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Author Topic: klingon music theory  (Read 24575 times)

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« on: 03 04, 2010, 02:06: AM »


i've been asked by floris (who's also on this list) to develop instruments and write music for his klingon opera project, a task i have happily accepted. now, certain aspect of klingon culture have been covered quite extensively but klingon opera doesn't seem to get further then a running gag in the deep space 9 series.

so my first question was: if there's klingon opera, would they have some kind of music theory as well? i think klingons are tradition-minded enough for it but if i were a klingon i probably couldn't care less if i was in or out of tune (even as a human i can't be bothered with that too much). but since you can't properly ignore something that's not there, i figured i had to come up with at least some klingon music theory. for symbolic reasons (yav-rad-QIH, the principle on which the whole opera is structured) i thought this system should be based on the number 3. as it turned out klingon math is based on 3 as well, i didn't know that untill i read the klingon math section a few days ago. so it makes sense from a numerological point of view as well. i also thought there should be a lot of dissonants, as harmony through opposition is the basic thought. but since i can't imagine klingons would be completely unaware aware of the physical laws of natural harmonics and dissonants aren't that dissonant with consonants to oppose them, i didn't want to miss the 4th (4:3) and the 5th (3:2) or at least something that's close enough. this led me to a taking a tritave (3:1 or 1,5 octave) and dividing that in 3 to the power of 3 = 27 equal intervals. this results in a ratio of 3 to the power of 1/27th, or about 1,0415285.

below is a list of the interval ratios of this scale. multiply these values with a base frequency of your choice and you'll have the scale in Hertz. i'll upload an audio example somewhere soon. i've also made some sketches of what a keyboard using this scale could look like. personally i like the 1,225619855 interval a lot as it is almost exactly in between a minor and a major third. considering the fact that humans commonly associate minor with sadness and major with cheerfulness but klingons consider sad things like death something to look forward to, it seems quite appropriate not to have a minor nor a major third but something in between. same goes for 1,44224957, which imho would be a very important note for klingons as it's exactly 1/3 of the tritave. it also pretty closely resembles the tritone in the western-terran 12 tone system. apart from the numerological parallels, i think that klingons would really like this note if not despite the fact that humans have called it "the devil in music", then exactly because of that...
i also like the fact that 1,997145375 (2/3 of the tritave) is almost (but just not) an octave, as from a klingon composer's point of view a perfect octave would probably be the most boring note ever.

i'd really like to hear any comments, remarks, tips, ideas or suggestions.

i'll post a link to this topic in the math section as well as the real challenge would obviously be to further develop this system using klingon math...


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« Reply #1 on: 03 06, 2010, 09:34: AM »

We know of at least two Klingon musical instruments that are available here on earth. How they will fit into the eventual operatic project is anyone's guess.

On DS9, the Klingon Chef often sang and played music. He sometimes used a small concertina with spikes on it, and at other times used a small three stringed guitar like instument. This instrument is actually called a strum stick, and is played like a guitar, although the Klingon held it more like a violin.

The only tie we saw opera was at a street fair, and I think it was A Capella.

Over at [another Klingon forum] there has been some recent discussion about a fan made Klingon dulcimer. There is no known canon source for this, but the fan in question plays this instrument and had one made that appears Klingon. I myself have messed around a bit with tin whistles and came across a bamboo flute that I believe is from India, and has a nice low tone. I have managed to learn the Klingon anthem on it, although I have not found a practical use for this knowledge yet.

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"I would kill the children of a thousand planets, just to see you smile."
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