Dienstag, 18. Mai 2010

Transcending song

Some of my compositions share the same rhythmic feel, which is inspired by african music. I´ve never been to africa so I label these compositions as my "Fake African Memories".

I´ve performed them live with guitar and voice (and sometimes a percussionist) as songs without words: the different parts of a given composition are played successively, just like verse, bridge and chorus in the conventional structure of songs usually are.

Now, I take my Fake African Memories to make something new, that transcends their boundaries in three different ways:

- rhythmical structure

- song structure

- combining material from different songs

Rhythmical structure:
All the Fake African Memories are based on the triplet feel of a 12/8 measure.

Now I combine the 12/8 ternary feel with a binary 4/4 feel by adding a second drum part that superimposes a simple 4/4 beat on the 12/8.

The result is an ambiguity, the patterns can now be perceived from the ternary and the binary perspective, each with a different set of stressed and unstressed notes. This ambiguity adds tension to any of the parts of the Fake African Memories.
I found this mechanism by myself but by now I learned that this is a central feature of central african music (Simha Arom: African Polyphony and Polyrythm).
I love how this procedure broadens the possible interpretations of a single figure and I´m looking forward to play with two drummers, after working on it with ableton live.

Song structure:
Songs usually feature one main voice providing the centre of attention. This voice is usually structured in successive events: either you have the verse, or the chorus. One main focus of attention, one thing at a time - this structure provides that the song can be perceived easily, and it is also the structure I use for the individual tunes of the Fake African Memories.

I wish to create a music that offers a wider perspective to any listener and the means to transform my existing songs is simple: instead of a succession of different parts by one voice, these different parts are to be sung simultaneously by different voices. Now It´s the listener´s choice which voice he considers the most important at a given moment. Instead of a succession of discriminable events this structure implies that everything happens simultaneously all the time - it´s up to the listener to go through different phases of perceiving the music and concentrate on different parts.

I was inspired to try out this way of structuring my Fake African Memories song material by listening to and reading on Pygmy music and I am delighted how perfectly this method fits the material.

There are different possibilities to perform such versions of the material. At the moment I´m experimenting with electronics e.g. the Looper in Ableton live and also video clip-loops, and I´m planning performances with instrumentalists and/or a group of vocalists. If you are intereted in taking part in performing this stuff, live or via video or audio clip please contact me!

Combining material from different songs will follow in the next post.

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