While working on a score for a video game, I composed a melody, a motif that I thought could be very flexible. I could use the same melody for 4 different moods.
“Scary and Dark” is a slow, atmospheric piece based on electronic instruments. It is filled with “portamento” phrases, that is to say, pitch slides. Underneath the music is a fast-tempo rhythm that provides some momentum, keeping the music going. A deep bass interweaves through the track, giving the music additional tension.
“Heavy and Dark” is based on the same melody, but is played by a shakuhachi, an end-blown Japanese flute made of bamboo. This is followed by a sitar–an Indian string instrument, accompanied by the shakuhachi. The piece is filled with a set of acoustic drums playing a driving rhythm. Meanwhile, electronic instruments occasionally bring in a mood of impending doom.
“Foreboding Bad Times” is a largely electronic piece, with a fast underlying rhythm played by drums. The same melody plays here, at a slow pace, in contrast to the fast drum rhythm. One of the features that gives the music a foreboding feeling, is that a synth plays the melody in parallel fifths. This is not something I would normally do, but here it gives the music an eerie mood.
“Happy Times” transforms the same melody, into a completely different mood. A major key (instead of a minor key), and a completely different set of electronic and acoustic instruments are used to generate a happy-go-lucky feeling. It is amazing to me, how one can transform a melody from a dark to a bright mood, with the use of some adjustments!