A fractal is a pattern that is repeated in iterations. The most recognizable fractals are mathematical patterns like Sierpinski's Triangle or the Mandelbrot set. How it works is that you start with an initial design. Then, to that design, you apply your fractal rule. Once you apply this "rule" your original design changes to the first iteration. Then, you apply the fractal rule to the "morphed" design to change it into the second iteration. Essentially, a fractal goes on indefinitely and when you zoom in closer to a fractal, the same patterns are repeated.
This week's song is a fractal. Well, actually it is several iterations of the same fractal pattern. I had to stop at some point because I am not that crazy about writing this thing forever. I start with a single note: C. The next iteration is that I replace the first note (C) with three notes (that equal the first note) with pitches of C (original), G (perfect fifth above), then back to C (original). Then, the next iteration, I do the same pattern for each tone - replace each note with three notes: original, perfect fifth, and back to the original.
The song today goes to the eighth iteration of this pattern. I began (actually I reverse engineered it, but who cares right?) with an 81 measure long C tone as the first step. The high voice on this song represents the 8th iteration. The next highest voice is the 7th etc. down to the 3rd iteration in the basement (or is that bass-ment?).
I added in some beats to give it an electronic feel. You might think that it does not sound like a regular "beat" for Electronic music. Well, that is because, due to how I wrote it, the measures are in 27/16 time. Very odd time signature to work with.
Being a recreational mathematician at heart, this has really opened doors for me. I am going to look at polyphonic fractals, fractal chord progressions. Possible have a fractal metal jam? Maybe fractal fugue? Don't know :)
Have a Happy rest of 2011 and see you in 2012!
Merry Christmas Everyone!
I am not pontificating today. I hope that everyone has a most blessed Christmas. As a present from Phrygian Phish/Last Rites and Sean Bailey (really all the same dude), here is a song that I recorded for Christmas. It is a rendition of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful". It is not perfect - but none of anything that we do is - that is why we needed that little child this Christmas morning. I do not have the most sparkly of voice - kinda like Bing Crosby - but it is in short my offering to the Christ child this Christmas.
Have a Merry and Joyful Christmas and Christmas Season!
Here it is, the final movement of the Advent String Quartet. The theme for this movement is Peace.
One of the titles of Jesus, the Child that is born on Christmas, is the Prince of Peace. Now, I am not into the rigors of logic and the details of definitions, but I do know that he did not necessarily mean pacifism. In fact it was Jesus who said that he did not come to bring peace but a sword:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’" (Matt 10:34-36)
We are called to stand up for the defenseless - not stand by idly. We need to know when we need to fight and when not to. As long as there is evil in the world, we always need to be on guard against it.
But the peace that I am talking about, or conveying in this movement, is quiet resignation. No matter what happens in the world, peace can be obtained on the personal level. From a Christian's perspective, this is the resignation to God's Will and an understanding that God is always in control. No matter what is going on the outside, this inner peace can still reign within us. This is what I believe Jesus meant by "His yoke is light" etc. When you look at the Christian way of life, in the face of the modern world, it is difficult. However, through believing in Christ and His dominion over all and our relationship with Him, all we have to do is do what He is calling us to do. The lure of the world is somewhat diminished as we see it is all fading and that the real treasure is in heaven.
Musically, the movement is slow and quiet. It is not a very melodic piece. It was written as a soundscape, as a meditative piece not an entertaining peace. As with the other three movements, I begin with the "Peace" idea or motive and deviate to a less settling part before returning to a peaceful conclusion. Now, the performance of this piece will be much more free than the other pieces. I have written it without barlines. The intent of this is so that the performers can determine the pace of the rhythm for themselves - for them to feel the piece rather than read the piece. Unfortunately, my rendering is more mechanical than I wanted, but this is all I could do for right now.
Now, this is not typical finale material. It is not fast, rambunctious, triumphant, or even technical. That is exactly what I meant. The purpose of Advent is not fulfillment. The purpose of Advent is longing. To sum up, the purpose of the Advent String Quartet is in the (paraphrased" words of St. Augustine, "Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in you". Afterwards, we should have a longing, a feeling like our waiting is not yet over.
A couple of bits: first, I find this a coincidence that I posted this movement on the day of North Korea's Kim Jong Il's death. Because there is uncertainty to how North Korea will proceed, consequently there is little peace of mind as far as what is happening on that side of the world. Please keep world peace in your prayers.
Second, I have over the last couple of weeks, averaged about a "song" a week. I don't know if this momentum will continue, but I sure hope that it will. I have many musical projects on the horizon for next year as well as some immediate songs that I want to do.
Third, I am averaging around 5 min. a song. if this continues, I would have approximately 5 CDs worth of music by the end of the year. Once again, we'll see how that comes along.
I hope you all have a wonderful rest of Advent waiting for the coming of the Christ Child!
