New page Roots. Although Deconstruction is the first in the large "113" family of pieces, that is a singular and
sometimes tormented experiment, unlike any other piece here, and so it is this piece which first exemplifies
the "113" sound, pensive, often melancholy, variously gentle (Ebbtide, Ghost Elephants), otherworldly (Fey,
Lightning Bugs), stark and brooding (Extremadura, Goya's Light), triumphal (Bellbottom, Ennead), or deeply
shadowed (Creature Comforts, Redwood Empire), even subterranean (Sotto Voce (113G), Spy vs. Spy (113J)) or
submarine (Sea Change (113L), Sunken Treasure (113K)). Of those, Ebbtide is the closest sibling, but they are
quite distinct in feeling.
The roots of the imagery are not limited to chord roots, but include musical roots, tree roots, ancestral roots,
cultural roots, and whatever else seemed right.
New page Ripple Effect. This is an early member of the big 108 family (see 01/03, 01/08, 01/16 below), falling
between Teletype (108C) and Time Was (108E). The imagery is of literal ripples and of the ripple effect in both
literal and figurative terms. Notably, of the 59 images that go to make up the 29 pairs of images plus the
background, fully 26 are animated (easily surpassing the 15 animated images in Hotfoot).
New page Retooling the Blues. This piece might almost be called "Deconstructing the Blues." It seems to break
down the I-7 and IV-7 chords in endless arpeggios, with a pensive ninth, then run down to a pondering silence,
only to return with a reordered sequence, as if ringing the changes in a meditation designed to uncover the
heart of the blues. The imagery comes at the idea from many directions, one of which is the metaphor of the
tearing down and rebuilding of the musical instruments themselves. Its nearest relative is Stepsisters (114C),
with its own two-chord motif.
New page Redwood Empire. This piece was a link in a chain following Creature Comforts, and preceding Spy
vs. Spy (113J).
The feeling of the earlier piece was that of the life of, not a suburbanite, but an exurbanite, someone who lived
in a woodsy bucolic setting in a well-shaded, womb-like home, with an inviting farm kitchen and a lake, who
drove a luxurious womb-like car through pines and orchards and horse barns to the city job that provided all
that, or who, perhaps, was a writer or artist who worked from home and motored to the city for its urban
The feeling of this piece is even more protected, more shaded, but with the human element reduced to a
humbler scale, a land of cathedral stands of towering giants with that spacious forest floor carpeted with
needles and with plenty of social distance between the trees through which the light is always filtered. This is a
forest that means you neither harm nor good, but simply is.
By the next link, the tone of the music had turned rather subterranean, and no longer felt quite so deep, but
closer to parody, leading to the Mad Magazine reference. This piece, it seems, represented a sort of balance
New pages Redoubt: Fortress and Redoubt: Solitude. This piece was the first outgrowth of Craterscape, and
shares its sense of starkness, forbidding and unyielding. There were ultimately to be seven more in this family
(see this page's Potsherds entry of 02/03/07). Imagery is of redoubts (including Alaska's Mt. Redoubt), mountain
and desert fortresses and strongholds, and of various No Man's Lands. And, of course, the Fortress of Solitude.
New page Recessional One. This is a very early MusiNum piece, from 2000 or 2001, and I remembered it as an
organ piece; on listening to it again to say something about it on this page, I thought I heard harpsichords and
decided to check the orchestration. Turns out I had totally forgotten that despite its swelling church organ
sound, it has sixteen voices, not one of them an organ! In fact, the piece is a quadruple quartet: brass quartet
plus string quartet plus woodwind quartet plus four harpsichord parts.
The imagery is all recessionals and pipe organs, including a background of organ-pipe cacti as a visual pun of
sorts. I'm letting it stand, as I enjoyed putting it together and like the way it looks. (My site, my rules.)
