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andrewcsmith on 05/16/2010 at 11:42PM

Algorithmic aphorisms

loadbang ensemble

"This moment is the reason that I write programs to write my music." The composer Nick Didkovsky said this one evening, right before he hit a button and his computer spit out a thirty-second, fully-notated composition. Naturally, it was mostly pretty bad and he rejected about all but four measures, and even that bit needed some tuning up. That little segment of music, though, was pretty remarkably weird, which somehow makes it all worthwhile.

The ensemble loadbang performs some of Didkovsky's very, very short algorithmic compositions, with aphoristic texts by Charles O'Meara like "If you look over your shoulder and you see clouds, you are a giant," or "Sweat like a pig, smell like a sow," or "Scream for help in the forest and the monkeys will only laugh." (Many of these are at their site). Loadbang plays these deadpan, solemnly reading each text before playing the piece.

Unlike many of Didkovsky's pieces where the computer's advice is mixed freely with his own inclinations, every note of these pieces is entirely computer-composed. His software JMSL, which uses the Java programming language, takes parameters like "harmonic complexity" and many others to determine the outcome of a piece. The best part is that if it's totally unlikable, all you have to do is hit a button and you get another.

Loadbang will perform some of these pieces (and others, by John Cage, Quinn Collins, and members of the ensemble) this Thursday at The Tank, on 354 W. 45th St. in Manhattan. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for everyone else.

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