From Xenharmonic Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Mousemambo's workbench for ideas and projects. Questions? Please use his Talk page or contact him through XenHarmonic Alliance's Discord server #wiki channel (though he frequently takes weeks-long breaks from participating there).

Created or substantially revised pages

Project ideas

  • "Tuning methods" Project
    • User:Mousemambo/Tuning methods. Add this new major page (or set of pages). I will note that there are excellent existing resources, like the Making Microtonal Music is Easier Than You’d Think page archived here from its original source. The problem with these is that they go out of date easily. Therefore, I am proposing a wiki solution that will be available for community maintenance including significant updates as appropriate.
    • See the section "Practical tuning for beginners pages" below for a list of what's currently available on the topic at this wiki and a few outside links.
    • To better understand how the "Tuning methods" document would work with a(the) planned how-to guide(s), I have started one example how-to guide tentatively titled "Guide to Tuning a Software Synth in a DAW" using Surge XT and Reaper as (primary) examples.
    • New article Scala tuning system. It's currently a draft outline that needs to be filled in, in part with material from the significantly flawed, sometimes simply wrong, material in User:Mousemambo/Document 2 draft. Lots of work.
    • Edit and move content from the stream-of-consciousness "Tuning base, tuning center, and tonic" (Document 2 draft) user-space page into the Scala tuning system article that's currently an outline.
    • The existing "Anamark tuning file format" page should be replaced with a redirect to a "File format" section in a new "Anamark tuning file" page.
    • Add "See: Tuning file" (or See: Tuning methods) as appropriate in the articles that currently reference them.
    • Add some "how to" information for people just beginning their journey, either as additions to existing pages or by creating new ones as appropriate. E.g. How to use tuning files, how to select which ones, how to get your electronic or software instrument to use one. These types of pages live in Category:Guides.
    • Category: Tuning methods. A category that would encompass all articles about how electronic instruments are made to adhere to alternative (non-12-EDO) tunings. "Practical tuning" or "Tuning practices" or Tuning mechanisms" or "Tuning technique" (currently in use but deprecated with redirect) or "Tuning practice" are alternatives perhaps? I note that the current Category:Tuning is about the theoretical side and not at all the practical side. However, it might instead be best to stick everything in Tuning, practical and theoretical, although that's not the direction I currently lean toward. I'd rather see "Tuning methods" offered as a category on the Category:Tuning page, and hide all the "methods" pages in there.
  • Indian music (User:Mousemambo/Indian music). Replace the existing article "Indian" which, by the way, has a strange and dismaying page title (see below). Provide some history and current usage of tuning selections in the various branches of Indian music, and links to outside information. See the "Indian music" section below for a review of what this wiki already has on the topic.
  • Scale naming. How are scales named? Are there existing conventions in the Xen community. Note a Discord discussion regarding square brackets used in scale names. Note the existing Temperament names page. Some related pages are:
  • Introduction to xenharmonic music terminology. Near complete as of 2023-Sep-05. Might be worth moving to the wiki mainspace.
  • Missing articles:

Practical tuning for beginners pages

Below is a list of existing Xen wiki pages (still expanding by search, as of August 2023) relevant to beginners who want to set their electronic instruments to other than 12-EDO tuning. Synth/sampler manuals frequently don't provide enough background information, instead assuming you already know something about tuning files.

It's useful to consider the trajectory of beginners newly arriving at the wiki. The wiki's front page has a section "If you are new to musical tuning" that doesn't get into practical how-to issues, but the page also has a very appropriate and helpful section "Practical xenharmonics" (Useful Tools, List of microtonal software plugins, Microtonal instruments). "Useful tools" simply redirects to the "List of music software" page, which seems sensible if inconsistent.

Related to that visitor's initial likely trajectory, note that the wiki's main sidebar also includes a section "Practice" with links underneath to some essential starting points for people seeking practical tuning guidance, especially "Software" and (of less relevance to this work) "Pedagogy." Also in that sidebar, "Useful Tools" (redirects to List of music software) is listed under "Theory" which is odd unless you know how useful the "practice" tools are for better understanding theory.