Sixteen hours later: new page Recessional Two. This piece grew out of the earlier one, with quite different
parameters but with the same orchestration, except that the four harpsichord parts are replaced here by organ
parts, making the organ imagery more literally appropriate. The background here is another visual pun, pipe
coral: I happen to think it fits strikingly with the stands of organ pipes.
New page Random Acts of Kindness. Another easygoing piece for piano and intermittent single notes from a
bevy of flutes, this one an outgrowth of the playful Littermates. It seems that the phrase itself has become a sort
of franchise, so I went with images of Random, Acts (including its entertainment and its Biblical senses), and
New page Quintessence. This is the seventeenth in the nineteen-member "108" family, following Snowbound
(108O) and preceding Verdad (108Q), and seemed to attain a kind of perfection in its own sonic universe, in the
same manner that Ennead did in the "113" family. The idea of the quintessence was that it was the mystical
center and union of the other four essences (Earth, Air, Water, and Fire in the Western system, but there are
other schemata as well).
Geometrically, it is not the pentagon or pentangle that conveys this special status, as they represent a
democratic and equal union of five natures; it is, rather, the quincunx, a figure of the four corners of a square
surrounding the center, like the "5" face of a die. (The children pictured, for example, form an impromptu
Another figure associated with the idea of the quintessence is that of the regular dodecagon, with its twelve
pentagonal faces. Some of the dodecagon images are animated, and two are stereoscopic 3-D images (a
dynamic image concealing a startlingly convincing static one), which call for one to superimpose right and left
using the focus-shifting technique necessary to appreciate "Magic Eye" artwork.
Upgraded what was formerly an intermediate version of Escape from Lhasa (23S) into a piece in its own right,
renamed it as Zenith (23T), and added it to the Sounds page.
The first attempt (23Z) had too much panic in it to correctly represent the monks' inner peace, spiritual strength,
resolution, even joy, in the face of persecution, and this version didn't have enough sense of forward motion to
represent the journey they undertook.
However, when I listen to it, it induces at least a borderline trance state, and it has a flavor I don't find
anywhere else in my music or, for that matter, anyone else's, and I've decided it belongs here and has earned
a page of its own when I get to the Z's.
New page Quasimodo. The last of a family that started with the wild and woolly Enfante Terrible and
Changeling, became even more complex with Ganglion, and developed a compulsive sound with Lemmings.
This piece evokes a combination of energy and restriction, not so much clumsiness as a certain limping quality,
but with a feeling of someone who has hobbled vigorously for a long time.
The imagery available ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous (with a good deal of Disney, which I avoided).
I tried to present a blend of the serious and the light-hearted/corny/touristy, while keeping a feeling of the
combined awkwardness and vitality.
New page Pterodactyl. Another stark twelve-tone piece, an evolution from, rather than a part of, the
The name has two associations:
More loosely, it evokes the world we tend to think of as chaotic and lawless, where the fiercest predators won
out in an environment of random encounters and sudden violence, that of the dinosaurs (although I don't know
that it was different in that regard from the modern natural world; nonetheless, we all have ingrained
childhood associations with that time of gigantic reptiles, some of them airborne).
But more specifically, the structure of the piece (which is "folded" in the middle, in that the chaos suddenly
resolves into a series of descending arpeggios, which are then reflected in time to become ascending
arpeggios which, in turn, begin to overlap, and then devolve into seeming chaos once more) is like the
enormous curving V-shape of a pterodactyl seen head-on (or, if we're lucky, departing)
Moved December 2006 notes to the Archives page.
New page Promised. This piece is the ancestor of Open Country, Peace Train, and Freedom Strides the
SunRoad. Closely related are Iron Horse and its descendants Shining River, Homebound Soul (230A),
Tablelands (230B), and Sunset Rider (230C). Most of the imagery found had to do with the Promised Land, but I
tried to strike a balance between many associations of the word, and to express visually the mental pictures
and moods evoked by the music.
