A Stairway in the Mind’s Eye

When is it ok to break the rules of music composition? That’s not an easy question, because you have to know what those rules are. Or at least you have to think you know what they are.

For example, for sequencer music the rule seems to be that you turn on a music sequencer, turn on the recorder, and go take a coffee break. You come back twenty minutes later and call it a wrap. It’s not a good idea to go against this rule, because if you do someone will call it experimental music.

For some of us rules are hard to follow. It’s not because we’re anarchists, it’s because we’re too dull to learn the rules. It’s like when I was in kindergarten, we learned to sing a song together to be performed for our mothers. At a queued moment in the song we were supposed to smile and each
point to his mother in the audience. But during rehearsals the kids played around, each pointing everywhere, as if at all the mothers. I didn’t know it was playing around. I thought it was what we were supposed to do. And when we performed the song for our mothers, all the kids smiled and pointed each to his or her mother. But I pointed everywhere at all the mothers, only then realizing I was not supposed to do that, completely embarrassed.

I was always snapping out of a daydream in school, finding all the other kids busy working on an in-class assignment. And I was too embarrassed to ask the teacher to repeat the assignment and admit that I wasn’t listening. Is it because I don’t like following rules, or that I’m more interested in my own thoughts than in what is happening around me?

I’ve gone about happily making sequencer music and only later realizing that it doesn’t conform to the rules of sequencer music. The examples of sequencer music I’ve found on all the music networking websites consist of a single pattern that repeats for five, ten, or twenty minutes. Some of these examples have acquired hundreds of thousands of hits. Evidently, somebody doesn’t know what’s going on, again. Somebody doesn’t know what it’s all about, does he?

Here is the music file “stairway”, which I’ve classified as sequencer music because it contains some patterns. But then, maybe it’s not sequencer music.

I was thinking about a stairway that winds endlessly through rooms of a vast, interior building. It seems like you and I have had this same dream many times. Sometimes it’s nice to make the impression of images in the mind’s eye. The “compass” of music stimulation points more toward engaging the attention than to the spell of subliminal suggestion, or to shaking your booty.



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