Saturday, September 22, 2012

Summer 2012 from The Seasons

Today is the Southward Equinox, an astronomical mid-point and the designated start of Autumn in my hemisphere.

This event also marks the end of summer and the completion of the latest segment of my ongoing work The Seasons. Predictably, this one is entitled Summer 2012. (click that link to listen)

Here's how The Seasons works:

Every day I write a very short "piece" of music, often no more than a few seconds.  These events are separated by longer silences.  The daily alternations of music and silence are gathered into "seasons" arranged to correspond with the astronomical seasons. As each astronomical season ends I post my musical analog of it here on Mixed Meters.  This takes the form of an audio file somewhere around an hour in length.  For example Summer 2012 is 4397 seconds long.  About 78% of that is silence.  The sounds in Summer 2012 are restricted primarily to unpitched percussion just as Spring 2012 used mostly string sounds.

Would metaphors help you understand what's going on?

You might compare this project with a personal diary in which I jot down a short reflection every day.  Only I use music instead of words.  Or, you might think that The Seasons is like a calendar.  Imagine one of those "thought for the day" jobs where you rip off each page precisely at midnight to reveal today's provocative new idea.  Only with my "calendar" the thought enters your brain through your ears instead of through your eyes.  Sadly, my version fails completely to tell you what day of the month  or even which month it is.  That's okay because the particular days which these sounds represent are now long gone.  These are old calendars.

I've extended the calendar analogy slightly in two ways.

First, I composed each musical "day" in Summer 2012 to have 24 sounds - more or less.  This is sort of like using one note to represent each hour, although of course my rhythms are musical rather than clock-like.

Also, I've continued Garbage Day Periodicity.  This is also found in Spring 2012.  GDP means that on Mondays, which is the day I take our three dumpsters out to the street for the City of Pasadena's weird trucks to grab and empty using their big metal pincers, I use slightly different musical rules.  In Summer 2012 I celebrated Garbage Day by adding pitched instruments playing the theme BACH.  For one week, mysteriously, the theme transformed into The Musical Offering.

Why did I use Bach?  I don't know exactly.  Maybe it has something to do with this piece.

There is one more important facet to The Seasons.  They are combinatorial.

Combinatoriality is a word I've stolen from musical serialism.  Why should they get all the good words?  In my usage it means that I intend my Seasons to be played simultaneously with other music, especially with other Seasons.  This works because of the long silences.  I have to trust you, my three listeners, to experiment with this.  Now that there are three completed Seasons,  you can go to The Seasons Page and click on the three [listen] links to get the pieces all going together.

I don't know yet how many simultaneously-playing Seasons are optimal.  I quite like hearing the three I've got so far playing together.  I don't know yet how many Seasons I will compose.  At least four, of course, to create one full year.  I hope to continue for more years after that.  Stay tuned to Mixed Meters to find out.  I guarantee you won't get news about The Seasons anywhere else.



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