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Mixed Modes

Gustav Johnson

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@ComposerMITA wrote a piece a few weeks ago based on a concept of lines which function relatively independent of one another and which also change 1) tonal centers and 2) modes every couple measures. It sounded like an interesting experiment, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I-dunno, I don't hate it exactly, but it sits with me the same way that free jazz and 12-tone music do. *shrug*

It's definitely a good exercise in modes, in part writing, and in trying to make each line work on its own regardless of the others. The original project requirements call for no thought given between the lower two voices and the upper two voices, but I must admit to breaking that a little - if it was possible and convenient to the line, I definitely gravitated towards tones that worked relatively better with the other parts!

Viola! - erm, I mean VOILA - c'est mon "chef d'oeuvre".



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First of all, I like this piece.

I went to listen to @ComposerMITA his piece for strings.

I haven't used this technique ever although it seems quite interesting.

However, I have some doubts: the result here (for me) is like free atonalism, let's say not "heavy" atonalism, since there are tonal centers that come and go. There are several lines and putting them all together give that effect for me.

I have worked on pieces mixing different systems, languages, modes, or whatever, but using layers, I would say, clearly different ones. Perhaps, the aim is different, because in my case I intend to make the parts independent but sounding good together.

With this system the result is more textural.

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Hi Gustav just listened to your piece! I'm not really into atonal sounding pieces (except if it used as an effect) so i will not comment on the piece itself.

I just want to react to what you wrote in the description to clarify the method i described before: 


"It's definitely a good exercise in modes, in part writing, and in trying to make each line work on its own regardless of the others."

Yeah that's true, however while the aim with this method that every line on one hand should be independent and should stand on its own as good as possible on the other hand it should sound good together also (one should be able to synchronize their vertical and horizontal writing and balance them). Your free lines are your horizontal lines but the resulting chords are your vertical structure and one should keep attention to this also how you leading voices or how your chord progression sounds.

It's not an easy task i know i try to learn this as well, just wanted to point out that if you were to aim for a atonal sound that's perfectly fine, but one can write 'diatonic sounding pieces' with this technique also or write in any style really. So don't think about it as mixing modes randomly to generate random results. One can pick scales that are close to each other also, point is to have a logic in your mind and aim and to learn not only to start writing music by writing block chords first (vertical structure), but one can start with free lines (melody and countermelodies, free lines etc- your horizontal structure) as well. If one are able to balance these two really good results can be achieved. 

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