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Bamboula Squared

Instrumentation
3(picc)23(bcl)2 4231 t,p(2),pf,str,4-channel tape
Year
1984
Duration
16:30

MUSIC AND NATURE

Charles Wuorinen

 The felt connection between music and nature is very old. To the ancient Chinese and Greeks, for instance, we owe two (albeit very different) cosmologies in which basic relations governing not only the harmony of the universe, but that of mankind as well, were seen derived from and embodied in the relationships found in music. Then later, after two thousand years of musico-numerical mysticism in the West, the confident rationality of the post-Middle Ages found in the acoustic materials of music (the overtone series, etc.) the basis for the always intuitively felt link.

 Nowadays we are not so sure we know everything about what we hear in music. But still there persists the faith in art, and especially music, as a mirror of nature; and music admires the spontaneity that nature seems imbued with, while she still maintains the absolute identity and individuality of each object and process. Today, it begins to appear that the real connection between music and the natural world lies in the statistical similarity of the two phenom­ena, and this seems true whether one is speaking literally of the intensity fluctu­ations of the acoustic signal whereby we receive music, or more metaphorically­ and more interestingly, of the structure of music itself.

 My work with computers addresses itself to these areas. While not at all unconcerned with using the computer to produce sound (in fact the computer generated track of Bamboula Squared implements a recent method of timbral modeling, based on a numerical analogy with the physical system represented by a plucked string), my main use of the computer simulates certain natural processes, which are employed to drive programs that actually create musical structures. The tape part for Bamboula Squaerd is made this way. You might say, then, that my use of the machine falls in the domain of artificial intelligence, as it creates situations in which-most emphatically according to my rules, taste, and judgement — a "music of nature" emerges from the mingling of traditional compositional values and approaches with numerical models of certain processes in the natural world.

 Credit must be given: The initial stimulus came from my contact with the works of the French-American mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot whose remarkable work has had such universal influence.

 -Charles Wuorinen

 "Big and splashy, rhythmically exciting...BAMBOULA packs a punch." Denver Post "Wuorinen writes music that breathes ... He is a skilled craftsman who writes with intelligence, sincerity and heart." San Francisco Examiner "Bursting with fun!" The Atlantic "Sixteen minutes of energetic, exhilarating music ... There's something sunlike about Wuorinen's best works: he cometh forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a giant to run his course." Andrew Porter, The New Yorker