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What is really going on here?
Posted: 28 March 2011 12:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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George - 27 March 2011 05:29 AM
Axegrrl - 27 March 2011 12:12 AM

This demonstrates why no one considers the information on wikipedia to be ‘unequivocal’ :)

google “indian music” and “microtones” or microtonal, microtonality….....the scales used in Indian music are generally more nuanced than Western scales.


regardless, what you just posted above directly contradicts your claim that Indian music has “less notes” than that used in Western music :)

According to Daniel Levitin (“This is Your Brain on Music”), “...close analysis reveals that scales [of Indian music] also rely on twelve of fever tones and the others simply expressive variations, glissandos…, and momentary passing tones…”

And yes, their music is based on twelve notes but that does not necessarily mean that they use all twelve notes. On top of that, two of their notes never change from octave to octave.

As far as Wikipedia goes, it’s good enough for me.

`

Then you’re exactly the kind of person that Wikipedia was designed to satisfy :)

George, can you explain the significance of your comment that “two of their notes never change from octave to octave”?

`

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Posted: 28 March 2011 06:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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You may not think much of Wikipedia, but as you can see in my above post, Levitin, who is a serious scientist (he runs the laboratory for musical perception, cognition and expertise at McGill), says the same thing as the Wiki page.

Regarding the two notes, that is what I was told by a friend who plays Indian music. I don’t really understand how that’s possible, but I assume that a certain note will have exactly the same hertz value in any octave.

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Posted: 28 March 2011 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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I don’t think you can have the same hertz value for a note and consider it to be in another octave.  I’m not well versed in music theory, but a note in a different octave would be a have a multiple hertz value.  Middle A on a piano is 440 beats per second, the next A lower is 220 beats per second and the next A higher is 880 beats per second.  When you tune a piano or some reed instruments you don’t hold to these values exactly, but that’s because of subtle issues with how chords sound if tuned perfectly.  I believe that’s called tempered tuning.

Harmonicas, my area of limited expertise, use a system called richter tuning where the thirds are tuned a little flat and the fifths a little sharp in the scale the harp is designed for, in what some consider a futile attempt to make them sound better when playing chords.  (Blues players almost never play them in that scale).  But those are subtleties, and even though a note may intentionally be tuned a couple hertz off it is still considered the named note.  It gets much more complicated and confusing, at least for me, but I don’t see how you could have the same note, unless you just mean the note shares the same name, in two different octaves.  If that’s what is meant then all European music only uses 12 notes.

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Posted: 28 March 2011 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Jeciron - 28 March 2011 12:38 PM

I don’t think you can have the same hertz value for a note and consider it to be in another octave.

Yes, I know. But supposedly in Indian music you can. I don’t understand myself how that’s possible.

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Posted: 28 March 2011 07:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Axegrrl - 27 March 2011 01:13 AM
Jeciron - 18 March 2011 04:41 AM

While I sense that, in general, the people who participate here are fiercely independent, have no use for ritual, and have a healthy suspicion of organizations in general, I’m sure there are many people out there similar to my father.  I have mixed feelings about proselytizing for humanism, and I don’t think we should construct some mock up of conventional religion, but I think our community might be strengthened if we could provide a place where people like my father could find acceptance, comfort, and fulfillment.

`
Really nicely said, Jeciron smile

As much as I hate using words like ‘religion’ or ‘God’, words that have soooo much ‘baggage’ attached to them, that doesn’t mean that I dismiss the meaning that many people have or give to such terms.

I truly think we need to dispense with those terms ~ if only because there are so many different meanings attached to them, they’ve become more problematic than helpful when it comes to clear communication.

I recently interacted with a theist who said that ‘God’ “isn’t an entity and isn’t imaginary” ~ and concluded that ‘God’ is, in essence, “metaphorical” more than anything else.

