SPIRAL WAVE is a multi-arts project originally conceived and produced by Carolyn Ratcliffe, and programmed by the Art Loisaida Foundation, bringing together artists from different fields on the theme of a continuous spiral.  This creative  framework was inspired by a large scale sculpture by Jose Landoni, a spiraling shape constructed from perfectly fitted pieces that can be assembled and taken apart – the piece seems eerily light and supple for such a large size object and has an organic beauty. The sculpture will be shown on video for this one-night only performance but when the piece actually runs,  the sculpture will be installed in the theater as a stage set.  I became involved in this collaboration, along with choreographer Peter Cramer and a new group of performers, Spool Dance.  Spiraling patterns emerged from my soft synths, and the score is so far entirely electronic and computer composed. A first installment of this performance is presented by Theater for the New City (Crystal Field, executive director) for a preview  on Saturday March 10, at the Chino Theater. 155 First Avenue – Box Office 254-1109, tickets $12/$10 sen/stu.

From my  viewpoint as a composer, this is a familiar framework as I have often looked at music is a manifestation of the geometry of nature. The heart of the daisy below shows those naturally occurring spiral patterns, as does the Nautilus shell pictured on the postcard.

Music can be perceived as a set of proportions – the octave, fourth and fifth in particular are found universally in nature, in the human body and in man-made objects and architecture. These same proportions are found not only in the musical scale but also in the harmonic series. Music is a connecting path between realms – human, animal, mineral, macro- and micro-cosmic as a series of self-replicant intervals. This works in the old geometry of Pythagoras and in the new fractal geometry of Mandelbrot. A pattern is replicated ad infinitum in different sizes but the shape remains similar – but at some point, something different happens.

At left is a“golden’ spiral proportioned to a golden triangle one can see that in the center of the spiral, there is a smaller size similar rectangle with a self replicant shape in a smaller size.

Golden Spiral

Below is a study of the Sierpinsky fractal in natural forms of the seashell.  At stage 7, something is a little “off”, there is a shift! It grows.

Would that be the pesky Pythagorean comma, making the tuning of the last note in a full cycle of fifths a little off from the fundamental – now endowed with a new meaning: the law of constant growth.


Sacred Geometry by Miranda Lundy

A Little Book of Coincidence by John Martineau

L’Empire des Nombres by Denis Guedj

Sacred Geometry Philosophy and Practice by Robert Lawlor

Introducing Fractal Geometry by Nigel Lesmoir Gordon, Will Rood, Ralph Edney

Sacred Geometry by Stephen Skinner

The Power of Limits by György Doczi


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