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 notes versus time, would you end up with something that looks chaotic with absolutely no pattern?
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 learning a set of notes, aka scales, and playing them randomly 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…
This is a good reason I tell my students not to be afraid of repetition, 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 duration 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.

Jody Written by:

Professional Musician of 27 years. I've played Banjo and Acoustic Guitar on the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Grand Ole Opry, and The Ryman Auditorium. I've also played in six different countries.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply