01 May 2000

Chance Composition: Super Ball As Notation Device

Location: Racquet Ball Court

Paint a musical staff around the court's walls, allowing ample space for the ball's potential movement. Once ready, dip each ball in paint and freely bounce it off of the walls, ceiling and floor. Use four different colors of paint to distinguish whole, half, quarter and eighth notes; more than four colors can be used to include sixteenths, thirty-seconds, etc. Eventually, melodies and harmonies will be left along each wall; the composer can choose to impose a time signature and draw vertical lines on each staff to identify measures, or leave them blank and decide later. The same can be done for rests between notes.

Location: City Street

Draw a musical staff along a city street in the direction of traffic. The length of the staff is left to the composer's discretion, but should vary from a single block to a few miles in length. From a helicopter flying thirty or so feet overhead, drop buckets of super balls which are sufficiently wet with paint. As in piece 1 (above), bar lines and rests can be decided later.

Location: The Moon

Transport a large, transparent dome to a flat surface on the moon. Prior to leaving Earth, make sure you have painted staff lines as concentric circles on the inner circumference of the dome, beginning at its apex. Because of the lack of gravity on the moon, it is recommended that the super balls be submerged in paint prior to entering the dome. Ideally, a mechanical contraption could be fabricated to both douse and release each painted ball individually within the dome, as handling balls and liquid in zero gravity introduces very obvious obstacles to the composition's success. As the balls exit the contraption, participants may aid in their travel however they deem fit, being careful not to create too much paint loss. Once the paint has sufficiently dried on the notes left by the orbiting, wet balls, the dome may be brought back to Earth, at which point bar lines and rests may be set.