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Ideas around fractal geometry and recursiveness applied to composition.

Fundamental ideas surrounding fractals in relation to music and prominent composers/theorists in the field are explored. A creative synthesis of fractals and music composition is presented by me in the form of a strategy towards composing with fractal geometry.

It can be argued that fractal approaches to music composition have failed when one listens to the often disappointingly sounding musical outcomes that are either unimaginative or seemingly random, baring little resemblance of the equivalent visualised fractal image. Similarly data sonification is becoming more prominent in various disciplines, yet often the sound results are lacking and often do not represent the same richness of complexity that a parallel visual representation does. The problems are manifold, immense amounts ­­­of numbers are usually mapped to too simplistic parameters (for example pitch and time). These parameters are limited in their perceptible ranges and thus in a one-to-one mapping, not able to express the magnitude of fractal complexity. Or in deterministic music, parameters are manipulated in ways that splits the musical image into so many parts that it feels random. At the same time, analysis of some of the greatest music created clearly show fractal properties. By redefining how music is structurally organised, aesthetically important contributions can be made.

In an attempt to avoid the creation of an idealised form (that is isolated, cut-off) but rather nourish an understanding of the creation of a system as a whole: structures (that are able to morph or sustain growth), a non-linear and multi-dimensional compositional approach is considered. This implies the necessity of a deeper understanding of the inner workings and relationships that exist between musical elements across time-scales. The biggest question is that of defining what the musical dimensions of a work are. There are multitudes of parameters that vary from composition to composition. Musical parameters need to be grouped together in ways that make perceptual sense. When analysing these relationships, one typically searches for similarities and differences. The fact that fractals are by definition self-similar (exact or statistically) across scales, make them potentially useful functions to consider for the above-mentioned compositional approach.

Essay here.


Lullaby for InfrasoundBed (40min loop) - Toffee Festival, City Hall Cape Town.

Using a 1000 Watt amplified bass shaker, this work is based on frequencies of the planets in counterpart with an infra sound channel that sweeps through the body, pulsing, frequency sweeps into physical vibrations all the way down to 5Hz. Beyond the completely visceral vibration and shaking of the bed through the body, musical counterpoint between frequencies heard in headphone and frequencies felt through the body is the main musical framework. Created for Toffee Festival, City Hall, Cape Town 2011

Snow is a three track synthesis cd inspired by overwhelming feelings of white, minimal landscape, contact with total solitude. Created during a residency at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Snow is the soundtrack to my first experience of European winter. Over new years eve, everyone left the Schloss and I was for 2 days, the only soul wandering the castle grounds, lost in the thick walls of mist and the echos of the empty castle corridors. Simultaneous heaven and disintegration of the self. The way light reflects in mist, the way the nights are darker than dark, the way it plays with one's perception.

Track 1 sn.w approaches this landscape as a whole, Track 2 sno. approaches individual particals and Track 3 .now internalises it. SNOW - Verlag: Merz & Solitude.

The entire work started from improvisation in Max/MSP running Markov and brownian number generators (mostly the well known Karlheinz Essl objects) to control filters and oscillators on a Nordrack II. Events hidden in softer frequencies are exposed to reveal subliminal patterns. A slow, continuous shift in frequency lens view. Frames are made: various freq bands that allow only limited access to the whole. In performance the sound is meant to enclose and drown the viewer, using a 16 speaker surround configuration. The stereo track is simply multiplied and spatialized so as to move through and around the viewer as smoke in the wind would.

Track 1 sn.w

Track 2 sno.

Track 3 .now

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