Jump to content

aphex twin's scales and melodies


chim
 Share

Recommended Posts

so, i thought it'd be fun to try and dissect some of aphex's tracks,, maybe speculation over his key sound or anything like that

 

feel welcome to put in if theres anything youve found out or any opinion for that matter about his melodies and scales.

 

i tried to find out some of analord basically by jamming next to the tracks playing.

 

a ton of the analord tracks are in A# minor or A# phrygian (he uses phrygian a fuckload on his albums, its the typical nostalgic playful sad/happy one) , and very few seem to utilise scales that predominantly use most of the white keys. most scales involve the same keys as in C locrian (C, C#, d#, f, f#, g#, a#) unless its the phrygian scale, in wchich case there's a b instead of the C)

 

crying in your face, a# minor - a#, f, f# then a short g#

 

cantice drawl: c#, c, d#, e , ,then c#, c, a, g# basically!

 

phonatacid is complex and noisy but it goes in f phrygian i think (same keys as C locrian).. cant even begin to try and figure out the melodies, but the awesome bass melody in the end begins with a pattern around F, then jumps down to a#

 

pissed up in se1 is a# phrygian, again really complex.. have a hard time trying to figure this one out, anyone have any ideas? its fucking beautiful anyway

 

halibut acid:

the bass goes like A#, b, f#, then b again

meanwhile, the hawaiian like bell thing goes a#, c#, f# and g#->a#)

most other instruments go in similar patterns, including the kickass pad in the end, but it evens out the gaps with g# and c#)

 

where's your girlfriend, a# minor:

bass goes a#, f#, f, c#->c

 

lisbon acid, c minor::

ace melody in the start is 4 bars: c, c#, f...c, c#, f .. then c, c#, f, g#, d#, f# or something like that

 

the beginning of XM5Da is the same, c, c#, f.

 

one thing i've found out is that almost all instruments in a single track go in very similar, if not the same patterns, no complex counterpoint here. but it works extremely well i think. playing too many keys of a scale can ruin it, keeping it simple however makes it more powerful or something like that.. his melodies work really damn well, again richard seems to have a fond eye for a# phrygian

Edited by Derelic7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

so, i thought it'd be fun to try and dissect some of aphex's tracks,, maybe speculation over his key sound or anything like that

 

feel welcome to put in if theres anything youve found out or any opinion for that matter about his melodies and scales.

 

i tried to find out some of analord basically by jamming next to the tracks playing.

 

a ton of the analord tracks are in A# minor or A# phrygian (he uses phrygian a fuckload on his albums, its the typical nostalgic playful sad/happy one) , and very few seem to utilise scales that predominantly use most of the white keys. most scales involve the same keys as in C locrian (C, C#, d#, f, f#, g#, a#) unless its the phrygian scale, in wchich case there's a b instead of the C)

 

crying in your face, a# minor - a#, f, f# then a short g#

 

cantice drawl: c#, c, d#, e , ,then c#, c, a, g# basically!

 

phonatacid is complex and noisy but it goes in f phrygian i think (same keys as C locrian).. cant even begin to try and figure out the melodies, but the awesome bass melody in the end begins with a pattern around F, then jumps down to a#

 

pissed up in se1 is a# phrygian, again really complex.. have a hard time trying to figure this one out, anyone have any ideas? its fucking beautiful anyway

 

halibut acid:

the bass goes like A#, b, f#, then b again

meanwhile, the hawaiian like bell thing goes a#, c#, f# and g#->a#)

most other instruments go in similar patterns, including the kickass pad in the end, but it evens out the gaps with g# and c#)

 

where's your girlfriend, a# minor:

bass goes a#, f#, f, c#->c

 

lisbon acid, c minor::

ace melody in the start is 4 bars: c, c#, f...c, c#, f .. then c, c#, f, g#, d#, f# or something like that

 

the beginning of XM5Da is the same, c, c#, f.

 

one thing i've found out is that almost all instruments in a single track go in very similar, if not the same patterns, no complex counterpoint here. but it works extremely well i think. playing too many keys of a scale can ruin it, keeping it simple however makes it more powerful or something like that.. his melodies work really damn well, again richard seems to have a fond eye for a# phrygian

 

Understand-Lightning.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for this thread, its really interesting to hear the details.

