Composition Study #8

Posted by PH on May 04, 2013
Composition Study, Music & Technology, Students / No Comments

This week’s class looked at drones and modes. A very straightforward session on two related and relatively straightforward musical ideas that pre-date the Western tonal system (although the modes we use today are “rationalized” versions of archaic proto-modes). Modal composition and drone-based musics have become far more visible and “respectable” since the late 1950s, particularly because of the interest in non-Western music.

Here’s a YouTube version of the sort of things we listened to (again accepting the range of possible musics we could have listened to here is very broad indeed):

The composition specification simply said create a piece using two main elements:

  1. A drone. Use any sound source but it must evolve (be “organic”).
  2. At least one mode (from a basic set of seven as described in a handout).

There were some very inventive and fresh compositions from the students. Here’s my rather conservative attempt that uses the Aeolian and Locrian modes in A:


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