Graphic Scores


Radiating Lines Performance Score
Radiating Lines performance score

For your consideration a new score and the first piece of music I’ve recorded since February. Radiating Lines is an example of a  Meta-Score in that it is a score that generates a unique score every time you use it. I made during the John Cage Centenary week though it is not specifically dedicated to him. It certainly owes plenty to Cage as I think he was he first to use transparencies and in the construction of the score one is completely free to use chance operations but it is not required. But certainly a Post-Cage and one’s whose debts are I hope are clear.  Anyway on to the score (PDF download).

Radiating Lines

For any instrumentation and any number of performers


• A circular background mounted on a square backing matte
• A square overlay the same size as the square matte
• Mounting hardware of some sort
• These Instructions
Constructing the score

The included background and overlay materials can be simply printed out and put together as described in section 3 below. However if one wishes to create a unique version of the score the following instructions will guide you through the process.

1) The background

Take a circular piece of paper and numerous circular objects. With a pencil trace around these objects. The placement of the objects should be roughly centered. Tracings should be done quickly and mostly partially. This process should be done as unintentionally as possible. Chance procedures can be used as a guidance but are not required.

Mount this circular on a square backing matte that is 25 to 30% larger than the circular background. This matte should facilitate the mounting of the transparent over ally so that it can spin. E.G. allow a push pin or other mounting device.

2) The Overlay

The overlay is a series of lines of different weights originating from a common center. The lines should extend to both directions of the centering at varying lengths. Again these can be created “by eye” without intention or via chance procedures. There should be 4 to 8 lines that extend both directions from the center (8 to 16 lines radiating from the center). At least one line should extend beyond the total size of the transparency (which is the same size as the backing matte). If more then one line is of this length they must be of different weights

The overlay should be printed onto a transparency which should be cut to the same dimensions as the backing matte.

3) Assembling the score

The circular score should be mounted to the backing matte perfectly centered. The transparent overlay should be also centered and mounted with a push pin or some other device that allows it to be rotated.


Performing the score


Radiating Lines can be performed with any instrumentation over the length of time required to get through all of the material. It can be simultaneously performed by any number of players each of which should have their own score and which should independently follow these instructions.


Each performer should take their copy of the score and rotate the overlay to an individually set position. This position can be set at the performers discretion or via some form of chance procedure.

Performance instructions

The longest, thickest line should be placed topmost and is the starting line for performance. The score can be read clockwise or anti-clockwise.  On beginning the material in between this starting line and the next line – referred to as a “wedge” – should be played. Only the material that is in-between both lines should be played.  That is if there is material above the length of one of the lines it should not be interpreted. All aspects of the material should be considered including spaces between material, overlapping sections, differences in densities, imperfections and so on.

After playing all the material in a give wedge the next wedge should be moved to in the direction chosen by the performer. This  wedge should be gone through silently in a manner corresponding to the length of time that a given wedge would take to perform the material. That is to say that every other wedge should be silent for the length time it’d take to perform it. The circle should be gone around twice in order that all of the material be either interpreted or considered silently.

All material must be played – the performance should continue for as long as this takes. When played with multiple performers the material should be played independently with no attempt to coordinate beyond the initial start. The piece concludes when all performers have performed all of the material.

 First Recording

For the first realization of this piece I played through the score several times with three different instruments: a pentatonic lyre, a Steim Cracklebox and a Prepared Piano iPad app. The latter uses samples made from John Cage’s preparations and is a great app available on several platforms (a perfect tablet app – worth the US$1). These three separate recordings were multi-tracked together as per the instructions – that is to say as if they were recorded live by three people. Each track is a different length, so they start together initially but end at different times generating an effect of a gradual thinning out of the ensemble.  The lyre is recorded open air so there is a bit of a field recording aspect in that layer. Anyway give it a listen for yourself and as always I reccomend downloading the uncompressed version from Soundcloud.

John Cage sitting

John Cage sitting

John Cage was born September 5th, 1912 and thus would have been 100 years old this week. There really has been no more influential twentieth century composer and his influence has loomed ever larger since his death.  His influence on my music making in the last few years is undeniable and even more-so if you consider the second (and third and …) generations of influence.  This year I ended up being away for quite some time on a cross-country bicycle tour which I set out on not long after I composed the tribute piece in the previous post. Alas I have yet to find an opportunity to construct that score and perform it but I hope to before the end of the year.  In the meanwhile I’d like present for the first time a few other pieces that I’ve made in tribute to John Cage.

