Constants And Symetry

author: flakeyc date: 02/24/2012 category: for beginners
rating: 9 / votes: 2 
Constants and symmetry add continuity to a song, and help it to flow smoothly through the changes. CONSTANTS Constants are melodic, harmonic, or time factors that remain the same throughout a section of music. They help knit the section together by padding out the cracks or simply providing stability in the form of comfortable sameness. First example is the verse section from Oasis' Wonderwall, which has a padding type constant on the first and second strings. (capo 2)
 Em G  D  A
|3-|3-|3-|3-|
|3-|3-|3-|3-|
|0-|0-|2-|0-|
|2-|0-|0-|2-|
|2-|2-|--|0-|
|0-|3-|--|--|
Next is the intro to GnR's Sweet Child, which features the comfortable stability element by only changing the bass notes, and leaving everything else the same. (down step)
 D
|--------3---2---|
|--3-------------|
|----2-0---2---2-|
|0---------------| x2
|----------------|
|----------------|
 
 C
|--------3---2---|
|--3-------------|
|----2-0---2---2-| 
|2---------------| x2
|----------------|
|----------------|
 
 G
|--------3---2---|
|--3-------------|
|0---2-0---2---2-|
|----------------| x2
|----------------|
|----------------|
A similar thing occurs at the start of the solo from Floyd's Shine On.
|--------------|--------------|--------------|--------------|
|--------------|--------------|--------------|--------------|
|--3-5-5b7-5-3-|--3-5-5b7-5-3-|--3-5-5b7-5-3-|--------------|
|5-------------|4-------------|3-------------|2-------------|
|--------------|--------------|--------------|--------------|
|--------------|--------------|--------------|--------------|
Constants can also be found in the bass with songs such as Short and Sweet by Roy Harper/Dave Gilmour, which has a D5 pad beneath all the verse chords. (drop D)
|2-|0-|2-|3-|2-|7-|9-|10|
|3-|3-|3-|3-|3-|8-|10|12|
|2-|2-|2-|2-|2-|7-|9-|11| and so on.
|0-|0-|0-|0-|0-|0-|0-|0-|
|0-|0-|0-|0-|0-|0-|0-|0-|
|0-|0-|0-|0-|0-|0-|0-|0-|
Check out the intro and verse of Survivor's Eye of the Tiger, which has a palm muted C note throughout the whole section. SYMETRY Symmetry is another kind of constant, but it doesn't remain fixed, instead it retains or reflects' the elements of the preceding part while shifting position. The opening of the Simpsons theme displays symmetry in the form of 2 ascending thirds followed by 2 descending (note the timing).
[ M3>  ]  [ m3> ][ m3<   ] [ m3< ]
|--------------5-|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|------5---7-----|8-----5---------|----------------|----------------|
|5---------------|----------5-----|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|--------------7-|4-4-4-5---------|--4-4-4-5-3-----|
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|----------------|----------------|
|1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - |1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - |1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - |1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - |
BTW, the final note is B at the 4th of the 3rd. Couldn't be bothered adding a whole bar of tab just for one note. You can often hear this kind of symmetry in neo classical metal, sometimes to brilliant effect, and sometimes to the point of sounding like a finger exercise. Lines such as the following, which has a scale degree pattern of 5, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 5 ,1, shifting down a step at a time with an arpeggio to finish.
|--5-7-8-7-5---5-|--3-5-7-5-3---3-|--1-3-5-3-1---1-|----4-7-12------|
|5-----------5---|3-----------3---|1-----------1---|0-5-------------|
My last example contains both constant and reflective symmetry elements. It's the intro pick from Caesars' Sort It Out.
 Bm               D                A                G6
|------------0---|--------------0-|------------0---|------------0---|
|------3-------3-|------3-----3---|------3-------3-|------3-------3-|
|----4-----4-----|----2-----2-----|----2-----2-----|----0-----0-----|
|--4-----4-------|--4-----4-------|--2-----2-------|--2-----2-------|
|2---------------|5---------------|0---------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|----------------|3---------------|
You can see that the bassline is made up of the roots of the chords. The constant comes in the form of the E and D notes on the first and second strings, and the reflective symmetry bit comes from what is happening on the third and fourth strings: a fourth followed by a minor third (this is the reason for the G6).
G|--4-|--2-|--2-|--0-|
D|4---|4---|2---|2---|
So that's about it. Watch out for symmetry in music, and then incorporate it into your own. As usual, sorry if I've stated the obvious, but this is aimed at beginners. DISCLAIMER With the exception of Roy, none of the above musical examples really reflects my taste in music it's far worse!
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