I have been working on some iOS audio programs lately and the topic of generative music came up for me. Some 10 or 11 years ago, I remember thinking about the issue that generative music–or music that was not fixed in performance–did not have a means of content delivery. At that time, I imagined some form of meta-music player that would have plugins that could read Csound, PD, and other kinds of projects, yet could be queued up in a playlist much like you would find in something like WinAMP or VLC Player. The idea was that composers could then distribute their works in a standardized format, and consumers could then queue it up to listen to in the same manner they might load up an MP3 or CD.
Back in the mid 90’s, Brian Eno had done some generative music work with the Koan Music Player, releasing an album that would be performed differently each time by the player. The Koan Player though never really caught on, and since then the format and program have died off. What a shame it is to me that musical work can be tied to the life of a commercial program.
These days things like Bjork’s Biophilia for iOS start to renew an interest in generative music. However, the distribution scheme here is a custom application for a closed platform (iOS). I wonder too if the kind of thing that happened with Eno’s album and Koan might not happen once again with custom formats and distribution means.
What I would love to see is a generic means of distribution for both fixed and non-fixed works. Such a system would allow meta-data to describe what plugins would be required, as well as what hardware requirements would be necessary. So, for example, if your work required an 8-speaker octagonal cube or a video camera feed, that could be marked up in the distribution meta-data. That way, the distribution format would then be usable not only for consumers at home, but also as a means for concert delivery or generic installation setups.
Thinking about this all again, I think the idea still has merit and that developing a standardized distribution package could expand the audience for such work as well as create a platform that promotes longevity of work.
A beautiful blue sky and sunny day, I took a walk to the village to take care of errands. Listening to John Luther Adams’ “In the White Silence” (Such an exquisitely beautiful piece of music…), it was the first time I really had a sense of Autumn here: the smell of the fresh air, a slight chill on the skin, the spectrum of colors on the trees. Walking slowly, breathing in the fullness of things, I felt amazed by it all.
Back at the apartment, I am awake and inspired. With a cup of warm peppermint tea, I return now back to my work…
At a Digital Arts and Humanities lecture a couple of weeks ago, the topic of what is art came up, with an example of programming code being discussed as possibly being art. Some mentioned that they did not consider it art, while others discussed that some it may be art. I had contributed my own thoughts at the time, that art might be in the eye of the viewer rather than as a property of the object itself.
Thinking back to that discussion, I still think that art is less an object but more of an experience. I don’t think that everything is inherently art, but instead, that anything could be art, and that art as an experience has the possibility of emerging from an object. It depends then not only on the object but also the person perceiving the object.
For example, a person who may not be familiar with paintings may call something “art” because they understand that to be so, but not ever feel any impact or draw to anything they see. Yet, they may very well see beauty and elegance in something from their daily life, or may be consumed to look and ponder deeply at something usually considered outside the realm of “Art” (i.e. a fine sports vehicle). Yet, their experience of these objects may very well be just as strong and evocative as any trip to a gallery or concert hall, and perhaps they may call these other things art as well. I would like to believe that these experiences are every bit as much art as any other.
This has been a fascination of mine, to see art emerge from daily life, to see the tragedy or beauty or other depths of human experience not only in objects classically categorized as art, but elsewhere as well. This view may perhaps be at odds with other definitions of art, I don’t know, and I’m sure these thoughts are not new either. All I do know is that this view has served me well and that when I have not been distracted by other things, the days have been fascinating.
Yesterday I finished porting my Deep Breathing application to Android and made an ad-supported, fully functional free version as well as paid application. The application is called Peaceful Breathing and can be found on the Android Marketplace here:
I have been using this application for some deep breathing sessions and have been enjoying it for relaxation and calming the mind, as well as to help open up the body. If you give it a try, I’d love to hear your feedback! Enjoy!
Life has certainly been interesting of late… after attending this year’s Linux Audio Conference, I returned home to my work life to realize both how little time I had been spending on music and music software programming, as well as how much passion and joy I had for both. It is perhaps serendipidty that on the trip home I had seen an announcement for a new Ph.d. programme at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM) for Digital Arts and Humanities. When I first read about the programme, I thought to myself that it certainly looked interesting. However, I was never really looking to go to graduate school, and as attractive as it appeared, I set it out of my mind.
A couple of days later, while in conversation with Rory, he made the suggestion that I should apply for this programme. After thinking about it and realizing just how incredible and opportunity it could be, I began inquiries into the programme and set out to work on the application. A little over a month after submitting my application I received the good news that I had been accepted into the programme.
I had waited to publish this publicly until after I had worked out the details and notified my current company that I would be leaving. Now that things are settled, I can now say that one month from now, I will be flying to Ireland to begin a Ph.D. programme in Digital Arts and Humanities at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. I will be focusing my work on my music software blue, and by necessity (and of course interest) I will also be working on Csound. I will be working with Victor Lazzarini, a professor whom I have long known and appreciated for his wonderful music and contributions to the computer music community, and someone whom I consider a good friend.