 

a ton of the analord tracks are in A# minor or A# phrygian (he uses phrygian a fuckload on his albums, its the typical nostalgic playful sad/happy one)

 

For those that are wondering about phrygian mode, my understanding of it is this:

 

A normal scale in the major mode, starting from the base (tonic) note, fits accross the 12 semitones like this:

101011010101

... where '1' is a note thats 'in' the scale/mode, and '0' is a note that (generally) isn't.

(you will notice that the above pattern is the same as the white keys on a piano, starting from C)

 

The 'natural minor' mode goes like this:

101101011010

 

The 'phrygian' mode apparently goes like this:

110101011010

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrygian_mode

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, exactly that. I made a few pictures to explain it even simpler.

phrygian1.jpg

 

^ This is C phrygian. It starts on C, the lowest key on the image.

 

 

aphrygian.jpg

 

This is A# phrygian. A is the key 3 semitones (two white keys) down from C, and # means sharp (lifted one semitone), so you find A# one semitone above A. I only painted 7 keys of the scale for simplicity, but the rest of the keys on the keyboard that correspond with this scale are of course in the same scale.

 

Below is an example of 3 aphex melodies. everyone except wheres you're girlfriend is in A# phrygian, that one is C aeolian or natural minor. It is basically the same as phrygian except the second key in the scale is lifted one semitone, as you notice it has C as the second key instead of B as phrygian. that key is played right at the end if you look at number 5

 

basically follow the numbers, 1,2,3,4 bars, besides when there's 4-5, that means they're both played quicker to fit in with the 4 bars. If youve heard the songs it's easy to figure out how it's played.

 

also, about halibut acid, red is bass, yellow is the hawaii bell sounding thing. they're played at the same time, just the 4-5 is played faster. youll figure it out

 

aphexmelody.jpg

Edited by Derelic7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

try this one out :aphexsign:

 

ziggomatic.jpg

 

seems like most of drukqs is in a# phrygian as well. dare i say it's the official aphex key?

Edited by Derelic7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hehe, I enjoy watching people dissect music theory. I only know the names of a few scales. When I'm making music I just go with whatever intervals sound good in my head. I can identify 3rds/4ths/5ths/9ths/etc., and I know my augmented/diminished/maj7/min7 etc. chords. But I'm not trained in theory, I just pick up bits and pieces here and there. My friend just spent a year doing a theory chourse, so I've been picking his brain about it, "so what's the name for this chord... what about this one?"

 

AFX has a a very distinctive style when it comes to melody. Its simplicity is in part what gives it so much charm, and partly why he's so popular I think. It's easier to latch on to his melodies than a lot of other experimental artists. They're often singable, though less so on Druqs.

 

He was very fond of the major scale back in the day. He does reuse a lot of the same musical motifs in his songs, but I think most musicians with their own style do --that's why they have their own style.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

AFX has a a very distinctive style when it comes to melody. Its simplicity is in part what gives it so much charm, and partly why he's so popular I think. It's easier to latch on to his melodies than a lot of other experimental artists. They're often singable, though less so on Druqs.

 

He was very fond of the major scale back in the day. He does reuse a lot of the same musical motifs in his songs, but I think most musicians with their own style do --that's why they have their own style.

Absolutely! I don't think he's gotten much schooling or theory with music (but who knows, after all this time he must've picked up on something. i learned most of my theory in a couple of months), because it all sounds very inituitive. I think he puts either alot of thought through his melody, making sure it all fits together, or he makes them up in his head or something before he plays them.

 

But yeah, in a kind of ironic sense, he's not very electronic music for being the founder of electronic music. his melodies are simple, 4/4, but they stick in your head and work very well together. and while it's simple, it's very original. not particularly adapted from someone else in that sense

 

most of the "electronic music"-played-on-black-keys-only-with-246/2580-time-signature is rather shit in my personal opinion.. too much novelty instead of simple.. "good-a-bility"

 

Aphex uses shitloads of pentatonic minor of some kind on SAW2

 

Yeah I noticed that when I found out about the scale and played it the first time, i was like, "shit, this scale sounds really Aphex!"

