- one idea, the idea is in the within the contet-or lack of context, of silence. Only that silence itself is a context,
One of the things that has been intriguing me is the practice of recontextualizing a repeating idea over time. The practice involves taking any ostinato and shifting around the surrounding elements in order to evoke new perspectives of the same ostinato. What is fascinating is that nothing about the original motif changes-while at the same time everything changes about the motif.
A motif always exists in a context greater than itself. No idea exists in a vacuum. EWhether it’s the length of the song. Even the length of the song communicates certsin information that fragments your interpretation of the motif in the song. Not only that, but album artwork, the device youre using, headphones, your reason for listeninfg t the song, is it in a movie, where you are, are you walking, driving, if its in the car, are you the passenger, who decided to play the song in the car, what environment your in, whether its night or day, the smell youre experiencing – all these elements contexrualize, the motif, and any change in any of these micro-variables, albeit small, affects and recontextualizes the track.
Existentially, you can never have any music or idea exist bby itself-non dualism, emptiness. Mysteriousness, you cant ever fully get the the true essence of anything, every object you see around is an irreducibly mysterious phenomena
- But there are also subcontexts inside the motif itself. (reference second half of song), when bbass comes in, everything about the essence, intervals, function and emotion change about the ostinatos.
Any object, sound, or mood exists in a space that is greater than itself. It is the reframing of certain events that changes the character and perception of the event. Reframing truly does change the nature of a situation, (sam harris gym analogy, how pain is pleasurable in gyn, but same pain is different if its after you woke up, youd be worried. Same way with how you complain in traffic, but imagine having an accident, how much would yu pay to get back to where you were. Have original examples)- link it to stoicism and stoic thinking.
A simple eample is if you take an F#, then put B below it, the F# becomes the 5th, now shift the undlyuimng B to C and now you have #11. Whilst the note F# remains the same, its function shifts from a 5th to #11.
No one entity exists in a vacuum. We experience sounds, moods, emotions only in contrasts to other sounds. If you always felt positive emotion,
This is probaby why the practice of self tourture is prevalent throughout east asia- why buddihists and monks purposefully allow their consciousness to experience profounds levels of arduousness and pain, its only because this practice creates a wider context in which want is conventionally seen as pain is now more bearable. tterains the mind to have that be the baseline, siuch that nothing ever bothers them.
What makes a motif sound the way it does? What makes any object exist in the first place?
Thus, objects are dependent on their surrounding environment in order to give them a shape-an identity, a function.
Existentially, in any given context, an object changes its nature jut based on the relation of another object, and how it interacts with the object. You see this manifest all the time, such as with human interaction. When you are with a group setting, how you interact with a specific person is different from if you were interacting with this same person alone.
Obbserve yourself next time you find yourself interacticing with another individual in a group, and then interacting with the same person alone. It cannot, and will not be the same. This is because the group context morphs the identity of each individual.
That is to say, the identity of a person emerges from interactions with their relationships. You can go further and include surrounding inanimate objects as part of this emergence of identity. Thus an object’s identity only manifests in relation to its surrounding objects. And this identity is in constant flux, as there is constant negotiation between an object and surrounding objects.
Let’s take the example of the initial repeating idea in Walking Stick Enigma, which is the first layer of the composition:
Fig 1: Layer 1
This motif serves as the baseline, the familiar, ground level of the composition. Its sound is stable and resolved. What comes later is the emergence of the first relationship between two part: Layer Two
Fig 2: Layer two
Notice the transformation. Layer 1 sounds like it’s now part of a greater structure than itself—unstable I should add—while materially it hasn’t changed. What has changed is the context surrounding Layer 1. Layer 2 has introduced an environment in which layer 1 can interact with. This environment is unstable, as layer two has introduced new intervals that change the overall contour of the resultant music. This interaction changes our experience of Layer 1, despite Layer 1 continuously repeating.
This is existentially fascinating. It seems paradoxical how an entity changes just based on the fact that its surrouidng environemtn has shifted.into something else. This means there is no independent existence.
This goes into the idea of non-dualism. How black could not eist without white, or how stars would not exist were it not for the darkness that surrounds them.
Layer 3: notice how now this transforms not only layer one or two, but layer one AND two. Layer three creates implied harmony, as the notes of layer 2 serve as the minor 3rd. Layer 2 ceases to be an unresolved melodic layer that caused instability, and transforms into something that serves to consolidate layer 3. This layer stabilizes all three layers.
Just like with layer 2, we now have a destabilizing layer. Notice there’s a pattern of from layers 1-4. stable-unstable-stable-unstable. The note choices introduced, as well as their placement govern this pattern of tension-release.
What if we now reverse this process of adding parts? What if we remove parts? And then repeat this shorter phrase? Going back ro layer 1:
This actually isn’t just one motif. You can interpret to be many motifs, stitched together. If we dissect this down further, there is a submotif within the motif itself, which I then explore throughout the rest of the song. There are actually 2 main submotifs that I explore:
Fig 5 (ostinato 1)
Fig 6 (ostinato 2).
derived from the original layers, Through this dissection we arrive at a completely different transformation and function.
The b7 of Layer 4, which was an unresolved root note for all the layers to rest upon, has now been transformed into something that harmonizes with the bass, The highest notes (E, G, etc) are now the lydian #11 notes relative to the bass. We now have a transformed experience of all the layers. Paradoxically, nothing about the layers had changed. It was the introduction of the bass that widened the context into something more.
Shutter island commenrary: entertaining the possibility that you may not be here, talk about shutter island but also in general.
Regarding music composition:
Its funny how you think you’ve finished a song, and then you discover a new sound, which you then inject into the middle of the track, which then causes you to chane the entire track henceforth, like a parallel universe. Its sort of like time travel almost.
The idea of layeringmusic – the idea of vertical way of composition. architect like. vertical vs horizontal, vs generative non linear (i remember austin talking about this)