Music 120Z: etude #2 - (theme and) variations
Write a short composition, in the spirit or practice of "theme and variations," which is entirely based on manipulations of a given soundfile.
Two sound files are given in the "120z-course-materials" folder:
- a brief excerpt from Beethoven 5
- a brief excerpt from the Jackson 5
Use only one of these soundfiles; do not use any other source materials.
Work in stereo (the source materials are each split into two files -- the left and right channels).
Your composition may be a short as 30 seconds or as long as a few minutes.
Write a classical theme and variations: present the theme, follow it with a sequence of variations, and then present the theme again at the end.
Or, reverse the traditional theme and variation approach: start with the most extreme variation (using any of the techniques above), and gradually reveal the "theme" or source materials.
Construct a more interesting "theme" by selecting excerpts from the original, splicing and re-ordering pieces of it, or otherwise manipulating the base soundfiles.
Variations might be based on techniques like EQ, panning, volume changes, time compression/expansion, pitch shifting, reversed materials, reversed materials, reverberation, splicing, other DSP algorithms, or compound processes.
Remember that variations are often shorter or longer than the theme they are based on.
Try out extreme applications of the different effects: maximum parameter settings and multiple off-line passes with the same effect.
Use automation to facilitate transformations and transitions.
For a classical theme and variations: the Bach "Goldberg Variations", the Beethoven "Diabelli Variations", and the Brahms "Handel Variations" are all classics. In the field of tape music, Vaggione's "24 Variations" are particularly relevant (if more complex in structure).
For the gradual revealing of source material, Tenney's "Collage #1 ('Blue Suede')" is a notable model.
Quantity: traditional theme and variations works are judged not only by the quality of the variations but also by the number of different variations.
Variety: use at least five different variation techniques.
Progression: segue as convincingly as possible from the theme to the most extreme variation (that is, make sure that the most extreme variation still sounds connected to the original). Or, create a smooth transition from the most obscured material to the revealed source material.
Burn your final draft onto an audio CD; please label it with your name and the assignment number.
Submit your etude in class on Monday, October 13th, 2003.
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