Ditty-A-Day #006: Some Other Scene.

This was an exercise in what I call “Micro Melody” writing style. Both the chord structure and progression is thin and therefore leaves room for either another instrument, more content, or simply a visual element. Less is definitely more here, and you end up with quiet tension that you can resolve by the end of the piece.

“Some Other Scene” is a ditty that was meant to pull the listener into a movie scene, at a turning point in the story or conflict with the antagonist. All the listener is meant to hear is the music mixed up front and the story’s sound in the background, such as: a fight scene with the main character; a car accident; or, let’s be more on the positive side and envision the main character achieving her goal after an effort.

The key to “Micro Melody” composition is to play simple chords or single notes only every 1- or 2-bars; make nothing sonically dense. When playing chords, play an octave of the bass note in the left hand and only one or two notes of the intended triad in the right hand; play the occasional seventh or root-octave note as an embellishment/lead-in on the downbeat (the “and” in “1-and-2-and”) or on an even bar. Finally, make it a 5-chord structure where the pattern of the chords in each stanza are the same with exception of the last chord (e.g. A,C,Dm,F then A,C,Dm,G). This is geared for piano/keyboard players here, but translating the idea to guitar notes chords is relatively harmless since you’re dealing with space, healthy sustains and lllooooooooong rests.

The Micro Melody idea is a first-cousin-relative to the “Ghost Melody” concept, which I’m sure I’ll get to in a later post. Sorry if I was so verbose on this topic; it happens to be one of my favorites from my composition toolbox.

Funny enough, about a month after I wrote this I saw the movie “Contagion,” in which the soundtrack (written by Cliff Martinez) employed much the same concept in several pieces of the score, particularly in the piece titled “Handshake.”

Production notes:
Albeton Live 8 as the host. Pianoteq Play 3 for the piano; Omnisphere for the strings; Stylus RMX for the drums (as a “mouse jockey”, changing patterns on the fly); Vahalla Room for the reverb. Recorded digitally from Tascam US-800 to Sony PCM-D50 via S/PDIF. Any skipping in the track is due to my setting the audio buffer too low in the host (64 was too low for my laptop with these plugins).

iPad/iPhone/iPad Touch users:
CLICK HERE to hear this track.

  1. jerde said:

    Aside from the audio skipping, which you noted, this is a very strong piece. Worth refining further for sure.

  2. Thomas said:

    Great stuff Rob! Reminiscent of Talk Talk – which I love. What a pleasure to hear you this way!

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