Thursday, June 1, 2023

Intuitive Compositional Tablatures: The Circos Development Tool

"Dendon" for Solo Tuba (2018)

"I Think I Am Rich" for Tuba and James Trussart Steel Deville Electric Guitar

Circos is a novel software program  for visualizing data and information. It visualizes data in a circular layout — this makes Circos ideal for exploring relationships between objects or positions. Circos was initially designed for displaying genomic data (particularly cancer genomics and comparative genomics) and molecular biology.

"Temperance Meant Swimming Through The Heat" For Accordion and Schilke 'G' Trumpet

"Vague Emotional Overflow" for Trombone and Flute

"Craterfaced Woman Sell Sugarcane Juice In Plastic Bags" for Three Sopranos

"Extremity, Such As It Is, Half-Mercifully Attenuates Itself By Being Quotidian"
For Oboe and English Horn

Composers at Laboratorie New Music have been working on modifications of the Circos program to create a systematic, fluid tablature system to facilitate compositional structure.  The notion to explore this powerful visualization tool came about from a separate study we were conducting on the implications of 'Big Data' on outcomes relating to visualization and experimental musical tablatures.

Partial element (utilizing Circos) from one of the pages of the score for "Partitions: Cambics Alive in Sensient Amplules" for Chamber Septet.  World Premiere, April, 2014 with Renee Baker and The Chicago Modern Orchestra

The potential of big data is immense.  Eliminate constraints on the size, type, source and complexity of relevant data, and composers can ask bolder questions. Technology limitations that once required sampling or relied on assumptions to simplify high-density data sets have fallen to the march of technology. 

Protracted processing times and dependencies on batch feeds are being replaced by on-demand results and near real-time visibility.  As we see it from a musical perspective, this transformation not only changes the questions that we can ask, but it also requires new tools and techniques for composers to get to the answers.

"A variety of crucial, and still most relevant ideation about nothingness or emptiness in music has gained profound philosophical prominence in the history and development of complex notation. These traditions share the insight that in order to explain both the great mysteries and mundane facts about our performance experience as composers, ideas of ‘nothingness’ must play a primary role. Contrarian to this theorem, I present this architecture that is at once interpretative and constructive."

- Bil Smith Composer

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