Monday 29 June 2009

History and Truth

Thinking about history, tradition, culture and spirit. Drawn to Arthur Hugh Clough's poetry..
"The thread of truth"

Truth is a golden thread, seen here and there
In small bright specks upon the visible side
Of our strange being's parti-coloured web.
How rich the universe! 'Tis a vein of ore
Emerging now and then on Earth's rude breast,
But flowing full below. Like islands set
At distant intervals on Ocean's face,
We see it on our course; but in the depths
The mystic colonnade unbroken keeps
Its faithful way, invisible but sure.
Oh, if it be so, wherefore do we men
Pass by so many marks, so little heeding?

Sunday 28 June 2009

Diary of a weekend

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Calm arpeggios

This is a bit of a mammoth improvisation. I thought of using the arpeggio idea from yesterday and doing something a bit more relaxed, and to tie it in with some nice calm videos of landscapes (and see what happens..). There is a combination of coercion (common patterns in arpeggios), disruption (in the rhythm particularly, and the shifts in harmony), and exhortation (in the changes in tone, moments of transformation). Quite like it.

Silly doodling

I'm just playing here...

Sunday 21 June 2009

Sombre moments in Iran

This video is again capturing this moment in time. With excerpts from news reports and the web reports, together with Seigfried Sassoon's poetry. There's also an accelerando here. It's all very disrupting! Always pushing, a constant pattern, but always pushing, always disrupting. It can only go faster. This situation can only go one way - which is a reason to be sombre.

Saturday 20 June 2009

Astrid on Iran and Twitter

A lot of tweets on Iran, the election and protests. A lot more could be said, hopefully everything helps.
Click twice to watch. Not the best screen capture, just starting to practice. ;-)


Quite a agressive improvisation today.. Hard to listen to. I tied it to some of the web news footage of what's going on in Iran at the moment. Hard to watch.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

disruptive music

This is meant to be disruptive rather than coercive. That means more unpredictability - although there is pattern as well in small places, but it all keeps changing. What there isn't (I think) is transformation. Even the silence at the end isn't transformative. The silence is merely another disruption.

Must think about accelerandos and crescendos. I think they're continually disruptive too.

Coercive music

This music, which basically is a folk-like melody with varied accompaniment, is what I might have called last year 'grounded' music. I think I need to refine what this means.

Basically, the 'grounding' occurs where there are predictable patterns established: regular tonal melodies, regular accompaniment. The open 5ths help to establish clear tonal centres, etc. This regularity I would now see as part of the 'System 3' coordination, or coercion. There is something quite assertive (coercive?) about an open 5th, or even a repeated melody. The response to it is like the response to figurative art: this is C major (in art, the equivalent might be "this is a horse"). It is a pattern which is established, which sets a clear expectation of what is to follow. As such, it is also quite comforting (and maybe as a result, creates the 'grounding' feeling of 'all is right in the world'; in essence this means 'all is predictable')

Izzy's animation

Izzy was really pleased with this at the weekend...

Monday 15 June 2009

more exhortation, dying down...

This one starts with an exhortation but then it calms down.. In all the exhortation (continual transformation, tonally), there is a lot of disruption in the chromaticism of it all. Gradually, patterns assert themselves (particularly rhythmically) - this is coercive. In becoming more chordal, there is less disruption, and more coercion. The question is, is the final silence transformative..? Is silence always transformative (exhortational)?

Sunday 14 June 2009

moving towards music theory

I'm feeling the need to articulate more fully how I think music works. I see it as a key example of a context for being human which we make through our being human. In this way it is no different from any other form of human activity.

It's effect on us is, I believe, fundamentally vicarious - we gain an insight into other lives through recognition of the outward manifestations of those lives. How the recognition works is through the effect of the music on our personal regulation. For me this boils down to coercion, disruption and exhortation... with the aesthetics being placed on the art of the composer in positioning (system 5) their musical gestures with our biological regulation. Get the aesthetics wrong, and the gestures don't ring true... our taste (system 5 again) intervenes and stops the communicating process.

Saturday 13 June 2009

Busy Saturday

A near-perfect day as we (Astrid, Izzy and me) went to see houses and then went to Levenshulme antiques market, and then onto Mossley. The video is a random screen recording which contains Izzy's 'stick animation' which she spent most of the afternoon doing (she loved it - we used to do this sort of thing with flick-books).

The music is meant to be optimistic - a lot of second-inversion chords - they allow for a lot of disruption because they never really settle anything tonally. This means that the coercive element in the music is more rhythmical than harmonic I think, and the rhythm can be a lot freer, itself sometimes disrupting the surface in the manner of Janacek.

Thursday 11 June 2009


This is exhortational music: The impassioned statement; the vision of a better world; the moment of falling in love; the transformation. It's characterised by continual disruption in the changing harmonies, but regular patterns (coercive) in the rhythm, which also become disruptive. With such disruption, anything becomes possible. In other words, every instance of something in one context, is immediately placed in a new context, with new possibilities emerging. It may be a schizmogenic process... where does it end? a rupture, an explosion, after which memory is lost and all is new.

Sunday 7 June 2009

thinking music...

Went to see Don Carlos yesterday at the lowry with Astrid. It was brilliant. Verdi knew about real people and real politics.

I'm thinking about a VSM for music at the moment. What are the regulating mechanisms which determine how we hear music?
Here's my first stab:

1. Mechanism of instinctive reaction to perceptions
2. Mechanism of making sense out of perceptions
3. Mechanism of modelling future perceptions and expectation
4. Mechanism of taste

This is a bit like (but definitely different from) Peirce's firstness, secondness, thirdness, etc...
The bottom line is can it be modelled?

Friday 5 June 2009

After marriage

This is my first blog post after being married at the weekend. Although it's not been a great day today (lost my touch politically!), and recovering from City University event yesterday, I wanted to do something happy. I am very happy at the moment, so this is meant to be really free, jazzy, contented...