Thursday, November 3, 2011

Map Music: SMB3 – World 2

Two measures… that is all there is to this object.  But there is a lot of interesting information in these two measures!

First off, what key are we in?  Are we in a key?  Does it matter?!?!?!

Of course it matters!

Our ear is drawn to F as our tonic or central pitch.  Notice the bass line repeating the F and leading into it with a chromatic ascent.  Also the top voice always brings us back to F, first with the descending third, then with the semitone ascent.


Now that we have established F as our center, we have to deal with the tonality.  The first measure can be identified as minor, with the E natural used as the leading tone back up to F to solidify our root.

You can see the mirror used between the top line and the bass line, a decent of a minor third followed by an ascent. Provides a nice contour for the object.


What about the second measure?  It contains a B natural, not native to any mode of F.  There are two ways you can look at it.  Locally, this B natural serves as the leading tone back up to the fifth of the key.  But taking the whole sonic picture out of context, where else do we hear such a sound?  Blues!  The F blues scale contains both Bb and B.


It is also worth noting that, by respelling the accidentals in this object, the minor thirds become augmented seconds, a sound we attribute to the harmonic minor scale.  This sound is always associated with the exotic.  While I’m not going to posit a semiological argument here, the fact that this map is a world of desert sands and pyramids could be the reason these intervals were included.

Multiple levels of modal mixture, intervals interpreted multiple ways, semiology, a firmly established tonic… and I did not even touch on the rhythm.

Two measures… who would have thought could be so interesting!

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