DECO is an exploration into chance music created utilizing Ableton Live as the “performer”. Inspired by the fragmented materials Terry Riley’s In C and the randomization of John Cage’s Music of Changes, DECO was created by fusing together processes inspired by both works as well as my own ideas about aleatory music. The name DECO is an abbreviation of “deconstruct” and refers the to the computer’s deconstruction and disassembly of a composition created for it to perform.
Sixty-four pre-composed loops form DECO’s musical building blocks. The loops are distributed evenly among eight “parts” (instrument banks) forming an 8x8 grid. Progression from one loop to the following loop in the bank occurs after a predetermined number of repeats using Ableton’s “Follow Action” function. Through random numbers generated during a day at work at the gym, I acquired roughly 130 two-digit numbers, enough to create two distinct versions of DECO. I organized these two digit numbers chronologically and used them to determine the repeat factor for each individual loop in the composition. I have provided both versions of DECO as well as a “standardized version” for comparison that gives 32 repeats to each scene.
When I was conceptualizing this piece, I was thinking about an all-too-familiar phenomena that vaguely tends well-laid intentions toward chaos and disorder. Dinner plans made for 7:30 get pushed to 8:00 when I cannot find a place to park my bike. An intended afternoon of homework foiled by a new music discovery. A 15 minute car ride becomes an hour when traffic strikes. Such disturbances are completely unavoidable and occur randomly throughout the day. Disturbances become as mundane as the tasks they disrupt. One of my personal goals is to be content and unperturbed when plans go awry and to relinquish the frustration I feel when I am not in complete control of how I spend my time and my energy. To become frustrated by uncontrollable setbacks is ultimately a much greater waste of time and energy. By subjecting the piece’s formal, ultimately expressive content to the randomness inherent in a mundane events, working at the gym, DECO works through this frustration.