The Arrogance of the Composer

Man’s creations can only be, at best, a pale imitation of nature’s complexity. It is arrogance in the composer to seek control over all variables in the design of complex music.

Song of Guiraut Riquier from chansonnier manuscript

Song of Guiraut Riquier from chansonnier manuscript

Invariably the hand of human design will reveal itself, and the aims, tastes, or prejudice of the author will show through. Nature, while governed by laws, lacks aims in its creations. Their reception on the stage of the world, whether successful or not, in the end is of no concern, and thus there is no ego behind the design to betray.The laws themselves are describable only in isolation, the aggregate seeming only random noise to the human mind

Complex Pedigree Network,

Complex Pedigree Network,

The human laws of composition are limited to only a few forms:

  • Improvisation – music that arises of the complex network of transient relationships that arise from human group dynamics
  • Gut – Stream of Consciousness writing that draws from the unconscious impulses of the unrivaled complexity of the human brain
  • Mechanisms of Chance – the choices are almost limitless, but to name a few there is the I-Ching, the patterns of the Gemetria, computerized random number generators, chance imperfections, digital system overloads, etc
  • The Waveform – still relatively unexploited, the complex interactions of additive/subtractive use of waveforms offers a chance at designing complexity that exceeds conscious human effort
This post was originally publish as “The Arrogance of the Composer” on The Abyss of Height.
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