The basic idea was to create a „book“ containing several Musical Motion Graphics (MMG). MMG are abstract animated visuals for a music notational purpose. They can however not be considered music notation in the sense of western music notation since the 18th century. MMG communicate time structure, indicate musical objects and their relations. Or in other words the score offers possibilities. MMG require profound interpretation and improvisation by the performer. The musicians freedom in this interpretation process is not absolute,though. It is very much limited or composed by the structure and indications given by the MMG.

Each image, meaning each MMG of the „book of life“ deals with different aspects of life in general and how those aspects could sound. At the same time it explores how those aspects could be connected and used for the music composition process. For example „Biological Noise“. In this piece the concept, the visuals and the music, are directly connected as noise occurs in all three of them. First the is biological noise as a random variability in quantities arising in cellular biology. Then there is visual noise in the MMG as an integral part of the score. And finally there is noise as the core musical material of this piece.

Composition Process

The composition process was divided into three discrete steps. First the composition of the scores using several animation techniques, depending on topic e.g. „noise“. Each score (apart the intro and the outro) were composed for one specific instrument and live electronics. Thereby the compositional approach is exclusively visual. Visual features like symmetry, the golden ratio and other visual design guidelines like the rule of thirds are applied during the visual design and thereby during the composition of every piece. This means I composed the piece entirely visually. I did not hear the music or imagined possible sounds during the composition process. Time is structured through animated objects, events and motion. It is the relation of those graphical objects that can be for instance small, complex and fast or big, simple and slow that will later become sound objects during the performance.

After the score for a piece was finished, the performers were given some time to work with the score, namely to apply a mapping process and connect the visuals with notes, sounds or extended playing techniques. The performers were completely free to find any kind of sounds that fitted the graphics as long as they were comprehendible and applied as coherently as possible throughout the piece. In the studio I recorded the performers interpreting the score. Finally I recorded my live electronics in a separate session using external sound generation and/or the recorded footage as sound material. In most of the scores, the live electronics are indicated by the color blue.

Book of Life – Content

intro/spark This is a short electro acoustic work dealing as an introduction to the topic. The MMG deal with sparks of life as a beginning of a process or even an evolution which finds it sonic counterpart in noise and clicks as a small and basic element of sound generation in electronic music.

reproduction – feat. Mari Targo (violin). Reproduction deals with reoccurring patterns and events in reoccurring circles. The circle is used as a symbol of infinity. The motion of the four elements follows repetitive but altered patterns. Similar to the entire work, the piece is rather an excerpt of a continuous process than piece with clear beginning and end.

water – feat. Ivi Rausi (voice). Water is the basic element of life on our planet. The human voice is a basic and natural musical instrument. The piece starts as it ends in one small white point, as a symbol of the constant circulation of water and life. – this piece was selected for the official music program at CMMR 21 Tokio – the 15th International Symposium on Computer Music Multidisciplinary Research.

fauna – feat. Anna-Liisa Eller (kannel). Fauna is separated into five parts. Each dealing with another type of animals represented by very different sounds and extended playing techniques. It indicated the variety of life forms represented in sounds. During the piece the impact of men on nature is expressed by the increasing use of effects and live electronics.

biological noise – feat. Theodore Parker (electric guitar). Noise is used as an all connecting topic in this piece. Noise is a symbol of the hybrid connection of nature, science and technology, which influences our everyday life in more and more aspects.

cells – feat. Helena Tuuling (clarinet). The piece deals with cells within the reproduction process, the idea of cells as a basic element of life and the idea of manipulating this elements. There are for instance parts where the cells are manipulated from the outside. This is indicated by a short inversion of the visuals from black to white which trigger changes. In the visuals and of course the music.

outro This is again an short electro acoustic piece to end the „book of life“. It features again the idea of constant development and evolution. It indicated that there actually is no real end. Even when the motion seems to stop, there is still no stagnation.