The Endless Short Story – a six year loop

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A sample of the peal of a church bell has been copied and transposed to produce eight bell sounds which form the basis of a loop. The eight bells are tuned to a major scale, with the interval between the lowest and highest pitch being a single octave. Because the original sample was transposed to form the notes of the scale, the lower pitches have a longer duration and so repeat at a slower rate. The piece starts with all eight bells striking simultaneously, and reaches its conclusion at the repetition of this event, 6 years and 230 days in the future.
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Samples have been taken at the start of the piece, the conclusion of the piece, and at two intersections (when the piece is 1/3 and 2/3 the way through the loop) in order to assess it’s progress. The starting time of the piece has been set at Wed, Feb 25, 1998 (13:38:05), and a series of recordings in real time will form the basis of a release on cassette. The completion date is Wed, Oct 13, 2004 (19:52:00), and by calculating its status, it is possible to record projected times during the piece – thus giving the true music of the future.
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The finish time is calculated by multiplying each duration, to find the point at which all durations synchronise again. If accurate tones are used, the cycle should last just a day and a half, but an inaccuracy of c.0.5% in the transposition process has resulted in a piece lasting over 1,500 times as long. No pattern of notes is repeated over this time period.
Material above by Peter Edwards,

Review below by Eddie Miller:

Peter Edwards: the endless short story – a six year loop [emailorder tape]

A musical concept that has the potential for eluding its capture as a commodity object does not merit a review as such, but should perhaps give rise instead to a series of observations that can spark-off other observations:

1) The peal of a church bell is sampled, copied and transposed to create eight bell sounds. That each bell sound is tuned differently from the original sound source means that each peal is at a different pitch and lasts a different duration. At the very beginning of the piece all eight bells strike simultaneously and, due to a tuning glitch in the sound editing software, the culmination of the piece, all eight bells striking simultaneously again, does not occur for over six years.The listener is therefore faced with a piece of music that, whilst lasting for over half a decade, never offers up the same conjunction of notes nor the same rhythms over its entire real-time duration.
2) That the length piece is determined by a return to the musical moment with which it began, can be related to an interest in carrying the mathematic logic to its extreme point so as to parody the ‘will-lessness’ of such musical rationalisations and draw attention to the way technology can come to alter perspectives and effect ways of thinking and acting. The ‘canon’ form of classical music and the loop-culture of techno are here detourned to reveal the cultural mania for resolution and the political conformism of privileging certain moments over others.
3)Here the listener is faced with the prospect of having to wait six years for resolution, which is itself a commentary on the passage of time: for instance the piece seems to accentuate a past moment, its starting point on 25the February 1998, as being still present. History, rather than nostalgia, could be seen as being already in-built into the piece.
4) Although it is not intended that the piece be listened to continuously for six years the sense of absurdity that emanates from the logical basis of the piece, raises questions about the valorisation of time: there is work-time and free-time, to name just two, but above all there is the search to find time and space for self-expression and social transformation. The utopian dimension of this piece (an imagined six years of listening) implies that capitalism and survival have been superseded.
5) The over-arching duration of the piece could be seen as instilling a sense of transcendence but,as the timbre of the bells imply, it is rather indicative of the materiality of process, history and memory. Being within a six year loop the listener reels with a vertigo of possibility.
6)The many micro-moments of the piece function in a way that evokes the music of Morton Feldman where what ostensibly sounds the same is, in fact, a series of nuances, aspects of the same thing, that belie a perceived repetition.Where Feldman used the ‘imperfections’ in Persian carpets as a source of inspiration, here, the glitch in the sound-editing software is used to similar effect.It is this glitch that pehaps also leads to the sound of the bell remaining un-effected. Instead of hearing processed sound, the clean timbre of the bells striking against each other in unanticipated patterns and combinations, their differing lengths of decay is sufficient to create patches of reverb and minimal interference.Similarly, the sound of the bell is recognisable enough to allow for listeners to drift and explore concepts of their own without being pointed in specific directions by a ‘composer’. That the piece is unfinished and is in-process means that those established differences between ‘composer’ and ‘listener’ are not in operation.
7)That this concept-piece has been translated into the form of a product gives rise to other musings. If a commodity-object is self-similar, replications of the same mould, then this piece, lasting six years, has adequate scope to evade the confinement of its concept within the limited dimensions of a consumer product.Likewise, the piece also subverts the impulse to possess: it would be possible to record the piece as it unfurls over the six years and then release it, but any potential purchaser or archivist would be faced with the absurdity of owning 38,576 ninety-minute cassettes.
8) Contact: Peter@hillside-net.demon.co.uk

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  • 1 shortstories // Aug 23, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Thanks for finally talking about > The Endless Short Story – a six year loop | Datacide
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