New Release: Transcendental Object

Check Out My New Release on iTunes, Spotify, Etc.

Transcendental Object Cover Art by Laurie Griffin

Cover art by Laurie Griffin

My recent piece of sound art, Transcendental Object, has just been released on most digital platforms. Here are some links:

Transcendental Object on iTunes
Get it on Google Play
Transcendental Object on Amazon

I started writing this piece in 2013, while taking a year-long series of courses in computer music at the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS) at University of Washington in Seattle.

The piece is written with object-oriented computer programming – the SuperCollider programming language/environment.

Writing Music with Computer Programming

The fact that you can write music with computer programming is very new to most people. It was new to me when I heard about it in 2010 from composer, Richard Karpen (director of UW’s School of Music).

UW is one of a handful of places in the world that specializes in teaching programming to classical musicians.

Here’s an example of a “note” from the Transcendental Object “score”:

sd12.new(startTimeOrigOrder + 10.3 + durAdder1 + 6.8 +
durAdder.value * durScale8, 5.7 + durAdder35 * 1.3 * durScale8)
.dur_(5.7 + durAdder35 * 1.3 * durScale8)
.buffer_(snd1)
//.shapeEnv(envThirds1)
.ampScaler_(ampScaler)
.dust_(CtkControl.env(dustEnv1))
.spread_(spreadFunc.value)
.level_()
.center_(centerFunc.value)

The classes I took were taught by composers, Josh Parmenter and Hector Bravo Benard – top-level musicians, who’ve become good friends and are co-producers of Transcendental Object. Josh and Hector, and UW, have brought my knowledge of contemporary music to an entirely new place.

Generative Music

Computer programming is also a great way to implement generative systems. Generative music is a new and emerging field – in many ways, pioneered by Brian Eno.

Generative music uses computer programming (or other techniques) to generate new material each time a piece is played. What would normally be one thing (one “static” recording) now becomes an endlessly-changing soundscape. It’s a vastly new idea within the field of music, for sure.

To quote Eno – from A Year With Swollen Appendices (1996):

From now on there are three alternatives: live music, recorded music and generative music. Generative music enjoys some of the benefits of both its ancestors. Like live music, it is always different. Like recorded music, it is free of time-and-place limitations – you can hear it when you want and where you want. (332)

My piece, Transcendental Object, is generative. That is, the code it was written with is generative. Each time the code is run, new (but recognizably-similar) sounds occur.

Of course, for a standard release of music in today’s world, the most accessible route is to put something out as a “static” recording. So that’s what I did. For right now, the piece is available in two formats: mp3 and FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec – a very high quality audio file). You can get the FLAC file (in a bundle with the mp3) from CDBaby.

So what’s represented in this release is one run through of a generative work. We’ll see if there might be a future, generative edition released as software. Honestly: That would be cool. It would just take a few hundred more hours to put together. And more time in technical support, when people try to run it on different operating systems and devices.

So, I’m somewhat stoked to have Transcendental Object. It’s a fairly strong, and high fidelity, expression of my musical ideas.

Immanuel Kant

Also, the meaning behind the music feels like a genuine, deep expression from my life.

From the digital booklet (which can be downloaded along with the music on iTunes):

The title, Transcendental Object, refers to an idea of Immanuel Kant that has moved me for about the past 10 years (and which, intriguingly, relates to [Iannis] Xenakis’s idea of creating patterns which are too complex for the human brain to follow). Kant’s idea (the transcendental object) is that of the fundamental nature of reality being beyond the ability of the brain, or the senses, to detect/understand — that everything our senses can detect is a simplified representation of what’s really there.

This level of thought and wonder/awe about the nature of reality and existence greatly interests me. Art seems to have a unique power to be descriptive of this level of nature/the world/living beings that’s beyond our ability to fully know.

Grappling with, and hopefully “tapping into,” this mystery is something I’m attempting to accomplish with this piece.

It seems like a bit of a looming elephant in the room (and hopefully not too clichéd) that we experience ourselves as being here, but none of us knows why or how; what here is, who we are, etc. So, I’m trying to represent that which is beyond our capacity to know — using computer programming to create patterns which are too complex for our brains to follow.

Download (or Stream) Transcendental Object at Your Favorite Online Store

Please check it out – and if you have time, I hear that honest reviews on iTunes (and other platforms) really help. (If you buy it on iTunes, the digital booklet is very nice. It’s 11 pages, and contains artwork and design by Laurie Griffin, and a nine-page paper I wrote about the piece.)

Links:

Transcendental Object on iTunes
Get it on Google Play
Transcendental Object on Amazon

Want the Transcendental Object Digital Booklet now? Sign up for my monthly email newsletter (the email list box at the right or bottom of this page) and you’ll automatically receive a link to download it for free.