I can agree with/understand that.  But what I don’t get is how someone goes from a man-made ‘metaphor’ to “objective moral truth”.  If you agree that ‘God’ is a metaphor, then you’re acknowledging that the concept is man-made ~ and if that’s the case, then you can’t make any claims about objective truth.

`

The argument you’re making is among the most frustrating I have encountered within our ranks. We do not have the power to dispense with these words. If we don’t use them, that doesn’t mean they go away. All it means is that we eliminate one tool from our literary and persuasive arsenal. There is no advantage whatsoever to the strategy you suggest. Think it through practically and strategically, not merely in terms of an ideal. Where is the advantage? There isn’t one, and in fact no one who makes this argument has ever identified one that makes sense in the big picture. Why is that so hard for secularists to see?

The way to handle these words is to use them to challenge prevailing assumptions. Expand a narrow idea: religion isn’t just a belief in a god, for example. That is a fact, so point it out and use the word to do it. That is precisely the strategy that Bill Clinton used to turn “family values” into a liberal/Democratic issue in the 1990s, and in that instance he wasn’t triangulating; he was taking over his opponents’ ground. We can do the same thing but first we must stop fantasizing that we can dispense with some of the most popular and powerful words in our cultural lexicon.

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Posted: 03 April 2011 02:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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PLaClair - 28 March 2011 07:48 PM

We can do the same thing but first we must stop fantasizing that we can dispense with some of the most popular and powerful words in our cultural lexicon.

Why specifically the term religion though, and not others like Philosophy, or Life Stance, World View or Paul Kurtz’s Eupraxsophy, which I find to be a more exacting match on the Secular Humanistic stance I’ve chosen?  If you’re talking about making definitions, and choosing apt wording for what views we support I don’t see why I should specifically choose the words religion, spirituality, or faith when I don’t think they represent where I’m coming from, especially when I can find other words I find to be more concise.  Instead of saying I have faith I’ll make through the day, I say that I aim to see myself through the day accepting that there are many things that can occur I don’t foresee.  I find a word such as hope good enough to use without the need to bring in the muddled ideas that come with the term faith, having to unnecessarily clarify where I’m coming from is not a specific metaphysical or supernatural framework supporting frame of mind.  I understand you find the terms sociopolitically expedient, and I do think we’re talking about the same secular ethical naturalistic way of living, but I see no need to co-opt terms that carry a common understanding too diametrically opposed to what I support.  You can aim to dedicate yourself toward redefining the terms freak or geek to represent yourself as either some kind of cool rebel, or person who enjoys comics, RPGs, and repairing computers (all of which I do consider cool), but at the same time the terms are also still used as vituperations to cast aspersions on others with whom one finds something wrong.  Obviously, the historical meanings of the terms freak, and geek have been checkered to say the least.  Personally, I find their muddled meanings reason enough to not use them unless done in some form of joke with poor taste I accept.  I like your idea of a science supporting honest ethical cooperative, in fact I’d love to hear in on more on the ideas behind it, but I’d be hard pressed to call it religious.

[ Edited: 03 April 2011 03:08 AM by KnowCause ]
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Posted: 03 April 2011 04:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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KnowCause - 03 April 2011 02:52 AM
PLaClair - 28 March 2011 07:48 PM

We can do the same thing but first we must stop fantasizing that we can dispense with some of the most popular and powerful words in our cultural lexicon.

