Author Topic: Hirajōshi Scale  (Read 2934 times)

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FossMaNo1

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Hirajōshi Scale
« on: May 21, 2015, 10:37:31 AM »
So, I want to write a piece influenced by the Hirajōshi scale (C D E♭ G A♭ C) and wanted some pointers from those who have used non-western scales in their music. Some of my questions are:
  • If I use a nte outside of the scale, do I risk the music becoming "Western"?
  • Is there a place I can study how chords in Eastern music work (some basic Eastern theory perhaps)?
  • Are there things to watch out for using this scale?
C. Foster Payne
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tbmartin

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Re: Hirajōshi Scale
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2015, 10:59:15 AM »
Regarding #1: Yes, using a note outside the scale risks the work becoming "western", but it may well be worth the risk. You describe your goal as "a piece influenced by" the scale, so that in itself gives you the latitude to stray if you want to. I think you're just going to have to let your ear be your guide. If you can't get what you want staying inside the scale, try going a bit outside and see what comes of it. If you limit yourself to small and infrequent deviations from the scale, it's likely you'll keep the "influence" you want.
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amdg

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Re: Hirajōshi Scale
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2015, 12:55:18 PM »
Hi, Foss:

Just to add to what Terence has written so far --which certainly seems to be sound advice -- I wonder if you approach it from the other side.  I mean that to our ears the Hirjoshi sounds quintessentially Japanese.  Is this what you're aiming for?  Or are you trying to write something that is not at all Japanese in nature yet has as its basis the notes of this particular scale? 

Again, to second Terence, the music itself will have to dictate how far you can stretch things. 

I'll be interested in reading what Michel and the others have to say about this.  Maybe I'm remembering this wrong, but I think Michel used a Hirajoshi scale prominently in his ballet score.  This is an important question to ask for those of us not well-versed in some of the more at-first-glance-limiting scales.

Brian

FossMaNo1

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Re: Hirajōshi Scale
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2015, 04:17:59 PM »
I am writing a simple piece for concert band (grade 3 max) entitled KARATE-DO, and so, yes, the piece should sound Japanese (although, since karate has its origins in Okinawa, I should probably do more research on more Okinawan music).
C. Foster Payne
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"If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around."

Michel.R.E

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Re: Hirajōshi Scale
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2015, 05:26:02 PM »
I've found that a lot of "classical" Japanese music relies on true Japanese modes melodically, but more on traditional western harmony for the vertical material.

I know this is from an animé, but it's so quintessentially Japanese in its fusion of both Asian and European musical elements...

Mononoke-hime (theme)
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FossMaNo1

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Re: Hirajōshi Scale
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2015, 07:21:47 AM »
I've found that a lot of "classical" Japanese music relies on true Japanese modes melodically, but more on traditional western harmony for the vertical material.

An interesting dichotomy, Michel. Thank you!
C. Foster Payne
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"If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around."

Michel.R.E

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Re: Hirajōshi Scale
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2015, 10:32:40 AM »
Hai, I made much use of Jirajoshi mode in my ballet "Amaterasu", a bit throughout, but very prominently in the 4th movement.

I got around some of the limiting elements of pentatonic scales by first transposing the scale on itself. This gave m a bit of freedom.

basically, write out your scale in fundamental position: C - D - Eb - G - Ab

then you write out all the "inversions" of the scale:
starting on D: D - Eb - G - Ab - C
starting on Eb: Eb - G - Ab - C - D
starting on G: G - Ab - C - D - Eb
and lastly, starting on Ab: Ab - C - D - Eb - G

This is simple, but it's only the first step. Now, transpose all those inversions down so that they all start on "C".

This gives you different modes now, but that are all related to your initial mode:

"D" : C - Db - F - Gb - Bb
"Eb" : C - E nat - F - A nat - B nat
etc...


I tried an alternate method of getting this, which was to simply transpose the scale chromatically to all 12 semitones. I then selected ONLY those transpositions which contained a C natural in them. The end result was the same as using my first method.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2015, 10:37:52 AM by Michel.R.E »
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

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FossMaNo1

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Re: Hirajōshi Scale
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2015, 02:33:02 PM »
Michel, you have no idea how invaluable this was for me. Oftentimes, it's not my imagination that limits me but rather my lack of education. Knowing where to start and what doors are available is half the battle!
C. Foster Payne
Worship Leader at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church, martial artist, Cowboy, karateka, father, husband...wannabe composer
"If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around."

Michel.R.E

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Re: Hirajōshi Scale
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2015, 04:04:08 PM »
Oh, and if ever you feel like doing something a bit longer using a mode like this, you create your initial set of transpositions and consider those your "tonic" set.

Then you can transpose chromatically the entire set, which gives you 12 complete sets of inter-related modes. So you play within a certain zone, and modulate (the actual original sense of the term here) into a new modal zone with one of the transposed sets.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

FossMaNo1

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Re: Hirajōshi Scale
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2015, 02:33:54 PM »
Hmmm...so one melodic line could actually move through three different modes of the same scale...
C. Foster Payne
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"If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around."

Michel.R.E

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Re: Hirajōshi Scale
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2015, 03:27:25 PM »
but be wary, if you move too rapidly through different modes, you will (more than) risk losing the modal effect and simply create very chromatic effects.

for unusual modes to remain in the ear, they have to last for more than a second.

of course, unless the intention is to obfuscate the modes completely.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

EdSharpe

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Re: Hirajōshi Scale
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2017, 12:34:08 PM »
Well I am a bit late to the party, but I will throw in my two cents.  :)

I used the Hirajoshi 平調子 scale exclusively in my first string quartet.  The only time I moved out of the scale was when I have lines moving in strict parallel lines (and this only occurs in one of the five movements). 

As for the construction chords, I have none.  The piece was built using horizontal lines in each instrument and any vertical structures where just a by product of the horizontal lines.

There where two other things I did to keep the material too monotonous.  One, each of the five movements are only about one minute long.  The whole quartet is only five minutes long.  Two, each of the movements uses  a different transposition of the scale.