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LESS IS MORE (was Constraint of Randomness)

LESS IS MORE (was Constraint of Randomness)

Steve B wrote:
" Regarding Rick's long and interesting discussion on looping, exact
 copies,and small randomness "livening up" a repetitive pattern: as I 
 things, one tenet of information theory (as I learned it) is that the
 more of the content of a message that you are able to predict, the less
 information that message contains. So predictability is inversely
 correlated with information. So even slight variations in a repetitive
 sequence raise the level of information."

That's fascinating, Steve.   It makes me think of a brilliant lecture that 
heard once while studying
under the maverick Gregory Bateson ("Steps Towards an Ecology of 
Mind"----one of the most brilliant and intellectually paradigm shifting 
books I've ever read) back in the neo pleistocene era at UCSC.

I'll paraphrase all of this in a pretty dumbed down version as I am not 
a neurophysiologist, I am also close to 30 years from having heard the 
lecture  (note to Dr. Zvonar and the other people with training in these 
areas here:  be kind to me...........<chuckle>)

He pointed out that not unlike a car engine that won't run with too much 
or too little gas in it's carburetor, the human brain seems to function 
between  the tolerances of too much information or too little information. 
This  of course, changes slightly for each human being.

He said, too much information (double binds psychologically, extreme 
emotional and mental stress,  overwork, extreme anxiety, et. al.) and the 
brain will secrete endorphins to 'cool' down (or physically depress) the 
amount of information being taken in and thought about.

To illustrate the too little information scenario he talked about what 
happens in a sensory deprivation
tank (one of which I happened to have experienced at this time in the 

With no light, no external sound,  a temperature the same as exterior of 
human skin and floating bouyantly in
a saline solution so that the effects of gravity are lessed considerably, 
one finds that after the first 10 minutes
of getting used to the sounds of your heartbeat and blood circulating in 
capillaries of your ears  one begins to hallucinate mildly and then 
increasingly visually over the next half hour to forty five minutes.  In 
experience, these hallucinations rivalled the most intense of LSD 25 or 
Psychedelic mushroom trips I took at the time (note:  young loopers don't 
drugs.............they may turn you on).

Amazingly, it seems as if the brain will make up information rather than 
experience to little of it.   This says an awful lot about the nature of 
projection in human beings but it also raises a fascinating point about 
perception of minimalistic repitition in music:

My working theory (as a groove drummer for most of my adult life) is that 
the more minimalistic a groove (within reason) the more an audience will 
actively 'participate' in their listening by projecting more onto what 
hear than what they actually hear.   I think and have experienced in my 
a sort of audio hallucination when listening to a minimalistic loop (or a 
Fela recording) over and over again

I just reread this last paragraph and it doesn't convey exactly what I 
but I'm at a loss to explain it.

The practical example of what I'm saying is that if you play and 8th note 
drum beat and add on syncopated offbeat
16th note ONLY ONCE in two bars of a repetitive pattern and the listener 
most definitely percieves that
the rhythm is a syncopated 16th note pattern NOT a syncopated 8th note 

You know the effect when you play a drumbeat that only has 8th notes in 
When you start playing 16th note hihats
over the same kick and snare drum pattern the rhythm appears to add 
It feels like it has double timed
when in reality nothing has changed in the kick/snare groove.

Well this is the opposite of that.   If you play only 8th notes and add 
16th note (say on the 'a' of beat two) once every two bars,  the rhythm 
suddenly feels like it has gone to that 16th note ride pattern (even 
is hasn't).

<<<<<here's a quick setup so you can hear what I'm talking about: 
program 8th notes on closed hihat;  2 and 4 on
snare drum and put a bass drum on the downbeat of beat one and the 2nd 8th 
note of beat three and then duplicate this pattern so that it is two 
measures long:   listen to it intently for a little while

Now:   add a kick drum on the last 16th note of beat two in measure two 
only.    Now listen to it.

Can you hear how much it changes the entire feel of the two measure 
In stylistic terms  you just went from
playing a Rock and Roll rhythm (post early black rock)  and have entered 
world of 16th note syncopated Funk.

In this case, truly


And this can be really effective musically whether there is more 
'information' as Steve points out or not.


I feel fuzzy headed tonight, but do you see what I"m getting at?

PS  In deference to Richard Zvonar I will cease to send out posts that 
bright fuscia fonts in them.
They look great on my computer but apparently are impossible to read on 
his............lol.  My apologies
to any one else who had difficulty reading the last couple of posts,