Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Seaside canon, for Douglas Hofstadter


Here's a musical crab canon inspired by a blog post from Julia Galef, who wrote quite an impressive crab canon poem. My musical interpretation of her poem is a crab canon too. It differs from my previous crab canon in the following aspects:

  1.  This canon was conceived after serendipitously finding a poem written by Julia Galef, who kindly granted me permission to use it.
  2. Compared to the previous crab canon, this one uses more and longer pedal notes. What can I say - I just love pedal notes! 
  3. In contrast to my previous crab canon, this one modulates to different keys. Have you discovered my free modulation book yet?
  4. As a nice variation on a typical crab canon (where you can reverse the score), here you can also reverse the raw audio samples. That's right! When you reverse the raw audio samples and listen to the result, you get the same piece again. Mind you: I'm not just talking the notes, but also the timbres! Nothing should sound more "backward" than in the forward version of the piece. You can try it out! Download the raw audio and import it into your favourite audio editor. Then listen to it, and relisten to it in reverse.
  5. The spectrogram (slowly appearing in black on white) looks like the sea, and the score layed on top of it in colored rectangles looks like a frontal view of a crab. Very appropriate for a crab canon about seaside :) Ok, that's a joke (or not? Try squinting your eyes... :D ) 
 With respect to the images that pass by: in black on white you can see a spectrogram of the piece. In colored rectangles I've overlayed half of the notes that are being played in the canon (four voices). The other half of the notes you hear come from those same voices simultaneously playing backwards.

 I've developed a systematic method for constructing music canons, crab & palindrome canons, and table canons using Lilypond, fully documented in a series of articles that you can freely download and use. It's advised to read them in the order listed below:

Tutorial on my technique for writing a Canon
How to write a crab Canon
6-part Invention
How to write a table Canon

I'm aware that the method I devised in its current form still has limitations and does not necessarily yield music that can compete with the Big Composers, but who knows... I  still have some ideas for further experimentation. And besides, it's just too much fun :)

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