May 20

Im Back!


That was a wild trip. So much happened and it was an incredibly inspiring thing to do. I have lots of ideas now that i’m back and i’m excited to keep moving forward with them through this project and many to come after. Just the act of displacing oneself can be such a mind altering experience and has brought me so many ideas. This project that I have been working on has also been doing a number on my brain and has shown me a whole new way of looking at things. Like the sketching exercises, following a shot list as I walked through the city helped me look much more closely at everything around me. Finding and framing content was a big part of this new kind of sightseeing experience and in doing so I feel that I really strengthened my ability to understand and capture my personal way of seeing the world. By pointing my camera at the parts of the world that capture my attention I can share (to some extent) my perspective. By structuring that information into a semi chance based story structure with intentional and consistent variable adjustments I am able to animate those bits of the world that caught my attention into a sort of story of feelings and implications where the viewer is taken from realm to realm, descending down a mountain from an unstable summit to a tranquil base. It is a simple concept and a simple video that doesn’t ask for much other than a set of open eyes and ears from the audience.


I’m going to finish out the shot list in olympia. This includes going back and filling any missed shots from along the way as well as filling in a large section of lost shots (there were about 120 shots that got lost while transferring files). Im not too worried about it at this point and I think that this will turn out to be an interesting project. I think it will work to have shots of olympia appearing seldomly dispersed among shots of barcelona early in the video, followed by a section of shots from olympia, returning to shots of barcelona, then again to shots of olympia for the end. The shots that were lost were of the alleyways. The doors, the shops, the graffiti, people, tourists. Its kind of a shame to lose all of that but that’s the way it goes when you’re working with bad computers. I’m editing what I have so far now so that I can see how it looks and figure out what I need to go back to shoot. There were about 150 shots that went into the first three minutes. The pace of the film slows in the later section though and 150 shots will be more like ten minutes.


I have started working with a singer to get one of the parts done and there are a few others that I am in communication with (fingers crossed). Some people are also interested in making a version of the song that could be performed live (something I am very interested in) but for now I’m mostly interested in getting a recording. I’m beginning work on rewriting the music so that it will be easier to read and a few mistakes will be corrected. This is the first time that I have tried writing music and though the organization came pretty quickly to me, I’m tripping up on some of the finer details. Luckily I have some good people around me showing me the right way to do things and helping me get this done. If you look at my last post you will see that the way that I wrote the music, though legible, is weird and doesn’t conform with alot of the basic rules, When some people look at it they immediately say “oh you did ____ wrong”. Basically I’m trying to polish it up.

As for now I’m focusing my attention on pulling something together for final presentations. I have video clips to show and will have audio recordings as well. Aside from the project that I have been posting about I have done some other things this quarter too. I made a birthday gift for my little sister in the form of a song a video that I am thinking about presenting. I also had so many great experiences and learned about so much while I was in Barcelona so I’m sure that I will be able to fill a lot of my time talking about that too. I’m really excited to see everyone’s projects and hear about everyones experiences!

May 11

I have transcribed the music and film from the insane looking code language that I presented the last time that I posted scans. Its more or less done at this point. There are a few strange glitches that arose during the process but its nothing that can’t be worked around. For example, the piece contains all of the pitches that occur in two octaves of the chromatic scale (the center line of the staff is a B) except for the high F which is skipped in the notation. This makes it so that instead of skipping a sharp and going directly to the next line up from E to F, a sharp appears on the same line as the E that represents an #F (confusing I know but now there isn’t enough time to adjust it and technically its functional). This glitch makes it so that there is only one (low) F and three C’s. At first I thought of this as a fatal flaw in the piece and I actually almost burned all of my work during a nervous breakdown. I’m really glad that I didn’t do that and I’ve realized that what I perceived as an idiotic mistake is actually a fateful element of chance within a piece that embraces chance, difference, and even idiotic mistakes. I just hope that whoever sings this will be able to work around it (and if they can’t [or if they’re simply unavailable {which is seeming more and more likely}] than I will use this as a chance to brush up on my saxophone). Honestly, this whole experience has been the most challenging project I have ever attempted. I’ve felt an intense lack of confidence and an unprecedented level of insecurity throughout the entire process. I still doubt that this piece will come to fruition by the end of the quarter, I’ve built my self a mountain too large to climb and yet I haven’t stopped trudging on. I have learned more lessons from this project than any other endeavour in my educational career but there is one that stands out above all; now that I’m at the finish line, about to graduate, looking back at everything I’ve done and ahead to my uncertain future, I am struck with the terrifying realization that, though I’ve come so far and learned so much, I know nothing. Maybe this is just the artists burden. I just don’t know if its a burden that I can carry for the rest of my life.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system I’ll do my best to describe my progress with the music and the video.