Also, there are some not (yet) totally outdated pages out beyond the Xenharmonic wiki that are worth learning from:

Indian music

Existing pages addressing microtonality in various branches of Indian music (e.g. Hindustani classical, Hindustani semi-classical, Carnatic classical, Sikh, Odissi, filmi, etc.):

There is some movement in the music world for moving away from referring to "Indian music" as a broad category, and toward instead referring to South Asian music. This is to distinguish the music primarily or entirely found within the country of India from (admittedly closely related) traditional/classical/artistic, folk, and contemporary music found in the South Asia region but outside India itself. I wouldn't say that movement is strong, but it has a point.

I note that under Category:Traditions all the cultural traditions (not just Indian) are named with strange and somewhat dismaying names that omit the word "music" that should follow. E.g. Indian, Arabic and Greek should sensibly be Indian music, Arabic music, and Greek music. The words "Indian," "Arabic," and "Greek" by themselves can mean a people, a culture, or (except for Indian) a language. I believe that these page names and category names should specify "music" or "microtonality" or something else specific. Wikipedia (which this is not) follows WP:Noun.

Xenharmonic music: An introduction to 21st century tuning systems

This project has been moved to its own draft page, with the title "Introduction to xenharmonic music terminology."

Intermediate xenharmonic music terminology

This is a section in early development to collect terms that don't seem fundamental enough to include in the limited space of the "Introduction to xenharmonic music terminology" but I believe seem important enough to warrant inclusion in an intermediate-level follow-up. Some might instead get incorporated into the Introduction before its first non-draft release.

The criterion for inclusion in the "introduction" — that the whole thing fit inside a one-semester academic class — doesn't hold as well here because you could make an intermediate terminology collection for each of several specialties, e.g. JI tunings, EDO tunings, RTT, etc. But in the interest of continuing the idea of a survey of xenharmonic terminology, I'll eventually create sections for each specialty that seems to me at this time to be important for a survey of xenharmonic music theory areas of study, but for now this is just a hodgepodge.

Elements of good Xenharmonic Wiki article writing

Here is an outline of some ideas about how to make the Xenharmonic Wiki more useful to musicians by improving the article quality.

