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Old 12-16-2011, 08:02 PM
stubbsonic stubbsonic is offline
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Default Numerology, and compositional elements

Here are some musings about music, theory, and the compositional process. I hope this might stimulate some ideas and direct me and others to techniques (perhaps already-discussed ones) for using N3.

I should disclaim that I have not yet gotten deep with Numerology yet, as I have with my DAW and other tools.

I tend to think in three overlapping realms: Rhythm, Melody, and Harmony. There is often a "What-comes-first?" question when it comes to chords, melody and rhythm. None of these elements need be written in stone as a piece takes shape. For example, I might have a lovely melodic idea, put some chords to it that cause me to nudge the melody around. Then I might alter the whole thing by re-thinking the meter/tempo/rhythm at the end.

With Rhythm, there is a beat (pulse) which occurs at a certain tempo (rate). The tempo can be fixed, or vary as desired. The beats can be dynamically grouped and divided in different ways moment-by-moment. Groups of beats (measures? phrases?) can also be divided (for example: 4 notes in the space of three). In a more complex piece, different temporal "grids" created by this type of grouping and division can be superimposed on each other.

Within that grid, notes can start on grid points and last for through one or more grid values. Note start times can be modulated (shifted) by humanizing or swinging forces. Note releases can be off-grid or on-grid. Other dimensions can be added with accents and articulations to create two more more "levels" of sound.

It should be mentioned, that pieces can be composed without tempo, or any consideration of a grid. These pieces may seem arhythmic, but they are not. They are simply without a grid.

With Melody, there is often a scale, which like a grid, can be dynamically changed, or even super-imposed with another scale. Melodies can move within the scale, in step-wise motion, or with more larger leaps, or a nice mixture of the two. The melody need not be constrained to the scale in any way. In most (?) music, Melody works hand-in-glove with harmony, where melody lines contain either "chord tones" or "non-chord-tones" and there are "standard" ways that non-chord tones are dealt with. This kind of stuff is not part of a compositional process per se, but is rather a type of analysis that can be used to examine a melody.

Chords, like melody, are often derived from a specific (though perhaps fleeting) scale. A progression of chords can create an emotional frame on a piece of music. Perhaps "emotional" is not the right word. Chords can be directly expressed with block-style chords (chord notes all played at once, in some rhythm), or broken-style (maybe two notes at a time, alternating with other notes), or arpeggiated (played one note at a time in series). Also, harmony can be implied without playing any chords at all. Harmony can be very vague and vapory as well.

The common chords are "triads" (a three-note chord) comprised of scale notes. For a given seven-note scale (Root, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), the triads are: 1-3-5, 2-4-6, 3-5-7, 4-6-1, 5-7-2, 6-1-3, and 7-2-4. Usually the three members of the triad chord are called, "root, third and fifth" regardless of their position in the scale.

7ths can be added to each of these. The 3rd of a chord can be nudged up (or down) a scale note to create a "suspension" or "sus" chord. There's lots of other stuff you can do with "standard" chords. But I'll just leave it there for now.

But really, with chords, you can pretty much take any combination of notes and call them a chord. The above description just describes how "most" (?) chords are.

It is fairly simple to create random or even probability-influenced streams of rhythms, melodies and chords. What becomes trickier is to have the streams "react" to each other.

Another approach is to have an inaudible brain track can define the tempo/meter/rhythm, scale, and current chord at any moment-- and the other tracks could be subservient to that brain track. Other tracks could be melody/lead, chord/harmony/counter lines, bass line, percussion.

Last edited by stubbsonic; 12-16-2011 at 08:13 PM.
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