Chaz Underriner

Derek Bailey – microtonal motivic development in “Stella by Starlight”

  • Babbitt, Milton. 1958. “Who Cares if You Listen?”. High Fidelity, February

Derek Bailey (born 1930 Sheffield, died 2005 London)

Ballads on Tzadik records (2002)

Example 1: my transcription of 0:00-1:13, “Stella by Starlight”, Ballads (Tzadik 2002)


Example 2: hinge point from free section back into “Stella” changes

Example 3: my transcription of 6:34-7:20


Occurrences of minor-second cluster motive

example 1:54

example 2:13

example 3:41

example 4:19

example 4:55

example 5:04

example 6:46

Analysis of dissonances (in beats per second)

(f1-f2 = beating in beats per second) For example, if there were two pitches sounding together, 440Hz and 480Hz, they would create a beating at 40 beats per second (bps).

        After executing this counting process on the motivic occurrences, we can see the following resulting beating patterns.

The following audio example consists of the 7 motivic occurrences in the recording of “Stella” next to a synthetic sine-wave representation of the resulting beating pattern with A400Hz as a reference point.

Furthermore, if we observe the synthetic representations without the original recording, the decreasing trajectory of the beating patterns becomes even more apparent.

Microtonal Adjustments vs. Equal Tempered

Microtonal adjustments in 1:54 motivic occurrence

Three motivic occurrences derived from G5 and F-sharp5


  • Helmholtz, Hermann von, and Alexander John Ellis. 1954. On the sensations of tone as a physiological basis for the theory of music. New York: Dover Publications.
  • Bailey, Derek. 2002. Ballads. New York: Tzadik Records.