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Re: What do you think is necessary in order to have anexcellentcomposition?
> I beg to differ. The Golden Mean exists outside of time. You observe the
> golden mean as a whole. Music exists in time. You don't know how much
> is ahead (i.e., how much of the ratio is left) until you get to the end.
> don't observe music as a whole until it's over. I've listened to some of
> Bartok's pieces which are written around the Golden Mean, and I don't
> it. I like the music, but I don't hear it.
Bartok is one of my favorites!
> But tell me, what songs use the Golden Mean? Maybe if I listen more, I'll
> begin to notice it.
Well, I can't even remember the exact ratio -- it is around 61% --
just under two-thirds.
This suggests that for a work that lasts say, three minutes, the
climactic passage (or "the payoff" if you will) would occur around the
two minute point.
Generally, I expect that climax of my music to occur well... around
2/3 into the work.
Perhaps a jam-session can be used to provide a simple explanation.
Back in my teenage years, sometimes a few friends and I would get
together to make some music in the basement. And what did we do?
Well... we did what a lot of kids do... we did a 12-bar blues jam.
And, true to teenage form, we all poured incredible energy into the
music however by the fourth repetition, there was nowhere left to go!
With experience comes a notion of "holding back" ... start out slow
and let the music gain momentum... build to a climax over a longer
period of time... then let it wind down naturally.
Composers, too, often build works along these lines just doing what
"clicked" for them.
At some point in academia, someone came up with the "Golden Section"
idea -- would this ratio somehow correspond to the buildup of formal
compositions? And, well... many musical examples corresponded (more
or less) to this ratio. It has been applied to work from all musical
As far as a specific example... well, I have never measured it with a
stopwatch but the final movement from Mahler's 9th has a huge climax
that is roughly 2/3 of the way through.
A lot of times, when the music just seems to "flow" we are unaware of
the underlying form, proportion, or whatever. I have yet to hear
someone exclaim upon hear a new work, "Wow. The Golden Section was
When music doesn't quite "click" ... then we may become aware of
something that is out of proportion (too long, too short, too much of
this, not enough of that). Often the "not clicking" is due to some
underlying technicality and may not always just be due to a lack of
passion, inspiration, or whatever from the composer.
I wholeheartedly agree with the notion of creating music that "sounds
good and feels good". However, when I create something that "just
doesn't quite work" I tend to want to dig in a find out what I did
that caused the situation.
Thus, the Golden Section is a suggestion for the placement of a
climax. At least for me, it isn't cast in stone.
It is a little like the "Law of nine squares" in photography which
serves as a suggestion for the placement of the main subject of a photo.
Consider a movie -- if the climactic moment happens near the
beginning, then the balance of the film may seem kind of bland. If
the climax occurs in the final scene -- followed by the credits -- the
audience may feel kind of "ripped off" (heaven knows, there were a lot
of late 60's/early 70's movies that just ENDED... always left me
feeling empty). The choice of where to place the BIG CLIMACTIC moment
is an artistic one. The Golden Section is one possible position for
the climax that tends to "work" most of the time.
Thus, it is not a hard and fast rule.