06.25.2010 § 1 Comment

M’aidez by cmloegcmluin

M’aidez consists of two infinite loops: one rhythmic, one tonal. You can distinctly hear that the 2:04 mark is identical to 0:00.

Rhythmically, it repeatedly metrically modulates by (either half or quarter) triplets. First it modulates by quarter triplets to a beat 4/3rds the length of the original. Then it shifts by half triplets to a note 2/3rds the length of that one, or 8/9ths the length of the original. Then it goes by quarter triplets again to 32/27ths the length of the original, then by half triplets to 64/81sts, and finally reaches a note length 256/243rds the length of the original.

At ≈1.0535 times the duration of the original note, it’s quite close—only around 5% longer—and gets masked by an imperceptibly gradual tempo change.

Tonally, the pitch seems to rise constantly, but it’s a Shepard scale. Each note consists of stacked octaves, the higher ones fading out and the lower ones fading in, so by 2:04 the highest note is silenced and a new lowest note is burgeoned.

I experienced what I have to say is miracle of sorts in composing M’aidez. I had set out with only a vague plan to introduce, alternate, and overlap each new pulse before phasing out the previous one, and ended up arbitrarily shaving segments off, and even accidentally repeating a phrase one more time than I meant to. So I had no expectation that this could happen, let alone did I plan it: M’aidez came out to be 62,208 ticks long, which is 256 * 243, the lowest common multiple of every note length I used along the way! In other words, if you simultaneously start mindlessly banging out 1/1st notes (243 ticks long), 4/3rds notes (324 ticks), 8/9ths notes (216 ticks), 32/27ths notes (288), 64/81sts notes (192) and 256/243rds (256 ticks) notes, the very first place they all realign is the exact same point my irregular composition happens to loop back around! Stunned, I decided to let M’aidez do exactly that, and that’s what the bubbly stuff in the background is.

It’s also worth noting that I split the octave into five equal parts of 2.4 semitones each, much like a Javanese slendro scale, hence the exotic color.

I titled the piece M’aidez because I wrote it on May Day, and coincidentally on that same day I was wanting to be extra careful about my use of “oeuvre” and while looking it up on the Wikipedia page for English French I stumbled across the factoid that when your plane is crashing and you scream “Mayday!” you’re actually screaming “M’aidez!” Furthermore, since the maximum cap on tempo in the program I used to write M’aidez was 960 bpm, and I didn’t like it any slower than that, I used 960 as the final tempo to which it accelerates, and consequently the initial tempo turns out to be 9-1-1.

I should say that I consider this only an exercise, but am interested in developing it into something perhaps dubstepesque. Please let me know if you’re interested in collaborating on it! I don’t know the first thing about producing dubstep.


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