I hope you enjoyed this little interlude on retrograde motion in music.
What have we got to lose? Perhaps not, but worth a try I think. Might a punk rock instrumentation of a crab canon wake the senses up? Could an interesting hip-hop tune be written utilizing retrograde? Maybe one way would be to rediscover some of the principles of the past and apply them to the music of the present. In conclusion, the music world seems today to be floundering in a lethargic morass and could use a good swift kick start.
So in this case, only the sentences themselves have been presented in reverse order. Even the words reversed would be annoyingly difficult to read. If the letters of the alphabet corresponded to musical notes - this would be a jumble and unreadable. As you may have noticed - this article is not written in strict retrograde form.
Perhaps the most famous example is Bach's Crab Canon in the Musical Offering - a set of ten canons (the musical name for music where the theme is played against itself - the most straightforward being the round as in "Row, Row, Row Your Boat") written for King Frederick of Prussia on a theme the king suggested. The exemplar of contrary motion is Johann Sebastian Bach - whose intricate, yet complete patterns continue to be a source of wonderment for music listeners today.
Current music theory seems to regard such practices as corrupted relics reeking of artifice; however, the inclusion of retrograde programming into sequencer programs has allowed some leakage into the techno realm. Twelve-note practitioners, such as Schoenberg, used this convention in their compositions, but generally speaking, the use of retrograde motion as a compositional device is not much seen in the modern world.
Strict retrograde motion can be altered into free retrograde motion by changing the notes into a different (often corresponding key) - such as a minor third; or by inverting the original notes inverted; or by combining a tonal change with a value change in the notes themselves (changing quarter notes into whole notes for example). This process can be applied to melodies as counterpoint if played concurrently, or as a variation of the theme if played in succession. Retrograde motion is the term used in music to signify the introduction of a musical part which is composed with the same notes as a different part, but in a backwards order.
Past, present & future
misguided ramblings of the MusiCurmudgeon
Stroll through the vaults of a diseased mind!
Return to Home