Midnight Enigma

A mysterious mix of minimalism and modal musings.

The score for this piece has been made available online.

Midnight Enigma is composed for a musical challenge constraining pitches within two octaves, with the bonus theme of game music.1 Pitch and range constraints aren't that unusual. When writing for any instrument or voice, it's important to keep in mind its range and register. You probably don't want to see (let alone hear) a bass singer singing an A5 note.

Though being limited to two octaves bordered on draconian, I made do. I had to cut some corners melodically, since imitation was more difficult and flamboyant melodies couldn't be expressed. Nonetheless, I focused on exploring other aspects of music: the rhythm, extended chords, microtones, and whatnot. I also decided to have fun with the Phrygian mode a bit more.2 I started playing with this mode in Remorse (without knowing about it 🫢), and still find it very interesting to use. (Perhaps this will become the topic of a blog post?)

I decided to go with a band/minimalist/electronic fusion with a mix of drums, Reichian phasing, and electronic-inspired delay. I took (mental) inspiration from open world games such as Minecraft, where a huge number of possibilities lie at your fingertips and consequences aren't drastic.

A majority of the piece was composed during midnight hours in the days before the challenge deadline, hence the title. (Yes, I messed up my sleep schedule then.)

On another note, this was my first time using MIDI vocals. They sound better than I expected; might play with them in future pieces. :)


  1. The octaves I chose were G2-G3 + G4-G5. Pitches can be anywhere inside these ranges, but not between (G3-G4) or outside. ↩︎

  2. The Phrygian mode is characterised by the flat-2nd. As Midnight Enigma is primarily in C minor, the flat-2nd would be the D-flat. ↩︎

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