Music for Darwin 200

I have entered a piece of music into Myriad’s 21st Sample Tunes Friendly Contest. This year’s theme is "Evolution", in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. The closing date of the contest if May 31, so if you’d like to enter, too, there’s still time.

There’s quite a lot of hullabaloo re Darwin this year, being an anniversary and all. Actually there are two anniversaries. Not only was he born 200 years ago, his book On the Origin of Species first appeared 150 years ago. Hence there are special editions of magazines, Darwin-themed conferences, documentaries, all kinds of special events, and so on and so forth. Most of these can be tracked via The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online, one of the most useful sites on the web.

Anyway, back to the contest. The name of my contribution is "Natural selection: a prelude to evolution". You can see the score here, where you can also listen to it by clicking the play button. In order to do so, however, you must first install the (free and unobstrusive) Myriad Music Plug-In.

The piece is performed by digitally simulated instruments. There’s a flute, a grand piano, an acoustic guitar, a cello, and three percussion instruments (maracas, cabasa, triangle). I suppose that makes it a quintet, as you would need five people to perform it. The melody and its various permutations, although not entirely original, turned out quite satisfactory. The percussions tap out a deceptively irregular rythm, which may sound odd at first. But it’s not entirely random. If you listen carefully, you can hear a kind of "intelligent design" underlying it. (No, I’m not a loony creationist.) In fact, the rythm is based on a quote from Darwin himself, namely "I have called this principle … Natural Selection" (fr. Origin of Species, 1859) — hence the title of the piece. I know this last bit sounds as if it doesn’t make any sense, but trust me, it does.

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