Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Second Thoughts

In many ways the title for this blog has several meanings. The 1st is that I am revising "Second Thoughts" for my "Fire Giver" album. This composition represents the thoughts of Victor Frankenstein after he creates his monster. The beating heart and heavy breath represent his horror after creating the monster which he flees from. This is the second meaning of the title.

The 3rd meaning is a bit of my own life seeping in here. I do work in a hospital often with the critically ill. I am not a doctor or nurse but I do see families torment themselves over ventilators when at times they only prolong the inevitable. Don't worry, I am no angel of mercy and I strongly oppose Euthanasia. I just see the limits of medical care.

Frankenstein (the book not the movie) is really an inquiry into the limits of science. It is not anti science but is a recognition that science has limits.

I am sure that many families after suffering for days sometimes with a loved on on a vent wonder if they have done the right thing thus the 3rd meaning, "Second Thoughts". Often love is in letting go.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Shape of Things Musical

The number of factors effecting the tone of a musical instrument is considerable. Of course, the knowledge of instrument making has grown over hundreds of years. However, what if we think in more fundamental terms. What objects can we find in our homes that can be used as instruments and more importantly what makes them musical?

I would argue that shape and material have the greatest impact of how "musical" an object might be.

For the moment however I ask you only to consider the following shapes:


It is interesting that these shapes are used in physical modeling synths such as Ableton Live's Corpus and Applied Acoustic Systems "Chromaphone". There also seem to be mathematical models for these shapes.

In my exploration of the acoustic properties of objects so far, I have found that objects that have these shapes have a strong series of harmonics which I would suggest makes them musical.

Just an aside. Most things made of glass seem to be musical. It's not a shape and I have no idea why. It's just an observation.

This is just a quick comment on what I hope to be a series of them as part of my "found instruments" project. I very much welcome comments and ideas fir the project. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gothic As a Genre

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am Catholic as well as an electronic music composer. My recent project and future album "Fire Giver" is a musical exploration of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein - The New Promethius". As I prepared to render this gothic literature in musical form I not only read it but wrote some notes and did some research.

The book was written in the middle of a literary movement in England called the "Romantic" movement that in many ways was a counterculture to the industrial revolution. Frankenstein is really a philosophical argument that just because it can be done does not mean it should.

Unfortunately Hollywood turned the novel into a horror and science fiction movie complete with Tesla Coil. Frankenstein does not delight in his creation in the novel but runs from it. The creature literally is the walking dead, an abomination who pursues his creator by destroying all he loves and ultimately, weary of life itself, Victor Frankenstein dies of the pain of his earthly life denying his creature closure as he dies before the creature bursts into his room. The creature fades into the mist and ice of the North Pole denied his final act of vengeance.

So, this is what I wanted to bring to life. Many of the Gothic novels do not romanticize evil as the modern day twilight movies do but show it for what it is. Frankenstein does not have a happy ending. It does have a moral message that as a Catholic I find echoes the Church's own regarding science, technology and progress. The Church is certainly not anti technology or science but rather, believes that such activity can be good or evil. The assumption that all change is good is really what the romantics questioned as do I and as does the Catholic Church.

So, I realize that none of this has much to do with gothic music but I wanted to explain why I am using a gothic and romantic novel as the basis for my music.

I am personally not a fan of twilight and I think if those who like it read the gothic novel "Dracula" or studied some of the historical basis of Vladimir the Impaler they would find the truly gothic version much less sweet to their taste. Leave it to Hollywood to get it wrong again.

So if I refer to my work as gothic, it is because I want to remain faithful to Mary Shelley and the romantic movement.