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Re: \chordmode vs. \notemode - On the relativity of absolute pitches

From: pls
Subject: Re: \chordmode vs. \notemode - On the relativity of absolute pitches
Date: Sat, 23 May 2015 22:12:15 +0200

On 23.05.2015, at 18:40, David Kastrup <address@hidden> wrote:

> pls <address@hidden> writes:
>> On 23.05.2015, at 16:57, David Kastrup <address@hidden> wrote:
>>> pls <address@hidden> writes:
>>>> Hi all,
>>>> here’s another issue I posted somewhere and Carl answered:
>>>>>> P.P.S.: On a different note: some day I would like to get to know the
>>>>>> reason why in \chordmode the absolute pitches are one octave higher than
>>>>>> in note mode.  For chord names correct absolute pitches don¹t matter. But
>>>>>> they do when also using \chordmode in a Staff context.  Mixing both modes
>>>>>> is rather error prone.
>>>>> I do not know the answer why, but I believe it is intentional.
>>> Definitely is.  Try it on piano.  The chords one octave lower are just
>>> too mushy.  
>> That’s not the point.  No one complains about having to specify the
>> appropriate octave in \notemode.  You just enter c’ when you mean c’.
> Come again?  People use \relative and \transpose (and now \fixed) in
> order _not_ to have to enter c' when they mean c'.  Apart from fullblown
> \transpose, those modes don't combine with \chordmode.

Yes, we have \transpose.  That’s transparent.  So in my opinion we don’t need 
\chordmode to act as an additional implicit \transpose command.  

>> If you entered c instead of c’ in \notemode you couldn't seriously
>> complain about the sound of your instrument being too mushy,
>> either. In \chordmode you *have* to enter c when you actually mean c’.
>> That’s inconsistent.
> Most people make sure that they only need to enter c when they actually
> mean c' one way or another.

I’m not so sure about most people but I definitely do prefer absolute mode and 
I don’t seem to be alone (see e.g. 

>>> That a guitar can sound somewhat lower chords tolerably is
>>> sort of irrelevant here since a guitar does not usefully follow the
>>> chord voicings of \chordmode.
>> Only a few chord voicing are really difficult (and very few
>> impossible) to play on a guitar.
> Oh come one.  How many properly voiced chords are available? C and G,
> and you'll rarely stop after four notes either, particularly not with G.
> And pretty much all of the rest in first position starts with a fifth
> rather than a third.

:) I like your sense of humor!  The last time I checked my guitar had more than 
three frets! ;) And I vaguely remember that chord voicings are not limited to 
close position.  Drop voicings (a.k.a. open position) are very common on the 
piano and the guitar (chorals basically consist of chords in open position) and 
they allow you to play any “properly voiced chord” (including inversions) you 
can imagine on your instrument.  And yes, it’s not forbidden to play less than 
six strings on the guitar.  Four-note chords actually sound better in many 
situations.  Last but not least: it may come as a surprise but the guitar is 
not restricted to strumming. ;)

> That's not useful as a principal input mode.

Well then I’m surprised that \absolute is *the* default input mode in \notemode.

>>> Don't see the point, frankly.  Making \chordmode more generally
>>> useful (like being able to get Fretboard-based voicings into Staff,
>>> or map chords to their single octave inversions used for accordion
>>> notation, or get either of those options into Midi): quite useful.
>>> But putting everything one octave down without any other change:
>>> don't see the point.
>> I’d say it’s rather the other way around: \chordmode currently puts
>> everything up by one octave in order to make note entry easier for
>> some selected instruments
> But putting everything one octave down would make it less useful for
> piano and not more useful for anything else.  So where's the point?

Consistency is one point. A c’ should always be a c’.  LilyPond has enough 
tools to avoid single quotes or commas in note entry — if desired.  It would 
certainly make it easier and much more transparent to mix \chordmode and 
\notemode in a Staff context (as I wrote in my first post). 

>> and thereby relativizes the absoluteness of the pitch names.
> Chord mode chords do not really have all that much of an absolute
> flavor.  For example, there is no difference between c/g and c/g' (you
> need c'/g to get a difference).

Well, that’s only partly true.  There is actually a fundamental difference 
between c/g (<g c’ e'>) and c/g' (<g’’ c' e'>).  I’d assume c/g and c/g' only 
result in the same notes being printed (<g c' e'>) because LilyPond is clever 
enough to ignore insane input and to come up with a better solution.  And if 
you want to have a second inversion of a c' major chord <g c' e'> is the best 
> I am not saying that there isn't a lot which may warrant improving.  But
> a different fixed octave?  

Not a different octave but the same as in \notemode.

> That's not really adding any use cases while
> still changing the meaning of every existing score.

Yes, the convert-ly rules are probably the real problem.


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