chaotic Lucidity

Chaotic Lucidity

Stereo               14:58

…Sand, the waves of the sea, a crowd talking, drumming on a beach, an explosion, life, molecules, free jazz. Elementary building parts of larger structures might behave chaotically and at the same time follow general principles and exhibit perfectly definable properties as a whole. Under simple large scale forms or events lies infinite complexity. As energy is being constantly exchanged, musical tension undulates following the aesthetic implications of order and chaos brought into a dynamic interplay.



Chaotic Lucidity is concerned with patterns and chaos in a number of contexts connected with archetypical levels of physical existence. It is about unity and time, about energy transformations and exchange, complexity and unpredictability contained in something simple. At the same time it is about the structuring of information. We understand the meaning of words like, for example, air or sand as simple concepts in terms of a few characteristic properties, but we can actually have infinite amounts of information about them. Simple concepts are normally standing for zillions of individual shapes made by complex interactions and they trigger individual images, thoughts and emotions when they are being experienced. Everything around us can be seen as structured like that and the way we think, communicate and create takes some really involved information structuring processes for granted. Chaotic Lucidity is a piece about free association.

With simple sounds and natural energy trajectories I created a sonic template for creative imagination. Simultaneously, I shaped or distilled very complex sounds into simple forms out of which, in a cycle, they develop into complexity. At certain points in the piece sonic units are being excited by some kind of energy being violently released or being pumped into the system. We can then follow the sonic particles and landscapes cascading through degrees of order and types of organisation. A noise mass develops into a crystal melody that becomes a landscape collapsing to a pulse…A melody emerges and transforms into another landscape that becomes gradually rhythmical and intense, finally breaking as a wave on sand…


Besides sine-tones, pulses and noise I used field recordings such as crowds, the sea, boiling water, rhythmical machines, clocks, a group of amateur drummers and various other sonic manifestations of chaos and order. In order to be able to articulate the distribution of sound particles I developed a polyphonic, real time controllable random midi-signal generator in MAX/MSP.[1] With it I created evolving textures using samples from my material, as well as melodic and rhythmical phrases with general midi sounds. I also played phrases on instruments and improvised long hours on the EMS VCS3 analogue synthesizer creating transforming textures and gestures, which helped me make the various ‘real world’ sounds change into one another in more convincing ways.

The reality of the piece is of elastic nature, flexing in accordance to the different interacting forces as they emerge. It develops in four parts we could perhaps indicate as: universal, mechanical, natural and abstract. The last sub-section is revisiting some material with particular reference to the first movement, while the sonic system’s response to tension and release changes, finally showing fatigue. The graphic score is showing units and fluctuations of density in the piece. I also prepared a set of instructions for sound diffusion, as I felt that this piece calls for a very particular sound diffusion strategy, to allow some of its sections to work at their best.

Instructions for sound projection
Stereo multi-speaker playback. Positions and number of loudspeakers may vary. Here are shown 5 basic pairs of speakers. Stereo playback goes to all stereo pairs. Each pair’s volume is controllable at the diffusion console.
 Far                         o                o
 Front                       o            o
 Wide             o                                    o
Side                o        audience          o
 Back                  o                         o
+ Sub woofer
times represent significant points in the piece
—> x:xx  means ‘gradually and by that time point’ , so the action described starts after the previous time mark and has been established by the new time mark. Try to ‘interpolate’ between the situations described.  If there is no FAR pair replace FAR instruction with FRONT. Try to support the imaging of the piece.
0:03   Start at FRONT
        add WIDE    –> 0:15
        add BACK, SIDES 1/3  —> 0:17  on
       WIDE, SIDES up and down again    —> 0:49
       BACK up and down, no SIDES    —> 1:15
       FRONT, BACK 2/3, WIDE, SIDES      —> 2:54
Play with WIDE and SIDES keeping the image around mid front. WIDE for high noise washes, narrow image to FRONT for gestures. Use gentle front-back movement to support big gestures.
      WIDE, SIDES, 1/2 FRONT, FAR    —> 3:16
      FRONT, no BACK, no SIDE    —> 3:33
      FAR   —> 4:11
4:12  FRONT
     WIDE up and down   —> 4:24
4:27  WIDE, SIDE 1/2, start building up BACK
      Build up crescendo on ALL, playing with SIDES   —> 6:30  impact WIDE, BACK
6:31   move towards FAR, BACK gradually down, play with SIDES and WIDE.
       Keep image wide and unfocused
7:55  Focus for gesture. FRONT, cut down SIDES
       FRONT, BACK, WIDE 1/3,  no SIDES   —> 9:00
9:06  SIDES
      bring gradually to FRONT    —> 9:40  —>
10:08  no SIDE, no BACK
      Play with WIDE   —> 11:34
      BACK, SIDES   —> 11:50
      FAR, WIDE, SIDE, BACK, no FRONT  —> 12:53
12:55  Focus for event to FRONT, no SIDE, WIDE 1/4
      BACK, play with WIDE and SIDES   —> 13:34
      open image, WIDE, SIDES, FAR    —> 14:00
14:21  FRONT, WIDE 1/4, BACK 1/4, no SIDE
     Bring to FRONT and FAR for FIN.

[1] based on the midirand program idea by Rajmil Fishman (1996).

About stelios giannoulakis

composition, sound design, engineering, improvisation
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