Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sound Sketches: a little Harmony and Phrasing

After "multiwalk" I decided to think about harmonic progression early in any new works. Multiwalk didn't really have any, actually. There was some disharmony raised in counterpoint, but nothing resembling a "chord progression." At least not on purpose...

Yesterday I dug up an old melody sketch and began playing with it. Listen to the bare bones. Pretty simple: this phrase is ultimately rooted in C major (E and G in C,E,G) but by the third note it is leading toward F major (A in F,A,C). At the end it comes back to C after having shown the F and so technically this would be a form of I-IV-I chord progression. Well, close to one anyway, especially if you loop it.

After recognizing this progression I set about to both embellish the melody and also strengthen the perception of the progression. I really like the idea of layering in music so starting with that bare bones melody structure I began adding bits. The result is a "layered intro" sort of sound. This piece has 4 copies of the bare melody. To each new instance I've added something. In the second phrase I added two instances of C-maj chords to strengthen the I-ness at the beginning. The third adds a little rhythmic embellishment. The final phrase adds IV-ness (FAC chords) at the end. I suppose this ruins the I-IV-I and turns it into a hanging I-IV. Or maybe just mishmashed. But I think it sounds nice at the end... like the setup for something big!

One thing I also didn't like about Multiwalk was that each voice while having modes didn't really have very distinctive modes. By that I mean I didn't alter the rhythmic or note structure in any of the voices apart from the initial distinct phase it started out in. Given the "layered intro" bit above I decided to try to give it a rest/bridge to the fourth repeated phrase. So I set about to find a set of notes somewhat compatible and create a separate distinct melody with it. Using the circle of fifths and knowing that I was already using C and F it appeared that G would be a good fit. It turns out G is "V" and mixing I, IV, and V in a progression doesn't exactly suck. The result is a "bridged, layered intro." The bridge, as I'm calling it here is where the third phrase was in the previous example. Thinking about this some more I should probably drop the IV-ness at the end of the last phrase and make it I-ness to bring it back home. Maybe I'll update and add that later.

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