Dodeka's conceptual approach of its alternative music notation is based on the reality of music. A brief historical overview of the traditional musical notation is conducted in this section, so as to underline the useless complexities and aberrations of the traditional system. From this short analysis, a good and coherent approach for music theory is presented, introducing the concept at the core of Dodeka.
The Desire to Fixate
The need to transcribe music onto something physical had dawned at the beginning of music, which seems to go back to around 5000 to 6000 years before Christ. In fact, it is mentioned in the Bible in the book of Genesis that music quickly accompanied the development of humanity.
With such an ancient origin, it is conceivable that many musical language systems were introduced around the world. But, in those ancestral times, means of printing did not exist. Potential notational systems were therefore inevitably limited to regional and temporal use. More than 3000 years BC, the Egyptians already had the means to transcribe and record the melodies of their cultic songs. Such transcription systems must also have been used later on by the cantor schools and the Jewish musicians who played biblical Psalms. Traces of one of these notational systems were discovered on Sumerian tablets of the ninth century BC. The coding, consisting of five symbols, was obtained with cuneiform characters placed on the left side of religious poems.
In Greek and Roman Times
The systems used in the Middle East have presumably transited to the Greek world and generated the “cata pycnose” system. It seems that this concept consisted in dividing the scale in twenty-four semitones per octave. If this is the case, the forefathers perhaps had a much more precise and more coherent system than ours...
History tells us that around 600 BC, the Greeks used the letters of the alphabet to transcribe musical notes. The letters were topped with a sign that indicated the note’s length. Around 400 BC, Pythagoras’ works shed light on the mathematical aspect of music. He (re)discovered that taut strings make harmonious chords when their lengths are defined by multiples of two, three or four. His works set musical theory in a simple arithmetical framework.
With the Roman conquest, the musical writing system developed by the Greeks was taken over and then consisted of 1620 symbols! In about 500 AD, the Greek letters were replaced with Latin letters, in which upper case or double letters were signalling different octaves.
However, since the system was based on a subjective approach of sound, the musical scale was truncated. A way to annotate forgotten notes was to be subsequently invented. The harmonies of the Gregorian chant thus helped to create a “soft B” located a semitone below the B value. It is from this distinctive feature that the “flat” tone originated.
In the middle Ages
Around year 1000, an Italian Benedictine monk named Guido d’Arezzo devoted his life to prayer, as well as to the study and teaching music. In order to help his students, he gave new names to the notes based on a stanza of a hymn to Saint John the Baptist. The first stanza is: