Composing with Chaos: applications of a new science for music

David Clark Little

Sweelinck Conservatory Amsterdam
Cornelis Springerstr. 14-2
1073 LJ Amsterdam
the Netherlands


In this paper the author shows where concepts and mathematical models derived from the developing field of Chaos Science can be applied to electroacoustic and instrumental cornposition. Examples of non-lincar dynamics include Lorenz's model of fluid behaviour, Verhulst's model of population growth, Hénon's analysis of the multiple celestial body problem, Barry Martin's Algorithm which produces quasi- organic forms, and the'Baker' mixing function. Besides broadening the numerical techniques available for electronic music generation, concepts such as fractal structure, feedback process and interative function can be applied to 'ordinary' composition as well. For example, in designing melodic curve, defining meter, planning instrumentation, manipulating symbols, creating ornamentation and elaboration, etc. Some suggestions as to mapping are made, the critical boundary between science and art. Musical examples are used from the following works by the author: Harpsi-Kord for harpsichordist and tape, Fractal Piano for computer-guided pianola, The Five Seasons for 6 percussionists and tape, Brain-Wave for recorder- players, Modi-Fications for marimba & tape, and Hyperion's Tumble for tape.