In 2010 I embarked on a musical project where I released a musical object for eleven months of the year.  This project, the Eleven Clouds, project was a many layered project with each release have multiple facets to it. One of this facets was that each piece was dedicated to an artist that had been a major influence on me. The April entry in this series, Mid-Spring (rock, breath, 12kHz) was dedicated to John Cage. Another aspect of the project was that there was a task that one had to undertake to receive a copy of said release which were made in extremely limited physical releases. The task for this release involved decoding the instructions and then following them.  For the first time since this release I present both the decoded text for this release as well as lossless versions of the music.


Mid-Spring (rock, breath, 12kHz)
 Mid-Spring (rock, breath, 12kHz)

0365501 0071612 1111201 2610111 0620206 2671704 0640113 0583014 0420704 1462405
2630204 1811604 0692009 0861004 0880306 0571804 1670104 0233209 0112402 2610111
0880306 0112310 2760203 0062809 0762109 2610111 2673501 1740205 2742106 0043108
0512804 0112402 2610111 0571301 2761209 0171109 0060206 2640501 2630204 0541301
2761209 0080104 0880306 2761209 2610111 0880306 0171109 1800107 0880306 0010101
0071612 1750802 0420704 0122112 2630204 0880306 1021112 2633416 1811604 0692009
0700306 0420408 0592102 0891103 2610111 1380201 0161204 0703009 0640113 0560601
0990402 1271006 0365501 0583014 1150103 0880306 2291506 1460210 0071010 0071612
0020402 2732404 1271006 1110708 1890503 0880306 0050703 1452305 0550517 0102104
1271006 1881401 1862301 2610111 0891103 0851816 0080904 0160202 0990402 0061106
1890503 0880306 1694100 0102808 0080203 2651509 0290403 1090916 0031506 0080203
0290403 0040811 0090605 0140502 2020106 1583104 2631508 0360120 2671704 0671707
0583014 1431308 1690906 0181410 2440703 0080203 0171804 1090916 0071612 0640113
1881401 2470803 1040701 1032103 0630210 0040811 0140502 1040701 0090605 1581905


2020106 1271006 0342502 2610111 0640113 0070308 1341706 2210206 1271006 0900902
2660210 0880306 0711210 1281106 0043108 0880306 0961602 0510112 0071612 0880306
0591906 0171005 0080203 1082210 2660210 2420801 0880306 0711210 0640113 1730505
0080203 1020114 2660210 0071612 0880306 0900902 0000000 0000000 0000000 0000000

For more information please feel free to contact us at
mgmt AT hollowearthearthrecordings DOT com.

Silencio, 16


Constructed in memory of John Cage, this piece was composed by chance operations using the I-Ching. The three layers of the score are made up of a fixed event with two layers of variable length events each separated by variable length silences. The length of the events and the silence in between was determined by the previously mentioned chance operations. Unlike previous any realization of other musical patterns this one is a constructed piece (whereas the others were realized in real time) a demonstration that the system does not require a particular form of realization.  As always it is essential that the sound sources be carefully chosen but  can be chosen from recorded material. For an even more Cage influenced piece these sounds themselves could be anything but in this particular case I chose them from material I recorded myself.

For a copy of this  recording simply send a message to the address below with the word anechoic in the subject line.  Be sure to include the address this should be sent to in the message. [Ed. note: this offer is no longer valid. Instead download the release from the Mid-Spring (rock, breath, 12kHz) page]

For more information please feel free to contact us at
mgmt AT hollowearthearthrecordings DOT com.

