Daniel Dockery's Portfolio

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Hesse

October 27th, 2011

From Narziß und Goldmund, chapter 20:

»Laß es mich dir heute sagen, wie sehr ich dich liebe, wieviel du mir immer gewesen bist, wie reich du mein Leben gemacht hast. Es wird dir nicht sehr viel bedeuten. Du bist an Liebe gewohnt, sie ist für dich nichts Seltenes, du bist von so vielen« [Menschen] »geliebt und verwöhnt worden. Für mich ist es anders. Mein Leben ist arm an Liebe gewesen, es hat mir am Besten gefehlt.« […] »Wenn ich weiß, was Liebe ist, so ist es deinetwegen. Dich habe ich lieben können, dich allein unter den« [Frauen]. »Du kannst nicht ermessen, was das bedeutet. Es bedeutet den Quell in einer Wüste, den blühenden Baum in einer Wildnis. Dir allein danke ich es, daß mein Herz nicht verdorrt ist, daß eine Stelle in mir blieb, die von der Gnade erreicht werden kann.«

Translation:

“Let me tell you today how much I love you, how much you have always meant to me, how rich you have made my life. It will not mean much to you. You’re used to love, it’s not unusual for you—so many” [people] “have loved and spoiled you. For me it’s otherwise. My life has been poor in love; I have missed the best of it.” […] “If I know what love is, it’s because of you. I have been able to love you, you alone among” [women]. “You can’t understand what that means. It’s a spring in a desert, a tree blossoming in the wilderness. It’s thanks to you alone that my heart has not dried up, that there remains in me a place that can be touched by grace.”

(עודני אהבתיך, גבריאלה)

Hermann Hesse, from Steppenwolf

October 22nd, 2011

Text:

Es ist eine schöne Sache um die Zufriedenheit, um die Schmerzlosigkeit, um diese erträglichen geduckten Tage, wo weder Schmerz noch Lust zu schreien wagt, wo alles nur flüstert und auf Zehen schleicht. Nur steht es mit mir leider so, daß ich gerade diese Zufriedenheit gar nicht gut vertrage, daß sie mir nach kurzer Dauer unausstehlich verhaßt und ekelhaft wird und ich mich verzweiflungsvoll in andre Temperaturen flüchten muß, womöglich auf dem Wege der Lustgefühle, nötigenfalls aber auch auf dem Wege der Schmerzen. Wenn ich eine Weile ohne Lust und ohne Schmerz war und die laue, fade Erträglichkeit sogenannter guter Tage geatmet habe, dann wird mir in meiner kindischen Seele so windig weh und elend, daß ich die verrostete Dankbarkeitsleier dem schläfrigen Zufriedenheitsgott ins zufriedene Gesicht schmeiße und lieber einen rechten teuflischen Schmerz in mir brennen fühle als diese bekömmliche Zimmertemperatur. Es brennt alsdann in mir eine wilde Begierde nach starken Gefühlen, nach Sensationen, eine Wut auf dies abgetönte, flache, normierte und sterilisierte Leben und eine rasende Lust, irgend etwas kaputt zu schlagen, etwa ein Warenhaus oder eine Kathedrale oder mich selbst, verwegene Dummheiten zu begehen, ein paar verehrten Götzen die Perücken abzureißen, ein paar rebellische Schulbuben mit der ersehnten Fahrkarte nach Hamburg auszurüsten, ein kleines Mädchen zu verführen oder einigen Vertretern der bürgerlichen Weltordnung das Gesicht ins Genick zu drehen. Denn dies haßte, verabscheute und verfluchte ich von allem doch am innigsten: diese Zufriedenheit, diese Gesundheit, Behaglichkeit, diesen gepflegten Optimismus des Bürgers, diese fette gedeihliche Zucht des Mittelmäßigen, Normalen, Durchschnittlichen.

Translation:

It is a beautiful thing about contentment, about painlessness, on these tolerable crouching days, when neither pain nor desire risk crying out, when everything only whispers and creeps about on tip-toe. Unfortunately, it’s just this sort of contentment that I can’t tolerate well; after a short time, it becomes unbearably hateful and repulsive to me and I must escape my despair in other climes, possibly on the path of pleasure, or if necessary on the path of pain. When I have neither pleasure nor pain for a while and have breathed the stale, lukewarm tolerability of so-called good days, then my childish soul hurts so miserably that I throw the rusty lyre of thanksgiving into the face of the drowsy god of contentment and would rather feel the pain of the devil burning in me than this wholesome room temperature. Then burns in me a wild craving for strong emotions, sensations, a rage against this shaded, flat, standardized and sterilized life and a frenzied desire to smash something to pieces, perhaps a store or a cathedral or myself, daring to commit stupidities, to destroy a few revered idols, to encourage a few schoolboys to some delinquency, to seduce a young girl, or to overturn some representative of the bourgeois world order. For these I hated, loathed and cursed above all, but especially this contentment, this health and comfort, this carefully constructed optimism of the middle classes, this fat, prosperous breeding of mediocrity, normalcy, the average.

