“Untitled discrete arbitrary input functions” is dedicated to my two nieces and my memories of their early-developmental oligodynamic and repetitive cluster-thudding diatony on my father’s piano. Unsure if they were intending to annoy my father or merely amuse themselves—or both—the rhythmic qualities of their piano playing as obediently, reflexively gravitational—as if the keyboard were magnetically attracting the undisciplined, quasi-hostile actions of temporarily blithesome children—came to mind when listening back to early drafts of this piece. Upon simul-crashing the piano—in the sense of ‘crashing the party’ of piano music, a ‘crash-course’ in piano technique mutated after Ustvolskaya, and literally physically crashing down upon the keyboard—in their mostly harmonically diatonic yet rhythmically microtonal manner they perhaps failed as musicians, but succeeded as composers of a transient form that could not develop beyond its punishing reiteration. I have some sort of memory of trying to stupidly suggest they impute more accidentals into the diatonically-saturated crashings redundantly being spread across registers of the tetrachordal hellscape. But why? To appease my facile ‘learned’ intuitions of global structural coherence (between, say, rhythm and pitch-class structure)? Probably, given that I’m a dumb bitch with no relationship to children. At the time of this writing, I haven’t had any communication with my nieces in years. Why’s that, Kieran? Do they even exist? What is this little narrative about your so-called “nieces” plonking down on the keys—some sort of pitifully vain ‘domestic anecdote’ in-group signaling? Excuse me, sorry, that was my cousin Kaden chiming in to denigrate Me and My Work again.
Q: What is this piece about?
A: Generally, it’s about divergent periodic sequences of repeating sets of time-point classes distributed across similarly divergent registral spans. Such divergence is intended to define a global polyphonic texture that maintains structural independence between sequences while simultaneously defining contrast and similarity among them.
Q: That’s so abstract, I’m considering petitioning for your cancellation.
A: Fair enough. As one might be able to observe, many of the sequences projected by each ‘hand’ of the keyboard are repeating sequences. These repeat in order to determine temporal and overall textural definition and distance between adjacent sequences. Thus, while the work is totally polyphonic, each sequence is defined as a texture parametrically non-intersecting—whether that parameter be register, pitch-class structure, or tempo—not only in relation to its antecedent but also the sequence to which it is polyphonically ‘simultaneous’. Dissonances are established both through displacement of synchronous downbeats between voices and the structural distance between adjacent sequences within each voice. This is to elide any salient metrical boundaries that might supervene and thus ‘condition’ how such concurrent sequences are structurally grouped.
Q: How was this piece composed?
A: Quite arbitrarily, as indicated by the title. Each ‘hand’ of the harpsichord was composed independently. And by composed, I mean improvised on the guitar and converted in real-time to MIDI data. Once one track was performed, another would be performed in the same manner and superimposed. Then each track was significantly edited, primarily to elide unintended artifacts resultant of the voltage-to-MIDI conversion process. Finally, each track i.e. ‘hand’ was tuned a quarter-tone apart from each other.
Johnson, W. M. (1984). Time-Point Sets and Meter. Perspectives of New Music, 23(1), 278-293.
Polansky, L. (1996). Morphological metrics. Journal of New Music Research, 25(4), 289-368.
Tenney, J., & Polansky, L. (1980). Temporal gestalt perception in music. Journal of Music Theory, 24(2), 205-241.
Thomas, M. (2000). Nancarrow’s “Temporal Dissonance”: Issues of Tempo Proportions, Metric Synchrony, and Rhythmic Strategies. Intégral, 137-180.