Dippin’ Dots, Ice Cream of the Future!

All right I’ve kind of had enough of the AH modal stuff for now. There’s only so much theory stuff you can pile on before you have to actually start writing something, and I’m just not feeling that inspired in that vein these days. Give it a couple weeks or so.

Anyway, I’ve had a sketch for a serially composed 12-tone piece in one of my notebooks for a while now, and wanted to see what I could do with it. Now, I’ve never really studied 12-tone technique in any serious capacity besides thumbing through textbooks and reading wikipedia entries, but as somebody only tacitly interested, I never felt like I should study it strictly. Knowing about basic operations like row in retrograde, row in transposition, etc seemed enough, and I really could care less about “avoiding tonal influence.”

This is what I came up with.

Dippin Dots Ice Cream of the Future!

The A ostinato (in 29!!) is the row spelled out in the “key” of G. Since G is in the strongest position rhythmically, I tend to hear it sort of as a tonic. The first 4-bar melodic fragment at mm. 9 is the row starting now on C, and contains a two full iterations of the row, plus 6 notes into a third iteration. The second 4-bar melodic fragment at mm. 17 is the row in retrograde starting where the first 4-bar melodic statement ended. However, its now transposed back into the original “key” of G.

The B ostinato begins at mm. 25 in 7/16, and is the first 5 notes of the row in retrograde from where the A ostinato left off (the pitch “D”). The harmonies at mm. 33 are taken strictly from the row starting on “A,” and cycling through in tetrads. In other words, the first chord is pitches ( 5, 6, 7, 8 ) of the row, the next chord is ( 9, 10, 11, 12 ) of the row, the next is ( 1, 2, 3, 4 ), and so on. The riff at mm. 49 is the remainder of the row in retrograde that the “B” ostinato (from mm. 25) started.

The solo section is “free” on a Db pedal, but the voicings are not. They are the same harmonies from mm.33, starting this time on the ( 1, 2, 3, 4 ) chord, cycling through the other two, and then transposing up a minor third. They can be played in any rhythm, but must be played in order. After returning again to the A ostinato to finish out the solo (with free comping and a soul calypso rhythm…sort of…), the solo ends and we return to the B ostinato at mm. 63, this time in 9/16. The harmonies at mm. 67 are the same from mm. 33 and the solo section, this time starting on a row based on D#/Eb. The rotation of three chords – ( 1, 2, 3, 4 ), ( 5, 6, 7, 8 ) and  ( 9, 10, 11, 12 ) – are cycled down by half-steps until mm. 81, where the pattern concludes. The melody at mm. 71 is the original A ostinato adapted to the 9/16 rhythm, and evolves slightly at mm. 79 into a eighth note hemiola over the 9/16 barline.

This idea ends abruptly at mm. 82, where we get a sort of “shuffle” in 10/16. The B ostinato provides the background for a readapted A ostinato in the bass, which almost sounds swung. The 5/4 idea from mm. 49 returns at mm. 91 in augmentation, which brings us back to the recapitulation at mm. 93. I ended on an E major chord, because, really, there’s only so much of this serial crap that you can stand listening to for any length of time, plus its funny.

Anyway, thats enough of that theory bull. Basically, its just dissonant and weird, and that’s all that really matters. Enjoy!

-Adam

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1 Response to “Dippin’ Dots, Ice Cream of the Future!”


  1. 1 E March 11, 2010 at 12:07 am

    1.) Title of piece is amazing.
    2.) Smirk at end of video is hilarious
    3.) How the hell do you count that shit?!


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Welcome to Adam Neely's blog/website. Check out his compositions, links, and information about lessons on the top bar, and enjoy the music!

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