Mittwoch, 17. Juli 2013

Composing with patterns 1 - achieving complexity within a minimal scope

The usage of short motivs is a central feature of my style of composing music. I will share some thoughts on this in a loose series.

Around 1990 the father of a friend handed me a tape of south african Xhosa music. One track on this tape consited of a rhythm beaten on some kind of metal device. The sound was raw and cheap, giving me the impression it was a dustbin lid. That particular rhythm consisted of two or three tone colours, that were played in a short pattern without variation. A very limited range of expression, but: I was not able to get grips on that rhythm, it was beyond my analytical capacity and that thrilled me. The underlying principle - in my interpretation - was to make up something quiet complex and elaborate by combining very few elements. This has become an important aspect of my approach to composing music. Some of my guitar parts for Blotch reflect that, for example `Rigidur´.

Das Pattern beginnt 2:19.

The whole guitar part consists of three notes, but most of the time I only play two of them, or, more precise, the variation of one note, because it is an octave. The pattern is definitely not interesting for it´s tonal aspects, but rhythm is it. In `Rigidur´ it´s function is to be a complementary part to the guitar part of my colleague Michael Hauck. Before weaving it into this composition, I had already arranged it as a central motiv in this electronic sketch:

Two more tracks build around complex two-note-patterns are next. Both are sketches realised in ableton live to be played by a live band, but they have some cold charme in these stripped down electronic versions:

Haeree and Decrule share some features in addition two the usage of only two notes for the central motiv. Only a minimum of musical material is used for all parts, no variations, just exact repetitions. Both aspects are in line with the aproach described above and show my interest in minimal music and techno. Repetition without variation has some resemblance to a ritual that is performed in a mechanical way, rather than personal expression. Circling, dwelling upon a single moment, the only element of change being the parts starting or stopping, and, in the case of Decrule, the harmonic progression in the end.

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