In 1972, paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould presented a new theory in evolutionary biology they called “punctuated equilibrium.” The theory attempted to explain an inconsistency between how science then understood evolution to progress and what the fossil record showed: that, rather than a smooth, gradual, and ongoing transition of morphology from one species to the next and the next over time, many species appeared to be fairly stable for long periods and then new species would arise comparatively rapidly. These “punctuations” between species happen when part of a species is exposed to new evolutionary pressures (climate, predation, geographic isolation, etc.) and occur on geologic time scales – tens of thousands of years, versus equilibria of millions of years.
I was recently struck that punctuated equilibrium would make an interesting model for music making. Thus, I propose the following lcrp project: each contributor provides two samples representing “punctuation” and two of “equilibrium.” Upload samples by August 1, after which participants can download the collection and use it to create their work, submitted by September 23. All works are to be produced using only these samples. I imagined this as a remix project in part because the variety of ideas generated by this community reflects the variety of species and evolutionary pressures they experience: one never knows what will arise to drive change or how life will absorb it.
I suggest the following guidelines for composing: imagine what “equilibrium” means to you and what it might sound like. How might you convey sonically the feeling of stasis, of stability, of a dynamic balance? Remember species occur over time and across territory, manifested by countless individuals behaving in ways that vary widely on small scales but are collectively consistent. Similarly, consider what might a punctuative interruption of that equilibrium mean? Remember here that, although the “punctuation” is brief in comparison to the “equilibrium,” it’s not discontinuous – the Chicxulub impactor is not an example – but rather affects change over thousands of generations. Also consider where might it come from: is the catalyst for evolving to a new stasis something intrinsic to the “species,” something inherently unsustainable, or are outside forces acting upon it? What might those be and how might they sound?
Of course, this model invites relatively long forms, but I think length per se is not necessary; rather the critical concepts here are stability vs instability and a high ratio between them, exploring the way a dynamic but balanced process attempts to reestablish itself when disturbed, even if it’s not quite the same in the wake of the disturbance.
Summary of logistics:
Cloud drive upload location: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1rAHRwnr7oxU5AP9Ix8o-bF6yUdZ-lcoL?usp=sharing
Sample submission deadline:
August 1, 2019 August 4 11:59pm (wherever you are)
Track submission deadline: September 23, 2019
Mastering and publishing will be handled by @jasonw22 and @papernoise, no timeline as such, just what it takes to make good art!
This project is complete. Find the final compilation here: https://lcrp.bandcamp.com/album/punctuated-equilibrium?from=embed