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The Rhythmicon ACEG: The Ancient Chinese Enclosing Game Compositional Matrix

<ACEG Works>

The Matrix

<--- Ln dt/n [f*n] --->
. . .
<--- L2 dt/2 [f*2] --->
<--- L1 dt/1 [f*1] --->


dt = an equal subdivision of time (t); a "measure"
dt/1 . . . dt/n = subdivisions of dt; fractions of measures; "beats"
f = frequency
Optional: assign a fundamental frequency to L1 and its harmonics (f*n)to subsequent layers either precisely or as a guide to frequency ranges by layer.
L1 . . . Ln = layers
n = whole number
t = time; the overall length of the musical material
Material at the beginning of time is equivalent to the material at the end of time so that the layers may be seamlessly looped.
"<---...--->" indicates that layers may shift independently in either direction
Layers shift in increments of dt/n. Thus the structural alignment of the layers remains constant while content shifts.

Filling the matrix:

1. Determine t.
2. Determine dt.
3. Optional: determine f.
4. Determine the number of layers (L) and which ones.
5. Put content into the layers.
Optional: Use dt/n to time periodic content; "beats" (dt/n) per "measure" (dt).

Extracting compositions:

1. Determine the number of divisions of time (dt*x)
This is the length of the composition
2. Determine which layers to use.
3. Determine the starting point for each layer.
I.e., the number of "beats" from the beginning of time. Shift each layer to start at the desired beat. Loop as needed.
4. Play/perform/record for dt*x amount of time.
Optional: Fade in/out.
5. Repeat as needed for desired number of compositions.


What Is "The Ancient Chinese Enclosing Game"?

"Haven't you ever played the Ancient Chinese Enclosing Game?"

A pencil, a pen, the ashtray, Geoffrey's eraser, a joint, a knife, a paperback, the filthy glass from the bureau, a book of matches--Rapp arranges them on the floor--

"But how do you play--?"

"Shut up, I've got to concentrate."

--the pen against the ashtray, the eraser carefully balanced on the lip of the glass--adjust the pencil--put the book of matches just a touch to the left--

"Ready?" Rapp smiles.

"But how do you play?"

"Your move."

[Excerpted from The Ancient Chinese Enclosing Game, an unpublished novel (c) 1981 David R. Mooney. It has occurred to me that the title is somewhat "politically incorrect" in that it plays on the stereotypical inscrutable East. However, this is the name of the game as taught to me. It has much more to do with the stereotypical 1960s inscrutable U.S. hippie street people and drugged out college students I was hanging out with at the time than with anything oriental.]

The Ancient Chinese Enclosing Game Compositional Matrix is an abstraction of the rhythmical (structural) aspect of the rhythmicon. It is a means of emphasizing patterns, cycles and rhythm in music over the narrative, tension-release-resolution approach that dominates Western music. This has been the thrust of my work in recent years: to manifest the constants of life over the immediate dramas that tend to grab our attention. Or, as Charles Ives puts it in his Essays before a Sonata, to focus on the heartbeat, seabeat, and earthbeat level of experience.


Fair Use

The Ancient Chinese Enclosing Game Compositional Matrix is © 2002 by David R. Mooney. However, I invite interested composers to use it freely, but please cite the source. The contents of this web page may be freely distributed as long as it includes this notice.

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