This dissertation explores the use and meaning of the flattened supertonic in four genres: Turkish art music, ragas of the Indian subcontinent, Jewish klezmer music,and heavy metal music. My aim is to research the particular significance of the flattened supertonic within each of these traditions, and to compare my findings withinthe wider fields of acoustic theory and Orientalism.
questions about scale note choice in relationship to culture and
I find that within these four genres the use of the flattened supertonic is an indicator of political, religious, cultural and social identity. Each tradition maintains a uniquerelationship to the flattened supertonic: in Turkey the focus is on its microtonal differences from the whole tone interval; in Indian music it is used in
ragas to be played at twilight (dawn and dusk); in klezmer music the
mode is crucial to the genre
; and in heavy metal music the flattened supertonic is emphasized for dissonant and ominous effect. All four genres share a concept of musical tonic, and because of the attraction tothis tonic the flattened supertonic carries tension. It can be considered a ‘leading note’.Changes have been made to the use of the flattened supertonic as a result of attitudes towards modernisation, Westernisation, and personal identity: in the Indian subcontinent its use has been reinforced by Nationalist movements; in Turkey and Israel the opposite has happened, with such music being regarded as backward looking; heavy metal followers change their style with each generation, oftenbecoming more dissonant with more use of the flattened supertonic
There is a complex and subtle character to
the use of this note. In the four musics studied it is integrated and a valued part of identity: the ‘other leading note’, falling instead of rising.