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The Other Leading Note: A Comparative Study of the Flat Second Pitch Degree in North Indian Classical, Ottoman or Arabian Influenced, Western, Heavy Metal and Film Musics

Moore, Sarha (2014) The Other Leading Note: A Comparative Study of the Flat Second Pitch Degree in North Indian Classical, Ottoman or Arabian Influenced, Western, Heavy Metal and Film Musics. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This cross-cultural and cross-genre study considers the flat second pitch degree (♭2), a semitone above the tonic, in its significant functional role in tonal musics. The ♭2 appears variously in Indian raga, Ottoman and Arabian influenced music, and in Western music, including heavy metal and film musics. This study aims to balance the exploration of difference in connotations of the ♭2 across cultures with an understanding of commonalities in its use and significance. With the ♭2 as a central focus, I deploy combined methodologies to ask what structural use and connotations it has in various musics, and how it speaks to ideological worldviews such as Orientalism. Through interview, music analysis and literature study I investigate the melodic and harmonic use of the ♭2, its metaphorical associations and meanings past and present. I find that the ♭2 has as strong a ‘yearning vector’ as the major seventh ‘leading note’. Across many world music genres there are nuanced and complex connotations, with metaphors of verticality underpinning many interpretations of the falling cadence ♭2–1. To the Western listener the ♭2 usually signifies anxiety, reinvented in metal as positive and transgressive. Together with the Western signification of the ♭2 as Oriental, a hybrid may be created. I argue that this hybrid may portray the ‘East’ as a negative Other, as exploited in film’s ‘unheard’ soundtracks. In traditions such as Oriental metal and Bollywood, in contrast, hybrid connotations may support articulations of powerful, modern identities. By showing that the ♭2 is used in different yet comparable ways in multiple genres, I bring different harmonic practices, metaphorical associations and ideologies into the foreground, highlighting expanded significations across cultures. By focusing sharply on a specific musical feature as it appears in various contexts, this study aims to provide a well-defined site for disciplinary debates on cultural boundaries.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Music (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.605433
Depositing User: Ms Sarha Moore
Date Deposited: 19 May 2014 10:20
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 11:16
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5696

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