The Pentatonic Duet June 25, 2010Posted by contrapuntalplatypus in Music, Truth is Stranger than Fiction.
Tags: aleatoric music, composition, music, pentatonic, serendipity
…This falls in the category of “Too Good to be True…but Is.”
Over the past two months a construction team has been carrying out repairs – admittedly necessary ones – on our apartment balconies, and it’s a rare morning that I don’t wake up at 8 am to the incessant squeals and rumbles of their equipment.
So it was a rather pleasant surprise, about a week ago, to slide ever-so-gently out of sleep to the soothing strains of a gentle Asian-sounding duet. Half in slumber, I thought I could make out a Japanese wood flute playing a pure, continuous tone, with some instrument I didn’t recognize sounding a haunting pentatonic melody that wavered above, below and finally came to rest on the note the flute was holding. For several minutes I drifted on the edge of sleep, entranced, as the melody repeated and shifted ever-so-subtly.
Only then did I begin to wonder: where exactly was this music coming from? My apartment tended to be fairly soundproof…and what had happened to the dreaded construction noise, anyway? And how could that beautiful flute tone just go on continuously, never wavering or pausing for breath…
As I finally pulled myself out of sleep I realized the truth…
The pentatonic duet was the construction noise. The “flute note” was an electronic hum, while the instrument I couldn’t identify was the equipment starting up. Every other day the shrieks and groans had been more or less pitched randomly, but today…somehow…the temperature was just right to make the vibrations and squeals form the notes of a pentatonic scale. Now fully awake, I listened. Somehow the ugly construction noises had been transformed into a beautiful duet.
Of course I grabbed some music paper and wrote it down. 🙂 For any music lovers out there, this is how the two main melodies aI heard went…(approx. quarter note = 60)
Maybe I’ll compose a piece someday and call it “Construction Duet…” 😉
…John Cage would be proud.