Why specifically the term religion though, and not others like Philosophy, or Life Stance, World View or Paul Kurtz’s Eupraxsophy, which I find to be a more exacting match on the Secular Humanistic stance I’ve chosen?  If you’re talking about making definitions, and choosing apt wording for what views we support I don’t see why I should specifically choose the words religion, spirituality, or faith when I don’t think they represent where I’m coming from, especially when I can find other words I find to be more concise.  Instead of saying I have faith I’ll make through the day, I say that I aim to see myself through the day accepting that there are many things that can occur I don’t foresee.  I find a word such as hope good enough to use without the need to bring in the muddled ideas that come with the term faith, having to unnecessarily clarify where I’m coming from is not a specific metaphysical or supernatural framework supporting frame of mind.  I understand you find the terms sociopolitically expedient, and I do think we’re talking about the same secular ethical naturalistic way of living, but I see no need to co-opt terms that carry a common understanding too diametrically opposed to what I support.  You can aim to dedicate yourself toward redefining the terms freak or geek to represent yourself as either some kind of cool rebel, or person who enjoys comics, RPGs, and repairing computers (all of which I do consider cool), but at the same time the terms are also still used as vituperations to cast aspersions on others with whom one finds something wrong.  Obviously, the historical meanings of the terms freak, and geek have been checkered to say the least.  Personally, I find their muddled meanings reason enough to not use them unless done in some form of joke with poor taste I accept.  I like your idea of a science supporting honest ethical cooperative, in fact I’d love to hear in on more on the ideas behind it, but I’d be hard pressed to call it religious.

I’ll start at the tail end. If you look at the life of religion, it is not just theism and certainly not just Christianity. Religion is borne of the natural and eupraxsophic human desire to explain the unknown, to understand how we got here and give some kind of satisfying answer to “what am I doing here?” To be more concise, religion is a person’s approach to his greatest concerns. To be accurate, which is part of what you say you want, we should not conflate religion with theism because, while there are large areas of overlap, they are not the same. When we mean theism, we should say theism. Are we on the same page so far?

If so, then we should recognize that a secularist, scientific naturalist and Humanist can appropriately develop a philosophy, life stance and world view that asks and answers all those questions. The difference between us and theists is not that we do not try to orient ourselves to everything, but that we decline to give unwarranted answers. I see that clearly, which means that I not only know it intellectually but I also live it. I live my religion every moment, which is another difference, I maintain, between me and a theist. Most theists separate religion from life. For me, there is no separation, and in that fact is my reason for thinking that I practice a sounder and more sustainable religion.

The difference between you and me, I suggest, is that I am comfortable looking at it this way, and you are not. Because I am comfortable seeing it this way, I relish the opportunity to tell people who bring up religion that I am as religious a person as you will ever meet. When I say that, some of them cock their heads, like a dog who just heard an unfamiliar sound. That’s good. It means that I shook something and got their attention doing it. If they walk away misunderstanding me, so what? All that means is that they are not ready to listen. I’m no better off if they walk away thinking that all religion and all life are centered around their belief in a particular version of a supreme being. That view is the problem we are trying to shake loose – I thought.

So the peculiarity in the approach that you and many other secularists take is that not only do you accede to the false assumption of theism; you insist on feeding and perpetuating it! How you speak is up to you. If you’re not comfortable presenting yourself as I do, then don’t do it: it wouldn’t be authentic, and if it isn’t authentic, you’re just going to screw me up when I get the chance to talk to that person. But I do suggest that there is another, perfectly good way of looking at things than the one that seems to have so much traction here. If you look at our discussions on this subject, you will see more impassioned pleading on this subject than practically any other. That suggests, strongly, that we are not approaching this issue with reason, but by emotional reaction. I’m not saying you are, although you may be, but you can see it very clearly when secularists discuss this subject. As a group, we are not behaving like people who are serious about our causes but as people with an axe to grind emotionally as well as intellectually. When we react to the most common words in the language by refusing to use them, we paint ourselves into a linguistic corner that reduces our ability to communicate with others. When people outside our groups see that reaction, it turns them off immediately, and we make our task, which is hard enough as it is, even harder.

To bring it back to particulars, there’s nothing wrong with your explanation of faith, but it’s certainly not more concise than that one word. If you want to, you can use the word “faith” too. I look for openings that allow me to use that word in a way that makes it clear that I do not mean faith in a supernatural being. “Faith” is an easy one. People use it non-theistically all the time. Hope is a good word, too, but it is not a synonym for faith. Hope is an inactive look to the future, while Faith is an active way of influencing the future. For example, I may hope to succeed in a new business venture but it’s not Faith until I take steps toward making it happen. That is how people actually use the words when their minds aren’t cluttered by theistic dogma. So sometimes I point that out when I speak, not by lecturing but by using words in an accurate way that I think will open the door for others to think about old ideas in new ways. This is what frustrates me about the stance so many here take on this subject: we say we want to move the world toward a planetary ethic, toward scientific naturalism, etc., but when given the opportunity, we don’t do it, choosing instead to indulge our anger and our own biases. That makes no sense to me.