Transcendental (Number) Études, no. II: φ, the Golden Ratio

July 18th, 2011

A second installment in the series, this time tackling the golden ratio, φ, to 511 digits:


φ = 1.618033988749894848204586834365638117720309179805762862135448622705260462818902449707
207204189391137484754088075386891752126633862223536931793180060766726354433389086595939582
905638322661319928290267880675208766892501711696207032221043216269548626296313614438149758
701220340805887954454749246185695364864449241044320771344947049565846788509874339442212544
877066478091588460749988712400765217057517978834166256249407589069704000281210427621771117
778053153171410117046665991466979873176135600670874807101317952368

It opens as before, a piano presenting a simple melody that is a one-to-one representation of the digits of the constant, over an accompaniment in the left hand of the chords built on those notes. Eight bars in, a cello comes in as a canon at half tempo. As an experiment, instead of transposing the notes a fifth, I multiplied φ by the 3/2 ratio of the fifth and set that resulting value. Eight bars later, the piano fades out, with the primary melody being taken up by a violin, as a viola enters, again as a canon with a different interval. The three continue for a time as a string trio, each playing a line of the golden ratio, the number itself and two harmonic multiples, before a harp enters, carrying in the treble a new canon at double tempo and a straight tempo canon in the bass. At bar 57, the violin and viola leave and the piano returns; the left hand resumes the chording pattern from the beginning, while the right hand plays a two voice melody that consists of the pure φ line and the harmonic multiple that was being played by the viola, continuing where the latter left off. At bar 82, the harp and cello leave, and the piano transitions (via a silent beat 0-digit) back to only the single φ line in the right hand, while the left begins a new chording pattern, abandoning the earlier arpeggiations. At bar 98, the strings return briefly, supporting the chord system, while a pizzicato contrabass enters, playing for eight bars, where the piano carries the rest of the line to its conclusion.


Transcendental (Number) Études, no. I: Euler’s γ

July 18th, 2011

Recently encountering the musician Michael John Blake‘s delightful interpretation of the mathematical constant τ (i.e. ) as a work of music (on YouTube) left me wondering what might emerge from other constants. As I understand the same fellow has also done an arrangement of π, I will avoid it, but we’ve endless other options from which to choose.

For my first foray, I’ve settled on Euler‘s γ constant, calculated to 304 places:


0.5772156649015328606065120900824024310421593359399235988057672348848677267776646709369470
632917467495146314472498070824809605040144865428362241739976449235362535003337429373377376
739427925952582470949160087352039481656708532331517766115286211995015079847937450857057400
299213547861466940296043254215190588

Unlike the piece that inspired this experiment, which was in the key of C major, I have set this in G minor—G for the constant, gamma, and minor simply because it’s what I most commonly work in. If time and inspiration permit, I may attempt to do the same for other constants, and with that in mind I’ve jestingly referred to this as the first in the “Transcendental (Number) Études”, playing off Liszt’s “Transcendental Études” and the transcendental numbers.

Enjoy the first fruits of the new project:


From Sunday Magazine

July 1st, 2011

Over at Sunday Magazine, I encountered a story from the July 2, 1911 edition of the New York Times concerning a new “Hymn to Liberty” composed by Arthur Farwell and to be sung at City Hall on the 4th of that year, as a “new national hymn”.

Intrigued, and having not heard it before nor being able to find a copy online, I set about to make a small recording, which I’ll present here. No choir on hand, I’ve reset the four voices in a direct, one-to-one setting for string quartet following the traditional arrangements, so the music is the same though the instruments differ; the piano line remains unchanged.


Daniel Dockery, Arthur Farwell’s Hymn to Liberty (1911)

Pablo Neruda

June 23rd, 2011

Sonnet LXV, from “Afternoon” in Neruda’s 100 Love Sonnets (Cien Sonetos de Amor):

Matilde, dónde estás? Noté, hacia abajo,
entre corbata y corazón, arriba,
cierta melancolía intercostal:
era que tú de pronto eras ausente.

Me hizo falta la luz de tu energía
y miré devorando la esperanza,
miré el vacío que es sin ti una casa,
no quedan sino trágicas ventanas.

