Emergence describes the way that complex, interesting systems and patterns can arise from the simple interactions of independent component parts. In an emergent system the whole can become vastly more than the sum of the parts, and 21st century Science and Philosophy are beginning to see emergence as one the foundational principles of all becoming. Much work has been undertaken examining emergence (and the related properties of self-organization and spontaneous order) in a variety of systems, living, non-living, and cultural. Academia is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of emergence in the structure of systems (at least one Nobel Prize has been awarded for related work), but aside from the occasional popular book on Chaos Theory, popular culture is still largely enmeshed in 18th century conceptions of reality.

The music on this site is the result of an exploration I began a few years ago. It is one answer to the question: "what musics can arise as emergent phenomena?" To answer this question I had to devise a different way of looking at music, one which challenges some of our normal assumptions about what music is and how it is created. I had to deconstruct music into concepts of parts and wholes, interactions and transformation. I had to devise formalisms to describe music in this way (creating a music theory orthogonal to most established theories). And lastly I had to explore the nooks and crannies of the pattern-space described by these formalisms, looking for structured sound which was worth hearing.

This portion of the site is devoted to writings and speculations related to the theoretical underpinnings of the music.

The first section, General Information, provides information on emergence as it relates to music and natural phenomena.

The next section, Formalisms and Implementations, gives specific information about the theory of emergent music as it has been used in this project.

The last section, Tangents, contains writings and essays that are, well, tangential: thematically related to the questions explored on the site, but not necessarily addressing them directly. Whereas the other essays can be thought of as providing a theoretical base for this work, these writings are more related to the philosophy behind it.

Taken together, the first three essays ("Emergence," "Music and Emergence," and "A Theory of Emergent Music") provide a good overview of the theoretical side of the work. The other essays either delve more deeply in the specific implementation developed to produce the music or explore concepts that aren't necessarily central to the work. They are included for those who may be interested, but they probably don't hold wide appeal (although it may be worthwhile to glance at the analysis presented in the last essay of the implementation section, to get a feel for what is going on under the hood in the production of the musics shared).


A description of the implementation of the theory of emergent music.

Some general information about emergence, especially as it relates to the natural world.

An analysis of the piece Opening, from the album Emergent Musics In my opinion this analysis strongly demonstrates the emergence that is taking place in these musics.

How emergence relates to music.

A rough and slightly rambling essay on beauty, number, and the intangible.

This essay describes a theory of emergent music. It is what I have used to create the music shared here.

We have the ability to apply intention and control in wide-spread, pervasive ways. But to what end?