It's very nice scale actually, alot like the natural minor/aeolian except lacking 2 keys that may potentially overload the track with melancholy, while pentatonic minor stays in some sort of middleground.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

most "electronic music" melodies are very simple and utilize little sensibility when it comes to music theory. aphex has a knack for great "anti-melodies" (like moondog put it) and using evocative scales/tone timings, though.

 

new pusher album has a bunch of interesting musical business going on, the melodies are intensely solid and very dynamic. lovely modulation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Mookid

whoa... this mumbo jumbo makes my head hurt.. :confused:

hehe.. seriously.. i make a lot of music but ive never understood this talk about notes.. i just go on my feeling.. i just proceed by trial and error!

 

but one thing i know is that aphex uses the black tangents a LOT! :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It would be hard to figure out the analord melodies cause he's using flawed old analogue sequencers and synths that go out of tune. The sequencers like an eml400 are hard to do things precise with but have really unique features and are kinda chaotic with their timing and scales. So, I would imagine it would be hard to script that stuff out.

 

I was listening to this yesterday and thought it was similar to an aphex melody. ll cool j's 'I need love'.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSfhmNS9Xbg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

did some italia disco outfit called cellophane do a song called 'i need love'?

 

haven't heard the ll cool j version, but i have the lurking suspicion that the cellophane version is better

 

edit: on watching youtube i'd say yes, though i applaud LLCJ for tackling such weighty subjects in a hip hop music video

Edited by DrHat
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 10 years later...

so, i thought it'd be fun to try and dissect some of aphex's tracks,, maybe speculation over his key sound or anything like that

 

feel welcome to put in if theres anything youve found out or any opinion for that matter about his melodies and scales.

 

i tried to find out some of analord basically by jamming next to the tracks playing.

 

a ton of the analord tracks are in A# minor or A# phrygian (he uses phrygian a fuckload on his albums, its the typical nostalgic playful sad/happy one) , and very few seem to utilise scales that predominantly use most of the white keys. most scales involve the same keys as in C locrian (C, C#, d#, f, f#, g#, a#) unless its the phrygian scale, in wchich case there's a b instead of the C)

 

crying in your face, a# minor - a#, f, f# then a short g#

 

cantice drawl: c#, c, d#, e , ,then c#, c, a, g# basically!

 

phonatacid is complex and noisy but it goes in f phrygian i think (same keys as C locrian).. cant even begin to try and figure out the melodies, but the awesome bass melody in the end begins with a pattern around F, then jumps down to a#

 

pissed up in se1 is a# phrygian, again really complex.. have a hard time trying to figure this one out, anyone have any ideas? its fucking beautiful anyway

 

halibut acid:

the bass goes like A#, b, f#, then b again

meanwhile, the hawaiian like bell thing goes a#, c#, f# and g#->a#)

most other instruments go in similar patterns, including the kickass pad in the end, but it evens out the gaps with g# and c#)

 

where's your girlfriend, a# minor:

bass goes a#, f#, f, c#->c

 

lisbon acid, c minor::

ace melody in the start is 4 bars: c, c#, f...c, c#, f .. then c, c#, f, g#, d#, f# or something like that

 

the beginning of XM5Da is the same, c, c#, f.

 

one thing i've found out is that almost all instruments in a single track go in very similar, if not the same patterns, no complex counterpoint here. but it works extremely well i think. playing too many keys of a scale can ruin it, keeping it simple however makes it more powerful or something like that.. his melodies work really damn well, again richard seems to have a fond eye for a# phrygian

your analyse is amazing ! mucho respecto 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here we go...  The main piano riff's a very simple pentatonic melody on the black keys, namely: E♭ D♭ B♭ A♭ B♭, A♭ B♭ D♭ G♭ G♭.  The delay does most of the work, as there's a new note every 3rd 16th, and an echo every 2nd 16th, so they don't clash, and it fills in the blanks with what sound almost like new, quieter notes, as delays are wont to do.  So you get this beautiful, complex sound from a very simple starting point.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

i don't reckon aphex thinks about it that much...he just plays the notes that sound good to him. if it turns out that's some complex phrygian scale great but i don't reckon he did it on purpose

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice work resurrecting an 11 year old thread. Phrygian isn't complex per se, nursery rhymes and christmas carols are written in it. But any analysis tends to get convoluted even when dealing with very simple material.

