Inqueries for Computer-controlled Synthesizers (1989)

Nos. 1 - 4 from Book 1 (remixed in 2007 from original audio CD) 

The music for Inqueries Books 1 and 2 is based on a set of fundamental questions in nature which have yet to be clearly defined, or which have continuously defied explanation. 

Books 1 and 2 each contain ten questions associated with a musical system. Each system contains an arrangement of integers located within circles, and a question. The integers are determined by the letters in the alphabet which spell-out the text of each question. 

In the original version for keyboard synthesizer, a player is asked to create music based on the number of sounds represented by the integers. Musical events may consist of similar or contrasting patterns, melodic or rhythmic patterns, ascending or descending patterns, shaped phrases and gestures, etc. In the present realization for computer-controlled synthesizers, a computer program reads each integer and generates a musical event corresponding to that number of sounds. The computer selects from a variety of musical algorithms, or microprograms, which are based on simple elements of musical structure and texture. The music is then output to various synthesizers.

Events in our surrounding world are formed by continuous patterns of material and energy which are driven by natural forces. We tend to experience these events as discontinuous objects or processes. In contrast, this music is intended to provoke the listener to imagine events in the world as a series of natural patterns which occur continuously in a variety of forms, at different times, and at different orders of magnitude and scale. 

The questions from which the music is derived are listed below:

Book 1

1. Is space empty?

2. Why are there different languages?

3. What is resonance?

4. How are planets formed?

5. Why does light travel so fast?

6. How did life begin on Earth?

7. What is the origin of music?

8. What is memory?

9. How does the brain network information?

10. What is the longest known cycle of activity?

Book 2

1. What exactly is Gravity?

2. How does the brain make comparisons?

3. What is the underlying force which governs all changes?

4. How are electricity and magnetism related?

5. What is the age of the Universe?

6. What is the smallest amount of time required to make a change?

7. How are photons generated?

8. Why is a neutron heavier than a proton?

9. What causes a new species to arise?

10. What cosmological cycles influence the Earth's climate?