Friday, 23 April 2010

The extra factor

No this is not a reference to an annoying TV programme which goes behind the scenes at another annoying TV programme (actually I have to confess I tend to watch the X factor).  No this is the correct meaning of the word "factor" as a mathematical term.  I have an extra factor of 2 amongst all my threes.

Let me explain.

I was trying to think of ideas for sub-section 1.2.1 which is meant to represent space.  how do you represent spatiality in music?  Well you need three dimensions, side-to-side (L and R stereo panning) up and down (higher and lower musically) and in and out (louder and quieter should do the trick).  Oh look, we have 3 things, and this album is an exploration of the number three.  So we can have three positions in each dimension (left, centre, right; high, middle, low; quiet medium and loud) which gives us 27 combinations.  And so I thought I could also use rythmic threes: 9/8 time is a jigged version of (sometimes called a "slip jig"), and I can have lines of 3 bars length and "bits" of 3 lines length.   

Wouldn't it be sweet if in a 3 minute sub-section I could neatly fit in 27 bits, unfortunately I cannot, well I can but it goes too fast. If it goes at a decent jigging speed I can nicely get in 18 sections.  Instead of 3x3x3 x 3x3x3 I have 3x3x3 x 3x3x...2.  Shame.  Never mind, there comes a time where musicality takes preference over maths.

So I can still do the 27 different spatial positions, but instead of each one being a bit, each one is a line.  After each bit comes a second bit which is a refrain.  This will give me the 18 bits which fits exactly into 3 minutes.  

Have I got enough 3s into this mad thing yet?  Well I have a chord sequence and tune for the refrain, but I was asking myself what I would do for the chords for the active bits.  The three most commonly used major triads (each of which has three notes in it, coincidentally) are the chords based on the tonic, sub-dominant and dominant of the scale, otherwise known as chords I, IV and V.  With three bars in a line, there are 27 combinations of these three chords I can play, and so of course once I have thought of it I cannot resist using this.  I think I'm probably going to be in G, so I have the following sequences for my 27 active "bits"










I really think that this might be an opportunity to get the obsession with threes significantly out of my system.  Can I resist the temptation to reshuffle everything so that this is the central sub-section of the whole ablum?

So all I need now is to choose three melody instruments, work out the backing, and write 27 tunes.

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