Close proximity experiments

These experiments explore the tempi at which we perceive intervallic content to be rhythmic (beats/pulses) rather than retaining any harmonic/vertical meaning.

Close Proximity – Test 1

The (ascending) octatonic PCs of Messiaen’s Mode 2 [1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2] are here extended across an 85-STET (7 octaves + 1 pitch) framework, with maximum displacement, as follows: {A0, B♭7, C1, C♯6, E♭2, E5, F♯3, G4}.

The BPM is consecutively increased (doubled) from 60 -> 1920.

To my ears, bar 1 (60 BPM) sounds disparate with an almost random pitch choice. Bar 2 (120 BPM) quantifies and qualifies bar 1, while also drawing attention to the closing and closest pitches F♯ and G. Bar 3 (240 BPM) brings a further focus to the last 2 pitches (F♯ and G). Bar 4 (480 BPM) retains a harmonic remnant before becoming rhythmically orientated from 960 BPM onwards.

Close Proximity – Test 2

At 480 BPM, the 8 PCs are juxtaposed between alternating octaviated and extended frameworks, as follows:

Although the above sounds potentially meaningful (musical), the prestissimo arpeggiated repetitions sound mechanical and contrived.

Close Proximity – Test 3

By slowing the tempo to 360 BPM (within the potential range of expert human performance), and altering the direction, duration and repetition of various elements, we are able to here this piece differently.

We can now potentially conceive that human hands are at work and consequently (perhaps) assume that meaning is involved… and maybe it is!