New page Potsherds. This piece is one of a family of mostly twelve-tone pieces that evolved from Craterscape,
including the similarly stark and rather random-sounding (although not truly random at all) Redoubt (103A),
the glassy sonorities of Glass House and Goblet, the low and insistent rhythms of Wellspring (103D),
Bathyscaphe, and Motivation, and finally, the all-percussion Dolores Park. The name of this piece is evocative
of both the seeming disorder and the underlying structure involved. The images show not only the random
breakage and scatterings of potsherds, but the archaeological attempts to reverse entropy locally and
reconstruct what can be reconstructed of the original order and design.
New page Point of Honor. This piece, which evolved into Courting, is very severely structured, and I found a
slight flaw in the structure as I was readying the page, and went through a decision process about "correcting"
On the one hand, I like the idea of the "flaws" becoming incorporated into the piece, the interplay of chance
and design. On the other hand, there was very little difference between the sounds of the two versions, and
thus the balance seemed to shift toward the original designed version. And on the third hand, once I started
"correcting" the piece, it was tempting to "fix" a few other things: shift the pitch up to make it less muddy, vary
the instruments for a more interesting sonority, change the scale from major to minor, or even to pentatonic,
layering the keys in fourths...
I ended up fixing up only the original flaw, changing the numerical designation from 38 to 38X as usual when I
fix a piece.
The imagery is drawn from duelling (sometimes musical) and swordplay in general (though the background
contrasts Pen and Sword.)
New page Pixie Dust. This piece gave rise to Flyby, and is related to Leonid Shower and Passing Fancy. The
words I used to describe those pieces apply here as well: ephemeral, with implacable and crystalline logic,
light and sparse at the edges and fuller in the center. The fractal underpinnings are more apparent to the ear
in minimal pieces like these. The imagery required a lot of winnowing, as the concepts have become very
New page Philosophy 101. The original piece suffered from a technical problem, in which, trying to fade all
voices out smoothly, one at a time, I had not brought them all to zero volume, and had miscalculated the
length of the midi file, creating a piece in which, from a little before the midpoint to the end, only one voice is
heard, at greatly reduced volume.
That, however, was not the only problem with the piece. As one of my earliest efforts, it was full of
experimental tweaking of various parameters, and was of widely varying degrees of listenability over much of
the part before the volume business. Instrumentation is played with until it becomes quite screechy and
squawky just before switching all voices rapidly to Bright Piano, after which it begins to fascinate musically,
but only for a few minutes till it is muted. (Listen here for original.)
For the fix, I brought the volume back up on all voices after the mute, then tweaked only a few parameters,
gradually simplifying and refining things, and leaving it all in Bright Piano. Then I began the midi file creation
at a point less than a minute before the voices begin to switch to piano. The result is what you hear on the
I no longer recall my thought process in coming up with the title "Philosophy 101" for the original piece, but it
seems to fit the current one nonetheless. At the outset, with the harsh and discordant sounds including insistent
telephones, the world has no organizing principle and simply overwhelms. The piano symbolizes the
introduction of some level of reflection and intellectual rigor, and much time is spent trying on various filters,
philosophical systems, modes of thought and discourse.
As the mind matures and deepens, finding its own voice, the frills can be discarded bit by bit, until simple and
profound truths seem to appear. Even late in life, entire habits of thought may be suspended and new ones
examined. Finally we may come to know "more and more about less and less". (Or is it the other way around?)
Got feedback from Andy Clark, whose fascinating and comprehensive flea circus site I had acknowledged last
September, but had wrongly attributed to his friend and fellow researcher, magician/inventor Walt Noon. (With
any luck, we've got everybody sorted out at last -- see entry for 09/04/2006 on Archives page.)
Andy was kind enough to include a link to my Flea Circus page on his Culture page, devoted to portrayals of
the flea circus, and of fleas in general, in the musical arts, drama, poetry, and other forms of artistic expression.
Moved November 2006 notes to the Archives page.
