Preparatory Reading and Listening
- Gann, K., 1995. The Music of Conlon Nancarrow, Cambridge & New York: CUP, chapter 1
- Royal Institution Lectures 2014 – http://bobnational.net/record/266495
- Lemur/Pat Metheny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCMnPb0qLIU
- Wintergatan marble machine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvUU8joBb1Q
- Mechanical Marvels: http://bobnational.net/record/151879 especially from 27:00. Swan from 45:50.
- Between the Ears: Paul Klee, a Balloon, the Moon… (Bob) – Paul Klee… and Me: A fantastical encounter with Swiss painter Paul Klee, in an imaginary Klee-world of twittering machines and dream landscapes, singing colour polyphony and scribbling violin. Composer and writer Ergo Phizmiz wanders through Klee’s paintings in the company of their creator, evoking their vivid colours and whimsical humour in intricately composed soundscapes. Klee takes Ergo on a hot-air balloon ride which, like a magic carpet, miraculously flies them to Tunisia, the land where he ’became a painter’. Their voyage also passes through paintings of strange gardens, mountain carnivals and abstract colour gradations, before they finally ascend to the moon, a dream-world populated by lunar monkeys, peculiar birds and trees bulging with seeping pain
- Cowell Piano Concerto (1928) (Philip Mead perf) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEL85hdHss8
Conlon Nancarrow and rhythmic structure; machine music; automatic music and art.
Nancarrow, exiled by his leftist political beliefs to Mexico City and thus well out of the mainstream, combined his earlier studies with Cowell to take rhythmic structuring on an individual tack: he created a series of mathematical structures that could only be realised mechanically, on player piano rolls. We will examine these structures in a series of the player piano pieces.
Also consider Black MIDI, automata, robotics, machine music and technology in music.
- Antheil Ballet Mecanique – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FR9Qg7YVHaU
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aujw65oyFno – overview of how a player piano works (rather informal)
- Nancarrow, Conlon: Studies for Player Piano :
- 22 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6taGCG7t0FM
- 8 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6h_L8yO3U4
- 14 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQbPDVEA4i8
- No 37 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFz2lCEkjFk
- No 37 analysis: http://www.willshare.com/willeyrk/creative/papers/study37/
Ligeti and the mechanistic
Ligeti String Quartet 2 (1968) and the string quartet tradition
Continuum (1968): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPgwF3G5i4k
Chamber Concerto (1974)
see 11:00 or so here:
A part of this is creating extremes that would be unthinkable or unplayable by humans. Other well-known examples include music used by Kubrick, such as the Requiem used in 2001:
and Eyes Wide Shut:
Nancarrow and Ligeti both had interests in this area.
Much use of technology in music is based around similar experiments. How does this compare to ‘standard’ composition?
Have a look at this ‘Black MIDI’ note art:
Make sure you have a title and brief outline (abstract) of your proposed major essay ready for individual and group discussion next week.
Music and Algorithms
Computer algorithms are playing a more and more significant role in how we make, choose and listen to music. How do you feel about this?
- Is music notation an algorithm?
- Google’s ‘unprofessional hairstyle’
- Algorave and here
- Are Algorithms in Tune with Music? (useful video at this link)
- Every Noise at Once (map of music categories)
Indicative Seminar Discussions
Choose one of the followings questions (or come up with your own) and be prepared to discuss it:
- What is the relation between music and mathematics?
- Should machines play music?
- Are musical instruments machines?
- How might the use of computers effect music making and creating?
- Bring along an example of music created automatically and demonstrate it.
- How do you think the idea and implementation of the playlist and the use of categories or tags has effected and/or will effect music?