Setting the Mood: Major and Minor Scales

It’s synth time!
Ready to bust a groove with that fist-full of cables?
Prepared to wiggle your way through a melancholy melody?

It used to be, when I went to create a sequence, that good sequences were something which I basically had to luck into. Sometimes it was upbeat and groovy. Other times it was a bit spooky and somber. But truth be told, I had no real way to willfully create either one. Not because the tools didn’t exist, but simply because I was ignorant of them.

I’ve just started to try to understand the basics of music, delving into arpeggios. Last night, while practicing my major scale arpeggios I struck a new sound. Something less up-beat than typifies the major scale (which causes me to reminisce of old sports games on the NES.) I took note of my hand position, realized I was poised, not for the major chord I had aimed for, but rather, I’d stumbled upon a minor chord. In three notes, I was transported. I was swept from the pixelated ball-fields and cheering crowds of the NES. Pulled into the bowels of a moldering dungeon, dodging keese and hoping to find another heart in the next room, instead of a horde of stalfos.

It can be a great deal of fun to go on a wild journey and let the patch and sequence carry us away to places unknown. To create by exploring. But its also important to be able to bring direction to our musical journey and thereby express ourselves. By employing arpeggios, we lay hold of a musical sound. And by choosing the scale of our arpeggios we shape the mood of that music.

No sound file this time… go ahead and arpeggiate a few major and minor chords on your keyboard. You’ll hear and feel the difference!


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