I’ve been experimenting with progressions based on seventh chords (that’s ‘dominant’ sevenths – the most common ones!). What I’d like to share here is one in which a series of seventh chords rise in fifths (that’s four notes up the scale) to the following seventh. I know, this sounds dull, but it actually led to some strange results.
Here is the progression I played with and the notes contained in each of the six chords:
D7: D F# A C
A7: A C# E G
E7: E G# B D
B7: B D# F# A
F#7: F# A# C# E
Db7: Db F Ab Cb
I managed to pick out two ‘melodies’ from this progression, each ascending a semitone at a time:
1: C C# D D# E F … then ascending from F# as below
2: F# G G# A A# B … then ascending from C as above
I wanted to see if these melodies with no other accompaniment gave any idea of the underlying chords. Answer: they don’t. I added two more ascents to fill out the other notes in the chords:
3: D E E F# F# G#
4: A A B B C# C#
As you’ll hear from the track below, even that doesn’t bring out the chords clearly, but then I did choose some unusual synth patches to play each of the melodies. Even adding the root notes of the chords on bass didn’t make a huge difference. But I do find the end result interesting and worth the effort!
The piece starts with an effect called a ‘Shepard tone’ which gives the illusion of rising infinitely. Then the first two ascending melodies kick in, followed by the other two, bringing in the remaining notes in the chords, as well as bass. The track ends with the chords played on an acoustic guitar, just as a contrast, plus a nod to conventional melody with the final D A E7 chords.
Instruments used on this track:
Opening effect: Shepard Tones from 8Dio
Synths for ascending melodies: Cloud Supply from Native Instruments
Pads: Analog Dreams from Native Instruments
Bass: TRK-01 from Native Instruments
Percussion: Damage 2 from Heavyocity
Guitar: Picked Acoustic from Native Instruments
This is mechanical composition. Yes, the arrangement required some creativity but otherwise, this was almost a mathematical exercise. What it achieved was to take me out of my comfort zone and force me to innovate in unusual ways. Job done.