Getting from A to B in Composition

The problem with answering this in any cohesive way is that I don’t feel like I have any good general themes guiding the causal relationships in my music. Part of my problem is my general feeling toward my relationship with my compositions. When I make music, I don’t, and never have, felt like a “composer”. The feeling I get is more like that of an archaeologist. Not necessarily in any historic sense, but simply due to the fact that I don’t feel like I have ever “created” any music, but more that I have “discovered” it. It’s hard for me to justify this stance, because when you get right down to it, it’s very easy to prove that I have made music. But in my mind I identify with my finished work as an audience member, the same as I would any other work that I did not have direct influence in creating.

Obviously, though, my aesthetic choices in the synthesis of my music must create some kind of relationship between the parts. But, as I have said before, the primary concern of my aesthetic is a sense of environment throughout the composition. I believe that the best way to conceptualize this is in a Vareseian way. To get right to the point; to a large degree I don’t compose in linear time. I project sounds into space that collide, penetrate, and trans mutate. The entirety of my compositions are in transition. Ergo, where is A and where is B?

But, you are right, of course I consciously choose the progression in my pieces, even an act of non-action is an action in itself. So what is my motivation? I think the aesthetic in my music has a lot to do with the disembodiment present in a digital society. What do I mean by this? Well, at the core, the very act of digitization is a disembodiment, as it abstracts information from the physical medium where it used to reside, and makes it transferable to any location. The result is pure abstracted data that is mutable, dynamic, and volatile…and in constant transition. As we transfer more of ourselves into the digital sphere, as we identify to a greater extent with our avatars and other personae, as we place more of ourselves into the network and hive mind; what is lost is a sense of space. Of environment. I believe that sound, as something that is simultaneously physical and ephemeral, is an ideal medium with which to engage this issue. This is what I try to bring to my music, a sense of space, of <i>environment</i>.

A good example of this is the work Resolution.1.  In this piece a parameter space is precomposed, and the sounds it manipulates preset, but the actual outcome of the piece is left up to the performance.  No two will be the same, in drastic ways.  However, in listening to several performances, very strong similarities will remain.

A bad example of this is any of the works created by The Posthumous Release.  These works explore a parameter space as well, but they progress through linear time in a very direct way in the composition.  Although recapitulation is possible, it would be very difficult to bring back textural combinations from earlier parts in the works. The improvisatory aspect of these compositions does references an exploration of musical space, but the construction of our performance environment and aesthetic suggests more of an abstract narrative, as opposed to looking through a lens on a sonic world.


About this entry