Wheel charts on Parallel Galaxy cover

See also:
The Real Parallel Galaxy
Emmett Chapman
December, 2004.

Parallel Galaxy
Joe McCollam
November 21, 2004.

Getting started with the Offset Modal System
Emmett Chapman, Steve Gajdos, Ben Weber
November, 2010.

The following was written by Emmett Chapman and posted to Sticknews on September 10, 2001, in response to several members' questions about his "Offset Modal System"™, with accompanying "Wheel"™ and "Stone"™ musical charts as originally presented on his "Parallel Galaxy" album cover, released in 1985 as an LP and re-released in 1999 as a remastered CD.

The Triple "Wheel" Chart

Both LP and the re-released CD versions of my "Parallel Galaxy" album contain the "Wheel" and "Stone" musical charts explaining the entire discovery to those who are inclined toward gaining non-verbal knowledge by way of pattern recognition within closed systems, as with charts encapsulating information in geometric form, in this case patterned after astrology charts. When I finish such a process, I usually become more "verbal" than usual at that point, piling on colorful terms and phrases in an effort to illuminate the discovery.

On my currently available "Galaxy" CD, the triple Wheel chart is on the front cover and the seven faceted Stone chart (set in an unmarked matrix of twelve even divisions) is on the label of the CD itself.

I used this system to compose and improvise one of the songs, titled after the "Galaxy" album itself, as a celebration of the discovery and codification of an alternative modal system. It was like discovering a living Garden of Eden, a tempting "paradise" where just one of the physical laws in that universe is off by a twist (as in one of the more famous Star Trek episodes). Since then, the Offset Modal System has grown deeply into my songs and improvs, a musical theory that can be put into practice with unending variation.

What is this system, I hear you asking (or are you asleep)? It's all contained in seed form on the two charts of the CD and LP. (The third chart, present on the LP version only, is my own horoscope.) Time permitting, I hope to eventually compile my notes into a large book on new music theory for composers and musician improvisers.

I should explain that the triple Wheel is a bit of a maze, with the least likely path leading the way out (altering C in a C major scale, of all things)! Then you alter the fifth, a G, to arrive at the "Double Offset Mode" (the outermost of the three Wheels). And then - you never play in C.

Triple "Wheel" chart as seen
on "Parallel Galaxy" CD cover
It's a triple overlay of Wheel charts with the traditional Greek modes at the inner one, all seven notes of which are connected by yellow lines in fourth intervals. The middle Wheel is the most fruitful, I feel, and displays haunting and exotic modes with chords and scales ascending counter-clockwise, a coherent system of harmonic and scalar movement applicable to any key center (so multiply it all by twelve). The outer Wheel "offsets" one more note from the traditional modal system, producing even more exotic and somewhat Arabian constructs.

The counter-clockwise Wheel is conceptually a top view of a spiral of ascending notes, ranging through as many octaves as you might like to imagine. The matrix is twelve even divisions, as with the twelve equal tempered notes of the octave, the twelfth being known as a major 7th, and the thirteenth being non-existent, in that it's the first tone repeated at the next octave on this spiral staircase. Tone eleven, by the way, is a blue note, the flatted 7th (thanks to Steve Adelson for his pun on Tony Levin's name, used as a song title on his excellent CD album release, "The New Sticktet", featuring Tony together with Steve on that titled song).

Back to the radial grid. Aligned inside this matrix of twelve points is a symmetrical Stone of seven points, depicting all seven of the altered modal scales simultaneously. As with the Greek modes that still dominate today's music, any note on this chart can be the root of its chord with scale. Chordal movement through all seven of these roots then form an "Offset Modal" relationship in the same manner as with traditional modes.

The actual lettered notes are just examples, of course, as you can modulate the whole system to all twelve key centers. Seven notes, any one of which can form a distinctive chord with scale, multiplied by twelve chromatic tones contained in an octave as key or modulation centers, equals 84 modal possibilities. No news here, it's the same amount of permutations as with the familiar Greek modes. Then multiply it all by two to include the same set of possibilities at the outer Wheel, and you have 168 colorful new modes, many of which have been used intuitively but sporadically by inspired classical composers, but without all the interconnections that come with a musical system.

"Stone" chart as seen on
"Parallel Galaxy" CD label
As for James' question about my astrological influences and correspondences to this musical theory and practice, astrology was very instrumental in codifying my discoveries. The intervals within chords and scales relate directly to the geometry of angular relationships of zodiacal signs, planets and cusps, (numbers divisible into twelve), possibly even to the evocative moods created by harmonious versus stressful angles (lined respectively marked in blue and red on my musical and astrological charts).

There's no doubt I could write several books about these two interwoven subjects of the "Offset Modal System" and the corresponding closed systems of music and astrology. As an astrologer I'm not even a believer, just a practitioner and hobbyist since age 14 or so. Astrology, whether or not it offers any working truth, is a valuable dialectical tool to discover "the geometry of relationships", as I like to put it.

The chords with scales in the middle "wheel" come in strangely related pairs, a pair of uplifting "7th chord" scales, a pair of minors as John Coltrane played them, a pair of Middle Eastern major/minor scales, and a "super Lydian" mode with everything raised but the root.

I'll stop at this point and wait for feedback and vegetables. The information requested is all there in the charts, but I'd be glad to continue a discussion here on Stick News.

Best to All, Emmett.
©2001 Emmett Chapman