Kenneth Kirschner: (2006)
Please tell us about your experiments with software-based indeterminate composition.

“In the past, indeterminacy in music has been realized primarily through performance: an indeterminate piece by John Cage, for example, will be different each time it's played live. What I've been trying to do, in a sense, is to create not indeterminate performances, but indeterminate recordings. By adapting the concepts of indeterminacy into a software-based context, you can essentially create a recording that is different each time you listen to it. These pieces, which are constructed using Flash and playable in any web browser, consist of a number of different musical fragments which are rearranged randomly by the computer as the piece is being played. Thus each piece is different every time it's heard, and the listener can control the piece's duration, listening for as long or as short a time as they wish.”

Are the piano pieces in your work "05 Compositions" released on the Galician Alg-a netlabel more structured compositions?

“Actually, the Alg-a release consists entirely of mp3 examples from the indeterminate series, and the piano pieces on it are essentially recorded "outputs" from some of the indeterminate software. The Alg-a release was put together to showcase some of these pieces before the final Flash software was finished; that software has now been completed, and so interested listeners can now go to my site and download generative versions of these pieces which will play indefinitely and be different on each listening.”

It's really amazing the kind of sounds which are produced under software design. In the future can we expect a new dimension of digital sounds?

“There's no doubt that the evolution of music technology will continue to provide new possibilities for sound design and enhance the creative palette available to musicians. But technology alone is not, I think, the limiting factor in the creation of new sounds. Already, electronic musicians have so much power available to them with current technology that we have only just begun to explore what's possible. And unfortunately, as with anything, experimental music can sometimes be driven by fashion and trends; our current software already allows for a much wider range of expression than has been achieved so far, I think. The focus therefore needs to be on something more than pure technology -- Morton Feldman, after all, revolutionized music using instruments that were hundreds of years old. So I think we need to look to creativity, vision and artistic insight rather than just to new technology as we try to envision the music of the future.”

Your works are released both on labels such as 12k and Sub Rosa, and can be freely downloaded from netlabels like Conv, Alg-a and on your own website. What's your approach about netlabels and offering your music freely?

“My dream has always been to release my music freely online, and so my website is really the primary focus for me in terms of distributing my work. When I'm approached by netlabels to release music, I usually invite them to ‘curate’ a selection of music from my site by choosing pieces that reflect their own interests and aesthetic. And when I'm working with more traditional CD labels, I'm always very clear and honest with them about the fact that my music will remain freely available on my site; this is my philosophy, and I really consider it an integral part of my whole artistic project. And I've been very fortunate to work with labels like 12k that are very supportive of this approach and understand the philosophy behind it.”

June 2006
Kenneth Kirschner