Silencio, 16

The code was a book code using John Cage’s Silence. The only plain text in the post, Silencio, 16, was the clue to to use Silence Weslyan University Press 16th Edition (though most editions from around that time would work) using the following system:

7 digits to find each word:

Page: 3 digits (e.g.: 029 is page twenty-nine)
Line: 2 digits (e.g: 10 would be the tenth line)
Word: 2 digits (e.g.: 01 would be the first word on that line)

Along with the 11 releases in the project there is also a corresponding document that describes the theory, the methods and the many layers behind each release. For various reasons this document has yet to be made public (though parts of it were used in an interview with Joe Milazzo on Drunken Boat). Below I’ve pasted in the entry in this document for Mid-Spring (rock, breath, 12kHz), the first unedited bit of this document to be published. Note that this document was a work in progress and there hasn’t really been any editing on this entry nor is it as complete as I intended. It does cover the basics behind it, its place in the 11 releases, the tributary aspects and the reception of the piece and the success of the challenge that was required to get a free copy of this release.

Excerpt from No Ideas But in Things, the companion document to the Eleven Clouds project:

(04) Mid-Spring (rock, breath, 12kHz) (April 2010)

Released April 2010 as a 3” CD-R in an unlimited series though only four were ever made.

While aolian electrics [Ed.: The previous months release] strayed from the pure notion of utilizing the network instrument, it was still a vital part of the release.  This one on the other hand, completely strayed from the preceding releases. The piece was a direct homage to John Cage utilizing the I-Ching to generate a Musical Pattern9 from which pre-existing recordings were used to assemble the piece.  These recordings were of playing a recorder in an extended fashion focusing on the movement of air through restricted passages and playing with rocks in the manner of Christian Wolff’s Stones. A 12kHz sine wave accompanied these sounds which were sparsely spread out over the pieces length.

The method of acquiring this piece was the most difficult to date and no-one rose to the challenge. This showed the limits of how much effort people would expend quite clearly (though this would be shown even more clearly in subsequent releases).  The release was to be freely sent out to anyone who successfully decrypted the press release. The cipher utilized was a trivial book code using John Cages Silence which was indicated in the plaintext ‘Silencio 17’ at the end of the message.  Some outcry or at least comments regarding some sort of befuddlement was expected but there was nothing.  Two copies of the release were sent along to people with other releases (how I would typically get rid of extra copies I had made of earlier releases).

Download the audio

This piece as well as a bunch of supplementary material is now available on the  Mid-Spring (rock, breath, 12kHz) page in both Apple Lossless and FLAC formats.  The supplementary material includes cover art, score, performance score, the encoded and cleartext PR, the encoding scheme and some additional images.

John Cage

Happy Birthday!

Below is a score I wrote in tribute to John Cage, in this his centenary year. I may not get a chance to realize this score so I’m posting it up here for anyone to utilize. If anyone does realize this score let me know via the comments or an email. I’d certainly love to see and/or hear anyones attempts.

In recognition of John Cage’s frequent use of the I Ching for his ‘chance operations’ I chose to use it as a randomizing element for this score. I tend to not use the I Ching in my compositions; in the scores where I have used stochastic means I have only one other time used the I Ching (that was for Mid-Spring (rock, breath, 12kHz) which like all of the Eleven Clouds releases was dedicated to an inspirational artist, in this case John Cage). For this piece this would require tossing coins, or yarrow stalks three hundred times (for this year only, +3n for each subsequent year).  However one could easily automate the generation of I Ching values in such a way to accurately capture the randomness of tossing the yarrow stalks. This page covers the mathematics quite well and there are definitely apps and webpages out there to get these values. If I get a chance to work on this (perhaps later in the far) I’d implement this in a spread sheet where one could automate the entire generation process. Then one could print it out or preferably use it as a guide to creating the performance score with brush and ink.

I’m definitely free to answer any questions in order to improve understanding of how to construct or perform the score. Comments on overall clarity are appreciated even if one isn’t going to perform it.

(for John Cage on the occasion of his hundredth birthday)


Composed in memoriam of John Cage in his centenary year.

Constructing the score

where n = the number of years since the birth of John Cage

1) Take a large sheet of paper, the larger the better, and mark from 1-64 on the left edge and top edge. The marks should be equidistant apart with the same spacing on the top and bottom. For instance each mark could be 1″ apart making for a 64×64 inch grid. The spacing that you choose is the scale for this score.

