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III. (The Uncertainty Principle) .​.​.

from by John Mayrose

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1927, Über den anschaulichen Inhalt der quantentheoretischen Kinematik und Mechanik (The Uncertainty Principle)

The uncertainty principle is the basis for quantum mechanics and states that the more we know about a particle’s position, the less we know about its velocity and vice versa. What fascinates me about quantum mechanics is that, even though the universe is incredibly chaotic sub-atomically, it appears smooth to our eyes. In this movement, I tried to convey the same idea with a smooth musical surface that is constructed from fluctuating, uncertain musical elements. Adapting the uncertainty principle to music, the more performers know about pitch, the less they know about rhythm. In the beginning of the movement, players are given specific pitches with no rhythmic indication. In the middle, small melodic fragments are specified, but can be played at any time and in any order. At the end, strict rhythms are notated, but players choose their own pitches. Accompanying the performers are randomly generated electronics controlled by the guitarist. The electronics are constructed from recordings of Werner Heisenberg, who proposed the uncertainty principle, speaking about the early stages of quantum mechanics, and the predominant pitch and rhythms of his speech control harmonic and rhythmic choices throughout the movement.

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from String Theory, released October 21, 2006

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John Mayrose Oshkosh, Wisconsin

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