Notes on Collaborative Music Involving Integers

My music often includes the use of integers to represent the number of sounds to be played. A musical score is divided into sections or movements each containing a set of integers and the name of a particular thing that relates to the subject of the score (Alien, for example, a work for digitally modified piano with animated marionette, contains the names of familiar robots and ‘creatures’ borrowed from popular culture). The integers are derived from the names in the score (A=1, Z=26), and are read and interpreted freely by the player. The number of tones in each musical segment is determined by the integer. In addition, an integer may be accompanied by a musical expression. Each musical segment associated with an integer is played independently of any other. The player then has the option of inserting, or not, short silences between musical segments. The various sound groups based on the integers, and separated by silences, determine the overall form and structure of the music.
We seldom experience each day as a continuous, traceable pathway where one event leads to another in an effortless progression; where transitions are smoothly bridged and beginnings and endings are profound or magical. More typically, we experience the world as a succession of short, independent, apparently unrelated events, sometimes separated by periods of inactivity. Our brains are continually streaming, filtering, and consolidating this sensory information, converting these events into discrete experiences that help us to model reality.

I have structured the music to represent this shape of human experience, creating a variety of short, independent sound events that are sometimes separated by one to several seconds of silence, while at other times involve little or no transition from one event to the next. The music is intended to provoke the listener to imagine events in the world as a locality of discrete patterns, unique and independent, yet occurring globally in a variety of forms, at different speeds, and at different orders of magnitude and scale.
The music also mimics familiar processes in nature in which small independent elements become organized into larger groups. Accumulation and timing of the short independent sound events create an increasingly organic, diverse, and complex musical form.

This music is not improvisational, but collaborative. Strict constraints are built into the structure of the music by the composer, while at the same time the player is invited to explore the broadest possible freedom based on his or her conceptual instincts, expressive vocabulary, and level of playing experience.