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Wrapping Bass

February 2nd, 2012
contra, music, ideas, octaveless

Sometimes on the piano I would like to be able to do a long series of bass notes in the same direction, and then get frustrated when I end up way too high or low. I'd also like to have a pedalboard for bass notes while playing mandolin, and if I could get away with just twelve notes that would be a lot cheaper. So what if we construct twelve sounds in a circle so that wherever you are each note sounds a half step above it's left neighbor and a half step below it's right?

There's an effect where you have a continually rising tone. It works like an escalator: the steps are going up, but you're always adding new ones at the bottom and having old ones fall off the top. If you slowly bring up the volume of the low frequencies and bring down the volume of the high ones, I think you could make bass notes that didn't really have an octave structure.

If you were impossibly capable on the piano you could get this effect playing octaves with the left hand and varying the pressure of the low and high notes so the weighted average of the two fundamentals didn't vary as you changed notes.

Update 2012-02-02: In response to a question by email I wrote:

To a first aproximation, I'm proposing synthesizing twelve sounds. Only twelve, one for each note. For example, just guessing, looking only at the C scale:
  C: .03*C0 + .27*C1 + .46*C2 + .24*C3
  D: .06*D0 + .30*D1 + .43*D2 + .21*D3
  E: .09*E0 + .33*E1 + .40*E2 + .18*E3
  F: .12*F0 + .36*F1 + .37*F2 + .12*F3
  G: .18*G0 + .39*G1 + .34*G2 + .09*G3
  A: .21*A0 + .42*A1 + .31*A2 + .06*A3
  B: .24*B0 + .45*B1 + .28*B2 + .03*B3
The important thing is that B, C, D sounds like it's smoothly rising while D, C, B sounds like it's smoothly falling.

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