Thursday, December 23, 2010

Aleatoric music, sort of

So on my other less snazzy blog I have been going into detail of the processes that I took to make some aleatoric music. Basically it is not total "chance" music like John Cage but whenever I come to a major decision I would just constrain the decision to a certain number of possibilities and then have random.org make the decision for me.

Two-Part Palindromic Invention

First I wanted to write a two-part invention that sounded the same backwards and forwards, which also obeyed a few of the rules of common period practice theory, namely only consonant intervals allowed and no parallel fifths.

The randomly chosen decisions consisted of precisely which notes to play. However, picking one note narrows down all of the others a tiny bit, so there is much less chaos involved than one might expect. The first few decisions had 7 or 8 possibilities but the final ones only had 2, and there were only 5 or 6 decisions.

I also had random.org write the lyrics: nonsense syllables created by randomly choosing from the consonants, then the vowels, then the consonants. It ended up sounding fairly sinister, but also very interesting.

Here it is: Aleatoric #1 (Two-part palindrome invention)

Rev8 by Walker Shurlds

It ended up a bit more dissonant than it is supposed to be because of my inability to sing in tune.

Three-part Round

Next I made a three-voice round using similar techniques. With desire for consonance I decided to limit the harmony to regular triads built from major and minor thirds. Since it is a round, determining one note actually determines three, and also those three all narrow down the other notes. So there weren't a terrific number of decisions to make there either.

For the lyrics I looked up "most common english words" and had random.org pick actual words instead of just syllables. Seriously these may be some of the best lyrics I've ever written. (I am bad with lyrics.)

Here it is: Aleatoric #2 (Three-voice canon)

Round12 by Walker Shurlds

Aleatoric #3

Then today I decided that I wanted to make one with TONS more decisions to make. I figure there are 42 possible normal triads in the normal 12-note chromatic scale used in western music. So I had random.org give me 20 of them, and then I sang those 20. For the lyrics I asked my friend Taralyn to give me some out of a book she had with her. She only gave me 18 syllables though so I crammed her screenname on the end.

Here it is!

Aleatoric3 by Walker Shurlds

Aleatoric music, good or bad idea?

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