A Sequence That Never Repeats Artificially

When I record a sequence I always aim to play it though, without stopping, from a beginning to an end. There are easier ways to build a sequence. The easiest way is to record a few notes or a few measures and then copy them so that the sequence repeats as a self-contained block of sound in the arrangement page.

But in the realm of craft, is easier ever better? For me, the answer is usually no. In music production, the specific problem with repeating a sequence is that it has no variation built into it. And without variation its sound has little depth and lacks mystery as to where it’s going. You already know where it’s going because your ears subliminally catch onto the inhumanly perfect repetition.

You can “disguise” such sequences so that their sounds change on a surface level (i.e. timbrally), but that doesn’t fix the problem your ears caught. The problem is non-human generated, synthetic repetition.

When I play a sequence through from a beginning to an end I solve the problem of synthetic repetition by, ironically, trying to replicate it myself and subtly failing.

What happens is that I’ll try to repeat a good section—like three chords that implied a kind of cadence—but then either (1) be unable to make my repetition consistent or (2) get sidetracked by a variation that has emerged in lieu of a repetition. What happens is that I keep playing in a way that feels like circling around a musical idea without ever perfectly articulating it. What happens is that I keep trying to find an ideal representation of a musical idea without succeeding. I keep playing: I keep sort of repeating themes and phrases to try to find their best form, and after several minutes I have a very long, non-artificially repeating sequence to show for it.

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