Composition: Mytosis


Mytosis is a composition that I wrote in 2014 and you can find its audio version in my Soundcloud playlist (on the right hand side of my Home page).

Initially I wanted to write a piece for electric guitars only, because I find the use of this instrument to be somehow limited to certain practices that come from the blues tradition, so instead of embarking myself on the pointless and pretentious task of "writing something new" for electric guitar, I thought I could play with these limitations and make them the basic foundations of my piece.

Whenever a young musician decides to learn how to play this instrument, he/she will probably encounter the most widely (ab)used scale in rock/pop/blues (and even jazz): the pentatonic scale. One of the first licks that the young guitarist will probably learn is reported as the "Blues Lick" in the image above. The acciaccature may be played as bendings, slides or whatever nuance but the structure of that lick is more or less that one.

This is when I started dismembering the "Blues Lick".

The starting texture in the piece makes use of repeated pitches. For this purpose I played the segment of G minor pentatonic scale separately and with uncertain dynamics. In order to do that I used my right hand fingers and to get the repetitive pattern I used a delay. The notes of G minor pentatonic appear and disappear in random points in the stereo field, just like flashes in the dark. Meanwhile, the "Blues lick" appears (1:10) in its entirety. It tries to come to the foreground but it eventually cannot. It will come back again at 1:45, this time triggering a sort of 'chain reaction', the division of these pitches in different 'fibres', hence the title 'Mytosis'.

If we look at the main compositional material, it is built on the class set (0257)*, which is derived from the pentatonic array. This means that in the second part of the piece (starting at 2:00) a transposition by T9 has taken place (thus giving the unordered set [9, 11, 2, 4] that is A, B, D, E). Each of these pitches, except for D, gives birth to its own pentatonic collection and all are juxtaposed on one another. The intervallic relationships among them keep the same intervallic content of the class set.

In this section I used Guitar Rig as opposed to the paler Logic Pro X Amp Designer I used at the beginning. This was made on purpose because with Guitar Rig I could simulate different mike arrays, just like in a proper acoustic recording, to widen up the guitars.

In the following sections I sampled some guitar notes played in various nuances and used them in a sampler. Thus, I was able to create my own instruments starting from the sound of an electric guitar. I created a bass-like instrument, a whistle-like sound and the instrument that plays the cadenza in the middle of the piece (2:38). This gesture gives birth to yet another texture in the final part of the piece.

The final part is the one I labeled in the above image as 'Microtonal Texture'.

Essentially, the idea of repeating pitches that I used in the beginning comes back again, giving some unity to the overall structure of the piece.

This time, I used repeated picking patterns as the main gesture for repetition. Six guitar parts have been layered for this section, creating a 'changing background' to the solo instrument (another sampled guitar). Instead of layering the notes as they were, I modulated back to the G minor pentatonic collection and detuned all the six guitars by approximately 30 cents. This created that unsettling feeling that starts at 2:46.

One by one, the detuned guitars overcome a process of tuning - that can be seen in the transcription above -, eventually ending on the final F major (add9) - again built on (0257) chord that resolves the whole tensive section. I also added an extra pitch, the A, to make that chord a major triad, in order to highlight the resolution.


* please refer to Allen Forte's pitch class set theory if you're not familiar with this analytical method.

#composition #analysis #electricguitar #ensemble #sampledelectricguitar

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