: My question is this, and it's something I've thought about for a while, but since you
: guys seem to know this technical stuff: is there, as examples, a tone/note between C
: and C#? Or B and b♭ etc?
: --Previous Message--
: We were talking with a musicologist friend a few weeks ago, my burning question was
: what do people believe these days is the biological basis of music, is there a
: universal basis for music across human cultures? She said that there is
: surprisingly little that is universal, and the biological basis is still a mystery.
: The main universal seems to be the octave, and beyond that probably the pentatonic
: scale (12356, the black notes on the piano). She said this seems to be found in
: almost all folk music.
: She asked for an example American folk song (she is Israeli). Without thinking I
: said “Tom Dooley”. We sang it and sure enough, entirely from the pentatonic scale
: (the only exception is the high part sung with the chorus, which includes a 4, but
: this was probably added later by the Weavers, sounds like classic Pete Seeger
: counterpoint). Another notable feature about Tom Dooley is that the chorus has the
: same melody as the verse, which adds to the monotonous quality. So maybe, rather
: than looking for other songs with two chords about murder, they should have been
: looking for other pentatonic tunes. One that struck me today is “Paradise”, a John
: Prine tune I love that also has the verse and chorus sharing the same melody, and
: sure enough, all pentatonic all the time. Also two chords, maybe also about a
: murder of sorts (“Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away”).