drummers complaining about tuning. lol.
February 2, 2011 2:35 AM   Subscribe

Half remembered anecdote from a music class I took long ago: "A great German percussionist(?) travels to India in the 20's(?), and on returning says that the trip was a complete waste of time. Not only were the musicians always out of tune, but - most infuriatingly - they were always out of tune in exactly the same way!" Can anyone peg an attribution onto this story?

The class involved making our own instruments out of anything available, creating collaborative pieces with our scrappy instruments, inventing notations to record our work for later generations, and listening to a whole mess of really interesting music... good fun!
posted by kaibutsu to Media & Arts (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
That sound like the kind of thing that Harry Partch might have thought, but he would have said it with more bile and disdain.

Almost certainly not. Harry Partch's great crusade was against equal temperament, whereas the two most well-known branches of Indian music, Carnatic and Hindustani, make use of just intonation. There are not many mentions of Indian music of any stripe in his book Genesis of a Music, but he does make brief reference the Indian harmonium, an instrument that could play all 22 śrutis in the classical Indian melodic framework, saying that it is "an example of what might be done to save India from complete 7-White–5-Black corruption" (395). Whatever his feelings about that scale were, he was almost certainly more sympathetic to it than to the twelve-tone equally tempered scale.

In any case, the anecdote you heard, kaibatsu, was probably referring to the divergent scale usages between Indian and Western musicians that I mentioned above, with Indian musicians preferring just intonation and Western musicians preferring equal temperament. If you're interested in that stuff, the Wikipedia articles provide an okay introduction to the topic. Sorry I couldn't point you to the source of that story.
posted by invitapriore at 10:46 AM on February 2, 2011

Ah, fair enough, b1tr0t. He was a codger, to be sure.
posted by invitapriore at 7:25 PM on February 2, 2011

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