Music as a Pattern

Curmudgeon Bludgeon commented on yesterday’s blog, Dynamics of the Subway!

I feel like I have just received a gift that I will return to over and over.  I hope my fiber artist friends discover these, too… the graphic art ideas are astonishing.

Thank you, CB.

Curmudgeon Bludgeon Jul 25, 9:21 am

Hey Motley D.

I love this kind of thing. Back in the day, when YouTube was young (lol), one of the first things I remember watching was MIDI animations put together using some old music game that geeks had hacked to record on. They’d built up a whole little subculture for themselves. I wish I could remember what the game was called so I could point you its way — it had a real old school charm. (If you search “Synthesia” on YT you can find a more up-to-date version of the same idea, but it just ain’t the same.)

As for your Subway find, I like it, but I have to confess I’d like it a lot more if the music itself was more interesting. I haven’t listened to anything else by Absence-of-Sewage-Water (lol @ that name), but while the repetitive, boxy nature of the sound works well to “construct” the graphics, it remains, well, repetitive and boxy. Music is an abstract pattern; I think you get more interesting results if you allow it to perform in its *own* space, as it were, without constraining it to conform to a preconceived this-world image.

Anyway, reading your post last night got me curious about what the world of YouTube has come up with in musical-space composition in the years since those early MIDI pioneers, and I was not disappointed. I think you’ll like these:

Wow, wow and more wow. I think I like the circle representation best. Each style has its virtues (and there are others), but for me it captures best our intuitive experience of music as a pattern unfolding in time: the present as an ever-moving “front” of sound which trails a remembered pattern in its wake while advancing on still-unheard-but-anticipated patterns which lure us ever onward into the musical space. It’s the subtle combination of surprise and satisfied expectation which makes the experience. The other styles capture that experience too, of course, but by turning the viewing angle 90 degrees, as it were, the circle representation allows us to join the stream of the music itself, passing through the present as through a plane — as opposed to viewing it from one side — and so becoming effectively immersed in the unfolding pattern. Just as we do when we listen. Simple but beautiful.

Don’t get too lost in them, lol.


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