I shall be talking about this on June 29 in Brussels for Tuned City.
A sentence has its own logical DNA, and is mind
independent. It is a kind of entity, an “object” in the terminology used by
Object-Oriented Ontology. Likewise, a sentence has its own grammatical,
syntactical and sonic genome. In this sense, a sentence is like a virus. Viruses
are chronologically subsequent to bacteria, in evolutionary time. But they are
logically prior, since they encapsulate the strange loop that exists between a
physical system and a semiotic one.
In the same way, what is called a riff (sruti,
lick, chop) has its own logical, semiotic and physical DNA. A sound, considered
in this sense, is like a virus—which is why the term earworm is highly appropriate. We could think of ideas as viral structures
for which minds are vectors. In the same way, earworms are spread by humans and
other related vectors, such as MP3 players. Riffs are logically prior to the
tunes (and so on) in which they find themselves.
This means that distinctions such as natural/unnatural,
sound/noise and so on fail when subjected to enough analytical or musical
pressure. This failure is not due to the fuzziness of (human) perception or
subjectivity, or the context in which sounds appear. This failure has to do
with the deep ontological structure of entities as such: they are riven from
within between what they are and how they appear, even to themselves.
It is better to think sounds as entities in
their own right, coexisting in an ecology of sonic hosts and parasites, in
which the host/parasite distinction is neither thin nor rigid. My talk examines the implications of thinking
this way. Ambient phenomena are an ideal way to probe this thought.