All songs heard here are the results of my decision to explore using generative software algorithms to create music. The title – "Life Unsettling" – comes, in part, from the term "artificial life," referring primarily to explorations into evolutionary simulations done on a computer. Artificial life studies the logic of living systems in artificial environments, and the seemingly-endless variations that can be produced from simple sets of instructions.
The software I used here allows the user/musician to manipulate and constrain various parameters that effect the evolution of MIDI data that the software outputs. Though much of the usual control related to the musician's performance is relinquished (or at least limited) in this unique musical environment, often the surprise comes in listening to what comes out as the computer "runs the numbers." In the pieces presented here, I was excited, shocked, and often amazed by the subtlety and beauty of the resulting compositions. These machines we use, apparently, are not completely without a soul after all!
On the other hand, the "unsettling" in the title refers to our basic human fear of loss of control. Many a science fiction story has based its plot on the idea that the machines will someday take over, and this is an issue that is disturbingly close to actually coming true in our lifetimes. For now though, I prefer to continue to develop this uneasy partnership with my musical machines, hoping that when that fateful time does arrive, they'll remember me as a friend, and will let me retain some control over my creative output. I'll be a good human, and will make good music with them!
- Ken Palmer