07 – Retrograde & Inversion

Retrograde – the musical phrase is created by playing the original melody is performed backwards

Inversion – the musical phrase is created by playing the original melody upside down or inverted (the same interval going up is created going down instead and visa versa)

Retrograde Inversion – the musical phrase is created by playing the original melody both backwards and upside down

 

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Simple Retrograde Lesson by MusicTechTeacher

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Following Lesson is from ‘The Arrangers Page’

How to Write for Theme & Variation – Inversion & Retrograde Inversion

In the last tip I explained what Theme & Variation were and how it was used. We went into the first technique called “Sequence” where took a motive (a small 2 bar melody) and transposed up or down.

There were 2 kind of “Sequences”, the first one was an exact sequence based on the exact intervals of the original motive and the second one was an inexact sequence based on diatonic intervals (intervals based on the key at the moment).

In this tip we are going to continue with “Inversion” and “Retrograde Inversion”.

Let’s start with “Inversion“. As the term already suggest we are going to invert the original melody in some way.

This is done by starting on the same pitch (same note) as the original melody but rather moving in the opposite direction. However the same diatonic intervals are used as the original melody (but reversed, of course).

Please look at the comparison below:

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Listen to:  Two Bar Original Theme

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Listen to:  Two Bar Inversion

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Listen to: Two Bar Inversion One Octave Up
So as you can see in the second example I inverted the original theme downward, using the same diatonic intervals.

In the third example I just transposed the inverted melody one octave up in order to avoid getting too low.

Since we are using diatonic intervals, the first thing we have to keep in mind is that we are in the key of C major and using the C major scale:

1. From C to E is an interval of a third and becomes C to A
2. From E to F is an interval of a second and becomes A to G
3. From F to A is an interval of a third and becomes G to E
4. From A to G is an interval of a second and becomes E to F

Based on the three examples above we now can make an eight bar song:

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Listen: Theme & Variation Inversion One Octave Up

Listen: Theme & Variation Inversion One Octave Up with Chords

The original theme appears in the first two bars while the inversion one octave up follows in the next two.

In bars 5 and 6, this is my own choice, I repeat the original theme and in the last two I use a new second motive.

In the second part of this tip we will discuss what a “Retrograde Inversion” is.

This is where the pitches of the original theme are played backward, using the same or reversed rhythm as shown in the three examples below:

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Listen: Two Bar Original Theme

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Listen: Two Bar Retrograde Inversion with Same Rhythm

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Listen: Two Bar Retrograde Inversion with Reversed Rhythm
Again based on the two examples above we now can make an eight bar song with an retrograde inversion incorporated:

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Listen: Theme & Variation Retrograde Inversion

Listen: Theme & Variation Retrograde Inversion with Chords

Continue with experimenting two bar original melodies and then incorporating an inversion and a retrograde inversion.

 

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