Monash University
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4.2.1 Exercise 1 Layering Ostinatos

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posted on 2020-11-04, 06:02 authored by Jordan MurrayJordan Murray

Task Objectives

By definition, an ostinato repeats, and for the purposes of this exercise, must feature a defining tempo or rhythmic characteristic indicating its beginning and end. This is necessary for other players to layer their ostinatos following the original ostinato. The defining structural features of this original ostinato are inevitably communicated within a stylistic context, either through connotations via instrumentation or evident denotational elements. As such, stylistic indices instigate individual searches through participants’ internal reservoirs, in regard to a collective intersubjective knowledge base, to facilitate the improvisation of suitable ostinatos. Each following ostinato is generated within the stylistic and emergent constraints initiated by the original ostinato. This exercise encapsulates the functions of the concepts of indexicality, intersubjectivity and emergence within constraints of the original ostinato via a forward-looking approach enabled through repetition.

It is up to player one to communicate tempo, duration and melodic, harmonic and rhythmic complexity of the ostinato in consideration of how it will impact the players to follow. Following ostinatos will naturally add to the collective composition and as such, increase overall complexity. Therefore, by intersubjective requirements, all players should consider the impact of their individual ostinatos in the context of the group sound. Complex individual ostinatos will increase the difficulty of perception, engagement and overall complexity. Simpler ostinatos will generally make perception and engagement easier and complexity will be determined by the number of ostinatos.

This exercise reveals idiosyncratic approaches towards the composition of ostinatos, including favoured styles, ostinato complexity, duration (length of ostinato) and indicates players’ flexibility in adapting to changes of rhythmic and harmonic material.


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