New page Peace Train. This piece is the middle of three descendants of Promised (229), between Open
Country and Freedom Strides the SunRoad. First cousins are Iron Horse and its descendants Shining River,
Homebound Soul (230A), Tablelands (230B), and Sunset Rider (230C).
I had some very specific imagery in mind, which no one image captured. (The title is exactly what it should be
in my mind, despite the fact that it is also the title of the justly famous anthem by Yusef Islam (aka Cat Stevens);
a look at the related pieces shows the imagery of trains and of peaceful harmony. Of course the phrase, as a
phrase, would be much less likely to spring to mind without it's becoming part of the vocabulary of the
twentieth century courtesy of that well-loved song.)
There was a sort of feeling of the train spreading the good news, in a pre-telegraph era, that war has ceased
and peace has broken out, and there was another image of the train as a tireless ambassador of goodwill
crisscrossing the country, and along with both of those images one of the plains and the desert blooming in the
train's wake, or a colorless landscape suddenly coming to life in vivid hues, the train giving off cascades of
sparks and rivers of light swirling in its passage, some curling up behind it, and some igniting and energizing
everything in its path. I managed to capture most of those feelings piecemeal, amongst the images, along with
a childlike aspect that just evolved as I worked.
New page Passing Fancy. This piece grew out of Leonid Shower, and is close cousin to Pixie Dust (361) and
Flyby. The imagery is not only of passing fancies, but also of ephemeral things, and of whims. The basic shape
of pieces like these is that of a spiral galaxy seen edgewise, full and dense in the middle and flatter and more
attenuated on the ends. These pieces being rather spare and minimalist, the fractal structure is not obscured,
but quite readily apparent.
New page Pandora's Remorse. This piece is one of a series of pieces that were created by removing one
constraint from existing pieces: the Modulo parameter.
What that parameter does is to cap the notes generated for a particular voice and "wrap" them around a
particular range: thus if the parameter is set for Mod 20, then notes 21-40 wrap around to become notes 1-20, as
do 41-60, and so forth. Depending on the base of the scale (the lowest note) and the scale itself (12-tone,
pentatonic, etc.), below a certain Mod value the notes will never exceed the top range for which a sound is
actually generated; after that point, increasingly higher values will mean that as the time point in the piece
moves farther from zero (negative or positive, i.e., before or after), there will be more high notes but also more
silences where a note is out of range, up to a point, after which the effect will have been maximized.
Removing the cap entirely will mean that there is no wrapping of the range, and that the silences will increase
indefinitely as we get farther from Point Zero. When the piece is a time slice with zero in the middle, as many
of these are, there will be an attenuated feel to the beginning and end of the piece, with a thickening and
deepening as you approach the center. Depending upon whether any voices have been set for Higher or
Lower, which filters out notes generated to allow only those which were higher than the previous note, or only
those lower, as the case may be, the sound may also change abruptly at the midpoint.
In this case, the piece was created by removing the Modulo parameter from Hammer and Tongs. Both effects
mentioned above can be seen: the thickening of texture at the middle, and the abrupt change in sound at the
midpoint. In this case, the throbbing cascade of Rhodes piano notes disappears, only to burst through again
every fifty seconds, like a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder flashback: hence the name.
New page Overboard. This piece, now Overboard (23X), started life as Overboard (23), an experiment I did not
consider musically successful; it is not tonally pleasant, being rather fuzzy and overloaded, and seems unduly
repetitive and static. Several parameters were changed, not many and not by very much, but those changes
were enough to render the piece difficult to recognize musically as a variant.
Although I found the new tonalities interesting, and the piece did unfold and blossom in a very
characteristically fractal way, it still seemed a little slow and linear in its development, so I let the fix become
the new Overboard (the X denotes a replacement piece, sometimes with stuck notes or other technical
problems fixed, sometimes to improve the tone, from a subjective standpoint, and sometimes to alter the
structure itself for esthetic reasons), and went on developing variations. Piece 23Y became Atlantis Dwells
Within, which was then extended far into the future and a snippet taken (one hour beginning with beat
9,999,999) to see how it would develop on its own.
