Sunday, April 19, 2009

Randomness


The man replied,”Things as they are,
Are changed upon the blue guitar.”-Wallace Stevens

I have a small blank black book where I have kept a record of practically every I Ching hexagram I have thrown since 1977. Perhaps I am somehow deceiving myself, but every time I have thrown it, it seems to make uncanny sense. More than once when it seemed to stray, I have found I tabulated it wrong. It is more than the traditional method too. I use a variety of multi-sided dice that I pick and choose from, depending on the subject. The configuration attempted to coincide with the probability found in the yarrow stick method. Why did I pick dice? It seemed to fit my (post) western concept of chance. Las Vegas. A place I loathe. but where the power of chance is worshipped.
Funny thing though when I have used a computer to throw the I Ching ithey NEVER seem to fit. One wonders whether the programs are all defective or ‘limited’ in someway or there is more influence one puts into the results than one realizes when going the corporeal route. Perhaps my ‘attitude’. Tarot, which I have less experience with, my experience has been pretty much the same. I suspect some aspect of randomness is intangable.
Musically I have used random methods primarily when I was investigating the nature of inversions of chords. To sustain a chord on some of my faster decay instruments I would ‘randomize’ the members of the chord, learning that it worked better to play the extremes less often with the middle more. I am sure that what I do is less than what a mathematical producing might give me, yet musically the result fits as good or better. But there is an interesting symbiotic relation going on here that I think could and should be explored more. What I am doing in these instances is only because of what I have heard machines or methods do. One could say I am informed by these random generators. As there are different random processes, it seems that they each could be used as an exposure to activate similar activity within a performers ourselves. To some extent I am sure this has already happen. One wonders if a Feldman could have happen without the input of his friends exploring various random applications musically and also visually. Intuition relies on what it is presented with. It seem the process could go back and forth.
It partially leads me out of a dilemma I was having.
“ What is the difference between a piece that uses a random method and one that says it is, but doesn’t”. One could put all types of other things to replace random to be fair, but I think I made enough problems with others asking these types of questions. There is still the aspect of partisan attitude associated with method and process that becomes meaningless if one cannot tell one realization from another. We don’t need such emperor clothes, the phenomenon is or should be enough
We can see that the process can be much more interactive with other processes in a deeper sense than when one thing literally mirrors another. Our tools can inform us and in turn we can inform them.

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