Paul Auster’s novel The Music of Chance centers around two men who lose a poker game to a pair of eccentric millionaires, who then confine the men to manual labor in order to pay back the debt. One of the millionaires, a former accountant, notes the interplay between numbers and the significance we assign to them (we added the bold):
“I’ve dealt with numbers all my life, of course, and after a while you begin to feel that each number has a personality of its own. A twelve is very different from a thirteen, for example. Twelve is upright, conscientious, intelligent, whereas thirteen is a loner, a shady character who won’t think twice about breaking the law to get what he wants … ten is rather simpleminded, a bland figure who always does what he’s told … I’m sure you understand what I mean. It’s all very private, but every accountant I’ve ever talked to has always said the same thing. Numbers have souls, and you can’t help but get involved with them in a personal way.”
For this piece, Suss Müsik twice rolled a 20-sided die to arrive at the numbers 17 and 02. The scale BAABBG was used as the melodic spine (to beef up the tune we added a D on the penultimate quarter note) and played on piano. Composite chords are phased in and out of visibility while a CR-78 drum pattern makes its presence felt, performing the same 488884 sequence as on piano.
Acknowledging our interest in amateurish numerology, we noted that 1702 adds up to ten and determined that this was an opportunity for the number ten to evolve beyond its persona as a “simpleminded, bland figure.” We also considered the life’s work of German geometer Max Brückner and his collection of three-dimensional polyhedral models. A hyperactive vibraphone dances around the BAABBG sequence at maximum distortion, while a muted saxophone bleats in the distance at two binaural frequencies. It’s a glorious mess.
The piece is titled Polyhedron. Personal thanks to Jason Wehmhoener for inspiring such thoughtful creativity for this project.