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A Natural Appreciation for Music


Peter Hübner
Founder of the
Micro Music Laboratories



  Avant Garde Music
  Harmony & Disharmony  
In today’s times, many people are confused by the aspect of perfection. At an automobile fair, many are astonished about the enormous technology of a car manufacturer. But nobody is astonished about the incomparably enormous technology which finds its expression in the fly’s eye whose owner is just at that moment sitting on the exterior mirror, and is seemingly rubbing her hands and/or her tiny forelegs.

In contrast to the unnatural, the natural distinguishes itself by simplicity, by inconspicuousness, by discreetness. The complexity of an elephant’s harmonious movements are hardly noticed by the modern observer. It is the other way round with the comparatively primitive behaviour as a driver during the Formula 1 Race – probably because the drivers there generate higher turnovers and/or earn more than an elephant.

Modern industrial societies have a price to pay for this sort of blindness towards the natural, which shows in form of diseases, disasters, catastrophes, depressions and many other things, and this blindness does not make an exception for the whole area of music.

Atonal music, also my own from earlier times, at first glance, seems to be intelligent, interesting, complicated and exciting to the restricted spirit of our scientific technological age. And perfectly naturally structured music seems to the same people to be boring, simple, uninteresting, music to fall asleep by. But this problem is not a problem of music, but a problem of development of the listener and the music creator.

JOURNALIST: Herr Huebner, what is harmony and what is disharmony?

PETER HUEBNER: Musically, disharmony is the deviation from the natural order of the laws of harmony of the microcosm of music.

In contrast, harmony is the order used in the composition of the laws of harmony of the microcosm of music.

Harmony is that which a plain human being feels to be harmonious. It is a mistake to believe that being able to feel harmony is a matter of practice. The composers of disharmonious music always point to Beethoven or Wagner to say they, too, needed a long time to find recognition. But this comparison is not correct.

Regarding tonal harmony in their music, they never had difficulties – they couldn’t have – well, that is, disregarding Wagner’s Tristan.

Concerning Beethoven, the experts were locked in dispute with him, because he brought the emotional into music – today usually described as “dynamics”. Bach was still of the opinion that manipulation of volume was only aimed at superficially manipulating feelings, and from a purely musical point of view didn’t mean anything at all – instead even distracted from the purely musical.

Wagner’s disputes with the experts at the time, were about his annoyance that they didn’t know the first thing about music – the same also applied to the interpreters.

But it was never about the aspect of harmony. Harmonical music is a matter which is scientifically objectively verifiable, and what is felt to be harmonious or not is, across the cultures, not a question of taste or of education, but is solely based on the fact that the biological system of human beings is harmonically structured, and that here especially the ear is physiologically aimed at the knowledge and preference of natural, harmonical structures. Here, with regard to the medical effect, the biological systems are equipped with automatic amplifying and muffling mechanisms, that is more or less, with sympathy and antipathy mechanisms.

An analysis of the compositional structure can, of course, also provide information on whether it is harmonious or disharmonious music. Such musicologically harmonical knowledge is very important if you want to judge the quality of music. The microcosm of music reveals to us a world of music which does not know disharmony. The nature of a tone is made in such a way that, when it is made as an integrated whole – i.e. when it is a natural unity – it develops according to the laws of harmony of the microcosm of music.

There are mock tones which are in reality artificially created mixtures of tones which are mixed together from the outside – be it with mechanical or electronic musical instruments. Such “tones” have no natural development according to the laws of harmony of the microcosm of music.

JOURNALIST: What is dissonance?

PETER HUEBNER: Dissonance – like disharmony – is recognised spontaneously by the plain human being. The sound physically disturbs him, he physically feels unwell. Fundamentally, what the listener perceives as dissonance, is also part of the harmonical, but in the microcosm of music, this part is pushed far away by nature into the hardly audible and right into the inaudible.
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  With kind permission of AAR EDITION INTERNATIONAL