...whence freedom

Read, Thomas L.

In much of the music I have composed over the past thirty years, free expression is harnessed to, though not entirely contingent upon, generative processes that are impersonal and mechanical. Often inaudible as such, these processes fabricate polyrhythms and melodic configurations, sometimes archetypal in nature, whose inevitability is real but not always apparent. Consistent with the dictum that nothing is in the understanding that was not first in the senses, I can recall, from sometime during 1968-69, a dream-state suggesting vast space, with points of light and sound, in patterns that seemed at once both random and strangely inevitable. Then, too, I must have been sensitive to what was "in the air" among many artists and composers: a reviving interest in allowing growth and change to issue forth from repetition and regularity. In any case, as a composer, I was intrigued with the possibility of enlisting both symmetrical construction and proportional (temporal) dissonance to generate extemporized-sounding forms. Intuitively, I sensed that my musical imagination was most freely and effectively engaged when interacting with, and transcending, existent, mechanically sustained rhythmic phenomena; and, quite suddenly, a simple possibility occurred to me wherein the formulation of pitch succession and duration could be united in a single generative process. Simply stated: Each pitch class chosen for a particular composition would recur at equal, evenly spaced intervals of time, or, possibly, at progressively smaller or larger intervals of time. Either way, once intuitively established, the process would be automatically carried out. In the simplest situation, the conflict of periodicities so established could be the melodic/rhythmic/ harmonic structure of the piece.



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Columbia University
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April 14, 2015