Graphs for Better Music

I’ve decided that graphs are a great way to show someone how to improve their music. If you were to plot the notes versus time, would you end up with something that looks chaotic with absolutely no pattern to it whatsoever?
What would the shape of the music look like? Would it look “spiky” jumping from one end to the other? (Without any repeated notes you get sharp objects)
Would there be some sort of repeating shape to it with arcs and curves?
This is why you can learn a set of notes, aka scale, play them randomly and it still doesn’t sound musical. The closer to random you get the less your average listener can make sense out of it. It would be like flinging a hundred hole punches on the ground and asking someone if they saw anything in it…
Yet another reason I tell my students not to be afraid of repetition because without repetition there are no shapes for the non-musician to follow.
Likewise, as in the graphs below if the music were to only ascend or descend then A)It would be too predictable B)Have no balance in shape/contour. Trends are good throughout a musical piece but you need a balance of trends:

Notice the first graph is scattered about, the second one is trending upwards left to right and the last one is more like a curve:

These trends/perspectives are not just about notes, they should be about dynamics and note durations as well.
Lastly, this is why always zooming in and dissecting things many times doesn’t lead to improvement. Dissecting the coordinates won’t help you see the imbalance, zooming out and surveying the shape will.


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Jody Hughes Written by:

I am a full-time banjo and acoustic guitar teacher, performer and composer. I have performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Grand Ole Opry and The Ryman Auditorium. My interests include developing educational materials for the advancing banjoist and composing Original Music mixing my background in Bluegrass, Jazz, Classical and Latin Music.

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