8 Oct 2014
J Dilla vs. Igor Stravinsky: a compositional comparison of technique

Igor Stravinsky and J Dilla are two titans of modern music who, despite the generations and genres between them, developed similar compositional techniques involving repetition and layering. In this post we will explore these similarities by comparing “Walkinonit” and “Glazed” from J Dilla’s “Donuts” with the first movement of Stravinsky’s “Three Pieces for String Quartet”.


One way to direct the listener’s ear to a particular aspect of a song or piece is through repetition. By repeating it we are assigning value to it and inviting the listener’s ear to notice the details. I call this technique framing.

Framing played a large role in Stravinsky’s early compositional style, especially noticeable in The Rite of Spring and the piece we are looking at here “Three Pieces for String Quartet”. Instead of composing long-winded elaborate melodies, Stravinsky wrote short repetitive melodic bits with other contrasting melodic bits set against them; multiple frames on top of one another. Often these frames are of different lengths so that they repeat at different meters, creating polyrhythms

Also on BML
Explorations in Africa and the Diaspora, Part 1: New Orleans, the Meters, and the Classic Song That Everyone Gets Wrong
Drummer Zigaboo Modeliste on an outdoor stage with the Meters
From Beginner to Conservatory: A Trumpet Success Story
Isaac Mann studies trumpet, piano and composition with Brooklyn Music Lessons
How to Choose a Banjo: Clawhammer and Scruggs and Tenor! Oh my!
Assortment of finely-crafted banjos by georgebanjos.com
How to Choose the Best Beginner Guitar for Kids
How to Choose the Best Beginner Guitar for Kids
Syndicate content