The first thing that I did was an unintentional trial run at transcribing the organization charts onto the grand staff.


I say “unintentional” because I expected it to be the final iteration of the piece but after completing the first two of four sections I had some new ideas that I wanted to work in. I wanted to make a more complex organization of the volume and rhythm dynamics within the individual cells so I created what I called “sub cell organization charts”

Scan0012 Scan0015 Scan0014 Scan0013
















So then I started transcribing again with the new added complexities and made it to the end before realizing that I had left the high #f.




















































































After I finished with the music I moved onto organizing the film. I explained much of how this was all organized in my last post “Oversized Update” but I will post the scans of the charts here.

These are some pre organization planning charts that I made

Scan0039 Scan0041 Scan0040
















And these are the actual organization charts
























After finishing the charts I transposed them into shot lists but I didn’t have the chance to scan those. I still have half of the shot list left to shoot and its quite a bit. I’m thinking that I will probably

May 05

The song is complete and the shot list is completely organized and is in the middle of transcription. The song came out to 26 pages and will last about 28 minutes. It uses three tempos across four sections to create a sequence tempos. The bar is set at 75bpm, followed by a slow tempo(60bpm), then fast(90bpm), then the sequence ends with a return to 75bpm. The video will run the same amount of time and also has four sections that line up with the sections of the piece of music. Instead of 75-60-90-75 the tempos in the film go 120-60-30-15. The huge change in tempo will make it so that one beat in the first section will be .5 seconds while in the last it will be 4 seconds. I think that the piece will come out to somewhere between 500-750 shots. The shots in the first section will range from .5 seconds to 5 seconds. In the last, anywhere from 4 seconds to 40 seconds. This will create an intense slowing from a manic barrage of visual information down to a contemplative, slow, mindful stare.

I imagine that the combined effect of the music and the video will be hypnotic. The viewer might find them self drifting in and out of focus as the piece directs their dreamlike thoughts. For me the pacing of the shots create a feeling similar to the effect that spending time in a new city can have on a traveller. The new pieces of information, abundant and easy to look at, add up so quickly that they fade away. To quote Roy Batty’s amazing improvised line in Blade Runner for an apt metaphor, “All those moments will be lost… like tears in rain.” But as we become more comfortable and begin to approach these new pieces of information more mindfully we find new ways of seeing  and collecting our thoughts about the world around us. This trajectory is mirrored in the video and we are able to use our stronger, more attentive observational senses as the film becomes slower and slower.

Chance operations dictated the majority of the early organizational aspects for both the music and the video. When I was presented with the task of putting 2 things in order I would flip a coin and put the element that the coin chose first. With 3 things I would toss 3 different objects onto a piece of graph paper and the order that they landed from left to right would determine the order of the 3 things. With 4 things, as an homage to John Cage, I would consult the I Ching (throwing 3 pennies and reading them [all up is 1, 2 up 1 down is 2, 1 up 2 down is 3, and all down is 4])  and then I would put them in the order that the pennies told me to. I had no groups of 5, 6 or 7 things. And finally, for groups of 8 things I would consult any digits immediately available to my eyes (such as the numbers on the bar code on a pack of cigarettes [0034916483599273 would become 3, 4, 1, 6, 8, 5, 2, 7] or the amount of people sitting on the benches in the plaza [3 on one, 7 on the next, 1 on the next, and so on until a complete series of 1-8 has been found]) or any source of numerical information I could find.  This practice frees one dimension of the music from intentional micromanagement and instead, through chance, allows the decision making powers of the universe take control.

I then refocus my attention from the parts as individual pieces (elements) to the next level of organization, cells. Cells are groups of 1 element from each group of elements (ex. duration, timbre, and pitch [ex. 10 beats, quiet to loud, high B flat]). The cells are usually grouped into packages (cell groups) of 4 cells. It is at this point that I begin to take the liberty of making intentional decisions. I create patterns out of the cell groups that illustrate their overall structure. One part of the overall structure is like a group of triplet siblings. Their parts look similar from far away but up close every little element is different. I used variations of stacking and repeating as well as other creative organization techniques to create the patterns.

