Wed, 15 Aug 2012

And Then There Are The Endings


Have I mentioned endings? Once I've wailed and sweated blood to pass my personal one minute barrier, (I've been told I should write advertising jingles, I don't know what those are but apparently they only have to be 30 seconds!) then I have to write the ending. Oh the ending. I'm stuck right now on the ending. Can you tell? I just pulled out that piece I was working on last time... and now I have to finish the darn thing. Killing tree giants is easier.

I've written an entire one minute and twenty four seconds of music! I was hoping for more, but as my music gets exponentially worse the further I stretch it, it's time to wrap this one up... Another way to think about it - endings are hard to write, but as each successive second of music becomes more difficult to reconcile with the already composed body, at some point the ending starts to look easier than extending the piece.

Argh, the ending. To go out with a crash and a bang, or a gentle sigh? Or to thumb your nose at the establishment, convention and comfort, and just end the darn thing on a leading tone, the 7th if you're in a major key. That's something only questers and sylvans with black berets and gold belts can get away with. There is, however, always hanging on to the leading tone for as long as you can milk it before finally resolving back to the tonic. Although, come to think of it, I'm still pretty sure I'm in a Dorian mode. Which has no natural leading tone! Well, that's out then. This energetic dance is not going quietly into the night. It needs some kind of bang. It's awfully hard to end a song loudly without slowing down though, and I really don't want to slow it down. Is it possible to end a song, with good resolution, without slowing it down? That's a conundrum. I think if you don't slow down, the listener just goes flying past the ending, lands with a thump in the dirt, and looks up at you with a surprised sorrowfully confused expression. But maybe there's some way of cueing the listener without slowing down. "Hey! This is the ending here, listen up!" How do you do that? Well, you can slow down... no no no! Bah. I wonder, can you speed up? Does that work? Can you say "I'm running past the limit of my endurance now, any second I'm just going to drop!" Can you get your satisfaction that way? Huh.

Oh, no natural leading tone. Right, in a Dorian scale the 7th is flat. So you can raise the seventh, and then you have a leading tone, it's just not in the key. I think I'm going to need that here... Oh, but high c# is out of range... I wonder, can I borrow the leading tone from the major scale that corresponds to the Dorian mode I'm in? That'd just be B from the major key of C. That's only the 6th note in the Dorian mode of course... it doesn't seem like a particularly strong leading tone, but it does feel like it has some pull. That's interesting. 'course it might just be because I haven't stuck to my mode faithfully enough.

Can I support it with a raised Dorian 7th? Oof. [=c#e/c#]b is interesting, but I think it requires a more... educated... ear than mine to appreciate. The dangerous insidious thing about chords like that of course, is the more times you listen to them, the better they starts to sound. To you. Not to someone hearing your piece for the first time. That's a lesson I keep needing to relearn. Sure, it's grown on me, but do I have the time to tie down my listeners and play something for them until it grows on them too? That's the sort of thing you loose your belt for, musical torture. Must. Resist. Seductive. Pull. Of. Angsty. Chord!

Ooof. Good thing I erased that chord, I'm really starting to like it.

Resolution is such an odd thing. After pulling in that B from C Major as a leading tone, I could have resolved into the key of C, but I think I'm going to stick to resolving into D Dorian. It has a little more juice, but hopefully not too much. Woo hoo! I've got the bones for an ending now, ascending phrases to a fake leading tone, baited and switched into the modal tonic. Time to end this way-too-long entry.