Double Hexachords

More loose, geometric, pattern-based, theory-light 12-tone material. This time we have several ways to break up the total chromatic into two equal-sized parts.

Early in the 12-tone era -- before even the discovery of the serial technique -- composers were dividing up the 12 notes of the octave into two six-note sets as a very simple structural device. They were called "hexachords", but ther were rarely played as chords in the literal sense.

Here are some pairs of hexachords -- one red and one green. They move up the fingerboard, the patterns mutating as they go. Of course, these are not the only ways to play each set of six notes in each position. There are lots of those. The problem with having lots of options is that it can be paralysing and you end up doing nothing.

If that problem affects you sometimes (and it certainly affects me), it can be useful just to pick one example that sounds good and work on it. That's what I've done here.

In the first one I experimented with doubling the notes on the bottom two strings on the top two, to provide more melodic material. But it proved difficult in the other two, which were tougher to lay out on the fingerboard at all due to all their semitones, so I gave up. If you know your fingerboard then you don't need these visual prompts anyway.

I've been trying to sweep-pick these up and down, a technique I haven't worked on in a long time (and it shows). But you could play fragments of these as chords, or treat them as "scaffolding" and fill in notes around them for a more melodic effect. Or play red-green-red-green and so on. Lots of possibilities, and if you particularly like one there's nothing to stop you working out a full-fingerboard version.