The combined practices of chance based decision making and intentional decision making is much like the textile artists process of smashing pieces of glass and tile and assorting the broken parts into a mosaic. The artist knows that they have clear, red, purple, and light purple pieces of glass and tile and though they cannot control the outcome of the smashing process, they know that in the end they will have a clear, red, purple, and light purple mosaic. The difference between a mosaic and my piece is that a mosaic is (arguably) static in time whereas my piece moves through time. This vital element of movement (which includes complete replacement [ex. a shot change]) is what allows me to generate conflict between the parts or, as Eisenstein would call it, montage. As they move through time all the specific elements work in cooperation and in conflict to generating a flow of implications, ideas, and feelings. Some of these implications, ideas, and feelings will be obvious and others more mysterious. Some will be universally understood while others might resonate with as few as one person (ex. me).

I will give you a quick update on what my plan for the future is. The next week will be spent visiting all of the wonderful sights of Barcelona while shooting the video. When I return I will record the music in one of the studios on campus with three singers. This will likely take a week or two and during that time period I will also edit the video. Hopefully, my total pre-emptive organization of every single element will speed up this process. If I’m unlucky I wont have a completed project by the end of the quarter. If I’m lucky, I will have part of it completed by. And if I’m very lucky I will have a completed piece to show you all when week 10 rolls around.

Apr 28

Oh Eisentstein,


Keeper of form and more.

Through dialectic imagination

With my mind you mop the floor.


Oh Eisenstein,

I do pray

To one day understand.

Tricky is your explanation

Of montage, slight of hand.

— — — — — —

Before reading my post it would be smart to briefly familiarize yourself with Sergei Eisenstein. Below are two links. The first to a very brief video about him and the second to the final piece one of his works discussed in the first video.


In his book Film Form Sergei Eisenstein argues, in a dozen essays written between 1928 and 1945, that it is montage that is the highest form of expression within cinema and further more that it is cinema that is potentially the most expressive of all the arts. In the essay Methods Of Montage, written in 1929, he attempts to chronologically categorize and define the types of montage of which he sees five.

The first, Metric Montage, is a type of montage that relies solely on the rhythmic qualities of music, translated into film as the duration of shots. He poses that though it is effective in generating a simple excitement in what he describes as “the more impressionable members of the audience”, when Metric montage is used in a complex way to express something more intelligent (less subconscious) its effect is lost. He claims that the highest level of expressiveness that Metric Montage could achieve is “the same as that of a percussion and brass band playing a simple tune”.

In the second, Rhythmic Montage (confusing, I know…), The duration of the shots are not only determined by the physiological effect of their rhythm but also by the effects of thephysical rhythm of their content. Many movements that generate their own sense of rhythm may occur within a single shot. As Eisentein puts it, “Here, in determining the lengths of the pieces, the content within the frame is a factor possessing equal rights to consideration.” This form of montage has been mastered by many experimental animators and is the basis for abstract visual music.

His third, Tonal Montage, implies that montage can be made from the characteristic features of the shots This is similar to rhythmic montage but, instead of considering some moving parts within the frame, one would consider the overall feeling that a shot produces. He says, “If we give the comparative and emotional designation of ‘more gloomy’ to a piece, we can also find for the piece a mathematical co-efficient for its degree of illumination. This is a case of ‘light tonality.’ Or, if the piece is described as having a ‘shrill sound,’ it is possible to find, behind this description, the many acutely angled elements within the frame, in comparison with other shape-elements. This is a case of ‘graphic tonality’.” He goes on to say, “Tonal montage grows out of the conflict between the rhythmic and tonal principles of the piece.” Though it was defined in 1929, this is the form of montage that pervades cinema today. Through acting, scene, and rhythm tone is woven into dramatic tapestries of emotions and events.

Fourth he describes Overtonal montage. Imagine a piece with an overarching triumphant tone. This can be considered the principle tone. Within that piece one might sprinkle moments of uncertainty and doubt. These moments would function as a dissonant overtone that would generate a tension that would make for a more satisfying resolve (just as in music). The collision between these two elements generate an overtonal montage.

The fifth and most confusing progression of montage is Intellectual Montage. Here conflict arises between the juxtaposition of two ideas. What comes to mind is the music video for Devo’s song Beautiful World. Here the viewer is first shown a series of clips from the public archives of people being very happy and rich. Then they are shown a series of clips of people suffering. Then these are shown alternating. The effect of the montage arises from the juxtaposition of these conflicting ideas and it is quite powerful. Though we occasionally see instances of intellectual montage in todays cinema it frequently takes a back seat to less intellectual pursuits of tonal montage.