So I invite you to ask the question: What will happen if secularists used these words as LaClair suggests? I’ve seen secularists argue that if we use words like “faith,” we’re opening the door to them. What nonsense! That door is already wide open. We’re not helping to change our culture by treating these words like poison; on the contrary, we are undermining our efforts. Ironically, we ask people to think things through - don’t just believe things based on a gut instinct like “I just feel God’s presence!” - but then we don’t think through the uses and effects of language. I’m saying that we should apply the same admonition to ourselves. Even as individuals, forgetting about our common causes for a moment, we do ourselves no favors shunning perfectly good words like faith and spirituality. Yes, they have been corrupted, but if we shun every corrupted word, then we shouldn’t use the words “humanism” or “science” or “theory” either. That strategy is necessarily self-defeating, because it takes us out of the game at the times and places where we are needed most, and gives complete control over language to our adversaries: all they have to do is corrupt the word, and we’ll stop using it. A culture that is scientifically uninformed is going to corrupt everything scientific; a culture that thinks all religion is reduced to their dogmas is going to corrupt everything associated with religion. Our best response is not to say “you’ve ruined this, so I’m not using it.” The way that looks to people outside our ranks is that we’ve picked up our ball and walked away in a huff. And then we wonder why more people don’t join us. Come on, guys. Look at what we’re really doing, and then, instead of getting trapped in our own fantasies about how great it would be if we could clean up the language and start over, let’s think about and act on what we can do to change the world as it is.

[ Edited: 03 April 2011 05:05 AM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 03 April 2011 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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PLaClair writes: “Religion is borne of the natural and eupraxsophic human desire to explain the unknown,...”

But the definition of eupraxsophy from wikipedia (I hate to use wiki here tongue rolleye ) is:
“Kurtz coined the term eupraxsophy (originally eupraxophy) to refer to philosophies or lifestances such as secular humanism and Confucianism that do not rely on belief in the transcendent or supernatural. A eupraxsophy is a nonreligious lifestance (emphasis mine) or worldview emphasizing the importance of living an ethical and exuberant life, and relying on rational methods…”

In fact, Kurtz’s book is titled: Living Without Religion: Eupraxophy

So how can religion be borne of a eupraxsophic human desire?

[ Edited: 03 April 2011 08:51 AM by traveler ]
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Posted: 03 April 2011 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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traveler - 03 April 2011 08:46 AM

PLaClair writes: “Religion is borne of the natural and eupraxsophic human desire to explain the unknown,...”

But the definition of eupraxsophy from wikipedia (I hate to use wiki here tongue rolleye ) is:
“Kurtz coined the term eupraxsophy (originally eupraxophy) to refer to philosophies or lifestances such as secular humanism and Confucianism that do not rely on belief in the transcendent or supernatural. A eupraxsophy is a nonreligious lifestance (emphasis mine) or worldview emphasizing the importance of living an ethical and exuberant life, and relying on rational methods…”

In fact, Kurtz’s book is titled: Living Without Religion: Eupraxophy

So how can religion be borne of a eupraxsophic human desire?

The same way a light goes on even if you turn it to the side marked “off.” Mislabeling the switch doesn’t change the operation of the light. And if you’re going to include Confucianism, it is commonly recognized as one of the six major world religions.

