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Black Swan Suite

The black swan is flushed from its nest and pursued over planes of endlessly varying form. Eventually, the hunters escape.

This five-part piece is based on a number of statistical and geometric concepts, described in this Web log entry and this PDF file. The track images are clues to what's going on. Two of the movements are in conventional 12-tone (actually, the first is an eight-note subset of that) but the others are in other tuning systems, and in all five movements the partials making up the timbre are adjusted to be somewhat inharmonic, better matching the scale in use. The realization is a set of C programs totalling about 3000 lines, which generate scores for Csound.

Most of the sounds are generated by additive synthesis - pretty much a necessity to get the inharmonic partials. I informally call the instruments "organ," "electric guitar," and "string ensemble" (violins, violas, cellos, and basses), but it is to be understood that these are meant to be synthetic sounds vaguely resembling those instruments, not faithful simulations.

[track art]Black Swan Suite (complete)[MP3] [FLAC]
The whole thing in a single file. Listen to this if you want to avoid manually switching tracks for 45 minutes; otherwise, pick the individual tracks below.
[track art]The nest[MP3] [FLAC]
First movement, octatonic scale (the usual set of eight notes selected from 12-TET).
[track art]The pavement[MP3] [FLAC]
Second movement, 5-TET eventually spreading out into 10-TET.
[track art]The dunes[MP3] [FLAC]
Third movement. This one uses an unequally spaced six-note scale designed for the occasion.
[track art]The capture[MP3] [FLAC]
Fourth movement, 12-TET.
[track art]The escape[MP3] [FLAC]
Fifth movement. The scale is in principle infinite, generated by all integer combinations of three intervals, only one of which divides the octave rationally. However, the piece would have to be somewhat longer to include all those notes. I think about 40 pitch classes are actually heard.