A Fundamental Philosophy

At the turn of the twenty-first century, the composer recognised that his compositional planning had become focussed upon the search for an overtly unique contemporary language exploring systematic quasi-modernist and pseudo-serialist techniques. It was decided to try an alternative philosophy: Aim for something that is timeless instead of looking for something that is new.

The reduction of music to its fundamental component: vibration

Whilst composing a series of miniatures entitled Acoustic Chakras during 2001, one considered the relationship between spirituality and colour and discovered how many scholars hypothesise that light (the fundamental source from where we interpret colour) and sound share the same acoustic spectrum. They are both measured in frequency and wavelength; if we speed sound up it becomes light and vice versa. Whilst this is an over simplification of the acoustic properties of light and sound, the idea sparked creative imagination.

Good Vibrations

Acoustics, almost by definition, is the reduction of music to its fundamental component: vibration. It is one of the oldest branches of Physics believed to have started with Pythagoras charting the harmonic series of a vibrating string. The harmonic series shares clear comparisons with working with natural light for the composer and can be justifiably described as a primal compositional palette.

Enthusiasm & Intrigue

Numerically systemising pitch is often considered to be a twentieth-century compositional technique, yet Pythagoras first charted the series (an ancient natural resource) through proportional mathematics. If one pairs the natural overtone series with theoretical undertones (sub-harmonic frequencies) it results in complementary mirror symmetry, which is synonymous with 20th century modernism and twenty-first century analysis. These intriguing connections and contradictions between antique and contemporary concepts across the millennia sparked enthusiasm and intrigue.

Though the idea would evolve, a fundamental foundation had been established, a philosophy of research, which would shape a compositional autograph: To compose with ancient and natural resources.

A Life in Music

Initially a poetic musing, this fundamental philosophy found substance within the theories of physics, acoustics and natural resonance: vibration, the harmonic series, multiphonics and heterodyning frequencies. The Fibonacci sequence, Golden ratio, Pi and equidistant theories would start to inform choices of form, duration and proportion. This fundamental philosophy would also influence choices of extra-musical stimuli. Through analogy and metaphor, compositional planning and research began to reference ancient concepts of folklore, mythology, religion and spirituality alongside contemporary concepts of space and time and universal theories such as platonic forms, fractals and chaos theory.

Dr. Ian Percy


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Composition Documentation | ianpercy.me.uk

Composition Documentation

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Acoustic Composition Audio | ianpercy.me.uk

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Pedagogical Resources | ianpercy.me.uk

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