Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Markus Reuter's "Todmorden 513:" Algorithmic Poetics

Markus Reuter has created an hour-long piece for ten players based on the algorithmic trans- formation, extension and reordering of musical material. He calls the work Todmorden 513. That the work is the product of some sophisticated methodological approaches is not uninteresting. But I've stayed away from that at this point to concentrate on a deep listening of the work.

And having done this I come up for air to write up what I am feeling as I hear it. First off I must say that this is a continuously flowing sound world of great beauty and great mystery. It has the long formed horizontal quality of the best ambient works of our age. And at the same time it has a logically unfolding quality and structure that brings it into the "serious work" category. I am tempted to add "whatever that means," but I think those who devote any time to the new music world we live in will understand. This is music of substance, not just mood.

It is music that has a four-dimensional feel to it. There are varying degrees of density and depth, transparency and opacity. It is lyrical without being directly manipulative of the melodic cells usually associated with such lyricism. Long tones and shorter bursts work together to create a universe of sound that has real poignancy. It is music of a different sort of consonance, a long float in an anechoic chamber of tones, added tones, and sound colors of enduring sprawl.

I would venture to say that this is an important work. How important I will leave to others to decide.

Go to to find out how to get access to this music.


  1. My first work experience in an anechoic chamber (i used to work at a loudspeaker development facility) and right next to it, they had what they called ‘the hard room’, a big floated reverberant room in polished concrete to measure acoustic energy as it decays. Sound seemed to bounce around like forever in there…

    anechoic chamber

  2. Supposedly those chambers can even be painful to some people. Our ears aren't designed for that kind of environment.

    EMSCAN real-time results

  3. All very interesting, Samual and Willson. I take it you are working for EMSCAN? This is probably a bit more rarified a subject than what my typical readers seek on my blogpages. The physics of sound and its perception are of high interest to me though and something modern composers have been concerned with at least since John Cage, if not earlier--as early as Pythagoras, actually. Thanks for your comments.