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Musical relationships are created when you place one piece of musical material (note, chord, field recording, sample, etc.) after another. Once you identify a relationships, you can decide how you’re going to use it in the rest of the piece. These relationships form the basis for coherent content.


To make this clear, I’ll start as simply as I can.


Here’s one note played after another.


music relationship

There are three relationships here.

  • the interval/distance between the notes
  • the location of each note (one high, one low)
  • and the duration of each note.


Interval implies melody. It refers to how far one note has to travel melodically to get to another. More generally, it’s simply the distance between two notes. Thinking melodically makes the concept easier for some people. The location of the notes is about where we place notes on the staff. The duration of the notes creates rhythm.


Work with changing the value of these relationships.  The interval can widen or narrow. This will change the location of the notes. You can make one note duration shorter, and the other longer. It won’t take long before you start seeing endless possibilities.


If you play with this for awhile, you’ll wind up with a lot of different 2-note musical objects. Do any of these objects go together? Does it make sense to string them together into a melody? Superimpose them to make chords?


Doing this helps you see how working with small ideas leads to larger ideas.

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