That piece, 23Z, was the version of Escape from Lhasa originally published here, after which I continued to
explore and, having run out of alphabet, now worked backward from X, so that 23W became Magellan and
23V, Monsoon. The next variation, 23U, seemed less musically interesting to me, but became Zealots (as it
seemed to shift world-views abruptly and absolutely, as the though the prior mood had never existed). I then
returned to tinker with Escape from Lhasa again, first coming up with 23T, and finally, 23S, the now published
Escape from Lhasa. (See Archives 07/28 and 08/01.)
New page Orbital Resonance Rag. Evolutionarily, this fits between Boneyard Boogie and Watchmakers' Waltz
(223B), and is also cousin to Macabre and Moonflakes. A brash and clangorous piece featuring insistent
In searching for the imagery, I looked at not only at "Orbital Resonance", but "Harmonic Convergence" as well,
and even cross-pollinated the two to search for "Harmonic Resonance" and "Orbital Convergence". Curiously,
all four phrases describe distinct entities:
Orbital Resonance is the process whereby planets, satellites, or even comets come to have periods of
revolution in some relatively simple ratio to one another (which process, incidentally, allows some objects to
have intersecting orbits without ever colliding), or whereby a body comes to synchronize its own revolution
and rotation, due to the friction of tidal forces;
Harmonic Convergence is a New Age term involving the work of Jose Arguelles and the Long Counts of the
Mayan Calendar, one cycle of which passes to the next in or year 2012 (and, as all of that has nothing in
particular to do with Orbital Resonance, none of the imagery was used, despite the visual appeal of some of it);
Harmonic Resonance is a phenomenon of particle physics, and a consideration in problems of electrical
engineering, and the term yielded some of the page's best imagery;
Orbital Convergence refers to an evolutionary tendency to move the eyes into synchronization, allowing
binocular vision (and one pair of fractal images was used).
In addition to those sources, imagery came from Ragtime, Piano Rag, Polyrhythm, and Cross-Rhythm.
New page Orang Lullaby. This is one of those pieces with a distinct "fold" in the middle, where the character of
the music appears to change abruptly in some regards, while retaining its flavor in other regards. (Technical
note: in MusiNum pieces, that can happen as the piece passes through the point of origin, from "negative time"
to "positive time," in those cases where one or more voices is defined as "Rising" or "Falling," which causes a
break in symmetry.)
In many of the pieces here, the music seems to expand or gain in complexity at the fold; in others, including
this one, the opposite occurs. The first part brought to mind the hand-over-hand, loping rhythm of orangutan
locomotion, often hanging upside down; the second part appears to deconstruct the first, with an angular,
irregular framework suggesting in its silences the music heard in the first part. That is the "lullaby" portion,
wherein the light is dimmed, the pace slows, and the day's activities are felt as a kind of echo.
I recall from childhood that I could spend some hours in the morning swinging (even on a gentle porch swing),
and unexpectedly but soothingly feel the sensation of swinging half a day later as I settled down for the night. I
can imagine the baby orangutan digesting the day's experiences, feeling the echo of the vine-swinging and the
swaying trips aboard Mother's back.
New page Opium. This piece (108F) is part of the big 108 series (see below 01/03/07 & 01/08/07), falling between
Time Was (103E) and Dazzle (103G). At forty pairs of images, it surpasses even the previous record-holders,
Moroccan Shadows and Not Just Yet, each with 37 pairs. Few other words convey such a mixed message of
exotic elegance and exquisite intoxication, on the one hand, and of the basest bondage and degradation of
body, mind and spirit in the endless hell of a lost soul, on the other. The opium poppy itself, at once beautiful
and threatening in its parts and aspects, is an apt metaphor. As it happens, my one encounter with opium was
35 years ago tomorrow, and I recall feeling quite clear-headed yet mysteriously unable to make my hands obey
my brain, although my mind's eye saw the moves carried out a second before I saw that they had not in fact
moved (we played Paddle Pool). I felt that disconnect here.
