He was born Feb. 12, 1949 in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the oldest of nine children, and spent his childhood in a rural setting on a heavily wooded lake.
He has been making music in one form or another since childhood, when he soloed in a performance of his piano concerto “Rhapsody #1” at age 9 in a school production, and had a band piece called “Rough Draft” performed a few years later.
He turned to jazz and blues piano in his teens, but although he studied music theory and composition, he majored in mathematics, his first love, receiving his B.A. in 1968. He was always intrigued by the connections between music and math, and made some early experiments at computer composition in the late sixties.
His love for jazz deepened when he discovered the Blue Note catalog at age 20, starting with Jimmy Smith, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Lee Morgan, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Bill Evans. He still plays keyboard in various styles, but has not recorded his improvised music.
In 1999, he ran across a relatively simple fractal music generative program called Musinum, created by Dr. Lars Kindermann in Germany, who left it available as freeware and then moved on to other projects. Most of the sample music created by Musinum users was brief and (with a few notable exceptions) primitive, but the power inherent in the algorithms employed intrigued Doyle.
He began to create a body of work of increasing intricacy and emotional content, now numbering over 200 works, most of them an hour in length. When his first Netlabel release “Escape from Lhasa” on Treetrunk Records garnered just under 1,000 downloads on its release date and over 3,000 the first week, he realized there was an audience for his music, despite its unfashionable length. (A number of pieces have since been used as radio background.)
He has worked nearly thirty years as a computer programmer, and lives in Fairfield, California, not far from San Francisco, where he lived for over a quarter of a century. Most of his siblings and his younger son also make music in one form or another.
(See also timpixi, this artist’s music featuring vocals by Pixieguts.)
More music (midi format), commentary, and ten thousand images at his website: www.musinumworld.com — be sure to hover the images… half are hidden under the other half!
From “How to Listen” webpage:
“What a heading! This guy has to tell me HOW to listen to his music? Well, no, I’d like it to speak for itself, but as with any musical form, there are ways of listening that may help to get the most out of what’s there.
An example may help: Western classical music is traditionally complex harmonically (vertically), and relatively simpler melodically and rhythmically (horizontally). Much of the musical message is in the harmony, and the ear trained to listen to that music grows very sophisticated harmonically.
The classical music of (let’s say) Northern India tends to find its complexity, and hence to convey much of its message, in melody, rhythm, and indeed, delicate nuances of scale and pitch, as evidenced by (e.g.) the introductory statements of scale and meter that begin a raga. The ear trained to that music grows correspondingly sophisticated in detecting the message conveyed in the rhythms and pitches it hears.
Two sets of ears, belonging to the same human species, and yet to the Western ear unfamiliar with Eastern music, the relative lack of harmonic complexity will perhaps make it sound like a pointless droning… The message in the intricate rhythms and precise shadings of pitch and ornament will elude it as much as any dog whistle or bat cry out of human range may do
Conversely, to the Eastern musician, the classical music of the West may sound like the artless banging of a child on a toy drum… The shades of meaning and emotion which may induce in the Western listener every kind of emotion will be mostly lost on the ear not trained to decode the message.
Even within a genre like jazz, the “moldy fig” traditionalists literally could not hear what was happening in bebop when it first emerged. There were masterful musicians, and there were those who just “ran the changes” on the chords, but to the moldy figs, they all sounded alike, the transcendental and the mediocre. What our ears may now easily hear was not accessible.
Coming to the point, there are things to listen for in fractal music, in generative music in general, and in this music in particular. By and large, I like to let the music be what it is… I like to let the underlying structure show itself, and work itself out. (I’ll explain more about that later.)
One point in particular about fractals, including fractal art and fractal music, is that fractals are defined by being “self-similar.” That means that at any scale they appear to have the same structure. Think of an ocean coastline viewed from space, then the detailed shoreline as we zoom down, and finally the little irregularities, the ins and outs, we see as we walk along the water’s edge. Or again of a tree branching and re-branching, and the veins in the leaves doing the same down to the microscopic scale.
As music is played out in the medium of time, what this means, at least in the case of music composed with the aid of the MusiNum program, is that the differences between, let’s say, fifteen seconds and one minute from the point of origin of a fractal piece will be roughly the same as the differences between fifteen minutes and one hour.
If the pitch of various voices is rising, for instance, it will tend to rise as much in the last three quarters of an hour as it did in the last three quarters of the first minute. In the intervening time, many structures will tend to be, not repeated, but restated, at many scales of time. Patience may be required to accustom oneself to this form, but patience will often be rewarded.
The best way to listen to many of these pieces is not to bring prior expectations to them, but to simply let them be, as you might simply let the flora and fauna be on a nature walk, and observe them as they truly are. The gradual unfolding of qualities inherent in the structure is what is known as a “logarithmic spiral,” and such a spiral can be observed in the growth of shelled animals such as the nautilus.
I will talk about more things later, including the “hinged” pieces in which the peak of excitement and change is in the middle of the piece. Enough for now.”
Edited by musinum on 16 Feb 2013, 21:15
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