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”.

Framing

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

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