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Working on the Hex Project

Hex A bit of work this afternoon on the structure for the Hex Project. I wanted to firm this up before I get too far on with writing some of the songs. I have already written 14 out of the 36 which are determined by the structure, and it was time to decide how seriously to take that structure before I end up with too much that just won't fit. The temptation was just to continue writing songs without any regard to the structural elements but I have decided not to do that. Some of the existing songs will need rejigging as far as keys go, and I am just about to spend the evening thinking about how exactly minor keys fit in to the modal scheme (does a song in Em count as starting on E or can it start on the G?), but I don't think I will have to throw anything that I have already done away.

So my 36 songs (with lyrics taken from the Wiltshire Folk Song Archive) will start from each of these six notes, C, D, E, F, G, A, and they will use the six modes derived from the first six notes of the major scale (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, and Aeolian). The Locrian is just too weird for me (and for Medieval musicians too it seems who also hardly used it); in any case this project is about the number six, not seven.

This afternoon I derived six themes from the songs I have already written, Working, Drinking, Love, Soldiers and Sailors, Nature, and Death. I have decided to cycle through the themes in a fixed order, so that a song starting from a particular note in a particular mode will have a determinate theme. This makes my job a little harder, but for me is the logical next step after having decided that there should be a song on each theme starting from each note. (The structural untidiness would bother me otherwise.) The structure is given in the table below. But in a way, this rigid structure makes my job easier too. For example,having drawn up the table, I know I need to write a song on the theme of nature in the Ionian mode starting from F, and I also know that, having only one song so far on the theme of nature, that I need to look in the folk song archive for five more.

Of course, I want each song to work in its own terms and not just as some forced element of an underlying structure. To put the same point a different way, the structure should be invisible to the listener. But all the more reason to take it seriously and make it as rigid as possible. I don't want it to be apparent to the casual listener, but I want it to be undeniably there (just like the sonnets in the Ozzard of Wiz).

hex table_edited.jpg

The entries in the boxes are the themes (L-love; Dr-drinking; S-soldiers and sailors; N-nature; De-death; W-working)

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