  • Introduction to good nonfiction writing (with an emphasis on exposition)
    • Why are you writing?
    • What is "good" in good nonfiction writing?
      • Clarity of purpose: Strong focus on the idea being presented.
      • Clarity of statement: Intelligibility in the contexts of reader and meaning.
      • Clarity of structure: A nonfiction narrative arc.
    • How to write an effective nonfiction paragraph or "paragraphic" section (a section functioning like a paragraph).
      • Each paragraph presents one idea.
      • Paragraphs include:
        • Always, an initial statement of the idea.
        • Optionally, the definition of a new term.
        • Almost always, how the idea connects to previously presented ideas (provides context).
        • Optionally, how the idea connects to related ideas outside this writing (provides context).
        • Always, sentence(s) that develop(s) the idea.
        • Always, sentence(s) that support(s) the idea.
        • Always, an explanation of why the idea is valuable.
        • Usually, a summary of what the paragraph has presented.
        • Optionally, a description of how this idea connects to the next idea(s) to be presented.
      • Edit your paragraphs to analyze what functions every sentence is providing (see above), simplify wording and phrasing, use natural speech, remove unhelpful redundancy, create powerful flow between paragraphs.
    • What is an explanation and what are some types of explanation?
    • Effective narrative structure in nonfiction writing.
    • Tone in writing: Encyclopedic, authoritative, monographic, conversational, telegraphic, informal, comedic, etc.
    • Recommended reading for learning how to write better nonfiction:
  • Every Xenharmonic Wiki article should include...
    • An introductory paragraph or two that:
      • Is accessible to the Wiki's not-actually-officially-defined target audience of beginners: musicians with at least a basic introduction to music theory. This can be defined as first-semester, college Music Theory 101, but is also commonly introduced to high-school piano, guitar, and jazz musicians.
      • Provides links to beginner and intermediate-level articles on conventional or xenharmonic music theory as needed.
      • Clearly places the article's topic into the context of music.
      • Presents the purpose of the article in a way that will be understood by someone completely new to the article's concept, with links to articles about concepts that are necessary prerequisites.
      • Regardless of the topic (advanced or not), includes absolutely no math theory terminology beyond high school level, unless it is very, very commonly used in Xenharmonic music discussions, and links to/toward beginner-level articles are provided. If no such article exists, omit that terminology from the introduction, and present it later with a redlink to create that article. There are certainly also alternative ways to address the serious Xenharmonic Wiki problem of inaccessible articles that understandably frighten off musicians without a higher math degree. There are occasional paired articles, one for beginners (e.g. Mapping) and one for advanced readers (e.g. Temperament mapping matrices) — see list of beginner pages/Category:Beginner pages, list of expert pages/Category:Expert pages. This can be an effective approach but requires substantially more work.
    • Sections that divide the article into different depths of understanding, i.e. that require the reader to have less or more preexisting understandings. More advanced understandings belong in sections later in the article. This is true even for more advanced articles, because in effective narrative nonfiction writing there is always a progression of understanding. Some possible terms for the non-math/math sectional division (these can be mixed and matched): Elementary/Technical, Basic/Advanced, Fundamental/Detailed. Some great examples of presenting complex topics in several levels of understanding can be found the YouTube series 5 Levels, from Wired.
    • No list or table without an effective explanation of its contents.
    • It might be reasonable to use the Category:Todo tags to mark articles that need a plain-language introductory paragraph. However, there several possible Todo tags that might apply and perhaps should be merged: Todo:add introduction or Todo:intro or Todo:improve synopsis. Does Todo:intro mean something different from Todo:improve synopsis? See the discussion at Things to do § Plain-language writing.
    • Unfortunately, there are so many Xen Wiki articles that are missing an accessible introduction paragraph that it's hard to know how to begin such a monumental task. As part of a solution to this obstacle, I've put together an outline of specific articles as an "Introduction to xenharmonic music terminology" that I believe are foundational for people just starting out in xenharmonic music theory. These articles are a good target set for beginner accessibility and readability improvement.
    • Wiki sample/examples (to provide some idea of what kind of improvements would be helpful):
      • Consider the first paragraph of the "Porcupine family" article as of 2023-Sep-06, which never actually states what the "porcupine family" actually is (what's missing: it's a temperament family). This is not and uncommon problem: "The 5-limit parent comma for the porcupine family is 250/243, the maximal diesis or porcupine comma. Its monzo is [1 -5 3⟩, and flipping that yields ⟨⟨3 5 1]] for the wedgie. This tells us the generator is a minor whole tone, the 10/9 interval, and that three of these add up to a perfect fourth (4/3), with two more giving the minor sixth (8/5). In fact, (10/9)3 = 4/3 × 250/243, and (10/9)5 = 8/5 × (250/243)2. 3\22 is a very recommendable generator, and mos scales of 7, 8 and 15 notes make for some nice scale possibilities."
      • The version modified for clarity is: "The porcupine family is the rank-2 family of temperaments whose 5-limit parent comma is 250/243, also called the maximal diesis or porcupine comma.¶ Its monzo...."
  • Every Xenharmonic Wiki article about a specific tuning should ideally include an early section about the advantages (and probably disadvantages too) of that tuning for composing music. Contrast the article 19edo that includes that information, with the article 31edo that doesn't. You can find the missing 31edo info at an outside article, "Why 31-ET?" Of course when a tuning is newly developed people may not know any compositional advantages or disadvantages. But any tuning that has a fair bit of music written for it is ready to have that evaluative information added. This would greatly aid readers and especially composers who are curious where to start. An approach to addressing this wiki issue might be to use the tag Todo:explain its xenharmonic value to mark pages that need this info. See the discussion of Category & Template tags at Things to do § Plain-language writing.

Wiki Toolkit

All user sub-pages