//// musica ignotum : lcrp.solstice.2.2018 ////

In the wake of last summer’s LCRP theme of hylozoicism, @jasonw22 and I discussed an idea I ran across in an article exploring the challenges of identifying non-terran life – a topic of increasing scientific interest as space exploration and the discovery of exoplanets increases in pace and sophistication. It was the Latin phrase vita ignotum, or life that is not recognized as such (literally, it means “unknown life,” but the context in which I heard it used shaded this meaningfully). It struck me as a potentially interesting departure point for a future LCRP and we aimed for the next solstice as maybe a good spot for it.

Researchers have a generally agreed upon sense of what defines life on Earth, but even the most abstracted aspects of it are based on familiar concrete structures (e.g., carbon, DNA, water, etc.). What if similar operations function off-Earth using other molecules? What if other operations, regardless of their material substrate (and, indeed whether terrestrial or extra-), produce behaviors and cycles that parallel what we think of as life? How might we recognize these life forms as such?

The history of exploration has been a carousel of discovery: the world and the universe is ever surprising, ever different from what we think, ever less centered on humans and Earth. Life, too, arises in places and forms that parallel the pattern of our geographic (and oceanographic) discoveries: unexpected. It seems intuitive that the same dynamic would be played out on an astronomical scale.

As the concept of vita ignotum has been borne out in our exploration, one might imagine a parallel in music. The history of Western music has certainly followed a similar enough pattern: from Gregorian chant to sound art, music development has manifested a back-and-forth of rigid structure intruded upon and broken down by new ideas, which in turn calcify until they are themselves infiltrated or rebelled against, etc., through new instruments, new sounds, new activities. Each iteration of the cycle includes a new venture into a musica ignotum.

For the current LCRP, we might explore aspects of both of these, vita and musica ignotum: music made by unknown life or music that we have not yet discovered.

  • What might a music be if it were based on something other than what we know?
    • Vibration in/of another medium?
    • Timbral, harmonic, or rhythmic structures other than those we know?
    • Music for perhaps a terrestrial life form but one which we don’t normally associate with music, e.g., trees or jellyfish?
    • How might a (non-terran, intelligent) brain built radically differently from ours process vibrations in its living medium (gas, liquid, rock or ice) and what implications might that have for a music such a brain creates?
  • Sonification might fit in here, too: how might one translate/transpose a time-based art (dance, narrative) or event (solar flares, gravitational waves) that occurs in another medium into sound?

All of these questions have of course been asked by other artists, in one form or another, and the task is by definition impossible (to imagine something unimaginable). Nonetheless, I found the concept of musica ignotum to be an inspiring starting point and hope others will as well.

In terms of logistics, the deadline for this is, of course, December solstice 2018, or December 21/22. Send @jasonw22 links to your finished work by that date and he’ll manage the production end of things (as he has been generously doing for some time now!).

As always, in keeping with the spirit of the LCRP and the Lines Community, I’d like to state for the record that there are no hard rules here. If you find the above ideas inspiring, go with them; if something else grabs you by your musical intuition and runs off, follow that. Participation is really the main theme.

20181225 edit: Final compilation is here.


Thanks so much @dnealelo for kicking this off!


mind expanding currently

are the collaborations or ideas in that thread dropped, encouraged or some other?

I wouldn’t say anything has been dropped, but can you refresh our memory about the parts that called to you, @dude?

i’ve no direct specifics. haze exists. i just have a wider memory of all the label talk, and interactive aspects and i think those had gravity pulling me in. my thought/approach is from that angle but i am new to these.

:slight_smile: we are nothing if not generative of ideas. If something comes back to you, feel free to add it to the mix.


Amazing prompt. This morning, out of the blue, I found myself reading up on entropy, Boltzmann Brains, other weird multiverse stuff…and now this. Clearly, it’s meant to be. #wavelength


This is a great direction. I’m gonna think on it, with a brain other than my own.


Love this. Perhaps related: undiscovered consciousness?



Woo-hoo. (20 characters)

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this plays actually right along with the idea I had for the harmonic language of our last LCRP piece, @jasonw22! making chords by stacking fourths or fifths instead of thirds is maybe a really academic way of imagining an unrecognized music :sweat_smile:


This is it. It’s how I always imagined hylozoicism to work.

So exciting! This is what I am trying to make video art about, what drew me to using modular (non-human interactions and collaborations!), and what I find to be really rewarding about the lines community.


Exciting indeed! I’m in!


Definitely in on this one. Working with Mateo forced me into new equipment.(talk about excuses) so really excited to do an expansion from mere acoustic guitar.


20 characters of “I’m in”.


Sounds like a lot of fun! I’m particularly interested in doing more sonification :slight_smile:


Count me in. I even think I have an idea of how to approach this one :slight_smile:

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I have an idea that I will explore this weekend. Need to do a little research first!

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@mirth and I are in!

Gives me a great excuse to tackle Max 8 and break out the Elektrosluch 3+ :slight_smile: