Composition Study #2

Posted by PH on February 27, 2013
Composition Study, Music & Technology, Students

This week’s class saw us still in the early 20th Century with the key work this time being Ionisation by Edgard Varèse.

I remember hearing this for the first time when I was in my 20s and it just completely blew me away: music with no notes, organized sound.

Of course outside of the Western tradition percussion music is relatively common. Whilst in London I went to see South Korean percussion group SamulNori a couple of times:

Stunning. And of course we have various modern interpretations, an obvious one being Richie Hawtin thrashing an 808:

Or here’s another: not quite strictly adhering to the “rules” as it includes some tonal material but it’s an excellent track and of course we love Dave dearly:

Anyway. After absorbing these tasty drum treats we (myself and aforementioned MA Creative Sound Production students) agreed a basic set of compositional rules for this week’s exercise:

  1. Drum & Percussion sounds only.
  2. No notes.
  3. No sampled loops.
  4. Can’t all be in 4/4.

We are exploring:

  • Rhythm.
  • Time signature.
  • Tempo.
  • Dynamics.
  • Frequency range.
  • Contrast (dynamics, frequency, etc.)
  • Human “feel” or expression.

And to cut a long story short, here’s my attempt:


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