Friday, January 7, 2022

Seven-part Rondo in E♭

This was a fun one. The form is ABACABA, or a seven-part rondo, but of course I've taken a few liberties with this centuries-old form.

In the A section, the guitar takes the lead, while the synths play a syncopated chord progression. In keeping with the classical vibe, the harmony is a circle progression that sometimes skips the tonic to keep the momentum moving forward. The drums generally follow the rhythm of the synth part.

For the B section, the roles reverse and the melody is in the synths, and the guitar plays a hybrid chordal/countermelody part. Here the harmony is much simpler, so the bass is more free to be independent. Tonally, the B section modulates to the mediant, which is atypical for a classical rondo in a major key, but I've always thought that modulating to the dominant sounds a little cheesy for my taste.

The C section is the guitar solo, and for this part I've condensed the harmonic relationship between the A and B sections into a four chord loop and put it in a new pair of keys- B minor and G major. You could think of G major as the parallel major of the B section key, but my intention was to evoke the major III chord in the key of E-flat. Putting the B minor chord first in the loop weakens this interpretation, but in either case I like the way the modulation sounded. 

After the solo, I tried to mellow things out a bit by taking the drums out occasionally in the A sections- the B section remains unchanged. I chose not to try to transpose the B section back into the tonic key because (if you haven't already noticed) modulations are important to my songwriting process and I didn't want to ruin the emotional impact of the B section. And besides, it's in a very closely related key anyways.

And finally, the gear I used to make this happen:
  1. My 2008 Epiphone Les Paul Standard into a Boss Katana 50mk2 with an Electro-harmonix Metal Muff and the built-in phaser and spring reverb on the Katana. I used the neck pickup the whole time.
  2. A Squier Affinity Jazz bass from 2009, both pickups on full. Recorded DI, but with a 50/50 blend of one of Reaper's built in amp simulators and a ton of compression.
  3. Organic, an additive synth plugin that comes with LMMS. I just hit the "randomize" button until I found something I liked, slapped an envelope on it, and called it a day.
  4. LB302, another LMMS plugin. Set to sine wave and with the distortion turned up. Originally I was intending for this to be the only bass on the track, but it sounded pretty weak so I decided to grab the real bass and mix this one in for color. You can still hear it pretty clearly in the last two A sections where the drums and bass guitar cut out, leaving just the synths and this synth bass.
  5. The synth melody in the B section was a combination of Triple Oscillator and ZynAddSubFX.
  6. MuseScore's default piano sound reinforced all of the synth parts for just a little more fullness. It can be heard clearest in the B section melody.
  7. The drum samples came from my old high school drumkit. I still thank past me every time I use them.
  8. There's a hi-hat sound through an auto filter that comes from LMMS, along with a few extra percussion samples.
  9. All the mixing was done in Reaper, along with exactly two edits in the bass part to correct wrong notes (can you spot them?).
  10. OBS captured my screen, my phone recorded the videos of me playing, and Kdenlive put it all together. 

No comments:

Post a Comment