Child’s Play – Music Video


Last week I created a new music video.  Before we go any farther, just start it up.  It is only a little over a minute long (1:17 to be exact).

(Click here if you don’t see the video below)

OK, is it playing in the background?  Great.

I took two of the miniatures from my composition “Child’s Play” and rearranged them a little.  Actually the biggest rearrangement is making the super simple starting piece, “Happy Feet”, a little more complex by having it modulate from the key of G to the key of D.  When you hear it again at the end, that is how it is in “Child’s Play, Book 1”.  Actually, that piece, “Happy Feet”, is based on one of the first things I ever wrote, back when I was a Freshman or Sophomore in college.  I broke a few counterpoint rules at the time, which were fixed when I added it to “Child’s Play, Book 1”.

As you hear, this uses my analog modular synthesizer.  The original “Child’s Play Book 1” was for the piano.

Child’s Play Book 1

OK, start the following video.  It is very long, but give it a try and let it play as you read.

(Click here if you don’t see the video below)

Is it playing?  Great.

(Just a quick aside – a few of the miniatures are among my favorite things that I ever composed.)

Back when I was studying composition I created this series of miniatures that started harmonically very simply and increased in the harmonic means allowed. (Don’t worry if you don’t understand the below!)

It starts with one chord.  The first miniature is in C Major, so that chord is C Major.  This is called the “tonic”, or “I” (“one”, not “i”).  The next is in G, so it includes a G (I) but adds a D chord (V, “five” (count g 1, a2, b3, c 4, d =5!), called the Dominant). Each little miniature adds more harmonic complexity, first chords and later concepts.

Here it is, spelled out:

New chord or Harmonic rule
1. I
2. V
3. IV
4. II, IV
5. III, VII, modal interchange chords
6. Neapolitan 6, secondary VII
7. Secondary dominants, pivot chord modulations
8. Augmented 6 (Italian, German, French)
9. Chromatic Variations on chords
10. Enharmonic Modulation
11. Sequential and Pivot tone Modulation
12. Chords built on fourths and fifths/stretched tonality
13. free, 12-tone, atonal

Each piece allows a chord or harmonic technique given on that line and all of the lines above it. So # 3 could include tonic, dominant and subdominant while # 5 could include all diatonic chords plus modal interchange chords.

They follow the circle of fifths, starting with C. All are in Major (Book 2 was supposed to go back down in minor.  Book 2 was never finished.)

From the beginning I allowed chromatic non-harmonic tones.

Most of the miniatures are between 20 and 45 seconds long, though one or two are a bit longer.

I wanted each miniature to be unique to make this an exercise in different styles as well as a quick harmony review.

And I hope you enjoy listening, despite it begin an exercise :)

(Edit – here is another of the miniatures from Child’s Play redone on the modular synth done a week or two later)

Tranquil Pool, Twilight (Child’s Play extract, Modular Synth)
(Click here if you don’t see the video)

24 thoughts on “Child’s Play – Music Video

  1. marina kanavaki

    Ah, Trent, these are so beautiful, really enjoyed them. A lot happening in there!
    Okay, first one I couldn’t help but laugh seeing the video and thinking… so these are the ‘children’ he’s referring to and they are 4legged! ;-)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: If We Were Having Coffee on the 28th of March, 2020 | Trent's World (the Blog)

  3. fakeflamenco

    The first “child’s play” reminded me of a harpsichord. The scene in a Knight’s Tale where Heath Ledger’s character makes up a dance came to mind. The second sounded very classical. Very enjoyable, especially on day 13 indoors! Thanks, Rebecca

    Liked by 1 person

      1. fakeflamenco

        I don’t have the developed music background you do, so I expressed it best I could. (never could understand theory) I always liked the sound of the harpsichord. A friend of mine’s dad played it. Thanks for the musical interlude!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. trentpmcd Post author

          Don’t worry, I knew what you meant. Back in the ancient times, they actually used harpsichord in pop and rock music! I always loved the sound, though I gravitated more to the harpsichord on the Adamms Family TV show ;)

          Liked by 1 person

  4. dprastka

    A man of many talents!! I really enjoyed your beautiful music and videos, they are so cool. Back in my day, I would say “bitchin” Lol 😃 nice job!
    I took a little theory, you are well versed and it was fun that you broke it all down, thanks for that. I play the piano. 👍😊


  5. Marilyn Armstrong

    I was a music major in college, too. I didn’t graduate as a music major. I was missing 1 credit (chorus) and decided to switch majors and stay in school awhile, especially since I didn’t have the skills to be a performer or the creativity to write music … nor did I want to be a piano teacher (though I tried for a while anyway … it turns out there aren’t nearly enough private piano teachers left in the world). I switched to speech/drama and accidentally completed the major, which prevented me from doing my final switch into philosophy and religions philosophy, which is what I really WANTED to do. This was just before they loosened up curricula. They wouldn’t let me stay another year and take one more major so I could get a master’s in something in which I was actually interested. Now, they wouldn’t have a problem, but in 1968 and they were very rule-bound.

    I still have a music background both from college and from years of learning piano. I wish I still had my piano, if for no better reason than to create little melodies. Ah well. I will have to settle for photography and writing. Maybe I’ll finally learn to play the ukulele.

    Is that first written for a synthesizer? One of my friends and professors at Hofstra was Herb Deutsch who was the co-creator of the Moog synthesizer. He was a wonderful teacher!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I would love to be a full time student… There was a time I tried. I started out as an engineering student but ended as a Math major. I later went back and took a bunch of programing and computer classes, including about a dozen at UMass Lowell. And then I did a couple of years as a visual art student – drawing and painting, with one sculpture class. but music was my first love, so I did a year as a music student, but then did about five years of intensive self-study. This was written during my self-study time.

      Yeah, the first, short, one was a rearrangement for synthesizer. It is a new instrument, but based on the old Moogs from the 1960s, including some “clone” parts of the one of the earliest versions of the first big Moog modular. Cool that you worked with Herb Deutsch. I think he still keeps a connection with Moog music even though Bob is long gone, or at least he did up until 3 or 4 years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. dawnkinster

    This is wonderful. Though I play music I never had any theory so I don’t understand the mechanics of what you speak…but I CAN hear some of it. I feel like I need to write a longer comment so I can hear more. :) I loved Happy Feet and I’m in the middle of listening to the longer piece…so far I’ve enjoyed each miniature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks, Dawn! I doubt many will get the technical details, but I like to give them for people who have studied. For everyone else, I just hope they enjoy the music :)



Express Yourself

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s