window experiments cont’d

the meta-notation is as follows:

play silences of various durations. if you make a sound, you have made a mistake. make mistakes.

this should be familiar as i've been trying to realize this notation into a more concrete score over the course of this semester.

the rules for interpreting the score break down as follows:

roll the ball continuously through the entirety of the performance.  the figures you produce may be ellipses, figure-eights, or three-circled knots.  orientation (horizontal vs vertical) is open to interpretation, as is direction.

the score is comprised of an ordered set of events.  each event has two values: a duration and a number of loops.  produce a figure or set of figures containing the notated number of loops, over the notated length of time.

there is now a simple patch for generating score values, written in the supercollider language.  it is available here:

if one runs the whole patch, what is returned is an array containing all the information for a single realization of the piece.  at the innermost level, there are tuples describing duration and loop number.  these are grouped into three approximate 'sections', two lasting 120 seconds and the final one 60 seconds.  in practice, the performer only need note the durations and loop numbers, so this final parsing is omitted from the ~score environment variable.

this 'divination patch' is necessary to generate scores that are statistically identical in difficulty, but unique in particulars.  it is important that each performance be unique so that practice only improves ones ability to read the notation, leaving the possibility for mistakes due to score difficulty intact.

for those not fluent in supercollider, the algorithm is as follows:

all the possible durations for events are the non-primes between 12 and 30, inclusive.  no duration is repeated and they occur in no particular order (the order is determined with each realization).

break the durations into three approximate sections of 120, 120 and 60 seconds each.

the difficulty is determined to be the ratio of loops per second.  there are 5 approximate values for this ratio: 1/2, 1/4, 1/6, 1/8, and 1/10.  these are chosen anew each event.  distribution weights depend on which of the three sections the event is in.  for the first section, values tend toward 1/10, for the middle section, values tend toward 1/6, and for the final section, values tend toward 1/2.  the curve is exponential with a factor of 3.

the number of loops in each event is determined by the difficulty ratio * the duration.  this value is rounded to the nearest integer.

running the patch just a moment ago yielded the following score:


[ [ 30, 4 ], [ 25, 3 ], [ 12, 2 ], [ 16, 2 ], [ 26, 3 ], [ 22, 2 ] ],   //section 'a'
[ [ 28, 7 ], [ 27, 3 ], [ 24, 12 ], [ 15, 2 ], [ 20, 3 ] ],   //section 'b'
[ [ 21, 5 ], [ 14, 2 ], [ 18, 5 ] ]   //section 'c'


since these arrays are pretty difficult to read, especially while rolling a ball around on a window and watching a clock, i am considering borrowing an idea from cage's 'cartridge music', wherein lengths of time are denoted as arcs of a unit circle, one for each minute of the piece.  following the composition, then, is as simple as following the second hand as it travels around the clock's face, and taking note of the regions that make up each minute.

as far as the resulting sound goes, i'm relatively content leaving things as they are.  i like the sound of the ball on glass, and i believe there will be enough bells and whistles throughout the nime concert to make this five minutes of focus and simplicity engaging.

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