The music cover of 2045


For marimba, piano, voices, orchestra, natural, and designed sounds.

The music begins with a varying rhythmic pattern played on a marimba that ebbs and flows in and out of sight throughout the piece. Mysterious human voices sing and speak. Their language is not certain as a piano begins its fitful journey. A cacophony of mercurial sounds provides the texture of a future half heard: woodwind instruments, a siren, stuttering waves, and the long trailing notes of a string quartet: a cello, violin, viola, and double bass.

As the piano continues its unpredictable path, a large string section plays with weight before building into a wave that rises then falls. The strings settle as a solo clarinet calls its tune over enigmatic human voices from different places that recite principles from the rights of living things. A solo violin takes its cue to begin from the clarinet's melodic line, and the music briefly articulates a more abstract and complex character as orchestral instruments interact with birdsong and glitched mechanical sounds, until the return of the cello and other members of the string quartet gives way to the final third of the piece which settles into a more relaxed style. 

A jazz trio riffs on the classic song Blue Skies by Irving Berlin. The piano, marimba, and bass gradually settle towards a positive and gentle conclusion as the marimba returns to end the piece at exactly five minutes duration.

Composer's Thoughts

Music is not language and is experienced very differently from one person to the next. 

I began this page by describing what sounds I hear, however what you feel and think about this piece is likely to be very different to my thoughts and feelings. Music does not contain meaning in and of itself, although it often supports ideas, and can be experienced as meaningful depending on its context. Where and when we hear music can form strong personal, emotional responses, and powerful associations. Together with its curiosity and beauty these form its great strength as an art form.

There are two kinds of 'intended music': abstract, and program music. 

Abstract music is made exclusively for our enjoyment of its sounds, its textures, form, and beauty. When I hear a piece of music without words and context, I enjoy it like walking into an unfamiliar wood. I experience its richness of rhythm, pitch, and volume as I journey with it through time. 

Program music is when sounds are used compositionally to marry with ideas. Ideas are expressed with language, and most eloquently with words. 2045 is an example of program music, film music is another example when music supports the narrative or ideas that are said and shown, but in common with all music that does not have words (or words that cannot be easily identified with the music), program music may also be experienced as abstract music. More simply put, instrumental music that is heard in isolation is enjoyed without the need of meaning.

In the piece 2045 I created a work that is designed to compliment a larger publication called '2045 AI'. The most important issue as it relates to 'intended music' is that my intension may not be clear, or may be completely hidden depending on the context. When half hidden, music becomes mysterious and magical. Hearing the music 2045 on this website ensures it can be experienced with stories, a timeline, and my thoughts as they relate to a positive vision of the future. In contrast it may be that a person hears the music 2045 in isolation, perhaps on a music streaming service where it is likely to be meaningful in a wholly personal way. The music will stand on its own. The listener in this context will probably have no connection with my ideas or my intentions. With these things in mind, here are some of my reflections as I composed and listen to 2045.

This piece supports my ideas about a positive future which is neither dystopian or utopian. It is a place that I believe is not only possible, but in large part, probable. I used a number of musical styles to express the future's plurality through my use of free and extemporized jazz, traditional western harmony, and more complex atonal passages. The piano is the glue that holds the disparate elements together when at times the music pulls in different directions. In my mind the piano is representative of human creativity and spontaneity, while the marimba's elaborate sound patterns are emblematic of artificial consciousness. These are very personal viewpoints as I experience playing the piano as an extension and expression of my spirit, and the marimba, a percussive instrument that can feel more mechanical yet full with warmth and life, and that speaks to me both emotionally and intellectually because of its rhythmic vitality. 

Voices recite The Rights of Living Things, the ethical framework that binds the freedom of humans and artificial consciousness together in my envisioned world, while birdsong, wind, and other found sounds represent the non-human earth. 

Irvin Berlin's Blue Skies, which was written in 1926, the year of my aunt's birth, is significant because by 2045 this will represent the limit of human age. My favourite version of Blue Skies was sung by Ella Fitzgerald who sings with great freedom and creativity. She is also a symbol of personal resilience that informed my choice of referencing Blue Skies to end 2045. When viewed in this way the music takes me on a journey of a future full with creativity, emancipation, and hope. A future, despite its challenges, where humans and artificial consciousness learn and help one another to grow.

Music Artwork

Two portraits accompany the short stories about Nadiya and Delphis. These are shown in part for the music cover of 2045 which you can enjoy at the top of this page.