WEDNESDAY, May 5, 2021 – 3:23 AM
I wrote this just now, and it’s for students. But not just only for students.
What this is really about: I want to write more and more music that is a max of two minutes long, suitable for students at around the one year mark but still interesting. In other words, things I like myself but hopefully not too technically demanding.
I’m trying to teach intervals, scales and chords to everyone. These are the building blocks of all that we do. You can’t really learn much music without them, but you absolutely can’t write music without these building blocks.
I sat at the keyboard playing half and whole tones at random, thinking about what they sound like alone, then I started to examine all the chords I could think of that use them in a way we find pleasing. In older traditional music they are not used as often, and they tend to resolve, meaning that they go to simpler chords without these intervals, often called dissonances.
The first time such small intervals started to be used in the modern way was in the music of Debussy and his contemporaries. In fact, not much has changed since then. The difference was that Debussy used these intervals are final chords, or in a whole succession of chords. That changed the way we hear and what we expect. Everything since has been a further exploration of this idea, going ever farther.
“Mellow” is about putting as many of these intervals into chords as possible without causing tension or any feeling of dissonance. It’s not as easy as it looks, but nothing that sounds good is ever easy.