Analysis Of Keiler's Logical Fallacies In Music

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After Keiler examines Bernstein’s logical fallacies, he dismantles Bernstein’s claims of the harmonic series as basis for all music. He writes that even the “simple diatonic scale requires…gross adjustment” (Keiler, 208). This is indeed true, with the fourth being 29 cents flat, the third 14 cents flat, and the seventh 12 cents flat (as compared to equal temperament tuning). Keiler also says the diatonic scale reaches into the outermost limits of the harmonic series. This is again factual, since the major seventh doesn’t appear until the 15th harmonic, and the minor third appears as the 19th harmonic. The fourth is the 21st harmonic, which pushes Bernstein’s claims to an even more ludicrous position. As Keiler suggests, it may be absurd to attribute the entire diatonic scale to overtones, especially considering a simple fourth as the 21st harmonic that is 29 cents flat. …show more content…
Again, Keiler argues against this claim, saying the distortion of pitches becomes even greater for non-Western music. Bernstein claimed that the harmonic series can explain Javanese slendro music, since this is pentatonic scale-based. Keiler openly rejects this view, stating, “There is absolutely no relationship of intervallic content between this scale and the overtone series” (Keiler, 208). Not only do the exact pitches of the scale and the overtone series vary immensely, but the slendro scale is different between gamelans. With more of a melodic contour basis than exact pitch basis, Javanese slendro scale falls far outside of the harmonic series explanation. Keiler holds that claiming the harmonic series as a universal musical basis is just another example of Bernstein’s logical overreach, and furthermore, is simply a wrong

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