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After the kind of personal cataclysm that splits time in two, questions of inevitability can consume us; when we were small and carefree, did this already loom on the horizon? Could we have configured things in some way that would have bypassed this threshold, or was there no choice but to walk across it? The etiologies of disaster can be tiny, almost trivial – a brief electrical misfire, or the aberrant division of a cell – but the implications existential. That incongruity is both terrifying and beautiful, holding within it the paradox of simultaneous fragility and tenacity that is at the core of life.


A meditation on this paradox, Little One is based on the cyclic number 142857. Multiplying by a whole number less than the count of its digits (1-5) gives a product that is a permutation of the original digits: x2=285714, x3=428571, x4=571428, and so forth, which are encoded in both pitch and time dimensions of the piece. The pattern is interrupted – somewhat shockingly - when multiplying by the number of digits in the original number: 142857x6 = 999999.


This structure (which does repeat beyond 6, but requires some mathematical reduction to see) reminds me of how we ruminate on unknowable things - on the path that led us to the present moment, for instance, and the threads of both inevitability and tenuous chance that echo through it. We may endlessly rearrange the components but always come up with the same circumscribed results, most of which are permutations of one another (and a few unthinkably scary). But these limits can sometimes be superseded by transformations that extend into a previously unconsidered dimension. In the empty space after a catastrophe, a sliver of light may leak through from an unseen intersecting plane, and a new degree of freedom is found.


Matt (2023)

Little One (Percussion Sextet)

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