De puro taciturno el techo escucha
caer antiguas lluvias deshojadas,
plumas, lo que la noche aprisionó:

y asi te espero como casa sola
y volverás a verme y habitarme.
De otro modo me duelen las ventanas.

Translation:

Matilde, where are you? I noticed,
down along my tie and over my heart,
a certain melancholy between the ribs:
it was that you were so suddenly gone.

I needed the light of your energy
and I looked hopelessly around,
looked at the emptiness of a home without you,
nothing left but tragic windows.

From the sheer silence the roof listens
to the fall of ancient, hopeless rain,
feathers, whatever the night’s imprisoned:

and thus I wait for you like a lonesome house,
and you will return to see and inhabit me.
Otherwise, my windows ache.

J.L. Borges’ “A quien está leyéndome”

June 14th, 2011

The poem:

Eres invulnerable. ¿No te han dado
los númenes que rigen tu destino
certidumbre de polvo? ¿No es acaso
tu irreversible tiempo el de aquel rio
en cuyo espejo Heráclito vio el símbolo
de su fugacidad? Te espera el mármol
que no leerás. En él ya están escritos
la fecha, la ciudad y el epitafio.
Sueños del tiempo son también los otros,
no firme bronce ni acendrado oro;
el universo es, como tú, Proteo.
Sombra, irás a la sombra que te aguarda
fatal en el confin de tu jornada;
piensa que de algún modo ya estás muerto.

The translation, “To whomever is reading me”:

You’re invulnerable. Haven’t they given you—
the powers that govern your destiny—
the certainty of dust? Isn’t your own time
as irreversible as that river in which
Heraclitus saw in his reflection the symbol
of impermanence? A marble stone awaits you
that you will not read. On it’s already written
the date, the city and the epitaph.
Others are also only dreams of time,
not enduring bronze or unblemished gold;
the universe is, like you, Proteus.
A shadow, you’ll go to the shadow waiting
at the fatal end of your journey;
know that in some way you’re already dead.

Twenty-five years ago today (Jun 14), Borges passed away.

Spelunking

June 13th, 2011

An animated exploration of a particular space-folding equation space; the whole is mathematically derived and driven.

The soundtrack is a small scoring exercise I composed and recorded some years back and chose to use here for flavoring.

Hermann Hesse, “Regenwetter”

June 6th, 2011

Hermann Hesse, Wanderung: Aufzeichnungen (1920), “Regenwetter”, p. 71:

Dagegen ist kein Kraut gewachsen. Du kannst nicht ein Vagabund und Künstler, und daneben auch noch ein Bürger und wohlanständiger Gesunder sein. Du willst den Rausch haben, so habe auch den Katzenjammer! Sagst du Ja zum Sonnenschein und den holden Phantasten/Phantasien, so sage auch Ja zum Schmutz und Ekel! Alles das ist in dir, Gold und Dreck, Lust und Pein, Kinderlachen und Todesangst. Sag Ja zu allem, drücke dich um nichts, suche nichts hinwegzulügen! Du bist kein Bürger, du bist auch kein Grieche, du bist nicht harmonisch und Herr deiner selbst, du bist ein Vogel im Sturm. Laß stürmen! Laß dich treiben! Wie viel hast du gelogen! Wie tausendmal hast du, auch in deinen Gedichten und Büchern, den Harmonischen und Weisen gespielt, den Glücklichen, den Abgeklärten! So haben sie im Krieg beim Angriff die Helden gespielt, während die Eingeweide zuckten! Herrgott, was für ein armer Äff und Spiegelfechter ist der Mensch—zumal der Künstler—zumal der Dichter—zumal ich!

Translation:

By contrast, there’s no cure for it. You can’t be a vagabond and artist and still be a wholesome, respectable citizen. You want the intoxication, you have to take the hangover. You say Yes to the sunshine and sweet fantasies, you also say Yes to the filth and disgust! All of it is in you: gold and muck, pleasure and pain, childhood laughter and the fear of death. Say Yes to everything, give up nothing, lie about nothing! You’re not a good citizen, you’re also not a Stoic, you’re not balanced and master of yourself, you’re a bird in a storm. Let it storm! Let it guide you! How much you’ve lied! A thousand times, even in your poems and books, you’ve played the well-adjusted and wise man, the happy and contented man! The same way men in war played heroes while their stomachs churned! My god, what a pathetic ape and mirror-fencer man is—especially the artist—especially the poet—especially me!

Daniel Dockery's Portfolio

animî nostrî dêbent interdum âlûcinâri