Friday 29 October 2010

Information Theory, Algorithms and The Whitney Music Box (Video)

Interesting video here from Jim Bumgardner (no tittering at the back please British readers). He discusses information theory and entropy/randomness in a manner not unrelated to a previous post about brevity and non-tonal music.

Also of note is his 'Whitney Music Box' which he explains in the second half of the presentation.

Jim Bumgardner at Gel 2007 from Gel Conference on Vimeo.

Monday 18 October 2010

Free Stuff!! Bartolozzi Score For 'Collage'

Page one of the book. Not included, unfortunately.

While the publisher has no plans to reprint this rather excellent book I thought as a companion to the pieces I posted previously I'd post the scores too (including the guide on the back page). Not the world's greatest scan but it's legible I think.

'DL' as a .pdf from Dropio here. If the link is dead please let me know in the comments and I'll re-upload it.

Enjoy, presumably.

Perhaps it will be reprinted at some point, why not a digital download? Lame, really.

UPDATE: Thanks to John for posting a comment about Dropio being down (it's now a discontinued service apparently). I've uploaded this score to Mediafire here. Also I'll reupload the Bartolozzi audio files from a previous post when I get time (the files are quite large).

Please post comments about any other dead links and I'll reupload those too. Thanks. Ed.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Guess The Score No.2

Click on the image to enlarge.

Yes, here is the second entry in my already highly regarded 'Guess The Score' series.

This one's not as easy as the previous Varèse extract so I'm not expecting anyone to get it but you never know.

Some clues, the composer is male, still alive, and hasn't composed many pieces for orchestra. This is the beginning of the third movement (as you can see) and features some rather natty quintuplets at different speeds. One of my favourite pieces as it happens.

As before, don't all rush in at once.

EDIT: Congrats to Dan who got the right answer. It's Kurtag's Stele, the first page of the third movement. Have a listen below (turn your speakers up as the introduction is rather quiet).

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Complement.Inversion.Etc 'Ident'

Christmas jumper ('sweater' if you're in North America, I think).

This isn't really a 'proper' post (I won't be linking to it on Twitter and Facebook and so on). It's an 'ident' I made a ages ago which was supposed to preface some instructional vids on harmony (I wanted to explain what a complement inversion actually is, for instance. Not exactly rocket science but worth doing probably).

It's a parody of the BBC Open University ident from the late 70s and 80s and I intended to make the instructional vids in this style too for bit of a laugh (basic computer graphics/diagrams, very dry presentation style and most importantly, a chunky knit Christmas jumper with reindeers or it or something. Quite fancied growing a beard too).

The dots which appear at the end represent the pitch classes used in the rather perfunctory accompanying piece. I seem to remember using some piano chords I recorded for another project and then adding some single pitches also previously recorded (flute and me playing the violin, badly).

EDIT: The first pitch in the piece is an E (4). There's no 4 in the set shown in the animation (or its inversion) and I don't tend to transpose and reduce sets to prime forms etc which got me thinking what the reference is, it can't be the set used in the music. Think it's something to do with the name Complement.Inversion.Etc, will try and work it out if I get the time/energy.

It was some time ago though and the details have left my brain. It certainly isn't a carefully composed piece, just some odds and ends thrown together really.

I made the animation in 3ds Max and processed the video in Vegas.

Anyway, just a bit of fun. I've posted the original Open University ident below too (the music is actually pretty good for a bit of TV incidental music, apart from the distressingly consonant final chord, arguably).

Oh, and why not the classic A Bit of Fry and Laurie Open University sketch too.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Brevity Is The Soul Of Non-Tonal Music

If Shakespeare were alive today, he'd agree with me.

I've said it many times before (at a party last night for instance, fascinating company me) but now it's official.

There are exceptions that prove the rule of course (prove as in test obviously, prove as in confirm would be a bit mental) but generally speaking non-tonal music is like a cup of espresso coffee, or a shot of whisky (single malt naturally) or perhaps most cogently, a poem.

Music which has no pulse, no 'tune' and lacks a tonal centre ought to be fairly brief; unless you can find other means of parsing the material into graspable sections or moments (as Sciarrino does with silence/space or Kurtág via many short movements to cite two examples).

To break this 'rule' or to compose in ignorance of it is to run the risk of writing music which approaches a sort of entropy; so much information that the listener can't process it, can't remember it or walk away feeling like they have a clear idea of the piece. Boredom would be a more prosaic description.

More is certainly less in most cases, many a beautiful chord or flowing contrapuntal section has been ruined by suffocation.

If you're going to write a long non-tonal piece (let's say 10+ minutes) justify it, musically (not with some guff in the programme notes or commentary).

Rant over/off.

Feel free to disagree, as always.

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