Blake’s 9 (2008)
This piece has changed significantly since I first posted it and a newer version has since been posted.
I recently watched the entirety of the TV series Blake’s 7. Like all BBC science fiction productions of it’s era, the incidental music and sound effects are outstanding. The background hums, the computer whirrs and the ominous notes create a mood and a sense of place that is alien. After watching several of the episodes, I went home and created a patch on my MOTM synthesizer which seemed to perfectly capture a progression of mood as it might appear in an episode with Avon creeping along with a ray gun, infiltrating a Federation base.
However, as nice as patch was, with it’s 4 minute long loop, it wasn’t a piece. And there wasn’t an obvious way to make it become one. It was too complex and had too much character to mix, but not enough to stand on it’s own. I let it sit for weeks and thought about other things, specifically, a beat generation algorithm that was going nowhere. And then I met a poet who is obsessed with divisions / groups of 9.
I set my beat maker to 9, and then I thought of using it as a an organizational principle for cutting, rather than a way to make cheesy drum loops. I used it to cut my loop to sections and then into grains. Then I played back the grains in groups of 9, to make measures of 9 beats. In order to add some pitch variety, I changed the speed of playback of the grains, with rates of 1, 27/25, 9/7, 7/9, 25/27, a few intervals in a just version of the Bohlen Pierce scale. This scale uses 3′s instead of octaves, so the ratios have multiples of 3 where you would expect powers of two for more traditional scales.
This is a work in progress and may go on to be an installation or gain additional movements or neither or both.