"Music For Goldfish" is an experiential experiment which investigates the individual listener’s subjective cognition, memory, attention span and relativity. The content of this piece is comprised of 78 9 second sinetone triads. 78 is the number of all possible triads between low C and high C on a standard MIDI keyboard. The length of the 78 triad drones is inspired by the hypothesized span of an ordinary goldfish’s memory and attention span. This tongue in cheek experiment, whether it proves to be valid or not, was initially inspired by the urban myth that goldfish have a 9 second attention span and that the average human, in the contemporary attention economy and digital age, has roughly 8.25 seconds of proverbial awareness.

The album itself is an absurdist concept based on aleatoric music in the digital age. When played in order, the length of this piece is just short of 12 minutes. However, if the piece is shuffled via a media player of your choosing, the piece becomes immeasurably larger than life. The randomized piece results in 1.132428 x 10115 possible outcomes.

There is a 1 in 1.132428 x 10115 chance that you will hear the same sequence twice.

Statistically speaking, every sequence that you are about to hear has never been heard before.

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About Music For Goldfish:

Some time ago, I found my self sitting. In some kind of stillness. As I sat, breathing, I began to watch my mind- its currents, flows and pasts. Ever so often my mind would lead me down a neuron pathway, punctuated by both ambiguous and concrete mental projections of an assumed future and of strange-loop memories. Sure enough, I would catch my self and herd my awareness back to my breath, to begin the cycle anew. During one of these mind rolls the image of a goldfish and its ever fading memory came to me at once. In an instant I became that goldfish in a proverbial bowl that I was constantly forgetting existed, yet paradoxically clinging to for dear life and meaning.

Entranced, I scribbled some notes on a piece of paper not too far from me, as if trying to remember the punchline of a joke I was destined to forget. What came out were the seeds for an absurdist thought experiment, which culminated into “Music For Goldfish”. Having worked with spatial relativity as a compositional tool for some time, I wanted to play with the aspect of time. More specifically: I wanted to compose a sonic experience that would highlight and toy with the natural fallibility of our human sense perceptions. Using the proposed memory span of a goldfish, which is roughly 9 seconds, and the inherent relativity of sine waves and their unfolding in space, I set about composing this piece.

I drafted 78 9 second tone drones, each consisting of 3 tones each. This would allow for audience members to move physically through their listening space, or proverbial fishbowl. Though subtle, the effect of forgetting which combinations of tones have already been experienced, is ironically crucial to the integrity of this piece. The real kicker of this experiential piece clicks when the entire album is downloaded, shuffled, looped and played into a 3D space.

As the piece is non-linear, it does not beg its audience to listen in any specific form or way, but rather to forget that the piece is happening and to come back to self naturally, as the piece presents interesting tonal shifts throughout the day and space. Sure, we may never hear all of the possible permutations of this piece once shuffled- but we’ll also never truly be able to prove our inability to as well. While our listening practice is decentralized thanks to the non-linear playback quality of this work and our natural inability to remember what we ate for lunch a week ago, our illusion of control over the piece’s end result is also questioned as it is in constant flux.

Perhaps the point of the piece is to just let it play/go/rip and to forget that it is even unfolding.

Enough noise.

Enjoy the piece and thank you for your understanding,

ben glas

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