Three basic models of western tonality – Making Of

In this post I am going to show how the soundtrack for the last episode’s video was created. I’m focussing on both the music apps I used as well the harmony models, introduced in the last episode. But first lets listen to a part of the sound track.

Music apps and presets used

To produce the track I’ve exclusively used an iPad and iOS Music Apps. The applied synthesizer and the drum loops were recorded with Loopy using AudioBus.

  1. First the drum loop was recorded. I used the Korg iElectribe app, Preset “A17 Techno 8”.
  2. The bass sound was synthesized by NLog Pro, Preset “2.0 XTD, Twoelk”. I manually activated the arpeggiator. NLog was controlled by SoundPrism Pro via Core MIDI.
  3. The choir was recorded using SoundPrism’s “Choir Sound Pack”, Preset “Airy”. SoundPrism was set to one tone mode.
  4. For the lead Animoog came into operation. I used the preset “JustSwell”. The scale was set to aeolian with a as root note.
  5. Recording, looping and mixing was done via Loopy HD.

Theory knowledge of last episode

  • The key related circle of fifths was applied to the bass line. Starting at tone a the bass moves through the cycle and arrives at the origin finally. The bass line was played with SoundPrism Pro. To play a fifths sequence one simply has to skip every second tone line.
  • The key related circle of thirds was applied to the choir. This track starts at the tone e, runs also through the whole cycle and arrives also at the origin again. The choir was also played using SoundPrism Pro. To play a third sequence here, one simple needs to move from tone line to tone line.
  • The key related melodic circle was applied to the lead. Latter was recorded using Animoog which’s interface is optimized for playing melodic sequences.

Interaction of bass, choir and lead

To make bass, choir and lead sound good together, SoundPrism Pro and Animoog were set to the same scale i.e. a-minor respectively a-aeolian. Additionally I made sure that fifths and third line do not drift apart from each other in SoundPrism. There the choir starts two tone lines above the bass and runs after the latter. Regarding the lead it was important that it starts and ends with tones fitting well to the root of a-minor. The tones in-between where rhythmized such that are in harmony with the other tracks.


  1. In the same way melodic and drum loops exist so do harmonic loops. The key related circle of fifths, the key related circle of thirds and the key related melodic circle show how such harmonic loops look like.
  2. Many good musical pieces move through all of these three layers, meaning the fifths layer, the third layer and the melodic layer.
  3. All three layers can be active at the same time. But in this case one has to make sure that the layers are connected in the right way.
  4. The interface of SoundPrism is particularly optimized for composing fifth and third movements. Animoog’s interface is particularly good for creating melodic sequences.  Depending on nature of the track to be composed one or the other app should be used.

9 thoughts on “Three basic models of western tonality – Making Of”

  1. There the choir starts two tone lines above the bass and runs after the latter.

    Could you elaborate on that sentence? Not sure what you mean by “runs after.
    I’m having fun with this already! Thanks!

    1. Imagine I would play the bass sequence with my first finger and the choir sequence with my second. Then my second finger would move into the same direction as the first and would follow the first one. The distance between first and second is not becoming bigger. Thats what I mean with “runs after”.

  2. Thanks a lot bro for the explanation. Wish you could provide more theory on the 3 models that you introduced.
    I was also wondering if there are other useful models for music composition.

    Thanks again for the blog, I’m constantly checking my email eagerly waiting for your episode. I’m new to music production, it has always been something that interested me, but now I’m taking it very seriously.

    1. Yes, there will be much more explanation on that models. Other models for inter-key relationships will also be added.

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