Making interesting combinations of pitches is (excuse the huge understatement) important. There are of course many approaches. I try to avoid notions of chord / triad etc, maybe because they are loaded with cultural and historical significance. I’m trying to find simple numerical processes that lead to interesting and varied yet musically coherent combinations and developments. Wow, all of these statements are just too glib at this stage to be meaningful. Hopefully as this blog develops these notions and intentions will become clearer and better defined.

In previous Flood Tide /  Hour Angle performances I have usually started with a basic cell such as [C, D, G] (cell1) and combined it with another similar cell (cell2) which is transposed according to the incoming data. The combination of cell1 and cell2 give a set of between 3 and 6 discrete notes (because some notes are duplicated).

The choice of [C, D, G] for example is significant. Often I try to make performances that are mostly tonal. This is not because I dislike atonality but because I want the piece to be mostly tonal. This method of combining these 3 note cells gives tonal combinations when the transposition is: 0, 2, 3, 4(poly tonal), 5, 7, 8(polytonal), 9, 10. The remaining transpositions 1, 6 and 11 give more atonal or cluster based combinations.

Right now I’m exploring another way of making tone sets. For instance if you choose an interval (between 1 and 11)  and build a set of pitches from that uniform interval you get:

  1. chromatic (12 notes) i.e. [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]
  2. whole tone (6 notes) i.e. [0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10]
  3. diminished (4 notes) i.e. [0, 3, 6, 9]
  4. augmented (3 notes) i.e. [0, 4, 8]
  5. fourths (12 notes) i.e. [0, 5, 10, 3, 8, 1, 6, 11, 4, 9, 2, 5]
  6. augmented fourths(2 notes) [0, 6]

The remaining intervals (7 to 11) are inversions of the ones above. An interval of 0 can also be used and the result is a unison. 

These uniform pitch sets are all rather limited and lack tonal variety, tension and colour. I’m looking for ways of combining 2 uniform sets to make sets that are more varied. 


About John Eacott

I'm a jazz musician, composer and yachtsman living in Brixton, London
This entry was posted in algorithmic composition, liveNotation. Bookmark the permalink.

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