all frets.)
            > > >
            > > >> * _Thumb position_ can be which fingering is
            > > selected on the strings
            > > >> being used. Ideally one would set this up in
            > > such a way that all the
            > > >> multi-finger articulations are good chords, but the
            > > linearity of the
            > > >> five thumb positions is still visible.
            > > >
            > > > Shouldn't be too hard.
            > > >
            > > >> * _Knuckledness_ can, er, perhaps be something like
            > > one of two modes
            > > >> of strumming / plucking / bowing the strings in
            > > question? I'd like
            > > >> them to be audibly distinct, though. Or maybe
            > > something else entirely
            > > >> -- maybe major vs. minor chords? Except that
            > > then it's hard to extend
            > > >> the distinction to single fingers, isn't it?
            > > >
            > > > Arpeggio vs. strummed.
            > > >
            > > > David Peterson
            > > > LCS President
            > > > president@...
            > > > www.conlang.org
            > >
            >
          • Alex Fink
            Oy, where does my time go. Running through in sequence, and hoping later doesn t moot earlier too much: ... Well, surely this set of tokens isn t optimal for
            Message 5 of 11 , Nov 4, 2012
              Oy, where does my time go. Running through in sequence, and hoping later doesn't moot earlier too much:

              On Wed, 31 Oct 2012 16:54:38 -0700, David Peterson <dedalvs@...> wrote:

              >Ah, this reminds me of when I was trying to come up with a guitar language with J Goard... We didn't find an ideal way to do it (too many combinations for phonemes; too few for a minimalist language). If you think you've got your tokens, though...

              Well, surely this set of tokens isn't optimal for the exercise of making a string instrument language from square one. But this is partly an experiment in the vein of attempting to see how well phonology, as a part of a language living in the domain of pure abstract pattern, can be separated from its phonetic medium and regrafted onto another. There's some sort of room for tweaking the tokens as long as the mapping back and forth doesn't become impossibly baroque.

              Some things about my tokens seem dissatisfying, though. For instance, having single-string syllables makes even contrasts like strumming vs. arpeggiation difficult to keep contrastive, unless there's some subphonemic difference between them that would show up (e.g. strumming is repeated?)

              On Thu, 1 Nov 2012 01:03:28 +0000, Sam Stutter <samjjs89@...> wrote:

              >These chords: are they going to be governed by harmony? You might end up with a high number of Belgian Jazz moments...

              Yeah, that's a tricky point. Getting them individually governed by harmony, and maybe even in words if knuckledness had a bearing on that, is probably easy. Beyond that... free variation and/or sandhi-type effects?

              >Or my favourite instrument in the world, the nykleharpa.

              Ooh, a new one on me!

              On Thu, 1 Nov 2012 04:58:19 -0700, Padraic Brown <elemtilas@...> wrote:

              > On Wed, 10/31/12, Sam Stutter <samjjs89@...> wrote:
              >
              >> Issue is, you're going to need a very good musical ear to
              >> pick out notes, particularly if they're being played in
              >> chords. I would say the listener would need quite some
              >> grounding as a professional musician to understand each
              >> "syllable", with perhaps access to a piano. Data transfer
              >> will be slow (for humans at least).
              >
              >Quite probably true. But as with any other language, practice makes perfect!

              Indeed. For that matter, given that perfect pitch correlates with native use of tone languages, I imagine this wouldn't be unduly difficult to acquire (... in whatever context one imagines this language being "natively" used). Anyway, embedding in a phrase lessens the perfect pitch problems.

              On the other hand, the gripping language is likely too dense for the human optimum; it's one of these tree-cramming taxolangs. It might be that the best adàpted adaptation would

              On Thu, 1 Nov 2012 20:15:12 -0400, Herman Miller <hmiller@...> wrote:

              >One problem with the ukulele is the tuning (typically G-C-E-A, all in
              >the same octave). With the open strings all tuned within a small range,
              >it's hard to tell one string from another. A mandolin (tuned like a
              >violin, G-D-A-E, with 4 pairs of 2 strings each) might be a better option.

              My thought too, regarding the ukulele. They can be retuned to avoid this, yes, but do they tolerate tunings as wide as a mandolin?

              On Sat, 3 Nov 2012 19:00:50 -0700, Leland Kusmer <lelandpaul@...> wrote:

              >Here's the simplest possibility that I can think of:
              >
              >- Map chord vs. arpeggiation to knuckledness, as suggested above
              >- Map strings to fingers
              >- Map thumb position to fingering: We have five possible fingers (0-4 where
              >0 is open and 4 is pinky).
              >Put the finger corresponding to the thumb
              >position on the highest string; put the next highest finger on the next
              >highest string; repeat, appending open strings if necessary.
              >
              >Note that this doesn't say exactly where to put the fingers on the strings;
              >for that purpose, pick a key area (if you're on mando then G Major / E
              >Minor is probably easiest) and always use appropriate fingers in that key.

