Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUC Santa Cruz

Ten-Thousand Views of Mount Toro

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 4.0 license

This essay presents a discussion of Ten-Thousand Views of Mount Toro, a procedurally generated set of variations of an artificial idiom featuring a trio of synthetic instrumental “performers.” Harmonically, this composition draws upon the harmonic space lattice representation of intervallic relationships in order to explore cyclic sequences of just intoned pitch sets, or modes. Temporally, at the macro level, the piece follows a finely calibrated, gradually expanding tempo curve; at the micro level, the rhythms are non-metric, instead relying upon various stochastic procedures and hierarchically coordinated organizational systems. The “instruments”—both in their synthesis and morphological logics—are designed so as to heighten a tension between certain familiar attributes of acoustic instrumental performance practice and the artificiality inherent to any such synthesized forms. In its presentation, this piece is ephemeral in two senses: each instance is only available to be heard one time, and once all instances have been heard, the piece will cease to exist as a corporeal, audible presence in the world.

As a way of contextualizing the particular idiosyncrasies of this composition, I propose a model of the current dominant paradigm of musical experience as bounded by certain historically contingent limitations inherent to ensemble instrumental performance practice, limitations which themselves have been reinforced by the technological and cultural attributes of the twentieth century recording industry. There are thus five common features of typical “musical artifacts” that circulate amongst human beings: each such artifact emanates music that is 1) bounded by a fixed, immutable set of pitches; 2) aligned with an underlying periodic pulse structure; 3) is in all instances a verbatim repetition of itself; 4) has an unending lifespan; and 5) plays a role in a monetary transaction, and is thus “valued” accordingly. Ten-Thousand Views of Mount Toro runs counter to these five boundaries, serving as an example of an alternative model of musical experience more befitting the political, social, and technological opportunities of the third millennia.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View