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Further Subtleties in Interpretation

Interpositional Relationships

muzoracle.comWhen interpreting a casting, we begin by divining a meaning for each position: we take cues from the elements within them, from their cards and scalepoints. Then, in forming an interpretation for the casting as a whole, we treat each position as a single element -- we allow the gestalts that we’ve divined for each position to combine and form a story. There is another subtle layer of information, however, that can be mined before our final interpretation is made: that of the relationship between the positions, both in terms of harmony and/or suit.

Interpositional Harmonies. In a casting, the scalepoints and the positions they anchor occur in succession. They are not “stacked up” like harmony, but play out horizontally over time -- more like a melody. Nonetheless, there is a harmonic relationship between positions. If, for example, we are examining the relationship between a position above fa and another position above so, we can consider the fact that the space between fa and so is that of a Major Second. The harmony of the Major Second indicates division or disparity; thus there is division or disparity between the two positions. Positions separated by the interval of a Minor Sixth have a longing or hunger between them; positions separated by a Tritone might create an impetus or motivation between them.

Musically, because scalepoints occur one after the other and not at once, the harmony between them is not directly heard; it is implied. In the context of interpreting an entire casting, the harmonic relationships between scalepoints often play a subtle role; they are not as prominent as the actual “sounded” harmonies, not as obvious. They are worth noting, however -- they can sometimes be key.

Yet another layer of meaning can be uncovered when Harmony Cards in two or more positions are compared to one another. Then there are not only the implied harmonies between the scalepoints to consider, but the implied harmonies between the harmonies. Examining things at that level might seem over the top, but once in awhile something extraordinary happens. If a casting were to contain, for example, a Perfect Fourth over fa, a Minor Third over so, and an axis position under te, the axis scalepoint and the harmonies formed by the other two positions would all nail the same note -- that's pretty rich. Some fairly hefty theory chops are needed to spot these kinds of things right away; with practice, though, we can begin to develop a new way of seeing -- and hearing.

Knowing one’s way around scales and harmony is a big help in examining interpositional harmonies. If you would like to examine this aspect of a casting but lack the theory to do so, or if you just want to double-check your work, you may wish to check out the Interpositional Harmonies Chart.

Interpositional Suit Relationships. Interesting correlations can often be drawn between positions that contain cards of the same suit. A Perfect Fifth in one position and a Major Seventh of the same suit in another position, for example, might not only speak of Initiative here and Lack there; it might point to Initiative regarding that Lack, or to a Lack regarding that Initiative. (If the same two cards were in differing suits, they might still relate to each other similarly; their being in the same suit, however, puts them in the same realm and suggests a more intimate connection.) Further still, the correlations in suit between positions can interplay with the interpositional harmonies described above.

As can be seen, a casting’s cards and dice taken all together form a complex web of relationships. While the individual positions form the basis of a casting, the relationships between the positions form a subtle, dynamic layer underneath.