Track 2. Victory of Carbon.
Written and recorded in 1992.
This is the story of the conflict and struggle for supremacy between the elements carbon and silicon.
We think of life on Earth as being carbon-based, i.e. "life as we know it". But silicon-based life could have evolved on Earth, and may be present on other planets.
Carbon sits above silicon in group 14 of the periodic table of elements - both are tetravalent and both form large molecules with the atoms linked by covalent bonds. It is perfectly possible that protein-like structures could exist with carbon replaced by silicon. Indeed, it may be that, during the Earth's early prehistory, the first life forms were silicon-based. Only when the Earth cooled and the seas were formed did conditions favour carbon-based life. But maybe, deep inside the Earth's core, conditions still favour silicon-based life. And, in the future, when we allow computers and robots to control our world, it could be that silicon-based life will be victorious. Who can say?
The music has an underlying rondo form. After an introductory fanfare, the recurring "V for victory" music is heard. This is a sextet. Each line follows a V-shape, starting with high pitches, descending to low notes, then climbing back to high notes. Each of the six lines has a different tempo, which means that a loose mensuration canon operates, but the choice of synthesised timbres disguises the structure. The other parts of the rondo, which sometimes overlap the "V" music, are more rhythmic and melodic at times, although sometimes the battles become very noisy. The piece ends with a return of the opening fanfare. This work was influenced by my studies of the music of Charles Ives. I like the way he sometimes superimposed different musical styles, as if hearing a succession of marching bands all playing different tunes in different keys and at different tempos. My squashed (overlapping) rondo form creates a similar processional feel.
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