(In)Different Circles

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(In)Different Cirlces was written using Max/MSP & was inspired by a Neil Peart lyric.

I've loved Rush's music since Hold Your Fire came out. I guess I was a little late to the game. Most of my friends had been listening since Moving Pictures, and I guess I had been, too. I just wasn't as interested as they were. I can't tell you why. It was great music. I was just in a different place. Maybe I wanted or needed to be in a different place from my friends. I don't really know.

I had been missing out. The tune Open Secrets is the one that really got me going lyrically. I went back and realized what a phenomenal lyricist peart was, but that was really the one that started me down that path.

I find no absolution
in my rational point of view
maybe some things are instinctive
but there's one one thing we can do
You could try to understand me
I could try to understand you

That one really hit me hard. I had been reading a TON of Ayn Rand & had really bought into it hook, line, and sinker. I "drank the Kool-Aid" as I like to tell the students I give a lecture to every year. I knew that Peart was a huge reader of hers & you can really tell that in his lyrics. Rush's album 2112 is really nothing more than a re-telling of Rand's book Anthem. A problem that I had with Rand (at the time, there were very, very few....) was how to deal with emotions. Her belief system was that emotions are the by-product of your rational mind. That's all well and good. And it makes sense. But the reality is (at least for me) that emotions seem to come from a different place. There is understading and there is feeling. The two ought to line up. I agree with her about that. But often times they don't. I think Peart had similar issues with that. I can't speak for him, of course.

So I used Max to try to convey what I took to be the meaning of a Peart lyric containg the phrase Indifferent Circles. The piece is set up much like bellona in that there are cycles that don't line up. Or, at least, they line up after multiple (upwards of 500) iterations of the pattern. I set up loops using Max that played underneath what I was doing "live" with one of my software synths. I used my Kurzweil for sure & I'm pretty sure that the software synth is my CS-80. It would have been a very early version of that software synth. It's a very "spacey" piece & you have to listen very, very closely to find the loops that I set up. But they are there. This is probably one of the most difficult pieces to listen to that I have ever written. It sounds the loosest and the least "musical". When listeners complain that some music isn't really music, I think they mean the way this piece sounds. I like it, but I know it's not one of my best works.

Indifferent circles, we keep holding our ground
In different circles, we keep spinning round and round

Oh, how I longed for my now ex-wife to be in the same circle as me. Or me in hers. She just wasn't capable of putting her emotions out there. I think she wanted to. She just couldn't. And because of that (and myriad other reasons), I did things that really ruined the marriage. I think you can hear the pain I was feeling when I wrote this. In my music, there's often not a direct emotion that comes out. But I think it does in this one. So many of my pieces come from places of pain. My newer pieces (say from 2012 onwards) are from a more mellow place. When I met Angel, things started to change. When we got together, I started feeling better. When I started being medicated I felt much better. That's reflected in my music (sort of).

One of these images represents what my ex-wife and I had. The other represents what Angel and I have. I much prefer the circles that line up inside each other. I am happy.