Odd Meters

Odd Meters

As mentioned in an earlier post, I am involved with a video game in development, called “The Sand Knight”. In fact, you can try out a very early version of the game on The Sand Knight web site!  It is a retro 2D shooting game being built using the Unity game engine.  We hope to have it ready for distribution on the Steam game store by the end of September.

The developers are a group of talented, dedicated people who have a lot of experience in all aspects of game development. They include story-writers, programmers, Unity experts, artists and musicians.

I have the pleasure of being one of the composers. I am being challenged, in a way, to produce music in a retro style, from the 1980’s. So, all of the music I produce for the game uses synthesized sounds, without any realistic organic instruments.

I am composing music that I hope will be engaging, and even a little bit quirky! One of the techniques for making quirky music is to base them in a meter with an odd meter. Here, I present two tracks, both in 7/8 time.

The majority of Western music is either in 4/4, 3/4, or 6/8 meter. That’s because it “feels right”, and virtually all danceable music is in one of these meters. When an odd meter such as 7/8 time is used, it definitely is not very “danceable”. It is intended to put the listener on edge, because it is not “toe-tapping” music. You have to count the meter to keep track; even that is difficult, because we have little experience with such meters. Perhaps, if you have a musical or rhythmic aptitude, you can feel the meter–but for most people, it is difficult to feel.

TENSION RISING: This looping track has a constant high-pitched drone (in contrast to many tracks that have low-pitched drones). The 7/8 meter is intended to put the listener on edge. In addition, about halfway through the track, an acoustic illusion raises the pitch constantly, without ever reaching very high.

HEAVY BEATS: This fast-paced, upbeat track emphasizes the percussion and electronic instruments. Again, this track is in 7/8 meter, which is intended to put you into an uneasy state of mind. About halfway through the track there are fast upward glissandi that give the track a gorgeous sheen. At least, I think so!

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