so, to understand this piece, it's necessary to go back to 1998.
i was working out primitive sequencer parts for the first inri demo and it just sort of crossed my mind that there was really nothing stopping me from composing symphonies except for a lot of music theory. well, if i could write electronic music without training, why couldn't i write symphonies without training? i mean, the score writing program exists in front of me. it was just a question of experimenting with it. i could do it myself...
...but i actually already had a pretty hefty disdain for music theory by the age of 17. i'd managed to come across a music history textbook that traced the deconstruction of western theory from beethoven through to schoenberg and this, combined with my experiences as a guitarist, was enough to prevent me from taking it seriously. the perception i had was of modern composers viewing music theory sort of like how biologists viewed creationism. i use that analogy fairly frequently. it just didn't strike me as relevant.
now, i've softened a bit over time to a view that music theory is best understood in terms of the underlying physics. this renders the theory useless, but upholds the basic relationships between tones as physical, mathematical realities. the thing is the next step of abstraction is understanding that these mathematical objects can be arranged and analyzed in any arbitrary way, and the conventional theory really *is* a fallacy akin to creationism. so, i still hold to the general thesis. this is actually the first serious example of me putting that disdain for the idea that music should have a theory into real action. i remain adamantly of the view that art is not a realm where theories should exist or be viewed with anything other than scorn. theories are rigid, formal things; art is informal, chaotic.
so, it's 1998. i have a scorewriter and a very basic soundcard and i want to bullshit a symphony out of it. i did this by composing a single brief melody by randomly mashing notes into a scorewriter. i then took that melody and pasted it over top of itself at differing speeds (64th, 32nd, 16th, 8th, quarter, half, whole notes). i then took that, cut it off near the end of the half notes and pasted it over itself, backwards.
that might sound like it's going to sound awful, but it actually sounds quite lovely. one could analyze it quite easily, but it's creation is beyond the realm of any rules of construction.
which is where art belongs.
...excepting the algorithm i used, of course. i suppose it's more reich than schoenberg, but kind of more xenakis than either.
the initial version ended up subsumed underneath a messy noise collage that i created independently and have lost the source material for. that messy noise collage was eliminated from the track for the 1999 version, which was reconstructed by reproducing the algorithm. these are tracks 19 and 20 on this systematic exploration of the theme.
in 2001, i ran the midi file through my soundblaster live!, which as primitive as it is, has a much nicer wavetable in it than the primitive soundcard i used in 1998 and 1999 (i don't remember what it was). this is track 21. i also slowed it down by about 20 bpm and allowed the full file to "intersect", which let it breathe more. i've previously not done anything with this mix other than append it to some mix cds. the guitars on the soundblaster are notoriously bad, so there wasn't a lot to do with it....
why? well, i was writing a lot with scorewriters at the time and was just experimenting with the old file, really. but i was also finishing up what would be the only year i would spend in the math-physics department, and thought it sounded like i would imagine intersecting particles *should* sound like. i was generally interested in finding ways to combine science with music then - an interest that is present in older tracks as well and that has stuck with me. i may explore these themes further in time. one of the ideas i really wanted to accomplish was a physical modelling of the universe, to actually simulate the music of the spheres, as pythagoras imagined it. i think i underestimated the complexity of such a task....
of course, i never expected the music of the spheres to be tonal. and i wouldn't expect the sound of particles intersecting to be musical, either. but, we can take some artistic license. if intersecting particles are to make a sound, it OUGHT to be something like this!
now, the place to work out the actual intersection is rather arbitrary. i had initially cut off the entire section of pure whole notes, back in '98. what i wanted to do in '01 was create a sequence where it's cut off incrementally, creating shorter and shorter pieces. i didn't actually do that then, but i have now.
as for the piece, i haven't changed it much. i've doubled the guitar with a pizzicato string section, and put it through a better guitar synthesizer (and amp simulator, and effects). the sound fonts are otherwise identical, just updated mildly to a better synthesizer.
a string orchestra mix was added at the end of may, 2015. the album mix was added at the beginning of jan, 2016.
i've included the midi files of the original composition, if you'd like to mess with it on your own.
written june, 1998. reimagined june, 2001. slightly rearranged and re-rendered at the end of july, 2014. rearranged again at the end of may, 2015 and one last time at the beginning of jan, 2016. the renders here are from june 1998, june 1999, june 2001, july 2014, may, 2015 and jan, 2016. as always, please use headphones.
this release is compiled in the following places: