Music with unconventional collaborators: the People's will
The People's Choice Music 1997
with Komar & Melamid
From a poll of American musical preferences in 1996, lyrics by Nina
Mankin, music by Dave Soldier. Komar and Melamid were making paintings
determined by national surveys. I wrote the survey and wrote the Most Wanted Song and the Most Unwanted Song. See portions of the survey, or buy the CD and see them all displayed.
Ada Dyer, Dina Emerson, Ronnie Gent- Vocals; Christine Bard -
Percussion; Vernon Reid - Guitar; Andy Snitzer - Saxophone; David
Soldier - Banjo, Violin, Drums, Keyboards, Liner Notes; Rory Young -
Drums, Engineer; Lisa Haney - Cello; Norman Yamada - Conductor; David
Watson - Bagpipes; Yuri Lemeshev - Accordion; Dave Grego - Tuba; Mary
Bopp - Organ; Vitaly Komar & Alex Melamid- Bass drum
survey confirms the hypothesis that today's popular music indeed
provides an accurate estimate of the wishes of the vox populi. The most
favored ensemble, determined from a rating by participants of their
favorite instruments in combination, comprises a moderately sized group
(three to ten instruments) consisting of guitar, piano, saxophone,
bass, drums, violin, cello, synthesizer, with low male and female
vocals singing in rock/r&b style. The favorite lyrics narrate a
love story, and the favorite listening circumstance is at home. The
only feature in lyric subjects that occurs in both most wanted and
unwanted categories is "intellectual stimulation." Most participants
desire music of moderate duration (approximately 5 minutes), moderate
pitch range, moderate tempo, and moderate to loud volume, and display a
profound dislike of the alternatives. If the survey provides an
accurate analysis of these factors for the population, and assuming
that the preference for each factor follows a Gaussian (i.e.
bell-curve) distribution, the combination of these qualities, even to
the point of sensory overload and stylistic discohesion, will result in
a musical work that will be unavoidably and uncontrollably "liked" by
72 plus or minus 12% (standard deviation; Kolmogorov-Smirnov statistic)
The Most Unwanted Music is over 25
minutes long, veers wildly between loud and quiet sections, between
fast and slow tempos, and features timbres of extremely high and low
pitch, with each dichotomy presented in abrupt transition. The most
unwanted orchestra was determined to be large, and features the
accordion and bagpipe (which tie at 13% as the most unwanted
instrument), banjo, flute, tuba, harp, organ, synthesizer (the only
instrument that appears in both the most wanted and most unwanted
ensembles). An operatic soprano raps and sings atonal music,
advertising jingles, political slogans, and "elevator" music, and a
children's choir sings jingles and holiday songs. The most unwanted
subjects for lyrics are cowboys and holidays, and the most unwanted
listening circumstances are involuntary exposure to commericals and
elevator music. Therefore, it can be shown that if there is no
covariance—someone who dislikes bagpipes is as likely to hate elevator
music as someone who despises the organ, for example—fewer than 200
individuals of the world's total population would enjoy this piece.
The pieces are either "unconscious music", where one
composes without being aware of creating the music , or "prosthetic
music" in which you attempt to control your brainwaves (e.g., closing
your eyes is a classic way to control alpha waves).
(hour long) from WHYY in Philly (March 2009) featuring a version of
Trio for Brainwaves and Percussion, a solo by Dave, and discussion
played by Chuckie Joseph, Rich Robinson, and Adwoa
Trio for Brainwaves and Percussion: original version at CUNY, 2008
Features Valerie Naranjo (gyil, an African mallet instrument), Barry
Olsen (hand drums), Benny Koonyevsky (cajon, a musical box), each
triggering brainwaves: this is all in real time with no overdubbing.
Part 1: the players move their hands to play the instruments, but don't
actually touch them, but the cortical brainwaves trigger the notes
Part 2: the play their instruments at a range of tempos, and the EEG
signals trigger sounds in part depending on their activity
Part 3: the players try to sync up with Benny's beats from his brainwaves
Part 4: the players imagine playing, and try to move their hands while sitting on them
String Quartet #3, "The Essential" First movement, Fourier Transformations:
brainwaves control all of the pitches in the scherzo of Schoenberg's 2nd quartet Second movement,Breathe the air of other planets:
brainwaves advance through different sections of the same piece
Performed and thought by: Mari Kimura, Curtis Stewart, violins, Heve
Bronimann, viola, Dave Eggar and Ha-Yang Kim, cello
a video interview on Scienceline with Dave at the Brooklyn Academy of Music about this project
by Dr. John Krakauer and myself on music and brainwaves from the City
University of New York concert (just the lectures, no music).
