Hexany Permutations

by Dave Seidel

supported by


Alternatively: Selected Permutations of a Hexany Chord Catalogue.

Hexany Permutations was inspired by Tom Johnson's piece "The Chord Catalogue," where all of the possible chords that occur within one octave for a given scale are presented: all two-note chords, all three-noted chords, and so on, with each chord played exactly once. This piece takes the idea a step further to explore several different permutations (orderings) of a catalog. It also differs from Johnson's work (or at least from his own interpretation of his work) in several other respects; in particular, the use of a microtonal scale, the emphasis on long tones (notes that appear in adjacent chords are tied), and the use of synthesis (though I will note that this piece could be performed by seven strings). One of my goals was to really explore the intervallic resources of this scale and tuning by presenting all of the possible chords in multiple sequences.

The just intonation scale used here is a 1-3-5-7 hexany with seven notes (including the octave), giving 120 unique chords. The scale uses the following ratios: 1/1, 7/6, 5/4, 35/24, 5/3, 7/4, 2/1, and is tuned to 1/1 = 180 Hz. The sounds are produced using a scanned synthesis technique that yields harmonically-rich tones that slowly evolve in timbre over the course of their duration.

The original version of this piece was written in response to a Disquiet Junto project (disquiet.com/2016/04/28/disquiet-junto-project-0226-bucky-ball/) and published on SoundCloud (soundcloud.com/mysterybear/the-1-3-5-7-hexany-chord-catalog-the-35-three-note-chords-possible-in-one-octave-disquiet0226).

Another version was presented at Electronic Music Midwest 2016 as a six-channel piece made by taking three of the permutations and playing them simultaneously.

Hexany Permutations was made with Csound and Python on a Linux laptop. All sounds are generated by Csound, driven by score events generated from Python code. The source code is available at github.com/DaveSeidel/music-src/tree/master/hexany-permutations.

The cover image shows the generated "score" or visualization for each track, where the X-axis represents time and the Y-axis indicates which notes are sounding at any given point in time. The Python code that generates the score events also creates these diagrams; they are plain text, made with Unicode block characters, rendered with DejaVu Sans Mono Bold.

Thanks to Tom Johnson, Dean Rosenthal, and Marc Weidenbaum.

Dedicated to the memory of my father, Robert N. Seidel.


released November 20, 2016

Composed, rendered, and mastered by Dave Seidel.




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Also several free netlabel releases listed at mysterybear.net.

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