Paths Through an Ordered Field, 2011



Paths Through an Ordered Field is an algorithmically generated orchestral composition. Exploring the possibility of generative systems for musical hierarchy, events across timescales from pitch to phrase to form are determined by an automated process.


A simple game system provides the driving mechanism. Each player is an individual agent moving through a common pitch space. Pitches are ordered on a two-dimensional grid in a pattern telescoping from the middle out. Near the origin, intervals between neighboring pitches are small; far from the origin, intervals between neighboring pitches are larger and larger. Each instrument is restricted to a unique shape in the pitch space according to its playing range.


Movements from pitch to pitch are determined by chance, but subject to guiding restrictions according to group behavior. Analysis of group behavior triggers change on various time scales, generating hierarchical structure. The emergent hierarchy is a result of the combination of all of the playing ranges superimposed through a probabilistic interaction.


The raw game data is translated into musical data through the combination of separate translators for rhythm, timing, pitch, articulation and dynamic musical information. In order to realize a fully determined musical passage, one of each component is necessary. Throughout the piece, components are altered in ever changing combination, generating shades of similarity and difference. Through this constant shuffling, Paths takes interest in the moments that do and do not coalesce into larger musical forms, as they reflect on the qualities that are significant in affecting musical meaning.


Paths was written for the Ostravsk├í banda and premiered at Ostrava Days 2011.´╗┐