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Catalog No: FLX127
Title: Ping Pong
Sound Artist: Frank Rothkamm
Visual Artist: Holger Rothkamm
Label: Flux Records
Length: 15:12 (912s)
Composed: 2017
Location: Los Angeles
Instruments: Kurzweil 1000PX
Atari ST
Emu Pro/cussion
Release Date: 5/17/2017
Format: Digital
File Under: algorithmic orchestral soundtrack

Frank Rothkamm [ Ping Pong ]
In 1989 I worked as a software engineer for a company that took the code of Japanese arcade games and adapted them so they could be played by the home computer platforms of the day: PC-compatibles, Commodore Amiga, and Atari ST. At an important meeting, one of the founders gave his philosophy and secrets to success away: He analyzed the complete source code of the game of Pong, one of the earliest arcade video games. The code is quite short and today googling ‘Pong in the shortest code’ will yield fascinating results. If reading source code is your thing. It may not be, but you can always enjoy the music of ‘Ping Pong’ here, which, like all of my algorithmic music, is based on the simplest implementation of a random stream that can be modulated over time. What does this mean? Well, after 40 years of composing music with mathematical procedures, the source of all invention remains the random number. X=RND(X). The history of random number generation via computers is fascinating because it essentially consists of deterministic methods for producing statistical randomness and postulates that a random number distribution is an order, a method to a madness. Instead of setting up rules for composition which will yield a desired effect or order, I start with absolute chaos and see if the fewest number of restrictions can yield order, or, under which circumstances absolute chaos is perceived *as* order. Music by humans is distinct from natural forces, as we imply an intent (and actor/author) to music, whereas natural forces are devoid of intent, unless we imply an author in natural forces, which brings us to early religion and the attribution of natural forces as the music of the gods. In a way, I merely continue early man’s fascination of listening to a waterfall or a river stream or the rain until I perceive messages from the gods, or, music. This modulation of a random sequence takes practice as I found that is not about improving computational methods, not about building a system of rules, but the gesture of the modulation. Chaos modulation is practice but it also a method to madness. It is an iterative process of simplification, a sort of Pong game for the pure, the uniform random distribution. All compositions are a subset of this ‘everything is possible’ big bang. The place of complete chaos, the place of the truly random, is the best place to perceive an order, or to create one. So I come back to the beginning. This is ‘Ping Pong’.
[Ping Pong] Image