Japanese folk theory, suspended chords, and straight ambience… An actual new song out now!

The more music I produce, the harder I have to think about… well, ensuring each track is as distinct as possible, especially I exhausted basically all the easy ideas early on!

One thing almost universal about those older tracks though, and most Western music in general, is that nearly every chord was built based on either a major or a minor third… so: what if I created a song that removed nearly all of these?

That led me right to suspended chords, which use major seconds and perfect fourths instead—and that was already a great start!

But in terms of scales, I ended up turning once more to some Japanese folk theory, this time with a specific scale I’ve never actually used before!

So first of all… what even is this song?

I’m happy to tell you here that this is another one of those songs with a pretty-long history!

It all started back in December 2021 to January 2022, when I was still producing Northbound Voyage—my list of song ideas totalled 14 by the end, and while I tried to turn all of them into something listenable, there were four I just couldn’t figure out:

  • Glistering Gardens – A young student tours a colourful, lively garden perched atop a futuristic housing block.
  • A Tale of Three Winds – Cold breezes blanket a barren tundra, with the snow trickling down upon the arriving hikers.
  • Light the Way Home – Moonlight touches down from a clear, twilight sky, illuminating the trodden streets of an old village even as the lampposts go out.
  • Pilgrims of Snowfall – A large congregation of robed people pass through a barren, snow-covered plain, venturing towards a long-forgotten sanctuary far, far ahead of them.

These are exactly what I wrote for these song ideas back in January, and I’ve linked the final versions of those first three in order of their release—so you can hear just how much they changed from my visions *\(^o^)/*

I’d wanted to finish all four of these songs for my follow-up album, A Tale of Three Winds, but alas, Pilgrims of Snowfall eluded me again, because I just couldn’t figure out how to make it work.

I thought it was a lost cause by that point… but today, I’ve proven past me wrong (((o(*゚▽゚*)o)))

Last time I’d attempted to make something out of this idea was June, so three months later, here we are, with a completely different take on the idea and a new title to spare!

So as I mentioned earlier, almost the whole song’s built off suspended chords—First with perfect fourths, but that changes to major seconds at around the three minute mark when the track modulates into B♭ Minor!

Now there isn’t too much melody to speak of because I wanted to lean into that ambience as much as I could—to that end, there are up to like 9 synths playing together to create that mood, but whether or not it’s effective is up to you to decide, yeah?

When it comes to the koto (事) part or the background motifs though, what you’re hearing is in two different Japanese scales: the usual Hirajōshi, then a different scale apparently known as the In scale; it’s apparently usually pentatonic, but I did a bit of research to pull up an octatonic variant ♪(๑ᴖ◡ᴖ๑)♪

The In scale in D♭… based on what I know anyways ( ^ω^ )

From what I’ve read, the fact this scale has neither a minor or major third makes it very suitable for playing over songs without these, so once I’d found out all that out, I practiced it a bit and… well, got to work!

This song came together over a week and a half—probably shorter if I didn’t get distracted by live mixes—and given how much I have to finish nowadays, there were definitely better uses of my time…

But I don’t regret once again putting together everything I know of music so far, and even if that’s not much, we still have something here today, don’t we~?

I’d like to hear what you think of the track, but ‘til then, all the more love to ‘ya!