An experimental project, This is a song that goes through different cycles based on the book Great Expectations.
Starts in reference to the opening scene and accompanies the way the book sets the mood for itself. I used relatively sad-sounding instruments that I thought also make it feel like a scene in a cemetery in a vague way. Those instruments being: Cello, Organ, Flugelhorn, and a synth bass I made for it. This was composed in the key of F sharp minor. This key is described as “A gloomy key: it tugs at passion as a dog biting a dress. Resentment and discontent are its language.” (biteyourownelbow.com/keychar.htm
) This section is in 3/4 (like a waltz) simply because I think that count also has that darker “I’m in a cemetary” feel when played at slower tempos.
This is for an action scene of scene full of surprise, in reference to when the convict first shows up and threatens Pip. Using the following instruments, Harp, Piano, Trombone, Flute, Oboe, Contrabassoon, Viola, Violin, Cello, Upright Bass, and Orchestral Bass Drum, in A flat major: “Key of the grave. Death, grave, putrefaction, judgment, eternity lie in its radius.” Also, there are some crazy piano and harp sweeps all the way up and down the strings really fast. (Inspired by a lot of Black MIDI)
This section is about Pip’s expectations and uplifting conclusions he jumps to and hopes for too much. It is in reference to the excitement about going to Satis House. In here, I used some Strings, Piano, and Accordion, in the key of E Major. “Noisy shouts of joy, laughing pleasure and not yet complete, full delight lies in E Major.”
This is when the reality of Pip’s expectations is discovered, in reference to the disturbing interior of Satis House and the less than delightful presence and stories of Ms. Havisham. Using Piano and some atmospheric, dark, ambient, evolving synth sounds and effects, I composed in no particular key (although there are 2 small sections in a whole tone scale starting on C) I created some unsettling sounds to replicate the tone of the place using lots of chromatic clusters and tritones. Tritones are “the Devil’s chord”, which to play, was banned in churches in earlier times. I used these because they’re so omniscient.
Here, it transitions into a more musical section with piano in D sharp minor. “Feelings of the anxiety of the soul's deepest distress, of brooding despair, of blackest depression, of the most gloomy condition of the soul. Every fear, every hesitation of the shuddering heart, breathes out of horrible D# minor. If ghosts could speak, their speech would approximate this key.” This whole section is about Pip’s time of depression while he is in London, dealing with paying Herbert’s bills, his own debt, his injured arms, the hallucinations, the whole Magwich situation, and the eerie words of Ms. Havisham ringing in his ears about Estella.
I put this note here to resolve the song, but not completely, and in a peculiar place with a warm, warbling, dissonant sound that comes kind of unnaturally, just like how the ending of the book goes. (first ending)
I felt like the third and fourth sections of the song were all I needed for anything else that happens in the stories, because really, it’s just Pip expecting something, hoping for it, and then it turns out bad. So, these sections serve for more than just the first incidents that they happen with, and sum up the rest of the story.
Also, throughout the song, I embedded binaural tones. Binaural tones are simply one tone in one ear, and another tone in the other ear. These two tones however, are at different frequencies. When listening to this, (with headphones) the brain perceives it as a third “phantom tone” that isn’t actually there. The percival of this tone stimulates certain brainwaves. The brainwaves that are stimulated are determined by the range between the two different frequencies that are playing. For this, I chose a range of 20 hertz, which stimulates Beta Waves in the brain (stimulated by any range between frequencies from 13-39hz apart.) Beta waves are associated with Active, busy or anxious thinking and active concentration, arousal, cognition, and/or paranoia. I chose to work with beta waves because I think the story and Pip experience a lot of active and busy thinking, anxiety, and paranoia. You probably wouldn’t feel a lot different just from this song because it’s only 5 minutes long, but over a longer period of time (perhaps during the reading of the whole book), binaural tones have shown to make you feel a lot of things and there’s a lot of research and experimenting going on (stuff like how well it can improve education and test results, etc) Look into it more, it’s really fascinating! Oh, also, I doubt anyone would, but don’t listen to this song while driving or operating machinery just to be safe.. xD
released June 17, 2015