Here is the third movement of the Advent String Quartet. The theme for this one is joy. This last Sunday was the one where the priests can wear the "rose" (I still call them pink") vestments and I believe that the theme is usually joy for this Sunday.
This is a really odd piece for me. Reason is I tend towards heavier and darker sounds and sonorities - Heavy metal, dissonant German opera, etc. I am more at home in a minor key (sad sounding) than a major key (happy sounding). This piece is pretty joyful :) My wife even said that it is cute. It is rather faster paced and I wanted to give sound to what joy would be, in particular the bouncing, jumping, and a general lightness that usually comes with joy. I put in a slightly depressing part to contrast to the more joyful theme. If it had a program (a story), I would say that it would be about a child joyfully waiting in anticipation for Christmas. Then, during this time of waiting, he got some bad news, but not terrible news. Maybe that he got a bad grade in school, lost a game....something that would be depressing for a child but definitely something that can be overcome. Slowly we see the child get over their loss and begin to focus again on Christmas.
The same should be said for us. I know that Christmas has a lot of baggage for a lot of people and that for most of us, it isn't as "magical" as it once was when we were younger. But, shouldn't it be though? Have we really missed the whole reason for this season of Advent? We will soon meet the Christ Child on Christmas day. And unlike the first Christmas when Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, wise guys etc. came to know this miraculous child and birth, we understand fully that he is our salvation. The salvation of our race. Shouldn't we be joyful?
Be sure to take a listen to the movement and get in touch with your innertube...I meant inner child :)
This is going to be more free flowing than the others. Just putting my thoughts out there.
Now, you might be asking, why is this nut writing a string quartet? These were not popular since the 1800s. Furthermore, why does he insist on the Christian imagery of Advent and Christmas?
Well, the first question kind of gets to the center of my musical philosophy. It is basically this: I make music regardless of the listener's preference. I am expressing myself and I am creating music that reflects a certain mood, sonority, or inspiration. I am making an artistic statement, not trying to necessarily gain fans. I am in a position that I can do that rather well; I don't depend on my musical craft (yet) to pay bills and I can create what I feel is right. So if you like it, great! If you don't, well that is OK too.
A second reason why a string quartet is that it is smaller than an orchestra. I can try different techniques, chord progressions, and counterpoint with a string quartet easier than with an orchestra. I only have four string instruments rather than who-knows-how-many-parts in an orchestral score. So, it is, in a way, practice for writing music. I can come up with ideas to try and write the four parts rather quickly and see how it works. If it sounds good, great. If not, it would not be too much to go and edit the four parts.
Third reason on why a string quartet: I always wanted to write a string quartet. It is so out-dated that it sounds exotic!
Just makes for a great conversation starter. Also, this is a new medium for me; the newness of writing for the string quartet gives me options I never had before writing for other ensembles. I think that stepping out of one's comfort zone can have some surprisingly fantastic results. But also really bad ones. It is a risk, but you never know if you don't try, right?
And why is it about Advent and Christmas? As I have mentioned before, I am Christian (Catholic) and very devout in my faith. If left to my own devices, this is where my inspiration comes from. Now, I don't think that what I write has to have a profound Christian meaning, but when I write for myself, I can't work off of any other inspiration other than my faith. I have tried love songs, songs of anguish...the actual musical result never compares when I write my own music.
When writing for others, it is different. They or their project is the inspiration; I don't have to supply my own inspiration to write. Recently I finished writing a musical score for a friend of mine's Star Wars tabletop campaigns. I will be working with my brother on another game music score. So, my faith is not my only musical inspiration, but it is my personal inspiration.
There are probably more reasons that I am doing this (such as showing you all what I can do, and writing Advent rather than Christmas music), but those will be for another post.
I hope to have the third movement up within the next couple of days. The theme: Joy. Have a great day!
Here is the second movement of the String Quartet. The theme of this movement is love. Now when I mean love, I don't mean or even think of love in the modern romantic comedy sense, but the real and deep unconditional, willing-to-die, patient, kind, etc. type of love. That is the love of God towards us, whether we feel like we deserve it or not.
Musically, I have this "fluttering" kind of theme that runs through the whole course of the movement. I am using this to imitate the feelings of the heart (not the beating). At times it can be sad or it can be happy but it was my best attempt at imitating how the heart feels love.
You'll also notice, that there are some quite dissonant or "sad" sounding moments during the movement. This is to allude to the fact that love does continue no matter the stresses that we put it through. True love is stronger than any of the trials of this world. Love is actually a choice, and when we love unconditionally, we will probably be hurt more than once. These dissonant moments are an allusion to this.
I hope you all enjoy. I will try to do another post later explaining why I am doing a String Quartet. Hardly anyone writes those now-a-days and about that many listen to them.
About The Blog
This is the news blog of Phrygian Phish. Check out here for news on Phrygian Phish projects like Last Rites, Beyond the Dice, and other Sean Bailey projects.