Music (Day 23/365)

A couple of things tonight, and these are really randomly written:

I played with the interlude leading up to the climax of “Milky Way” and have been having some success with messing with the rhythm. I also began forcing myself to think in terms of eventual orchestral sounds, contrasts in volume, etc. It had dawned on me on one of my walks that the big climax (the narrator’s “I shall never part day from night”) could very well be an enormous climax and I could pull out all the stops, big brass maybe and augmentation of the theme, motives, etc. Nothing like a rolling tympani to get these things going, of course.

I also, in my string quartet file entitled “abortive sketches”, began playing with polytonality. This is really where I wish I had gotten a degree in composition. Somebody could have taught me this, and no matter how painful it would have been to learn all this crap, it would have been less painful than trying to discover it on my own.

At any rate, a handful of measures of that was astonishingly effective. Is this all it takes to sound serious, the accompaniment in C and the melody in A? I remember being intrigued by Sondheim’s use of polytonality in Into the Woods, how any of us got our notes, I’ll never know. But then he’s a master.

And now, looking over that score, I have to think about whether I need to totally revisit “Milky Way” to explore a more astringent sound. Do I want a scarier walk? Or should it be lush and tonal? The beginning is already dissonant within reason. I always lose sight of that, though, as I keep working and having fun with pure triads.

I know, I’ll just go back and insert some seconds.

One thought on “Music (Day 23/365)

  1. Polytonality or bitonality is actually something I can say something about. Based on my autodidactic forays I can say that the choice of keys used depends very much on how close you want to stay within a particular tonal center–C-ish or Bb-ish, etc. Also, polytonality is particularly effective when employing highly percussive accompanying patterns, the astringency of the effect is not perceived as “out of tune.” In jazz, the concept of stacking or using “polychords” is a favorite possibility. You can stack two or three triads, any triads, and see where it takes you. Lots of harmonic tension can be created by stacking triads on top of V7 chords where the V7 is voiced without a fifth or where you simply voice the tritone and leave out the tonic of the chord, stacking upon the tritone at will with major or minor triads or other appealing intervals. In creating “fugue states” (tee-hee) you can gain interesting results by using polytonality, especially, again, where strong rhythmic elements are in play to give shape to the lines.

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