A Droplet of Inspiration: Pt. 2

  • Post category:Rando Bin

For most people, cliffhangers are the worst. But you know what? I don’t really mind them. So for a moment, forget about the water key (Can you?).

Who is Sevish?

Sevish, is an electronic music composer based in London, UK. The song, Droplet is on his 2015 release, Rhythm and Xen.

Rhythm, that’s pretty straight forward. But what is Xen?

Xen is short for Xenharmonic music, a way to write music “with new harmonic relationships that humankind has never heard before.”

So how does that work?

Think of a guitar, or a piano. They all have the same notes:
C D E F G A B. These are the white keys on a piano.

Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti.

And then you have the black keys:
C# D# F# G# A#

Thus, we arrive at a grand total of 12 notes. If you live in the Western world, there’s a good chance every song you have ever heard was created from these 12 tones, and only these 12 tones. This tuning and it’s harmonic relationships are deeply ingrained. It’s become second nature. It doesn’t take a musician to tell you when a guitar is out of tune. Your ear just knows.

But technically, wouldn’t there be other notes in between the “real” notes? This is where using color as a metaphor comes in handy.

Let’s say you have a box of crayons. It’s a 12-pack. So you have 12 colors to work with. You can mix those colors together to make other colors. Some of the combinations are nice, others, not so much. This is similar to how notes are combined to make chords in music.

But an artist, a master painter for example, doesn’t use a 12-pack of crayons. Rather, they are experts at mixing colors. They can mix their paints to get those 12 colors, and every shade in between. And combining the in between shades will make more new in between shades. Which can then be combined. And so on.

So why do painters have access to the full spectrum of color while musicians are stuck using the same 12-pack of notes over and again? For now, we’ll just say “because, ‘tradition'” because the real answer involves recounting history outside the scope of our focus here.

The idea of limitless new note combinations is intriguing. And incredibly daunting. That’s where Sevish comes in. He’s made it his mission to not only compose xenharmonic music, but collect resources to make writing Xen music more accessible to everyone. I am especially grateful for his work. Because for me, it has unlocked a new universe of creative possibility in music composition.

So Droplet, the water key, grants access to xenharmonic music, the water world. A place where boundaries are redefined, if not removed altogether. A place where shapes, sounds, and textures have shifted slightly and become a little odd. A little curious. In some cases a little more refined. And in others, a little more challenging than we’re used to.

A treasure seeker who finds a chest will wish also to find its key. To open the chest, seize the treasure, and complete the journey. But a key is not always a means to an end. When we’re lucky, it’s a means to begin. A way into a previously inaccessible area. A chance to explore the unexplored.