Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Music is part of this world of sound, an art based on the organization of sounds in time. We distinguish music from other sounds by recognizing the four main properties of musical sounds: pitch, dynamics (loudness or softness), tone color, and duration. I am going to comment briefly on the pitch aspects only for now.  Contrasts between higher and lower indefinite pitches play a vital role in contemporary western music and in musical cultures around the world.

Now, imagine playing the piano only in the very higher pitches or having to listen to only the piccolo throughout a performance.  There has to be a fair mix of high, medium and low pitched notes. This is easily observable in any western or eastern music ensembles. Just as in life, there has to be a sensible balance in music too.

Now why am I saying what may be seen or known as an obvious fact.  Well, I have for long spoken up against the use of the treble recorder in music education not so much for basic learning purposes but for recorder ensembles that feature only the treble recorders at music contests instead of the whole recorder family ensemble. In the world of popular music the soprano saxophone has become popular but to me, it is a wearisome instrument to listen to how ever perfectly blown for long, say as in a Kenny G concert.

Whenever I have to put a band together for soft music situations I prefer the lower pitched instruments such as the tenor saxophone or guitar in preference over the soprano sax.  That is why there is a pitch register classification for voices and instruments namely the soprano, alto, tenor and bass.  Any musical ensemble has a clear mix of all even in non-western music. And when a high pitched instrument is featured it is seldom for an entire episode but in combination with other medium pitched instruments. That is why we have instruments from the very low to the very high octaves. 

But then this is only my opinion and everyone has one too …. Music and human aesthetics are not as precise as the sciences.

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