About John Holland

John Holland is a composer and Professor Emeritus in the Studio for Interrelated Media at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. In the early 1980's, he co-founded Nature and Inquiry, an artists group that meets weekly to discuss ideas in art and science. The group has presented work at the MIT Media Lab, the Harvard Smithsonian Observatory, Habitat Institute, The Copley Gallery in Boston, to name a few. For the past 20 years he has taught a class that introduces artists to leading-edge ideas in science. In 2001 the Boston Globe reported that Nature, Science and Art was the most popular class at the College.

Music From a Small Planet in Three Parts (1979)

(for Analog Sequencing Device and Rotating Speaker System)

(Updated in 2007 with additional electronics)

1. Solaris  (11:58)

2. Organon  (9:09)

1. Spire  (20:26)

The original analog sequences (repetitious background pattern) were derived from a method of composition modeled after the biological process of self-regeneration (multiplication by division). A single musical pattern, made-up of a finite number of sounds, was generated electronically and then copied repeatedly onto a single audio track.

The number of recorded channels increases at an exponential rate (2, 4, 8, 16…) as the copying process evolves, while the number of generations in the final recording is determined by the overall ‘resonant’ qualities obtained from the growth-rate of each succeeding generation.

During the initial copying process occasional redistribution of the pitches and some slight rhythmic variations have occurred randomly according to local disturbances in the power currents feeding the original signal. This leads to a form of mutation which is then passed on in subsequent generations.

In Organon, there are slight interruptions at randomly-timed intervals. In Spire, the pitch is altered but not the rhythm. Each of these alterations occurs in the initial generation only, and begin to take shape overall over the course of evolving generations.

Music from a Small Planet was first presented at the Helen Schlein Gallery in Boston in 1980. A rotating speaker system was employed to reinforce the spatial qualities of the music. The system, containing a separate speaker on each of the three sides of a tri-shaped cabinet, was positioned in the center of the performance space; the audience was seated around the speaker system. A separate rotation speed for each of the three parts of the music was controlled by a remote device.