 

I think it's safe to say if he didn't have some measure of musical theory expertise from the get-go, he has it by now. He has admitted to playing live, knowing his way around chords (as if it wasn't already obvious), and tuning your own scales necessitates knowledge of harmony. I think if we're trying to gauge it, it's probably at an average level for a successful musician. His technical knowledge and experiments with alternate tunings is more outstanding and probably more unusual than his excursions in harmony.

 

Compositionally, he does a lot of unstructured counterpoint that revolves around reinforcing a central theme rather than deviation. His more recent music loves accidentals (notes outside of a given scale), although he's always played around with "wrong notes" it feels more structured and confident. Minipops suggests A minor with the accidental C#. Playing a major root in a minor scale is an old jazz trick. This interval has been explored before, most notably in icct hedral.

Edited by chim
Link to comment
Share on other sites

i´m sure that nowadays he knows how to read notes and compose the proper way. also thanks again chim , because of your post i´ve made some sweet melodies

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i´m sure that nowadays he knows how to read notes and compose the proper way. also thanks again chim , because of your post i´ve made some sweet melodies

 

I don't really think all that much of what he does is necessarily based on his academic music theory skills or anything like that. i'm sure he knows some concepts but I doubt he's ever writing these things down on a staff before he's punching notes into his sequencer. I think he's a prolific experimenter and has an intuitive knack for melody and song structure  and rhythm and plays with sound, samples, synthesizers, effects, and production ideas that please him. I think he borrows a LOT from other musical influences. I don't think he's doing this in some kind of structured academic composition sense. Even regarding microtonal stuff, he just says he makes his own scales that sound good to him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By Consul
      Chris Cunningham and later Aphex Twin performing in Torino, Italy at Traffic Festival.
      Includes a different version of "Monkey Drummer" by Chris Cunningham.
    • By Consul
      Aphex Twin + Chris Cunningham – Traffic Festival (30/06/2005)
      View File Chris Cunningham and later Aphex Twin performing in Torino, Italy at Traffic Festival.
      Includes a different version of "Monkey Drummer" by Chris Cunningham.
      Submitter Consul Submitted 05/19/21 Category Aphex Twin  
    • By ganus
      if anyone is interested, have some things I need to sell:
      Mike & Rich - Expert Knob Twiddlers cassette reissue, sealed NM
      Aphex Twin - MARCHROMT ep 12", sealed NM
      Aphex Twin - Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments 12", EX
      Aphex Twin - Syro vinyl, EX
      Aphex Twin - I Care Because You Do warp vinyl reissue, EX
      Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92, vinyl reissue (2012? not a remaster) VG
      AFX - Orphaned Deejay Selek 12", EX
      AFX - Analord 06 12", EX
      AFX - Analogue Bubblebath Vol 3, Rephlex vinyl release, EX
      Steinvord EP (Rephlex) 12", EX
      Amen Andrews - Vol 01 12", VG
      Mike & Rich - Expert Knob Twiddlers 12" - test pressing? some weird version with only one of two discs and a white label with sharpie. VG
      official Aphex Twin Collapse ep chartreuse T-shirt, XL. good condition but has been worn.
       
      last one is kind of weird lol but I know official afx shirts have been sought after at points so figured Id just see if anyone's interested.
      DM me if you're interested, we can go off the discogs/ebay avg price with a discount. would love if someone wants to buy a bundle with a few of these especially. im located in the US.
    • By FJKMTL
      I really want to ask, is that Richard singing? I would like to know, and what you think about this peculiar song!
      Greetings.
       
      https://youtu.be/JLYwxVWF_qQ
    • By fxbip
      https://aphextwin.bandcamp.com/
×
×
  • Create New...