Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The difficulties with the idea of Melodic Archetypes.

Narmour's Archetypal Melodic cells

The idea of melodic archetypes is a seductive idea. Basic shapes possibly that inform all the others or in the background as an influence. The Analysis and Cognition of Basic Melodic Structures
 by Eugene Narmour attempts to dissect into three note groups of which is pictured here. The method is methodical but one wonders how one interprets say a run of 4 notes or more. To say it is a chain of three note groups is not what I think anyone hears.  Much less chordal outlines. So possible the question needs to be looked in less of a mechanical way. A more useful approach might be are to look at melodies as based on various types of mobility. This requires going into it in more depth but by chance I ran across some ideas of mobility in Paul Klee’s The Nature of Nature. (p.26) He mentions three types of movement, Unilateral, Parallel movement and movement and countermovement but these relate to more than one line or some figure ground relation. Perhaps more useful might be his descriptions of:
Or having a Central figuration without discontinuity

Wile these can be vague, I think this moves us more toward the way melodies are experienced.  More on this later.

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