While there will certainly be some interesting things to work out–becoming a student again after 11 years as a professional, being separated for months at a time from my dear Lisa, living in another country–I am overwhelmed by the incredible opportunity to devote myself for the next four years to my passions: my music software and my music. I have been completely inspired and overflowing with ideas for things to build and explore. I look forward to pushing myself and these projects as much as I can and can not wait to see where it all goes.
As for what will happen after this programme, I do not really know. I will focus on my work and I have faith that things will work out as they should. Whatever happens, I am positive that the next four years will certainly be an amazing experience and a time in my life that I will always remember.
This weekend I attended a Tai Chi workshop in Detroit, taught by Yuan Wei-Ming and hosted by Carol Yamasaki. What an wonderful experience! Wei-Ming is a very generous teacher and has such a wonderful calm energy about him. It was very interesting to learn his exercises and Mr. Liu’s, and the comments and corrections he gave were very much appreciated. I very much appreciated the logic behind his exercises and the pace and focus that were given while performing them. I think they will be very interesting to work with.
One of the most interesting aspects for me was that although the exercises were new to me, all of the things Wei-Ming talked about were so familiar. I spent a lot of time listening to what we being said and realizing it was either exactly as Ben or Lenzie would say, or was just a different perspective on the same principles. I think getting the different perspective has in some ways already shined a light on understanding more of what I have learned from Lenzie and Ben.
Beyond the wonderful teaching, it was wonderful to meet so many of the east coast family of Tai Chi players in Professor’s school. I feel like I got to know the history of the school more from this trip. It was truly a joy to meet new people and get to reconnect with those whom I haven’t seen in some time.
Overall, it was an excellent weekend. I’m very grateful to Wei-Ming for his teaching as well as Carol for organizing this workshop and her generous and kind spirit. I look forward to visiting Detroit again in the future.
I was very sad to read on the Csound mailing list that Max Mathews passed away this morning. It is hard to imagine how computer music today would be without his pioneering work in creating the first computer music software and work with composers and others. His contributions are truly immeasurable.
Beyond the work he contributed, he was a truly inspiring with his joy and passion for computer music. I don’t believe I have ever met Max Mathews in person, though I was at a number of events where he was featured in some way or another (a fond memory is from last year’s Bohlen-Pierce Symposium, seeing Max on the big screen performing and giving talks over Skype…). I always got the impression that he was a person of great character, passion, and joy…
From the people I’ve known who have known him personally, Max seems like someone who truly gave a lot of himself to others. I will always have nothing but kind words to say about him, and if that is any barometer by which to measure a man’s life, then I would say he was as successful a human being in life as one could be. I will certainly miss his presence in this world, and hope only to be able to learn from his great work and life and maybe be a better person for it.
This morning was beautiful. Waking up to brilliant light always sets a good tone for a day… I took a nice walk this morning to get coffee, listening to synth pop on the way and back. I’ve started to take more walks in the morning and have found that it has be great for me, giving me time to listen to music, to think, to move, to immerse myself in contemplation.
The morning light was temporary though, and now the sky is gray and there is a light drizzle of rain. The temperature is still in the 30’s but the days are getting noticeably longer and longer. A lovely morning, a brief prelude to Spring…
Lisa and I just saw a performance of Nixon in China by the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto: Amazing! The performance as a whole was very strong, with the stand out moments being:
Madame Mao’s Aria at the end of the 2nd act – Marisol Montalvo’s performance was stunning, and I think for me the most enraptured moment of the night
The ensemble singing of the 3rd act – stunning precision and clarity by Madame Mao’s and Pat Nixon’s characters
Pat Nixon’s scenes in the 2nd act – Maria Kanyova performed it beautifully in singing and acting, a wonderful scene
Chou En-Lai’s aria in the 3rd act – Chen Ye-Yuan‘s singing was impressive throughout, with this precious meditation being extremely memorable
I really loved the staging of this opera with its period footage from Nixon’s visit via the use of televisions, the lighting, costumes, etc. It really reminded me of the many wonderful productions of operas I saw in San Francisco during Pamela Rosenberg’s tenure there. Just perfect.
This was our first time attending a performance at the Four Seasons Centre and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the hall’s design throughout, and really enjoyed the intimacy of the smaller stage and hall. I will be looking forward to the next time I have a chance to attend a performance here!
I woke up this morning to read the sad news that Gorecki has passed away (NYTimes Article). I remember when Symphony No.3 became extremely popular in the 90’s and having quite a fantastic experience listening to it while driving down Riverside Drive on my way back to school. A beautiful day, listening to the 1st movement at full volume, driving through fall colors…
I had read a book on Gorecki around that time, and it was his description of going to his composition lessons on a train and seeing the Polish countryside that originally seeded the desire to visit Poland. A few years later I managed to make my first trip to Poland, staying on my own for seven weeks in Krakow, one of the most fruitful experiences in my life.
I also remember an amazing concert of Miserere at the Warsaw Autumn in 2006. In a church in Nowy Miasto, I remember an issue that they wouldn’t be singing it but then they ended up doing so and it was just wonderful. The acoustics of the room with the delay of the sounds that came strongly from up above was excellent.
I am sad to hear Gorecki has passed away. I have and continue to enjoy his music from his avant-garde days to today, and will I know I will continue to listen and think about his music and his life well into the future.