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27 October, 2008

My apologies for not daily updating as I claimed.  Friends, I have the record of reaching across party lines and updating on a daily basis.  REeeeeeeeeee000000000rrrr!  . . . So I was released from my ENG class early due to an excellent paper.  I’m writing a research paper right now (which, according to the teacher, I’m a natural at and is unheard of to her).  I am publishing the first draft below.  I will be making corrections to the second paragraph (which I find practically illegible) and will be including my rerferences.  I’ve direct quoted (or at least mostly) Brian Eno in one whole paragraph.  There’s a bit of paraphrasing too that will be noted in the final version.



The Lesson of Generative Music



Time is the most fundamental of elements.  It is at the forefront of science, politics, lifestyles, and at the very material of our thoughts.  It interacts with everything and nothing can take place with out it’s consideration.  Time is that one constant that has always been with us and yet always remains in front of us.  My intention is to spearhead time with another of the most important factors in our day-to-day lives: music.  Music has existed as far back as we have records of humanity.  Indeed, music is a long reed, flowing high above the grass of our cultures.  As all things have evolved with time, so too has music.  In fact, I will be discussing the perfect combination of both time and music and their evolution together as “Generative Music”.  The following is a brief summarization of generative music, its application for us now and in the future, and how it contributes to the fostering of long-term thinking.


            What if music could imitate nature?  What if a piece of music had no end.  It would continuously change and shift, and really, have it’s own life?  Classical music, for example, is finished music.  It’s predicted and repeatable.  It is demanding your attention.  It seeks a blank background.  There is another form of music that is, in contrast, never finished.  It assimilates into any background.  It is designed to be passive, but as interesting as any sound the moment you put your attention to it.    It never repeats itself, ensuring each listening experience as a unique one.  In fact, your experience of a piece of the music is as a moment in time.  What’s more, it begins as a sonorous seed, and becomes a forest completely on its own.  This is Generative Music.


Generative music was an offshoot of Ambient music, originally.  Ambient music, or an aural “tint” to an atmosphere or room, was designed to be able to accommodate many modes of listening attention without enforcing one in particular, while other forms of music are designed to push you, no matter how lightly, into a particular listening and emotional state.  Brian Eno, the “father” of ambient music as a genre, had the original intention of creating a sort of never-ending catalog of a variety of flexible atmospheres with ambient music.  In his early experiments he, quite by accident, developed the first in a series of Systems that would act as a tool for creating these aural landscapes.  This first system, called “Frippertronics”, was an infinitely looping tape relay that could take very little input and create a lush, always new backdrop of musical sound.  This system effectively neutralized the role of composer and was the birth of evolving sonic architecture.    


What exactly is the nature, the real details of this evolving music and how does it work?  By it’s name, it generates or creates, breeds, produces; names we know from wildlife and nature.  In fact, generative music gives us a very clear insight into nature.  The beginnings are incredibly simple.  A few seeds are planted, a few parameters set within an ecology, such that the ecology will perpetually produce a complex forest of sound based on the parameters and algorithms used.  An infinite cycle of musical life is created, a life able to maintain itself and continuously grow with no outside support.  As the piece of music progresses, what you would hear would be the various clusterings and configurations of the basic elements.  The elements never change.  They stay the same, and yet, the piece would seem to have quite a lot of variety, like a real forest.


            Why does an idea like this grab my attention so much?  The idea behind generative music keeps opening out.  I see it applied more and more.  If you start to accept the concept of this music, you start to change your own concepts of how things can be organized.  You see how things are made, how they evolve.  How they look after themselves.  You can see how natural and beautiful evolution really is.  Really, generative music exemplifies long term thinking.  It idolizes ever existing life and time as a whole.  It realizes cycles and the infinite. 


When music becomes everlasting, like it does with generative music, it immediately abandons any notion of “right now”.  It seeks no popularity because time has no attachment to such.  When music has no composer and is completely free to develop on it’s own, like generative music, it has no ego.  The originator setting the parameters and input knows that he has no control over what develops from such.  Instead, it focuses on being selfless and timeless.  This doesn’t mean that such a state is one without meaning or is, in essence, lonely.  In fact, because it is so fluid, it allows for interaction and input and is quite sensitive to change, like life.  Life can move along completely different paths depending on even the smallest change.


In its current form, generative music is just that, music.  It is a metaphor used by artists hoping to evoke the minds through media.  Even though it may be an incredibly powerful and possibly the most important idea yet, it is still undiscovered on a civilization level.  We live in times that the mass population still only cares about the ‘small here’ and a very few of us are just focusing on the Long Now.   People are still focused, unfortunately, on music of immediacy.   They live as if everything that happens will happen today.  Politicians do not run for office with a bag full of “Blue-sky Projects”.  They have to grab the attention with what’s happening at the instant it’s occurring.  That’s how they keep their numbers up even after they’re elected to office.  That’s how they keep us in an ever failing cycle.  People are greedy.


So I encourage all to take a lesson form the musical life form, Generative Music, and understand through it the true nature of the Earth and time, and to harbor long-term thinking for the good of everything.

{ It’s 8:10AM and I’m listening to Amy Winehouse “Back to Black”… which is actually very funny considering the subject of this essay(!).  However, I was just going to sample her music and have not turned it off yet.  Damn pop music. }

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