With my film I hope to achieve tonal montage through an application of metric and rhythmic montage. I will exploit the exciting qualities of metric montage and will insert into that framework a rhythmic montage that suits the constraints of the meter. I will use compositional juxtapositions within the shots of light and form to generate conflict. And, if successful, I will go one step beyond my goal to create an overarching tone that is in conflict with momentary tonal qualities within itself, or as Eisenstein would call it, Overtonal Montage. But Intellectual montage is not my pursuit. I do not wish to create a pedagogical piece of information for the viewer to watch and understand but instead I hope to create something more abstract. Something that someone might be able to relate to something specific and special to them. I hope to resonate within the viewer with their individual and personal perception. I hope to help them better understand how they see the world by abstracting the definite qualities of the world into montage.

Apr 21

I am posting this response to Hannah Ziffs post “Journeys are the midwives of thought” onto my blog because comments are not turned on on her blog.

– On Subconscious Inspiration vs. Thought  –

I find this distinction that you have made between Subconscious inspiration and thought is bringing up in me lots of ideas and questions on the nature and utility of perception. How can perception be defined? Webster gives us two similar but importantly distinct definitions. The first says that perception is “the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.” and the second “the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted.” The first is an action, a thing that we do to understand the world around us. We use our senses to perceive the world and collect information. The second is more of a thing than an action. It isn’t something we do but instead it is something we have. We posses our perception of something in the same way we would posses an opinion about it. It is an understanding of something. I find it interesting because without the first definition one would never arrive at the second. What I mean by this is that in our moment to moment doings we use our perceptive skills to collect information about the world around us and we gather that information into our perception of the thing that we are perceiving. It sounds silly but, in fact, we perceive in order to percept. We look in order to understand.

This is where I find myself beginning my contemplation on the utility of perception. What is it that we are doing when we develop our perception of something? Is it passing judgment? Is it developing opinion? It seems so, for when one posses a perception of something it becomes like a caricature of that thing that is being perceived. it is inherently reductionist, judgmental and opinionated. For what is perception but an incomplete series of information without judgment and opinion? At this point in my contemplation I realize that those judgments and opinions must be inherently false due to the impossible nature of the task of total perception. That is to say, our perception is fragmented and never accounts for the whole and thus never provides us with enough information to be able to truthfully pass judgment or honestly develop an opinion. Perception of the whole is nothing but a lie that our minds trick us into believing is possible by ignoring all that it cannot see.

I feel as if I have seen through the illusion that perception presents us and behind it I have found an answer to the question previously posed (what is perception but an incomplete series of information without judgment and opinion?). Through my judgmental and opinionated perception I have come to the conclusion that perception without judgment or opinion is truth and it is honest. It does not lie to itself  and so it does not believe lies. It simply says “this is”. That to me seems to be how you described your sense of perception when journeying. Not developing thoughts (judgments and opinions) but instead allowing things to be and taking them in just as they are. Quite Taoist in fact.

I want to say thank you Hannah for providing me with an opportunity to think so deeply on these important concepts. I don’t know if I ever would have come to this understanding of the way of things without your influence.

Apr 20

“A continuous mosaic of distinctive districts”

In this is a quote from Image Of The City Lynch is describing Boston and its many small districts that lie very close together. Although this is true for Boston it appears to be merely coincidental and doesn’t apply to the entire city. In Barcelona the districts are smaller and there are more of them. They all abut each other geographically and leave no space in between for a person to feel like they are “in the middle of nowhere”. In each district one will find what feels like many small villages. Within those villages one will find intimate little settings to feel at home. Nearly every building abuts a public square and at any time of day one can find people meeting there for myriad reasons. This is a stark contrasts to what I know from American cities which generally have one large park and all other places where one might want to see a public space is instead occupied by privately owned buildings and plazas where meeting or simply relaxing is a crime called “loitering”.

This mosaic metaphor works so well for Barcelona. If Barcelona were a mosaic I think that it would be one of fractal like repetition. One where the micro mirrors the macro and vice versa. One where in each piece, the whole is reflected.. In Barcelona one can feel the sense of the plaza in which the tapas bar resides within the tapas bar itself. One can feel a sense of the district in which the plaza resides within the plaza itself. And finally, one can feel a sense of the city in its districts, each representative of a characteristic feature of the city.


