There are many notations that can be illustrated as systems that bear algorithmic principles, due primarily to the fact that much of the algorithmic thinking is embedded in musical composition. However, it is worth emphasizing that algorithmic thinking in composition triggers algorithmic thinking in performance. For example, notations bearing algorithmic principles (such as above) often leads the performer to an iterative process, where steps taken in the notation for identifying the sound are compared to the steps taken in performing it. The relation between performance preparation and performance excecution is close-knit. My hypothesis is that algorithmic thinking brings alternative modes to performative process, distinct from the modes that are practiced in the standard 'perfection' orientation. My aim is to explore examples of algorithmic thinking in music-making actions, in order to look closely at its significance in the time domain. Hence, it is hoped that this exposition has relevance to the broader area of the performing arts.
In this presentation I’m going to make three points:
- Affordances may be combined for the construction of a unique reality
- Combinatoriality affects the quality of the outcome
- Making a musical performance is an art of sequential processing.
I’ll elaborate on each in separate sections titled affordance, combinatoriality, and sequence. They can be read in any order. There is no conclusion to this presentation, however. I present an argument from a different starting point in each section. They lead to the same conclusion: musical performance uses much algorithmic thinking in its process, and that it is of critical importance for contemporary musicians that they are, consciously or unconsciously, able to process necessary information and tasks algorithmically. But what I hope to highlight in between is that there are different musical reasons to use algorithmic thinking, though some of which are idiosyncratic. The structure of this presentation is designed to give the reader a three-dimensional overview of the proximity as well as complexity between the musical and mathematical processes. As in the argument presented, the order in which you read may alter the understanding you gain.