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Modeling the Experience of Music

Many theorists and musicians would endorse the view that conventional music theory is not adequate for present needs, and that some additional theory would be desirable. But, to date I don’t think there is any consensus on what such theory would look like.

I have attempted to address the above issue head-on. The result is a big new way of modeling music. I call it OMS, and the current iteration of OMS is posted at www.OMSModel.com . The following are some introductory comments on OMS:

[1] Almost all conventional theory deals with music as notes. OMS does not deal much with notes; instead its subject-matter is the experience of music broadly defined.

By experience I mean what goes on subjectively when we hear music, as associated with words like “emotion, meaning, mathematics, time, space, mass, color, the spiritual, the religious, narrative, drama, delicious moments, passion, serenity, beauty, politics, communication, prophecy, personal change, mystery, the ineffable, …”. It also includes the thoughts that are stimulated by music to various degrees; and more.

[2] I think most theorists would agree that “experience” is a very important aspect of music. However, conventional theory is awkward in its ability to analyze experience. Even the best attempts that I have seen (e.g. Leonard B. Meyer) just don’t seem to get very far. I think what holds back such attempts is the almost exclusive reliance on the model of music as notes and patterns of notes.  This is a very powerful model, but it misses a lot when you try to use it to model things like “emotion”, “meaning”, “space”, “the religious”, etc.

[3] The foundational materials that OMS uses are entirely different. The most important foundation is from the field of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”). AI has evolved novel and very powerful methods to model human intelligence and experience. Amazingly, these methods allow us to address even extremely subjective and seemingly-elusive aspects of human experience.

OMS was developed initially from the above foundation – which was then combined with close, purely-musical analysis of a wide variety of great works from the western classical tradition, along with many contemporary genres. And then some further extensions ...

[4] So, what does OMS look like? It has some of the “persona” of a very good professional music critic. It is succinct, with minimal jargon. It provides analysis which is refreshing, at times startling – but always cogent (i.e. the analysis always embodies musical intelligence).

Using OMS is a stimulating, analytical process – fascinating and rewarding. It is very different from conventional analysis; but I do not think it is any less rigorous and challenging (although the rigor and challenge is of a new nature).

[5] In its current state (Ver. 16.2) OMS is already a very good tool for analysis and understanding of any kind of music. But further  evolution is expected.

There above comments are introductory and incomplete. I will be happy to elaborate as requested, and will appreciate all questions and comments (public or private).

Isaac Malitz, Ph.D.

imalitz@OMSModel.com

www.OMSModel.com

818-231-3965

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