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Tonality in Na'vi music


`Eylan Ayfalulukanä:
Although this might be appropriate for 'customs and culture' as well, I decided to post here, as most people who know anything about music theory would generally be looking here.

Recently, K. Pawl did a post on the Na'vi Hunt Song, suggesting how it might be set to music, and then gave a challenge to someone to do so.

The way music sounds good to us is controlled by physics, and I suspect the same rules hold true of the Na'vi as well. Based on these rules of physics, we have a number of ways to create tonal music using scales. Two notable ones are a pentatonic scale and a heptatonic scale, as used in most Western music. In each of these scale systems, you can create 'modes' and from those modes, 'keys'. Although there is no hard and fast rule saying you have to stick to a particular scale/mode/key, most music does and seems to sound better as a result.

Based on the very little Na'vi music we have, do you think that a pentatonic or a heptatonic scale is more appropriate? Perhaps a combination of the two, or something else?

I can't begin to claim I am an expert in this stuff, but taking a look at coming up with some music for this song has sparked my interest (plus a lot of the more ancient sacred/classical music I enjoy listening to was written in a mode other than 'major' or 'minor').

Tirea Aean:
For certain, Na'vi music does not adhere to the classic proverbial Major / Minor key.

From Pandorapedia, on Na'vi Music Theory:

--- Quote ---The musical scales utilized by the Na’vi are unusual for an aboriginal people, at least according to Earth’s standards. Most aboriginal cultures use one scale, two at the most, and usually the two scales are closely related. The Na’vi use three fundamentally different types of scale structures: pentatonic, diatonic, and microtonal.

Pentatonic or five-tone scales are found in both hemitonic and anhemitonic versions (with or without the use of half-steps). Using the Western European lettering system, these scales would be notated approximately as C D E G A (anhemitonic) and C D E-flat G A-flat.

The diatonic or seven-tone scales used by Na’vi do not follow the standard pattern of half-steps and whole steps that one would find in Western European tunings. They do use seven scale steps, but there ends the resemblance. Different modalities are created by using a different set of seven steps. Within the scope of the seven steps, the individual pitches and their relationships to one another may vary quite widely.

--- End quote ---

I kinda like that second pentatonic scale, myself.


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