Prolegoma to Tetra-
-chordal Structure

Preface to the online edition

The purpose of this edition is to make the following structural theories and aesthetic considerations available to anyone and everyone, without question. It is partially due to my lack of interest in credentialism and resume building, often used for the purpose of obtaining a professorship, that I have foregone submission to any academic publishers and chosen the oft-maligned act of self-publishing, but it is also so that an educational work should not be obfuscatory or hidden in such a way as to deter potential readers, both of which might be found in the manner in which standard academic, theoretical works are produced, promulgated, and perceived.

The major goal of this work, as it developed over time, was the creation of an informal workbook, in which the approach to an otherwise complicated theoretical topic would be open to anyone, anywhere, in any way, without question, as I believe that, if I genuinely desired to change how people encounter natural sound, I could not produce such results in a technical medium that obfuscates, and it must be done so in an educational medium that guides.

Furthermore, if the probability of such a work making money at all is slim, with the money made being divided among fees, and one does not expect to break even in the first place, then the quandary is whether or not it is moral to impede universal accessibility; that is, if I have nothing to gain monetarily, and if an online edition can be a lower cost alternative to printing and publishing a physical work, with the only cost being the overhead of the hosting services, then what is so despicable in doing so for the sake of the bettering of individuals as opposed to bending to the will of institutions and their publishing demands for the sake of their recognition? If we wish to write theoretical works for the good lovers of music, so that they may cultivate their musicality, then what is our excuse to tailor it for scholars and academics, as if we are writing dissertation after dissertation?

Lastly, the speculative nature of this work sets it apart from most modern theoretical literature, which is more focused on analysis of already existing material, of which there is a large potential market. This work, however, is focused on facilitating a path forward in a new musical language, one that has not been fully defined and developed and has an unknown potential; that is, if present and future composers find it of value and investigate the possibilities of this manner of organizing sound, of which I have only scratched the surface in my initial studies. Substance being unknown is not a risk I believe most musical or academic publishers have an interest in, as the costs required are not outweighed outright, and, as every major publishing entity is a commercial venture in which the goal is to push material that is universally understood as having inherent, unquestionable value, the odds do not appear to be stacked in my favor.

If these initial arguments have not justified my self-publishing, concerning the questions raised about said self-publishing, first it must be expressed that the choices, and their costs, are justified by my aesthetic position, in which the act of making music, not simply hearing as an audience member, is a way of living within, and appreciating, the natural world, and, if done so in a completely objective manner, so that we do not judge any sound to be of greater value than any other, we can work to remove the poisonous vice of subjectivity, which is caused by a disassociation with nature and the loss of a natural way of life.

Of course, this attitude is difficult today, not because we are unable to do so—rather, we are quite well equipped today with educational opportunities to do so—but because the trajectory of Western music has placed inherent value on one sound, and that one sound has damaged the ear so that it cannot accept any other sound. This is unnatural, as unnatural as living within a concrete box, and our acceptance of it is uninformed, as we assume that we have lived this way long enough that it might be justified by habit alone.

Therefore, if my goal is a manner of organizing music so that no tuning or temperament is an incorrect match with the musical line, that all harmonies can be valid, and that the ordinary individual should be connected with the act of music making to better appreciate all sounds, then to publish in an inherently closed manner is immoral; for, if published, the initial print run would probably be a few hundred copies, the scarcity of which would prevent a wide dissemination of these ideas.

Naturally, the argument against the limited nature of a small print run is that it would be thwarted by an individual who would scan the work and share it on the internet; yet, this outcome defeats the point of a physical book—the physicality of which is perhaps printed more for the status and privilege of being a "published author" than it is because there are people who appreciate a tangible copy (though I am personally part of the latter)—and the scanned and pirated version is completely unnecessary if an online copy is already being circulated free of charge, especially so as those who would pirate a PDF scan of a book are most likely never to be in the group of those who would buy the physical book.

Second, a published work, especially one that is sold, requires permissions to reprint material from works quoted or given as examples. However, a work not traditionally published, offered without commercial interest, allows for the waiving of most permissions, especially that of quotation, because a non-commercial, educational work, such as this, will be more likely to fall under fair use than one sold for money, even if the same amount of material was used. As it stands, nothing I have used that is not in the public domain—which includes the reliance on Curt Sachs’ transcriptions—should be considered beyond fair use for the current online edition.

Finally, I wish for complete and total ownership over my own intellectual work, down to page layout, which is something I cannot have if I relinquish my work to a publishing house that will modify it according to their house style. If this is selfish, then the blame may be placed upon me alone, but without full access to distribute, comment upon, revisist, and review my own work, so that I might be able to develop my ideas freely, without any worry of financial, commercial, academic, social, political, or artistic altercations, then it is my imperative, not as an artist or craftsman, but as executor of my own will, to do what is necessary to attain those ends.

Sean Patrick Ignatius Tartaglia
October 2019