Expanding My Melodic Voice

These next two tracks were from my Berklee Online Winter Semester, Week 4 in Compositional Voice Development in Film Scoring.

Octatonic Melody was an exercise to “…compose a short melody in one of the scales we previously discussed…major, minor, chromatic, Lydian, Dorian, Lydian dominant, Phrygian, Spanish Phrygian, Mixolydian, octatonic, whole tone, and altered scales…with traditional melodic phrasing…you do not need to write accompaniment material for the melody…you may add a pedal point drone…if you wish, but it is not required.” I chose (half-whole) Octatonic with F as tonic. The melody is in the cellos and there is a tonic pedal underneath, in the basses.

Whole Tone with Added Note was the end-of-the-week assignment to “…write a one-minute piece using a scale or mode you’ve never used before…the music should be unique in some way, but need not break from every established tradition of melodic writing.” For this assignment, I chose the Whole Tone scale with an added note. I structured it ABA’, and the A sections focused on the C Whole Tone scale with an added dominant (G), but the B section tonicized the G in “traditional” fashion, allowing me to use the Whole Tone scale with the added tonic (same pitches, but a “mode” of the original scale). I figured this scale was going to have a “dreamy” quality, but with some stability, as well as dissonance because of the added note. The more I played around with this scale, the more I got a vibe of “extra mystical Gregorian Chant”, so I chose to use male voices. I used only two voices at the beginning, so that there is some ambiguity as to what the implied chords are. I didn’t want to be too in-your-face and obvious about the Whole Tone nature of it, so at the beginning it seems like it could be in major, but as it progresses, each new note that is revealed implies a different mode, until near the end of the A section when there is an implied augmented triad, which really brings in the Whole Tone flavor. For the return of the A section, I added a third voice, so that all of the harmonies are solidified, and it is clear that this piece does not use a traditional mode.

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