New page Open Country. This piece (229A) is the first descendant of Promised (229) in a family that came to
include Peace Train (229B), and Freedom Strides the SunRoad (229C), all with a characteristic melodic motif. A
closely related family (without that motif) begins with Iron Horse (230) and grows to include Shining River,
Homebound Soul (230A), Tablelands (230B), and Sunset Rider (230C). As light as Obsidian is dark. Trains racing
cloud-shadows across ever-unfolding panoramas of God's Country: Badlands, Grand Canyon, Rockies, Great
American Desert. Canada, Siberia, Outer Mongolia. Hikers and herders. The lure of the Open Road. Twain's
characters forever lighting out for the Territories. Mr. Toad sitting happily in the middle of the road, bedazzled
by the motorcar.
New page Obsidian. This piece, as it happens, is the nineteenth and (so far) last of the 108 series mentioned in
the very last entry, immediately below. The imagery is a mix of Obsidian and Glass Mountain themes. The
music is a paean to the beauty of all that is severe, sharp, daunting, dark yet forged in fire, hard, glassy,
uncompromising. It is a two-chord meditation with home base in the ninth chord, and it appears to go through
cycles of summer and winter, day and night, waking and sleep. It expands and contracts, taking periods of
dreamlike meditation wherein it deconstructs its theme and wakes to reconstruct it with renewed vigor and a
fresh perspective. It may be a call-and-response between the viewer, whether mystic or striver, and the
summit. That's my take on it; you're sure to have yours.
New page Obsession. This is the ancestor of the largest single numbered series here, the 108's, including Fifth
Column, Dazzle, Cibola, Dowser, Because It's There, Eightball, and Bottle Green, plus some 11 more pieces yet
to be given a page. The images need little explanation.
Moved October 2006 notes to the Archives page.
New page Not Just Yet. This was the second of many pieces to spring from Montana Summer. The first was
Idee Fixe, of which I said in late September when I created the page:
"This one is very minimalist: a simple descending scale, a four-note plaint, repeated over gently caressing guitars, with only the subtlest of variations
over several hundred repetitions, with the effect of drawing in our attention and enlisting our minds in trying to predict the nature and timing of the next
eddy in the flux, in magnifying our reaction to tiny surprises, inducing a mild trance state."
This piece does unfold gradually, as its name suggests, but is far livelier than the above. It strives ever higher,
in the spiral growth pattern characteristic of many fractal pieces, never forgetting where it has been, just
widening the frame as it goes. The imagery is of anticipation, longing, patience, and an unhurried frame of
mind that trusts the process and takes time to, as they say, smell the flowers.
Continued in ARCHIVES 2006
Featured piece: Nightlight (363)
New page Rustic. (More to follow.)
New pages Rune Dance. (More to follow.)
New page Rumors. (More to follow.)
New page Royal Barge. This was an early effort, and to my
mind a bit muddy and lugubrious compared to, say, Bower.
Nonetheless, it has its own imperturbable logic, and the
monarchy could be a bit muddy and lugubrious itself.
There were two images I had in mind, both cinematic, and I
couldn't locate either. The first was from A Man for All
Seasons, where Henry, going to visit Thomas More in hopes of
changing his principled mind by whatever means necessary,
steps out of the barge into the mud and gazes around him at
the horrified and utterly silent entourage before planting his
hands on his hips, throwing back his head, and bellowing
laughter, at which the court laughs with him as he measures
them with his eyes. I found a scene immediately after, but not
that one. The second is from The Lion in Winter, with Kate
Hepburn as the embattled Eleanor sprung from her
imprisonment for a time and arriving in state with the rowers
gliding to a halt, oars vertical.
Besides Royal Barge imagery (including one of Thailand's
royal barge with fireworks), there of images of Floating
Orchestra and Floating Court Musicians.