Thought I'd start a new thread with a "simplified as possible" list of tendencies. I've realized that without showing the whole game plan, it's hard to communicate the whole idea. Any tendency on its own doesn't have the power to "Always" be true, another tendency could be stronger etc. This is what has made finding a "by the ear" and a "unified" music theory elusive, and what makes labels inconsistent.
This is pretty deep stuff that has taken many years for me to click to. I've changed this list many times and it may still need changing. Please, if the aim of your response is respond with normal theory ideas don't bother. If that would've worked for me I wouldn't have spent all this time on a new theory. If however you've tested out some tendencies and want to give negative or positive feedback or have creative ideas towards things please respond.
The ear has a "Tendency" to want the labels on the right(in bold) to be the reference point, the "1".
Conditions - Thin Thick
- High Low
- Soft Loud
- Silence Sound
Connections - Disconnected Connected
- Random Repetition
- Far Close(in register or in time)
- Complex Simple(divisible)
Viewpoint or Tonality - How Conditions and Connections combine
- Weak Strong - is there a huge advantage one way or the other?
- Conflict Agreement - are the tendencies pointing towards the same note or place in time?
- Risky(Strong and Conflicted) Safe(Weak and Agreeing) - Hard to tell, I still haven't figured out its tendency, maybe it doesn't have one.
- Ambiguous(Weak and Conflicted) Obvious(Strong and Agreeing)
- Ambiguous Risky (Both Conflicted, but Risky is Strong)
- Safe Obvious ( Both Agreeing, but Obvious is Strong)
- Risky Obvious (Both Strong , but Obvious is Agreeing)
Lets use an analogy of we're in a small boat trying to get to land.
Close means that the land is close
Simple means that the path is clear
Strong means that we can paddle fast.
Agreement means that the current is headed in the direction I want.
Risky means that the current is going against us, but we are strong enough to make it.
Safe means that we're too weak to fight the current, but it's at least going to land somewhere.
Ambiguous means that either I'm fighting the current but not getting anywhere, or there's no current to fight but I'm so weak I can't paddle.
Obvious means that I'm in luck, I'm can paddle fast and the current is headed in the direction I want.
Examples with intervals and numbers:
- Close - Half Step, Whole Step
- Simple -Octaves, The low note in a P5, The high note in a P4
- Ambiguous(intervals only) - TT, +, P4, min6, m2
- Safe(intervals only) - min3rd, whole step
- Risky(numbers) - b6, 4, b2
- Obvious (numbers) - 3, 5 ,7
Examples with Rhythms:
- Close - Grace note, two 16th notes (as opposed to whole notes), The & of 4 in 4/4
- Simple - 2/4, 4/4
- Ambiguous - Free time
- Safe - Quick constant time
- Risky - Duplets in 3/4
- Obvious - 1 (2)& 4 1 for 4/4
Strategies, like "Balanced" are great to know, but the tendencies actually give a reason "why" balancing happens. Like if everything is Obvious then nothing is Obvious(example stacked 5ths).
As soon as we think we've found the answer for everything, the goal changes.
Notice that we're not trying to describe how to make "good" sounding music. All we're trying to do is match the way we think what the "1" is, to how the ear really chooses a "1".