For example, in La Ribera, where I am staying, is home to most of the oldest architecture in city which is mostly medieval. This may come as a surprise because the oldest buildings in the city are over 2000 years old but in 985 most of the city was destroyed by Muslims that had been attacking the city consistently since it was taken from them by Christians in 801. Where I am staying was one of the earliest parts of the city to be rebuilt. In its medieval infancy, La Ribera was host to events such as jousting and witch burnings, the locations of which are marked and treated as tourist destinations. That being said, La Ribera is located just east of El Barrio Gotico and has considerably less tourists than any other part of the city. It represents a stronghold that locals have on culture and identity throughout Barcelona that can not be washed away even by heavy tourism and non-spanish “europeanization”.

La Ribera is one of the most culturally significant districts to both Catalan and Spanish people in Barcelona. And this quality of the district is no more clearly represented within itself than in Fossar de les Moreres. It is home to the site of the most celebrated events in Catalan history, the massacre and subsequent mass burial of hundreds of Catalan people who were protecting the city from the french. It was about two in the morning when I learned this from an extremely drunk Catalan couple that insisted on using the very little English they know say this to me, “Catalan people, we only people who celebrar loses. Other people, only celebrar good. We celebrar bad.” The plaza where the massacre took place is marked with a commemorative sculpture, a 25 foot tall bowed structure with a large flame burning on top that never goes out. On it is inscribed a poem,

Al fossar de les

moreres not

s’hi Enterra

traitor cap, fins



Banderes Sera

l’l’urn honor

or in enlgish

In the Pit of the

mulberry trees

no traitor in

not burried

until losing our

flags will be

the urn of honor

Apr 20

De Botton says “journeys are the midwives of thought”. A fitting metaphor describing the way in which journeys provoke ideas. What it is about this metaphor that is truly fitting is that two sides of the truth are illuminated. What one immediately sees in this statement is hope, a claim that journey will encourage the traveler to grow. But when considered along with all of its implications, this metaphor comes with as a warning. The journey does not do the thinking for you, it only helps you along the way. For even when a mother is assisted by the best of midwives a baby may yet be still born. This outcome may be the consequence of uncontrollable circumstances or that of simple negligence. Regardless, the metaphor holds true; a journey can bring fourth a flood of ideas, intellect, and inspiration… or it may not. Sometimes that “not” will be the consequence of circumstance and sometimes the traveler them self is honestly at fault for not opening themselves up to the inspiration that one can receive from a journey. De Botton also makes it clear in his section “On Anticipation” that journey alone is not the only factor at play here. It is ones experiences prior to the trip that shapes much of how they are affected by the journey.

Take, for example, the story of Duc de Essientes. Essientes has his mind changed wildly by his journey and this change in mind, this form of thought new to him, is so heavily due to his experiences before his journey. We see a man who lives in seclusion become so inspired by the writings of Emily Dickinson to experience england that he accidentally does so before even making it there. It was Dickinson’s descriptions of British life that allowed Essientes to see his homeland through new eyes. Essientes’ journey, though short lived and not far reaching, seems to have been a life changing one. If nothing else, he has been made happier by his experiences.

It is soon after that, in the sixth section of part one, that de Botton describes a negative traveling experience that he had had. He craftily describes the beauty of the place he was visiting just to continue on to explain how it was all lost on him. A combination of circumstance and negligence led to his dissatisfaction and anxiety. The circumstance being a sore throat and the negligence being his failure to leave the stresses of life at home.

In many cases I have found myself filled to the brim with ideas during travel. One example that stands out in my mind is the first time I visited Barcelona. Before I left I gained an interest in a particular subset of digital art called Glitch Art. I researched artists and spent a good deal of time appreciating the art form. Creating this sort of art was not something that I was considering or even feeling compelled to do. In fact, I wasn’t feeling compelled to be creative in any way and I hadn’t for a number of years. Journeying to Barcelona sparked my creative impulse; the do-it-yourself nature of the city, the magnanimous organization, the bolstering of humanity. It was these things that thrust me into thought. It was these elements of the city that inspired me. After that trip I began to approach art with a new found sense of responsibility. Now feel that it is my duty to create in order to continue to generate change in the world.

