Time, change, perfection. Seeking a new music: II. 2 October

II. 2 October

In the context of the above and my most recent sketches toward “One Day as a Thousand Years…” I have been musing (mus[ic]ing) on how melody might be formed formlessly–non-linear, “timeless,” while moored in time by the experience of time’s arrow.

A steady pulsation with undifferentiated, or minimally differentiated, metric hierarchy. This recalls the common performance practice of Gregorian chant, melody shorn of metric setting. Or perhaps rather than merely steady pulse, a shifting one built over a common unstated subdivision (groupings of 2, 3, 4, 5, as in eighth, dotted eighth, quarter, quarter+sixteenth, etc)… but not haphazard. Self-referential, internally cyclic. Sparks of memory, of recognition. My generative series formula might make a good source for a pulse pattern that is at once endless and self-referential, and that stretches the experience of different recognizable subunits further and further with each iteration. Fractally enlarged rhythmic gesture.

And pitch. These current sketches draw pitch from the harmonies being repeated, simply by voicing each chord to a particular inner voice:
pulsechordsmelody

Interesting that both of these are 026 patterns, arrived at by ear rather than by scheme. Of course it’s only because of my gravitation to the whole step embedded in the chord itself, as these chords map to each other by inversion. Still, my ear grabbed those sonorities before my mind comprehended the pattern. That must be worth something.

Applying the pulsation thoughts above, perhaps this material can be stated in a few different ways. As a synchronized, steady pulse (as written and first explored); as a synchronized shifting pulse according to a metric value series; one layer, melodic or harmonic voice, a steady pulse with the other shifting according to a metric values series; both voices on different iterations of a series, or on different series. These latter two have the interesting feature of asynchronicity between voices, but with a carefully approached series construction could remain in the same cloud of harmony, even as their articulations move in and out of sync. Freely decided numbers of pulses in one or the other (or both) could also keep the harmony synchronized even as the articulation is not. This could be a fruitful idea to explore, even to follow different approaches in different parts of the piece.

Melodic contour, and the harmonic implications of melody, also play significantly into the experience of linearity or non-linearity. Smooth, stepwise motion in one direction seems to my ear to suggest a continuation of the same, and in tonal music the connection of two tones by step implies their harmonic connectedness. Disjunct lines tend to frustrate a perception connectedness, which is why they are so easily used to imply a deeper, often stepwise meta-connection (in compound melody especially).

The unification of pitch and pulse under the same series would lend a deeper recognizability to melodic gestures. The stretched-out-ness of those gestures as the series reaches more distant iterations would gradually transform the gestures to textures–sort of like the shortening of electronic sounds from very long undifferentiated drones to discrete articulations of a sound to granulated texture. The extremes of the process produce continuous textures. It is a relatively small range of possibilities in the middle that are perceived as events–as gesture rather than texture.

Another driver of self-referential and recognizable non-linear variety could be to slice a melodic line into regions, which could be mutated individually: repeated, inverted, reversed, transposed, chopped up and granulated, subdivided and filled in with micro-gestures derived from the larger pattern (or by simple stepwise lines or other free expansions), chromatically altered, re-rhythmicized, reharmonized… or combinations of any of these or others. These could be intentionally audible or inaudible expansions/variations, although for my immediate concerns the former seems preferable. Using the same series as was used to generate a given melodic line itself to delineate breaks in it (based on note position, etc) would make for an inaudible but internally consistent process for determining those breaks.

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