The Tri-Tone Myth Exposed!!

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by boneyguy, Aug 2, 2021.

  1. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    This is interesting. This guy always has some pretty cool stuff to consider.


     
  2. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    In the written scores of Medieval music, usually for singers, there seems to have been a practice that everyone understood. Whenever a tritone appears between vocal parts, it is understood that singers should chromatically alter their part to make the interval consonant. That practice is known as musica ficta. You don't see sharps or flats that change the interval from dissonant to consonant. Rather, it is understood by experienced singers that the such notes are examples of musica ficta.

    For example, if you see a modern edition (a critical edition that has been edited for modern times) of a Medieval work, you might see a sharp or flat sign underneath the notehead. That altered note changes what appears to be a tritone, into a perfect 4th (or 5th, as I remember). In the original score, there would be no sharps or flats. The performers are expected to chromatically alter one of the notes of a tritone, to change the interval to a consonant 4th or 5th. I might be a little shady on the history, but it is something like this.

    In short, what appears to be a tritone between parts, is, in practice, a 4th or 5th when one of the notes is altered. There were no signs in the parts to indicate this, which is why they are called ficta.

    In more short, what seems on paper to be a tritone, is in practice altered to form a 4th or 5th.

    When I am peering into the mists of time like this, I wind up writing a lot of words to express some things.

    Palestrina's Pope Marcellus Mass has been cited as an early example of the use of actual tritones. This opened the door to another world of sound.
     
  3. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    He covers this aspect in the video...including four octave non-repeating scales (four tetra-chords) that were devised to create only P4 & P5 harmonies. He also gives a number of examples of early music including chant that did use the tritone. In short, the church never banned the interval but they had misgivings about it and attributed it's influence to causing listeners to have 'lascivious' thoughts. It appears they never attributed it to 'the devil' in any way either. In other words the church appeared more concerned about people being driven to carnal pleasures. The banning and the attribution to the devil seems to be a myth that has been perpetuated.
     
  4. Masmus

    Masmus Tele-Holic

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    This is one of the reasons I like this forum so much. To have people who have studied and then let us have some context. Priceless.
     
  5. bsman

    bsman Friend of Leo's

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    Threads like this make me happy music was never an academic pursuit for me... :p:lol:
     
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  6. superjam144

    superjam144 Tele-Afflicted

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    Wow that went deep.

    I have the utmost respect for Celtic, renaissance, and classical music.

    Insanely more complex and layered than blues, jazz, and rock.

    And yet I say blues rock is king.

    Combining these musical genres is gold! Music is eternally interesting.

    Amazing post and video. Just beautiful stuff.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2021
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  7. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Friend of Leo's

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    I think I have had a lascivious thought at least once while hearing a major third, and/or a major triad. But maybe that’s more about me than the musical interval.
     
  8. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not a tri-tone, but I love how the "death metal" minor 2nd is used in this kiddie tune. It's at 8 seconds into the video.... the first melody phrase is a G major scale from the root up to the 6th that then ends on a G#....

     
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  9. ieatlions

    ieatlions Tele-Afflicted

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    I still haven’t worked the CAGED system out.
     
  10. bsman

    bsman Friend of Leo's

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    Meh - you're probably better off as a free-range guitarist anyway! ;)
     
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  11. superjam144

    superjam144 Tele-Afflicted

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    I love this song. I think it has classical elements like the ones discussed. But I am certainly limited in musical expression.

    I love music.. this thread really opens up our minds to how limitless it can be.
     
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  12. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    He’s a little misguided sometimes (girl from ipanema, coltrane fractal), so sometimes you have to take him with a grain of salt, but still least from my dumbass perspective this one gets an A.
     
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  13. Chester P Squier

    Chester P Squier Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for posting this, boneyguy.

    In another life, I was a music ed major in college. IIRC the music professors taught that the tritone, the Devil's Interval, was banned in the Catholic Church.

    Or maybe they just called it the Devil's Interval and someone somewhere else said the church banned it.
     
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  14. Chester P Squier

    Chester P Squier Tele-Afflicted

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    I like how Johnny Rivers (or whoever the guitarist is) emphasizes the tritone in the intro and outro to "Maybelline."
     
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  15. dlew919

    dlew919 Doctor of Teleocity

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    What I’ve noticed is that those who say it was 'banned' never say who banned it or when (except to say in the medieval period, which is about 500 years). I’ll watch this with interest.
     
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  16. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

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    At least nobody posted "just play the hell out of that thing" or "whatever you feel is automatically right" or WWJD (what would Jimi do). Thanks for the information. It's fascinating. I don't use music theory much, but the process of identifying and describing a piece of music is, IMO, yet another good way to become conversant and more fluent in the music and musical language that we all share.
     
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  17. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    Some REALLY great comments and observations from ya'll.... :)
     
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  18. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Guilty. When I taught music appreciation classes, starting out, I tried to do it with a little flair. Hence, I told a bunch of interesting backstories. I may have told about the diabolus in musica even though I doubted its veracity. In that kind of situation, I tried to really, really emphasize that this wasn't really what happened. It's a teaching trick that pairs some necessary info with interesting info. But you can't outright lie.
     
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  19. TwoBear

    TwoBear Tele-Afflicted

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    One of the happiest parts about it is you’re almost never farther than one to make it sound “in”.
     
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