Computer Music and Minimalist Compositions by Stephen Roddy
released 07 March 2014
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- Track Name: Mūlamadhyamakakārikā
Mūlamadhyamakakārikā named for the chief writing of the eminent philosopher/teacher of the Mahāyāna school, Nagarjunna represents a musical exploration of the Buddhist ideal of Sunyata. The piece explores the inter-relation of silence and sound referencing Leonard Meyer's similar model of expectation vs realisation as the driving musical force.
More importantly, it's a nice rich soundscape with both melodic and noise elements going on and I like that I can't pronounce the name of one of my own tunes.
- Track Name: Idle Hands- A 31 - Part Exploration Of Irish Unemployment From 1983 - 2014 In G Major.
dle Hands: A 31-part exploration of Irish Unemployment
￼from 1983-2014 in G major.
There is a strong historical tradition of artists tackling social themes in their work from Picasso’s Guernica to the politically charged folk songs of Woodie Gutherie. Art often serves a regulatory function in society not only reflecting back popular values and concerns, but also drawing attention to the overlooked and sidelined issues. This marriage between art and social activism can be both a blessing and a curse. The lines between socially inspired art and politically inspired art can be blurry. Where art of a purely social agenda can seek to raise awareness about range of social issues regardless of ideological concerns, politically driven art is -practically by definition- focused on the promotion of some specific ideology over another. The line between political art and propaganda can be ambiguous.
How can the artist serve as both mirror and searchlight for social issues without forcing a political ideology?
Data-driven art -when powered by social statistics- allows for the expression and exploration data pertaining to social issues independent of any political standpoint. It offers the artist the opportunity to serve social issues directly without wading onto the political battlefield.
Idle Hands: A 31-part exploration of Irish Unemployment from 1983-2014 in G
major.” is a data driven musical composition based on the Central Statistics Office’s
Standardised Unemployment Rate for period from 1983 to 2014 -the total span of the
CSO unemployment record. It is a gently evolving piece in G major that expresses the
unemployment contour as a function of pitch and timbre.
A leading tone rises and falls in time with the unemployment statistics over a small
accompanying set of evolving timbral motifs -the harmonic complexity of which
reference future gradients of the data contour. There are two complimentary elements
to the composition, the data and the baseline. Evolving timbre and pitch represent the
data. Sustained harmonics centered on G major provide a baseline against which to
contextualise the data material. The piece uses granular synthesis, frequency
modulation and reverb modeling methodologies and is presented in 31 parts. Each 22s
part correlates to a single year in the data and is separated from the next by a rapid
instance of rest in the sonification material.
The piece offers a depoliticised view of a critical social issue in modern Ireland: the
mass unemployment that has come in the wake of the Celtic Tiger’s demise. It reflects
our national unemployment crisis back upon the audience through an exploration of
the relevant CSO data contour. This current social crisis is contextualized against the
similar -and admittedly worse- crisis of the mid 1980’s. This opens a new space that
stands independently of politics, media interpretation or public opinion allowing the
audience to engage with the statistical profile of Irish unemployment through shared
musical experience. Audience members can then decide whether or not to reformulate
their opinions based on their experience of the piece.
- Track Name: Stormchaser
Stormchaser is an exploration of the role of embodied pattern recognition in the structuring of musical experience. Embodied patterns are patterns we encounter in our daily lives that separate meaning from randomness. When the features of an embodied pattern emerge in a random signal that signal stops being random and becomes immediately meaningful. Embodied patterning is at play when the noise of TV static momentarily resolves to present the features of a familiar face, or the clouds align in the shape of some familiar beast. Embodied patterns make the random familiar and add meaning to the meaningless.
Stormchaser explores the use of embodied patterning to structure music along a spectrum of meaningful familiarity that incorporates patterning elements of physicality and bodily movement, spatial location and degrees of harmonic subversion. It never veers from the domain of meaningful musical discourse, preferring signal to noise, but rather explores the grey areas where one embodied pattern blurs into another to create a distinct and specific experience of meaning that is nonetheless elusive and beyond any truly objective quantification. It is the exploration of the new senses of meaning that emerge in the qualitatively concrete yet quantitatively elusive spaces between other meanings that is focus of this piece.
- Track Name: Babulus ex machina.
Spectroscape in Dynamic Stasis applies the ideas Spectromorphology and Gestural Sonrous Objects to Soundscape composition.
- Track Name: De Vivo Vivens in Musica: A Treatise on Living Music
De Vivo Vivens in Musica: A Treatise on Living Music is an exploration of the limitations of our concept of "Life".
It is composed using a hand-crafted genetic algorithm that satisfies a range of contemporary and scientific definitions for the concept of "Life".
Does this mean that the piece itself is truly alive or simply highlight the shortcomings inherent in our conceptualisation of "Life".
- Track Name: Nova Ratio Mortis in Musica: A New Definition of Death in Music
Section A consists a set of musical cadavers recorded in 2009 that have been put through a process of decomposition and decay before being loosely grouped together on the basis of some equally dead ideas about musical structure, not relevant since the 1800s.
Section B introduces some newly dead harmonic material in the shape of the Piano tones head on "Out of the Cold" the following and final track of this collection. Though the timbre of this material remains intact and has yet to decompose, the melodic movement that lends a sense of life and vivacity to "Out of the Cold" is dead and gone. What is left is a lifeless corpse.
The Recapitulation drags both of these twisted dead carcasses back out and presents them in tandem like macabre fanfare in celebration of this new life, new piece made possible by the glorious dead.
- Track Name: Out of the Cold
by Stephen Roddy and Mary Parkinson
Out of the Cold is the final track on "R". It is intended as a palette cleaner to finish out a collection characterised by more challenging pieces that may deter the new listener.