Random Borrowing #14: Giant

Today, lady luck has brought me back to the Korean children books and a dual language book in Korean and English was the result. It is My Daddy is a Giant by Carl Norac, and Illustrated by Ingrid Godon.

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This is actually a pretty cool kids book. I borrowed it and took it home to read to the kids.

The thing that struck me about the book was that the little boy in the book is drawn much smaller than he would be in real life. This is understandable, since it is pretty much the point of the book. The little boy acts like he’s about 3 or 4, but only comes up to his dad’s knee. My daughter Ada, is almost 2 and is almost up to my hip.

Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes is also drawn smaller than his six years old would suggest.

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There’s even a trope about this.

Link to Music Composition

Perhaps, the lesson here is is to always go a little further than seems necessary to achieve the desired effect. In other words, slightly overdo everything.

The use of repetition is one thing that immediately comes to mind. I’ve often found that emphasis by repetition is essential in music, and although it seems like cheating, there usually needs to be more than you want. The composer is so close to it, that another repetition of the tune is boring, but the repetition needs to be there because it isn’t boring to an unfamiliar listener. Of course, there should be some differences in each repetition. Just listen to any of the classical masters to see how they do repetitions; each repetition is always just a bit different. Mozart’s 40th and Beethoven’s 6th are a couple of my favourites.

Now that I think of it, perhaps the lesson is the exact opposite. I composed some music that I wanted to be beautiful, but just a little bit “off”. This was intended to represent the Elves of Discworld, representing beauty combined with absolute evil. My first attempt took a nice, slightly unusual melody on a minor scale. To this, I added some weird chords, but it turned out that this made the music sound too strange. The desired effect was achieved with more normal harmonies.

I would love to find a way of quantifying these characteristics in an algorithm and analyse music recordings to characterise the level of variation and repetition that seems to work in various genres. Stereotypically,  pop music is often considered boring by people who are accustomed to other styles  music. But when you listen closely to some of the more popular songs, you actually hear quite a lot of variation, even in verse chorus forms.