100th birthdays

Just completed my contribution to a kind of compositional game of telephone, in honor of John Cage's 100th birthday, in which 100 composers were selected to produce a composition in which each person sees only one measure from the person before him/her. Will be premiered in New York and Leipzig in 2013, also on the web. Info (in German): here.

Speaking of 100th birthdays, just returned from the University of Victoria, where I gave a lecture entitled "Composing, Computing and Creativity." One of several Alan Turing Lectures in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth, I discussed how and why I create both music and software and how the two are closer to one another than one might suspect. Other lecturers during the two-week celebration included Leslie Valient and Jaron Lanier.

Abstract below:

Jorge Luis Borges envisioned a library of every possible book of a given length and set of characters. The size of this library, while not quite infinite is effectively so, dwarfing the number of atoms in the known universe by eighteen hundred orders of magnitude. The plight of the creative artist is similar: to pick exactly one of these possibilities.

My background is unusual in that I have pursued music composition and computer programming with equal intensity and with a deep conviction as to their fundamental creative nature, drawing inspiration one from the other. These two seemingly different domains share much in common, as both can be modeled by similar paradigms: making something from nothing (additive synthesis), making something from everything (subtractive synthesis), making something from something else (genetic algorithms), etc. Combining these two pursuits has led me to develop a musical approach based on hybridization, abstraction and concretization. It is often said that music composition cannot be taught. A more accurate statement would be that it can be taught only in a personal way, based on detached self-observation, and without any assumption that past behavior predicts future actions. In this talk I examine my wanderings in the labyrinthine Library of Babel.