This radio program (40 minutes, Septermber 2011) titled Timeless Music made for Vicki Bennet at WFMU radio, explains the physical dimensions of music and how to manipulate them, with musical examples.
recorded music, the dimensions are air pressure amplitude and time: for
composed music, frequency and time. We play with these dimensions, for
example using fractal patterns with partial dimensions, so that issues
like tempo become undefined and the length of music ambiguous.
The show includes explanations / illustrations of how to make
deliberate fractals in music, Fourier transform music and an
straightfoward explanation of white noise.
The math music includes:
the variations on Chopin's Minute Waltz, just below, using integrals, derivatives, averages, and more.
third string quartet, "The Essential" with mathematical variations on
the second movement of Arnold Shoenberg's Second Quartet: it can be
heard and the score downloaded from Scores. It includes a derivative movement, an integral (very short), a fractal movement, and a Fourier transform.
Olivia Porphyria, a fractal on Haydn's name, from Organum can be heard and the score downloaded from the Scores page.
haven't integrals and derivatives been used to compose? Here's a
mini-lesson on making a derivative or integral version of a musical
use a C major scale, CDEFGABC
assigning a number to each note, here starting at 0=C, the scale is
for a first derivative, subtract each note from the preceding note,
which using the original scale tones would be
C,D,D,Db,D,D,D,Db: voila'! the first derivative
to integrate the derivative add each number to the previous,
(0),2,4,5,7,9,11,12: which returns the original scale
the original scale, and you'll see that integrals of the music rapidly
go beyond the range of hearing! Examples are in the Essential Quartet
and the Chopin Variatins below, both with very short integral
Celtic Knot Music
explains a new project in development with Brad Garton and his
brilliant students at Columbia Computer Music Center, and only one
piece is ready to hear, but the means to make them is explained
An old joke is on the order of "it takes him twenty
minutes to play the Minute Waltz". Here is a live performance of a
collaboration with the late Frederic Chopin and living electronic
musician Sean Hagerty. Dave Soldier performs the Minute Waltz on the
grand piano at Le Poisson Rouge very very slowly, lasting more than
twenty minutes, while Hagerty stretches the sound of each piano note
out over time.
and here are additional variations on The Minute Waltz
Variation 2. The average of all the notes is played
Variation 3. All scale pitches are played except those that Chopin wrote
Variation 4. All pitch information is removed
Variation 5. The Minute Waltz in 6 seconds
Variation 6. Fourier Transform: rhythmic information removed
Variation 7. Integral of the score: this is very short, as the pitches
rapidly go beyond the range of the piano and then human hearing
Variation 8: Derivative of the score (not prepared yet)
Variation 9. All time information is removed, so all the notes are played at once: listen
Variations 2 through 7
2 averages all pitches played at a time, so that when two or more notes
are played in the original, the average of the notes is played instead.
For example, the average of C and C# is C and one quarter tone sharp.
3 uses all pitches in an octave that moves in parallel with the
composed pitches, but with the original written pitches removed. The
original is in Db, so you hear the piece simultaneously in C, D, Eb, E,
F, Gb, G, Ab, A, and B.
Variation 6 uses the
pitches in each measure played with volume depending on how loud and
long each pitch is represented in that measure, so that volumes
represent the power in each frequency in bins of a measure.
7 is literally a mathmatical integral of the score: if the derivative
is made of this integrated variation, the original piece reappears. The
derivative of the piece also sounds pretty cool, and I'll add it
eventually to the list as Variation 8. If you integrate that one, you
also regenerate the original piece.
see the mini-lesson on integrating and making a derivative of music
below... why didn't the 19th and 20th century composers do this? well,
Variation 9 won't be included for
listening, but let's consider it anyway. Take a sound recording of the
original and subtract it from silence or white noise - what does that
sound like? - it is exactly the performance out of phase, and sounds
exactly the same as the original- but if added back to the orginal, it
cancels out and you hear no sound at all in the case of silence, or
white noise alone if that's what you started with.