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Posted: 03 April 2011 11:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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I wonder if the value of using language which we feel carries a supernatural onus depends on what we’re trying to do?  If we think that the philosophy of humanism/skepticism is an idea critical to the intellectual evolution of the human race, and possibly the physical existence of life*, then it’s important to try to communicate these ideas effectively to people who are unfamiliar with them.  Many of the trappings of we associate with theistic religion, commonly just called religion in our culture, are really important to people.  Ritual, community, structure, and even obligation, are very, very important to people, (often more important than their belief in a supernatural being),  and theistic religions are very good at providing these things.

From personal experience I would guess that many people who consider themselves skeptics are not drawn to this stuff, and are often fairly hostile to it.  I know I’m pretty suspicious.

To risk an analogy: I think we’re the sort who are much happier standing on the sidelines pointing out and making fun of the Emperor’s lack of clothes, then we would be marching in the parade.  But some, maybe most, people really like the camaraderie, spectacle and excitement of marching in a parade so much they don’t really give a rip if they’re following a naked Emperor’s hairy fat ass, they just love marching together and see nothing morally wrong with that.  We can stand and yell about how stupid their parade is from the sidelines, feeling very superior all the while, but if we want to actually influence the people marching and get them to see the Emperor’s faults, maybe we shouldn’t tell them they can’t have a parade.  I think that’s why we it may be better to view, or review, the definition of the term “religion” through PLaclair’s eyes.

*Theistic religions seem, in general, to delight in a Doomsday scenarios and more than a few seem determined to see one come to pass.

If this makes no sense whatever I apologize.  Esther, my partner with Alzheimer’s has started sundowning in a big way and I’m about 36 hrs with no sleep.  I suppose I should stay away from the keyboard.  Sorry

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Posted: 03 April 2011 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Jeciron, I thought your post made considerable sense and wish you luck with your personal battles.

Here’s another way of looking at the issue. This argument can be seen in terms of a simple distinction. Some argue that religion is best seen in its broad historical context, while others argue that it is best seen as currently understood in the culture where we now live. The latter view is completely at odds with the spirit of scientific inquiry that informs scientific naturalism and Humanism, and yet that is the view that many among us take. When scientifically illiterate people confuse a theory with a hypothesis, we don’t hesitate to correct them and we don’t back down; we speak as with one voice, defending the scientific understanding of what a theory is. For some odd reason, many of us don’t seem to want to do that when it comes to religion. So we end up taking the view that is less accurate historically and self-defeating strategically. I keep asking why the hell we insist on doing that, and never get an answer that addresses what should be our concerns.

Paul Kurtz’s definition of religion is historically incorrect if he is excluding Confucianism from religion. It defies hundreds, if not thousands of years of scholarship and common understanding. The people who think that religion is the same as theism are those who are wrapped in a cocoon of cultural myopia, such as the radical Christian fundamentalists. Why the hell are we siding with them and assisting them in spreading and perpetuating this historical inaccuracy? That makes absolutely no sense and we should stop doing it.

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Posted: 03 April 2011 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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PLaClair - 03 April 2011 10:25 AM
traveler - 03 April 2011 08:46 AM

PLaClair writes: “Religion is borne of the natural and eupraxsophic human desire to explain the unknown,...”

But the definition of eupraxsophy from wikipedia (I hate to use wiki here tongue rolleye ) is:
“Kurtz coined the term eupraxsophy (originally eupraxophy) to refer to philosophies or lifestances such as secular humanism and Confucianism that do not rely on belief in the transcendent or supernatural. A eupraxsophy is a nonreligious lifestance (emphasis mine) or worldview emphasizing the importance of living an ethical and exuberant life, and relying on rational methods…”

In fact, Kurtz’s book is titled: Living Without Religion: Eupraxophy

So how can religion be borne of a eupraxsophic human desire?

The same way a light goes on even if you turn it to the side marked “off.” Mislabeling the switch doesn’t change the operation of the light. And if you’re going to include Confucianism, it is commonly recognized as one of the six major world religions.

Good point about Confucianism. I think this reinforces how poorly the word “religion” is often used/understood, however. Even the way the (wiki) definition uses the word religion makes me think theism, not religion.

