Music for Nina

Matt Starling

This music was inspired by new love. It was intoxicating and incredible. One night we were listening to music together and she asked me to try to create music that expressed what we were experiencing together. Soon she fell asleep. I stayed up all night after I pushed the record button.

I worked with loops. I had been fervently listening to music by Brian Eno and Terry Riley at the time and I was captivated by the tape loop techniques they developed and deployed. As I worked, I was endeavoring to infuse simplicity, beauty, and blissfulness into the sound I was creating and meditating on.

Music for Nina is made of many dozens of loops organized into 23 different groups. The loops vary in length, with each loop always being some whole number of complete 12/8 bars. Many of the groups contain a melody and variations on that melody. Other groups fill different musical functions such as drones, simple motifs, or harmonic content. To manage the density of musical information I framed nearly all of the musical sounds with some amount of silence, the timing of which was not too carefully selected.

Music for Nina plays out in a unique sequence of musical events each time it is played in its original computer environment. The composition begins the same way each time, with a predetermined loop from each group synchronized and playing back together. Each time a loop reaches its end point, the computer chooses one of two possible actions based on a probability setting I assigned. The loop will either repeat, or the computer will play one of the other loops from the group. Each edition of Music for Nina is a unique documentation of how this generative process unfolded during other playbacks.

Creating this music was a particularly memorable experience. The sound never needs to stop when working with loops. I remember I started working late at night, around the time I would normally go to sleep. Instead of sleeping I created music sleepily for about 18 straight hours before exhaustion set in. At that point Music for Nina was mostly formed; afterward I focused mainly on refinements and mixing.

It’s my sincere hope that this music might ease anxiety, aid in sleep, promote meditation and generally offer support to those who are seeking inner peace.

Music composed, mixed and mastered by Matt Starling Visual art by Brian Charles Patterson

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