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Michael Edgerton



The Oak of Mambre #79 for double bass (text and score)


  • Michael Edgerton

Summary, in English

The Oak of Mambre presents an inner world of sound exploration, whose strands are woven through ancient cultures and traditions. Mambre is a birthplace, itself, literal and ideal. Compressions and rarefactions tell two stories; of Abram and Mambre, of survival and an heir.

The Oak of Mambre begins where the reality and existence of a tone becomes manifest. Here we are looking at the sub-particulate world of existence, found not through carefully placed devices designed to catch the trails of extremely high-speed and dense particulate matter, but rather through the perception of radicalized elements during sound production. Beginning with little to no pitch movement, the sound world is opened through systematic exploration of scaled microtonal movement, bow rotation, bow placement, vibrato, bow speed, bow length, etc. Within this sound world we find matrices that are associated with numerous stratified layers, whose deposition of energy varies according to reflective stress-strain qualities found in elastic fibrous interaction.

In The Oak of Mambre, the expression I was interested in presenting was similar to Edward Said’s notion of an artwork exhibiting “intransigence, difficulty, and unresolved contradiction” in order to provide an “occasion to stir up more anxiety, tamper irrevocably with the possibility of closure and leave the audience more perplexed than before... to explore... a nonharmonious, non-serene tension, and above all, a sort of deliberately unproductive productiveness, going ‘against’...”

Murray Gell-Mann (Nobel Prize, 1969, for his work on quarks) identified that many quantities for complexity have been proposed, and that a variety of different measures are required to capture intuitive ideas about complexity and simplicity. Take for instance time/space measures – Gell-Mann suggested that one reliable indicator of complexity consists of how long it took a computer to perform any particular task, or the number of steps required to carry out a computation; whereas measures of information were related to the length of the shortest message conveying certain information. However, in ordinary conversation, the measure that corresponds to what is meant by complexity corresponded not to the “length of the most concise description” but rather the “length of concise description of a set of the entity’s regularities”. So that in a message that is effectively random, with practically no regularities: the effective complexity will be near zero. In a mes- sage that is completely regular, bit string of zeros, or perhaps an invariant rhythmic stream, the effective complexity may be near zero. However, in a message featuring effective complexity, complexity is high only in a region which is intermediate between total order and complete disorder.


  • Teachers (Malmö Academy of Music)

Publishing year







Revista Música Hodie, Goiânia





Document type

Journal article


  • Music
  • Musicology