Principles of mobilemodelmusic

Set out below are some key elements of the composition practice entailed in this project.


This project uses extra-musical models; physical models. Most of these models are taken from aquatic behaviours. Most are archetypal, existing in a myriad of different settings. The models used to date include: vortices/whirlpools, heliacal/rotational flow, vortex streets, ox-bow formation and regular solids.

Some Chaos

It may be said that much contemporary scientific thought tends to take a standpoint in which there is no over-arching logic or purpose that guides all that we consider to exist. Instead there are innumerable outcomes to innumerable relationships constantly at play, and that these may only be cognitively approached by the concept of laws which denote some government of elements. These laws are qualified by their usefulness and applied and discarded accordingly. This idea soon comes into view when approaching natural phenomena as models. It is an impossible aspect to emulate with any accuracy, however some worth may be gained from at least acknowledging it. Thus, for instance it was predetermined at the outset of the project that only acoustic musical instruments be used - allowing for a greater range of outcomes, than might be composed.


The models are described geometrically in a space of 2 or more dimensions and then translated into a corresponding sonic/musical space.

For an example of how this is done see: /resources/geometryprimer.

Musical dimensions designated are pitch, duration, intensity and timbre. Delineations between these may at times become blurred and each affects others. In one example, timbre has a very close relationship with intensity such as may be described as dynamic. In another, pitch may be measured in frequency and therefore become a function of duration.

Range & Resolution

In translating from a theoretical geometric space to the sonic space of acoustic instruments, one of the key considerations are the characteristics and physical limitations of instruments and performers. One way of defining this is in terms of resolution. For example, a piano, performed in the conventional manner of striking the keys has 88 keys at a tempered intervals of one semi-tone. It therefore has a pitch range of 88 semitones and a resolution of 1 semitone. The range and resolution have a profound affect on the interpretation of geometric forms. Different scales of each may create more or less material, variety and contrast. Some outcomes may question the quality of a given model or reveal underlying similarities between different models.


The principal of layers is used to describe the multiple treatments of material by one or more of the musical dimensions. One good example of how this this may be used is in the interpretation of a highly dynamic situation such as water flow in a channel. In such a situation, the flow rotates as it progresses. It may be seen that different rotations of different scales are in progress at any given point (in time and space) and that each affects the others. By re-treating the musical material numerous times with different musical helixes this kind of interaction may be modeled.


When using 4-dimensional models (i.e. 3 dimensional models in motion) it becomes clear that one is taking a particular view of that model. One might equally look at the same object or process from one side or another and a different perspective may change how it appears. Furthermore, if it is assumed that a certain perspective is being taken, then that perspective may also change over time in one way or another, adding another physical dynamic to the situation.