Here I write a 12ish bar etude that features a 3-note cell (D#, E, C) that could also be seen as a 4-note cell since I play E again but an octave lower. This cell gets altered in different ways including by inversion, retrograde, time stretch/shrink, and transposition. I even recorded this myself on guitar and bass as heard in the recording.
At first I did not think that changing the notes in between the first and last chords of each measure would make that much of a difference, but it actually has. I somehow managed to make the phrase and chords sound more sinister. In measure two I decided to use notes that function as approachers to the last note in that measure. In the bass clef/left hand (since this is a piano piece) I also used the major and minor third together.
As for verticality we now have some different chords as a result of the bass notes changing. It really stuck out when I used both the major and minor third in the middle sections of the measures; I think this is what led to that sinister sound I was describing above. But since it still starts and ends on the same chords as the original, it could still be seen as a variation of the original. In the 2nd measure the right hand changes quite a bit from the original in that it contains a D naturual instead of a D#, and there is a leap of a perfect 4th whereas in the original all notes in the right hand played in measure 2 are moving by step. Also in both clefs in this measure there is an A natural instead of A# in the modified version here. In the original version measure 2’s notes make it sound more like a harmonic minor feel; in this modified version it is so dissonant that it sounds like notes are outside of the key. So yes, I have succeeded in making music that is less tonal here. I am still not 100% sure on the spelling of some of the accidentals and the implied tonality especially at this measure 2. In the modified version it sounds like the D is functioning as a b9.
Measures 1-3 and their pick up measure are sequenced at measure 4. I was actually “lucky” because I thought I selected a “random pitch” for the sequenced bit, but it turns out that the notes in that sequence are relevant enough to the chords that precede and follow them (if that makes sense…the A major chord in measure 3 is only a half step away from the Bb chord in measure 5, and the Fsus type chord in measure 7 fits in with the key of D minor that gets defined at measure 8). I did not sequence the original three measures in a parallel manner; instead I changed some of the accidentals in an attempt to better fit the tonality of this piece. Despite having done that when I play this song it sounds like someone may have at least partially sat on the piano during the sequenced bit…or maybe I am hearing or playing something wrong!
I wrote this with no key signature. I figured if I used accidentals it would improve my changes of making something that sounds post-tonal. You can see my use of augmented 6th chord in both the original first 3 measures and the sequenced bit. I find that it sounds more unfinished and suspenseful in the sequenced bit because I left the second chord as suspended. At least there is an A in D minor which is the key that follows the sequenced bit.
In all seriousness repeating the original first three measures (and pickup) in another pitch level gives the piece more of a development and almost sounds like the sequenced measures are building on the original measures. I do miss hearing the 3rd measure leading straight to D minor though. Maybe I just really like having at least *some* tonality or something!
What next? Perhaps sequencing the next part (measures 8 and beyond).