From Tone Up

Day 105 Week 15 Q2 Sunday, April 14, 2024

Constructing music often starts with playing a few notes, liking their sound, and then expanding them into a pattern. This pattern, which will have a tonal center and a tempo, can be adapted in various ways. It can be sped up, slowed down, or changed based on the tonal center. A pattern can be played by a single instrument or multiple instruments, and it can be either monophonic or polyphonic, which are distinct concepts. A single instrument can also be polyphonic.

Once you have a pattern or several patterns as building blocks, they can be assembled into a rhythm, and rhythms can be indicative of a style. Of course, this style can and usually does contain more than one rhythm, just as a rhythm can contain more than one pattern, and in fact, it usually does.

A style of music can also be called a genre of music, although they’re not exactly the same because one genre lasts for decades or hundreds of years. It tends to go through different periods. In the genre called jazz, there are multiple styles ranging from New Orleans traditional jazz up to contemporary jazz with several points in between, including bebop. The genre of classical music is over 1000 years old, and it has a wide range of periods, including Romantic, Classical, Baroque, and many more.

These different genres, styles, and periods represent a large body of work where many music practitioners spent their entire careers. Others crossover the boundaries of genre and style and draw rhythms, patterns, harmonies, and instrumentation from multiple styles.

Still, in all cases, music is comprised of harmony, melody, and rhythm. it is possible to begin with one of these as a composer to construct larger pieces of music. The individual notes are like the elements of the periodic table. Like these elements, they are rarely encountered by themselves but usually within a mixture along with other elements, making them compounds. It is the compound that we encounter, not the elements on the periodic table. Similarly, it is the phrase, which is the combination of notes, that has the value, that is to say, the musical value.

These phrases are also patterns in that they have a tonal center and a tempo. Throughout a piece of music, they can change in both tempo and internal center as well as in accompaniment. This is sometimes called an arrangement or an orchestration, which are not exactly exactly the same thing but are related.

The bottom line is that once you have found a sound you like and evolved it into a pattern, the next thing you need to determine is the initial tempo and the initial tonal center. Then, you can be off and running. It shouldn’t matter very much what the genre, style, or period is any longer.