Monday, February 9, 2009

Escaping the "Whole -Tone Effect" while using the Whole Tone Scale

This one took a bit more effort to work out. The intent was to "go tonal" as much as possible using the whole tone scale as the only melodic resource. By making this a double canon and using the two different whole tone scales -- one in each canon--I was able to essentially alternate between I and V. This is impossible to achieve using only a single WT scale due to the lack of perfect 4ths and 5ths.

I used only a portion of each scale and employed the contrapuntal device of voice exchange to facilitate the common practice style voice leading.

A voice exchange is simply having two parts exchange pitch classes. For example, the simplest form is to exchange two notes. In a C chord, one voice can move from C to E and the other from E to C.

Another form is to have one voice pass from C to D to E while the other does E-D-C, both treating D as a passing tone.

The next level would be to again use the C-D-E and E-D-C exchange but to have the D harmonized by its own chord. This last one is certainly not the most complex form possible, it is simply the one I chose to use here.

There are voice crossings which enable some other melodic touches that would be impossible with a single WT scale. I've indicated these in the score with dotted lines. I use these to improve the melody and the bass line. The crossings create an aural illusion of a continuous line that is actually passing from one player to another.

I first wrote the parts within the repeat signs and then took notes away to create the more spare opening section.

The alert, diligent or theory geeks among you will spot the fact the underlying structure of the piece if a voice exchange, too, as exemplified by the stripped down opening measures.

(click on image to enlarge)

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