2) Using the I-Ching (or anything that captures the probabilities correctly see: generate four numbers for each value of n:  i.e.:

1 – 23, 42, 9, 17

If there are moving lines then you should generate both values putting the second into parenthesis. i.e.:

2 – 61 (37), 45, 19, 40

3 – 29 (54) ,12(19), 4, 8

4 – 8, 13, 49 (3), 36 (23)

5 – 26, 50 (38), 13 (2), 12

and so on

These numbers should be labeled x,y, z,w where the four numbers are: x, y: coordinates, z: orientation and w: magnitude.

3) Place a dot of ink, ideally with a brush, but at least in some way that they are not uniform, at the coordinates of the first two numbers as x, y. If there is already a dot here, proceed as if there isn’t perhaps creating a larger, darker, thicker or completely subsumed dot. If there is a parenthetical value for x, y or both x and y place a second dot at that those coordinates.

Note: If one were to automate this with software cast an additional I Ching value to be used as the diameter of the dot. You should map the the value in the range of  1-64 to 4 x your scale. Changes in this case should either be applied to the second dot if it exists or added to the diameter of this dot.

4) Next mark the angle from z using the following formula using 6 degrees for each count of the generated number. Values greater than 60 should have no angle marked. If there is a parenthetical value then mark a second angle following the same system for the first.

5) Finally draw a line using either pencil or ink (or both) from the center of the dot at the marked angle the length of which is determined by w using the scale set in the grid markings (see 1). If no angle has been marked, no line should be drawn. If there is a parenthetical value then there are two conditions. If there are two angles then the two magnitudes are used for them in a one to one correspondence (and on all dots if there are more than one). If there is only one angle then add the two values together. This may extend beyond the marked boundaries or even off the paper.


With a scale of 1=1″

Ex. 1: 23, 42, 9, 17

Here there would be a dot at  23, 42 with at line at 454 degrees extending 17“.

Ex. 2:  61 (37), 45, 19, 40

For this case there would be a dot at  61, 45 and at 37, 45 with at line at 114 degrees extending 40“.

Ex. 3:  29 (54) ,12 (19), 4, 8

In this example there would be a dot at  29, 12 and at 54, 19 with at line at 24 degrees extending 8“.

Ex. 4: 8, 13, 49 (3), 36 (23)

You would have a dot at 8, 13 and then two lines extending out  at 294 degrees for 36″ and 18 degrees for 23″.

Ex. 5:  26, 50 (38), 13 (2), 12

You would have a dot at 26, 50 and 26, 38 and then two 12″ lines from each dot  at 78 degrees and 12 degrees.


Performing the Score

If playing electronics the score should be interpreted as an Electric Score. For acoustic instruments it should be interpreted as a Pool of Sound (a Musical Pattern variant), for which see the specific instructions below. It can be play simultaneously with other instances of this score, for which each performer should generate their own score.  A duration should not be set for performance, the performance should continue until all the material is performed.


I. Playing as an Electric Score

  • For live electronics setup configured in response to the score.
  • Markings are not indications of sounds to played but of overall effect.
  • Whitespace must be taken into account
  • There is not a one to one mapping of length and duration; duration should be sufficient to realize the affect of the markings.
  • Always move in clusters.


II. Playing as a Pool of Sound

  • Pools of sound arise from the space in which they are set.
  • Each pool should be approached individually with common or connecting elements providing the structure.
  • The path through the score is up to the performer.
  • Spaces between the pools must be observed and should be also be a structural element.
  • A pool should be thought of as a system which can have multiple elements: a sound, but also its duration, repetition, dynamic and so on.
  • How the characteristics are determined is up to the performer but whatever structure is applied should form the basis for those that share symbolic features.


Collins Pub

Saturday, October 9th, 2010 8:00 PM
Collins Pub

526 Second Ave

Eye Music, the group that I play graphic and textual scores with, has a gig at Collins Pub this Saturday.  This is our second show in the last month and features completely new material for this show. Scores include  Toshi Ichiyanagi’s Sapporo, David Toop’s Lizard Music plus pieces by group members Mike Shannon and Amy Denio.  This also is our first show outside of the wonderful new music cloister that is the Chapel Performance Space.  I’ve never been to Collins Pub, but looking at their menu it looks like they have a pretty decent beer selection and the food sounds pretty classy. So come on down and listen to some experimental music as you hoist a pint.

Complete concert details can be found on the Eye Music page.

Eye Music Ensemble
Eye Music Ensemble holding Sapporo

Next Page »