Sunday, August 07, 2005

Backtrack 1: about Chameleon Lectra, Motile, RMusic & PMusic

In the course of writing the previous entry, I realised that I haven’t said much in this blog about the origins of Chameleon Lectra (CL) and Motile and the terms RMusic and PMusic. Although I always try to provide links back to the CL website where relevant, I thought it might be useful to offer some background information here.

Chameleon Lectra

The initial idea of Chameleon Lectra was to provide an outlet for Parallel Music or PMusic (see section below). The name grew out of the idea of a music that ‘changed its colour’ and a term for electronic artworks - Lectra - that described a range of activity under a collective term. The Chameleon aspect can also be applied to visual Lectra that have a fluid identity. (Incidentally, In my use, most Lectra are constructed with Macromedia’s Director software).

However, in the course of CLs development I discovered the creative potential of MIDI, an album quickly emerged, and so I found I also wanted to release some conventionally recorded music or RMusic as well (again see section below).

And so essentially the Chameleon Lectra website is ‘three in one’ or a portal with three areas: one for Parallel Music, one for the Motile record label which releases recorded music and a final area ‘sketchBook’ that documents ideas in relation to the whole project.

This has led me to question whether the site is too ‘busy’ but feedback suggests otherwise. The use of the travelCard idea also sets up the metaphor of ‘zones’ and I want to build on this and make it clearer when I overhaul the site for the release of ‘Inlets’ Daughter’ (the next album).

In Motile, I finally have the record label I’ve wanted since my youth (see First Tracks) - in some ways better because I could never have anticipated the Internet when I was younger.

The name comes from my interest in Biology and the thinking of music through some of its terms: Motile refers to the mobility of single-celled creatures and I like the idea of a mobile record label: one that swims with ideas. I also like the echoes of Motown - when I was playing improvised music in my twenties I had the ambition to present it in the same sophisticated, glossy (and funky) way as mainstream music rather than the low-tech, spit and sawdust aesthetic it mainly adopted. And so the idea of mixing the cultural codes of, say, Soul with European Improv. still seems pretty exciting to me.

At the time of writing, Motile is the main engine driving the CL enterprise - this will change and be more balanced when I start to release PMusic pieces in 2006, but for the time being it is my main area of concentration. Having a record label gives focus to creating work and finishing projects rather than let them drift. There is also the possibility that at least one other composer may be involved (more of this if the deal goes through).

I thought it would be useful to have a term for conventionally recorded (and reproduced) music in order to distinguish it from Parallel Music (see below). Rmusic, therefore, is the music you get when you buy a CD, mp3, record or cassette. It is linear, fixed and reproduces much the same listening experience every time it is played (variables would include your mood, quality of reproduction, listening circumstance etc.).

This really requires a whole dissertation or book to do it justice but here is a short description. Parallel music (shortened to PMusic) is an invention, or more accurately, a conceptualised music system of my own devising. It is a form of generative music that requires to be played on a computer. Every time a PMusic piece is played it is different. It can therefore be described as producing a non-linear listening experience and as a form of indeterminate composition. The indeterminacy can arise from the computers ability to generate (pseudo) random numbers or from access to some variable, external information, such as temperature.

The Parallel Music system is an articulation of the possibilities of such a music - some pieces, for example, might vary only in small details when played (or performed); some might offer completely different ‘identities’ or listening experiences.
Parallel Music is so named as it builds music from a series of parallel sound events or ‘sons’.

I shall be writing more about PMusic in future blogs and on the CL website.

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