Junto Project 0377: Algorithms Ensemble [repost]

Someone suggested that Suss Müsik repost our contributions to the weekly Disquiet Junto projects, because they enjoy reading the explanations of the tracks. While you’re reading the original post, make sure you check out the other contributors’ works as well.

“The most indubitable respect in which ideas have helped mankind is numbers,” wrote the philosopher and logician Bertrand Russell. “We have become, in certain respects, progressively less like animals [in] that forethought more and more dominates [our] impulses.”

Russell believed that all human knowledge was, at most, a best guess based upon knowledge attained to that point. In his 1903 book The Principles of Mathematics, Russell argued that mathematical concepts were immune from doubt because they were constructed entirely of logic. An algorithm is really nothing more than a process — a set of rules to be followed in order to achieve a result.

The logic breaks down because life and language are slippery, inexact and subjective. A famous example of Russell’s Paradox is the barber who shaves everybody in town except those who shave themselves. Who shaves the barber? If he shaves himself, then he doesn’t shave himself; if he doesn’t, then he does. Groucho Marx once remarked that he would never join a club who would have him as a member. Suss Müsik doesn’t really make music, nor do we do much sussing. Paradoxes abound.

For this piece, a simple four-note phrase was played on piano utilizing a scale of 8 notes. The 2431 algorithm was applied not only to note sequences, but also to sustain levels and attack times. This created a weird phasing effect during transitions. The algorithm was also applied to a “scale” of wordless vocal recordings by Suss Müsik friend, collaborator and mentor Wm. Wolfgang Allen. Expect more such collaborations from this team in the very near future.

The piece is titled Russellian. Many thanks to NorthWoods for contributing this inventive and interesting assignment to the Disquiet Junto community.

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