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).
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.
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
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)