S o n i c   S i m u l a t i o n s

Computer Music by Robert Zott

"Sonic Simulations"
Audio CD, edition of 500.


“Sonic Simulations” is a computer-generated audio work inspired by the writings of Jean Baudrillard in Simulations (Semiotexte, New York, 1983).  Composed of five short pieces, the work treats the organization of sound as a self-referential phenomenon that can be deployed as a musical surrogate to occupy a space where music might otherwise go.  One aspect of the work explores the social applications of fundamental periodic sounds including the sine and square waves.  These sounds are ingrained in my earliest childhood memories, from watching the Apollo 11 moon landing on television to receiving a hearing test in grade school.


Robert Zott

A Civil Defense Geiger Counter.

Interference (for Geiger Counters)

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“Interference (for Geiger Counters)” is orchestrated with a digital sample of the radioactive decay of a Cesium 137 atom, as detected by a Civil Defense Geiger Counter. The sample is repeated in a precession of meters that serve as a rhythmic model.  A sine wave is used to partition the work in a manner similar to the one-way transmission signals used by NASA to communicate with astronauts.

A Study for "Amerika VII" by Tim Rollins and K.O.S.

Amerikan Horns

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“Amerikan Horns” is a sonic rendering of a scene in the Franz Kafka novel “Amerika” where each member of his Nature Theatre of Oklahoma randomly blasts on a uniquely fashioned horn. The chaos of the scene is controlled by a tonal model that relates the pitch, amplitude, and duration of each musical event to a single arbitrary constant.

A Commodore 64 Personal Computer.

Twinkle Twinkle Compressed

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“Twinkle Twinkle Compressed” takes the melody of the famous lullaby and compresses it into 15/100ths of a second.  The piece was programmed directly into machine code using a Commodore 64 computer in order to reach the intense speed.  The work begins with a countdown similar to the repeated square wave used by trucks to signal when they’re moving in reverse and culminates in an explosion caused by the imperceptibly fast melody.

A Band Organ.

Homage to Schoenberg

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“Homage to Schoenberg” is an exact digital recreation of “The Merry Go Round Broke Down,” also known as the Merry Melodies theme song.  It was chosen as a metaphor for the breakdown of serialism.  For this piece, the computer a device capable of performing music beyond human limitations was programmed to behave like a mechanical band organ.

A Test Pattern Broadcast During An EBS Test.

Two Tests

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Finally, in “Two Tests,” the sine wave is used to recreate the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) test and a hearing test based on pure tone audiometry.  The EBS test uses a fixed pair of frequencies (853 and 960 Hz) at an arbitrary amplitude for a fixed duration in this case, 60 seconds.  The hearing test uses an arbitrary set of pitches, amplitudes, and durations.

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"Robert Zott - Sonic Simulations" Web Page © 2017 Robert Zott.  "ZOTT OPVS" Logo (TM) 1990.  "Sonic Simulations" Copyright and Phonorecord Copyright 1990 Robert Zott.  All Rights Reserved.  The contents of this web page are protected by copyright law.  Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.  No part of this web page may be reproduced without prior written consent.