Balance and Form

Today’s thought – musical composition essentially comes down to a personal sense of Balance (to create equilibrium) between the elements used in the piece and their position, duration and (re)-occurrence in time – which I refer to as Form. Balance and Form. Why this thought? Why today? I’m not sure – but it seems with Ableton Live and all the sampling I have been doing from my environment (for instance a cicada sample sounds recorded at night in the country processed in Izotope’s Iris software) I spend most of my time tweaking how often, how long, how loud, how often to place the different events in time.

Exciting music (to me) is when these elements of Balance and Form are presented in non-intuitive or non-typical ways. The music of Swazack (for instance “No Sad Goodbyes”)  the music of John Adams (Shaker Loops – if you haven’t heard this – get it!), and the music of Terry Wiley  are great examples of modern approaches to Balance and Form. Really all music has these elements – active listening for these two elements is really rewarding.

It is easy to get caught in ever cooler and more interesting sounds – and that is a worthy and exciting exploration for sure (ok, it’s addicting!). But creating a piece seems more about the balance between the elements and the resulting form of the overall piece. Just like a 12 bar blues has a sense of returning to its beginning and then starts again, not so formulaic music relies on a self generated sense of these two elements. And, since everyone has their own sense of what constitutes a balance between simplicity and complexity, loud and soft, fast and slow, etc. it seems seeking your own unique Balance and Form in a piece creates an infinite set of possibilities for music.

A thought experiment – how few elements can be used to create balanced, well formed piece of music – one, two, three? Is 100 to many?

Even in one part, say a bass line – balance and form come into play. Listening and feeling when a part is “right” is to perceive the elements of Balance and Form directly.

And that is the thought of the day.

2 thoughts on “Balance and Form”

  1. awright! Another layer! Thanks Rook…just got here-first time….in fact this is the first page Ive been to…cant wait to look around

  2. Cicadas are amazing…. so many nuances of pitch & tone in their communication…recording them & processing the sound was probably fun. I think one element “can be used to create a balanced, well-formed piece of music.” (100 is not too many, not sure how many is too much- I think the possibilities are endless.)

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