Monday, January 2, 2017

At the Edge - Suite for Cello Solo

Suite for Cello solo
This is the foreword, introduction and short analysis parts of my recent composition.


                I travelled from Illinois to San Fransisco to write a computer generated music in 1990 Summer Course of Stanford University's CCRMA lab.

Piece for Computer and 4 Trombones

Its subtitle is 'Death on the Border'.  It is so amazing that now I have similar possibilities  on my table at my Home.

'At the Edge' is the sitution of human being in the world of 2017.  We are at the edge of enormous progress in science and technology, progress that we cannot even imagine.

The vast majority is only being swayed by the progresses that are happening and sometimes getting easily manipulated. 

A moral and social response has to be developed with a special emphasis on education and equal opportunity.

I tried to give a sense of this human situation by the cello performer's unavoidable difficulty while playing 'At the Edge'.


This piece is an open-ended self discussion of what can be done as a computer aided music work.

The computer generated parts are sometimes mixed with manually composed sections.  Sometimes this mixture is done homogenuously, sometimes  heterogenuously.  This is achieved by manually changing/retouching computer generated parts.

The term 'Computer generated' should not mislead you.  Computer generation is based on composition algorithms which are manually programmed so that monotenuous effects are avoided unless it is required to increase tension.

For example an array of 5 notes  A, Gb, E, F, C# may be put into an array and a random number between 0 and 4 generated.  This produces a real randomness effect.  A note may be repeated
a number of times by chance.  This has to be changed, so that a pitch that has been played once may not be played for a couple of throws of the dice.  This is the random repetition depth.  An artificially beautiful randomness appears if repetition depth is increased. The depth decrease helps to increase tension where needed.

It is possible to imitate/approach human manual composition by deliberately changing and manipulating algorithms.  For example, you can put artificial randomness in not only pitch but also
rhytm values, etc.

It is also possible to imitate computer generation by hand but this effort is also limited by the sheer volume of the computer generation.

The computer generation may also be used just to produce the base line like a carpet veawer using a white layer of threads to tie the color nodes on.

Uniqueness and mutation are issues that has to be pondered upon in this approach to music composition.


Just a few words about the things I was faced with during the composition process of 'AT the Edge':

What is unique?  What is mutated?

Something unique can be differed from others.
Something unique has a unity.
Something unique has an identity.

A truly unique thing is something that can not be mutated.
A truly unique thing exists on its own, with nothing similar to or copied from it.

On the other hand, a mutation is not unique in the presence of an original.

By definition, sound/music is an episodic event queue of frequency, duration.

A melody becomes unique when it is heard for the first time provided that it has a unity.  If a change to the melody mutates  the melody but does not effect its percieved identity it is a non-destructive mutation.

Randomly generated mutations may be limited not to cause (or to cause) destruction of the unique melody.

What happens in the case of a random or limited alleatory melody?  Notes that are not generated according to the fundamental algorithm may destruct the limited alleatory melody depending on a definite condition.  This condition may change according to the character of the original limited alleatory melody.

A limited alleatory melody may be mixed with another melody.  For ex. introduction of constant pitches with constantly seperated instances, may give a unique perception of an atomic character.  Mixing of limited alleatory with a unique melody breaks the randomness, rather balances its effect.