b Riding East: November 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sea Bass v45

I'm finally getting around to publishing a piece I wrote with Professor Mark Applebaum last winter, Sea Bass v45, a tribute of sorts to his own Cat Fish.  I had a lot of fun working with Mark on this piece.  He and I have similar values but quite different perspectives regarding music.  Working with him forced me to confront some of my own ideas in ways that were perhaps less comfortable.  Yet I think this is precisely why I'm going to school. 

Why v45?  Well, it's kind of silly to include that in a title, but technically that is the name of the file on my Mac.  For some reason, version 44 didn't cut it and I needed one more iteration.  And why wasn't v33 or v34 perfect?  Who knows? 

I suppose if I delve into it a bit more, I started with the concept of metric modulation, where you start with a meter/tempo and then somewhat unperceptively modulate to an adjacent meter/tempo.  I wanted to use the technique to allow the piece to initially sound completely abstract and then somewhat surreptitiously modulate to some metrical structure and so you (the listener) would realize that the piece was less abstract or unstructured but only in retrospect.  I'd modulate then back to something more abstract (lacking any any metrical structure or reference), etc.  Mark wasn't convinced with these drafts, and I suppose I wasn't either.  Next I wondered if the structure might be more metrical but yet embedded in a way that was not obvious, so that I would keep the listener in a state of suspended and confused curiosity...   And eventually this required 45 revisions, hence v45.

Eventually (say v30), the structure of the piece relied on two techniques:  first, at a macro level, metric modulation to take you (the listener) in and out of focus of the structured vs the abstract; and second, at a micro level, metrical counterpoint.  I used three metrical strings, one of length 12, one of 13, and one of 14.  They are grouped into smaller units such as 1-2,1-2,1-2-3,1-2,1-2,1-2-3 [14].  Etc.  And so at one, the core of the piece is attempting to get your ear to lock into one of these strings and then migrate your ear to an adjacent line.  My assumption is that, all else equal, eventually your ear will go to the shortest string. 

Sea Bass v45 Score
Sea Bass v45 MP3