There have been other journeys on which I have found nothing. At the age of nine my father took me to his homeland, England. We visited some of the most beautiful parts of the country and I met lots of people that were very important to my father. I was offered an experience that could have changed my life and I, in effect, turned it down. I was a very sad and emotionally distraught child. Nearly everything caused me a great deal of anxiety and because of that I harbored a deep hatred for everything including myself. I brought this immature hatred with me on my journey and I blinded myself to anything that may have changed my outlook.

I feel that everything one could learn from all of this is incredibly cliché and could be stated in a series of prescribed statements. Thats not to say that it is not of value, for it surely is. It is simply to say that what there is to learn from this is simple. To get the most out of journey one must be present in the moment. They must show up with themselves ready to experience that moment. And even then, when one is putting forward an honest effort to experience that moment, a sad truth explained in the metaphor, “Journeys are the midwives of thought,” may come to fruition and mere coincidence may hamper any possibility of emotional or intellectual growth.

Mar 11

Week one – I will scout around the city watching very closely for the visual language of the city. I will visit Gaudy architecture and start collecting wide landscape shots of the city. I will work on animation.

Week two – I will shoot my day time shots. I will explore classical spanish art. I will work on animation.

Week three – I will shoot my nighttime shots. I will explore modern spanish art. I will work on animation.

Week four – I will review my work, shoot any last minute ideas. I will work on animation. I will return fromBarcelona.

Week five – I will begin video editing. I will work on animation.

Week six – I will finish everything up.



Mar 11

I don’t intend to explain why I chose to go to Barcelona in this post. I don’t yet have a clear answer to that question. There are some superficial explanations that immediately come to mind and not that they are invalid but comfort alone isn’t a good enough reason. I’m somewhat familiar with the city and I’m comfortable there. I’ve been there before and I felt safe and inspired. I know that there is a vibrant music scene. There is lots of music from lots of places. I have spoken with some European people and have been told that Barcelona is an interesting choice for reasons that could be interpreted as good or bad depending on how you see it. The city was described as a ‘European city’ and that it isn’t a very good representation of Spain in particular. That’s not entirely discouraging though. My interest isn’t in how Spanish cities shapes music but instead how the city, Barcelona, is visually musical.

To study Visual Music before I leave I will use the inter library loan to check out some videos of work participating in that art movement. I have ordered a DVD of works by Oskar Fischinger, an early visual music composer that worked closely with classical and jazz musicians in the 20’s 30’s and 40’s to create animations that he considered to be ‘absolute’ non objective works of art. I will find movies set in Barcelona to see how other film makers saw the city. Works such as ‘Todo Sobre Mi Madre’ by Pedro Almadovar and ‘The Passanger’ by Michelangelo Antonioni could clue me in on some places to shoot that I may not have thought of.  Also to prepare myself for the video work, I will begin reading Eisenstein’s Film Form (particularly the chapters pertaining to montage) before I leave for Barcelona. If time permits I will make an example of a visual music composition over spring break. I will be spending a considerable amount of time getting used to my new camera also. I think that this really reinforces the need for me to do a sort of rough draft of what I intend to do once in Barcelona.

I will take a trip down to Danger Room comics to find a Spanish graphic novel or two. I think that having a graphic novel set in Barcelona in my reading list will give me an idea of how the city is being represented in other art forms. I will also look up classical fine art depictions of the city to get ideas of where I shoot.

I will also be working with a trio to prepare and record the musical piece I have been writing for the musical score of the video.

Mar 01

This project started very innocently (which is to say, I had no idea what it would turn into [not to say I have much idea of what it will turn into from where it is now]) with some experiments in writing music. I started very far from what I am doing now with drawings that guided an approximate pitch for a performer to follow. That developed into the many systems of organization and all of the other things that this piece does now.

To begin I asked what is music? The answer (as its been told to me and as I believe it to be) is that music is organized vibrating air. The next steps I took were in the path of Boulez. I organized groups of ways to make air vibrate. I organized duration, pitch quality, and an approximate pitch scale that instructs to the performer to chose a note at will within certain combinations of notes. I serialized all of these things into chart after chart and I used different methods of organization for each.

First I conceptualized, realized and organized the pitch quality scale (seen in 1 [I will reference my original notes that are in the links]).

1 – pitch quality organization concept

The concept is that the performers get 8 different ways with which they are instructed to play the notes. soft dot, soft hold, loud dot, loud hold, soft to loud, loud to soft, vibrato, and trill (seen in 1).

