Hallo conlangers!

On 09.06.2016 21:37, Padraic Brown wrote:

> On Thu, 9 Jun 2016 16:23:00 +0200, Jörg Rhiemeier <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Hallo conlangers!
>> On 09.06.2016 03:28, Padraic Brown wrote:
>>> On Tue, 31 May 2016 15:48:51 +0200, Jörg Rhiemeier <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>> I have heard the term "conmusic" for the music of fictional cultures. So
>>>> someone making conmusic would be a "conmusician". As "conlang" does not
>>>> necessarily imply fictionality, we can expand the term "conmusic" to
>>>> include edifices like that of Harry Partch, who would thus be a
>>>> conmusician without anchoring his music in a fictional world.
>>> I've heard the term as well, but I find it much harder to apply than even "conlanger". The reason being, music is already a universally accepted art,
>>> as is the composing of it. No further qualifiers are necessary. Take the music that was written for the Elves (or indeed the Hobbits!) in the LotR
>>> movies. I would nòt consider those tunes necessarily examples of "conmusic", and the composer was not really acting the part of "conmusician".
>>> Same goes for whoever wrote the snippet of Klingon opera music or the whistle tune Piccard played.
>> Most of the diegetic music in fantasy or science fiction films (such as
>> the music played by the band in the Mos-Eisley spaceport bar in _Star
>> Wars: A New Hope_, which is essentially just 1920s jazz played on
>> synthesizers) is just music that follows real-world music traditions,
>> but that is IMHO essentially the same problem as with poorly-designed
>> fictional languages that are just altered versions of natlangs.
> Agreed -- there is well and poorly devised invented music. But I think the point remains:
> there is far less a dividing line between music & musical systems invented as part of a
> larger work of art (an otherworld) and music & musical systems that are not invented as
> part of an otherworld.

The boundary is certainly not well-defined, and there are some border cases.

Border case #1: Magma. This French avant-rock band recorded albums which 
chronicle the history of a fictional planet, Kobaïa, with lyrics in that 
world's language. The music, however, is easily recognized as a blend of 
progressive rock, free jazz and 20th-century classical music, and 
without the lyrics, nobody would recognize this music as "otherworldly", 
only as "weird" or "interesting".

Border case #2: Harry Partch. This American composer invented a new 
tuning scale with 43 notes in the octave in justly intoned intervals, 
built new musical instruments to play these notes, and wrote a book 
about all that. However, all this is not connected to a conworld.

> It's kind of obvious when the Klingon character starts singing in Klingon that the language
> is an invented one. It's a lot less obvious that the music itself is invented. It could stand
> on its own where an invented language could not.

I see what you are getting at. An artificial language must be presented 
in some way - by writing texts in or about it. You need either a corpus 
of texts, a grammar and dictionary, or preferably both. Music can stand 
on its own, even if it is from a foreign tradition. In this way, the 
*music* is equivalent, more or less, to texts written in a conlang; what 
is the counterpart of the conlang itself are the invented rules, 
conventions and traditions that govern the music.

>> You just can't argue from this that conmusic does not exist;
> I'm most certainly not doing that!

Then I misunderstood you; I am sorry for that.

> What I am saying is that the border between
> "natural music" and "invented music" is far more porous, to the point of there
> being no actual border. A piece of invented music could very easily cross that
> border and be experienced in natural music land without the experiencer being
> any the wiser. This doesn't work so well for invented languages.

Surely, music and language work differently. A text in a foreign 
language you have never learned is gibberish to you, no matter whether 
the language is artificial or not. A piece of music from a foreign 
tradition may still strike your heart, even if one doesn't know anything 
about the music tradition it is part of.

>> what about,
>> for instance, the music Herman Miller has created for his small furry
>> beings, with made-up tuning systems, instruments (probably just emulated
>> on a synthesizer) and terminology in his conlangs? He is certainly more
>> than just a composer; he has made things by himself which most composers
>> take for granted.
> Certainly "more than just a composer", and I think I've said as much already.
> (Though I could be misremembering now!)
> But on the other hand, there are plenty of "just a composer"s out there who
> are doing the same exact thing! Only they are not doing it within the context
> of an invented culture!

There are! I already mentioned Harry Partch. The whole serialist 
tradition in 20th-century classical music can also be counted as an 
example, with some qualifications (there are still traces of the common 
practice tradition in most serialist compositions). But of course, you 
can also invent a language without connecting it to an imaginary world 
or culture, even an artlang (auxlangs and engelangs usually aren't 
connected to fictional cultures anyway).

