Additive Composition

by Ramiro Delforte

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  • Hi GMC! Welcome to the world of additive composition. This procedure was developed by some classical composers at the beginning of the past century. Great masters like Stravinsky and Ives employed this concept to create a music that is surprising because you never know what is going to happen. In this lesson I introduce this concept by making a kind of melody that add and subtract notes. If you check the Guitar Pro tab you will see that I've written the lesson in different odd measures: 7/16 – 10/16 – 7/16 – 14/16 - 7/16 – 10/16 – 7/16 – 13/16 - 7/16 – 10/16 – 7/16 – 4/4

    Notice that I start with seven 16th notes then I add three more (that makes 10), then I subtract three (coming back to 7), at last I add seven more notes to make a measure of 14. The next harmony is quite similar but in the end, when you expect that measure of 14 I subtract one and make the measure of 13. The same happends in the last harmony where the rock comes in with the 4/4 measure.

    If you are interested in this kind of rhythmic procedure you can listen to The rite of the spring or Firebird by Igor Stravinsky, Halloween by Charles Ives. Also many minimalistic composers uses this technique. One of my favorite ones is Steve Reich; you can listen to City Life and Three Tales.

    The progression is*: Ab (first 4 measures) – Bb (next 4 measures) – Db (last 4 measures)

    *The chords have some alterations but in the harmony is more like the one I've described.

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