Oscillator Theory – The Music

Oscillator THeory Series


This line of musical score above shows all of the musical content of the Oscillator Theory album. An album (or rather EP) which consists of three pieces and has a length of just under 30 minutes.

So, seven groups of notes, three to seven each, which don’t even have a proper length? WTF?

There’s several ways how to work with this. One would be to use those groups of notes as patterns, and work with it in a similar fashion to e.g. Terry Riley’s In C. That’s not what I decided to do.

Another option is to use those, and, in some way, apply them to different parameters of the music. That is, although those define at first sight absolute pitches, you can easily transform them into a series of numbers (using the pianist’s enharmonic shift mindset for a moment), perhaps see octaves as primes, and with that, you’d end up with something like (2, -4), (1, 2, 3), (9, -4, -4).
This, by applying an offset to make those all positive, you can easily design a rhythm.
Or, you can interpret those groups as harmonies, ending up (assuming the tonal center of B in this example) with B9#5, Bmb9, G#6/11. Or the second one could be a F6sus4. You get the picture.

That’s what I did.

An approach that is the basis of serial music, and with that, it’s very well possible to completely specify a half-our piece of music with just a single line of score. Hey, Stockhausen realized seven evenings of opera with just a single sheet, called Superformel.

So how is it applied?

The opening Schumann Resonance is an ambient track, with slowly progressing mostly homophonic harmonies. Here, the Superformel defines the harmonies (as described above), as well as the durations for the individual chord changes, calculated from the number of notes in each series.

For the glitchcore of IMPATT NDR, mostly everything is about percussion. So, in addition to directly specifying the single tonal synth voice in this piece, rhythms are calculated, also using the approach above.

Finally, Wien Bridge, an oldskool techno track, brings everything together: taking the implicit harmonies from the series, chord progressions are defined from the structure of the series. Minimalistic synth parts take tonal material from the notes in the series. Finally, density as well as details of the (most of the time very repetitive and simple) rhythm are also taken from the numerics of the Superformel.

Other defining elements

One thing I wanted to reuse for a long time is a short segment from the old An Ambient Manifold project.

This one did go as a uniting element into each track, although on some occasions, it ended up slightly hidden on purpose – happy searching!

Another thing (and an obvious one for an album with three tracks) is a triangular structure, defined by this image from the booklet:

Oscillator Theory Triangle

This one defines track durations, tonal centers of each track in relation to each other, and finally length of the three main sections in Wien Bridge.

All in all…

Apart from this theoretical babble – the album is coming along nicely! It will be released on Thursday January 15th 2015 on Möbiusspin (My first label release! Smooth sailing!).

A happy new year to all of you,



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