Friday, July 29, 2016

How To Write A Song Without Playing A Single Note

Total Serialism, huh? That's certainly interesting. Let's dive in!

1) Let's start where serialism always starts: The row. Try writing a tone row, then try converting it into numbers. Once you're there, try making it into a rhythmic row, a dynamic row, or whatever else. Maybe even try putting it all together, see what your row sounds like when you serialize the heck out of it!

2) With that done, let's serialize more! What are some other aspects of music that you could make rows out of? How would you divide them up? On the other end of things, what are some ways to loosen the rules so that you can maintain some artistic control? Get creative!

3) Finally, let's have a discussion question. What do you think of total serialism. It's incredibly alien compared to normal music, but does it appeal to you? Could you see yourself using it? Or does it just seem crazy?

And that's it! See you next week!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Chords Without Thirds: A Whole New Harmonic World

Hey, thanks for checking out the exercises! This week we talked about chords built without thirds, or so-called Non-Tertian Harmony. Let's dive in!

1) One feature of standard harmony is that we have a name for pretty much every collection of notes already, so non-tertian harmony doesn't actually add anything new, just new ways to construct and interpret. So let's start by reinterpreting them back: Make some chords out of non-third intervals, then see if you can figure out what we'd call those chords in regular harmony. (If you value your sanity, though, you probably shouldn't try it with tone clusters...)

2) We mentioned that there are some good arguments for why we use thirds, but we kind of glossed over what those were, didn't we? Well, gloss no more! Why do you think we settled on thirds as our fundamental interval? How would you describe thirds, and which of those properties do you think make it such a good choice to build a harmonic system on top of?

3) And finally, the discussion question! What do you think of these? Which did you like the sounds of? Which could you see yourself working with? Or do they all just seem pointless to you? No wrong answers!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Why Don't All Instruments Sound The Same?

This week we got to talk about the harmonic series, or at least we got to start. There's plenty more to say about it, so let's dive in! As always, answers can go in the comments below or on the main video.

1) Let's start by just building the harmonic series again. Pick a starting note (Besides Bb!) and try to figure out the first couple octaves worth of harmonics for that note. Try not to just transpose the notes: Instead, look at the intervals we made with our various ratios and work it out that way.

2) As we mentioned, it's no coincidence that the ratios 2:1, 3:2, and 4:3 are three of the most consonant intervals in modern music. But let's take a look at other intervals that appear in the series. For instance, 5:3 is a major sixth, 5:4 is a major third, 6:5 is a minor third, and 7:5 is a tritone. What do you think that means? Look at the list again: What other intervals occur fairly low in the series?

3) While overtones are certainly an important part of why instruments sound different, they're not the only one. Can you think of others?

And that's that! See you next week!

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Brief Discussion Of Poetic Meter

Poems are fun! They're not always the most musically related things, but they help inform lyrics, and lyrics are a large part of how people engage with most songs. Let's dive in!

As always, you can put your answers in the comments below or on the main video.

1) Let's start simple. Find a poem. It can be one you already know and like, or you can find a new one. Go through it and try to identify the accents. Do they fall into a pattern? Which of the feet we described does it use? Or does it not seem to use any of them?

2) Continuing from that, we left out quite a few feet in the video. We covered 2- and 3-syllable feet with one accent, but there are names for every possible arrangement of accents, as well as names for 4-syllable feet. You can find a full list here. Can you think of some words that exemplify other accent patterns?

3) Finally, let's try writing some poetry in meter. Iambic Pentameter, where each line is five iambs, is a pretty popular form. Try writing a rhyming couplet, with two lines of iambic pentameter. Or try four. Or hey, if you want to get crazy, maybe try your hand at a whole sonnet! Just familiarize yourself with the idea of thinking in stress patterns.

And that's it! See you next week!