Edit to add: I also strongly agree with you on words like faith and spirituality. I have those!!! And I’m not about to give ‘em up. Has nothing to do with la-la land.

[ Edited: 03 April 2011 01:21 PM by traveler ]
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Posted: 04 April 2011 05:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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George - 28 March 2011 04:12 PM
Jeciron - 28 March 2011 12:38 PM

I don’t think you can have the same hertz value for a note and consider it to be in another octave.

Yes, I know. But supposedly in Indian music you can. I don’t understand myself how that’s possible.

Overtones. A combination of notes may create a harmonic overtone which is different than any of the notes in the chord.
In addition, I believe that Indian music also uses quarter tones, which are not used in western music.

But one thing scientifically true. A specific note has a specific vibration (wave length) expressed in hertz.

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Posted: 04 April 2011 06:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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Write4U - 04 April 2011 05:26 PM

In addition, I believe that Indian music also uses quarter tones, which are not used in western music.

It doesn’t. See my previous posts.

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Posted: 04 April 2011 06:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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George - 04 April 2011 06:19 PM
Write4U - 04 April 2011 05:26 PM

In addition, I believe that Indian music also uses quarter tones, which are not used in western music.

It doesn’t. See my previous posts.

From Wiki:

Music of the Middle EastSee also: Persian traditional music, Arabic music, and Arab tone system
While the use of quarter tones in Western music is a more recent and experimental phenomenon, these and other microtonal intervals have been an important part of the music of the Iran (Persia), Arab world, Turkey, Assyria, Kurdistan and neighboring lands and areas for many centuries.


Many Arabic maqamat contain intervals of three-quarter tone size; a short list of these follows.[5]

1.Shoor (Bayati)  play (help·info)
شور (بیاتی)
D E F G A B♭ C D
2.Hussayni
3.Siga play (help·info)
سيكاه
E F G A B C D E
4.Rast play (help·info)
راست
C D E F G A B C
with a B♭ replacing the B in the descending scale
5.‘Ajam
Sabba play (help·info)
صبا
D E F G♭ A B♭ C D
The persian philosopher and scientist Al-Farabi described a number of intervals in his work in music, including a number of quarter tones.

Assyrian/Syriac Church scale:

1 - Qadmoyo (Bayati)
2 - Trayono (Hussayni)
3 - Tlithoyo (Segah)
4 - Rbi‘oyo (Rast)
5 - Hmishoyo
6 - Shtithoyo (‘Ajam)
7 - Shbi‘oyo
8 - Tminoyo
[edit] Quarter tone scale
Quarter tone scale on C ascending and descending.  Play (help·info)
Composer Charles Ives chose the chord above as good possibility for a “secondary” chord in the quarter tone scale, akin to the minor chord of traditional tonality. He considered that it may be built upon any degree of the quarter tone scale.[2]  Play (help·info)Known as gadwal in Arabic,[6] the quarter tone scale was developed in the Middle East in the eighteenth century and many of the first detailed writings in the nineteenth century Syria describe the scale as being of 24 equal tones.[7] The invention of the scale is attributed to Mikhail Mishaqa whose work Essay on the Art of Music for the Emir Shihāb (al-Risāla al-shihābiyya fi ‘l-ṣinā‘a al-mūsīqiyya) is devoted to the topic but also makes clear his teacher Sheikh Muhammad al-‘Attār (1764-1828) was one of many already familiar with the concept.[8]

The quarter tone scale may be primarily considered a theoretical construct in Arabic music. The quarter tone gives musicians a “conceptual map” with which to discuss and compare intervals by number of quarter tones and this may be one of the reasons it accompanies a renewed interest in theory, with instruction in music theory being a mainstream requirement since that period.[7]

Previously, pitches of a mode were chosen from a scale consisting of seventeen tones, developed by Safi ‘I-Din al-Urmawi in the thirteenth century.[8]

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