This music is in the tradition of process music. It is without necessary beginnings, middles, or ends. All the pieces originally functioned as ambient music for my own enjoyment. I wrote computer programs embodying several musical ideas, and played them by adjusting parameters in real time. I call this "cooperative playing with semi-autonomous musical processes". On the following days and weeks I often spent an hour or so exploring the piece's "parameter space" and then let the program play its music for several hours as I read, engaged in conversation, or did other things. After a while this music became attuned to an aspect of my taste as an experimental listener as it was in the early 1990s. Of course there is no reason why these pieces can't be listened to with close attention, as well as heard as experimental background sound. When the programs are running autonomously, slightly beyond my comprehension, playing music I probably wouldn't have thought of left to my own devices, I like to imagine they are precursors to upliftingly, slightly alien musical AIs of the twenty-first century. Oh, how I hope and wish that contemporary cyberculture will lead to a beautiful utopian compassionate world of Good!
I Heard a Thousand Blended Notes (December 1992)
I heard a thousand blended notes, While in a grove I sate reclined, In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts, Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
To her fair works did Nature link The human soul that through me ran; And much it grieved my heart to think What man has made of man.
--"Lines Written in Early Spring", William Wordsworth 1798
Simulated Winds and Cries (January 1992)
Justly intoned sliding intervals selected by 1/f fractal patterns. This piece, like "I Heard a Thousand Blended Notes" and "Rave Patterns" is among other things a signal processing piece. I play the processor interactively in real time just as I play the computer program. We find ourselves wandering upon an infinite plain. "In the likeness of the immeasurable inextinction of space, should the immeasurable inextinction of the minds of all beings be understood." --Line 258 of The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines.
Some Pointillism (October 1990)
This series of pieces started off being called "The New Pointillism" and evolved into "Horn Pointillism" to "Still Some Kind of Pointillism" (aka "Some Pointillism") to various versions of "Post-Pointillism" to "I Heard a Thousand Blended Notes." All these related but differently sounding pieces result from different inputs to the same computer program and with different types of signal processing. The program randomly selects notes from Max Meyer's scale of 29 just intoned pitches to the octave, and puts them into a randomly fluctuating buffer. Note-playing processes running at different tempos pick notes from the buffer and play them. Some pitches persist in the buffer longer than others, resulting in randomly-appearing tonal centers.
The computer, empty of suffering (running the language Formula), simulates high-speed attainment of Nirvana by playing the medieval Tibetan Buddhist game "Determination of the Ascension of Stages." Invented by Sakya pandita Kunga Gyaltsen ("whose banner is total joy"), the board shows 104 places of a fantastic cosmic geography. The scale is the justly intoned Other Music scale, borrowed from David Doty.
Rave Patterns (August 1992)
Bent notes through the echo machine for a trance effect. The echo time is fixed, while the performer varies the tempo and the pitch bend depth, searching for variety and expression. This piece, like the others, is justly intoned. A 45-minute version of "Rave Patterns" was recorded for Scot Gresham-Lancaster to play at the experimental area of a rave dance party held in early fall 1992 in Oakland, California, but the police shut it down before it fully got started. (Thus is the underground confirmed in its oppositions.)
Thanks to David Anderson and Ron Kuivila (for the experimental music language Formula, used in "Simulated Winds and Cries," "Rebirth," and "Rave Patterns"), John Bischoff, Helen Corbett, Don Day, David Doty, Doug Hollis, Steve Key, Larry Polansky, Carter Scholz. Thanks also to D. Anderson and H. Holtman for getting the pitch-bend differential function process running in Formula.
Jim Horton studied at the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College in the early 1970s with Robert Ashley, and performed extensively with non-keyboard analog synths in the mid-70s. Since 1976 he has been creating interactive algorithmic real-time computer music. He was a co-founder of the League of Automatic Music Composers, a member of RotaLeague and a founding member of the Just Intonation Network, and of the Cactus Needle Project. He is currently (1995) compiling texts toward a history of experimental music in Northern California.