Tutor profile: Tim C.
Subject: Music Theory
Why are there scales?
Scales in all music are the sequencing of specific notes in an order. Often in western music, the major and minor scales are used. There are, however, many other scales used in world music. The major scale includes the first, third, and fifth degree of a major triad and the harmonic minor scale contains the lowered third to create a minor triad. Diatonic scales are made of seven notes within an octave with a specific separation between notes (whole step or half step).
What is the best music?
This wonderfully simple question packs a lot of ideas. Defining the "best" of something is very difficult and senseless when it comes to music. Music is consumed by personal taste, however, record labels and commercial media may try to quantify quality with sales, listens and financial impact. These markers, however, rarely indicate quality of art in music. This is also a biased question with culture bias. Music that is foreign in style, instrumentation, or language may take more work for the listener to digest. This does not make it of less quality, it simply makes it new. In 1962 the premiere of "Connotations" by Aaron Copland was an important step in his career. His first dive into atonality was met with widely negative responses. The premiere was for the opening of the Lincoln Center and attended by Jacqueline Kennedy. This major important moment in American culture was a difficult moment for Copland to absorb. Authors still debate whether the piece is "good" or not, but the answer is negligible. I'll explain why in a moment. In 2002, Chicago-based alternative rock band Wilco released their album "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot". The album was paid for by their label and the label disliked the album so much that they dropped the band from the label. The making of this album came with a lot of commercial and artistic pressure on the band, leading to the dismissal of one of its members. After delays and being dropped from the label, the band was in a confusing position. Over nine months later, the band found a label to pick up and release the album which subsequently went on to be marked as one of the greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone. Both of these instances show how one section of the population disliked the art and another section of the population adored the art. We as consumers and listeners appreciate the music that we appreciate. We all have tastes that we prefer and that is good. However, it's important to keep in mind how our tastes change over time and with experience. It is nearsighted to dislike certain music outright without giving it a true chance. The act and the art of actively listening is an important one for every generation. We should all actively participate in listening to music for our enjoyment and edification. It is wrong for us to stop others from doing so. Of course, like all things, this comes with the caveat that the art presented is not of a discriminatory nature. However, that point of view pushes this question to the next level of "what should art allow?"
When tension is mounting and two individuals are not understanding one another, what are next steps that can be taken to clearly, respectfully, and responsibly communicate your ideas?
The first key is to recognize that while one may feel strongly in their point of view and vehemently display their side, everyone's truth is their own. Understand that everyone brings bias to their perspective and use that knowledge to remain calm in the situation. Next, find common ground through thoughtful and soft questions. Use this common ground to connect your two ideas. Next, keep the conversation going, if tension continues, perhaps a break is necessary. Return with a clear head and open mind to different ideas. Try and find common ground to connect the ideas and negotiate your findings. Some matter may be solved in fact, but often individuals attach personal feelings to facts.
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