              I think I'm missing something in your fingering description. Is fingering audible, done this way? I can see the difference between open and, er, unopen strings, but not between the use of one finger and the next.

              Incidentally, I was a bit misleading in my first presentation of the phonology in that there are _six_ principal thumb positions, namely the five points of the gamut plus nowhere. (There are also the rubs, but those are relatively secondary.)

              >This doesn't even come close to achieving musicality, though I expect that
              >it would actually be fairly easy to interpret. There's going to be a strong
              >tension between preserving the structure of the gripping language and
              >achieving musicality in any mapping.

              That's what makes it interesting! And you've stated the reasons for wanting to retain musicality better than I probably would've.

              >Another possibility, with slightly more musicality built in:
              >
              >- Each thumb position is assigned to triad built on a successive scale
              >degree. Pick a key (again, for mandolin G Major probably makes the most
              >sense); then thumb position 1 is a G Major triad; 2 is A Minor; 3 is B
              >Minor; 4 is C Major; 5 is D Major.
              >- Map fingerings to strings. On each string, play the lowest available
              >chord tone in the appropriate triad (unless the open string is in the
              >triad, in which case play the open string; or unless this results in a
              >fingered fifth across two adjacent strings, in which case pick the next
              >best option).
              >- Again, map knuckledness to arpeggiation / chordal articulation.

              This is I think relatively close to the way the idea first struck me. (I don't know why fifths on adjacent strings are bad -- is this the case where the pitches coincide?)

              >The problem here is that you start to rely on absolute pitch. Someone with
              >some training, given a starting pitch (i.e. just play an open G string
              >before starting your utterance) could work out the rest relatively. See
              >above re: adding a drone, however.

              As above, I think that in connected speech this wouldn't be a horrible problem. I don't see anything about drones, though.

              >A counter-proposal: Rather than mapping gripping language fingers to
              >instrumental strings, map fingers to fingers. This allows a simple mapping
              >of each syllable to two pitches (which may not be distinct) – the starting
              >and ending point of the block of pressed fingers. The trick, then, is how
              >to map thumb positions. If we take individual strings and adjacent pairs of
              >strings, we end up with 7 positions, which accounts for all the basic thumb
              >positions plus the two rubs.

              Four rubs! But there's also the zero. -- If you use 6 positions here, and then figure out how to bodge the rubs on later, that probably wouldn't be too damaging in practice.

              >Then, do the following:
              >- To articulate a pair of fingers on one string: If arpeggiated, play all
              >intervening diatonic notes (within a chosen key); otherwise, play just the
              >endpoints

              What would cause there to be different notes on the same string, though? There is only one thumb position to a syllable.

              >- To articulate a pair of fingers on two strings: Arpeggiate or play as a
              >chord, as expected.
              >
              >It's not a great fit, but it would be much easier for performers, probably
              >rather easier on listeners, potentially more musical (or easier to make
              >musical in performance), and (best of all) playable on bowed instruments
              >like viola, allowing for sustained sound through an utterance.
              >
              >If I have time, maybe I'll mock up some samples later this week.

              Ooh, that is intriguing. Looking forward to the samples.

              (In case it strikes you to use actual meaningful gripping examples, there are a meager few contained in <http://docs.google.com/document/preview?id=1WSCA-6K5UkG11sRML4UzzqZAo39gnXDM0nqBrTK6Nw8>.)

              Alex
            • Padraic Brown
              ... Sure. Well, an el cheapo plastic ukelele might not hold up well, but any reasonably nicely made instrument should be able to be tuned in fifths. You could
              Message 6 of 11 , Nov 4, 2012
                --- On Sun, 11/4/12, Alex Fink <000024@...> wrote:
                > On Thu, 1 Nov 2012 20:15:12 -0400, Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
                > wrote:
                >
                > >One problem with the ukulele is the tuning (typically G-C-E-A, all in
                > >the same octave). With the open strings all tuned within a small range,
                > >it's hard to tell one string from another. A mandolin (tuned like a
                > >violin, G-D-A-E, with 4 pairs of 2 strings each) might be a better
                > >option.
                >
                > My thought too, regarding the ukulele.  They can be
                > retuned to avoid this, yes, but do they tolerate tunings as
                > wide as a mandolin?

                Sure. Well, an el cheapo plastic ukelele might not hold up well, but any
                reasonably nicely made instrument should be able to be tuned in fifths.
                You could also consider using a baritone ukelele's strings for the bottom
                two strings (they can be tuned low whereas the regular uke strings might be
                too loose) and regular strings for the higher two. Tune from the top down,
                so you can gauge how tightly wound the top string is (and thus how much
                force you're putting on the instrument). Using the baritone uke strings
                will allow you to tune good and low, even on the smaller instrument.

                And if it breaks, well, a dab of elmers wood glue and a couple screws never
                hurt nothin!

                > Alex

                Padraic
              Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.