Elements 118: Oganesson
Elements 118 – Og
Elements 118: Oganesson is the second album in a series of music on the Elements, a large work in progress consisting of electronically/digitally created architectural music compositions by Oscar van Dillen. The work on this album was composed November 2021.
All works, cover art and booklet of this album were created by Oscar van Dillen.
Release date is set for December 2021.
Download the CD booklet HERE.
- Oganesson – duration 57:40
Total duration: 57:40
Ways of Listening to the Elements
The series Elements consist of digital compositions which have a more static, installation-like character, crossing the border between musical and spatial composition, linking up music and architecture, both arts concerning Space.
It is a remarkable feature of human anatomy that the inner ear is the organ that perceives sound as well as space. Inside in the cochlea resonating crystals distinguish the frequencies within sound. Outside on top of the same organ there are the three half-circles of the Labyrinth, perceiving spatial movement along an XYZ axis system.
The direct perception of 4-dimensional space-time itself can be seen in this essential part of our anatomy: one organ handling perceptual elements of both space and time in unison.
Space, in the perception of XYZ orientation on the inside of the Labyrinth: spatial movement and balance. Time, or rather the inverse of time in Hz and frequency cycles/s in the perception of pitch on the inside the Cochlea.
Van Dillen’s compositions in the series Elements can be listened to in several ways. Traditionally these are: privately over loudspeakers or headphones, or in a concert situation, that somewhat awkward setting where a group of interested people are sitting immobile and listening to what comes out precorded out of a professional loudspeaker system, with no apparent performers in sight.
Each of the Elements is created to be able to stand on its own, as a deeply composed and serious work of art, to be enjoyed on its own. Yet the Elements series as a whole has also been conceived to work and sound together as a larger ensemble: a potential meta-symphony of works, to be exhibited and enjoyed in an architectural sound installation of a variety of Elements set to play on repeat.
For installation playback of the series Elements, van Dillen proposes this option of creating simultaneously playing (looping) versions of various Elements widely spaced apart over a large space or several neighbouring spaces. Listeners could actively move around through the music or choose to linger or sit in certain spots for some time.
Also at home, a smaller version of an installation can be realized by playing several (looping) compositions in adjacent rooms, so they somewhat overlap and audibly interact. The only thing needed is one playback device per home installation element.
It is the composer’s wish that he himself as well as others will be able to create an ever-evolving range of different choreographies for various architectural installation performances of these works in the future, of diverse sizes and durations, ranging from the very intimate to the truly monumental and in everything between.
If such architectural installations would be placed in a museum, they would allow interaction with visual arts as well, but they could also be put in very dark settings.
Meanwhile at home, the listeners are challenged to DIY DJ and mix two or more of these compositions and turn one’s home into a personal theatre or museum.
A degree of inclusion of the listener into the process of creation can thus be achieved.
Elements of both Music and Chemistry
The Elements referred to in the title are obviously the chemical elements: the very first of the periodic table of which is Hydrogen with its remarkable isotopes Deuterium and Tritium, the only isotopes with their own chemical abbreviation. Less obvious from the titles is the use of Elements of Music, as described in his original approach to composing: his method (not a system) of prepositional analysis, developed from 1998-2011 by van Dillen.
Prepositional analysis is a new approach to the creation and analysis of music, not restricted to any style or vocabulary, but based on how humans hear music and perceive its elements Sound and Silence in interaction. Sound manifests itself in spectrum, time, and space, and from this observation 5 categories are derived, which sum up to 6 with silence included. These both include and transcend Stockhausen’s 5 dimensions of sound (pitch, duration, volume, timbre, and place). Based on the interactions a set of 22 prepositional analytical concepts is postulated, for use in creative composition or analysis.
These elements of music have in fact been used for a longer time and some if not all of them can be found in music history. In the work on this album, they are used to create new music inspired by the chemical elements. The chemical elements being such basic building blocks of matter, represent the basis for every existence, and for life.
By means of Mendeleev’s system for natural matter, and thus for material nature, van Dillen ventured to compose his meta-symphony Elements.
Elements 118 Oganesson is the last in the Periodic Table, completing its structure with 7 full layers of electron shells. As an element, Oganesson fits in the group of the so-called “noble gases” but is predicted to be a solid at room temperature. Predicted, because only a handful of atoms have been made of this highly unstable element: literally only 5 (possibly 6) atoms of it have been detected. All the elements heavier than 83 Bismuth are unstable and therefore radioactive, decaying into lighter elements. The heavier the elements are, the higher their atomic number, and on the whole the faster they radioactively decay.
Oganesson is thus an artificially made radioactive solid noble gas and has the heaviest of all atoms known. It is named after the brilliant Russian-Armenian nuclear physicist Yuri Oganessian (*1933), who contributed to the creation and discoveries of most of the heaviest elements.
Such a largely unknown element is however interesting as a topic for creating music; for one it leaves a freer hand to creation and association, and next there are things known about it, especially its predicted behaviour, yielding an interesting contradictory nature of this specific element (a solid and likely reactive noble gas!?).
The music of Oganesson was created by mixing layers of self-generative modular patches: van Dillen designed and built the very instruments on which this music has been performed. In the image below the main layer modular instrument, including its reconstructed Arp 2500 parts, can be seen (without cables):
Five main layers of music created with unique and newly designed generative modular setups were recorded and mixed to achieve the final result. A second layer setup is shown below (again, for clarity’s sake, without its cabling).
Each of the 5 layers is really already a composition by itself, resulting in a polyphonic structure, which at times can be arguably heterophonic since chance plays an important role in the process. The random element of chance is however at the same time controlled, and allowed within precisely set boundaries.
Also, as can be seen when taking a closer look at the patches, each has its own performance controls, not always obvious at a glance, except in the second image with its clear large play buttons one of which is lighted, in the bottom left of the picture.
The music of Oganesson is a one-part large and slowly evolving sound architecture, monolithic as it were, yet developing. Within this continuous composition, 5 parts each consisting of 5 layers can be discerned, each with a different balance and each with its own composition, but all created of similar, related elements, in similitude to the 5 atoms of the element Oganesson that have been created under laboratory conditions at its discovery, earlier this 21st century.
OIJ Records – Donemus DCV 387