to Conlon Nancarrow, in memoriam
Composer: Marco Buongiorno Nardelli
Music for 88 keys is the first example of a composition based on the sonification and remix of materials property data from the online computational materials repository AFLOWLIB, the heart of the materialssoundmusic project.The sonification algorithm behind Music for 88 keys maps the materials information into sound by encoding data into MIDI events in an automated high-throughput fashion. The sonic data are fed to audio generating patches written for MAX and Ableton Live through a DataPlayer app. The algorithm used in the creation of Music for 88 keys maps data to the MIDI notes 21 through 108 (the 88 keys of the piano) and associates an amplitude (MIDI velocity) to each note derived from a manipulation of the same dataset. The duration of any MIDI event (that is a representation of rhythm and meter) is inferred from the rate of variation of the data (i.e. their derivative in time), making each material soundscape completely internally consistent. The MIDI stream so generated is then treated as a collection of musical structures for further compositional elaboration. “Music for 88 keys” is a suite born from the remix of the data from Diamond, Zinc Oxide and Gold. The piece is scored for player piano and electronics and is dedicated to the memory of Conlon Nancarrow, the American composer who made the player piano his instrument of choice throughout his career. In Music for 88 keys the original datasets from AFLOWLIB.org are variably manipulated through different techniques: from simple variations of tempo and meter to extensive reordering of pitches or regions and various orchestration choices. The suite starts with a preludio that uses the sonic mapping of the data for Diamond as starting compositional material. The same concept is used in the interludio, but with data from a different material, Zinc Oxide. Interludio separates the two principal sections of the suite: largo and andante, with the piano accompanied by sampled percussions sounds and based again on data from Diamond, from continuo, based on the data for Zinc Oxide for piano with a drone of brass, and contrappunto aureo, based on the data from Gold, where the brass and the percussions are both combined with the piano. The suite ends with a postludio, where the piano alone states again a sonic mapping of data that now combines the three materials.