1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

The Golden Mean

Discussion in 'The Writers' Block' started by kbold, Feb 2, 2020.

  1. kbold

    kbold Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,665
    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2015
    Location:
    Australia
    The Golden Mean is where the ratio of x to y = the ratio of x+y to x (=1.618)
    The inverse of 1.618 = 0.618

    <---------- x+y ---------->
    <------- x -----><-- y --->

    Many classical composers used the golden mean, as a point where a climax or change would occur.
    (i.e. the climax would occur at the bar 62% of the way though the song.) Sometimes the golden mean was also applied within sections of a score (creating means within means, so to speak).

    Have you ever structured a song based on the Golden Mean?

    Or ... have you looked at whether your songs adhere to this ratio?
     
  2. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Posts:
    16,740
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2006
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    My first doctoral student wrote his thesis on the golden mean in Bach's sacred cantatas.

    He found that there is a place in the texts that he used where the mood and tone change, becoming darker and more serious.

    The measure which corresponds to such a textual turning point, turns out to be the golden mean. This was true for the majority of Bach's 200 surviving sacred cantatas. I forget the percentage, but it was high. We even a math professor on the committee to verify the results.

    Edward Albee's advice for writing a play is to have the climax 2/3rds through. Which roughly corresponds to the golden mean. It seems like this form is used a lot in movies, tv, and literature.
     
  3. catdaddy

    catdaddy Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,337
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2013
    Location:
    backroads of Florida
    Interesting! I just did a random sampling of ten of my original songs. Of those ten only one hit the golden mean (62%). Since most of the songs have the climax/key change/bridge around 50-53% I can only assume that my legacy as a composer will not be golden.
     
    Greggorios and kbold like this.
  4. kbold

    kbold Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,665
    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2015
    Location:
    Australia
    Maybe an instrumental introduction (or extending an existing one) will get you to 62%.
    Or ... shortening the ending?
     
    Greggorios likes this.
  5. catdaddy

    catdaddy Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,337
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2013
    Location:
    backroads of Florida
    Well, yes I suppose that's a possibility, but it sounds like actual work. On the other hand, I can claim to have discovered the quintessential "alloyed mean" (50-53%), then just sit back and wait for an outpouring of accolades and my pride of place in music history. :lol:
     
    teletimetx, kbold and Wyzsard like this.
  6. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,934
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2005
    Location:
    a hawk makin lazy circles
    maybe i'm wrong here, but i am thinking that generally, songs pretty much follow the golden mean (i hadn't heard of it till reading this thread).

    most songs (painting with a wide brush here) are Verse, Chorus, Verse Chorus, Bridge, Verse, Chorus. So, it seems like that bridge is going to flirt with the 62% mark.
     
    AAT65 and Greggorios like this.
  7. chulaivet1966

    chulaivet1966 Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,616
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2011
    Location:
    The Heartland.....Kansas
    Hmmm.....

    I've never heard the term "Golden Mean".

    Of the 32 original songs I've finished/recorded (20 on my s/c page) I don't think any would adhere to the "Golden Mean" writing process.

    I won't analyzing them to determine either way because I'm afraid OCD may kick in I'll think they all suck and decide to re-write all of them....I've don't have enough time on Orb Earth to accomplish the task.

    Just looking at that equation gives me vertigo.
    Did I mention I hate math.

    Carry on....a good day to all.
     
  8. Greggorios

    Greggorios Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    3,407
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2016
    Location:
    NY
    I have no expertise here at all but wanted to mention that the Golden Mean, also know as the Golden Ratio and the number Phi (1.618) has been postulated by some to describe a variety of things in nature. It is also part of the infamous Fibonacci sequence in math, legend and lore.

    I expect a number of our members can speak to this more intelligently than me.:)
     
  9. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    34,224
    Joined:
    May 2, 2003
    Location:
    Wisco
    I play guitar to get away from egghead stuff
     
  10. Steve 78

    Steve 78 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    42
    Posts:
    2,563
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    Location:
    Melbourne, Austraila
    If you want to picture it without the maths, imagine a rectangle of the size where, if you cut a line through to make a square, the remaining rectangle is a smaller version of your original rectangle (ie the ratio of the long and short sides is the same).
     
    chulaivet1966 and Greggorios like this.
  11. Dukex

    Dukex Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    974
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2012
    Location:
    SoCal
    I've written 30-40 songs and have read many songwriting books, and don't remember ever encountering this concept. I'm not sure it is something I would ever use, but now that I'm aware of it you never know.
     
  12. ClashCityTele

    ClashCityTele Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    58
    Posts:
    1,602
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2018
    Location:
    Washington, UK
    Just checked 10 of my songs. Two changed at 62%, 3 at 57%, 1 at 57% & 68% which would average about 62%.
    Is 57% the Silver Mean?
    I've noticed that many famous, hit singles have an intro of around 20 seconds.
    Maybe after 20 seconds people get bored & turn to another radio station.
    Doesn't apply to famous album tracks, they can go on forever.
     
    telestratosonic likes this.
  13. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,934
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2005
    Location:
    a hawk makin lazy circles
    my rules for writing songs

    1) there are no rules
     
  14. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    54,979
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2009
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC, Canuckistan
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,083
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2003
    Location:
    Augusta, Maine
    Nope. Pure superstition.

    My songs are mostly structured on 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4 . . . .
     
  16. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,951
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Location:
    Indiana
    Charlie Bernstein likes this.
  17. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,083
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2003
    Location:
    Augusta, Maine
    Steve 78 likes this.
  18. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    12,710
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    ok, here's the thing about that kind of analysis for me: a math professor can, after the fact, assess the point in time that a piece of music enters some obvious different phase and bingo we have proof?

    No I think it's rather the other way round - as busy as our little brains are, about 2/3 of the way into composing something, we get bored with our original thesis, our original statement and it's various counterpoints and we want to shake things up a little bit, to keep the audience from falling asleep. So now we interject some dramatic shift, just like the playwright does near the end of Act 2, and bingo, the Golden Mean Fibonacci sequence event! And the proof is the pudding, or vice versa.

    Does it make a song better simply by thinking of it? I remain skeptical. I haven't tested the idea, but I wonder of the completely atonal, arhythmic folks also employ this technique? (How could you tell :D?)

    My thinking is maybe just go back to trying to make a piece of music sound effortless and seamless in it's changes, like that was the way it was meant to be, not like I counted the measures or timed it and then thought, ok, here's where the bridge goes, or the modulation or the pie chart...

    I think it's interesting to note coincidences and to advance science, cool.

    In one band, our bass player is a huge Fibonacci math freak, but that doesn't make him a better bassist or keep him from playing too much on the upper frets...:)
     
    catdaddy and kbold like this.
  19. elihu

    elihu Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,568
    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2009
    Location:
    Texas
    I think it's good advice for a solo to peak somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of the way through.

    And Bach's stuff seems mathematical to me. On any piece he seems to descend in pitch as much as he ascends so it all seems balanced.

    And yeah, like teletimetx said folks like Charles Ives and Ornette Coleman likely didn't ascribe to the golden mean theory.
     
    teletimetx and Charlie Bernstein like this.
  20. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,083
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2003
    Location:
    Augusta, Maine
    Neither did Leadbelly or Woody Guthrie or John Hurt or Gary Davis or Robert Johnson or Dave Van Ronk or Florence Reece or Aunt Molly Jackson. Neither does Dylan.

    A song doesn't need a peak. It just needs a point.
     
    teletimetx and elihu like this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.