Friday, 25 February 2011

It's all Physics, isn't it Jimmy?

Months ago I talked about my old Physics teacher, with "Och no it won't do". This guy, Jock Marsden, was the most distractable teacher we had, easily diverted onto talk about his days in Aeroplane design. Typically at the end of a long, and diverted lesson, as we hustled out of the door he would declaim "But it's all physics isn't it Jimmy?" (he called everyone Jimmy).

After much deliberation I decided that the pseudo-heavy-metal and pseudo-acid-rock section is fine as Chemistry, and that it will be the last of the three sciences, not the first - the ease with which it will segue into the next section is too good to resist, and it turns out I can find a way of getting out of the previous section OK. So that's the order sorted - the next problem is, how do I turn the idea of physics into music.

Well for a start I could think about how sound is made, flutes have resonant air, strings vibrate, it's all physics. So physical instruments - good idea. Ahhh but electronic instruments have sounds generated by whizzing electrons, and once again it's all physics. The music that is generated at the end is a confluence of air pressure waves, formed by (hopefully) pleasing harmonies (concordance and discordance are not just subjective, they are physical things) and rhythm (periodic factors using the dimension of time...) it's all physics! On top of that, the whole of the first track is about the physical world, so tackles the states of matter (physics), the three classic forces electricity, magnetism and gravity (physics), and space, time and multidimensionality (physics). When it comes down to it, physics is everywhere, it's the fabulous science that links maths to all the other scientific disciplines.

But that doesn't help, what do I do to represent physics musically?

Well I had this musical idea that I'd done a prototype of, which is a kind of Alan Parsons kind of thing - I can hear it in my head with a nice 80s synth. Is it physics? Well everything is physics - but that's now a cop-out, is it particularly physics? I'd really like to use this idea somewhere though and I'm running out of viable sections.

Instead of intellectualizing it, what if I tried to tap into emotion - how do I feel about physics, and how does that translate into music? Physics to me is solidity, and to some extent the "clockwork universe" of Newton's laws.

Solidity = rock

That was the best I could come up with, and so I've used my idea and done it in a rock style. And for now, it's the best I can think of. Plus I really like it.

It starts with a drone and a tinkle, all three of the science ones will. An electric piano plays the riff, joined by rock guitar, slowly speeding up to speed. Then a quick 2-bars of clock noises and the drums come in with four on the floor. By now there are three strong rock guitars pumping out the riff. Twice through the riff fully and onto the B motif, which is more funky, and the drums back this up with a rock/disco beat. A few more iterations and variations and it all works out. The guitars are all in open Dm tuning (I really have a thing about altered tunings right now), and the whole thing is full. There are small bits of solo-ish stuff but having tried to find sounds to play over as solo lines it seemed resistant - the sound is full already but it's effectively a rhythm track.

So I'm going to leave it as is and see if it needs more when I get into the listening phase.


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