> This is what I'm getting at. When you invent a language and then invent a kind of
> poetry or a genre of prose and then proceed to write in that poetic form, you are
> doing something *substantively* and *qualitatively* different than a poet or writer in
> German or English is doing. You are inventing the substrate far more than those
> of us who dabble in invented music do.

Fine. It makes a great difference whether one writes in a language that 
already exists, or one invents the language itself. We are coming to 
terms here.

> Those of us who invent musics as part of our greater work aren't really doing
> anything *substantively* different than some other composers do. *Qualitatively*
> is another matter! Here is where the "conmusician's" work shines: because the
> invented music is part of an invented world, it becomes an integrated part of the
> greater work. It is part of the culture, part of the life of the people of the otherworld.
> Invented music breathes life into a world and gives a new voice to its people. It
> adds dimensions of reality to a work above and beyond merely saying "such and such
> a people have their own music" and leaving it at that.

Sure. The music adds another dimension to the fictional world.

> It's like years ago when we did the conlang recipes. I'm not necessarily sure I'd go
> so far as to say that someone who engages in that activity is a "conchef", but like
> with the invented music and the invented jewelry and invented maps and so forth,
> all of those little things go towards making the otherworld come to life just that much
> more.


>>> I'm open to being convinced otherwise, but I really don't see creating a musical style or genre for an otherworld as significantly different than
>>> exploring some new direction in ordinary music. When I write music that occurs in The World, while I consider all that matter as part of the culture
>>> & history of the place, I don't really see this composing as "different".
>>> I'd be interested in hearing your opinion on this!
>> I feel that you are trivializing the invention of a new music system
>> (scales, instruments, forms, etc.) the same way as you trivialize the
>> invention of a new language in the other thread. By the same logic you
>> argue that conmusicians are just musicians you could (and actually seem
>> to) argue that conlangers are just writers. Or did I get you wrong?
> Yes, I think I'm not explaining my position well. I certainly don't mean to
> trivialise something that all of us work hard at and that I myself engage
> in and work hard at as well!

Yes - your position has become much clearer now.

> As someone who has also invented a system of music, with instrument design
> considered, with scales and harmonic wossnames considered and even with
> some of the language of music worked out (though not *realized* to the degree
> Herman has done), I certainly get where you're coming from, and as with our
> discussion of fashioning a language, I really don't think my intention here is to
> "trivialise" anything.

I see.

> As far as the conlangs go, I guess I see them now more as steps along a different
> path or (artistically created!) pieces of a bigger art. For me, the conlang isn't the
> end result but part of the process along the way. This isn't meant to demean the
> work of others for whom the conlang is the goal, just that I don't see it that way
> anymore.

I understand what you mean. The conlang of course *is* a medium or a 
"material" for an art, namely the art of writing in the conlang. Yet, 
this "material" is a work of art in itself, even if it needs some 
"derived" work - a grammar, a dictionary, texts written in it - to be 
appreciated by others. Likewise, an imagined musical tradition needs 
"derived" work - descriptions of scales, instruments, etc., and most 
importantly actual musical compositions and performances thereof - to be 
appreciated by others.

And of course, as I already said, foreign music (whether "con" or not) 
is more appreciable than foreign language writing.

> As for music, I just think there is really no clear dividing line between "ultra-new
> / avant-gard / "out there" music that is not connected with an otherworld and
> music that is connected with an otherworld. New tunings, new instruments, new
> scales, new harmonic structures --- these things are nothing new in music! We
> wouldn't be where we are now in music without previous generations tinkering
> and devising something new!


> As I see it, there's just far more of a smooth continuum within music than there
> is in the language arts. As of now, there is a dividing line between language artists
> (writers) who work in natural languages and those (glossopoets) who work with
> invented languages. I look at it like this: unless Herman comes out and explains
> what he's doing, no one would really notice that his music is part of a greater work
> of art (his otherworld). They might just think that's kind of funky music! I wonder
> what it is?

I can tell you where the difference lies: you don't need to understand 
the music tradition it is from to appreciate an "exotic" piece of music, 
while a text written in a language unknown to you is just gibberish to you.

> So, I'm certainly not saying that invented music does not exist -- it does! I just
> don't see as clear a dividing line there as with invented languages.
> Hope that explains a little better!


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"Bêsel asa Éam, a Éam atha cvanthal a cvanth atha Éamal." - SiM 1:1