Those qualities are then reordered into 6 groups of 8 based on a random sequence generated by taking digits off of pieces of trash (something I thought of while contemplating Cage’s methods of chance). Those groups of 8 are then put into groups of 4 by using the inverse, retrograde, and inverse-retrograde (sort of like what some musicians have done with tone rows and 12 tone matrix’s). This creates 6 groups of 32 which amounts to 192. This is done for each instrument (seen in 2, 3, and 4).

2 – pitch quality organization chart instrument 1

3 – pitch quality organization chart instrument 2

4 – pitch quality organization chart instrument 3

Next I conceptualized how I would organize the duration (seen in 5).

5 – duration organization concept

The durations happen in beat groups of 1, 3, 6, and 10 which on these charts I am representing with 1, 2, 3, and 4. I organized them into all of the different possible rows and then organized a system for selecting them. The system selects them in 3 groups of 4 each time. It selects durations in 4’s for each instrument and stacks them. It then does this 48 times to generate a string of 192 durations for each instrument (seen in 6).

6 – duration organization chart

So now I have these groups of pitches (chords?) to organize (seen in 7).

7 – pitch combination concept and organization

I know that each instrument can be in 4 possible states. silent, low notes, medium notes, and high notes. I also know that I have 3 instruments. This means that I have 64 possible chords(?).  To organize those chords in a way that isn’t just a gradient from one end of the spectrum of possibility to the other (moving from all nothing to all high) I must create a system to reorder them. To do this I assigned them(1 through 64) to cities in order of population (new york to anchorage [or something]). Then I reordered them based on population density instead of population to create the final 64 chord row (seen in 8).

8 – pitch combination organization chart

9 – Cell organization chart page 1

11 – cell organization chart page 3

10 – cell organization chart page 2

Here I took a moment to reflect on what I had done and think about what I was going to do. I took some notes on where I wanted the piece to go. This included a very important choice to abandon the idea of an approximate pitch system that allows the performers to make decisions during the performance. I realized that that would obscure any identity that the piece might have. By using reiterated sequences of pitches I would be able to better demonstrate how my piece functions. To do this I used the system that would have informed the performer of which pitch region to play in, to create a system for definite pitch choice. This system chose a pitch from 1 of 3 groups of 8 pitches that divided 2 octaves as a single group into into 3rds (see 13, 14, 15).

13 – final organization chart 1

15 – final organization chart 3

14 – final organization chart 2

Here I created what I thought would be the final version of the piece. It combines the pitch qualities, durations, and specific pitch chords. After some thought I realized that playing these organization charts would make an exhausting song that explored every possibility of my system in a way that might be boring. I wanted to find a way to explore the possibilities that explained more than just the form of the chart so I thought of systems that would show the way the chart functions and would demonstrate the identity of the piece.

16 – music organization ideas and concepts 1

17 – ideas for moving ahead

I wrote notes on the idea and through sitting with the charts and thoroughly exploring how they worked I decided I would use the 3 organization charts in combination as a 3d matrix and I would write songs based on rules placed on that 3d matrix (see 16, 17). I divided the matrix into quadrants containing 3 layers 16 cells and created 4 distinct patterns for generating songs for each quadrant (see 18. 19. 20. 21. 22).

18 – first song organization idea

22 – fourth song idea

21 – third song idea page 3

20 – third song idea page 2

19 – second and third song ideas

The next step is to create a small version of each one of these songs. The idea is to create a short and simple version of each pattern. Then I will write an introduction that explores a minimalist approach to combining all the patterns and a maximalist finale of sorts to cap the piece off. After that I will put it all onto a staff and give it to a trio. Violin, Cello, Guitar (maybe?). This should all be done by the end of week 10 at which point I will begin composing the visual elements of the project, that being the video and the direct animation. I am going to shoot videos of architecture and geography in Barcelona and make direct animation in Madrid.


So here we are at the end of week ten. Composing on a staff is very difficult but I’m starting to get the hang of it. I have gotten almost all the way through the first song. After putting parts 1-4 on the staff I will begin to compose the beginning and end of the piece. Then I will start work on the video portion of the composition. I am going to start to contact singers about performing the piece. I might also do one of the voices in the trio.

While writing this draft of the composition I have been leaving myself notes for what I will do with tempo, volume dynamics, and rhythmic patterns in the next draft.

I have also been thinking up ideas for an instructions page to inform the performers about some of the irregular notation i.e. the pitch quality symbols.

Barcelona Documentation Journal