Signal Through Time

(for live electronics)

An algorithmic composition, “Signal Through Time” takes in the latest Google News article, and processes it into a piece. It does that by converting a set chunk into Morse code, analyzing the rhythms of that chunk, and cementing in the chunks that adhere to my designated rules.

When the algorithm has decided a measure of the phrase,  it explores pitch, using the letters of the article to guide its exploration. The program then picks the key signature with the most pitches it has played, and uses that to define the phrase. Lastly, it uses my rules to pick pitches to be associated with rhythms.

Because the piece uses a different news article, it is a different piece every time it plays. And it is making the decisions that define the piece live. Providing for an authentic experience. The recording I have provided here is the same one presented at this piece’s premiere on November 11th, 2018. The following text was the used to inspire the piece:


‘It is not safe.’ California wildfires continue deadly assault on populated areas.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – As authorities on Sunday continued to search for bodies in the destroyed Northern California town of Paradise, fire weather returned to Southern California, with parched air pouring down from the mountains and generating flare-ups from the historic Woolsey Fire.

DC-10 air tankers fought the wind gusts to drop bright-red flame retardant on rugged, unburned terrain as the fire invaded canyons where California meets
the Pacific Ocean. At midday Sunday, the combined efforts of several thousand firefighters seemed to have the Woolsey Fire, now a protracted disaster, in check.

But the red-flag warnings – critical fire conditions – were forecast to last across the region until 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Fire chiefs had warned that the dreaded Santa Ana winds would be back around 10 a.m. Sunday, and they were right. The winds kicked up just as officials were
holding a news conference warning that conditions remained dangerous. As they spoke, a massive plume of smoke rose in the southern sky from the direction of Malibu.

The Woolsey Fire had burned 83,000 acres by Sunday morning, with just 10 percent containment. The lull in the wind Saturday gave firefighters a chance to create firebreaks and drop massive amounts of fire retardant, but officials Sunday were anxious about a re-energized Woolsey Fire and the kind of weather that can create an entirely new, uncontrollable wildfire almost anywhere in tinder-dry California.”