The key signature and time signature were difficult choices. I didn’t want to pick a minor key for fear of draining the mood entirely from the piece, but nor did I want it to be overtly happy. After all, it is a piece about mystery and confusion. I ended up settling on G-Major, but put a twist on things by rapidly shifting into the lydian mode, meaning it had two sharps (F# and C#) rather than the usual one (F#). The time signature was no easier; I definitely did not want the standard 4/4 common time. My first preference was for something more unsettling like 11/8, but ultimately to assist in the loopability of the piece I went for 3/4 while trying in other ways to mess with the beat. As such, I took care not to stress the first beat of each bar, instead choosing to put more emphasis on the second beat.
The next step was to decide the melody and harmony. The brief made it such that the harmonies were more important than the melody. So, to reduce emphasis on the melody I created something simple without any fancy bells of whistles. Creating the melancholic feel of the piece was all in the interaction between the rhythm and the harmony. This meant no explicit chords and no natural chords. Everything had to be broken down into the chime of the bass and every chord had to be ominous in some way. Namely, this meant the chords were generally either augmented, with a seventh or totally outside the key signature. This is profoundly obvious as soon as the piece starts, with the first eight bars of the melody going through the following chord sequence:
Gmaj7 | Am7 | Gmaj7 | Am7 | Bm7 | Caug4 | Fmaj7 | Emin7
This then leads the melody into the lydian mode and augments itself into:
Dmaj7 | Em7 | Dmaj7 | Em7 | Gmaj7 | Caug4 | Fmaj7 | E7