Discussing the Anthroposin Interlude: The Music
In this video, I describe how I approached the music behind the song, Anthroposin Interlude, a recurring track in the album, M.E. VI (a requiem).
Anthroposin Interlude is actually a 12-tone composition. It’s a technique that rose to prominence during the early and mid twentieth century through the works of Schoenberg, Berg, Stravinsky, and others. In this video, I describe how I approached creating a 12-tone composition that worked in the context of a rock-n-roll album, and why I think it works so well.
Full Video Transcript
Hi, I’m Rob Teplansky of Strong T. Today, I’ll follow up with part 2 of my discussion of the song Anthroposin Interlude from the album, M.E. VI (a requiem). In part 1, I talked about the concept. Today, we’ll take a look at the strange little music composition and how it came about.
You might be thinking, the song doesn’t sound much like a rock song. And, of course, you’d be right. So what is it? It’s actually a 12-tone composition.
What is a 12-tone composition? I’ll tell you in just a second. But before I do, I want to remind you to subscribe, follow, or like so you don’t miss a single Strong T video. And remember, the album M.E. VI (a requiem) is available December 7, 2022 to purchase as a digital download and digital stream on Bandcamp. Just go to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find it on your favorite streaming service.
OK, before we get into the details of the 12-tone composition, you may first be asking why I even used this technique in the first place.
Well, I envision three points of view represented in different songs in this album. First, there’s the human point of view. Second, there’s the non-human point of view. And third, there’s a point of view representing judgment or accountability to a greater consciousness. The two songs, Anthroposin Interlude and The Judgment are from this third point of view. And because I wanted them to be set apart musically from the other points of view, I used more difficult musical concepts in these two pieces.
So what is a 12-tone composition? The idea behind a 12-tone composition is that each of the 12 notes in a chromatic scale are sounded equally as often as one another and no particular note is given more emphasis than another. The way this is accomplished is through following a very specific method.
First, you create what’s called a tone row, which is a row composed of all 12 notes in a chromatic scale. No note can be repeated in that row.
From there, there is an easy formula for creating a matrix that, in the case of the Anthroposin Interlude, looks like this. Then, I can choose horizontal or vertical rows, and I can decide to either use them in their natural order, or inverted so that you use the notes backwards. The more of these rows and layers that you add, the more complex the piece becomes, and the more you have to really work to align melodies and harmonies and work through the inevitable traffic jams that occur. The Anthroposin Interlude is pretty simple, with just the piano and the vocal chorus. You can imagine who complicated this becomes for large orchestral arrangements.
Sometimes a 12-tone composition is very difficult to listen to. I didn’t want that, which is why I kept the arrangement very simple. But if you think about it, it’s kind of a cool concept. It’s actually the most democratic of all composition techniques. Every single note gets the exact same opportunity to express itself, and no note gets to take more than its fair share. I think this is appropriate for an album that is meant to draw attention to how we have ignored the fair and equitable use of the planet’s resources and the consequences of that.
So there you have it – the musical concepts behind the Anthroposin Interlude. I hope you found it interesting and that it adds to your experience with the album M.E VI (a requiem). Thanks for your support and for listening!
Until next time, peace…